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ways, it would be safer to reckon on, at least, | bondage, and to mirk with the brand of a thousand pounds; an amount which would slavery all who might continue to support it. be equal to the alleged annual cost, under the If no other objection lay against the incorpoexisting plan, for ten years to come. Would ration of the society, this, with me, would be it be wise to incur this outlay when before insuperable. Do not let us sell our birthright the ten years have expired, the society might for a mess of pottage.
deem it right to change its policy, with rela- The application for a charter would be .. tion to the subject of property, altogether ? derogatory to the position of the Baptist
Besides, if it be “ clearly natural and just,” as Missionary Society as a religious instituwe are informed," that the parties for whose tion. An attempt has been made to break particular use the property is conveyed to the force of this cbjection, by the extratrustees should bear the expenses of renewing ordinary position, that the government documents so indispensable to them," why would regard the society simply as a pub. is the society to be saddled for ever with lic charity. I reply, if it be a “public them? Has it no power to compel these charity,” let it by all means appear before parties to take upon themselves a burden, or the a "horities, whose favour it seeks, in its at least a part of it, which “is clearly so proper character ; but if it be a religious natural and just ?" To seek a royal charter society, having a high and sacred mission of incorporation to enable the society to do derived from the Great Head of the church, for itself with a little more ease that which to fulfil, let it pause before it degrade itself others ought to do in its stead, seems very in the presence of statesmen and politicians odd! Indeed, it appears to me, I must con- by receiving a boon in one capacity, when in fess, to be splendid trifling. It is further to fact it sustains another. be borne in mind, that the charter, if ob- In this matter we are in danger of comtained, would not release the society from all promising ourselves as dissenters. Regarding legal expenses connected with the holding the Baptist Missionary Society as a religious and the loosing of property, but only from society, set up specifically and exclusively for those which are involved in creating and religious purposes, we cannot, as nonconrenewing trust-deeds.
formists, ask for it the patronage of the The opinion of counsel has been sought. crown or the favour of parliament, without In all legal points it seems that opinion is detriment and dishonour. The report of the “ entirely satisfactory ;" in other than legal sub-committee, not satisfied with assuming a respects, and by far the most important ones, dignified superiority to "an eminent counsel," that opinion is unfavourable to the project. politely intimates that the "objectors,” poor The decision of “an eminent counsel ” re- things! to the charter,“ do not seem to know mains, in these respects, in full force, not that not only municipal bodies, but banking withstanding the strange attempt of the companies, insurance companies, railway sub-committee to overrule it.
companies, water companies, are all corporaShould the charter of incorporation be tions, together with many scientific, charitable, obtained, the freedom of the Baptist Mission and religious, institutions." The objectors, ary Society would be destroyed. Take an no doubt, are deeply obliged for this piece of illustration. The society, as at present con- recondite information, but what it has to do stituted, has for its object the diffusion of the with the argument in question may not be knowledge of Jesus Christ throughout the quite so clear to them. If there be nothing whole world, beyond the British isles. It peculiar to a missionary society by which it might be deemed desirable, both on financial is distinguished from the cork-cutters' society, and on incomparably higher ground, to the royal victuallers' society, the worshipful include Ireland (to say nothing of more the tailors' society, why then there may be radical changes) within the range of the some propriety in the position assumed; but society's operations, to merge the Irish in if these societies are totally dissimilar, having the Foreign mission. But this could not be nothing in common, the argument from the done without the permission of the queen, or one to the other will not hold. The distinc. making way through the tortuosities of courts tion between these societies is that those of law! This objection has been met by the referred to in illustration are, to all intents very sage reply, that it would be easy, before and purposes, secular, civil institutions, that asking for the charter, to accommodate the the ono in question, the Baptist Missionary definition of the society to meet the supposed Society, is, to all intents and purposes, a case; as though this touched the principle sacred religious society; and it is just because on which the objection rests. Whatever may it is a religious and not a secular society, that be the designation, constitution, or aim, of the it would be a departure from our principles society, it must be left unfettered and inde- as nonconformists to seek its incorporation. pendent, and capable of any modification May not a little attention to this very obvious which experience or circumstances might distinction serve in some degree to relieve the suggest. To take any course which might sub-committee from its rery painful embarrasssupersede the practicability of effecting any ment. “Why," says the report," the Baptist such change, would be to place it in ignoble Missionary Society should be ashamed of oc
cupying the same civil status as such bodies, freedom of action, for “ it is no doubt true," the sub-committee have yet to be informed.” says the report, “ that the movements of an But it seems that “religious associations'' are incorporate society cannot be absolutely un“corporations," as well as others. Just so, fettered; a certain measure of restriction, or but these are such as the society for the rather of permanence, on the one hand, is the “ Promotion of Christian Knowledge," the necessary and just correlative of acquired supporters of which are friendly to state rights and standing on the other." The patronage in ecclesiastical affairs. Though difference in the quality and the worth of the there might be no inconsistency in the friends thing saved and the thing lost, is a material of such societies seeking royal incorporations, element in the argument. What saving of does it follow that conscientious dissenters money and of trouble would a right-thinking
government, whom we have been told will ever so small a portion of that liberty which look upon the society as a “public charity,” | is at once the birthright and the trust of a may feel the force of the argument founded “body in the strictest sense religious?” There on the analogy between the “ Baptist really is every reason why we should not give Missionary Society" and the "water com- away our“ bread" and take a “stone.” But panies,” it may, perhaps, be diffcult to say. | if no objections based on greal principles
“No reason appears to the sub-committee, existed, why a body, as defined in the report, however, why a body in the strictest sense should not solicit the proposed charter, it by religious, that is ecclesiastical, should be no means follows that it would be wise in it scandalized at the thought of accepting from so to do. Were it lawful, it might nevertheless the crown a charter of incorporation." be highly inexpedient. Give all the force to Perhaps the sub-committee will allow me to the position assumed by the sub-committee suggest a reason or two why such a body which the ingenuity of the report may deserve, should not commit itself to such a course. the incorporation of the society will still be “ A body in the strictest sense religious," can- regarded by thousands, and as I think justly, not consistently, in its capacity as such, as at least a partial surrender of prinrecognise the existence of the crown. The ciple, as a leaning in a wrong direction, as
subjects and as civilians, cherish the utmost not the days in which the slightest preloyalty and render the most scrupulous text should be given to such suspicions; obedience to the first authority in the state, it is rather incumbent on us, in fidelity to our but as the followers of Christ, “as a body in Great Master and to the times which are the strictest sense religious," they know of no passing by us, to place the principles of nonsuch power. They may derive from the conformity and of Christian liberty, by all our spirit and from the precepts of their religion proceedings, in bold and unmistakeable relief. motives wherefore they should render every “ The sovereign in such an act," says the legitimate honour to the “powers that be;" report, “ that is, in granting a charter of inbut they are prohibited by the principles of corporation, is the representative not so much the religion they profess from taking cogni- of the state as of the law; and that which is zance of those powers in their deliberations received from the sovereign is neither personal and councils as members of the body of Christ. nor official favour, but a modified and more Besides, if it be a secular and civil advantage equitable position in relation to the law.” I which is sought, no reason can be adduced, suppose this sentence is intended to confirm founded on the fact that the party seeking it the doctrine previously laid down, that a is a “body in the strictest sense religious," “ body in the strictest sense religious” ought without the most wretched compromise, not to regard itself as "scandalized " in acwherefore the favour should be conferred, cepting a charter of incorporation from the since other bodies have an equal claim on the crown. Are we to infer from this, that in the consideration of the state. The Mormonite, opinion of the sub-committee, such a “body” the socialist, the worshippers of Juggernaut, would be “scandalized,” were they to receive have as much right to a royal charter of in a charter from the “sovereign," supposing corporation, if it be a purely civil privilege, as her in granting it to represent the state the Baptist Missionary Society can have ; but rather than the “law?” if not, what does the is that society prepared, as a “body in the sentence mean? What is gained to the argustrictest sense religious,” to appear at the foot ment by divesting in this case the sovereign of the throne to ask a boon in furtherance of of her high and peculiar prerogative, and in its high and holy designs, in such company, robing her in legislative functions? But this without feeling itself "scandalized ?" A is a perfectly gratuitous assumption, nor is it further reason rests on the very tangible the only one which disfigures the report. ground of profit and loss. The benefit which Had the sub-committee designed to collect it is alleged will flow from the proposed in- | the greatest possible number of sophisms in corporation is a saving of money and of the least possible space, they could scarcely trouble, the loss which will be sustained, have been more successful. In confutation of according to the sub-committee, is, that of the assertion, that that which is received from
the sovereign is neither personal nor official fa- | layed and quenchel before the withering vour," &c., it might be enough merely to refer presence of the vaunted charter of privilege. the reader to the
language of the charter itself. If any suppose that the remedy for these But it is proposed to seek a charter of incorpo- and other abuses, should the charter of inration from thequeen; in granting that request, coporation be obtained, is to be found in the her majesty exercises her royal prerogative, popular constitution of the committee, it is and undoubtedly confers a favour and a great necessary they should be informed that it will obligation on the party appealing. To pre- be sought there in vain. It is true that the tend, that because the benefit conferred is one committee of the Baptist Missionary Society is which places the party benefited in an altered not an irresponsible self-elected body, that its "position in relation to the law," therefore members are re-elected every year, and that the the royal person who confers it is granting same persons do not of necessity sit in its neither a "personal nor official favour," is, on councils. It is equally true, however, that the one hand, to derogate from the grace its popular character is rather a semblance which concedes what it might have refused, than a reality, and that it exists much more in and on the other, to throw dust in the eyes of shadow than in substance. The management Four readers.
of the affairs of the society lies now as it ever If the charter were obtained, it would con- has, with those members of the committee fer an amount of power which should not be who attend its weekly sittings, a few genentrusted by any religious society to any body tlemen resident within or about London. The of men. Under seal of incorporation, the quarterly meetings at which a larger number committee appointed to manage the affairs of of members are convened from the country, the Baptist Missionary Society, the executive as well as from town, are not invested with for the time being, would have unlimited more authority in any way, than the eleven control over the property of the society. meetings which intervene each quarterly sitting. There would be no trustees to consult, but They, the quarterly meetings, are four in a the will of the executive, whether to sell, series of fifty which run through the year. lease, or mortgage, would be sovereign. It At the weekly meetings of the committee, Fould facilitate most agreeably the means of measures are taken and resolutions passed raising money, and would weaken the induce which the quarterly meeting has nothing to ments to remove any liabilities which might do but to confirm; it has no power of revisbe incurred. It would place the missionary ing or rescinding. It is obvious that the and his flock, meeting on any property con- power lies with those who compose the fortynected with the society, under the absolute six committees, and not with those who control of the executive. The communica- attend the four. I am not offering an opinion tions of the committee might assume the here on the merits or otherwise of the present character, not so much of fraternal counsels system, but merely stating a fact, which goes as of arbitrary edicts, and commands from the to show that the power, whatever it might be, seat of power might be issued to the four ends which the charter, if acquired, would confer, of the earth, with as much authority as the must of necessity, as things now stand (and ukases of the autocrat of Russia. Men of in these the said charter would stereotype), fall dependent minds and of high and honourable into the hands of very few. The constitubearing would hesitate to attach themselves ency may have every confidence in the as agents to a system, the movements of which wisdom, integrity, and devotedness, of an miglit be summary and despotic, and a neces- existing executive, and owe great obligations sary requisition of which might be a servile to those who devote so much time and energy spirit. The mystery which too frequently to their cause; but it becomes them to bear shrouds, under the most favourable circum- in mind, that the best of men are but fallible, stances, the conduct of executive bodies might and that it is alike im politic and unsafe to be deepened. The parties in power might place any committee, whether large or small, fall back within the privileges and the sanction beyond the reach of popular direction and of the royal charter, as the priests of antiquity control. Whatever may be said of the preretired to their holy place. The distance sent, who can undertake to pierce the future ? between the executive and the constituency, One or two indiscreet or designing men, or always too wide, would be increased, as the high, aristocratic notions at variance with the sense of responsibility is usually regulated by general views of the members of the society, the consciousness of control. The disposi- might possibly find a place in its councils, tion to modify the proceedings of the com- when its present directors sleep with their mittee by public opinion, by the sentiments of fathers. Let the society pause before it creates the body at large, though 'never indulged to and bequeaths a power that can be productive excess, would not be strengthened. The of very little positive good, but which would popular voice has ever been but faintly echoed be fraught with great possible and probable by companies clothed with all the pretensions evil. of royal chartered incorporations. Reforms, These, sir, are some of the grounds, plainly however wise and wholesome, would receive and candidly stated, on which I have opposed an effectual check, and their spirit would be and shall continue to oppose the charter of VOL. XII.--FOURTH SERIES.
incorporation for the Baptist Missionary So
To the Editor of the Baptist Magazine. ciety. I seek for them the favour of insertion in your magazine, because it appears to MR. EDITOR,— Will you allow the insertion me to be only just and fair that the members of a few facts which bear on the above subject of the society should have before them both in a practical point of view, more particularly sides of a question on which their judgment as reference is made in the “report” to the is sought. I have only to add the expression several joint stock companies and their priviof a sincere desire that the course of the leges as corporate bodies ? committee, on this most important question,
Ist. There are but two banks and two may be such as to perpetuate the harmony of insurance offices that have charters of incor. a society, which, whatever it may have to poration, all others are established under boast, has certainly none of the element of various acts of parliament. cohesion to spare.
2nd. The older companies have specific sir, yours sincerely,
acts for themselves, which enable them to sue
J. P. MURSELL. and be sued in the name of one of their officers, Leicester, February 8th, 1849.
instead of in the names of all their members, and the more recent companies have a similar
privilege under 7 and 8 Vic, cap. 110. To the Editor of the Baptist Magazine. 3rd. The older companies are obliged to
DEAR SIR.-Before the constituents of the enrol the names of all their members and Baptist Missionary Society are called upon every change of membership in the Court of for an opinion about the proposed incorpora- Chancery, at times convenient to themselves tion, some further information seems to me or before any legal proceedings can be taken ; desirable.
and the newer companies are obliged to make 1. We should be glad to have the names of a return of every change in membership, to the sub-committee whose report is printed, the registrar general of joint stock companies, and to know whether the report was adopted in the months of January and July in each by them unanimously, or otherwise. Το
year. avoid misapprehension, it may be right to say, 4th. All these companies have trustees that I am in total ignorance of the number appointed, by the intervention of whom they and names of the gentlemen who formed that hold property and securities amounting, in sub-committee.
many cases, to upwards of millions sterling. 2. As the opinion of counsel has been 5th, As to the possession of property in the obtained, we should like to read it. That Colonics, and India, it might be patent to the document is at least as important to the world that the various English railway comformation of a correct opinion, as the report panies for constructing roads in such parts, already given to the public.
cannot purchase an inch of ground without 3. Many of your readers (I acknowledge the consent of the local government in each myself one) are probably ignorant of the amount of responsibility which the proposed The bearing of these facts on the proposal charter would entail on the members of the to obtain a charter for the Baptist Missionary society. In the case of a banking company, Society are just these. every shareholder is accountable with his Ist. That the society would not be relieved whole property; would membership in a from the expense and trouble of trust deeds corporate missionary society make the mem- to any considerable extent, bers in like manner responsible?
2nd. That besides obtaining an act of in4. The members are, by the charter, to corporation, at about an expense of £800, have power to make such alterations as are there would exist the necessity of a similar not “inconsistent with the object of the grant from each separate colony or state society." Who is to judge what is, or is not, where the society holds property. inconsistent with the object of the society ? 3rd. That the society would be at the
5. If the society had been incorporated in enormous expense and trouble of registering 1832, would it not have been compelled, to every member i.e. every subscriber of ten say the least, to disown all participation in shillings and upwards, also every change of William Knibb's anti-slavery operations ? membership, by lapse of subscription, by
I write thus briefly because you will pro- death, by ladies' marriage, by new subscribers, bably have many similar communications. and all these not only direct subscriptions, but Allow me in conclusion to express the con- the thousands through the various auxiliary fident hope, that the committee will come to societies. no decision on this matter, excepting at an 4th. By acceptance of a charter, the annual meeting, nor then without giving the society receives a favour or privilege from fullest notice of its intention.
the state, whereas the ordinary law of uses, by I am, dear Sir,
which their property is now held through the Yours respectfully,
medium of trustees is no favour, but a matter
W. ROBINSON. of right. Query, is this a desirable connexKetlering, February 12, 1849.
ion for the society to be placed in ?
5th. At the expiration of the charter, which let intending purchasers endeavour to obtain would of course be granted only for a limited copies minus the said brackets, if they would period, the society would be liable to con- avoid interpolated ones. ditions for its renewal which might be incon- Willenhall.
E. JONES. venient and highly objectionable.
A. T. Bowser.
CONTEMPLATED PROVISION FOR AGED 12, Cottage Grove, Bow Road, Feb. 16, 1849.
To the Editor of the Baptist Magazine.
DEAR SIR,— The leaves of your magazine, ON THE ARTICLE BAPTISM IN KITTO's
and other periodicals of the same description, CYCLOPÆDIA.
have within the last few years often testified To the Editor of the Baptist Magazine. that there is an impression existing in the
DEAR SIR,—It is known, doubtless, to Christian church among us, that the claims of many of your readers that the article “ Bap- aged and faithful ministers are not felt and tism," for Kitto's "Cyclopædia of Biblical responded to, in such a way as their character Literature," was first offered to Dr. Neander, and circumstances demand. the church historian, and professor of theology Various plans have at times been suggested in the university of Berlin. In a foot-note, as likely to remedy this matter of acknowhowever, appended to the said article, and ledged regret and obligation, but none of them inserted in the above-named work, we are told have secured that attention to the subject that “ His (the doctor's) multiplied engage which its sacredness requires. Agitating the ments induced him with the editor's consent, subject, may have induced some ministers, at to coasign the subject to the Rev. J. Jacobi a painful sacrifice, to seek shelter from the of the same university. The MS. so prepared apprehended evil in the promises of a life was accompanied by the following note from assurance society, and others it may have the doctor,—“As my other labours would reminded of a desideratum they had little not permit me to work out the article (on chance of obtaining, but it has failed to baptism), I requested a dear friend, J. Jacobi, awaken the benevolent sympathies of Christian to undertake it, who, by his knowledge and churches generally. The Wesleyans are the critical talents, is fully qualified for the task; only people that have taken up this subject and whose theological principles are in unison denominationally. They have done it, and with my own.”
it is well known that those of their ministers Well, sir, through the kindness of one of who have faithfully devoted their best days to my deacons, I became possessed of a copy of the service of the church, are not permitted this invaluable work-an example, by the to suffer want when enfeebled by age. And way, which, in numerous instances, might be it is believed that if those on whom the usefully imitated. Some time ago, I paid a business of providing for the pastor's necesvisit to a brother minister who was on the sities rightfully devolves, were to present this eve of quitting his charge in this neighbour- subject becomingly to the minds of the memhood for one in the metropolis, whose friends, bers of our churches and congregations, they as a testimonial of esteem, had presented him would be found ready to provide as amply for with this, along with some other biblical aged ministers as the Wesleyans do. works. Taking up the first volume of Kitto, Under these impressions allow me to sugit was my intention to read to him an extract gest a plan for the accomplishment of this from the remarkable paragraph commencing object that appears to me practicable. Supwith the honest, straightforward avowal,- pose every church, at the settlement of a " Infant baptism was established neither by pastor orer them, were to present him with a Christ nor his apostles :”—but to my utter policy assuring him, say (for example's sake amazement and perplexity it was not to be only) thirty pounds per annum after attainfound ! I went through it very circumspectly, ing the age of sixty. This would in few cases and read the title page, thinking it possible I require more than ten shillings per month. held in my hand a " second edition, with Long as the minister continued his labours in additions,"--and subtractions too; but found that place, the premium should be regularly there no such intimation.
paid for him, but if he removed, the policy The fact is, sir, part of the original article should be given up to him, that the people of is suppressed in my friend's copy, and some his next charge might continue the required thing else substituted, which is, to say the payments, till the contemplated period was least, but a sorry compensation for the noble run out. testimony of two great and independent If something of this kind were generally minds, careful only to set forth what they knew established, it is probable we should not see and felt to be the truth, despite, too, of their churches so often unwilling to invite the sectarian bias. But, sir, what is more amaz- services of ministers of advanced, though not ing still, to this mutilated and interpolated enfeebled age ; nor Christian pastors so often article the names of Neander and Jacobi are unhappily clinging to their ordination titles, still appended.
or chapel endowments, as the only security On these facts I make no comment; but they had for partial support in their declining