Page images

the two greatest Societies of the present day thus acting in harmony—the one in finding, and the other in distributing the Word of God. He was happy to see two principles thus recognized-first, the distinct existence, but the unity of operation; and, secondly, an honourable and useful competition between two Societies, whose object was the same. The present was an age of competition; and as there was mercantile and professional competition, why not have it in the service of God? The Report said, Go forward ; and he thought every heart would echo, “ forward." Let them be zealous in distributing the Bible--the real remedy for the ills of Ireland, the true panacea for her misfortunes. If they wished to promote education, to prevent superstition, to guard against infidelity, to c011tend against the liberalism of the present age, let them give the Bible: for that had a proof, and an agency in itself, which could not be resisted.

The Rev. Dr. STOPFORD, of Letterkenny, said, that the Society and the people of England were alike worthy of the gratitude of Ireland ; but that still, it behoved the Society to act with zeal and energy. The Irish was originally a branch of the Eastern Church, as was proved from the fact of the Britons and Irish celebrating Easter in a manner different from that of Rome, Ireland was then one branch of the olive-tree of the ancieni Church of the East; and whatever difficulties might interpose, the mediatorial power of Christ was sufficient to rescue her from her present benighted condition. Let the Society go on then; and if Ireland, as had been said, did in her distresses resemble the Israelites, God was able to rescue all to salvation.

The SECRETARY then announced that a letter had been received from the Lord Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, stating that it was out of his power to attend the Meeting, enclosing a donation to the society, and expressing his prayers and wishes for its success.

The Rev. Dr. Singer, Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, said, that as a native of Ireland, who had often called on his countrymen for their gratitude, to those who in the day of want had supplied their necessities and given them bread from heaven, he was proud to have the honour of addressing the Society. This was the first Society which attempted to restore Ireland to her proper station, and surely it ought to hold a place in the first rank of her gratitude, as one who, when she thirsted in the moral wilderness, struck the rock, and the stream of life flowed abundantly, and many thousands in Ireland had drunk of it and been revived and invigorated. He also felt bound to express his acknowledgments, because of the mode of the Society's proceedings, and because, whatever progress towards Zion in that country had been made, was owing to it. When expediency was the idol which Protestants worshipped, the Society refused to make any compromise, they had declared that they would march forth under the standard of God's Word, and they professed what ought to be boldly professed by every Protestant, their intention to proselyte from ignorance and error to truth and to God. (Dr. S. was here interrupted by the plaudits which burst from the audience on the entrance of Mr. Wilberforce.) It was difficult, he observed, for one who for the first time had seen the eminent individual who had just come in, to proceed at once in the manner he had intended. He had been about to remark, when he was so pleasingly interrupted, that the contest engaged in by those who eame forward to oppose the Society, was one which had ended in their own defeat, and which would continue until the banner of Christ would wave in triumph over every valley throughout Ireland. It was then that this Society had said, if error was to be vanquished, it could not be by concealing the truth, but by manfully avowing it; and he trusted that all who were friendly to that cause, would ever support the London Hibernian Society. Though little comparatively had yet been done, he trusted a better day approached, and that the people of Ireland would soon be in the foremost ranks of those, who had come forward for the glory of God, and the advancement of his truth.

The Rev. Thomas WEBSTER in acknowledging a vote of thanks, said, that during his journies in Ireland in the two preceding summers, he had witnessed what had been so eloquently described by Mr. Noel, the value and the effects of the Scripture schools and readers. No means were so effectual for the promotion of peace and good-will in Ireland as the circulation of the word of God. lle called on ladies and gentlemen not to receive this on his testimony, but instead of visiting watering-places or foreign capitals, just to go across the channel, where they would be received by warm friends, and meet with no danger, as the

sternest Catholic would willingly hear what they had to say. There they would find, in cottages where there was neither floor nor benches, ragged children who would answer questions from the Gospel far better than is common among scholars in this country, and who, he trusted, from the instruction bestowed upon them, would promote the glory of that God, whom this Society desired to honour.

Mr. WILBERFORCE.—Although I have not been able to attend to the concerns of this society, there is none which has greater claims on my wishes ; I knew it from the first, and I was interested on its behalf by the late Mr. Steven, who engaged in its support at an early day and before it had reached its present maturity, although even then it was an infant Hercules. I am sure that there is no way in which we can hope to confer so much benefit on Ireland as in this : we know the people there to be our fellow-countrymen, yet with such a difference in their character, and particularly in its generosity, that I may say, we at the same time in serving them, experience a double satisfaction, as if we bad at once both relieved a foreigner and a brother. They have also shed torrents of blood in our defence, and we should, therefore, do all in our power to provide them with every blessing. It was, therefore, with great satisfaction that I engaged in this, and other societies, whose object is to give scriptural education, as I know no way so sure of attaining the best ends. For without entering into any disagreeable topics, I shall merely mention the remark made by a great man, long before there were any contests in Ireland, either with respect to politics or religion. He observed, generally, wherever the Roman Catholic religion has struck its roots deep and prevailed, it would be found that it could be rarely got rid of, except through the medium of infidelity. Now it is strange, but most agreeable, that we are endeavouring to get rid of that religion by the very opposite expedient—the Word of God. Our course of conduct for the last twenty or thirty years towards Ireland has been directed by true wisdom; still there was a long period previously, during which Ireland only knew us by the injuries we inflicted on her. She was too much governed by party, and as a party; but I bless God, that now we have adopted a different priuciple, which encourages us to hope for her improvement-a blessing that can be bestowed in no way better than by the establishment of schools. We have been a long time in her debt, and how can we pay it, or show our gratitude better than in this way? Human vision is so limited that the plans we form for good often give us cause to lament the infirmity of human understanding, as they often lead to what is wrong. Here, however, we cannot be wrong, for now we can all unite and join with hearty co-operation in promoting the great cause of God himself. The society can now securely plant its foot, without the apprehension of any necessity to draw it back again ; and only regretting that our zeal may not have been more ardent, and our diligence greater, it becomes us to pray that those engaged in the work may go on. The Irish are generous, high-spirited, and grateful, and now the time is come when we should requite them for their services.

The meeting was also addressed by Lord Mount Sandford; the Rev. L. Foot; H. Lyte; Hugh M'Neile; Dr. Thorpe ; and the Hon. James King.–The collection at the doors amounted to £248.

CHURCH MISSIONARY SOCIETY. The annual sermon before this Institution was preached at St. Bride's church on the evening of Monday, May 4, by the Rev. Dr. Singer, from Ezekiel xlvii. 8. “ Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea; which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.

The annual meeting was held on the following day, when the chair was taken by Lord Gambier, and the business commenced with prayer.

The Report was then read, which detailed the operations of the Society in its different Missions. The income of the Society had during the early part of the year, fallen so far below the current expenditure, as to occasion considerable anxiety to the Committee; but the receipts during the last quarter exceeded £19,000, carrying up the total for the year to £53,400; a sum exceeding the revenue of the preceding year by £10,200. This sum included upwards of £2,500 under the head of Legacies. The expenditure of the year, including £4,400 advanced to the Institution Building Fund for the completion of the works at Islington, amounted to upwards of £55,000; making an excess of expenditure in the year over the receipts of rather more than £1,800.

J. THORNTON, Esq. Treasurer, said that the amount of last year's subscriptions exceeded the highest amount received in any year since the existence of this Society by £8,333; that it was above last year by £10,200; and above the average of the last three years by £9,116. Of the £10,000 excess this year, £2,500 came from legacies. The expenditure of the Society had been increased, and there remained a balance in hand now no greater than £1,800. This left the Society in a different condition from that of former years; for whereas then they usually had a full year's expenses in hand, they had now no more than was enough for two months. There was another subject to which he would allude: though free from the fear of being obliged to abandon some of the Missions, still the Society had been under the necessity of restricting some of them. He hoped, however, before the end of the year the Society would be enabled to say to their agents,

Spare not, lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes, and extend your tents to the utmost.'

The Bishop of Chester in moving “ That the Report be received,” observed, That the increase of the funds sprung from an improved feeling in the country, and especially in the church, on the subject of Missions, that would be permanent, because a feeling of this kind-one excited—is not to be extinguished. We may all remember the change that has taken place in the public feeling, and recollect the time when the duty of giving the gospel to others lay easy on their minds. We seemed to have forgotten that the injunction to preach and teach all nations was still unrepealed. We were satisfied with performing our own duties in quiet, nay, the very word mission rather excited the idea of an enthusiasm thai was more to be feared than followed. In this we remark the change that has taken place. I am delighted with it; and I aver, that great results must take place; and I also hope I am not too sanguine in supposing that it will be productive of the greatest service to our own church. My reason for this hope is, because I find that the Missionary cause has always produced a benefit to all those who have engaged in it. Its effects, it is true, may often disappoint those who are over-anxious, but I need not remind Christians that they may look for apparent disappointments, for our counsels are not God's counsels: He keeps his times and seasons to himself: we may throw our bread upon the waters, but the increase alone is from the Lord. But the Missionary has His blessing to watch over him in his trials and his privations, and while exposed to the most severe and disagreeable occurrences, he yet is able to say, “ It is good for me to be here ;” and he feels tenfold, nay, a lundred times comforted for all the wants and extremities he endures. We ought not to stop such exertions then, for we find that the Saviour blesses every one engaged in them. When we look to districts and parishes we know that the parochial clergy induce their flock to enter into these works; and we also find that when the flock becomes anxious to enlighten, and feels alive to the wants of others, they always become better themselves. Our Mission is a Church Mission, and we ought to increase our exertions in its favour as far as possible; and, indeed, as 2 means by increasing her extent, also to increase her permanency; for I believe it to be with her as with a tree, which, as it lifts its head and spreads its branches to heaven, proportionally strikes its roots and fixes them firmly in the ground below.

The Rev. Wm. Jowett remarked that the reason why missionaries are enabled to endure labours and privations, and to escape temptations in their varied course, is that no persons are more supported by the prayers of the church than they ar. These, though unheard by our ears, are heard by the ears of the Lord. They prevail with him, and their influence, insensible to us, though most sensible in its effects, is fraught with blessing to us. Eight years ago, I was engaged in printing the Gospel of St. John in the dialect of Malta. Its diffusion was met by a resistance on the part of the Maltese hierarchy, so powerful that I much doubted whether oor direct success would be very great. I however persevered, and the success has been great indeed, as the beginning showed the natives our real object, and will, I hope, lead to translations of the whole Scriptures. I am now printing a translation of the whole of the Gospels into the Maltese language, and there is now no question of our success. The opposition was great from the Maltese government, from the head of the Roman Catholic Church there, the Bishop of Malta. He is now very old; and though I have not the honour to know him personally, I have good reason to believe that as he approaches the end of his days, his conscience is oppressed at the thought of what he has done in attempting to hinder the spread of the Gospel. When I recollect that since I last appeared before your Lordsbip, two of the heads of that church have gone to their judgment, and that another Pontiffhas been raised to that fearful eminence, I ask, ought we not to pray for him, and for the vicars and clergy of the Catholic church, that their hearts may be turned, and that they may give their flocks the blessing of the true Word of God. With respect to Greece, an interesting report has been read to you ; but I confess that after the visits I have paid to that country, no report can meet the feelings and the intense interest it excites in my mind. Greece has a peculiar hold on our minds, and for what reason? Not because she has been to us the source of instruction and discipline—not that her orators and her poets have delighted and inspired us—nor is it the recollection that formerly she possessed the most eminent virtues, for Athens and Corinth are now no more. No, none of these reasons weigh with us--none but this, that the Providence of God has made the distress and the oppression of that country the great means of opening a wide door to the spread of the Gospel, This it is that excites our interest; and I do believe that nothing can do so much good, or indeed any good to Greece, except the extension of missions, and the spread of Christian knowledge. There is something to be done that missionaries cannot do. We might give the Greeks the benefit of yaluable works, and a translation committee would be an excellent institution, the labours of which might be greatly facilitated by means of missionaries. The great work, however, after all, is to be done by the preaching of the cross. In Greece we preach as we can, and when we can-to ten-to five-to two-and even to pne. Our labour then seems more like that of an apostle than any other—though of course very different from that of a regular church. The missionaries sit from morning unto evening, and every one is at liberty to come in, to converse, and if they will, to enter into controversy with us. The people come ; of course with different motives, some with sincerity and a desire for the truth, and others certainly merely for what they can get. But mark the effect. My brother Hartley is well known every where, and the young men are constantly with him. They have the spirit of inquiry natural to Greeks, and they exert it, as was done in Athens of old: He also has gone among the Jews, and he it was who baptized those Jews, of whom you have heard, at Constantinople. These Jews were denounced by their nation, and a Turkish governor said to Mr. Hartley,-The Jews have offered me money to put these converts to death, and they wish to do with me as they did when they tied down Pontius Pilate to crucify Jesus.' This shows that the Turks are not so ignorant of history as is represented--for this Turk understood, as well as Pilate, that their enmity proceeded from envy. He did not put these persons to death, he sent them to prison-a horrible and a loathsome one no doubtwhere they lingered for fifteen inonths, and were then delivered by means unknown to any one ; and one of them is now most anxious to become a missionary. There hangs upon this another point--that possibly the Jews may be most instrumental in preaching the Gospel to the Mohamedans themselves. This has ever been considered a delicate subject, not from the danger which it would draw upon us, but from the circumstance that any change of religion by a Mahommedan-such is their law-is punished with death. We have one instance, that of Athanasius, a Christian, who unfortunately like several others, had become a Mahomedan. He, however, struck with the enormity of his crime, went into a public court, threw down his turban, and renounced Islamism. The consequence was, that he was taken out to a plain, near Smyrna; was tortured for a longtime, in a manner the most cruel, and at length his head was cut off by the sword of the executioner. The Gospel has indeed been preached under circumstances even more dangerous. Let it then be fully preached at Constantinople, and it will produce the most blessed results,

The Bishop of CALCUTTA offered a few suggestions, by way of encouragement to those who have exerted themselves in promoting Missionary labours, and who have closely and anxiously considered this subject. That difficulties and hindrances should lie in the way of Missionary labours, is nothing more than might be expected; but it is consoling to think that many of the difficulties are transitory; and there is encouragement in the reflection that there are no difficulties or obstructions which patience may not endure, and perseverance subvert. It is a sufficient incentive to consider that thousands are famishing to partake of those JUNE 1829.

2 H

counsels of wisdom, which it is the object of Missionary labours to supply to all, and that the promised reward of such labours is the treasure of everlasting love. In the difficulties and bindrances which present themselves to the progress of Missionary labours, it is also to be observed, that the fulfilment of an express promise may be recognized. It is nothing more than what the Holy Scriptures give the friends of the Missionary cause reason to expect. It is necessary that the learen should purify itself gradually until all should be purified, and that the light should shine more and more, until at length all become brightness. In reading the history of military achievements, or of commercial adventure, the mind is distressed by considering the loss of life which such contests and enterprises lead to, and thousands fall victims to war, or to commercial enterprise; but in this peaceful, but glorious struggle, comparatively few lives have been lost, and the names of the individuals who have fallen victims to their zeal for propagating the Gospel, may be counted man by man. The objects, however, with which wars are in general commenced, and commercial speculations carried on, are extremely insignificant, even when confessedly just and laudable, compared with the great cause which this Meeting has assembled for the purpose of advancing; and which must prosper, because it has the sanction of God himself.

The Rev. GEORGE HAZLEWOOD observed ; that some years ago the captain of a small Welsh trading vessel, bound from Liverpool to Dublin, was captured by an American privateer. The captain of the privateer not being in a condition to take his prize into a friendly port, resolved that whatever was valuable on board the trader should be removed on board the privateer; that the Welsh vessel should then be surik, and the captain and crew be taken on board the privateer, as prisoners. In order to carry this resolution into effect, the captain of the privateer went on board the trader, and desired the Welsh captain to point out to him whatever was valuable on board. Upon going down to the cabin, the first thing that struck him, was a box lying in the cabin, and on the cover was written • Missionary Box.' The commander of the privateer said, • What is this? what does it contain?' Oh!' said the Welsh captain, much distressed at the fate which he thought awaited him, that is a box in which I and my poor fellows used to put a penny a-week, for the purpose of sending Missionaries to those who know nothing of the word of God.' Upon this the captain of the American said, ' I will not harm a hair of your heads, take your vessel and cargo and go your ways. I was relating this anecdote some short time ago in a distant part of the United Kingdom, and before I had concluded, one of the persons present stopped me, and said, “You need tell no more; there is the vessel which the privateer captured, and I was on board her at the time.' My Lord, I will add no more, but just say to those who may rejoice in the deliverance of the Welsh captain, Go thou and do likewise.

The Rev. Dr. Sincer, said, If the employment of Missionaries was an honourable employment, the Home Missionary had also honours and privileges, and for these they should thank the Society. For his own part he should thank God for the privilege of being a door-keeper in the house of God. It was the mission of the Rev. Mr. Jowett to Ireland which first engaged his (Dr. Singer's) attention, and recalled him to a sense of what he owed to God and to his Gospel. At that period Protestantism was at a low ebb in Ireland, and its ministers seemed to sleep in the enjoyment of the privileges they possessed. Much of the animation and increased interest which existed in that country on religious subjects was to be attributed to the Church Missionary Society, which had something so peculiarly interesting, and if he might use a worldly phrase, so romantic in its operations, that it found a responsive chord in the hearts of his countrymen, and Protestants and Roman Catholics joined in its triumphs. On some occasions the rooms, where meetings of the Society were held, were too limited for the accommodation of the numbers anxious to be present at the proceedings ; and he could state from personal observation, that poor Protestants who had retained their faith in the midst of a Catholic population, when neglected by English Protestants and by their own countrymen, often walked thirty or forty miles to attend a Meeting of the Church Missionary Society—thus identifying themselves with the Society and with the Church. In point of fact, the labours of the Society furnished the poor Protestants of Ireland with a source of consolation and pride. There is no subject on which Catholics are so prone to argue and to indulge in ridicule as with respect to Protestant Missionaries. Roman Catholics conceive that to their

« EelmineJätka »