Page images
PDF
EPUB

Romish church? What is the essential difference in the principles assumed? The papist assumes for facts, that he is right, and that it is owing to the wickedness of their hearts that protestants dissent from him. He therefore feels authorized to treat dissenters as heretics and wicked men. But do not many protestants assume as much, and treat dissenters from their creed in a similar manner? Can this principle be the worst part of popery in the one, and the best part of protestantism in the other? Shall we censure that in a papist which we approve in a protestant? Dr. Buchanan supposed, "that if the papists would only intimate to their protestant friends that they renounced the exclusive principle, and that they PROFESS THE RELIGION OF THE BIBLE, no more would seem requisite to form with

such persons the sincerest friendship on Christian principles.' Shall then protestants maintain an "exclusive principle," as a bar to communion with each other, while they wish the papists to renounce this principle, that a way may be opened for the "sincerest friendships" with them? To men of benevolent minds and serious reflection, it must be paiuful to see one of the most exceptionable principles of popery adopted and supported by Christians, who call themselves protestants. But when we see professed protestants intimating to. papists the propriety of "renouncing the exclusive principle," may we not hope, that the time is at hand, when these protestants will set their catholic brethren a good example, as well as give them good advice?

A LETTER FROM ANTHONY BENEZET TO THE QUEEN OF GREAT BRITAIN.

To Charlotte, Queen IMPRESSED with a sense of religious duty, and encouraged by the opinion generally entertained of thy benevolent disposition to succour the distressed, I take the liberty, very respectfully, to of fer to thy perusal some tracts, which, I believe, faithfully describe the suffering condition of many hundred thousands of our fellow creatures of the African race, great numbers of whom, rent from every tender connexion in life, are annually taken from their native land, to endure in the American islands and planta

of Great Britain: tions a most rigorous and cruel slavery, whereby many, very many of them are brought to a melancholy and untimely end. When it is considered that the inhabitants of Britain, who are themselves so eminently blessed in the enjoyment of religious and civil liberty, have long been, and yet are very deeply concerned in this flagrant violation of the common rights of mankind, and that even its national authority is exerted in support of the African slave trade, there is much reason to apprehend that this has been;

and as long as the evil exists will continue to be, an occasion of drawing down the divine displeasure on the nation and its dependencies. May these considerations induce thee to interpose thy kind endeavors on behalf of this greatly oppressed people, whose abject situation gives them an additional claim to the pity and assistance of thy generous mind: inasmuch as they are alto gether deprived of the means of soliciting effectual relief for themselves. That so thou may not only be a blessed instrument in the hands of Him, "by whom kings reign and princes decree justice," to avert the awful judgments, by which the empire has already been so remarkably shaken, but that the blessings of thousands ready to perish may come upon thee, at a time when the superior advantages, attendant on thy situation in this world, will no longer be of any avail to thy consolation and support.

To the tracts, on the subject to which I have thus ventured to draw thy particular attention, I have added some others, which at different times I have believed it my duty to publish, and which 1 trust will afford thee some satisfaction; their design being for

the furtherance of that universal peace and good will amongst men, which the gospel was in. tended to introduce.

I hope thou wilt kindly excuse the freedom used on this occasion by an ancient man, whose mind, for more than forty years past, has been much separated from the common course of the world, and long painfully exercised in the consideration of the miseries, under which so large a part of mankind, equally with us the objects of redeeming love, are suffering the most unjust and grievous oppression, and who sincerely desires the temporal and eternal felicity of the queen and her royal consort.

ANTHONY BENEZET. Philad. the 25th of the 8th month, 1783.

N. B. The above is the letter to the queen which was mentioned in the sketen of Benezet in the number for March. It is inserted that our readers may have some idea of the humanity and benevolence of his heart, from his own writings; and that they may be excited to esteem and to imitate such an example. It will be remembered, that the letter was written long before the slave trade was abolished in Britain.

Illustrations of passages in the New Testament, which refer to sentiments, &c. among the Jews, in the time of our Savior.

48.

Matth. v. 13. "If the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall

it be salted?"

IT is probable that our Lord may refer here to salt, dug from salt lakes, the upper crust of

which, having been exposed to the sun, rain, and wind for a long time, loses its relish, and is good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Taylor's Scripture illustrated, p. 175.

49. Matth. v. 15. "Neither do men fight a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick."

The meaning of the original word is, a lamp. Candles were not used at that time in Judea, for lighting their houses. And the word, which is translated a candlestick, means a lamp-stand. Nor had the Jews a bushel. The measure, mentioned by the evangelist, was less than our peek. The term bushel, serves well enough for conveying the import of the sentiment; but as it indirectly suggests the use of a measure, which was unknown in Judea, it is evidently improper. See Campbell's note on the verse, and Diss. 8, p. 1, § 6. In his translation, Campbell adopts the general term, measure.

50.

Matth. v. 17. "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil."

There was nothing, of which the Jews were equally jealous, as of an intimation of a design against their sacred books; the very letters of which they numbered; ascertained the number of times in which words were repeated in them; the middle word of the whole, and the middle letter; and there was nothing which would instantly have excited them to so united a resist ance. Hence the explicit avow. al of our Lord, that he came not to destroy, or rather, to subvert the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them; to teach their true import, and to accomplish their

great and important purposes. These seem to be the mearing, and the object of the expressions. "The instructions in the sermon on the mount, appear to be explanatory of the law, shewing its extent and spirituality, rather than additions to it, deriving their power to oblige, only from their promulgation by our Lord." It was the expectation of the Jewish nation concerning the Messiah, that he would publish a new law; yet not only without lessening the authority of Moses and the prophets, but at the same time that he gave to prophecy the most splendid fulfilment, that he would also exalt to the highest glory, the dispensation of Moses. We shall have repeated occasions for reference to this

text.

The expressions in the succeeding verse, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from* the law, appear to have been proverbial; and the history, or rather histories of the proverb, may amuse, if they do not instruct the reader. Says the Jerusalem Gemara, "the book of Deuteronomy prostrated itself before God, and said, O Lord of the universe, in me thou hast written thy law; and thy covenant, mutilated in one part, is injured in the whole. Behold, Solomon has attempted to blot out from me a yod.* The most holy God replied, Solomon, and a thousand like him, shall perish, but a word from thee shall not perish. Says Rabbi Honna, in the name of Rabbi Acha, the letter yod, which God took from

*The smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet.

the name of Sarai, our mother, is given half to Sarah, and half to Abraham. It is the tradition of Rabbi Joshua, the letter yod, having prostrated itself before God, said, O eternal Lord, thou hast blotted me from the name of a most holy woman. God most holy replied, thou hast hitherto been in the name of a woman, and in the end of the name, (of Sarai) thou shalt hereafter be in the name of a man, and in the beginning of the name.

Hence

it is written, Moses called the name of Oshea, Joshua. The Babylonian Gemara says, "the letter yod, says God, which I have taken from the name of Sarai, stood and cried to me for many years, that it might be prefixed to the name of Oshea, to whose name I have added it.' This is a specimen of the traditions, which the Jews regarded not less than their law.

Lightfoot's Hor. Heb. Camp. bell's note.

Summary of the speeches of Mr. Wilberforce, on the clause in the East India Bill, for promoting the religious instruction and moral improvement of the natives of India.

(Continued from page 109.)

THE evils of India are not merely such, as a despotic government never fails to introduce and to continue. They are family, fire-side evils. They pervade the whole mass of the population, and embitter the domestic cup in almost every family. How indeed can we overrate the sum of evils produced, and the happiness impaired and lost, from the single circumstance of the prevalence of polygamy. The president Montesquieu had no peculiar zeal for Christianity. But would we see a lively picture of the jealousies, the heart burnings, the artifice, the falsehood, the cruelty, the rage, the despair, of which polygamy is the fertile source, let us look to that great writer's Persian letters. Here we may find a decisive settlement of the question, concerning the rank in the scale of beings, which is as

signed to the female sex, among the nations of India. Their great lawgiver speaks of woman, in the most disparaging and contemptuous terms; and we see the same estimate of them, in many of the Hindoo customs and institutions.

re

Again, in India we find prevalent that evil, I mean infanticide, against which we might have hoped that nature would have supplied adequate straints, if we had not been taught by experience, that for our deliverance even from this detestable crime, we are indebted to Christianity. For it is not to philosophy, it is not to civilization, it is not to progress in refinement, or in the arts and com. forts of social life; it is not even to liberty herself, that the world is indebted for this emancipation. The friends of Christianity may justly glory in the acknowledg

ment of one of its greatest enemies, that infanticide was the incorrigible vice of all antiquity; and it is very striking that, both in India and China, where the light of revelation has never penetrated, this detestable crime still asserts its superiority over nature itself, no less than over virtue. To this, in India, is added, the destruction of the sick and aged, often by their nearest relatives.

Let me refer also to the praetice of burning widows, on the funeral pile of their deceased husbands. A writer of great authority, (Mr. Dow) many years ago, stated the custom to have become almost extinct. But sorry I am to say, that this is so far from being the truth, that the practice which Bernier states to have been greatly discouraged, though not absolutely prohibited by the Mahometan government, and which, in consequence, had considerably declined, has increased since the country came under our dominion. Great pains were taken by the missionaries, a few years ago, to ascertain the number of widows which were annually burnt, in a district thirty miles round Calcutta; and in this comparatively small area, one hundred and thirty widows were burnt in six months. In 1803, within the same space, the number amounted to two hundred and seventy five, one of whom was a girl of eleven years of age. Certain persons were employed

purposely to watch, and to report the number of these horri ble executions; and the place, person, and other particulars, were regularly certified. After hearing this, you will not be surprised on being told, that the whole number of these annual sacrifices of women, thus cruelly torn from their children, at the very time when they must be in the greatest need of the fostering care of the surviving parent, is estimated, I think, in the Bengal provinces, to be ten thousand.

Nor must we dare to flatter ourselves, though in truth it would be a wretched consolation, that these widows are of fered a willing sacrifice. Bernier relates, from his own personal view, that the women are always carefully fastened down, sometimes with strong green bamboos, at others with thick strong ropes, thoroughly soaked in water; and that when the wretched victims drew back, he has seen those demons, the Brahmins, thrusting them into the fire with their long poles. Sometimes indeed the relations and friends of the widow, exerting their utmost influence with her, succeed in persuading her to live. But the Brahmins delude the poor wretches with the hopes of glory and immortality, if they consign themselves to the flames. Their only alternative is, a life of hard fare, and of servile offices; in short, a life of drudgery, degradation, and infamy.*

It would be scarcely justifiable to forbear inserting the following account of one of these horrible scenes, at which the missionary, Mr. Marshman, was present a few years ago. I will extract his own words, only adding, that he is a man of the most established integrity; in the veracity of whose account, the most entire reliance may be justly placed.

སྙཎྜ ་ ་

« EelmineJätka »