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IRISH EVANGELICAL SOCIETY.
DESTITUTION OF THE MEANS OF KNOWLEDGE.
“I would further desire to express through your committee, my best thanks to the committee of the Tract Society, for the parcel of tracts forwarded by them on my application in March last. The advantage of our cause here derived from these little 'messengers of mercy,' is incalculable. The committee will be enabled adequately to estimate some of these advantages, when I inform them that D- -, which is our central station, number's a population of 1000 souls. The country around it abounds with hamlets and villages, with numerous humble habitations scattered between them; while other parts of Ireland, with which twenty-one years service in the mission have made me acquainted, is greatly in advance of it, with regard to the means of religious instruction,
in the S.W. by S. direction from D at the distance of eleven Irish miles, is the town of B- -, one of my out stations. Here, a few books, on a very limited scale, are to be had, but at such exorbitant prices as places them beyond the reach of the poor man, except in some rare instances, when Christian liberality is moved to supply the poor man's case. In the line of D-, extending N.E. by E., there is not a single book shop, of any description, nearer than — -, a distance of not less than twenty-five Irish miles. In the northern direction, along the sea-coast, no book can be had for sale, in any place, within a distance of forty Irish miles : and towards the S.E. by E., no book can be purchased within twenty-seven miles, whilst the eastern direction supplies no book to be sold, for an unknown distance, and the town of D— itself, with its 1000 inhabitants, has not a single book shop. I think, so much as a school boy's primer could not be purchased in all the towns among which my lot is cast. In a district presenting such an index of the absence of literary means, the committee can easily imagine there exists a proportionate lack of knowledge, that very little taste for reading is engendered, so that the dominion of ignorance of God, and the things of God, is truly fearful over a people thus prepared for it.”—From an Irish Preacher.
GRATITUDE FOR THE SCRIPTURES.
“ The man mentioned in my former journal, who told the story about Priest Matthews, came to my house a few days ago, returning me thanks for teaching him to read the Irish Scriptures, and offering me money for all the trouble I had taken in pointing out to him the errors of the Popish religion. Well, sir, said he, I read in the Irish Testament, that the labourer is worthy of his meat, and you had a great deal of labour and trouble in teaching me to read the Irish Bible, and pointing out to me the errors of popery ; therefore, sir, I hope you will accept of a little trifle from me. So saying, he handed me a thirty shilling note, which I strongly refused taking. O sir, said he, you have bestowed a treasure on me that I would not part with ; no, not for the king's dominions. You gave me the Irish Bible and taught me to read it, and since that time I feel as if the weight of a mountain was raised off my guilty conscience. Well, my friend, said I, do you pray to saints and angels yet? Ah, no sir, that is all over. I was a long time in darkness, but I thank and praise my glorious Redeemer that he has let me live to see this time, when I see and read in his holy word, that there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man, Christ Jesus.' When I go through the country selling my goods, I meet with many of my old companions, who invite me to take a glass, but I always refuse, and take out my Irish Bible and read from Gal. v., “The works of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit,' and again, Eph. v., 'Do not drink with some, &c.' besides other similar chapters, by which means many famous drunkards have become sober and chaste. This man is both clever and enlightened in the Scriptures ; not long ago he was a great persecutor, but is now contending for the faith once delivered to the saints.
" The opposition to the reading of the Scriptures still prevails ; owing to the priests, who are actively engaged in going from house to house, and from room to room, warning the people at their peril not to suffer any Bible reader into their apartments, and not to receive any of their heretical Bibles or pernicious tracts, but after all this, I am happy to say that many of the people still receive me into their houses, and gladly crowd about me to hear the Irish Scriptures. They also joyfully receive tracts, and indeed they seem to hunger and thirst for the Irish « Harmony,' (published by Rev. Dr. Townley) so that nothing ean prevent some of the people from hearing and reading the word of God.
“A man to whom I gave a ‘harmony' a few weeks ago, came to my house this morning and said, I am come to you, sir, for another «Gospel Harmony,' and I am satisfied to pay whatever you demand for it. The one you gave me I lent to the priest's clerk, and he gave it to the priest, and the priest came to me and gave me a great scolding, and told me that I should go to the bishop for a ticket, and do public penance, or else he would excommunicate me for reading an heretical book which was full of deadly poison. Then, sir, I answered him, and said, that I saw no poison in it: that it contained the Douay Scriptures. Then, sir, he called me a rascal, and other wicked bad names, and then kicked me, and took up his cane to strike me; but, sir, I had a good stick in my hand, and defended myself, and told him when he saw me drunk and fighting at fairs and markets, he did not bid me go to the bishop for a ticket, nor abuse me, and I then told him that I never read a better book. And now, sir, I will read it in spite of his teeth, and he may do his best.”—From a Scripture reader.
COLONIAL MISSIONARY SOCIETY.
As the committee of this society proceed with their work, its importance, difficulty, necessity become daily more apparent. Every communication received from the colonies, discloses in affecting terms the moral wants, and capabilities of the settlers in those fine regions. But nothing in this department of labour, presses so strongly on the convictions of the committee, on the absolute necessity of sending, if any, able, energetic ministers. Men endued with power. The fact is, the British colonies abound with men sustaining the office of the ministry. But it would seem as if while emigrants are generally among the strongest, and most active-minded of the population, the ministers who have followed them, are among the feeblest and least energetic. Hence the ministry is in danger of sinking altogether into contempt. Hence the necessity of sending out men who can command the attention and respect of the people, and redeem the character of their whole class.
A letter recently received from Dr. Ross, under date fourth September, 1840, gives occasion for these remarks. Every thing in his own immediate sphere of labour is represented as most satisfactory and hopeful. The following extracts from this communication are given to show what, in the mature judgment of that wise minister, are the wants of New South Wales. And the Doctor's representations will be amply sustained by copious extracts from a letter addressed to him by a settler in the colony. Every member of our churches in the secure enjoyment of abounding religious means and privileges, should thoughtfully and devoutly read the representations given by that good man.
Extracts from the letter of Dr. Ross :
“I do wish exceeding that you could send out some self-denying missionaries. They must be men of energy and sense, as well as of piety-capable of entering into all sorts of society, and of making themselves respected among the proprietors, as well as influential among the smaller settlers, and dwellers in the bush'-willing to endure hardships as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. We do not want at present settled ministers—there are too many of them already—but persons to travel about con
stantly. An evangelical itinerancy would be an immense blessing to New South Wales. At the same time there are openings for settled ministers at one or two places. At Port Macquarie, for instance, there is a fine opening for a respectable, active, well-educated minister.” “Oh, be particular in your selection of men for these colonies ! Do not take every one that may offer himself. Better send none at all than improper persons. Piety and respectable talent are not enough. There must be energy, zeal, knowledge of the world-a love of work--a buoyancy of mind that will keep above the level even of the excited spirits every where around him.” To the Rev. Dr. Ross,
27th July, 1840. “On this blessed day, it cannot be said the sound of the church-going bell is never heard inviting the numerous inhabitants of this district, to the worship of the true God. The bell does sound, and the church door is open, the pastor is within, and the sacred truths of revelation are read; but alas, that grace for poor lost souls which gives vital energy to pastoral labours in wanting. Thousands may be said to be perishing. Every one here seems entirely absorbed in obtaining worldly wealth. The God worshipped here is mammon, whilst that God whose the earth is, and the fullness thereof, is forgotten. What is the cause of all this lamentable neglect. If there are no preachers, are there no Bibles? Yes, there are Bibles. Can the people read them? Yes, the majority can. They are intelligent. Many possess superior abilities, good education, extensive information. To what then is this general neglect of religion to be imputed ? I reply to the example of the wealthy and influential members of society on the one hand, and the ignorance of the lower classes on the other. The moral depravity of both classes is excessive. The whole district with some little exception, is a perfect moral desert. You are perhaps ready to ask, why have you thus opened the subject to me? How can I help you? My hands are full! I have ventured to address you, Sir, as a minister of Christ's church, and I have under my roof four of my family who are also members of churches, of the same denomination, and who feel deeply their separation from the comforts they once derived from pastoral instructions and consolations ; but chiefly because I am deeply affected at beholding the hundreds around me who are walking in the broad road to destruction, whilst none are pointing out the way to heaven.
"I will give the land for a chapel, and convey it to trustees. Beyond this I cannot go, except that I will endeavour to obtain subscriptions. The population where I should give the land, is greatly on the increase. The neighbourhood is now populous. The greatest difficulty, however, would be to secure a pastor and support him. The support of a minister in Sydney is a difficult matter. Here it would be still more so. In fact I see no hope except in an appeal to the mother country. We require missimaries as much as any heathen part of the world. When listening to the able advocacy of missions to the heathen, how little did I suppose I should ever have occasion to address a minister of the Gospel to request his aid towards procuring a misxionary to be sent amongst Englishmen, born and educated in Christian principles. Such, however, is the lamentable fact. As a private individual, having a very large family and restricted means, I can do very little more than write and endeavour to stimulate others more wealthy than myself
. In this unfortunate district may be said to be collected the most intellectual, as well as the most ignorant class of criminals ever cast upon any spot of equal extent, to spread the pestilential influence of immorality
, without check, except that of the civil power backed by military force. The immorality of the free equals that of the bond. Except that the one class are under the ban of the law, and the others manage to elude it; I know not how to distinguish them. Is it to be wondered at, that criminals grow hardened in their crimes, when those who rule them are often openly profligate ; when the man who sits in judgment upon the prisoner to day, may be found drunk himself on the morrow. Could I,
dare 1, but expose, in the large assemblies I have met in Carr's Lane and elsewhere, what I know and what I have seen amongst our countrymen and countrycomen, I think they would overwhelm me with lamentation and disgust. I feel they would either withdraw their support from the heathen, or redouble their efforts to sate their own brethren. Where neither life or property is safe except by a system of non-interference in what passes before your eyes, and where you cannot get served except you shut your eyes to crime, what is to be expected? Can good arise out of such a place ? Must it not be invited to it? What spirit except a missionary spirit would attempt to occupy such a field ? If a missionary of ability and fidelity were stationed here, I have little doubt but in a few years a lively interest would be taken in the cause of religion, and the expence of his maintenance would be cheerfully borne by the people. But to induce such a class as I have described to support a minister in the first instance, would be, in my opinion, impossible. I ought to apologise for obtruding myself upon you, as a stranger; but as to my subject, I feel, that as a Christian minister, it is one that must deeply interest you, and that to offer any apology, would be to insult your judgment and wound your heart."
TRANSACTIONS OF THE CONGEGATIONAL CHURCHES.
THE ANNUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE CONGREGATIONAL UNION OF ENGLAND AND WALES.—This important anniversary will be held in the Congregational Library, Bloomfield-Street, on Tuesday, the 11th of May. The chair will be taken, as usual, at nine o'clock precisely, by the Rev. Richard Elliott, of Devizes, breakfast having been previously prepared as on former occasions, in the lower room, at eight o'clock.
It is intended to secure as favourable an opportunity, and to devote as large a portion of time, as may be practicable, for the reports and suggestions of the delegates from the several associations, especially on the great practical subject of Home Missions.
All the associations are respectfully pressed to nominate, and secure the attendance of delegates at the approaching assembly, as there never was a period when it was more necessary that the brethren of our body should advise, sustain, and encourage each other in the support of their common principles, and in meeting the pressure and difficulties of the times.
COMPLETION OF THE COURSE OF EDUCATION AT HOMERTON COLLEGE.
This ancient academical institution has been always distinguished for the sound and extended course of instruction given to its students. That eminent theological professor, Dr. J. P. Smith, has for forty years devoted his powers to the advancement of sound learning and scientific knowledge amongst our rising ministers. In the last annual Report, which we have recently received, the following admirable remarks appear, which we gladly transcribe, as we are deeply impressed with the conviction, that the ministers of religion must keep in advance of the universal movement of mind in this country, or the cause to which they are devoted will be injured by their ignorance of the truths of science.
We rejoice to witness the connexion which our collegiate institutions are forming by royal favour, with the University of London, and doubt not that the students of Homerton, with other young nonconformists, will compete with ardour and success for the academical honours of that foundation.
" It cannot be supposed that serious Christians have failed to observe, with deep interest, the unexampled efforts made in our day for the improvement and diffusion of universal education. Till of late, such efforts wore almost exclusively the character
of charity to the poor; and great have been the blessings poured upon the indigent part of our population by the exertions of pious persons in this department of benevolence. But another effect, of vast extent and importance has taken place. Not only has common elementary knowledge been communicated to myriads in every part of our country, who have thus been prepared intelligently to hear the preaching of the Gospel; but a taste for reading has been formed, avenues of thought and inquiry have been opened, a universal excitement on literary and scientific subjects has been produced, which has laid hold upon all ranks, and, in a very comprehensive sense, has presented the fulfilment of the prediction belonging to the Messiah's kingdom, Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.' In our cities and great towns, and many other parts of the country, public libraries, philosophical lectures, and institutions for literary and scientific improvement, have been established; and their effects have been displayed upon a great scale in producing an ardent desire for profound and accurate knowledge, and a zealous activity in applying the means for its attainment.
" The new state of society which has thus arisen has a most powerful and solemn bearing upon the moral tone of men's minds, and their highest interests for time and Eternity. If the mental propensities of our nature had not fallen from rectitude, if truth and holiness had not been repudiated by our universal corruption, there would have been no danger from the deepest and most comprehensive researches into the manifestations of God in the creation and the sustaining of material things, in the phenomena of mind, and in the laws which his wisdom has established for the physical and the intellectual government of his universe. But in the actual condition of mankind, there is a prevailing vanity of the mind, the understanding is darkened, and men are alienated from the life of God,' the communion of holy affection with the Supreme cause, “through the ignorance that is in them ;' not the simple absence of knowledge, but (äyvola) a refusal to know, and which is connected with “ the callousness of the heart," the reckless determination of the carnal mind, which is enmity against God.' From these incontrovertible truths, it cannot but follow, that the cultivation of literature and science by creatures so envenomed by wilful prejudice, will be perverted so as to have awful effects upon their upon their minds. Infidelity will be emboldened and impiety cherished, by the perverted application of physical truths ; while a veil will be thrown over the deformity of unbelief, by the agreeableness of decorous manners, and the charm of philosophic profession, lying in wait to deceive.' The effect of such a state of mental impresa sions, the early working of which will be rapidly diffusive in all directions, must prove most fearful upon all ranks and ages, but especially upon young persons. Divine ordinances will be trampled upon, revelation rejected without being examined, virtue and morals held in scorn, and atheism will be ascendant over us as it is with multitudes of so-called philosophers in neighbouring nations.
" The demand is, therefore, loud and imperative upon all the faithful servants of Christ, and above all upon those who are set for the defence of the Gospel,' in the work of the ministry, that they gird themselves for this new and formidable contest. The case is not now as it was in the days of our nonconformist ancestors, and the other great men of the seventeenth century. The armour which was chiefly necessary for them consisted in the learned languages, civil and sacred histories, and the metaphysics and logic of the middle ages. Natural philosophy was but in its cradle; and the comparatively few who took hold of mathematical learning, studied it principally as a means of mental discipline. But in our time, in addition to the delightful literature of ancient Rome, Greece, and Judæa, the man who may hope to be equal to the demands of his station as a preacher and a pastor, must have an acquaintance more than superficial with the enlarged sphere of