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On Tuesday, the 2nd of March, after a protracted aud severe illness, the Rev. BENJAMIN BYRON, aged 51 years, who for twenty years had been a faithful, able, and devoted minister of the Gospel. He was educated in Hoxton Academy, and first ordained pastor of the Congregational Church at Lincoln. For the last ten years of his life he presided over the church and congregation assembling at Hope Chapel, Newport, Monmouthshire, and was the efficient secretary of the association in that county. He has left a widow to lament his death, with whom the bereaved church and congregation deeply sympathise.
BRIEF NOTES ON PASSING EVENTS. The events of the past month must have excited no common interest and anxiety in the mind of every Christian who observes “ the signs of the times.”
Although the news from China has not announced the adjustment of our differences with its government, yet it describes the dignified forbearance of the British commanders and commissioners, and their considerate conduct towards the unoffending inhabitants, that is worthy the representatives of a great people, professing that religion which proclaims “good-will towards men.” Nor can we learn the fact, that the imperial commissioner, Lin Tsihseu, suffering under a distressing infirmity, has been glad to accept surgical aid from “ the outside barbarians” who attend the hospital of the Medical Missionary Society at Canton, and that other eminent persons of the empire have availed themselves also of the skill of those admirable men, without the hope that such acts of mercy will greatly interest the people in our favour, and may, " like coals of fire,” soften those haughty men, and lead to results highly favourable to the extension of the Gospel in that benighted region. We cannot pass from this topic without expressing the deep regret we feel that our American brethren should allow themselves to reproach our British churches and religious press for not “ speaking out" against the “ flagrant injustice of the attack on China,” and against “ upholding our iniquitous course at the cannon's mouth."* If an appeal to arms is ever lawful, assuredly it is on the present occasion, and we recommend the testimony of Mr. Lay,“ on the causes and probable results of the war,”+ to their serious attention.
This, we fear, is however but a reflection of the state of the public mind in the UNITED STATES towards this country, and of which the news of the last month has afforded painful illustrations. A report was presented to the house of representatives by the chairman of the committee on foreign relations, which justifies the state of New York in the measures it has taken against Mr. M‘Leod, and breathes a spirit of great hostility to this country. This question has become so serious, that it is said Mr. Fox, the British minister at Washington, has orders to demand either the liberation of Mr. M‘Leod or his passport. If our American brethren wish to avoid collision with this country, it is high time they should abandon their declamations on the 6th of July, when they celebrate their own independence by puerile invectives against ours, which so influence the rising generation, that their schoolboys play at "British and Americans," as we in our youth were taught to fight “ French and English.” It is the solemn duty of the Christians of both countries to repress this spirit of hostility, though it seem only in sport. The next arrival of news from the States is looked for with the greatest interest.
At Homs, events have transpired during the past month of the deepest interest. Out of parliament, nothing has occurred of greater moment than the change effected by the powerful pen of the author of “Jethro” (Dr. Campbell) on the Bible monopoly
* American Biblical Repository, January, 1841, p. 141.
question. If the bread tax is denounced by statesmen and philanthropists as a cruel wrong to the bodies of the poor, how much more hateful ought that system to be accounted that causes “a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst far water, but a famine of the word of the Lord.”
Dr. Campbell having fully proved the facts and the wickedness of such an impost, the Queen's Printer, after having made in the public journals a feeble attempt at refu. tation, has virtually acknowledged his error by the publication of a catalogue of Bibles, &c., in which the prices, on the whole, are reduced one-half, and that too without any perceivable inferiority in the quality of the books themselves! Those “nursing mothers" of the church, Cambridge and Oxford, must now apply themselves to the same work, and no longer appropriate one-half of the voluntary contributions of the religious public for the circulation of the Scriptures, to enrich their University funds.
The proceedings of parliament have not been without interest relating to several practical questions now before the public. Lord Morpeth having referred incidentally to the opinions of certain Oxford divines, just as No. 90 of the “ Tracts for the Times" appeared, public attention was directed towards their semi-popish dogmas, and great excitement has been produced. The university authorities have published a cautious censure, but the Tractitians bravely defend themselves, and as far as we know our evangelical brethren are mute !
The Poor Law Bill is in committee, and while its main features commend themselves to our judgment, it can never have the cordial approbation of Protestant Dissenters till it is conformed, in its enactments on religious services, to the bill for the relief of the destitute poor of Ireland. Sections 48 and 49 of an Act, 1 and 2 Vict. c. 56, provides for the appointment of dissenting and catholic, as well as episcopalian chaplains, and that no inmates of a workhouse be obliged to attend religious service contrary to his principles.
This enactment, like the abolition of the church cess, is justice to Ireland, and why are not the same things justice in England ? It is objected, greatly indeed to our honour, that there are so few paupers who are dissenters, that it is needless to provide for them. But surely a truly just and liberal government ought not to punish the few unfortunate dissenters that are driven to a workhouse because they are so few. We shrewdly suspect, that if the nonconformists of England, like the Roman Catholics of Ireland, could return some eighty members to parliament, a sense of the justice of their claims in certain quarters would be wonderfully quickened. Doubtless we are reckoned " a feeble folk,” but her majesty's advisers may find that, if the dissenters cannot secure the election of eighty members, it will be very easy for them, at a general election, to re-act the proceedings of the Dudley dissenters, and, by retiring from the struggle, leave those who are so heartless in the cause of religious freedom to their fate. Such a course is very likely to be provoked by the cold and haughty manner in which the case of Mr. Baines, and the church-rate question in general, has of late been treated.
We are happy to observe, that Protestant Christians in the Turkish empire are likely to be protected, by the interference of our government, as the Roman Catholics are by the diplomacy of France.
ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS. Favours have been received from Rev. Drs. Urwick—Morrison-W. Smith—Matheson-Davidson.
Rev. Messrs. Thomas Mann-R. Chamberlain-Samuel Nichols-Robert Fergusou
Messrs. Joshua Wilson Richard Hunt-T. B. Bachelor.
THE LONDON UNIVERSITY AND DISSENTING COLLEGES.
The establishment of the London University has been of great advantage to us as a body, and will, we have no doubt, tend to improve the education, which is afforded in our colleges to students for the Christian ministry. It is not intended to say any thing here on the advantages which a minister derives from a sound, deep, and comprehensive course of study; for its importance is admitted by almost every reasonable man in the present day. If it were not foreign to the object we have in view in the following remarks, nothing would be easier than to show the utter fallacy of a prejudice, which still exists in some quarters, that deep learning and great usefulness in the ministry are things incompatible and almost contradictory. This prejudice is both false in theory and opposed to facts, which prove beyond all contradiction, that from the times of the apostles to the present day, the greatest reformers in the church, and the most successful preachers of the Gospel, have been some of the most learned of men. The preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles was chiefly entrusted to the most learned and best educated of the apostles ; the deliverance of the church from the thraldom of popery was committed to men well provided with all the learning of their time; and in our own country the great puritan reformation was effected not by the fanatic and illiterate, not, as some would represent, by ignorant and uneducated mechanics, but by men, whose gigantic attainments not only in theology but in all branches of knowledge, far surpass the acquirements of most of our modern divines. When we recollect such men as Baxter, Howe, Owen, and numerous others, without descending to modern examples, which might easily be quoted, we surely need not endeavour to prove that learning is of advantage to a Christian minister.
The question, however, is no longer an open one. Events have already decided it for us ; we have no option in the matter; for if we are to retain our stand as a denomination, and to exercise that influence upon the age which we ought to seek to exert on account of those prin
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ciples, which have been committed to our keeping by the providence of God, a large number of our ministers must possess real, deep, and sound learning. Not only has there been an improvement in the education of all classes of society, which demands a corresponding improvement in the education of ministers, but there has also arisen, of late years, a great and growing party, who, with deep learning and much zeal, are attempting to diffuse principles, which we believe to be opposed to the simplicity of the Gospel and to the very foundation of spiritual religion. We are not disposed to be alarmists; but when we contemplate the rapid spread of the opinions, to which we refer, among the clergy of the established church, we cannot help believing that the whole burden of this controversy will eventually fall upon the dissenting ministers of this country, and that they will be called upon at no distant period, to defend the very first principles of the reformation against the whole power and learning of the church of England. And if such a controversy is coming, ought we not to be prepared for it? And can we prepare for it by attending public meetings, by writing little pamphlets, or by delivering lectures on the voluntary principle? We say not that such means are wrong, and ought to be abandoned; what we do say is, that they alone will not do the work. We must imitate the example of the great reformers of the sixteenth century; we must like them be the equals of our opponents in learning and knowledge ; we must come prepared with weapons fitted for the conflict, and not with the brittle arms of modern controversy, which will shiver in our hands at the first onset.
Our dissenting colleges have not been what they ought to have been. In saying this, we do not mean to attach the slightest blame either to the tutors or managers of our colleges ; for they have, with few exceptions, done all that they could under the circumstances of the case. Nor do we blame the public, for it also has done as much as could fairly be expected from it. The reason why our colleges have not given that extensive course of education, which all students for the ministry ought to go through, is simply owing to the fact of our having possessed a comparatively small number of learned men amongst the laity; and it was not therefore to be expected that they should contribute liberally to the support of that learning which they did not feel the want of themselves. With few exceptions, though these exceptions are noble ones, our laity have not devoted much of their time or their property to the interests and support of our colleges ; and while they have been ready to contribụte most liberally to all other institutions for the spread of Christ's kingdom, they have too frequently neglected the most important of all, the great normal schools for the diffusion of the Gospel, on whose efficiency much of the prosperity of the coming generation must, in human probability, depend. We trust, however, that a new era is dawning; the noble contributions, which have been made by our friends in Lancashire, to the new college at Manchester, and the munificent foundation of Spring Hill College, have unequivocally shown that our laity feels and acknowledges the necessity of giving ample encouragement to the prosecution of learning ; and we hope that the time is not far distant, when the income of our colleges will be such as to support with liberality a much larger number of professors and students than they at present possess.
The small number of students in most of our colleges, and the want of all stimulus to exertion in the prosecution of their studies, have been of great disadvantage. Our students have had no means of comparing themselves with others; they have had none of the intellectual excitement, which is supplied by the great universities; and the consequence has been, that they have frequently fallen into careless and idle habits, which have had the most injurious effects in their after life. The same causes have impaired the efficiency of the tutors ; seeing the students careless and negligent, they too have sometimes fallen into a drowsy state, and lost that lively interest in their duties, without which, teaching is of little use to the pupil, and an irksome task to the tutor. We believe that the recent incorporation of several of our colleges with the University of London will remedy the defect, of which we have been complaining, and supply the stimulus to exertion, which has been wanting both in tutors and students. As many of our readers are probably not aware of the constitution of the University of London, and of the mode in which its degrees are granted, and as the subject has now become one of importance to our body, we propose to give a brief outline of its history and organization, and of the course of instruction, which it requires all students to have completed, before they can be admitted to examination for degrees.
The University of London is even now frequently confounded by many people with University College, which formerly had the name of the University of London. The latter institution was founded in 1825, and was opened in October, 1828. From its first establishment, it was the object of its founders, and of those most deeply interested in its welfare, to obtain from the crown the power of granting degrees to its students; and upon the formation of Earl Grey's cabinet, it was confidently expected that this privilege would be obtained without difficulty, more especially as some of the cabinet ministers had been the earliest supporters and warmest friends of the institution. Unexpected difficulties, however, arose ; subjects of more engrossing interest occupied public attention; and in the excitement of the reform bill the claims of the University of London were almost forgotten. The consequence was, that when Sir Robert Peel succeeded to the premiership in 1835, nothing had been done in the matter; and the prospect of obtaining the long wished for privilege seemed more distant than ever. In consequence of this state of things, Mr. William Tooke moved in the