« VorigeDoorgaan »
They found the state of the Gipseys such as our friend the traveller describes it. Extreme poverty, the most disgusting filth, and the most lamentable ignorance and indifference, as to every thing connected with a blessed life and death, were there apparent. Their statement as to their numbers was not borne out. Upon strict inquiry, there were found only seventy-nine souls, there and in the immediate neighbourhood. Many of them, especially the children, went about naked. Others used to stitch on their rags about their limhs, before they rose in the morning. The women went out daily to beg, and took their children with them. Fortune-telling, however, is not now so profitable to them, since no one in the neighbourhood readily gives them credit. The men serve as musicians at dances in the neighbouring villages. Their earnings are consumed immediately. Their children (they found a woman living in the forest, who had twenty-four) grow up without any instruction. The merely instinctive love of their parents permits neither severity nor strictness. They grow up, like their progenitors, strolling musicians, thieves, cheats, ruffians, prepared with all the cunning of a nature thoroughly debased. Two only of these children had been sent to school, and could read. When the pupils addressed the seniors respecting their mournful state, they admitted it, but found a reason not in themselves, but in other men, who love not, but hate and despise them. That they were Heathens and Tartars, they would by no means admit. We worship the Triune God, said they; we are Catholics. One only went to church; but almost all their children were baptized, and many, at least, of their weddings were ecclesiastically solemnized. The two brethren sought to make them acquainted with the true source of all misery, internal and external : and appealed to their own consciences, in order to convince them of the wickedness of their lies, frauds, and shameful habits. One of them assented, as having often felt disquietude of mind on this account before: and another said, that the two strangers must be conjurors, for they knew men's thoughts. They well knew, they said, that Christ died for sinners upon the cross; but when the two pupils pressed them further, and spake of the righteousness of Christ, of faith, and of thankful love and gratitude, they put away from themselves the power of the Gospel, and were of opinion, that if as they were they were no Christians, neither were other men, amongst whom they lived, as being no better than themselves. O how reluctantly comes the natural man as a poor, needy sinner, to that Saviour, who is willing to save and to bless as many as draw nigh to him!
A little trial was made also, with respect to the education of the children. But with the exception of the two, who could just read, all were totally ignophilanthropists bestir themselves, to afford them temporal aid, in order that the word of the Lord may abide among them with a spiritual blessing? Wilt thou not, beloved reader, in the expectation of the Lord's awaking his servants' hearts to this work, make mention, in thy intercessions, of this poor people, who in the midst of Christendom know not Christ?
This peculiarity also they seem to have brought from their heathen source, and since preserved, that they sometimes let a boy go to school, but never a girl.
According to the conviction of the two pupils who have returned, and all other information concerning this poor people, spiritual help cannot succeed with them,unless it be attended with the relief of their bodily wants. While, to get their bread, they daily stroll about as musicians, rope-dancers, and beggars, the seed of the Gospel cannot strike root amongst them. For this mode of life, like a poisonous weed, withdraws the sap from every rising shoot of the new life : and there are in it many perilous snares of the devil, and the fruitful occasions of many grievous sins.-A colony must be formed, in which they may be assembled, and work for their bread; and in such an establishment should sound doctrine be preached to old and young. Then, under the blessing of the Lord, may we hope for fruit.
Such a project however, it must be confessed, far exceeds the powers of a single Missionary Society, and lies beyond its means. But shall these souls, then, still go astray? Are not many of them annually swept away by death? And how-in what a wretched state do they go hence! Will not Christian
Bischoff's German-Gipsey Dictionary contains some interesting particulars respecting this people, including an account of the grammatical structure of the language, as well as a copious vocabulary. We know not whether any part of the contents of this work, under the increased attention which the friends of the Gipseys are now paying to them at Southampton, will be acceptable to our readers.
To some sentiments of the preceding extract we object, of course. Who shall presume to say that we cannot evangelize people, without first civilizing them ? Is not this denying the power of the Gospel, and the sufficiency of Divine grace?-If it be only meant to assert, that the attempt to civilize and to relieve immediate wants is to be used as subsidiary to the great object, to this we make no exception. Yet even this attempt, we think, is not so to be made, as to take off missionaries from their higher duties. In fact, we look not to civilization to introduce the Gospel, but to the Gospel to introduce civilization. In like manner, in recommending temporal relief for the Jews, we never meant to urge it as a necessary part of the process of evangelizing—but as a scriptural evidence of our zeal; as a way of shewing them that we seek their good, by tangible evidence, of a kind that they can understand. This we ought to do on the principle of humanity : but to save their souls, we have the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which can do its work, without the aid of colonization or temporal expedients,
We subjoin the beginning of the “Report.” This also seems to be written in a good spirit; and from all that we have been able to learn, we are disposed to take a hopeful view of the general plan and principles upon which the Missionary Society at Barmen is conducted. In looking for indications of a religious improvement in Germany, we must not take alarm, and give up the search in despair, the moment we meet with any thing which we cannot approve. When we find any thing good, let us not be afraid to call it good : hoping and praying for an amendment, wherever an amendment is yet needed.
“Of the inconceivably high honour, as well as spiritual but often unseen glory, of which we are made partakers as Christians, this forms a part, that we are made labourers together with God in the Gospel, ministers of God in the building up of the church of Christ
earth. And that this is in some measure
OUR case, that we wish it to be so entirely, our present assembly, our joyful songs, our adoring thanks bear witness. O that every one here present, who on such principles participates in this day's festival, might be able to take to himself that beautiful testimony of the Lord, 'FOR MY NAME's sake thou hast laboured, and hast not fainted.' O that none of us had to fear that chastising censure which immediately follows, .Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.' For if our charity fails in zeal for the due extension of the kingdom of God, we are already in a culpable state, and need earnest repentance. Hence it is added, by the Lord himself, Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works ; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
In the interest which we feel, with respect to the religious state of the Continent, we believe that we are by no means singular, Not contented with reading books, we have wished to obtain all possible information by word of mouth; and therefore have made a point of gathering the opinions of religious friends, coming from the Continent, as often as opportunities presented themselves. Those who appeared the most judicious have generally spoken with the greatest caution; and when they have spoken favourably, it has been with many limitations. A friend, in whose judgment we are disposed to place confidence, lately observed to us, that a great distinction should be made between Germany and Holland. In Germany, he conceives, there has been a gradual though slow improvement, for the last five-andtwenty years ; previous to which, the case was at its worst. In Holland, he thinks, matters are as bad now, as they were in Germany twenty-five years ago; and that, with scarcely any general indications of improvement. This representation we are disposed to think correct.
In speaking, however, of an improvement in Germany, we must explain what we mean. Some Continental infidels have of late adopted a more subdued tone of unbelief, a sort of modified blasphemy. We see little of improvement in this, As to their own state, it is probably much what it was before. As to the public, they are more dangerous characters than ever. The public will not buy their books—for it is all a matter of money with these wretches—the public will not buy their books, if they are so openly blasphemous, and therefore they retrench a little of what is worst, that they may just bring them within the pale of the market : exactly as many traders in religion amongst ourselves shew a little of their infidelity, but dare not shew it all, lest
VOL. 111.-NO. III.
they should be deserted by their congregations, or lose their hold on the public. In such cases of apparent improvement as these, the only thing that really looks at all encouraging is on the part of the Continental governments; if they are so shocked or alarmed at the open manifestation of the blasphemous propensity, as in some measure to check it. In whatever degree they may have done this, in that degree the Continental governments have done better than our own; which, in respect to its chronic and fatal supineness in tolerating open blasphemy, seems, togegether with our church and laity and two houses of parliament, to have been judicially abandoned of God. Yet even for the Continental governments, when we consider what they yet permit, how dreadful is the prospect !-Neitherif, in some particular instances, the government shews itself favourable to religion, and under this protection advocates of religion are found to come forward, do we here discover improvement of a very unequivocal kind. Governments like the commissioned advocates . of religion to go to a certain point, but cannot bear their going further. Thus influential laymen who make a profession of religion amongst ourselves, are very fond of clergymen who will go just as far as they do; but are often the most dangerous clogs to a minister, in preventing his going further. If he be. disposed to make a stand against the encroachments of Popery, they convert him. If he endeavour to raise higher the standard of Christian devotion on a public platform, they get up when he has done, and pull it down again. Little good are our Evan-, gelical clergy likely to effect, as a body, till they recollect who and what they are, return to their clerical character, stand on their own ground, and break loose from the influence of the Evangelical laity:
Where, then, do we look for unequivocal tokens of improvement in Continental religion? We answer, In a new race.
We look for it in new individuals, whom, we hope and trust, God is gradually raising up for this very end. If any shall be found belonging to this body, who have hitherto contended for religion under the influence of patronage, it must be by their becoming independent of that influence, and acting not merely under it, but if need be, beyond it, or against it. If any shall be added. to the number, who have hitherto sided with the infidels, it must be by their becoming new creatures. It cannot be by their modifying their former sentiments. It must be by their abhorring, retracting, and renouncing them. It cannot be by their publishing new editions of their abominable works, a little altered or curtailed for decency's sake. It must be by their publishing new books, or putting forth new principles, diame. trically opposite to their old ones. To be plain, the new race of whom we are speaking, are God's people, elect and faithful, holy and beloved : such as he has had some of in every age; such as he has had some of in Germany, at the darkest hour; and such as he is now gradually increasing, there and elsewhere, till he shall have accomplished their unknown but blessed number, as witnesses of his truth, in time and in eternity, and to the praise of the glory of his grace. If there be any such on the Continent, who now appear timid, and in doubt what course to pursue, we hope that we shall hereafter see them bold, uncompromising, and decided. We ought to view their beginnings with the utmost sympathy, with the utmost tenderness; and it must be a most unfortunate spirit that would depreciate their characters; and confound their timidity or inexperience with the hackneyed caution of the mock religionists who surround them; or their ignorance of Gospel truths, to which they have not yet attained,
with the deliberate rejection of those truths by stale professors, who have known and renounced them.
There is another circumstance, also, which we contemplate with hope. In considering the state of religion on the Continent, it has perhaps been too much the practice to look only to the distinguished men; pastors, preachers, and professors of divinity; and, if these were unsound, to take it for granted that all were wrong together. But we see great reason for believing, that the love of the Gospel is beginning in some places to appear, and indeed has always been kept alive here and there, amongst the people of Germany, independently of their spiritual leaders. From this neglect of distinguishing between pastors and people, there have been errors on both sides. Where the pastor has appeared to the passing traveller a good man, it has been taken for granted that the people were good also; whereas the former may have been standing alone. Thus there has been an error of judgment on the favourable side: and that too, even supposing the hasty opinion formed of the individual to have been correct, which it may not have been. And on the contrary, where the minister has been faithless, there has been an equal error perhaps on the unfavourable side, in taking it for granted that all his flock were like him. On conversing with the people under such circumstances, it may be discovered and proclaimed that they are sadly ignorant." Yet perhaps, if the experiment were tried, it would be found that they loved the sound of the Gospel, and had an ear which could discern between truth and falsehood. A conversation which we once held with a foreign clergyman confirmed us in this view.--"How many Christians are there in the city of :
?” He answers,