« VorigeDoorgaan »
and charges them with being favourable to republican principles: it is therefore hard to be found fault with in both ways. The argument from facts will appear in favour of the Catholic. Let any one extract from our Constitution what is of Catholic origin; our common law, including the trial by jury, and the law of treason, the internal government of our counties, (where the Sheriffs and the Justices of the Peace were elected till the time of Edward the second,) and our representative system,-and he will see how little remains to the Protestant's share beyond some statutes to enforce the execution of preexisting laws; and let him consider whether, if we had not been in possession of those rights and privileges before the Reformation, we should have had much chance of obtaining them since. Let him say what was done in favour of liberty when the Protestant religion was in the glow of its zeal, in the reigns of Henry VIII., Edward VI., Queen Elizabeth, and James I. If we look to other countries, we find that Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, which were limited monarchies in Catholic times, are now absolute; and that nothing has been done in favour of their subjects by any sovereign in Germany who embraced the Reformation. All the Italian Republics were Catholic; the most democratic Cantons in Switzerland, which have in our days been the most strenuous defenders of their liberties, are so. St. Marino is so, and Genoa and Ragusa would still be free, if we had not aided in preventing it. Protestants in the great Catholic States have been completely restored to all civil rights; and if it be true that the influence of the Catholic clergy is so great, we must infer that they have been liberal on those occasions, nor have we heard that they offered any opposition to these concessions: it would undoubtedly be very desirable for the Catholic here to experience the same liberality or forbearance.
'But, notwithstanding this argument from facts, in which the balance appears to be in favour of the Catholic, it would be both unjust and absurd to attribute a predilection to despotic sway to any description of Christians: all take different parts according to circumstances and events, independently of their religious tenets. We believe that the love of liberty is planted in every cultivated mind and every honest breast; for who likes oppression when it is brought home? If the Catholic, in the time of the Stuarts, was more favourable to monarchy, it was because he was so oppressed by the laws enacted by the popular party, that absolute monarchy would, to him, have been comparative freedom. Every description of Christians, if they follow the precepts they are taught, will be good themselves, and just and charitable to others. Our Saviour has expressly distinguished the civil power from the duties of religion, by declaring that his kingdom is not of this world, and by giving this distinction the force of precept, ordering us to give to Cæsar what is his due, and to God what appertains to him. And it is very clear that the Christian religion itself is based, in fact, on the principle of religious liberty; for if religious liberty is not a civil right, then were all the persecutions of the first Christians morally justifiable, and the Christians were bad subjects. Every class of Christians may therefore consistently and without scruple maintain, that the right of every individual to religious liberty should be un
shackled by worldly power;-and every Government should consider that it has not the power to alter the mind of an individual, and make him believe or disbelieve any tenet, as he himself has not that control over it, and that to require that which is impossible must be an unjustifiable act of tyranny.'
'The exclusiveness of our doctrine!' exclaims the late Dr. Doyle, where has this produced disturbance and confusion under just and equal laws? Is it in Hungary, is it throughout ' Germany, is it in Switzerland, is it in France, is it in Canada, is it in Maryland, is it in the dominions of the King of Prussia, or of Hanover, or in any of those States where civil and religious liberty are established? No; it is a dominant creed, no matter of what sect or Church, when conflicting with a people, which produces disorder, penalties, and crime. Only take away restrictions from religious belief,-let no man suffer on account ' of his faith, and you extinguish in those who are exalted, pride ' with a spirit of domination; and you take from the more hum'ble the zeal of suffering for justice sake; you also remove from prejudice and passion the very food on which they live, and 'convert numberless hypocrites into sincere Christians.'* These are just sentiments, come they from what quarter they may; nor ought it to be forgotten, that the founder of the first colony which offered an asylum to the persecuted of all persuasions, with a full equality of civil rights, was an Irish Roman Catholic nobleman. In an age of bigotry, Lord Baltimore was distinguished by his liberal opinions; and though a member of the most intolerant church, was the steady friend of religious freedom, while the Puritans of New England, and the Episcopalians of Virginia, were exhibiting the sad spectacle of mutual intolerance.
Art. II. Memoir of the late Rev. Joseph Hughes, A.M., one of the Secretaries of the British and Foreign Bible Society. By John Leifchild. 8vo, pp. xx., 498. London, 1835.
OF an individual who, during between twenty and thirty years, occupied so prominent a situation in the religious world as one of the Secretaries of the British and Foreign Bible Society,an institution with which his existence seemed identified, and in the origination of which he had a very principal share,—the public will naturally have looked for some biographical memorial; and the perusal of this volume will leave an impression on the mind of every reader, that the office of friendship could not have been committed to more judicious hands. A narrative, written p. 202.
Doyle on the Catholic Claims,
by himself, extending through the first fifteen years of his life, and which was found among Mr. Hughes's papers, together with the letters interspersed through the volume, imparts to the memoir, to a certain extent, the interest of auto-biography. It has been, Mr. Leifchild says, his aim, to make the deceased speak as much as possible through the medium of his own writings,' and to afford by this means those glimpses of his interior character to which the outward events of his life were chiefly indebted for their importance, as leading to or resulting from its formation.' Religious biography must always derive its chief interest from the portraiture of character, and the development of its internal structure. At the same time, there are particulars relating to the history of religious bodies, and the interior state of society, minute but very material and instructive facts, for the knowledge and preservation of which we are almost entirely indebted to the records of the biographer.
- Joseph Hughes was born in London, Jan. 1, 1769. His father was a native of Wales, his mother of Lancaster. Their circumstances were humble, but they experienced and exemplified the scriptural axiom, that "godliness with contentment is great gain." They were attendants upon the ministry of the celebrated George Whitfield, in Tottenham Court Chapel. Six of their children had died before the birth of Joseph, who seemed likely to follow them; but, by the timely expedient of placing him under the care of a nurse on Enfield Chase, his constitution was invigorated, though he seems to have continued delicate; and this physical feebleness no doubt contributed to give to his manners in childhood, that unnatural gravity which seems to have been injuriously cherished as a supposed indication of a wisdom and seriousness above his years. We must transcribe Mr. Leifchild's judicious remarks upon this subject.
When the shew of religious sentiment is both exuberant and precocious, special care should be taken by christian instructors lest forms should be substituted for principles; lest the beautiful simplicity of a tender age should be corrupted by an unnatural austerity, and the pupil be tempted by the desire of applause to pursue a forced and feigned course, too likely to issue in an abandonment, in riper years, of all that was good along with what was evil, in the professions of early life. It was well for Joseph Hughes that he escaped the dangers attendant both upon that stimulation of the religious emotions to which he was so early subjected and the chilling influence of an unseemly gravity.. He was himself, in after life, deeply sensible of the pernicious influences to which he had been exposed, and of the perils which, by the grace of God, he escaped even in childhood.'
pp. 11, 12, His early piety, though not in proportion to his seriousness of manner and meditative taste, appears to have been genuine; and
the seed of divine truth,' to use his own words, sown by a 'father's hand with so much care, and watched over by his eye ❝ with such fond expectation,' had taken root in his heart, so as to counteract in a great measure the injurious tendency of the fond admiration bestowed upon his precocious displays. My prevailing 'judgement is,' says Mr. Hughes, in reviewing these circumstances towards the close of his life, that God did thus early set upon ❝ me indelible marks of merciful appropriation.' His father did not live to witness the result. He died in 1779, when Joseph had scarcely reached his tenth year, leaving his widow with a dependent family of five children. A short time before his decease, Joseph had left home, in order to be placed as a pupil in the family of Mr. Smalley, minister of a Presbyterian congregation at Darwen in Lancashire. He was met by Mr. Smalley at Manchester, who accosted him by saying: Joseph, you have lost one father; you shall find in me another.' Kind words, implying, however, much more than he was qualified or able to fulfil. Mr. Smalley was a well educated, amiable, and well-meaning man; but he belonged to that class of Presbyterians who may be placed at the extreme verge of spiritual vegetation, in the frigid zone of Christianity. 'As a theologian, he belonged to the school of Doddridge, or rather of Job Orton; but, in consequence of his intimacy with Dr. Barnes of Manchester, and men of a similar stamp, the Independents of the county all but adjudged him to "the class of Arians.' To one practice of my ' otherwise exemplary tutor,' says Mr. Hughes, I can never refer without regret; that of reading the newspapers during the interval between the morning and afternoon services of the Sabbath, as well as after tea in the evening! And he gives an affecting account of the state of this minister's family at that period.
"Beneath his own roof he had little to cheer him. died at mature age; his sons imitated none of his better qualities. The younger fell into intemperate habits, from which I fear he never recovered; thus imitating his unhappy mother, and taking advantage of his father's resemblance to the lamented, though venerated Eli. His eldest son, a youth of imposing appearance and promising abilities, entered the Daventry Academy, of which the excellent Mr. Robins conducted the theological department. In devoting a son, not vicious perhaps, but apparently unrenewed, to the sacred office, my venerated tutor fell into a practice lamentably common in every Christian land, and which had crept into the class of Protestant Dissenters. The consequence in this case might be held up as a terrific warning. He was disappointed not only in his son, but, if I mistake not, in almost every candidate for the ministry, who sought and obtained his patronage." pp. 17, 18.
Young Hughes remained at Darwen not quite two years! His literary progress under the tuition of Mr. Smalley was inconsiderable; and it is not surprising that in his religious feelings he de
generated. Towards the close of 1780, Mr. Smalley's increasing infirmities incapacitating him for the exertions of a tutor, he was transferred to the Free School at Rivington in the same county, then under a Mr. Norcross. This pedagogue was the precise reverse of his first tutor,-rigorous, vehement, and melancholic; and the circumstances in which young Hughes was here placed, were not more favourable to his moral and religious improvement than they had been at Darwen. He boarded in the house of one Jonathan Kershaw, a Presbyterian, who had an Episcopalian for his wife, and a Quaker for his only son!! Several of the scholars were his fellow inmates.
"Neither the chapel belonging to the establishment," continues Mr. Hughes's own narrative," nor that belonging to the Dissenters, was favoured with an evangelical ministry; spiritual death reigned in our family, and in all the surrounding families, with slight exceptions. To be a Christian indeed, subjected to the charge of methodism; and to incur that charge was to be branded as a compost of hypocrisy and folly. At the distance of two miles lived and preached Mr. Redmayne, quite high enough as a Calvinist, and observably illiterate. My mother, when visiting the neighbourhood, heard him, and so far approved his discourses, as well as the stream of his conversation and acknowledged character, as to recommend my going to his chapel. But I found that he was stigmatized, and it was seldom that I resorted to his chapel "'.
Nothing could well be more unfavourable to the growth of piety, than the circumstances in which young Hughes was here placed. I witnessed,' he says, 'as vile and mischievous profligacy as I had done at Darwen.' No ascendant spirit stood 'near in the form of an associate, to open and recommend a high 'moral course.' The literary advantages of the school were also 'greatly circumscribed.' On arriving at the last year of his continuance at school, he exhibited, to use his own words, a mass of inconsistencies,-a character that might well have given rise to opposite prognostications. Humanly speaking, deliverance or destruction depended on the scenes and connexions with which I was thenceforward to be familiar.' How many thousands of amiable, well-disposed, and promising youths are continually being destroyed by what is called Education,-which means, a process by which a little Latin and Greek are acquired, at the cost of moral contamination, the hardening of the conscience, and the deadening of the best sensibilities of the youthful heart
In the summer of 1784, young Hughes returned to London after an absence of six years; and he found that the friends who
* Independent ministers in that county were then comparatively few, and fewer still were academically educated. The present number of Independent congregations in Lancashire is upwards of ninety.