Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

force upon us imperiously the inquiry why we have been suffered and assisted thus to become one of the greatest Asiatic powers.

He states several advantages, of a subordinate quality, which we, and which the people of India, have derived from our ascendancy in that country; but insists that the ultimate design of Providence in giving us this power is “ the diffusion of Christian knowledge among so many millions of its unenlightened inhabitants, as the means of promoting their temporal and eternal welfare."

The second and much the longest part of the Dissertation is “on the duty, means, and consequences of translating the scriptures into the oriental languages, and of promoting Christian knowledge in Asia." So many pages of our last two volumes have been occupied with this subject, that we think it better to decline attempting any formal analysis of this sensible dissertation. Many of our author's statements and arguments are in substance the same as those of other writers whom we have had occasion to notice; but it is not to be forgotten that he was, in the recent discussion, one of the first that employed them. The duty here asserted is proved and enforced in a very satisfactory manner by arguments at once the best and the most obvious,—the benevolent nature and spirit of Christianity—the peculiar advantages and facilities we have obtained for such a work, in acquiring so vast a power in the East-the wretched moral state of the people, a state, the worst constituent evils of which are, by their nature, incapable of being corrected or even modified by any agency but that of religion—and the benefits that would result both to Britain and Asia. He obviates the principal objections to the design, founded on the pretended danger of exciting alarm and hostility by peaceful efforts of instruction, and the pretended impossibility of converting the victims of the Brahminical superstition.

The proposed means are, translations of the Scriptures, an ecclesiastical establishment, missions, and schools. He enlarges to a great extent on the first of these means, beginning with an observation on the contrast between the policy of false religions and of the true, with reference to their most sacred doctrines, and to the oracles on which they respectively rest their authority.

“ It has been the general policy of the authors of false religions, to. conceal the institutes and mysteries of their pretended revelations from the knowledge of the vulgar; that is, of the great body of the people in every country. This has been effected either by involving them in hieroglyphic symbols, or mysterious rites or observances; by throwing over them the veil of a sacred language, confined to a particular body of men ; or by prohibiting the perusal of the sacred books by the profane eyes of the multitude. Hence the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians : the mysteries and esoteric doctrines of the Greeks and Romans; the prohibitory laws of the Hindus, and the partial discouragements of the Mohammedans. The grounds of this disgraceful policy are sufficiently obvious. Ignorance, while it is justly said to be the parent of a blind and bigoted devotion to error and superstition, invests the supposed sacred object with a mysterious grandeur, which leads its unhappy votary captive, and perpetuates its wanderings from truth and virtue.”—p. 126.

Our author enumerates the principal languages of India, and the other parts of the Asiatic continent, with appropriate remarks on their qualities, and the local extent to which they are spoken. He notices the several translations proceeding or finished at the time of his writing, anticipates great assistance from the college of Fort William, recommends that the translations shall, as much as possible, be made directly from the originals, the translators also availing themselves of the works of our distinguished biblical scholars. He advises that the translations be all executed in Asia, and that “in every case which admits of a choice of translators, Christians shall be selected." As to the important point of expense, he has found that he had something to learn when he advanced the following presumption.

“ In a concern, the ultimate advantages of which would be scarcely less enjoyed by the British government, than by the objects of its beneficence, it may be presumed that an appeal to its liberality would not prove unsuccessful.'

On the subject of a Religious Establishment in India, he has but a short section ; and if he had to write it now, he would make it shorter. Between wars, the sumptuous paraphernalia of state, the support of pagan worship, and the disasters of the India shipping, it is tolerably evident that not a rupee can be afforded for such a purpose. In asserting the necessity of an establishment, our author does not, like some of his wiser contemporaries, avow it as his object and expectation, to secure “ a perfect uniformity of religious faith.” He insists on it as necessary in order to supply and support a sufficient number of qualified men for the religious service of India, to give some semblance of religion to our national character there, to embody the “national” religion in a visible and imposing shape, and to create in India an episcopal power of ordination, independent of the hierarchy at home.

In the section on Missions, the author refutes, with ability and animation, the assertions of some distinguished writers, who have pronounced that missions to the Hindoos must necessarily be useless, and the representations of others, who have undervalued their actual effect. He suggests some expedients and institutions for training missionaries, states the duties and importance of the office, and makes a captivating, but not therefore extravagant, delineation of an accomplished missionary. It is such a delineation, however, that, if it is to be taken as the standard, one thing is very evident; namely, the superlative folly of those writers on this subject, who have recommended that no English missionaries who are not members of the established church should be permitted to go to India, or remain there. If each missionary must possess the personal qualifications demanded by Mr. Pearson, it will be found that all the sects together will barely furnish a competent supply; and we think he has lost a fair opportunity of signalizing his liberality by an explicit protest against the foolish bigotry which could think of such a limitation and exclusion, especially when it was notorious that scarcely any members of the establishment had shown themselves disposed to the undertaking of missionary labours.

We need not say that our author's accustomed good sense continues to be displayed through the remaining sections of the work. So much of this good sense, so much knowledge, and so much moderation prevail through the whole performance, that it may be reverted to by inquirers on the subject, as one of the fairest statements of the duty of a Christian state (if such a denomination may be allowed) to its heathen subjects.

[May, 1810.]

Ecclesiastical Biography; or Lives of eminent Men, connected with the

History of Religion in England; from the Commencement of the Reformation to the Revolution ; selected, and illustrated with Notes. By CHRISTOPHER WORDSWORTH, M.A., Dean and Rector of Bocking, and Domestic Chaplain to his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury. 8vo.

LITTLE more will be needful, for the purpose of explaining the nature and adjudging the value of this work, than to specify the materials of which it is compiled. The articles concerning Wicliffe, Thorpe, Bilney, Tindall, Lord Cromwell, Rogers, Hooper, Rowland, Taylor, Latimer, and Cranmer, are compiled from Fox's Acts and Monuments. That concerning Lord Cobham is partly from Fox, and partly from Bale's Brief Chronicle. The account of Ridley is partly from Fox, and partly from a life of the bishop, by Dr. Glocester Ridley, published in 1763. The highly entertaining life of Wolsey, by the Cardinal's Gentleman Usher, Cavendish, is here for the first time faithfully printed from a manuscript in the Lambeth Library, collated with another manuscript in that library, and a manuscript of the same life in the library of the Dean and Chapter of York Cathedral. This performance, indeed, appeared in print long since, and was reprinted in the Harleian Miscellany, but so altered and spoiled in almost every sentence, by some foolish editor, as to bear but little resemblance to the genuine exemplar. The long life of Sir Thomas More is now first published from a manuscript in the Lambeth Library, written towards the end of the reign of Elizabeth, by a zealous papist. Walton's lives of Hooker, Donne, Herbert, Sir Henry Wotton, and Bishop Sanderson, are reprinted entire, with additions by Strype to the life of Hooker. There are reprinted entire a life of Jewel, prefixed to an English edition, in 1685, of his Apology of the Church of England; the translation, published

« ZurückWeiter »