Page images
PDF
EPUB

hostility to whatever opposed and tended to corrupt christianity, by undermining its essentials; and a fraternal sympathy with all who, however devious in their course from simple mistake, 'loved the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. What we have to do, and what to avoid, is thus sufficiently obvious. We must be firm, but not litigious. We must take care of principles, and deal gently with mistakes. We must maintain everlasting truth, and bear with incidental error; but see to it that we justly discriminate what is antichristian, and save the church by seeking to destroy its corruptions. In dealing with what was simply erroneous, but not vital, in the apostle you see the lamb; but in maintaining the truth of God against the falsehoods and inventions of men, the lion was roused.

The practicability of a universal union among christians depends on another consideration, namely, the practicability of restoring or raising the christian world to the character of the primitive church, when religion was not an outward form, but an inward energy. This we believe to be practicable, but it is not to be expected on a sudden, or by means of mere excitement; but by a series of moral approximations. The long distance to which we have gone from the spirit of the first church, cannot be travelled back in a day. Our steps must be retraced amidst occasional collisions, and perhaps some fallings out by the way. We cannot subdue the prejudices of others, we cannot conquer ourselves at once; but we can try to do so; we can determine and begin and persevere. But we must do it in the right way, and in the right spirit. If we begin in compromise, we shall end in confusion. If our charity be defective in principle, it will be destructive to agreement. They labour for union who labour for truth; for this we must be unflinching advocates, if we would be true disciples of Christ, true successors of the apostles, and true friends. All love is nothing that is not love for the truth's sake. Let that be our pole star, and we shall by God's blessing sail securely through the beating surges and the stormy climes, till the vessel of the church shall enter the haven of peace, amidst warmest greetings and shouts of praise.

During the progress of these remarks, as in reading the observations of others, the question has again and again forced itself upon our attention, what specific proposals might be made to the christian world of a definite and practical character, with a view of promoting the greatest degree of union? In what particular objects might they be called upon to unite ? Our answer embraces the following suggestions :

1. Let them unite--not controversially or doctrinally, to form or to propagate creeds--but to advance a pure and primitive

[ocr errors]

Christianity, by the holding of meetings for prayer, conference, and public declarations of good-will.

2. Let them unite on certain fixed occasions to advocate the common objects of missionary enterprise, to report the different missionary movements in a very condensed form, and make collections that shall be distributed among the chief missionary societies.

3. Let them unite in celebrating the Lord's Supper together. That objections might be taken to this by some parties whose conscientious scruples would preclude such a union, we are aware; but these need not change their position in the general union; they may unite as far as they can go, and others may carry out their own views, without violating in the slightest degree, the law of love.

4. Let them unite in sending deputations into various countries of Europe, to ascertain the state of christianity, and promote an interchange of kindness among all christians.

5. Let them unite to discountenance by prudent measures all persecution for righteousness' sake; and, by correspondence or otherwise, condole with and assist christian sufferers of every class.

It may possibly be imagined by some, that by our firm and not unfrequent advocacy of truths, both political and ecclesiastical, which wear a severe and frowning aspect towards corruptions of every kind, and spiritual wickednesses in high places, we are somewhat disqualified for joining in that hallowed confederacy for which we plead—that the acid of our arguments may be too pungent, or the ardour of our spirit too vehement, to mingle kindly with those other, and, as may be supposed, loftier and purer elements of christianity which are to pacify the world; but we beg to say, that the uncompromising love of truth which, being implied in the statement, we take to be no compliment but simple fact, is precisely that quality which does fit for closest union-not, indeed, with error, but with its own kindred virtues, and with those who hold essential truth, whatever may be their incidental mistakes. The affection which an unflinching adherence to, and public declaration of conscientious convictions cherishes, as it must be the most sincere, is likely to be the most unchanging. Its language is, 'Either unite on a right principle, or not at all. If you unite, receive the assurance that the love of principles shall be stronger than the hatred of forms.

It is strange that people will not distinguish between anger and decision,—that they will persist in imputing wrong motives and bitter feelings to those whose real aim is the advancement

A A A 2

of christian doctrine and christian purity,—that they will condemn the spirit of martyrdom while they honour martyrs, and will consent to associate with others, whom they nevertheless admit to be fellow-christians, on one only of two grounds; namely, that either they shall consent to submit to authority, or be silent on differences. Whereas, neither the one nor the other is consistent with scripture or needful to union. The onus of separation should ever be made to rest on those who cannot or will not unite. It is for christian-a truly christian charity to say ‘Come. If any will not listen to that sweet voice, by reason of the rigidity of their creeds or the fierceness of their spirits, they must be left to their folly and their solitude.

We now close the remarks which have been elicited by the volume before us; choosing rather to introduce our own views, than attempt the somewhat invidious task of pronouncing upon the comparative merits of others. The names of the various authors who have contributed to the work, and the subjects on which they have treated, are :

I. Introductory Essay, by Dr. Chalmers.-II. The Scripture Principles of Unity, by Dr. Balmer.-III. Christian Unity in connexion with the propagation of the Gospel, by Dr. Candlish. -IV. Union among Christians viewed in relation to the present state of religious parties in England, by the Rev. J. A. James. -V. Union among Christians viewed in relation to the present state of religious parties in Scotland, by Dr. King.–VI. A Catholic Spirit; its consistency with Conscientiousness, by Dr. Wardlaw–VII. A Sectarian Spirit; its prevalence and insidiousness, by Dr. Struthers.— VIII. Unity of the Heavenly Church-Influence which the prospect of it should exercise, by Dr. A. Symington. We can scarcely refrain from expressing one wish, namely, that some of these essays had been shorter, and more condensed; this would have afforded the twofold advantage of collecting the sentiments of a larger class of writers of other denominations, and of giving a fairer proportion of English contributors. But, on the whole, we are well satisfied with the volume, and earnestly pray that its liberal purpose may be accomplished in producing greater union among the professed disciples of Christ.

[ocr errors]

685

Art. IV. Some Account of the Conduct of the religious Society of Friends

towards the Indian Tribes in the Settlement of the Colonies of East and West Jersey and Pennsylvania : with a brief Narrative of their Labours for the Civilization and Christian Instruction of the Indians, from the time of their Settlement in America, to the year 1843. Published by the Aborigines' Committee of the Meeting for Suffer

ings. London : Marsh, 84, Hounsditch. 1844. The object of this publication, as stated in the Introduction, is the hope that it may tend to promote the interest already felt by Friends in the truly laudable work of endeavouring to mitigate the evils which have arisen, and still continue to arise, to a large portion of the human family, by the immigration of European settlers among them. The Friends urge also, in this publication, the great advantages which would result from pursuing an upright, peaceable, and conciliatory course of conduct towards the native inhabitants of the Indian countries; and they entertain the hope of doing some good by exhibiting the gradual progress the Indian tribes have made, while under their care, from a state of wandering barbarism to one of a settled and civilized character, and in many instances to the full reception of Christianity.

It appears that, from time to time, much information respecting these Aborigines has been communicated to the Yearly Meeting of the Friends in this country, and that which has been furnished recently respecting the engagements of the American Friends in labours of this philanthropic kind, is calculated to produce a more than ordinary degree of interest in this important subject. The field for benevolent enterprise is extensive, inasmuch as there is an Indian population of 325,000 under the jurisdiction of the United States, besides the large and numerous tribes scattered over the adjacent regions.

Great, however, as is the number of Indians needing the christian care of Friends, but a comparatively small proportion even of those situated in the Union, have as yet been the participants of it. One great obstacle to the extension of christian instruction among them, and to the plans for ameliorating their condition, appears to be their removal westward from their native lands, occasioned by unjust and oppressive treaties on the part of the federal government. So extensive, indeed, have been these withdrawments, that the country east of the Mississippi, once the abode of a large native population, has not at the present time more than a few thousands of them dispersed over its wide extent; and fresh removals are still going on. To illustrate these points more fully, we are presented with two maps, one an aboriginal map of the country east of the Mississippi, exhibiting the territory occupied by the Indians previously to

the settlement of the English colonies in America; the other, a map of North America, showing the territory now occupied by the natives, and also denoting the boundaries of the several Yearly Meetings of the American Friends.

The authors of this interesting publication next furnish us with a short description of the territory held by the several Indian nations east of the Mississippi before its colonization by Europeans, from which it appears, that about two centuries ago there existed in this part of North America eight languages of a decidedly distinct character, of which live at the present time constitute the speech of large communities, and three are known only as memorials of nearly extinct tribes. A detailed enumeration of the various aboriginal Indian nations would not probably be very interesting to the reader; we shall therefore pass on to the accounts given of the Lenelenoppes,or,as modern writers have it, Lenni Lenape, of which there were two divisions, the Minsi and the Delawares; they possessed East and West Jersey, the Valley of the Delaware, far up towards its sources, and the entire basin of the Schuylkill. These were the Indians who formed the main body of those with whom William Penn made his great and memorable treaty of 1682, at Shackamaxon, the spot where Kensington, in the suburbs of Philadelphia, now stands. The conclusion to which this section of the work arrives, after enumerating and describing the aboriginal tribes, is, that the whole number of them dwelling east of the Mississippi two hundred years ago, 'is computed not to have exceeded one hundred and eighty thousand. Of these, the various tribes of the Algonquin family are reckoned at ninety thousand ; the Eastern Sioux, less than three thousand; the Huron-Iroquois, including the Tuscaroras, about seventeen thousand; the Catabaws, three thousand; the Uchees, one thousand; the Natchez, four thousand; the Cherokees, twelve thousand; and the Mobilian tribes, fifty thousand. The Cherokee and Mobilian families, it appears, are now more numerous than they were ever known to be.'

At the commencement of this work, some allusion is made to the rise and settlement of the Friends in the North American continent. And the earliest account there is of them, is that which records the cruel sufferings endured by some Friends at Boston in New England, in the year 1656, for conscience' sake. Many of them were sufferers for their testimony against bearing arms, as early as 1658; and, in 1659, George Fox is found addressing epistles to the Friends of New England, Maryland, and Virginia. It is evident from a statement of John Burnyeat, that the Yearly Meeting for New England existed prior to 1671; and it appears also, that meetings for discipline were generally

« PreviousContinue »