Page images

the formation of schools, and in the good reception of the Holy Scriptures. I found the people kind and civil, ready to converse on religious subjects, without any animosity or wrath. When I view the nation in general, anxious for information, thirsting after knowledge, desirous for peace, eager to receive the word of God, erecting schools every where ; and, finally, strictly adhering to those laws already established, I cannot but entertain sanguine hopes for their future welfare."

GREEK CHURCH IN GREECE. No new bishops have been consecrated by the Greek Government, though all allelegiance to the see of Constantinople has

long since been renounced. Hitherto there have been a sufficient number of fugitive bishops to supply the vacant dioceses. These have received their assignments from the general government by whose order their names are inserted in the public prayers, instead of that of the Constantinopolitan Patriarch. A new ecclesiastical establishment will occupy the earliest attention of the present government. It is probable that, in imitation of the Russian Greek Church, a board of bishops will take the placeof the Patriarch. The Greek Patriarch was compelled by the Sultan to excommunicate all who had engaged in the liberation of their country


REV. J. M. MASON OF NEW YORK. On the last Sunday of last year expired, in the sixtieth year of his age, the Rev. John M. Mason, D.D. of New York; a divine not only much beloved and venerated by his own countrymen of all communions, but well known also in Europe by his writings, and to many in our own land by personal friendship, formed during his visit to this country in 1817. The piety, talents, and eloquence, which Dr. Mason displayed on the platform of some of our societies, especially the Bible Society, during that visit, will not speedily be forgotten. Dr. Mason was not a member of the episcopal church; but, as a foreign divine of truly catholic spirit and wide celebrity, a brief record of him is not inappropriate to our pages: indeed, his memory has a claim upon us, as it was he who, in conjunction with President Dwight and one or two other American divines not of our own communion, introduced the Christian Observer, with equal zeal and candour, to their countrymen, as a work in their opinion-so they were pleased to statemore calculated to do good among them than any other periodical publication on either side of the Atlantic. Dr. Mason's liberality of mind in this instance was the more remarkable, because we had spoken with considerable censure of one of his publications,-his Oration on the Death of General Hamilton, who was killed in a duel with Colonel Burr (see Review of the pamphlet, in our vol. for 1805, p. 230). We had, however, been more happy in a former volume, shortly after the commencement of our labours, in having occasion to speak highly, as they deserved, of his tracts published in 1803 (see Chris tian Observer, p. 553.) The only other

occasion on which Dr. Mason's name has appeared in our pages, is in our outline of his original and forcible speech before the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1817(C.O. p. 470.) Dr. Mason held at that period the truly honourable and important office of secretary to the American Bible Society.

The death of this celebrated man is too recent to allow of the preparation of a regular memoir; but we select the following particulars from the funeral sermon preached at the Scotch Presbyterian church in New York, the Sunday after his decease, by the Rev. J. M'Elroy, D.D.

"Dr. Mason," says, Dr. M'Elroy, "was born in this city on the 19th of March, 1770, and inherited as his birth-right the blessing contained in the promise, I will be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee;' being the son of that venerable man who was during thirty years the pastor of this church. Great pains were taken with his early education, in disciplining his heart, as well as his mind. He was the child of many prayers and of faithful parental instruction; and it would seem that the labour thus bestowed in faith and piety was richly and speedily rewarded; for when ten years of age he was the subject of deep religious impressions. He has often remarked incidentally, that at that period he took Ralph Erskine's Faith's Plea upon God's Word' to the garret of his residence, and read, and wept, and prayed; and at the age of seventeen, on confession of his faith, he was received into the communion of this church. Two years afterwards he graduated in Columbia college, where he received the honours of his class,

the presages of his future greatness having even then begun to display themselves. And now, the time being come

when he must make choice of a profession, though worldly wealth and fame and honour all courted his pursuit, anxious for his Master's glory, and the best interests of his fellow men, he determined to devote himself to the ministry of reconciliation; and, after attending to the study of theology for a year, under the direction of his father, he repaired to Scotland to complete his education. Here, his frank and noble spirit, his talents of high and hopeful promise, his close attention to his studies, and his extraordinary proficiency in them, soon acquired for him the notice and approbation of his instructors, while they secured the friendship and affection of his fellow-students.

"Having been absent a year and a half, upon the decease of his revered father he was invited to return, with the view of being settled as his successor. He was ordained as pastor of this church, where he laboured with great ability, acceptance, and success, for seventeen years. During the early period of his ministry especially, he was eminently successful in winning souls to Christ. He was ardent in his feelings, capable of much active service, intense in his application to his studies, so that he always came forth as a scribe well instructed unto the kingdom of God;' and the special tenderness of his ministrations at this period, a quality that never forsook him, is still remembered. Seldom did he preach without shedding tears. The blessing of God rested upon his labours, and the result was, that multitudes were added to the church.'


[ocr errors]

"Dr. Mason," continues Dr. M'Elroy, "was formed to be great. Upon whatever his mind exerted itself, it left the impress of gigantic might. Power was his attribute: power of intellect, power of feeling. He was capable alike of the sublimest thought and of the deepest pathos. In the pulpit, most of you have witnessed and felt the force of his impassioned eloquence. There was majesty in his very personal appearance. His figure, erect; his countenance, beaming with intelligence 'wisdom '-almost literally making his face to shine'the moment he ascended the sacred desk, you felt that you were in the presence of no ordinary man. And when he commenced-his mind thorough. ly disciplined, a master of language, master of his theme, his whole soul melted into tenderness, illustrating and adorning all his positions with the most apt and rich and glowing imagery-resistance was vain. The finest feelings of the heart were touched, and you were convinced, awed, subdued, almost entranced. Probably no man ever possessed the power in so high a degree, of doing just what he pleased with his audience. How often have I seen the smile, one moment, play upon the faces of his whole congregation; and the next, perhaps, by a transition

deeply serious and touchingly tender, their whole souls were awed, and the starting tear betrayed the pervading emotion! "How was this? Was it owing entirely to his stupendous intellect? No. It was owing, in part, to the fact that he never spent his own strength or his people's time on subjects of comparatively little. importance. He was for getting rid of the vices that are in the world, before he would trouble himself with its follies: and accordingly, Jesus Christ and him crucified' was the grand theme of all his ministrations. And it was owing, further, to his thorough acquaintance with human nature, with the various springs of human action. Having studied man as well as his Bible, he knew every avenue to the human heart; knew how to reach the sinner's conscience, and make him tremble; and also, how to administer consolation to the wounded spirit.

"He was a man, moreover, of great tenderness of feeling, of exquisite sensibility. It was owing greatly to this feature in the character of our departed friend, that he was always so acceptable a visitant at the bed of the sick and dying. It was owing greatly to this, that he was so capable of administering comfort to the afflicted; of binding. up the broken-hearted. It was owing to this, also, that he felt so sensibly under his own family afflictions. On the death of a beloved daughter in 1822, his anguish was acute. Sitting in his room, sometimes musing, sometimes giving vent to his grief in a flood of tears, sometimes reviewing the way in which the Lord had led him, and again contemplating the future; among other expressions, he uttered the following: My morn was joyous, my noon was brilliant, but clouds and shadows rest upon the evening of my day.' And when shortly afterwards he was called to part with a most interesting son, his sorrow was not less pungent. On that occasion, when the companions of the youth had lifted the bier on which rested his remains, to convey them to the tomb, all the sensibility within him was moved; and under the impulse of insuppressible emotion, raising his hands, he exclaimed,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Tread lightly, young men, tread lightly; you carry a temple of the Holy Ghost.' And two months after that event he writes to a highly esteemed friend, I recall with anguish the mementos which my poor history furnishes my personal misfortune, my sweet Catherine who left me for her place on high, my beloved Jaines taken away in youth and vigour and promise! Oh I heard his death-groan - I saw him die-I saw him, and without his reason to tell me before he went, that through his Redeemer he was going home. The wound is very deep and very sore; my tears still flow, my heart still bleeds; oh pity me, I am very weak. The blossom, the blossom of my hopes! gone! cut down

in its richest bloom; yet I hope, and I hope not without good reason, that it is transplanted to a kindlier soil, to shed fresher fragrance in the paradise of God." "I can but glance at other features in his character. Dr. Mason was generous; generous perhaps to a fault. To know that a fellow-being was in need, was enough with him to call forth his sympathies, to call forth his aid.

"He was perfectly guileless, unsuspecting, ingenuous. And with these qualities, we are not to be surprised if in a world like ours he was sometimes exposed to the machinations of spirits more selfish and less noble than his own. But he has been known to say, that he would rather be imposed upon ten thousand times, than submit to the excruciating torture of suspicion.

"He possessed great intrepidity of character. I know not that he feared ought but sin and his God: certainly the frown of man he regarded not.

"He was catholic in all his views and feelings. Though strongly attached to that exhibition of Scriptural doctrine made in the Westminster Confession of Faith, and to the form of government in the church of which he was a member, and strenuous and powerful in the defence of them, yet wherever he recognised the image of his Master he loved it.

"His erudition was solid, various, extensive, accurate; and all his endowments and attainments were deeply baptized in the Spirit of Christ.

"As a Biblical critic and an expounder of the sacred volume, he stood, perhaps, unsurpassed. Equally distinguished was he as an instructor of youth. His great and peculiar excellence in this department, was the admirable faculty he possessed of evolving the powers of the mind, and of bringing all its energies into well-directed activity. The grand object at which he aimed (and no man better qualified to accomplish it), was to teach his pupils to think.


"That I do not appreciate too highly the powers of Dr. Mason, and the moral influence of his character, I might appeal to the reputation awarded him by his brethren of the ministry, the churches, and all men of learning in our land, and in other lands where he appeared and became known; and I do appeal to the results produced by his instrumentality. Look at a few of these results.

"Whilst yet comparatively in his youth, by his writings and efforts the celebration of the Lord's Supper was stripped of those adventitious appendages of man's ordaining, with which it had been encumbered for generations in the ecclesiastical denomination with which he stood connected; and restored to a form and frequency much more primitive, much more Seriptural. No small achievement this, when you consider the power of habit, and

especially of religious habit, and the talent of the men with whom he had to measure weapons in that controversy.

"A like revolution was effected in the same body, by his agency, in allowing ac cess to the table of the Lord to all who love his name; in making faith in Jesus Christ, and a corresponding walk and conversation, and not the shibboleths of party, the terms of admission to that sacred ordinance. And here again the magnitude of the achievement is to be estimated by the tenacity of religious habit and the strength of religious prejudice, and also by the mental and moral force of the antagonists he had to encounter.

"The theological seminary over which he presided (and which may be regarded as the parent of every similar institution in our country, excepting perhaps that of the Reformed Dutch Church), owed its very being, and all that it has ever accomplished for the church, under the church's Head, to his individual talent and enterprise and effort. In pursuing his history we find him, besides his ministerial labours, and those of the theological professorship, conducting for four years the Christian Magazine,' a paper so stamped with the impress of his mind as to redeem it from the grave of ordinary periodicals. In 1811 he was appointed provost of Columbia college; and then we behold him, for nearly six years, discharging with zeal and ability (notwithstanding his impaired health towards the close of that period), the duties of that station, and those of pastor of the Murray-streetchurch, together with those of professor of theology; attending to three recitations of the senior class in the first, preaching three times in the second, and lecturing five times in the third, during each week.

"But the amount of labour connected with these several stations was too great even for him. Under its pressure his health gave way; and he was reduced to the necessity of resigning them all, in rapid succession. In 1822 he removed to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to preside over the literary institution in that place; but, his health still declining, he continued there only two years. Returning to New York, he has resided in the bosom of his family, until, on the 27th of December last, when his spirit quitted its earthly tenement, and ascended to the mansions of glory; there to behold the Saviour, and be like him, there to receive the joyful gratulations of those in whose conversion he had been instrumental, or whom he had directed and animated in their heavenly journey; and there to hail with transport the arrival of one and another of you, his spiritual children, as from time to time these tabernacles are put off.

"I cannot close without adverting to the goodness of God towards his servant. There was much mercy in his dealings with him; step by step was he reduced;

and thus he and his family and friends were tenderly prepared for their separation. Gradually was he unfitted for the occupations and enjoyments of life, until almost every thing, but the direct communications of the Saviour's grace and love, was gone; these, however, remained. As the Lord met with Moses on Pisgah before his departure, and talked with him as a man talketh with his friend, and shewed

him all the country of Canaan stretching before his eyes in beauty and verdure: so we have reason to believe he met with our departed friend, and gave him prospects of the Canaan that is above; for on the very day before his release he could affirm that his God and Saviour was a sufficient resource, and that he then found him precious to his soul. Let this be the consolation of his family and friends."


PARLIAMENT opened on the 4th of February. The King's Speech stated the continuance of friendly relations with foreign powers; his Majesty's satisfaction at the termination of the war between Russia and Turkey; the progress of measures for the pacification and final settlement of Greece; the desirableness of renewing our diplomatic intercourse with Portugal; a reduction in the estimates of public expenditure; a slight deficiency in last year's finances; some proposed measures for facilitating the course of justice and a revision of the superior courts; the unexpected announcement that the export of British productions last year exceeded that of any former year; his Majesty's grief, nevertheless, that distress prevails among the agricultural and manufacturing classes in some parts of the kingdom; the necessity of acting with extreme caution in attempting to remove these difhculties; the weight that is to be assigned to bad harvests, and other causes beyond legislative controul, in producing them; and the importance of not allowing temporary difficulties to induce Parliament to violate the public credit. The speech, considering the number of topics, is very concisely worded; so much so indeed, that the writer has not thought it necessary to introduce, even for form's sake, the customary allusions to Divine Providence, or the favour of Him who is the Arbiter of nations. It might be the speech of an atheist king to an atheist legislature. We cannot enough deplore this unchristian apathy on the part of so many of our public men, who seem utterly to have forgotten under whose government it is that "nations and empires rise and fall, flourish and decay." This sytematic exclusion of religious considerations froin the affairs of a nation, is no hopeful feature in public economy, or omen of the Divine favour and protection.

The general substance of the speech was favourably received by all parties in both houses of Parliament; but with considerable exceptions as to particular statements. The restricted manner in which the speech speaks of the public distresses had well nigh led to a stringent amend

ment to the Address, as both the landed and the manufacturing interests coalesced on this point in opposition to ministers. The introduction of such a statement, whether true or false, into the speech, was certainly ill judged; were it only from the apparent want of sympathy which it might be alleged to exhibit towards the suffering classes of the community. Nor is this the only topic on which a portion of the Tory and the popular party, Whig or Radical, have coalesced against government; for in the matter of parliamentary reform a similar anomaly has occurred. In consequence of the Catholic Bill of last session, some Tory members of both houses, amongst others Lord Blandford in the Commons, pledged themselves to promote a thorough reform in parliament. His lordship has in consequence urged a motion on the subject, so wildly absurd and ultra radical, that no moderate Whig could vote for it, till, at Mr. Brougham's suggestion, he substituted a general expression of the necessity of reform, which united both parties against ministers. But, with these momentary and merely forced and hollow coalitions, there has been no great difficulty on the part of government in maintaining their ground, or securing large majorities. Many of the landed interest wish to return to a depre ciated currency, to enable them to realize higher rents, and to lighten the weight of taxes, and, we might add, of mortgages and settlements: but the popular party have strongly supported the government, in their determination, as alluded to in the speech, and expressed more fully in the ministerial declarations, to resist this most injurious measure. The same remark applies to the subject of commerce, which some mistaken persons would wish again to shackle, instead of opening it more fully. Some weighty objections have been urged, in both houses, to the conduct of ministers as respects Portugal, Mexico, and Greece; the substance of which is, that they have not afforded their countenance so forcibly as they might have done, and ought to have done, on the side of national liberty and liberal institutions; but the necessary documents

and explanations are not yet before Parliament to form a conclusive opinion on the subject.

The measures alluded to in the speech for legal reforms are planned in good faith, and are excellent so far as they extend; and we trust will lead to yet further amendments. The reductions also in the estimate of public expenditure shew an honest desire in government to retrench the national disbursements. The intended reductions amount to 1,300,000l., a sum by no means inconsiderable, when it is remembered that large retrenchments have already taken place from year to year, and that the whole sum to be operated upon, after deducting the national debt and fixed charges, is only about twelve millions. One item in the retrenchments is peculiarly gratifying, namely, the diminished number of soldiers necessary in Ireland, in consequence of the healing effects of last year's measure; the Roman Catholics themselves having become conservators of the peace, and a a safe constitutional channel having been opened for the expression of grievances in both houses of Parliament. A far larger saving of naval and military expenditure, and of human life, might easily be made in the West Indies, as our readers will find convincingly proved in the AntiSlavery Reporter affixed to our present Number. We trust that this subject will be forcibly urged, both upon the government and legislature; and that the national purse will not much longer be exhausted to uphold the ruinous as well as cruel system of colonial slavery.

A Committee is proceeding in investigating the great questions relative to India, with reference to the question of the renewal of the East-India Company's charter. Various other bills and motions are before Parliament, to which we shall advert in future: we may mention, among others, Mr. Greene's plan for the limited periodical composition of tithes, a subject of equal importance and difficulty.

The House of Commons has disfranchised the corrupt borough of East Retford. But to what place is the franchise transferred? To Birmingham, or Leeds, or Manchester? No: to a site never heard of before; the rural hundred of Bassetlaw; in other words, to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle. A decision like this does more to make Radical reformers than all the writings of a hundred Cobbetts. How Mr. Peel, as an honest man, could stand up in Parliament to advocate it, and bring the whole weight of the government to aid the venal borough interest to carry it, is to us astonishing. It was justly remarked in the debate, that the poor burgesses of East Retford did not appear to be punished so much for bribery and corruption, as for having managed their venality in so bungling a manner as to bring bribery and corruption into disgrace.

We forbore alluding in our last Number

to a gratifying report, that Lord William Bentinck, the governor-general of India, has, in one part at least of his government, forbidden the burning of widows, the intelligence not having yet appeared in any authentic shape; but we know that his lordship is most favourable to the object, and gave a pledge, before going out, to do all he could to accomplish it, and we trust he will be successful.

Mr. Tierney has passed almost unnoticed off the stage of life, on which a few years since he acted so conspicuous a part. He was a man of powerful talent, and a ready orator; one of the great men of a day which abounded with great men; but he wanted that moral dignity, and that ardent devotion of his powers to some high object, which would have secured him a more than transient fame.

We have also to record the death of the Bishop of St. Asaph, Dr. Luxmore. The Bishop of Exeter is to be translated to St. Asaph; the Bishop of Gloucester to Exeter; and Dr. Monk, Dean of Peterborough, is to be the new bishop.


We have alluded in another part of the present Number to the question between Georgia, or rather between the United States, and the Indians. We are glad to find the friends of religion and humanity arousing themselves to efforts worthy of the occasion. We are in particular gratified in perusing the proceedings at a public meeting held at Philadelphia on the subject, the venerable Bishop White in the chair. That venerable prelate thought it not beside his sacred office to preside at such an assembly; believing, he said, that "should those helpless and unoffending people, in contrariety to justice, humanity, and the national faith, be withdrawn from the possession of their rightful territory, such a national sin would bring down the displeasure of God, and be the beginning of a series of national sufferings, ending in the prostration of legitimate and free government." Another speaker said, that, warmly as he admired the constitution of his beloved country, "when he reflected upon her oppression of the Indians, and her domestic slave-trade, he trembled for her safety.' The introduction of the topic of slavery was not so irrelevant as may at first sight appear to the case of the Indians, for the state of Georgia is as severe to her Black and Coloured as to her Red brethren. She has recently passed a law to prevent any free person of colour disembarking on her shores, or any slave or free person of colour holding intercourse with a vessel in which any such person is on board; and making it penal to teach any slave or free person of colour to read or write; and capital to circulate any pamphlet, of what is vaguely called "evil tendency," among the slaves. The Bible would come prominently under this

« PreviousContinue »