Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

possessed of large hereditary revenues, out of which were defrayed the expenses of the Royal Establishment, a great part of the charges of the executive government, and such charitable donations, whether of a temporary or a permanent nature, as the Sovereign might deem it proper to bestow. From this personal fund was paid, during the reigns of George I. and George II., the Royal Grant to poor Disseuting Ministers. On the accession of George III., it was thoughtadvisable to substitute for these hereditary revenues a fixed annual sum, equivalent to them in amount, which obtained the technical name of the Civil List. The charges which had been usually defrayed out of the rents and profits of the royal demesnes, including the grant to Dissenting Ministers, and other perianent charities, were now paid out of the new fund. In 1804, some alterations were made in the Civil List itself. Owing to heavy war expenses, and other causes, it was found inadequate to all the purposes for which it had been designed, and the Parliament, on the application of the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, voted an annual addition to it of 60,000l. In order, however, to simplify the public accounts, and to prevent the Civil List falling into arrear, it was at the same time settled to take from it certain payments, to the amount of 135,000l. per annum, and to provide for them separately by an annual vote of the House of Commons. Among the permanent charges thus transferred were certain royal charities, including the bounty to the poor French Refugee Clergy and Laity, and to the Dissenting Ministers of England and Wales. By this change the Regium Donum became a Parliamentary grant. Ils character was not, however, changed. The Parliament became, in fact, the king's almoner, and pledged its faith to continue the royal charities, which were considered as permanent charges on the crown estates. Nor did the Parliament enter into this compact without securing ample means to fulfil it. When called upon to add the large sum of 60,000l. per annum to the Civil List, it was stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that so favourable to the country had been the bargain for the crown-lands, that after making up the full amount of the Civil List with this increase, and defraying all the expenses chargeable upon it, there would remain a considerable balance in favour of the nation, to be appropriated. to the public service.

From these facts it is apparent that the Regium Donum, or Parliamentary Grant, is not derived from the compulsory taxation of the people. And in this view of the case, the Dissenters have no cause to complain of this grant as a forced contribution to support religion. To attempt, under a mistaken notion of its nature and purpose, to procure its discontinuance, is therefore, as unjust as, if the attempt were to succeed, it would be injurious to the least protected and a most deserving portion of the Dissenting Ministry. If any necessitous Dissenting Minister have conscientious objections to participate in the benefit of this charity, he will do well to refuse it; and none will be more ready to respect and honour his scruples of conscience, however unfounded, than the distributors themselves. But those who on speculative principles raise an objection to the grant, act as the distributors must be allowed to think, neither wisely nor charitably in seeking to deprive a large and numerous class of Christian Ministers, whose independence and uprightness none will or can call in question, of pecuniary supplies, which, though small in amount, are of importance to the comfort of themselves and their families, and on the expected continuance of which their habits and plans of life may be in some degree calculated. The privations and sufferings of many of these servants of the churches are dittle known to the Christian public. From a virtuous delicacy, and from regard to the dignity of their sacred profession, they shrink from proclaiming their necessities to the world, and submitting them to be canvassed by large bodies of men, although associated for charitable purposes. The portion of the royal bounty unostentatiously bestowed upon such meritorious labourers in the gospel, (whether still engaged in public duties, or laid aside by the hand of Divine Providence,) is the more acceptable and efficacious, on account of the honourable confidence which they know by experience they can place in the distributors.

Whatever may be pleaded in the excitement of debate, it is plain that no adequate substitute (with regard not so much to its amount, as to the impartiality of its apportionment) could be raised by the Dissenters, for the Royal or Parliamentary Grant; which, as it has been unconditionally, graciously and generously given, it would be perverse and ungrateful to refuse. The Distributors, in the spirit, as they conceive, of this munificence of the Crown, have ever dispensed it amongst Ministers of the Three Denominations, and other Protestant Dissenting Ministers not falling strictly under this description, but recommended by both their necessity and their character, without any stipulations, political or theological, expressed or implied. They have received the Royal Bounty as a simple Charity, designed to express the sense which the august Family now upon the Throne of these Realms, is pleased to entertain of the zeal and exertions of the Protestant Dissenters of the earlier part of the last century, on behalf of its accession to the British Crown. They have always contemplated the grant as having reference to the past and not to the future, and as laying no obligation whatever either upon them or the recipients, with regard to their faith or worship, or the exercise of civil franchises and political duties. They feel it to be an honour to be selected as the almoners of a great and disinterested charity. They look back with satisfaction to all their regularly appointed predecessors in the Royal Trust,- men of high name for learning, talents, character, independence, and distinguished usefulness in their several denominations. Differing widely in religious sentiments, and never concealing the difference, they take pleasure in acting together in the discharge of a charitable trust. They affect no secrecy; they fear no publicity : although they judge that it would be a violation of the delicacy and respect due to virtuous poverty, to proclaim the names of the recipients, unless they should be called upon to do so by the Legislature or the Government, the only authorities to which in this case they can bow. Their own names are given to the world as a pledge for the uprightness of the distribution. Unmoved by misrepresentation and clamour, they will continue to exercise this trust for the benefit of their needy brethren, as long as it shall seem fit to his Majesty's Government and the Commons' House of Parliament to fulfil the generous design and intent of the successive Princes of the House of Brunswick. Personal interest in the distribution they have none. They dare to appeal to the Searcher of Hearts in testimony of their invariable purpose and endeavour to preserve the Charity in its simplicity and purity, to dispense it with impartiality, and to make it as serviceable as possible to their brethren, suffering amidst, or after, useful labours, under the trials of adversity. They cannot bring themselves to fear that a grant which has been generously made, and faithfully administered, and which has proved itself, under the Divine Blessing, an occasion of joy and gratitude to hundreds of Christian teachers, whose earthly lot has been one continued scene of privation and hardship, will under any pretence be withheld; but should this be the unhappy result of the interference of certain Dissenters, they must ever lament the injury thus done to a numerous class of indigent Ministers of the Gospel,--the blow being the more felt because inflicted by the hand that should have been extended for protection ; -and will fervently pray that He whose Providence is over all, and is especially engaged towards them that devote their lives to his glory, may open other sources for the relief of these his servants, not indeed more pure but better guarded against the fluctuation and even caprice of public opinion.

John HUMPHRYS, LL.D. Joux CLAYTON, A.M.
John Pee SMITH, D.D. GEORGE PRITCHARD,
Thomas REES, LL.D.

W. H. Murch.
F. A. Cox, D.D., LL.D. Tuomas MADGE.

RODERT ASPLAND. • The Editor will only remark, that the preceding “ Statement," although bearing the date of March io, 1837, is substantially the same as was published by the Trustees in 1834. How far it meets the representations of the article in the last Magazine, he leaves it with the public to determine.

REVIEW.

A Discourse on Natural Theology, showing the Nature of the

Evidence and the Advantages of the Study. By Henry Lord

Brougham. London: Knight.
Paley's Natural Theology, with Illustrative Notes, by Henry

Lord Brougham and Sir Charles Bell; to which are added,
Supplementary Dissertations, by Sir C. Bell. 2 vols. Lon-

don: Knight. Natural Theology considered, with Reference to Lord Brougham's . Discourse on that Subject. By Thomas Turton, D.D., Cam

bridge. The above is unquestionably the most valuable edition of Paley's delightful work, which has hitherto been given to the public. In addition to Lord Brougham's valuable Introductory Discourse, of which we shall speak presently, there is a large body of illustrative notes by his lordship and the eminent physiologist Sir Charles Bell, to which are added some highly valuable supplementary dissertations of the latter. The work is also enriched by some botanical notes by Professor Lindley, of the London University, and by some entomological notes by Mr. Waterhouse, Curator of the Zoological Museum of London.

The impressiveness with which the arguments of natural theology may be exhibited, must in a great measure depend on the progress of physical science; in other words, those arguments will be more impressive,—the more exquisite, complicated, and elaborate the proofs of design which may be adduced. Now, as science, in her progress, is continually accumulating fresh materials, it becomes necessary from time to time at least to make additions to works on natural theology; that is to say, such works (if they are to be read at all, and when will Paley's cease to be read ?) must be brought up to the existing state of science. This has been done for Paley's work by the above-mentioned distinguished writers. It is impossible to conceive any thing more in harmony and keeping, not only with Paley's design, but with his very style and manner, than very many of the notes and a large portion of the supplementary dissertations. Lord Brougham and Sir Charles Bell are both of them distiguished in a high degree by many of those qualities of mind which so strongly stamped the mind of Paley. They both resemble him in their command of simple and vigorous English; in their power of homely and familiar illustration; in their rare talent of clearly and simply expounding the most intricate contrivances of nature, and the most complicated pieces of mechanism. Lord Brougham's versatile mind, indeed, can adapt his style to any subject; but, it must be confessed, that the qualities we have mentioned seem the most appropriate and natural to him. We must also state, that the work

is illustrated throughout by a great variety of admirably executed engravings on wood, without which, indeed, the most admirable powers of description cannot always succeed in conveying to the reader's mind a sufficiently precise idea of these subjects. The want of such engravings was early felt in Paley's work, and it is not many years since the attempt was first made to supply that want. The present edition leaves nothing to be desired on that head.

Lord Brougham's Introductory Discourse is not, he tells us, “a treatise on natural theology; it has not for its design an exposition of the doctrines whereof natural theology consists. But its object is, first, to explain the nature of the evidence upon which it rests—to show that it is a science, the truths of which are discovered by induction, like the truths of natural and moral philosophy; and, secondly, to explain the advantages attending the study.”

In accomplishing these objects, Lord Brougham has done much to entitle himself to the gratitude of all who desire to see the fundamental truths of natural theology, or rather of all religion vindicated from the assaults of infidelity. Nay, he has incidentally done considerable service to the evidences of Christianity by the manner in which he has demolished Hume's celebrated argument, or rather sophism, against the credibility of miracles. It is true that the arguments on which his lordship principally insists have been insisted on before, although it must be confessed he has put them with a clearness and force which none but Paley and Campbell have approached. Some of his arguments and illustrations, moreover, are new and valuable.

The first part of his lordship's work, we mean that “on the Nature of the Science of Natural Theology” and its evidences, has often been complained of for its obscurity, and froin this charge we cannot wholly vindicate it. It is, no doubt, difficolt always to ascertain the exact design of the noble and learned writer ; he has not, we think, sufficiently borne that design in mind in the ardour with which he has pursued the discussion of some of the subordinate topics involved in it, or always succeeded in clearly explaining his meaning. At the same time, as we shall presently attempt to show, we think that by a comparison of passages and the general strain of the discourse, his lordship's meaning becomes sufficiently intelligible to any attentive and candid reader. That there is some obscurity in expression, however, we admit. Thus, for example, he states that it is his design to show that natural theology “is a science, the truths of which are discovered by induction, like the truths of natural and moral philosophy—that it is a branch of science partaking of the nature of each of those great divisions of human knowledge, and not merely closely allied to them both.He also says, subsequently, “ the two inquiries,-that into the nature and constitution of the universe, and that into the evidence of design which it displays,-are not only closely allied one to the other, but are to a very considerable extent identical. The two paths of investigation for a great part of the way completely coincide.” Now Dr. Turton complains loudly of the obscurity of these statements, and from the fault of oh. scurity, as we have already stated, we do not think they are altogether free. But Dr. Turton alleges, that “ in all this there is an unsteadiness of view, which causes much embarrassment.” That there is some obscurity of expression we have already admitted ; but that there is any real“ unsteadiness of view," we think, demands proof; that proof is but indifferently furnished by the fact that Dr. Turton himself manifestly shows that he has caught Lord Brougham's meaning, especially in that part of his work in which he endeavours (in our opinion successfully) to repel his lordship's too sweeping assertion, that Paley does not “ even advert to the argument upon which the inference of design must of necessity rest."

But though we cannot say, that Lord Brougham has always clearly explained his design in the First Part, we again affirm that it is in our opinion intelligible to every attentive and candid reader. That design is of vast importance. It is to show the nature of the principle on which we argue generally, that the appearances of contrivance and design in any objects indicate an intelligent author ; and that the establishment of this principle (which is the foundation stone of Natural Theology,) is as much matter of induction as is our knowledge of these appearances of contrivance and design. The mutual relations of objects, the fact of adjustment and adaptation of one thing to another, are all that physical and mental science busy themselves with. Here they stop. Now though Natural Theology investigates such facts too, (and as Lord Brougham expresses it, is so far “ identical,” or “ for a great part of the way completely coincides" with physical and moral science,) yet it goes one step further; it proves that such facts of adaptation, such appearances of contrivances are to be accounted for only by refering them to an intelligent author, and the propriety of this reference he affirms is to be proved only by the same inductive process, as that by which the facts themselves are proved. The matter may be familiarly illustrated by supposing a reader of Paley, admitting all the instances of adaptation, which are so copiously detailed and so beautifully illustrated in his deeply interesting work; but denying that they originated with an intelligent author. Such, we apprehend, would be the ground taken by most sceptics in our own day; for as Lord Brougham justly remarks, the fact of wondrous adaptation of one thing t) another, is in our time rarely denied. Now how is this difficulty to be met? Lord Brougham argues that the inference of design is itself founded on induction; that having in innumerable instances seen mind, the human mind, exerting itself in the same adaptations of means to ends, in the invention of an almost infinite variety of contrivances, and having never seen any such adaptations apart from the exercise of intelligence, we naturally conclude that the infinitely varied, exquisite, and complicated proofs of such adaptation with which the universe abounds, must themselves also have been the product of an all-presiding intelligence. It is in fact the very same argument which Dr. Chalmers has recently treated with so much force and copiousness, we might say, with so much redundance of illustration in the first volume of the new edition of his works. • In illustrating “ the nature of the science and its evidences,"

« ElőzőTovább »