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portant office, an opportunity is thereby afforded for the suitable admonitions of the Christian preacher, and of all topics suggested by the solemnity of the occasion, there is none perhaps better calculated to excite impressions of seriousness, than considering the state of our unfortunate, but pitiable fellow-creatures, who have become amenable to the laws of their country, and reflecting on the sum of individual and collective misery, confined at this moment, and to such an unusually dreadful extent, within our prison walls! Well may the considerate Christian approach the sanctuary of God, and there with fervency implore, that the sorrowful sighing of the Prisoners may come before Him! that their tears may be the tears of humility and contrition: that their sorrow may be the godly sorrow that worketh Repentance; and that, should they suffer the punishment of an earthly tribunal, they may, through Divine Grace, direct every thought, and raise every effort of the soul, to the Judge of Heaven and Earth, and thus, through the mercy of God, and the merits of their Great Intercessor, find acceptance, when the final and irretrievable sentence is passed upon them at the Day of Judgment !" P. 7.
Our author proceeds to consider the causes of that depravity, of which we find too many melancholy instances in the lower ranks of our fellow-creatures, and the remedies which may be applied. He conceives with much justice, that during the time of their confinement in prison, much might be done towards softening and purifying their minds, and towards infusing those principles of Christianity, which have too often been wholly neglected.
"Here then a question naturally arises.-Are there no means by which the reformation of the unhappy culprits of all ages may be attempted? When the companions of their guilty hours are far from them; when the outward objects which have hitherto solely attracted their attention, and like deceitful lights upon a dangerous coast,' have brought them within the melancholy and sorrowful walls of a prison, are removed from the sight of their eyes; when the noise, and bustle, and hurry of the world are at a distance; when scenes of riot and debauchery are beyond their reach; when temptations to sin no longer solicit and allure them, what better time can there be to induce them to look into the inmost recesses of their hearts, to scrutinise calmly, impartially, and without interruption, the motive of every transaction, and retrace the fatal steps which have gradually led them to the brink of misery and of ruin? Never are the consolations of religion, and the comforts of Divine Grace more requisite, than when the hand of affliction lies heavy upon us; and never does affliction more grievously oppress, and weigh down the soul, than when it is produced by a consciousness of guilt! The influence of religion will then be felt: the terrors of the Lord may persuade some, and they may be
plucked as a fire-brand out of the fire; while the humble peniten, may be taught to look up for comfort to Him, who came to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound!" P. 13.
In the notes will be found much useful information on the arrangement of prisons, of the classification of those confined, and of the separation of the reclaimable from the totally depraved, and various observations which cannot be read without satisfaction, nor followed without advantage. A very excellent account is given of the benefits resulting from the prison-school in Newgate, a plan which we could heartily wish to see more generally adopted.
We are happy in being enabled to recommend this Sermon, not only as an animated and impressive discourse, but as furnishing many useful hints to those, who direct their pious attention to those of our poor and deluded brethren, who, within the walls of a prison, await the just punishment of their crimes. We could heartily wish to see a much longer treatise upon this subject from the hands of Mr. Iremonger, as we are persuaded, that such a task could not be entrusted to a more active, a more pious, or a more discriminating mind.
AKT. X. Respectful Address to the Most Reverend the Archbishops, &c. Hatchard. 1816.
OR now upwards of an hundred years, the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge has pursued its pious and unaffected labours undisturbed by controversy, and unassailed by the shafts of intestine hostility. Its enemies were from without. The respectful sneers, the sly insinuations, and the masked malignity of its enemies, whether Churchmen or Dissenters, have as yet had no other effect than to stimulate her exertions, and to strengthen her cause. Of late it has been attacked from within, its meetings have become scenes of bitter and unseemly contention, and if we angur rightly, a still more violent attack is meditated against its principles, its doctrines, and its influence. As our country readers may be desirous of becoming acquainted with all the circumstances attending this affair from the very beginning, we shall present them with a short but accurate statement of the causes and the progress of the present controversy.
At a General Meeting in March, 1813, a Tract, entitled "Directions for a Devout and Decent Behaviour in the public
Worship of God," was submitted by special recommendation to a Committee for the purpose of revision. This Committee having reported, that in the Table of Collects (in that, we believe, for Christmas Day) annexed to that Tract, they found the word Regeneration placed, where evidently the word Renovation should stand, the alteration was directed by the Board to be made in all subsequent editions of the Tract.
In consequence of a suggestion made to the Board, it was agreed on the 15th of June, 1813, that the Committee of Revision for the Family Bible, should also be a Committee of Revision for all the Books and Tracts upon the Society's Catalogue; and that they should consider the expediency of reprinting such as were out of print. The power also of recommending to the General Board any corrections, alterations, and additions, was entrusted to their discretion. To allow, however, a full opportunity to any member or members of the Society to transmit their observations upon any point which might arise, the interval between the notice for a reprint and the actual reprinting, was extended from one to three months. Nothing surely could be more open and fair than the whole of this proceeding.
The adoption of these resolutions however tended very materially to alter the established practice, in regard to the reprinting of the Society's books and tracts. The Society itself, before this period, had little or no concern in the matter. Messrs. Rivington had always been accustomed to reprint the books and tracts as often as new editions were required, without any formal order from the Board; and it had been left to their discretion, as booksellers, to determine whether the demand for any particular tract warranted the undertaking of a new edition. If, in their opinion, there was no sufficient demand for any particular tract, which was no uncommon case, the title of such tract was transferred from the Catalogue to the list of tracts out of print.
The Committee of Revision, in obedience to the directions given them by the Board, entered into a careful examination of all the books and tracts stated to be out of print, and, as those who have regularly attended the Board can testify, made constant reports of their proceedings. At the very commencement of their labours, notice was given by Messrs. Rivington that Bishop Bradford's tract on Baptismal and Spiritual Regeneration, among others, was nearly out of print, but that as there was but little demand for the tract, a new edition was not at present necessary. In consequence of this report from the Society's booksellers, the Committee did not recommend to the Board a reprint of the tract in question; but no sooner did Messrs. Rivington report that the demand was greater than they originally had stated it to
have been, than a Reprint was immediately ordered to be under
The alteration made in the title to the Collect for Christmas Day, and the non-appearance of Bishop Bradford's tract in the Catalogue attached to the Society's Report for 1814, gave, as it appears, much offence to several members, and occasioned some severe animadversions on the proceedings of the Society. It was said, in particular, that the Society had rejected Bishop Bradford's tract. This assertion, however, can be proved to be unfounded in truth. Bishop Bradford's tract, like many others, had been transferred from the Catalogue to the list of tracts out of print. It might at any time have been reprinted, and since the demand for it has revived, it has actually been reprinted, and restored to its place in the Catalogue. Many very valuable tracts are now in the same condition, and remain out of print, not because they are rejected by the Society, but because there is no de mand for them.
The main attack, however, made upon the principles and practices of the Society, originated in Dr. Mant's celebrated tracts on Regeneration and Conversion. At a General Meeting in April, 1814, Dr. Mant's tracts on Regeneration and Conversion were regularly recommended to the Board as a work calculated in the highest degree to promote the objects and views of the Society. These tracts being submitted to the usual revision, were admitted by ballot in May, 1814. The admission of these tractswould not, perhaps, have excited so much attention, if the Board had not ordered a copy of the tracts to be transmitted with the Annual Report for 1814 to each of the members. In enclosing, however, this and other tracts with the Annual Packet, the Board did nothing out of common course; it having been generally the custom of the Society to send with the Annual Packet copies of the most important tracts admitted within the year.
Soon after the distribution of the Annual Report for 1814, several works issued from the press on the subject of Regeneration, &c. particularly one from the pen of the Rev. John Scott, Vicar of Ferriby, in Yorkshire; another from that of the Rev. T. T. Biddulph of Bristol; and the anonymous publication now before us. This vastly respectful address was circulated with extraordinary zeal and activity in the two Universities. In the three works above mentioned which excited a considerable degree of public attention, the doctrines maiutaiued by Dr. Mant were attempted to be controverted; the Proceedings of the Society were severely censured; and the Society itself was charged with gross and palpable inconsistency.
Such was the situation of affairs at the commencement of the present year. At a very numerous General Meeting, on the
6th of February, 1816, a violent opposition was made to the admission of another Tract of Dr. Maut's, entitled "A familiar and easy Guide to the Understanding of the Church Cathechism, in Question and Answer, for the Use of Children." This Tract had been regularly recommended by three Subscribing Members, and had been referred to the usual Examination and Revision. The Referees having at this Meeting made their Reports to the Board generally favourable, but suggesting certain alterations for the improvement of the Tract, which alterations were acceded to by the author, the Tract was at length admitted on the Society's Catalogue by ballot. No sooner was this part of the business of the day brought to a conclusion, than a long and vehement discussion arose on the subject of Dr. Mant's Tracts on Regeneration and Conversion. The debate was terminated by Mr. Dealtry's giving notice, that, on the first Tuesday of the next month, he intended to make a motion to the Board, in the following terms, viz. "That the Society do take into consideration an Inconsistency in a fundamental point of Doctrine, which appears to him, and other Members of the Society, to exist in certain of its Tracts."
At an extra General Meeting, holden on the 20th February, 1816, Mr. Dealtry, being present, notified to the Board, that he revoked the notice which he had given at the last General Meeting of the Society, respecting a motion which he had intended to bring before the Board, on the first Tuesday of the next month. His Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, who was in the chair, declared it to be his decided opinion, that, as a most serious and weighty charge had been preferred against the Society, it was the duty of the Board to take the matter up in a serious manner, notwithstanding Mr. Dealtry had thought proper to revoke the notice of his motion. It was agreed, therefore, on the suggestion of His Grace,
"That the Committee for Revision should be desired to examine the Books and Tracts on the Society's Catalogue, in order to ascertain, whether there was any Inconsistency or Contradiction in them, and to make their Report thereupon to the Board."
The Committee for Revision, in compliance with the request of the Board, entered immediately on the task assigned to them; and, after a most laborious examination of the Books and Tracts on the Society's Catalogue, they unanimously concurred in framing the following Report, which, as it was twice distinctly read at the last General Meeting, we are enabled to give with accuracy.
"The Committee having received the directions of the Board to examine the Books and Tracts on the Society's Catalogue, in