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I claim it, as an act of justice, that you should insert this reply to the ungracious, as well as unfounded charge, of your Correspondent E. D., a charge, however, which I fully believe has not arisen from any malicious motive, but from real ignorance of what the Society is, of what it has done, and of what it is doing, under the divine blessing, for the long neglected people of the house of Israel.

London, December 14th, 1824.

I am, Sir, your obedient Servant,




Liverpool District Committee.

Liverpool, Dec. 1.

YESTERDAY, at twelve o'clock, a special general meeting of the members and friends of this society was held in the Chapel of the Blue Coat Hospital," for the purpose of taking into consideration what further means it may be expedient and necessary to adopt, to render the operations of the society more efficient within the circle of this town and neighbourhood." The chapel was filled by a most numerous and highly respectable auditory; among whom we observed the Mayor, the Bailiffs, and several of the Aldermen and Members of the Common Council. The Lord Bishop of the Diocese, the patron, entered the room a few minutes after twelve o'clock, and, on the motion of the Rev. J. Brooks, was called to the chair. His lordship then offered up a suitable and most impressive prayer, the meeting kneeling.

The Rev. J. Brooks read a short abstract of the state of the district association. He stated, that he had received a letter from Mr. Gladstone, M.P., the president, regretting that his absence from Liverpool prevented him from attending the meeting, and enclosing a handsome subscription to the society's funds.

The Lord Bishop then proceeded to address the meeting. It was, he said, with very great satisfaction he found himself, on the present occasion, surrounded by so numerous and so respectable a meeting of clergymen and laymen; a meeting which, he had no doubt, would have been more numerous, but not more respectable, had not the elements proved so unpropitious, and had not many, who would otherwise have been present, been under the necessity of attending other meetings in the town, held on the same day and at the same hour. As it was, however, he felt the highest satisfaction in finding himself so numerously and so respectably supported on the present occasion. It was a source of great satisfaction to him; and he regarded it as an indubitable symp→ tom and sign, that this town, which, he thought, he was not incorrect in designating as one of the most important towns, not only of this diocese, but of the empire, and next to the metropolis itself (Applause.[Here his lordship requested, that the company present would refrain from expressing, by outward signs, their approbation of what might be subsequently advanced by him.] -It was, he said, a symptom and sign, that the inhabitants of Liverpool, a town which was not more distinguished as a public body, by its opulence, its munificence, and its liberality, than it was for the diffusion of science and general information amongst its inhabi→

*We have obeyed, with all due promptness, this peremptory call of our Correspondent, but his appeal, we must say, would have recommended itself better, both to ourselves, and the public, had it been more gentle in its tone.

tants, would, on the present occasion, come forward and show that they were actuated by feelings of sincere concern for the most important interests of our common Christianity, as well as for the most important interests of that church which was an integral part of the British constitution, under whose fostering care the country had arisen to eminence among the nations of the earth. His lordship said, that he would not trespass upon the time of the meeting a moment longer than the necessity of the case might require. For his own sake, as well as for the sake of the company, he should endeavour to be as brief as possible, and would confine himself to a plain statement of facts. He did not consider, that it was either decorous or indeed expedient to convert meetings of that description into theatres of ora. tory. He knew not, indeed, that he should have deemed it necessary to address the meeting at all, were he not convinced, that the real merits of the society were very imperfectly known. He was not going too far when he said, that a very great proportion of the members of the Church of England were ignorant even of the existence of such a society. Indeed, he held in his hand, in the last report of the district associa tion, a substantial proof of his assertion; for, in this great, loyal, and religious town, a town which was not more distinguished for its commercial eminence and prosperity than for its attachment to the constitution, in this town, containing a population of 120,000 inhabitants, there were only 101 subscribers to this charity, and out of that number 38 were clergymen of the town and neighbourhood. This fact spoke for itself; for he was convinced, that nothing was requisite but a inore accurate knowledge of the proceedings of the society to secure for it a support tenfold greater than it at present received. His lordship said, that he should now proceed, for the information of those persons present who might not be informed of the real state of the society, to specify, as briefly as he could, its inalienable claims to the support of the members of the Established Church. The society was founded in the year 1699, at a period of our VOL. VII. NO. I.

history, as the meeting were aware, bordering on very troublesome and dangerous times. On the one hand,

the Church seemed to be threatened with the danger of popery; and, on the other, infidelity reared its head unabashed. It was then considered expedient, not only by the prelates of the Church, but by most of the judges of the land, to form a voluntary association, for the purpose of counteracting the evils with which the country was threatened, and of promoting the growth of true Christian knowledge among the people. In the course of two years, the society had ample testimony of the good they were doing. But it was afterwards considered expedient to separate the society into two branches, one of which, under the designation of the "Society for Propa- · gating the Gospel in Foreign Parts," was incorporated by charter from William the Third, and had intrusted to its care and management the diffusion of true religion and the establishment of Christian ministers in the English colonies of North America. He might be permitted here to say, that the society, had continued, up to the present day, to discharge its trust, and that the great body of clergymen in the North American colonies had been sent out by it.. The other branch of the society re-, ceived the appellation of the "Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge;" and, in the prosecution of its pious designs, it proposed to itself the following objects: First, the foundation and encouragement of charity schools. Secondly, the distribution of the Holy Scriptures, the Book of Common Prayer, the Homilies of the Church, and religious Tracts in accordance with the doctrines of the Established Church, And, thirdly, the sending of missionaries to foreign parts. With regard to the first object of the society, little need be said. There was but one opinion as to the necessity of bestowing a religious education on the children of the humbler classes. But let it be recollected, to the honour of this society, that it had the glorious praise of being the first to stand forward in this work of love; and he trusted, that, amongst the feelings that were excited by the


splendour and the extent of more recent institutions, true religious services like these would never be forgotten. It laid the foundation stone of that noble fabric of Christian charity which the na tional system of education was carrying on towards its consummation. Within ten years, more than 5000 poor children were clothed and educated by it in the metropolis alone. In 1741, more than 2000 schools had been founded by the society throughout the country. It was with feelings of great and Christian satisfaction that the society resigned that department of its duty into the hands of the National School Society. But let him not be understood to say, that it had continued inert and inactive in the great work of love. No; when it found, that the true spirit of charity was diffused throughout the land, this society only changed the field of its exertions. At this moment, he apprehended, not fewer than 300,000 children were imbibing the blessed streams of Gospel truth from channels which had been enlarged or opened to them by the liberality of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Another object of this institution was the support of missions in foreign parts. About the year 1710, its friends undertook the management and disposal of such money as pious persons might give for the instruction of the heathen; and, for many years, it had continued, quietly indeed and unostentatiously, but as far as its means would allow, to labour in that wide and extended vineyard of the Lord. He believed he was correct in stating, that there were, in the southern parts of India, not fewer than 20,000 Christians, the fruits of the labour of the society's missionaries. In mentioning this fact, he would by no means be understood to cast any imputation on the exertions of any other society; but, still, let this our society have its peculiar and appropriate praise, of having been the first to come forward in the great cause of disseminating Gospel truth throughout the earth. That, however, was a department of charity which would be taken, in part, off its hands; for, if Government do their duty, and take the support of ministers in the colonies into their own hands, (and he

thought it was the duty of a Government to place the means of religious instruction within the reach of all its subjects,) that arrangement would leave the society at liberty to devote its attention to other fields of usefulness. While he was on this subject, he would observe, that, since the Christian Church in India had been recognized by Go-. vernment and supported by a Bishop of our holy Apostolic Church, the prospects which were now opening there to the true disciples of Jesus Christ were in the highest degree encouraging. He might state, also, that there were, at this moment, in Calcutta, eleven schools for the education of children, supported by this society, to which, he had great pleasure in saying, the natives send their children to learn to read the Scriptures of truth in their own native tongue.

In the year 1821, the Society made a grant of 5000l. towards the erection of a mission college in Calcutta, where young persons, both native and European, but principally native, under the care of professors and the superinten. dence of the Bishop of the diocese, might be educated for the office of missionaries. Since the death of the late lamented Prelate, the society had made a further grant for the endowment of five scholarships, all in furtherance of the great work of converting the native Indians. The churches and schools at Calcutta were completely filled; and the natives were eager to send their children to receive Christian instruction. These facts held out the most promising assurances, that the cause of the Gospel will, not in our day perhaps, -ultimately we know it shall-but at a less distant period than some may expect, be triumphant. And, said his Lordship, let me again revert to the same observation which I have made before, that the praise of originating these pious missions is due to this society. But it was desirable, that an institution for charitable purposes should have an unity of object; that the attention of its members should not be divided, nor its funds dissipated, by a multiplicity of objects. He considered, therefore, that the proper objects of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge were, the dissemination of

the Holy Scriptures: the distribution of what, he hoped, he might term, without any dissenting voice in that meeting, our sacred liturgy ; and of religious tracts in accordance with the doctrines of our church. It would occupy too much time, were he to detail all the exertions of the society in this department of charity. He would, therefore, content himself with stating, that, in the last fourteen years, it had distributed fifteen millions of religious books, a very large proportion of which had consisted of the holy scriptures and prayer-books. And, with regard to the distribution of the prayer-book, he was sure, that the feeling of the meeting would be in unison with his own, when he said, that, although the distribution of the sacred scriptures, as the foundation of all true religion, is, and must be always, the prominent object of the genuine Christian; yet that it must be extremely desirable for those who think, as all the true members of our Church must think, that she is, under God's blessing, the appointed instrument of upholding true Christianity in this country, and the most favourable channel through which we can diffuse the saving truths of the Gospel throughout the world;-it must, he said, appear to them extremely desirable, that the holy scriptures,which, they knew, from high authority, may be wrested to the destruction of men's souls, should be accompanied by those pious instructions which might lead them, not by force, but by the gentle influence of persuasion, to interpret the word of God aright. When he said that the prayer-book was a most desirable book for that purpose, he spoke not only the sentiment of the members of his own church, but of the eminent and enlightened of those who had seceded from her communion. There were very few Dissenters who did not bear a willing tribute to its merits. He need only mention one, who himself was a host, Dr. Morrison, a minister of the Independent persuasion. Being called on by his Chinese converts to furnish them with a form of devotion, he could devise none which so completely met his own ideas of the subject, as the liturgy of the Church of England. He accordingly translated it into Chinese. His

Lordship said, that he had seen a copy of the translation; but he could not, he confessed, understand it. The object, however, of distributing the common prayer of the church was that which marked the society as being peculiarly a church society. Nor did he know of any reason why he should feel any reluctance in stating that it ought to be considered a Church of England society. For what was a Church of England society? A society supported by the members of that church, and for their benefit, and that of the universal church of Christ. But, he said, principally supported by the members of that church, who, if they were sincere, believed that she approached more nearly, both in discipline and doctrine, to the apostolic than any other in the Christian world. Therefore, why should her members have any fear in coming forward to avow their determination to support, with hand and heart, a society, the objects of which were so well calculated to promote the welfare of their own church? His Lordship proceeded to state, that the society had been instrumental, not only in sending missionaries and founding schools abroad, but also in translating the scriptures into the Welsh, the Irish, the Gaelic, and several of the Oriental languages. All these facts together, nay, the bare mention of any one of them, must, his Lordship said, convince the meeting, that the society had the strongest claims on the support of every member of the Church of England. But what was the fact? Its friends spoke, it was true, with exultation, and with gratitude to the Supreme Disposer of hearts, of the support which the society had received; but, after all, its extent was insignificant when compared with the number of churchmen. How small a proportion its members bore to the great body of Christians who were sincerely attached to the Established Church, might be gathered from the facts which had been stated respecting the district association in this town. The whole number of subscribers to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge did not amount to 15,000. A great proportion of its members were clergymen, a body of men who, he would take leave to say, in de

spite of the calúmnies of those who attack our church, only through the means of misrepresentation, were as poorly rewarded as any Christian labourers in the world. The number of subscribers to the society did not, he was sorry to say, equal in number the ministers of the established church. The clergy were not supported by the laity. There were not many departments of charity in which it could fall within the province of the laity to second the clergy; but this seemed to him a promising field of exertion for a pious laity to second their ministers in the Gospel. They might attend them when delivering their instructions from the pulpit; but that was a small part of their duty. They ought to accompany them in their -visits among their parishioners, and aid their pious labours by the dissemination of the scriptures and religious books. The poorer classes, in this country, were generally alive to their real interests; they felt the importance of spiri ́tual knowledge; they received it with thankfulness, and it came strongly recommended to them through the medium of the clergy. And, as this was the best means by which the influence of the clergy could be supported, it was the duty of the laity to aid an institution which might contribute to this end. His Lordship proceeded, in forcible language, to point out the best means for promoting the interests of the society; and expressed a confident hope, that, at the next anniversary meeting, which would, he trusted, be still more numerously attended than the present, he should have occasion to be thankful to Him who had disposed their hearts to a greater degree of liberality and zeal in support of this venerable society.

The Mayor then rose, and, in a very dignified and impressive speech, moved the following resolutions:

"1. That it is highly desirahle to increase the funds, and to extend the operations of the Liverpool District Committee of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

"2. That it is the object of this Committee to supply, either gratuitously or at reduced prices, the poor of this town and neighbourhood with Bibles, Testaments, Common Prayers, and religious

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Tracts, and to aid the parent society in the prosecution of its pious designs.

"3. That to attain this object, annual subscriptions be solicited from the congregations of the respective churches, and that occasional contributions, however small, be received by any member of this committee.

"4. That a subscription be now en→ tered into, and donations received for the purpose of enabling the committee to meet the increased demand for books, to which their present funds are inadequate."

Mr. Alderman G. Case briefly seconded the resolutions.

The Lord Bishop then put them from the chair, and they were carried unanimously.

After some routine business, the thanks of the meeting were, on the motion of the Mayor, presented to the Lord Bishop, who returned thanks.

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The amount received immediately after the meeting, was 225l.; about two-thirds of which were donations, and the remaining one-third were annual subscriptions. The names of the donors and subscribers, and also the several sums contributed by each, will appear in the next report at the close of the year. In the mean time, it is much to be wished, that additional contributions may be received from such friends of the society as were unable to attend the meeting. The treasurer, the secretary, the clergy, and the lay members of the committee, will be happy to increase the funds of this venerable society by receiving from its friends either subscriptions or donations.

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