« ПредишнаНапред »
the forms of the Church of England were not of greater importance to you than the reality of the Church of Christ? You say that consistency obliged you to act as you have done. But dear Brother, what consistency is this which obliges you to tear an acknowledged minister of Christ, whom the Lord had pleased to bless, from his flock, merely because he published a Review of the Church, and therein honestly and conscientiously stated some of her errors! If that be consistent with the principles of the Church Missionary Society, or with those of the Church of England, surely those principles must be wrong, they must be inconsistent with the dictates and the spirit of the Gospel. How will they bear the scrutiny of the judgment day? Were not the l'opes as much consistent with their principles, when they condemned Huss to be burned and Luther 10 be excommunicated? Moreover, as a Missionary Society, you had nearly nothing to do with my publication, you might have fairly left the matter to be decided between Mr. Harper and myself. Had he answered my Review reasonably and scripturally, who knows what might have been the consequences with respect to myself? I might have seen my errors respecting the Church of England and relinquished them. You, or rather your representatives, charge me with inconsistency, yea dishonesty, in not resigning that Society before I published such a Review, as I must have known that the Society's Regulations make it necessary that all their Missions be carried on according to the discipline and the formularies of the Church of England; but you never told me or wrote to me that I had to lay aside any German Lutheran forin, and to observe that of England; you never put the Rules of the Society in my hands for examination previous to my engagement with the Society. It is only since the ordination question was stirred, during the last three or four years, that you made me attentive to those rules ; and even then you declared, again and again, that I might go on in the Mission work as before, well knowing that all along I had been going on on principles not in conformity with the Rubrics and Canons of the Church of England, because I never hid from you any manner of proceeding in the mission work, as my journal and letters will show. Why then did not you dissolve my connexion with you long before the publication of the Review, if it had been from the beginning really your determination, that also the German Missionaries, ordained on the Continent, should observe the discipline and formularies of the Church of England. I had no need of resigning your Society, because from the beginning I had no other rule for my proceedings but the word of God; the same which you have often declared was also your rule! So long then as I proceeded according to the word of God, you could not, I felt persuaded, object to my proceedings. If you did object, then it was plainly your part to dissolve my connection with you and not mine. Now is this publication of my Review contrary to the word of God? But you say, that though no agreement was made between us, yet by the simple fact of uniting myself to a Church Missionary Society, I gave you a tacit acknowledgment of conforming to the rules of the Church of England. To this I may reply, with equal force, that as you never showed me the Regulations of the Society for examination, nor bound me in anywise to the Church of England; by uniting yourselves to me you gave a tacit acknowledgment, that as a German Clergyman I might carry on this Mission work according to the German form. And that this was at least in former years actually your mind with respect to German Clergymen, though not mentioned in your regulation, will be plain to every one who considers that the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge had for many years allowed their German Missionaries in Tanjore and Trichinopoly to carry on ibeir Missions, not according to the English, but according the Lutheran German Churches form, authorizing them repeatedly even to ordain Native Priests according to the German ritual ; and that your Society itself, even as late as 1821 or 22, when Bishop Middleton was already in Calcutta, authorized our German Brethren there to ordain Abdeel M. and Mr. B. according to the German ritual. On no ground whatever then can I be charged with inconsistency or dishonesty in the matter of publishing my Review. The most
that can be said is, that I was incautious in doing so, not considering that the Society would be affected by it. That it was incautious I have before admitted, and do now admit, but who could foresee that you would be so much affected by the publication of truth, as to dissolve my connection with you? Who could imagine that in the nineteenth century the calm discussion of ecclesiastical matters would meet with such repulsive treatment?
“ It seems, however, that you did so from an apprehension that the contributors to the Church Missionary Society would withdraw their subscriptions, were they to see one of their Missionaries publish a work not in favour of the Church of England.* This might have been the case with some, but I cannot believe that it would be so with the majority. It would be nearly a libel on the Evangelical Members of the Church of England to suppose that they give their aid principally to the spread of the forms of their Church and not to the spread of Christ. They well know, that notwithstanding our departures from that form, the cause of Christ was steadily advancing in Tinnevelly. Would they then withdraw their aid now that the publication of my Review exposes certain errors of that form? Or would they consent to my removal from Tinnevelly on that account? To their honour I will not believe it. They would, notwithstanding their attachment to the Church of England, continue to aid that Society, persuaded that the chief object of the Society was obtained in Tinnevelly. Here in India, at least it has been so, for it is the fact, that even after the publication of my Review, and after all the noise which Mr. Tucker made about it through the newspapers, your Committee, as well as myself, received more contributions than they did some time previous to it. Your apprehensions therefore were, so far as I see, groundless. Moreover, your representatives in Madras acted in a manner calculated to do the greatest possible injury to the Tinnevelly Mission. For not only were they extremely urgent in removing me from them, but affairs were so managed that my three fellow labourers, Messrs. Schaffter, Müller, Lechler, felt themselves under the necessity of leaving Tinnevelly likewise. These Brethren had resolved still to stay a season there, until your
Committee in London should return an answer to a representation which they were to make immediately, under the condition, that until then, no alterations should be made in the mode of proceedings in the Mission; and that no English Episcopalian Missionary be introduced to them. But not only was this reasonable request refused by the Madras Committee, but they were desired to give a written declaration to this effect : that they recognize the full and undisputed right of the Church Missionary Society to the Tinnevelly Mission, its congregations, and every member of the same; even those souls which might by the instrumentality of the Brethren have been brought to the knowledge of Christ, and that, should the Home Committee's answer be unfavourable to their representation, they leave the Mission quietly then or at any time: when they might have known, that the Brethren would never give such a declaration, and that they could not give up their condition, yet they made such strange demands, and thereby forced the Brethren to resign, and to leave Tinnevelly with me: whereby the congregations were at once deprived of all their beloved teachers, and put under others, who were not only strangers to them, but also by no means in a condition to supply their spiritual wants. The Committee rather relinquished three German Missionaries than withdraw one English Episcopalian Missionary. So zealous were they of the law, Acts xxi. 20.
“Once more consider, I pray you, what you have done by this act to the people of Tinnevelly. What must the Christians think of the removal of their Teachers by whom they were brought to the light of the gospel, and nourished
-*“I must here remind the reader that my publication is not an attack on the Church of England, as it has often been insinuated, but merely a defence of divine truths against the assertions which were made in the book which Mr. Harper sent me, for reviewing assertions which attacked the German Churches as well as the English Dissenting Churches.” X. S. VOL. III.
for many years with the pure milk of the divine word, and whom they loved and revered! Suddenly I am torn away from their midst. And when they inquire why? What answer can be given to them? If a charge of immorality or false doctrine could be fixed upon me, then matters would be plain to them. But as this is not the case, what must they think when they understand the true causes, viz. that I published a little book pointing out certain errors in the forms of the Church of England! What must they think of the Church Missionary Society when they learn, that simply on this account they removed their beloved and consistently walking teacher from them? What must they think of this christian church in general? How greatly must their confidence, I will not say in Christianity, but in their new Teachers, be shaken! The heathen also cannot but be confounded. Knowing my upright and just life among them, they must by this act of yours receive the most unfavourable impression of the christian church! How will many of them, who are criminally disposed, exult in the fact, that what their own enmity could not accomplish, (viz. getting me away from Tinnevelly,) my christian friends did for them!
“But enough. I trust I have shown that your act in removing me from Tinnevelly is cruelly unjust towards me and the people, and highly inconsistent with your profession of being desirous only to promote the glory of God and the kingdom of Christ according to the Scriptures. This is the second black spot on your characters as a Missionary Society in reference to myself. The first your Madras Committee made, when in 1820 they removed me and Brother Schmid to Tinnevelly from Madras, where the Mission was just beginning to flourish under our hands, solely because we had too catholic a spirit, and desired to embrace all as christian brethren who hold the Head. "The Madras Mission has suffered ever since. The second black spot is your present act, and by it you are determined to draw down the blast of God also upon the Tinnevelly Mission, I confess you were put to some trial by the publication of my Review, but it was a trial only whether you would continue to walk “after the flesh,' after the commandments and doctrines of men, or to choose to walk after the Spirit. You have chosen the former, and have not therefore stood the trial. . But he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh also reap corruption. Gal. v. 8.
“ I now bid you farewell! I part from you with deep regret, chiefly because you should have so closely followed the steps of the Madras Champion, to the great injury of your Society and of the Church of England. If I have said any thing in this letter strongly, or in language you are not accustomed to hear, do, I beseech you, ascribe it not to any angry feeling against you personally, but the force of truth which compels me to be faithful to you and to the cause of our adorable Redeemer. Moreover, I entreat you most humbly, on this occasion, if you desire the real prosperity of your labours in the Missionary cause, to get rid of that spirit which could prompt you to act towards Tinne-. velly as you have done. At the Judgment day, it will clearly appear whether I have sinned by publishing the Review of the Church in defence of divine truth, or you by forcing me away from Tinnevelly on that account. I wish you no evil; on the contrary, I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ, our common Master, (whose was your money and my services,) may abundantly prosper you, yet so that all trusting in human ordinances be confounded, and his word alone be glorified, May he be gracious to us all for the sake of his blood and righteousness. “ I remain, with Christian regards, still, my dear Brethren,
“ Your's affectionately in Christ Jesus, “ Madras, July 18, 1835.
C. R." On the 19th of June be quitted Palamcottah for Madras; he was overtaken on the road by his German brethren, who felt that they could not submit to the requirements imposed by the new regime. They therefore resolved to commence a Mission at Arcot, in the
neighbourhood of Madras, and actually proceeded thither to enter on that work. But, on their arrival there, and previously at Madras, they received letters from the Catechists, informing them that the whole Mission at Tinnevelly was in the greatest confusion, and to entreat them to return. These documents would interest our readers, but we cannot spare room for their insertion. Suffice it to say, that they moved the compassion of the German brethren for their spiritual children, and that they felt themselves compelled to go back to Palamcottah, where they arrived on the 22d October, 1835.
It would be for the honour of evangelical religion if we could throw a veil over the transactions which were connected with Mr. Rhenius's return to Tinnevelly. But they form an integral part of his history, and no reader can understand his mental character, or truly account for his early death, who does not possess some acquaintance with these mournful proceedings. We avail ourselves of Mr. Rhenius's own description, with such omissions and abbreviations as our want of room compels us to adopt.
The Madras Committee and their agents disallowed Mr. Rhenius's claim, in any respect, to any part of the Mission.
“What !” exclaimed Rhenius, “ No right even to the congregations ? No interest in the souls whom the Lord gave as seals :o my ministry? Have the Society given me those souls? They have only given me temporal support and aided my labours with money. And so not only they, but also many other friends in India, Prussia, and Germany, altogether distinct from the Society. All is from, and to, the Lord. My right or interest in those congregations can cease only by conduct at variance with the word of God. And as no such thing can be proved by the Society against me, my right to those congregations under God remains unaltered. With respect to houses and lands procured with the Society's money, I do not claim them as my property. Neither do I claim even those chapels which the people themselves have built, with a small assistance from me from the local fund. The ground on which they stand belongs not to the Society, but to the people : the Society has not paid a pice for it, por was it ever made over to them. The prayer houses were built by the people themselves. I wished this to be their own act, and for their own benefit.
gave them 5 or 10 rupees for each, to assist them just enough to make it common property; the people themselves expending, in many instances, double or treble the amount. Now I ask what exclusive right can we have to this property? The people built them, not for us, but themselves. To exclude them from the buildings which they have raised for their own benefit; to nail them up; and when they take uway materials from ignorance of the law, to drag them before the magistrates, and to procure punishment to them, is, to say the least, outraging the common feelings of men; conduct altogether at variance with the spirit of the gospel!
“ The Committee say they will retain, by all christian means, the whole Mission, and exclude and prevent all interference with it.'
But what are christian means? I understand by that term, meekness, patience, godly persuasion, faith, truth, and prayer. These are christian means! But what means have been taken? Endeavours to force the Catechists to say things contrary to truth . and their conscience; the people threatened with fines and with the repayment of the Mission expenses in their villages; assured most positively that I should never come back, that I should stay but a few weeks, that I had already left Palamcottah. The glory, riches, and honour of the Church Missionary Society were held forth and contrasted with my poverty and meanness; that I had no friends amongst the gentlemen of Palamcottah; that the collectors and the judge are all on the other side. Thus the native servants went about amongst the people, endeavouring to confound and divide them. They nailed up the chapels wherever they
could ; they interrupted the people even while engaged in worship, the Sabbathday not excepted; they demanded the Gospels and Testaments, Catechisms and Tracts, to be delivered up 10 them, not excepting the books of the Bible Society, and the tracts of the Tract Society. They preferred complaints before the magistrates against innocent persons, whose only fault was joining me; these complaints were supported by false witnesses, who were told what to say, and were rewarded for saying it; and the accused were heavily fined. They bronght false complaints against those who had not opened the chapels, but merely entered them to worship as usual. Such, such--oh hear it all tbe christian world - such are the means by which the agents of the Church Missionary Society have endeavoured to maintain their cause and bring back the people to the Society! Alas! my heart sinks within me, when I contemplate the mischief they have done to themselves! Even Catechists, and head Catechists, who were once running well, have been snared to give false witness before the magistrates! The only comfort I have in this most sad affair is, that when the excitement is over, the Lord will be graciously pleased to prick their consciences and lead them to repentance!"
An appeal having been made to the courts of law to recover some of the property from the German brethren, things settled down into something like quietness, and Mr. Rhenius was compelled to look to the chief cities of India, to Great Britain, Germany, and the United States, for contributions to aid “ The German Evangelical Mission in Tinnevelly.” In an appeal, dated May, 1837, he states, “ It is not to oppose the Church Missionary Society that we are here in Tinnevelly, nor to 6 sow sedition or strife,' as it has been insinuated, but to teach and preach the glorious and unadulterated gospel, as it is in the Bible, to those our people who, in the greatest part, were, by our instrumentality, brought to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, and to extend his glorious kingdom among the thousands of heathen around us, that they also, with us, may experience the power of his death and resurrection to the redemption from sin and eternal perdition. We venture to say that we cherish no sectarian spirit, but have, or at least strive to have, a single eye to his
As, however, there were four missionary families, including ten children, to be supported, with 104 native teachers or catechists, 54 schoolmasters, 17 adult students, and more than 50 children in the male and female seminaries, an annual income of between £2,000 and £3,000 was indispensable. To raise this amount involved extensive correspondence and great anxiety-or, to adopt Mr. Rhenius's words—“it is a great trial of our faith, but we find it good to stand in this position, as it leads to greater watchfulness, prayer, and faithfulness." Still it was natural that they should seek a permanent support, by uniting themselves to some existing Missionary Society in Europe. No Society, in its constitution and supporters, seemed so likely to co-operate with them as the London Missionary Society. *The following private letter, addressed to one of its Missionaries, will show the heart of this devoted servant of the Lord amidst his many anxieties.
“ Palamcottah, Feb. 8, 1836. “ My dear Brother, -So you, also, are about to leave India! May it be but for a season; and may the Lord make up the blank! Whilst he disposes of you in this way, he gives me strange work to do here, ever fighting with the