Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

then must we judge that the silence of the Dissenters in these days is to be accounted for by a more worldly spirit of conformity, and by yielding too much to the general fashion of their generation. There are a few Dissenters now amongst the under-graduates, who conform to all the ceremonies; but this is only proof to us of the laxity of their principles, and of the apathy of their parents and teachers, who have never warned them of the danger of yielding in little points to the principle of evil. We trust that a better spirit will revive amongst Dissenters, and that they will "ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein; that they may find rest to their souls. We pity Dissenters who do so conform, and we cannot help looking forward to a day when it will be revealed that such persons have had no religion at all.

“We beg, however, to assure the Master that our conduct is not contumacious and rebellious: we have had many anxious debates how to act in this business, and we trust we have taken the right course. If any sentence should be pronounced against us, then it will be solemnly recorded that no piety,—no zeal in the prosecution of the appointed studies,-no moral propriety,—no manifestation of talent will avail a Dissenter in the venerable University of Cambridge ;-that whatever is a virtue in a churchman is a vice in a Dissenter; and unless he will conform to a worship, and to the authority of a Church from which

a

a

his conscience revolts, he must share the fate of those who are expelled for flagitious and disreputable conduct. We leave the odium of such a sentence on the Seniority of this celebrated College."

The conversation now terminated, but I must do justice to the Master by recording his kind and courteous deportment throughout the whole of this interview.

The members of the Seniority said very little ; and it was intimated that we must withdraw till the Board had come to a determination.

We were summoned in the evening again to the lodge, though in the interval the tutors had paid us a visit, vainly endeavouring to make us give up the points in question.

At our second appearing before the Board, the Master expressed a wish that we would leave the University quietly, and in case of our acceding to the proposal, he promised that we each should

“ Bene decessit." We declined this favour, and told the Master that, as we were standing forth advocates for the cause of Dissent, we could not give up our case in this manner; and that as the commencement of this controversy was public, so must the termination be public also.

We were then ordered once more to withdraw, and in about an hour afterwards were re-admitted to the Council Chamber.

The Master read our sentence: after detailing

have a

the case in terms to which we did not much object, the decree pronounced upon us was,—“ that we were no longer members of the College of the Holy Athanasius in the University of Cambridge.”

I am,

My dear Uncle,
Your affectionate Nephew,

FRANCIS EMERSON.

* It may perhaps be interesting to the reader to hear something further of this little body of expelled Non-conformists.

Francis Emerson joined the Baptist Church at Cambridge, received adult baptism, and offered himself as a Missionary for the East Indies. After due inquiry, the offer was accepted, and he, with hree other Missionaries, sailed for Calcutta from Liverpool.

John Calvin Thompson became a member of an Inde. pendent Church at Pentonville, and occasionally exercised himself in preaching in the villages round about London. He was invited to supply a pulpit in a Dissenting Chapel in Kent; and proving very acceptable to the people, was finally invited to take the pastoral charge, by a unanimous call. His congregation is rapidly increasing, and Mrs. Thompson, his mother, has lately become a member of his Church.

The other young gentlemen have all become professed Dissenters, and are variously employed in the trying pilgrimage of human life. The contagion of Non-conformity has not made any open progress in the University of Cambridge. Surplices, and “the wisdom of ancestors, are the order of the day there still, and are likely to be. Oxford, Cambridge, and Benares are the three most enlightened Universities in the world.—Editor.

LETTER XXX.

From the Reverend RAHSHAKEH GATHERCOAL

to L. S. E.

MY DEAR BROTHER,

DISASTERs are coming upon me as thick as hail : the defection of Frank, and the Dissenting uproar he caused at Cambridge, did indeed greatly distress me; but on this subject I have written* so much to you, that I shall add no more. If this vexation, however, was great from a nephew, what must a Dissenting blow be from the wife of my bosom?

About a month since, as I told you, Jane went to pay a visit to her aunt at Leeds; I not only authorized but encouraged her to go, hoping that a change of scene would raise her spirits. The day before yesterday I received a long letter from 'her, in which, after a tiresome preface about " conscience,” (a word which ought to be erased from all languages,) she comes to this conclusion, that she has made up her mind to join the Baptists, and to be baptized by immersion. Her reasons were such

* Alluding to various letters, not here published, which Rabshakeh had written to his brother on the painful subject of young Emerson's lapse into Non-conformity:-Ed.

[ocr errors]

as have often been urged in our stormy controversies, “the unprofitableness, yea, the positive mischief of my ministry-the pain that she felt on hearing the Dissenters abused and insulted from my pulpit every Sunday—the excited and angry state of the public mind in the parish-the impossibility of her attending the parish church any longer-her predilection for the Dissenting scheme -her conscientious conviction of the errors, superstitions, and corruptions of the Church of England

- her great dislike of the loose life of Dr. Birch and some others, my prime friends—the worldly manners of several clergymen who visit at the vicarage-her desire to join a church of poor and humble Christians, whose communion would profit her soul-her thirst after righteousness, which never has received so much as one drop of comfort from any of my sermons-and, finally, her firm persuasion that the baptism of believers is the only baptism mentioned in Scripture.” She told me that she preferred undergoing the rite of immersion far away from home, because it would be less talked of and less known; but she was resolved, when she returned to Tuddington, to attend regularly the Dissenting chapel. To all this was added a very long and very urgent expostulation about my misguided and “mischievous zeal in a false and bad cause,” which, she avers, has turned a peaceable and religious parish into “a nest of hornets.” She entreats me to retrace my steps, and assures me

« PreviousContinue »