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report in a Melbourne newspaper, sent to me from Victoria, of the case of Hugo Levinger, who was committed for trial on a charge of murder of some Tannese on board the “ Young Australian,” on the high seas, and to this case only, and, without any knowledge whatever of Captain Hovell's case, I referred, in the few remarks by which I introduced Mr Neilson's letter to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, and it did not occur to me that the publishing of the said letter might affect the trial of the said Hugo Levinger in Melbourne.
4. The letter of the said Thomas Neilson was sent to me as the agent of the New Hebrides Mission, for the purpose of publication, as is evident from its opening sentence, and referred to matters concerning the deportation of natives of the New Hebrides, which had been for some time agitating the public mind; and in a private letter accompanying the said letter, designed for publication, there are the following paragraphs :
“I send you the foregoing letter, which, if you think it worth while, you may publish in one or other of the Sydney papers. I am persuaded, that if the light of public opinion is brought to bear upon the doings of your traders down here, it will not fail in the end to have a salutary effect ; and where public opinion is weak, perhaps British law and authority will come in to supplement it.
“I compute that about three thousand people have been carried off from this group during the last twelve months. The vessel by which I send this letter to Brisbane has seventy-four, and her complement is not complete. If the trade goes on at this rate, in ten years we will be depopulated. If it goes on at the same ratio of increase as it has done during the last three years, in five years there will not be a man left.”
5. I believe the interests of Christian missions, of legitimate commerce, of social order in the islands, and of our common humanity, to be imperilled by the course pursued in too many instances as commonly reputed, in the mode of removing the male natives of the New Hebrides and other islands; and I therefore felt justified, on general grounds of philanthropy, and in the discharge of what I believed to be a duty on my part as a Christian minister and as a British subject, in sending the letter of the said Thomas Neilson to the Sydney Morning Herald for publication, as I had been requested.
6. Having a profound respect for public law and the rights of my fellowsubjects, I would not knowingly be guilty of any contempt of the Supreme Court, or obstruct the course of justice; nor would I, had I known of the prosecution against the said Captain Hovell, have published the said letter, or taken any other step wbich might in the least degree affect the fair and unprejudiced trial of the case.
(Signed) ROBERT STEEL. Sworn, etc., etc.,
SPEECH OF HON. J. HAY, M.L.C., AT THE PUBLIC MEETING
TO EXPRESS SYMPATHY WITH DR STEEL. The Hon. John Hay, M.L.C., being called upon to preside, said, he felt in taking the chair on such an occasion as this, it was necessary for him to say a few words to justify him in acceding to such a course, which was one that he conceived, in some respects, ought not to be taken except under a feeling of grave responsibility. He was also, he would confess, unwilling to do anything that might have an influence in derogating from the dignity of the highest courts of the land,—(cheers)—or in derogating from the usefulness of that judicial bench to which we must look for the protection of individuals against wrong on the one side, and the public, in many cases, on the other. He did not think that, as a general rule, it was desirable the judgments of the judicial tribunals should be brought under the consideration of public meetings; and when it was proposed to him to take the chair on this occasion, he felt he could not do so without taking time to consider whether it was a cause that would warrant such a step. But considering that, to all appearances, a grave injustice had been done to one of the most deserving citizens amongst us,—(cheers)—he did not see, if he came to the conclusion that an injustice had really been done, how he could refuse to assist in taking the readiest means (so far as it could be done), in
removing the stigma cast upon that gentleman, at the earliest period possible. With a view to satisfying himself, he went through the whole proceedings of the Supreme Court as reported in the daily papers, and read with care the original publication for which Dr Steel incurred the sentence of the Court. He could not find in that publication anything to account for Dr Steel being placed in the position of a criminal, and treated with all the contumely that the greatest criminal could be exposed to. (Cheers.) It appeared to him, that with the lights Dr Steel had at the time he received the letter from Mr Neilson-knowing the source from which that letter proceeded, -it would have been impossible for him to take any
other course consistent with his duty as a Christian minister, and a friend of humanity. He could not well be justified, under the circumstances, in withholding from the public that letter. It was his duty to bring the facts so narrated, upon authority he perceived to be good, as speedily as possible before the attention of the people of the colonies, and ultimately before the British people in Europe. He (Mr Hay) did not see anything for which Dr Steel was to blame in this, unless it was the slight allusion to the case of a person then committed for trial in the sister colony. It was probable that if Dr Steel had time for consideration he might have omitted any possible reference to that case, or he might have come to the conclusion that the circumstances narrated did not necessarily bear upon any case at all
. But whatever might be said with regard to this allusion, there was nothing in it which could justify the Supreme Court of this colony in decreeing him guilty of contempt so far as this jurisdiction was concerned. Even supposing a formal contempt had been committed, it might be asked, was it such a contempt as should have been visited by anything but the merely formal finding? Was there anything that could justify the Court in treating Dr Steel as a criminal deserving of such severe rebuke as that administered to him? He (Mr Hay), for his own part, at the present moment, had not the honour of a personal acquaintance with Dr Steel, was never introduced to him, and never spoke to him; but it was the good fortune of those living in free communities to have a profound respect for many individuals to whom they were personally unknown. (Cheers.) He accounted it a pleasure to have observed the public and private conduct of this gentleman since his arrival in this colony. (Cheers.) It would be acknowledged that he had been distinguished for increasing yet unobtrusive attention to his duties as a Christian minister, and as a good citizen. (Cheers.) It was a positive loss to the community to be deprived of the services of such a man as this; it was an injury to the people, if anything occurred to discourage him in the pursuit of the good work in which he was engaged. Cheers.) To a man of highly sensitive feeling particularly, it must be a very great discouragement to be placed, as it were, in the category of criminals, and to be treated with disrespect by the exponents of laws he was habitually anxious to respect. (Cheers.) It was to prevent such an evil as the loss of the earnest services of such a man to the community—to prevent the shock to his own moral feelings, and the injury to his usefulness, that they were met here to-night. (Cheers.) They were not come together to call in question the conduct of the judges, or to impair the efficiency of the judicial bench. It might be, the cause of free and fair discussion of public events had been in some manner prejudiced by the course taken by the Court, but there would be ample time to consider that branch of the subject coolly and calmly hereafter. What they were now met for was to do, as far as they could, justice to Dr Steel, to assure him of their cordial sympathy, and to encourage him in the course he had marked out for himself, as well as others who had devoted themselves to the cause of practical Christianity, the cause of humanity, so that they might follow it out without fear of consequences. (Cheers.) The expression of public feeling at such a meeting as this, where, he was sure, nothing hasty or violent would be advanced, would have the beneficial effect proposed upon the administration of justice itself. It would show that there was a tribunal even above that of the Supreme Court. (Cheers.) That there was a tribunal, under Providence, of public opinion,—(cheers) which, although it had been sneered at by those who ought not to be guilty of sneering, was the great ruling power in all free countries. It might be sometimes vague, it
might be difficult to show where it was lodged, and it might have no paid exponents, still it was so potent that no man that was capable of ruling a people could ignore it. The intelligent expression of public opinion was that to which we must refer every great question. It might be despised for a time; but in the end it must be triumphant. (Prolonged cheers)
ADDRESS TO DR STEEL, ADOPTED AT THE PUBLIC MEETING,
To the Rev. Dr ROBERT STEEL, M.A., Ph. D. SIR,—As your fellow-colonists, subjects of the British Crown, we have learned with astonishment, that, for the insertion of a letter in the Sydney Morning Herald, of the 8th May 1869, calling attention to cruelties perpetrated on inhabitants of the New Hebrides, not knowing at the time that two of the persons involved in the statement forwarded by you had been committed for trial on a charge of murder, you were charged with contempt of the Supreme Court, judged guilty, and reprimanded from the judicial bench, before the world, as an" offender” against the laws of our country; and, in view of the whole proceeding which was made the ground of the judgment against you, we, in public meeting assembled, take this means of placing on record our deliberate and firm conviction, that your conduct in the matter for which you have been thus dealt with, was in no way inconsistent with your high character as a Christian minister and a good citizen.
We desire also to convey to you the assurance of our heartfelt sympathy with you under the reproach heaped undeservedly upon you.
We feel confident that your own conscience has sustained you amidst unmerited rebuke; and that, wherever the facts of this case are known, public opinion will coincide with the conclusion of his Honour the Chief-Justice, when, declaring that he totally dissented from the judgment, and had been no party to it, he said that you had not been guilty of any contempt, and were entitled to be absolutely discharged without sentence.
Signed on behalf, and by authority, of the Public Meeting. SYDNEY, July 8th, 1869.
"ARISE, LET US GO HENCE.” OUTLINES OF THE DISCOURSE IN GREEN STREET CHAPEL, AUGUST 29, 1869, IN
THE PROSPECT OF ENTERING, NEXT SABBATH, UPON THE NEW PLACE OF WORSHIP IN LANDRESSY STREET, GLASGOW, BY REV. JOHN EDGAR.
JOHN xiv. 31. Did Jesus, then, at once arise and go thence? It seems not immediately, for His further discourse occupies three more chapters. In His ardour to manifest His love to the Father, by keeping His commandment, He could scarcely wait the fulness of the time. His zeal consumed Him. I delight to do thy will, O my God.” “Arise, let us go hence.”
These words teach us three things regarding Christ.
His work there was accomplished. He had kept the Passover with His disciples. He had instituted the Supper. Through the symbols,
bread and wine, He had set forth the nature and purpose of His death. “This is my body, which is given for you
This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Through them, too, He made a free offer of Himself—the Gospel offer. “ Take, eat .... Drink ye all of it.” Provision was made for instructing and establishing believers in the doctrine of the Cross, as well as for keeping prominently before the world, to the end of time, the great fact of redemption.
" This do in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.” That was all accomplished.
Arise, let us go bence.” He had work elsewhere to be done.—His greatest work lay before Him. He inust go to Gethsemane, to agonise for sin. He must suffer Himself to be apprehended and abused, and unjustly condemned and crucified. He must endure the wrath of evil men,
and the hidings of His Father's face. He must suffer in His body and in His soul. He must encounter the assault of the Prince of this world. He must taste of the bitterness of death. He must die, and be buried. He must rise again, and ascend to glory. He must reign till He has saved all His people, and put all His enemies under His feet. The work is great; the time is short. "Arise, let us go hence."
He was filled with a holy ardour to accomplish it.—He gave Himself for sinners, according to the Father's commandment. He delighted to obey the Father. “ That the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” The work of Christ was service to the Father, as well as salvation to sinners. God's heart was full of compassion, but it could find no outlet towards perishing men except through His own Son. The Lord Jesus had thus a double incitement to the prosecution of His great work. He could be at once the means of gratifying the Father and of saving sinners. The former motive seems to have prevailed. It is at the mention of the Father's commandment that he says, “ Arise, let us go hence.” Perhaps they should not be separated and compared. They are one. The gratification of both Father and Son is the salvation of souls. During the thirtythree years of Christ's life on earth, how often, as he gazed on the sins and sorrows of humanity, must He have intensely desired the time when they should be healed and comforted ? Now that the time has come for sin to be taken away by the sacrifice of Himself, He can scarcely restrain His zeal, and abide the hour. "Arise, let us go hence."
These words suggest similar things regarding ourselves.
Our work here is done.-Our gracious God has honoured us by intrusting us with important work in this place. How we have done it, the day will declare. Many times have we met here to engage in worship. Often have we sung God's praises, read portions of God's Holy Word, and called upon His name. It has been my privilege, during these six years, to set before you the way of salvation by Jesus Christ, and to press upon you a present hearty
acceptance of the Saviour as all your salvation and all your desire. Looking back over these years, I have now to reproach myself with a want of the solemnity, earnestness, and tenderness, becoming all who speak in God's name to their perisbing fellow-men of the great salvation. Often, I fear, you have been repelled, rather than attracted to "the chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely.” But, after all, you have heard the glorious Gospel hereenough to save or condemnn. Now the work is done. Our opportunity is over. I shall preach no more, and you shall hear no more, in this place. " What is written is written.” It is a solemn time! It is like the closing of a life! It is like the voice of the angel saying, “ He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still."
Some of you have hitherto resisted all appeals, and all entreaties. You are still refusing offered mercy. You are rejecting Christ. You will not have this Man to reign over you. Be it so, then. Soon you will be asked no more. Soon your day of grace will be past. Not again in this place, in the usual circumstances, shall the Saviour be pressed on you. As you have resisted hitherto, you may resist to the end. You may never be saved at all. " What wilt thou say when he shall punish thee ?” “They shall eat of the fruit of their own way.'
Arise, let us go hence.' Some of you have got life here. You remember the time and place when the Lord Jesus dealt graciously with you, and took captive your willing heart. This house is dear to you as your spiritual birthplace. You look back upon profitable Sabbaths and blessed communions. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.' All
my springs are in thee.” “A day in thy courts is better than a thousand.” To look back on this place, is like looking back on the world, when you have got salvation, when your soul is even on the wing to the better land. But it must be so. “Arise, let us go hence.”
God has given us work to do elsewhere.—The Lord Jesus went forth to service and suffering. We are not called to such arduous work. But let us remember that we are called to service, and it
be suffering. It is not to lie on our oars. It is not to settle down in indifference. It is not to say,
"Let us rest now.” No. A great work is to be done-a greater, I trust, than that accomplished. Time is short. Life is brief. The work is urgent.
It is mine to preach Christ more faithfully, earnestly, and persuasively; to plead with sinners to be reconciled to God: to comfort and edify God's people. It is yours to receive the truth in the love of it, to store up in your memory and practise it in your life. It is yours to be fellow-labourers in the Gospel; in watching for souls, in training the young, in distributing tracts, and in telling your friends and companions what God has done for your soul. It is yours,
and mine too, to live an humble, quiet, consistent, Christian life; to be industrious, sober, honest, truthful, forgiving, obliging; to be exemplary in your conduct at home, as parents and children, as husbands