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SECOND LETTER

то

THE REV. DR. MARSH,

OCCASIONED BY HIS INQUIRY, &c.

DEAR SIR, If

F I were to leave wholly unnoticed the further arguments which, since I addressed you on the 4th of December last, you have urged against the Bible Society in your Inquiry, it might appear to proceed, either from some change in my own sentiments on that subject, or from a want of attention to yours; which would be the more unbecoming on my part, on account of the honorable manner in which you are pleased to speak of my Letter.

I feel myself bound, therefore, to declare that my opinions not only remain unaltered, but have even received some confirmation from perceiving that all the ingenuity and research you have employed in attempting to support your objections to the Society have, so far as I can judge, completely failed in their effect.

These sentiments I should have communicated to you sooner, if I had not been desirous of seeing your case complete, and judging whether, in addition to the few observations I shall think it necessary to make on the Inquiry itself, it might not be proper to add some on the Appendix, by which it is at a future time to be followed.

I conceive, however, that as my object is not to go into an exact and methodical examination of your allegations in their order, much less to enter into

any
of

your personal discussions with

your

other opponents, but to confine myself to a few general heads, there can be no sufficient reason for further delay. And by so confining myself, I think I shall be able, in the shortest possible compass, to do full justice to your arguments, which appear to me to be comprised in three points

First, That the Bible Society produces a disregard of the Liturgy.

Secondly, That its foreign operations have been mis-stated and exaggerated. And,

Thirdly, That its real objects are of a political, and not a religious nature.

It must, I think, be obvious to whoever reads your Inquiry, that you have totally changed the ground of objection on which you rested, in your Address to the Senate of Cambridge.

In your Address, the objection relied upon was an apprehension that, as the power and influence of the Bible Society increased, other objects hostile to the Church might be as. sociated with the main object; and, in answer to that, I proposed that the friends of the Church should, by joining the Society, acquire such a preponderating force in it, that it would be impossible for the Dissenters, should they be desirous of it, to direct the efforts of the Society to any other object. But, in the Inquiry, your objection is to the main and avowed object itself, namely, that of the circulation of the Scriptures unaccompanied by the Liturgy, or by any other exposition or comment whatever.

Of the first of these objections, which I discussed in my former Letter, I shall say nothing at present. With respect to the latter, I must first observe, that you do the members of the Church of England, who belong to the bible society, great injustice, if you suspect them of any want of regard to the Liturgy. We acknowledge its lawful authority, we venerate its piety, we admire its beauty, we recommend its use by our example, our influence, and distribution; we all

? adhere to its forms in the public service of the church, and many of us in our own families. .

On this point it is easy to have satisfactory proof. Many of us are also members of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. Let it be examined, whether, in our application to that Society for books, there is a smaller proportion of Prayer-books than in those of its other members, who do not belong to the Bible Society. To the disregard to the Liturgy, which you suppose to have been produced by the Bible Society, if real, the Reports of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge must bear conclusive evi. dence. We shall, in that case, find, that during the growth of the Bible Society, the demand for Prayer-books for distribution has been gradually lessening. But what is the fact ? The number of Prayer-books delivered by the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, to its members on anaverage of the three years immediately previous to the institution of the Bible society (viz. 1802-3-4), was 13,545; the average of the last three years was 19,815, being an increase of more than one half. I am informed also, that the ordinary sale of Prayer-books has greatly increased in the same period.--So much for the disregard of the Liturgy, produced by the Bible Society.

But we do not refuse to associate with those who may object to the Liturgy, for the purpose of diffusing the knowledge of those Scriptures, which they, as well as we, acknowledge to be the sole fountains of religious truth. NO.I. Pam. ed Ed. VOLI,

L

We venerate the Liturgy, as one of the most valuable and important of human compositions ; but when attempts are made to place it on a level with the Bible—to assert that the Bible cannot safely be circulated without it, we are obliged to confess, that the difference is no less than between divine perfection and human frailty.

Such a claim of equality with the Bible, the venerable and holy men who compiled our Liturgy would have disclaimed with horror. There is no point on which they more firmly insist than upon the complete and absolute sufficiency of the Scriptures, in matters of faith: this is indeed the very basis of the Reformation; while the authority of the Church in points of doctrine is no less avowedly the foundation of Popery.

The danger of the perversion of Scripture, on which you so much insist, is the very argument used by the Papists in defence of the denial of the Bible to the laity. And indeed to such a length do you carry your argument, that I do not know what answer you could give to a Catholic Doctor who should justify the practice of his church by your authority.

But should we, by adopting the Liturgy as an infallible exposition of Scripture, gain the point of uniformity of doctrine ? By no means—You contend that it is impossible to reconcile the language of the Liturgy with Calvin's doctrine. But other men, whose sincerity, piety, and learning are indisputable, contend that the Liturgy, and the Articles cannot be understood in any other than a Cal- . vinistic sense. My opinion would be of no weight in deciding such a question between you ; but I should be sorry not to embrace, as faithful and genuine sons of the Church

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to which I belong, many who hold each of these contradictory opinions.

With reference to this point of the sufficiency of Scripture, I cited the words of Chillingworth, as one of the ablest advocates of the Protestant cause; but to Chillingworth you think fit to object; and it seems to me unnecessary to examine the validity of your objections, because I can support my argument by an authority from which you cannot appeal, namely, that of the Church of England itself, speaking in the Homilies.

“ There is no truth or doctrine," says the first Homily (on reading the Scriptures,) “ necessary for our justification and everlasting salvation, but that is, or may be, drawn out of that fountain and well of truth."

“ If it shall require to teach any truth, or reprove false doctrine; to rebuke any vice, to commend any virtue, to give good counsel, to comfort, or exhort, or to do any thing requisite for our salvation; all these things (saith St. Chrysostom) we may learn plentifully of the Scripture.” “ If to know God aright,” says the twenty-second

,

Homily,“ be an occasion of evil, then we must needs grant that the learning and reading of the Holy Scriptures is the cause of heresy, carnal liberty and the subversion of good orders. But the knowledge of God and of ourselves, is so far from being an occasion of evil, that it is the readiest, yea, the only means to bridle carnal liberty, and to kill all our fleshly affections. And the ordinary way to attain this knowledge, is with diligence to hear and read the Holy Scriptures. For the whole Scriptures, saith St. Paul, were given by the inspiration of God. And shall we Christian men think to learn the knowledge of God and of ourselves in any earthly man's work or writing, sooner or better than in the Holy Scriptures written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost? If we desire the knowledge of heavenly

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