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wisdom, why had we rather learn the same of man than of God himself, who, as St. James saith, is the Giver of wisdom? Yet why will we not learn it at Christ's own mouth, who promising to be present with the Church to the world's end, doth perform his promise; in that he is not only with us, by his grace and tender pity, but also in this, that he speaketh presently unto us, in the Holy Scriptures, to the great and endless comfort of all them that have any feeling of God at all in them.”
Could the men by whom such passages as these were written have foreseen, that in the Church which they founded it would be considered as an offence to distribute the Bible unaccompanied by any human work?
Could they, humble as they were pious, have been supposed to claim on behalf of their own writings an equality with those Scriptures by which they were guided, and for which some of them laid down their lives?
Yet this claim of equality is all which the members of the Bible society, who belong to the Church of England, deny. They stand on the line of demarcation which separates the Papist from the Protestant. They assert the wide distinction between the authority of an infallible and of a fallible church--but do they forsake the Church where the Liturgy is used ? Do they countenance the disregard of it in others? The very contrary is the fact; and on this point they are willing to stake the issue of the question.
Nor can it be doubted that the association of a large proportion of Churchmen in the Bible Society, must tend to render the Dissenters less adverse to the Liturgy. They must learn to respect what they know to be held in veneration by men whom they esteem.
But in proportion as their good will to the Liturgy is now conciliated by the habit of acting in co-operation with
Churchmen, must any prejudices they may entertain respecting it be inflamed by such a secession of the Church. men from the Society as you recommend.
Nor can I think it clear, that the Society, by such a secession, would be so reduced in numbers and influence as to become inconsiderable. The union has been formed, the machine is organized, and it might continue to work.
The Dissenters, by being left in the sole possession of the Society, might obtain a large accession of influence and reputation. The Foreign Societies would, as I have observed, naturally adhere to them. The efforts of these Societies you value at a very low
ate upon this sole ground, that they have received pecuniary assistance from the British Society, instead of contributing to it. Supposing this to be the case with respect to all the Foreign Societies, it would only follow, that you estimate the strength of a society by no other criterion than its pecuniary means. You count for nothing the zealand activity of these Societies, though you usually represent the zeal and activity of the Dissenters, as sufficiently formidable. You overlook the gratitude and attachment of so many individuals, many of whom are in distinguished stations; and the approbation and countenance of several sovereigns. The Emperor of Russia, the late and the present King of Sweden, and the King of Prussia, have distinctly expressed their approbation of the proceedings of the Society. Would you, with the views you entertain of the spirit and designs of the Dissenters, think it wise or safe to leave such a correspondence entirely in their hands ? And what opinion do you think would be formed abroad of the liberality and judgment of the Church of England in rejecting and renouncing such an instrument of general good? What will be thought even of our present jealousies and disputes ?
But zeal and activity, and attachment are arms of no mean power—such as will often supply the place of money and such as money cannot always purchase. I hope they do not belong exclusively to the Dissenters: but it is for the Church to determine whether she will avail herself for the noblest purposes of those qualities which they are admitted to possess, or run the risk of seeing them turned against her.
I should indeed agree with you in thinking the Dissenters formidable, if their spirit, and the spirit also of the rulers of the Church, were now such as in the unhappy times to which you have alluded at so much length.
But I think it altogether unnecessary to discuss the circumstances which attended the suppression of the Liturgy in the great rebellion, because they seem to me totally irrelevant to the present question.
Nothing can be more dissimilar to the state of government, and the political constitution of the country in the reign of Charles the First, than their actual situation. Nor have the ecclesiastical arrangements and the public opinions on religious subjects any greater resemblance. Compare the civil and military establishments, and all the means of influence possessed by the government at that time, and at the present. Compare the violent exertions of unsettled prerogative on the one hand, and the eager claim of undefined privileges and right on the other, with the orderly and regular system which has been established since the Revolution. Compare the harsh exertions of ecclesiastical authority in the former period, of authority often striving, by means unjustified by the forms of English law, and still more repugnant to its spirit, to repress the turbulence and
ferment of a recent and unsettled reformation of religion, with the calm and mild exercise we have seen, for a century past, of the clerical jurisdiction, always directed by law, and guided by moderation ; and then say whether there is now any reason to apprehend the renewal of that collision and conflict of passions and opinions in which the constitution of the Church and that of the State alike were overthrown.
The next subject to be examined is that of the foreign operations of the Bible Society; and upon this I began to hope we were agreed. Its operations abroad, you say,' are not only unobjectionable, but highly laudable. This praise is, however, qualified in the very next line in a manner which, I confess, struck me with some surprise, viz. that these operations have been described in terms which violate both truth and candor-surprise, not that you
should make such a charge if you think it well founded; but that you should make the charge, and reserve the proof of it for an Appendix, not yet published, after the expiration of nearly two months. I have waited with some impatience for the publication of that Appendix, not only from regard to the character of the Society, but because I know no one who has described its foreign transactions in terms of higher commendation than myself: and though the general tone of the Inquiry, as well as of all our communications, convinces me that I am not designedly alluded to ; yet I cannot feel easy under the idea of having, however unintentionally, fallen under the suspicion of a violation of truth and candor.
After waiting some time in vain for the publication of this appendix, I satisfied myself, by a careful review of what I had published, that I had asserted nothing but the truth;
and how far I have offended against candor I am willing to leave the public to judge. I have asserted (and this is the only fact I have asserted on the subject) that the Bible Society has afforded the means of preaching the Gospel in fifty-four languages. In this there is a slight error, but it is an error of defect. The real number (exclusive of the Ethiopic, which is in a state of preparation) is fifty-eight, 'of
'Languages or Dialects in which the British and Foreign Bible Society has been instrumental in diffusing the Holy Scriptures.
Two dialects Ladinsche,
of the RomaChurwelsche,
*Sanscrit. *Seek. *Telinga. *Carnatica, *Macassar, *Rakheng