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A LETTER, &c.
My Inquiry into the consequences of neglecting to give the Prayer-Book with the Bible," having excited a host of adversaries, who have assailed me in every possible way, and with every possible weapon, it is necessary that I should attempt a vindication of that Inquiry, lest silence should be construed into an inability to
But that which chiefly induces me to remain for the present on the field of controversy, is the honor of combating so distinguished a champion as yourself. The second Letter, with which you have lately honored me, contains every thing in the shape of argument, which has been advanced by the united efforts of my other adversaries, whether in the form of Speeches, Letters, Prefaces, or Reviews; and contains it unmixed with extraneous matter, which serves only to divert the reader from the subject of discussion, and to confound where it cannot
confute. Indeed one of my adversaries, whose situation it would especially befit, to practise the benevolence which we are ordained to preach, has not only departed from the subject of inquiry, and thus left it precisely where he found it, but has substituted for argument a mass of personal invective, which it would be no less degrading to notice, than it was disgraceful to advance.
And I am sure you will agree with me in the opinion, that when an author breathes nothing but the spirit, which the Gospel was intended to subdue, he will hardly contribute to the diffusion of the precepts, which the Gospel was intended to convey. However extensively we may disperse the letter of it, yet if our own example is at variance with its spirit, we defeat by our actions what we recommend by our words. The gentleness of its divine Author, and the mild conduct of the Apostles, form a striking contrast with the impetuosity thus displayed by advocates for the Bible Society: and impartial observers will suspect, that men who violate the laws of decorum, are pleading, not for piety, but for power.
To so much the more advantage does your own pamphlet appear, when contrasted with publications like these. It is true, that the “ amiable spirit,” which I commended in
your first Letter, is less perceptible in your second. But you every-where preserve the character and the language of a gentleman ; you have never departed from your subject to compensate, by personality, the deficiency of argument; you have stated with precision the propositions which you intend to combat, and to that statement you have adhered. For this reason, no less than for the reasons before assigned, I select your pamphlet, as that which, above all others, is intitled to regard ; so much so indeed, that an answer to your pamphlet is an answer to all the rest.
I mean, as far as argument is concerned : for I would not offer so great an affront to the respectable writer, whom I am now addressing, as to introduce into this Letter a reply to objections of any other description. Indeed, the public at large can feel no interest in personal abuse from an angry author : and with respect to myself, I trust, that my character is too well established, to make it necessary for my own sake, to notice the effusions of spleen or malice. But such effusions cannot fail to lower the authors themselves in the opinion of impartial judges : and, if malice is accompanied with an affectation of pleasantry, it cannot fail to excite disgust in every man, whose taste is not corrupt, or whose judgment is not perverted. But to proceed, without further preface, to your own Letter, which is of a very different description.
The propositions, which you undertake to combat, you have stated in the following words, in the second page
of " « First, that the Bible Society produces a disregard of the Liturgy.
“ Secondly, that its foreign operations have been misstated and exaggerated. And,
“ Thirdly, that its real objects are of a political, and not a religious nature.”
These three propositions being quite distinct, it is of no consequence in what order they are examined. And as the two last require at present very little examination comparison with the first, and are really unconnected with the decision of the main question, which was agitated in my Inquiry, it will be more convenient to dispose of these two propositions, before we enter on the first, which will then become the principal subject of examination.
? See Page 160. No. I.