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above all their prayerful considera- cases a meeting may be held in a tion? I feel a peculiar desire to place not congenial to our wishes. arrest the attention of my brethren All this may be, and much more; in the ministry. I am quite aware yet after all what is it in comparithat many stand aloof from the son of the work that is accomplishSociety with the most conscientious ing in the circulation of the Scripfeelings. But conscience may be tures over the whole of the habita. misguided. Saul of Tarsus thought ble globe? that he ought to do many things Shall the traveller, intent upon contrary to Jesus of Nazareth, and his home, be greatly upset with the he was most conscientious in so badness of the road, or the badness thinking.
of the conveyance? Will he suffer We are answerable to God for himself to abandon his journey on our negligences, and ignorances this account? What will not men too, as well as for our sins. May put up with in order to reach God grant, that by His Holy Spirit home? And if God's word is we may have a right judgment in precious to us, and if we are alive all things, and may He make us to to the importance of sending forth perceive and know what things we the light of truth to disperse the ought to do!
mists of error overhanging our Now the grand objection which fallen world, every thought should stands in the way of many, is the surely merge in the blessedness of very constitution of the society, such a consummation. consisting, as it does, of all deno. I am sure that the distinction minations of Christians. Let us in the mind between the magnifienter a little into this objection. .cence of the object and the inferiAnd in the first place, I would ority of the instrumentality, will do observe that I never cease to think much with candid minds to discern that every dictate of reason and the path of duty. Our endurance sound judgment should lead us to may well stretch to a great extredistinguish between the sublime mity to compass such an object. and unexceptionable object of such Paul went far when he rejoiced an institution, and any awkward that Christ was preached by conness or infirmity that may be ap- tentious schismatics! and what parent in its machinery. If co-operation shall we refuse for the Christians could only get their full dissemination of Christian thoughts fixed on the vast import. truth? ance to the glory of God and the. 2. But, in the second place, good of men of the universal dis- agreed as I am sure we all are on semination of the Divine Word, the essential importance of the all considerations of the instrumen- universal circulation of the Scriptality by which such a work is tures, I would ask, by what other effected would be comparatively as agency is it expected to effect this nothing. True, there may be an object? The Society for promotoccasional contact with a Dissenter, ing Christian Knowledge cannot do whose bitterness and hate against it. In the work of translation it our own communion may be too is almost stationary. Half a dozen well known. Or, in our meetings versions are the extent of its pubthere may be a weary speech to lications. Its designs are too mul. listen to which offends against tiform to admit of its doing more. good taste and our notions of pro. But supposing any scheme of a priety. Shall I add that in some Church Bible Society could be
effected, or any other unexception free course of God's word in disably constituted, I for one feel that tant lands. And further; the I cannot wait till a choice of socie union of all denominations of ties is in existence, and in equally Christians in England is the only extensive and efficient operation. guarantee and security to foreignI may possibly live to see another ers of the purity of our versions, agency effecting what the Bible and likewise against the possibility Society is now doing. The thing of any proselyting intentions. A is possible. But life is fast ebbing, Church of England, or a Wesleyan, and there is no device or work in or a Baptist Bible Society may the grave whither I am going. I answer for home purposes, but must work while it is called to-day abroad it would be eyed with susthe night cometh when no man picion, and would necessarily not can work. In the meanwhile, who effect a free and uninterrupted can wait for a suspension of the circulation. mighty work which is unquestion 4. But may we not ask, what ably progressing? Who would mischief has been found to accrue dare to recal the 160 versions and from the union of Churchmen and the above 100 translations? Who Dissenters? We have a right to can forget the more than 16 mil ask the question after the experilion copies of the Word of God ence of 40 years. Some serious that this society has already circu- and positive mischief to our section lated! Is it possible for a Chris- of the Church of Christ should be tian heart not to feel some glow of indisputably manifest, to set against grateful attachment to a Society the abandonment of such an instiwhich has achieved so much in tution. I can only give the result furtherance of the Redeemer's glory of my own experience. I was one and the best interests of the world of the undergraduates in CamIs it possible to wish for a suspen- bridge whose efforts were so sigsion of all this good, till a society nally blest in the formation of the less exceptionably constituted pre- Cambridge Bible Society. Never sents itself? and yet to stand aloof shall I forget that first magnificent -is it not almost tantamount to meeting, when the leading men of this?
the University fearlessly came for3. But let me observe further, ward to give it their allegiance and that the constitution of the Bible to repudiate the charge of danger Society is essential to its success; to the Church ; from that day I I mean to say to the success of have been almost as much engaged every Bible Society which is to be as any one in attending Bible the world's Bible Society. We Meetings, and in watching the immay declaim against Dissent, but pression and effects of the Bible there is no concealing the fact, Society, and most truly can I affirm, that Dissenters are largely possess that I am utterly at a loss to coning the privilege and the power of jecture in what respects it can have evangelizing the world; and if proved detrimental to our Church. their missionaries are to be exclud. I believe indeed that the Clergy ed from a share in circulating the have suffered loss in the estimation Scriptures, as undeniably would of Dissenters because of their nebe the case if we are to have a glect of the Bible Society, while I Bible Society consisting only of know, for a fact, that the better Churchmen, then, consider how acquaintance with them, which the we should limit and contract the Bible Society has effected, has ex
tensively softened down the prejudices of Dissenters, and produced on their part a more friendly feeling. I am much mistaken if the contact into which Quakers have been brought with pious members of our Church through the Bible Society, and the discovery of an enlightened and spiritual religion, for which they never before gave us credit, has not been one of the chief means of shaking Quakerism to its very centre, and leading many of its communion to join our establishment.
But, where is the Churchman who through Bible Society influ. ence and attachment ever found himself more in love with dissent or less devoted to his own communion ?
5. But in the very spot where so many falter, I must own, I never cease to find a welcome resting place. We can have no part with Dissenters in many ways. I am the more thankful that we can in one. Shall we ever be at strife ? In that world to which we are hastening shall we able to keep asunder from each other? Shall we wish it? In the prospect of eternity shall we not try to get as near as possible to all who love the Saviour, rather than consider how entirely we can stand aloof? No one would wish me to refuse to act in concert with a Dissenter for the good of a Hospital. I am equally ready to go hand in hand with him for the circulation of God's word. Here is no compromise of principle. A large work is to be done, and all hands are wanted to effect it; and with all my abhorrence of Popery, if the Pope himself would come and join us on the platform of a Bible Meeting, I would give him an ho nest welcome.
Would that my brethren in the ministry would consider this matter well; they may depend upon it
they commend not our beloved Church or promote its real interests by acting towards Dissenters as an inferior and dangerous set of beings, with whom no association can be had. Their conduct may often make intercourse difficult I admit. But if they readily come forward to circulate that word which strikes at the root of all error, theirs amongst the rest, shall we swamp the world's welfare in our refusal to unite with them, and virtually say, that the world may go without the bread of life, rather than that a Dissenter's hand shall join with ours in making the distribution: The whole matter solves itself into this : Bread for the world is at stake the world is hungry for it-shall we send it? or, are we willing that thousands and millions should perish for lack of knowledge, while we are squabbling about the mode of dispensing it? Rather let my right hand forget its cunning, than refuse such a sympathy. Never may I forget, that to him who knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin. I again repeat, that if there were two agencies at work, with their two versions, and issuing their millions of Bibles, it might be a question which I ought to select : but in the little space of life which is allotted to me, I must avail myself of the one channel which is open to me, for doing what in me lies to send the light of divine truth throughout the world.
When I come to die, it will be no regret that my mind was so filled with the importance of sending the Bible to all mankind, as to be comparatively regardless of the agency: it might be a regret that in quarrelling with the only existing agency, I had withheld the boon.
There are other weighty considerations, which I must leave for future number.-ED.
ON DESERTING THE BIBLE SOCIETY.
To the Editor of the Christian Guardian.
DEAR SIR,--I have been too much admit, there may be feelings too interested and delighted with your acute, and faith too feeble to allow Review of “Essays on Christian every one to encounter the painfulUnion,” to let the present oppor- ness occasioned by such a public tunity pass without communicating junction with persons hostile to to you a few extracts from a MS. our Zion. As to the expediency, which was occasioned by some propriety, and utility of leaving clerical characters deserting the the society, the subject in my view British and Foreign Bible Society. speaks to the heart; and every Some of our brethren brought Clergyman, rightly informed, and the subject forward, at a Cleri- of right feeling, should in my cal Meeting, about “The pro- esteem feel himself at home and priety of the Clergy seceding from alive in the ranks of the Bible it connexion;" chiefly on account Society. of the virulence of dissenting minis. The chief objections which I ters against the established Church, have seen and heard against Clergyand the danger there is lest we men uniting with this society, are should encourage their hostility, or summarily involved in this : viz.be classed with them ; some assert. “ The sectarian character of the ing that they could not advocate society, in its constitution and even a good cause on the same operations.” platform with those, who had no Now, most truly, I consider this sooner left such meetings, than they a great mistake ; for the essential began to rail against our Church, nature of the British and Foreign her Prayer-Book, or her Clergy; Bible Society is not division but and that the best way to avoid being union. And wherein the UNION of identified with them, or imbibing all denominations in the circulation their spirit, was to leave them and of the Scriptures can fairly be viewthe Society to their sole operation ed as sectional, I cannot compreand control.
hend. We are told that its Now, my good brother, as I have constitution has a bad tendency, been more than half a century an inasmuch as it is calculated to ambassador of Christ and a minister magnify the agreement, and sink of the Church of England, I trust the differences of the various denoI may, without presumption, be minations engaged in it. To this permitted to give my opinion on a we may surely say, so much the subject so interesting and so im- better. Differences ought never to portant. Before we, as clergymen, have existed, no, not even appeared desert the Bible Society, I think, to exist. And how the withholdwe should consider well the conse- ing differences can either create or quences of secession. As we are increase them we are not told. not called upon, as advocates of And “ agreement” in any thing that society, to any “compromise which respects the making known of principle,” it resolves itself into the word of God cannot easily be a mere matter of feeling or expe- magnified above its worth. It is diency. Respecting the former, I the very life and breath of divine
truth that it be made known or placed within the reach of every one. It is complained that its operations obtrude on the Clergy, make them disrespected, and promote, by giving influence to, dissent; and that it usurps the office of the Church, as a witness and keeper of Holy Writ. It is true, if a Clergyman leave the Bible Society to do the office of circulating the word of God, which he neglects in his own sphere, there is no remedy; in a comparison of the diligent with the remiss, his character must and ought to suffer till he amend his ways; and it cannot be said that Dissenters reap an advantage in the circulation of the Scriptures which the Churchman has not, without admitting that the Scriptures favour dissent; and thus conceding the very thing complained of.
With respect to the Church, as the witness and keeper of Holy Writ, I see no usurpation in this case; nor any incapacity in this society for bearing “witness to the truth.” Every Society bears wit. ness to that, and to that alone, which it promotes ; but the Bible Society, of all societies under heaven, bears testimony to and promotes truth-divine truth-and that alone; unmixed with human errors. And in England, at least, we Churchmen cannot complain, because that copy of the Bible, and that alone, is circulated by this society, which was framed by the Church, and legalized at her request. So that I do not perceive how the Bible Society can be complained of by Churchmen, as being divisional, either in its constitution or it operations.
But supposing the fears of some of our tender-hearted brethren respecting the tendency of such mix ed society were real, would their sectional tendency be cured by
our deserting them? Rather might we not say that if we decline to circulate the Bible upon the open ground of Scripture, that souls might be saved thereby, we desert the principle of God's word and become sectarian in our own example? The only remedy which I conceive is within our compass is, that Churchmen reassume their general character.
The pre-eminence which the Church of England possesses rests in the constitution of her order, and the character of her clergy. She is in theory built upon the Scriptures—the Scriptures fairly and honestly taken. Her doctrines and her spirit are derived from the vital, soul-saving truths of God's word. They stand on them alone. These are open and evident without reserve or equivocation. She needs not deception. She courts not flattery. She is above sectarianism. She has no quirks nor shifts. She is built on the “Rock of Ages," and there she abides. “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” But as she has truth for her constitution, so she must have holiness for her character. Her clergy must restore her primitive perfection. Now or never is the time to show themselves men. Holiness is the great object and result of Scripture. The Church, therefore, can never sustain her genuine standing or bear up against the opposing divisions which still combine against her, or advance in her heavenly career, but by constantly planting and cultivating holiness. A heavenly mind is the essence of the Bible, and the Church character. Wherever this is lost or enfeebled or endangered, the life's blood of her vitality is proportionably gone. The clergy, then, must resume their own standing. They have descended many degrees from their original and duly appointed station.