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bread, shoes, or clothes ? May not each member,
I inquire again, Have the various denominations of dissenters no favourite books or pamphlets, in which they suppose the principles they severally hold, and hold as the reason for their dissenting to be clearly stated and proved: Are there no such works as the Assembly's Catechism, among one description, and others among those of different sentiments ? yet do not they recede (not indeed from the liberty of dispersing them, but) from the expectation of procuring them with their Bibles from the same society, in order to unite with their brethren in one grand design, of furnishing the inhabitants of the land and of the globe, with the word of God. Do they, in conceding this, fear the subversion of their several bodies: Do they manifest any jealousy on this head? And shall the Church of England alone shrink from the effects of circulating the word of God alone i Let all who
would honour her, protest against such a disgraceful suggestion! I am confident she has nothing to fear in this respect.
But do not the dissenters give up even more than we of the Church of England, in supporting the home department of the Bible Society : It is well known that our present authorized translation was made by bishops and divines of the established church, and that it is, in every way, our translation. The dissenters are not destitute of persons fully competent to form a translation of their own : yet they, without hesitation, concur in the plan of dispersing the authorized version alone among the inhabitants of Britain: our version, attended with no comments or pamphlets from themselves. And do they, without complaint, in order to promote the great philanthropic design, determine to leave all their own peculiarities at the door of those buildings in which the meetings of the Society are held, lest they should impede the main object; and shall the members and ministers of our church alone complain of this concession? Shall we alone determine not to enter, unless we may bring our peculiar sentiments along with us, to clog and retard the motions of the Society? My friends, let us be ashamed of a conduct so derogatory to the honour of that church to which we belong.
When a fire takes place, and threatens to spread its devastations, and persons offer their assistance to work the engines and to stop its progress, we do not previously inquire concerning their religious principles, before we allow them to assist us. My brethren, sin is the fire, the destructive ravages of which prevail all over the world, with the most
tremendous effects. The word of God is the grand means of extinguishing this fire. Let us, then, all join hand and heart in giving efficacy and extent to its salutary operations. Let us go together as far as ever we can consistently with our conscience, in these united efforts. “Let brotherly love continue." Let us “ endeavour to keep the “ unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Let us know no other contest than a holy emulation who shall most distinguish himself, and the body to which he belongs, in the glorious attempt. Let us be as different regiments in the same army, not contending with each other, save which shall most distinguish itself against the common enemy. And then, if we must still be of different sentiments, in things perhaps not little in themselves, but compared with the common cause in which we are all embarked, let us differ amicably, and“ receive one “ another, but not to doubtful disputations,” as those are, in which truly conscientious men differ in opinion.
In respect of the design of the Society as to foreign nations, our opposers seem less disposed to find fault with the grand principle. But they object (especially the most distinguished of them, Dr. Herbert Marsh, Margaret professor at Cambridge,) to two particulars. First, that the reports of the Society, and particularly the speeches made at the several public meetings held for forming Auxiliary societies, have given false information to the public as to the number of translations made by the Bible Society. Few men have either leisure, or books, or learning, or talent, to investigate this
matter in the manner in which Dr. Marsh has stated it to the public, and, for my own part, I must own myself incompetent to say how far some zealous friends may, or may not have overstated matters in this respect. This I must leave to others. But, supposing that the Bible Society has in some instances only reprinted approved translations, which were out of print, or little known, instead of making new translations: supposing that, in other instances, it has only contributed liberally to the expenses of translating the scriptures, and printing them in various languages, while others had previously conceived, and were executing the design, but needed such assistance : supposing in these respects, the friends of the cause to have fallen into some inaccuracies, what is this to the purposes What objection is this to the design? What material diminution from its evident usefulness? Perhaps a little honour has been given to the Bible Society, which belongs to other zealous labourers in the same good work. This, and this only, is the point concerned in the objection.
I am not much in the habit of reading plays, but I have some recollection that Shakespeare introduces one of his heroes, after having gained a most important victory, in which he had slain the commander of the opposing army with his own hand, saying of a cowardly boaster who claimed the honour of slaying him, Let him take it; I have honour enough to-day without it. So the Bible Society has honour enough from what it has undeniably done, even should something be deducted from the reports of her eloquent friends. Such
honour as no other society, in the same term of years, or in a far longer time, has any pretensions to; and which almost ensures further triumphs.
But it is objected also, that the Bible Society occupies the ground belonging to the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, and interferes with her interests and objects. Far be it from me to depreciate the labours of that more ancient Society; but a little consideration will convince any impartial man, that the multiplicity of its objects, and the peculiarity of its constitution and circumstances, render it impossible that it should answer, in a very extensive measure, the object of the Bible Society. This, however, I shall leave to others to state and prove. But I would merely ask, in this respect, Have the resources of the Bartlett's Buildings Society been diminished or increased since the establishment of the Bible Society Have its exertions been retarded or stimulated ? Has its usefulness been decreased or enlarged ? To these several questions I answer, from ascertained facts, that its resources and exertions have been greatly increased ; and, I trust, its usefulness also. All, therefore, which has been done by the Bible Society is clear gain, and more than clear gain ; for the spirit of emulation which it has excited, and concurring causes have rendered the other Society far more useful than before.-A person, of eminence in Parliament, once said to me, as chaplain of the Lock Hospital, and speaking of the interests of the Charity, that he did not understand what was meant by the interests of a Charity! The good of mankind was the object; and every Charity, or Society, was entitled to support as far as it con