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and these again may be stimulated to qualify themselves for this duty.
The plan of summary instruction, which Mr. O'C. would substitute, is another instance of his self-contradice tion ;--for the tendency of it (according to his own posi. tion with which it is confronted in the opposite page) is to depreciate moral, and religious instruction in the estimation of those for whom the plan is suggested. “ It is the nature of man”.(says he) « to disregard what is of easy attainment; he considers it comparatively worthless ; but highly prizes that which is the fruit of patient toil, or persevering research." . . .
It is curious, also, to observe how prejudice, if not oversight, has operated in the recommendation of annexing a commentary “ to each gospel, epistle, and psalm”. in new editions of the Book of Common-Prayer ; as if it were superfluous in every part not extracted from the Bible, without even the exception of the Creeds or Articles. But, in my opinion, the plan, upon the whole, would be productive of considerable good, provided it were not set up as a substitute for the Bible. It is in this point of view alone, that it can require the apology which is attempted in the following section.
The sum of the apology appears to me to amount to this, that the plan is not enforced by penalties, or the terrors of " star-chambers or inquisitions ;'--that it does not claim infallibility or 66 any authority at all.” But is this a sufficient excuse for supplanting the influence of divine authority? Our author himself is sensible that a probibition could not be defended ;-yet it would be an evident duty, jf what he alledges in the 8th section were true, that the Peasant “ cannot use, he must abuse the Scriptures.” Notwithstanding this, a hope is expressed that under the culture proposed, his judgment may be “ gradually improved, till at last, it may, perhaps, be profitably employed on the Bible itself.” And why may not this gradual improvement be produced by commencing with the Bible? Is it natural that the most difficult parts should first attract attention, or if they do," that they should retain it? The more general propen
sity of the mind is to be interested by narration; and it is impossible to overlook the narrative parts of either the Old or New Testament. · These will make the transition easy to parts more strictly didactic. In the progress of reading, which will require but a very small portion of time with regularity, the mind will be furnished with ideas, enriched with truth, and strengthened by exercise.
The memory too will be refreshed, and the series of principal events condensed and arranged, by the historical summaries which occur in the Psalms, and in the Acts of the Apostles. Most admirable summaries also of doctrine and of duty will occur, with all the advantages of abridgments and extracts; but with such force and beauty as they cannot equally possess in any other situation. Again, the understanding will expand itself in pursuing the fruitful branches of knowledge: All the diversities of capacity and character will meet with their appropriate food and discipline, provided and prepared by him who alone is acquainted with them all, and their respective wants.
Here then is the proper school for strengthening judge ment. The Bible contains the elements, as well as the perfection of divine knowledge. It is not like those volumes of human science which are absolutely unintelligible, until the way shall have been prepared for them by previous elementary instruction. We may therefore safely disregard the conclusion to which Mr. O'C. says “ we are equally hurried” by every one of the topics which he has discussed. I do not feel much disposed in general to take advantage of a word ; but here it seems to me that a hurried conclusion most justly designates his method of infer. ence.
That the fault of proving too much is not expunged from our author's reasoning by what he has advanced in this section, I hope I have shewn in the 14th section of my second chapter. But here we meet with another parallel, almost as inappropriate, in his manner of using it, as that of enlightening our peasantry by “ cheap Editions of Blackstone, or Coke Littleton,” “ Newton, Laplace, Locke, Smith, or Stewart.”
or Stei Littleton by " ch using it. Parallel,
- The practical truths” (says Mr. O'C.) “ of medicine, law, morality, physics, and mathematics, though of constant application, and indispensible necessity, are confidently acted upon, every day, by a vast majority of our fellow-creatures, of whose own researches into the depths of these sciences they are by no means the result.” But there is an essential difference between the operation of medicine in restoring health, to the body, and the influence of that religion which commands its disciples to “ call no man” “ farther upon earth.” In the one case, the chief effects depend upon the purity of faith and motives; in the other, they are produced mechanically, and are not subject to any variation from the ignorance or understanding of the patient. 66 The bulk of mankind” should not therefore be advised to rest content with 6 second hand” religion. In this “ the great sources of knowledge” are not unapproachable to any :- In this the great Master has declared the important summary—that “this is life eternal to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent ;” and has proclaimed the gracious invitatations" Come unto me"-" Learn of me,”-accompanied with the unlimited promise, “ Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” (John vi. 37.).
thee the ond has proc. Learn Him that
· In the ninth section our author recurs to the state of England in the 17th century; to which it does not seem necessary to follow him again, farther than to observe briefiy, that those who associate for the dissemination of the Scriptures do not “ labour to persuade themselves," that the enormities of that period “ were unconnected with the abuse and perversion of the sacred writings " But they are fully warranted in denying that they originated in the reading of the Bible by the lower orders. They are not even to be traced to that class, as their source, from any cause whatsoever, and do not afford any precdent against the efforts of the Bible Society. Neither is it a true representation, that in circulating the “ pure text of the Bible, every assistance to the understanding of it (for this is what is meant by Mr. O'C's. ironical language) is “ scrupulously excluded *.” Is a society instituted for the
• See quotation from the Bishop of St. David's Ch. I. $ 2.
improvement of agriculture to be denounced as the enemy of manufactures, merely because it does not attempt to embrace them directly in its object? One would think that the oral instruction of the Establishment had been silenced; that the Society of Bartlett's Buildings, and the Association in Capel-street had been destroyed; that excellent summary of doctrine and practice, the Church Catechism, committed to the flames; and the Tracts of the Cheap Repository completely out of print. How else could such an urgent necessity exist for our author's plan? or the auxiliary department of instruction appear in the statements of our author's pages,—as one wide desert ? The irony, however, would have been tolerable, if it had not terminated in profane ridicule, which surely is not the test of truth; and which I beseech the author to reflect upon, that he may see the necessity of retracing his steps.
ill not the innate religious exist?"
• He goes on in the tenth section to excite alarm, by asking, “ Will not men begin to conclude, that, after • the Bible is made the inmate of every house and cottage,' the necessity of retaining a religious establishment, or even a clerical order, will cease to exist?”; “ If every man” (says he) " has a Bible, if he can read and under. stand it, and, which cannot be questioned, if the Bible so read and understood, can “ make him wise unto salvation,” it inevitably follows, that the clergy are not an essential part of a religious community." But it ought to be remembered, that the Bible cannot be generally read, without making the people familiar at the same time with the scriptural reasons in favour of a religious establishment, and a clerical order; and it is a miserable and disa graceful way of supporting them, to maintain the necessity of withholding from the multitude a direct knowledge of the revelation of the will of God. It is unworthy of an honest confidence in the goodness of our cause ; it exposes it to the darkest suspicions; and in fact, the whole of the cautionary reasoning, in this section, would be much more suitably arranged under the head of plausible hints and suggestions to our adversaries. Let it be observed also, that a chief part of the alarm is grounded upon the false
assumptions, that the lowest of the people are deemed qualified “ to overcome the difficulties” of the Scriptures withoút assistance; and that the Bible Society has « an antipathy to notes and comments :" whereas, it requires but a small degree of candour to discern how very remote their views are from either of these constructions. On the other hand, a most serious ground of alarm should be felt for the credit and interest of the Establishment, if such exhortations as those of our author should prevail upon its members to withdraw from the Bible Society; for then would be afforded a more than specious reason for repre. senting them as the enemies of the Bible, and for identifying its cause with that of dissent. But I trust, that the members of the Establishment will more and more shine, as the friends of light and truth; and that “ respect for the clerical order” will be grounded upon their usefulness, as well as the sacredness of their office; and that the more the Bible shall be read, the more their aid will be sought in the exposition of it; and the more will they endeavour to qualify themselves for this important duty, by the exercise of study, meditation and prayer. Ignorance in the people has a tendency to foster a corresponding depression in their spiritual guides. But we need have no apprehensions from a spirit of inquiry, if those, whose « lips should keep knowledge,” be ready to give " a reason of the hope that is in them with meekness and fear;" to manifest that they are scribes well instructed unto the kingdom of God; and that they have made the Bible their deep, their constant, and delightful study, under a con-' viction that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. ii. 16, 17.1
With how much greater force, comfort, and advantage, can such scribes address a congregation, or an individual parishioner, well read in the Holy Scriptures ? reasoning with them and persuading them out of the Scriptures ;not only appealing to thein like the Apostle Paul “ as unto wise men ;- but like the Apostle John, who says, 6. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth : but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” (1 John ii. 21.) Such addresses, to the class of people of whom the primitive Church was chiefly coma