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association, when these irreverent words were written, spoken, read, and ordered to be printed?” I answer, that one at least of the Lord's spiritual was present, when these words, in their genuine shape and connexion, were written, spoken, read-as to the order for printing I cannot affirm any thing. But the important fact is, that the Lord Bishop of Meath was the author of the genuine words, which are here imperfectly quoted, in an address “ delivered at a meeting held in Kells, in the county of Meath, for the purpose of forming a Branch of the Hibernian Bible Society. And can any man believe that they were either composed or uttered by his Lordship irreverently? or that it was his intention “ lightly and sneeringlys to designate « the illustrious divines, whom we were once taught to venerate as the glory of our church and nation ? To illustrate Mr. O C's: method of quotation, and that the reader may be enabled to estimate its weight in other instances, and the degree of credit which is due to his sketches of " what is passing around us,”-I shall transcribe the passage at large as it stands in the Report. “Let us be careful” (says his Lordship) “ to provide that the Sacred Text be such as the Scriptures were which our Saviour commanded, not only by the Rulers of the Synagogues, and the Scribes and
Teachers of the Law, but the entire body of the people whom he was addressing, to search, unincumbered by the traditions, unmixed with the doctrines of men ; undisfigured by jarring controversies, or the subtleties and disa putations of the School. This is a fundamental rule of our institution. Our object is to provide a supply of the Holy Scriptures, for the use of all denominations of Christians, and in this view we deem it essential to offer them the Sacred Text, without note or comment, that none may be deterred from profiting by our work of charity from a dread of meeting with interpretations, or glossaries, or deductions of doctrines, to which their consciences will not suffer them to subscribe. By pursuing this plan, we shall render the Institution more acceptable to those, who, with the Bereans, so much extolled by the sacred Historian, receive the word with all readiness of mind, yet wish to search the Scripture's daily for themselves, whether those things are so; who are not willing to exchange the Prophets, the Evangelists, and Apostles ; for modern Theologues; who will not submit to take their faith upon trust; to believe by proxy," &c. I allow, then, that there is some truth in the quotations and allusions of our author. But from this specimen we may form a judgment, how material it is to be made acquainted with the whole truth; and what light might have been thrown upon the subject, if, instead of vague declamation, we had been favoured with references.
A few charges, however, which are brought forward in a more tangible shape, may deserve more particular atten-. tion. 6 The dissenters" (says Mr. O'C. p. 34.) « if the British and Foreign Bible Society did not originate with them, were foremost, or among the foremost, to press forward with their subscriptions and contributions. Including the Calvinists within the pale of the Establishment, who are, substantially, though not nominally dissenters, they are the most active members of the Institution," &c. With the early history of the British and Foreign Bible Society I am too little acquainted, to be able to affirm much positively about its origin. But I dare venture to persuade myself, without an opportunity of inspection, that the Rev. John Owen's Book upon the subject gives a satisfactory account of it. I know from the Appendix to the 10th Report (No. LXXV.) that the Society was formed under the auspices of that venerable Churchman the late Granville Sharp, Esq. ; that he presided at the original meeting; and was “ one of the most regular, diligent, and useful attendants at the meetings for the transaction of business.” Whoever 65 were foremost," and « among the foremost,” to unite in so good a cause, it is much to their honour. It appears on the face of the Reports, that, the Presbytery of Glasgow, who in England would be Dissenters, were among the foremost; and I have no doubt that many English Dissenters were also among the foremost. But does this prove any thing more, than that while they differ from the Church of England in various respects, they agree in the common standard of our faith, and in the desire of making it known at home and abroad? Does it make any alteration in the text of our authorized version, that a Dissen. ter's money has contributed to the printing of it? Does it evince an increase of party-spirit, when Dissenters are willing to circulate that version, without annexing to it a single gloss or comment of their own? Wherever a mere proselyting zeal exists, it may operate at least with
equal power (as a Reverend friend has well suggested to me) by carrying a Bible in the pocket, as by taking one up which the Bible Society had circulated.
Ishall now proceed to controvert the assertion, that“Calvinistswithin the pale of the Establishment” 6 are substanti. . ally, though not nominally dissenters.” And this I trust Ido, not in the spirit of party, but of justice and of peace : for I do not believe, that the Church of England is either Calvinistic or Anticalvinistics and, if an opposer of Bible Societies were to arise, who should think it subservient to bis purpose to assert that all, who, in the present day, are called Arminians, “ are substantially, though not nominally Dissenters,” I should be equally prepared to resist the exclusion. In this degree of latitude I conceive that there is nothing inconsistent with the only rule of interpreting our Articles, which can bear examination : namely, that they are to be taken “ in the literal and grammatical sense.” According to that which Mr. O'C. would substitute (p. 38.) they may be forced to speak any sentiments whatever, provided that every thing which obtains the name of Calvinism be condemned and excluded. But nothing less than a convocation, confirmed by an act of the Legislature, can shake the authority of the literal and grammatical sense. From the beginning it was the only sound and certain criterion; and, upon the controversies which arose after the Synod of Dorţ, it was enjoined by the royal Declaration. Bishop Burnet, after mentioning this Declaration, in the introduction to his Exposition of the Articles, describes the effect of it as follows:-" In this" (says he) “ there has been such a general acquiescing, that the fierceness of these disputes has gone off, while men have been left to subscribe the Articles according to their literal and grammatical sense.” And in his candid and edifying preface to the same work, he glories in having stated - the arguments of all sides," in his commentary on the 17th Article, “ with so much fairness," that those who knew his opinion could not discover it by any thing he had written. “One reason among others” (he adds) " that led me to follow the method I have pursued in this controversy, is to offer at the best means I can for bringing men to a better underá standing of one another, and to a mutual forbearance in these matters.” And again, “ the only possible way of at sound and lasting reconciliation, is to possess both pari
ties with a sense of the force of the arguments that lie oni the other side.” Accordingly, upon turning to the 17th Article we find that he has given even the opinions of the Supralapsarians, and the reasonings by which they de. fend them. And having gone through all the different systems, he subjoins the most impartial reflections, from which it will be worth while to take a few brief extracts.
“ It is at first view apparent" (says he) “ that there is a great deal of weight in what has been said of both sides:", (meaning Calvinists and Remonstrants) " so much, that it is no wonder if education, the constant attending more to the difficulties of the one side than of the other, and à temper some way proportioned to it, does fix men very steadily to either the one or the other persuasion. Both sides have their difficulties, so it will be natural to choose that side where the difficulties are least felt: but it is plain there is no reason for either of them to despise the other, since the arguments of both are far from being contemptible.”
56 It is further to be observed, that both sides seem to be chiefly concerned to assert the honour of God, and of his attributes.” i.........................
6. Each opinion has some practical advantages of its side.”
“ Both sides have their peculiar temptations, as well as their advantages."...i...................
“ The common fault of both sides is, to charge one another with the consequences of their opinions, as if they were truly their tenets." . ..................
" Another very indecent way of managing these points, is, that both sides do too often speak very boldly of God."
6 Some have studied to seek out middle ways.” ..... - After describing these he proceeds to state points of agreement ;-and, “ in the last place to examine how far our Church hath determined the matter”—which he thus concludes.
“I have kept, as far as I can perceive, that indifference which I proposed to myself in the prosecuting of this matter ; and have not on this occasion declared my own opinion, though I have not avoided the doing it upon other occasions. Since the Church has not been peremptory, but that a latitude has been left to different opinions, I
thought it became me to make this explanation of the ar-· ţicle such : and therefore I have not endeavoured to possess
the reader with that which is my own sense in this matter,
but have laid the force of the arguments, as well as the weight of the difficulties of both sides, before him, with all the advantages that I had found in the books either of the one or of the other persuasion. And I leave the choice as free to my reader, as the Church has done."
Even the Bishop of Lincoln (as it appears to me from Clapham's Abridgment of his Lordship’s “ Elements of Christian Theology") has not explicitly impeached the rule of taking the Articles in their literal and grammatical sense. But Bishop Cleaver explicitly supports it, and at the same time gives a view of the design of the compilers, which is not less reasonable than it is conciliatory. ' .
After stating the opinion of those who would reduce the Confession of the Church of England to “ Articles of peace and union only,”-he goes on to discuss and reject a rule, which is not quite so indeterminate as that of our author. “ Others have argued, more justly, for the sense of the Imposers, as the true rule of interpretation, but have erroneously stated the Imposers to be the present Governors, civil, and ecclesiastical, before whom the subscription is made. Were this statement better founded, the difficulty would in no degree be removed; as the sense of the Imposers would in this case still be a matter of uncertain in- ; quiry, settled by no public authority, and to be attained with no tolerable accuracy. The Legislature under whose authority subscription is now made, is certainly the proper Jinposer; and it will be presumed that the sense of this Legislature is the same with that of the Legislature, by which the obligation to subscribe was first enacted. But it is evidently contrary to all rule, that reference should be had to the Imposers for their sense of the Articles; a method which would be preposterous, if it were more practicable, till it be seen if we cannot first learn the sense of the Articles from the Articles themselves,” &c. ...ii. « A literal and grammatical construction is enjoined us in this case, that we may not deviate from the ordinary modes of interpretation.”
His Lordship protests against the Idea of purposed ambiguity;—but attributes to the great leaders in the work of reformation a design of comprehension,” as wise as it was liberal.” “ The means to accomplish this,” (says he) " were evidently, after establishing as articles of faith those plain and prime truths, upon which the Gospel dispensation rests as upon its basis, and reprobating in a clear and