Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS. Art. I.-1. An Appeal to the Clergy of the United Church of England

and Ireland, on the subject of the British and Foreign Bible Society. . By the Hon. and Rev. LITTLETON Powys, M.A. Rector of Titch

marsh, Northamptonshire. London: Hatchards. 1830. 8vo. pp. 56.

Price 1s. 6d. 2. Reasons why I am not a Member of the Bible Society. By the Hon.

ARTHUR Philip PERCEVAL, B.C.L. Chaplain in Ordinary to his Ma

jesty, fc. London: Rivingtons. 1830. 8vo. pp. 24. Price 1s. 3. Reasons why I am a Member of the Bible Society. Respectfully addressed to the Hon. and Rev. A. P. Perceval, B.C.L. Chaplain in Ordinary to his Majesty, fc. in answer to his pamphlet, entitled, Reasons why I am not a Member of the Bible Society.By John POYNDER, Esq. One of the Committee of the Society. London:

Hatchards. 1830. 8vo. pp. 88. Price 2s. 6d. • THE Bible Society controversy is renewed. The question has not materially, if at all, changed its position; but as it is one of some interest, and we may add, importance, a synopsis of its present state may not be unacceptable to our readers.

Nothing can be more notorious than that all speeches, pamphlets, addresses, and appeals, from time to time put forth by the advocates of the Bible Society, assume or affirm that it is the positive duty of the Clergy, either to subscribe to that institution, or to furnish themselves with express reasons for non-subscription. Mr. Powys's “ Appeal" is nothing more than an amplification of this proposition, though stated in a gentlemanly and clerical tone. Mr. Perceval has accepted the challenge so frequently thrown out; and no sooner has a champion entered the list, than Mr. Poynder, one of the Society's committee, charges him with officiousness and tacit self-accusation,* and opens a brisk battery on his position.

e or affirmstitution, Mr. Powys's

* “ You have lately thought proper, as a minister of the Church of England, to publish · Reasons why you are not a Member of the Bible Society. As no one had VOL. XII. NO. VIII.


Now we are decidedly of opinion that the Bible Society's alternative is fair ; that Mr. Powys and Mr. Perceval are both deserving of commendation for stating to the public the reasons by which they are influenced. The Bible Society is not a matter of indifference ; its claims are of the most unmeasured character; if proved, they leave the neutrals, and especially the neutral Clergy, in a state of wilful sin; and indeed its oratory has occasionally been graced with the curse of Meroz, which, assuming its pretensions to be just, clearly would attach to all who do not befriend it. On the other hand, if it fail in substantiating its demands on universal Christian support, there is but one alternative admissible. We affirm, then, no less than the Society, that it is the duty of every Clergyman to satisfy himself of the real character and tendency of this institution; and that, not through the channel of popular opinion, or party statement, but by a full and dispassionate examination of the whole subject, in the writings of its advocates and opponents, and more especially by a careful observation of facts, which, more than any theoretical reasoning, contribute illustration to the inquiry.

It must be obvious, however, to the most superficial observer, that the cardinal argument with which the Bible Society has always endeavoured to silence opposition, is most unfair : we mean the identification of itself with the Bible. This assumption was exposed by the late Rev. Dr. Phelan, in a pamphlet entitled “ The Bible, not the Bible Society;" but it does not indeed require any very elaborate refutation. Who are non-subscribers ? Who are even opposed to the Bible Society? Some of the greatest names that ever adorned our Church or any other : many who have effected more, singly, towards the right understanding of the word of God, than all the Bible Society united ; men whose motives must be unquestionable ; whose learning is extensive; who judge not, in ordinary cases, with prejudice or caprice; whose attachment to the Bible is pure, and above suspicion. Surely this alone is sufficient evidence that, whatever may be the peculiar merits of the Bible Society, it has no right to identify its cause with that of the Scriptures, and to treat its opponents as favourers of ignorance and popery.

An attentive comparison of the works on our table will not be without use in assisting the young clergyman in his estimate of the subject. We say the young clergyman, inasmuch as few, if any, we believe, have been many years in the ministry without accepting the Society's challenge, and providing themselves with a membership or a

publicly preferred this inquiry, it does not clearly appear why a question, which had not been publicly propounded, should have received so public an answer; and we are naturally reminded, by an attempt so purely gratuitoys on your part, of the French proverb, ' Qui s'ercuse s'accuse.'"-P.3.

counterplea : and the pamphlets before us contain little novelty. Mr. Owen's work in defence, and Mr. Norris's “ Practical Exposition" and “ Letter to Lord Liverpool,” embrace all that is necessary for illustration. To these may be added the Reports of the Society, and its auxiliaries. In examining the present portions of the controversy, we shall endeavour to supply a clue to those who may feel inclined to traverse the same ground; with this view we shall divide the whole case into two inquiries : 1. Is the object of the Bible Society commendable ? and 2. Is the mode of operation unobjectionable ? for the resolution of the last question may, on the most palpable Christian grounds, decide against a society whose object is itself desirable.

1. “ The SOLÉ OBJECT of the Society shall be to encourage a wider circulation of the Holy Scriptures, without note or comment. The only copies in the languages of the United Kingdom to be circulated by the Society shall be of the authorised version." So stands the Society's first rule. Mr. Powys is at much pains to prove from the authentic formularies of the Church, that this object is well worthy the countenance of Churchmen. And we will grant that it is. They have long been sensible of the fact, and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge recognizes this as one of its most important duties. Mr. Powys argues as to Churchmen only ; dissenters, indeed, may fairly plead their exclusion from the Church Society; but the reasonable decision of Churchmen appears to us to be clear. The Church Society can perform all that the Bible Society professes, so far as the British languages are concerned'; and she has not been negligent of the interests of other nations subject to Great Britain. The Church Society, too, embraces a wide field of Christian instruction, from which the Bible Society, by its very constitution, is excluded. The argument' drawn from the greater ability of the latter to disseminate Bibles, is refuted by a comparison of prices.* Therefore, admitting, as we do, that the ostensible object of the Bible Society is good, we think its claims upon Churchmen have been superseded. A Churchman, for the

* When the sizes, &c. admit of comparison, the following are the prices to the respective Societies, as extracted from their last reports :--

Christian Knowledge

Bible Society.
- s. d.

s. d. Bibles.--Minion crown 8vo. ........ 4 0 .......... 4 3


(WITHOUT MARSmall Pica, royal paper, 8vo.. 10 10 {GINAL REFE- 18 0 ZGINAL REFÉ

RENCES. Testaments. - Pica, 8vo..... (sheep) 2 2

2 3 (calf). 2 i

30 Long primer,8vo. (sheep) 1 3

mi (calf): 111 Brevier, 12mo. (sheep) 011

1 1 (calf) 1.5

19 Minion, 2410... (sheep) 0 11

1 0 (calf): 15

1 6


terms on which he might become a member of the Bible Society, may procure, from the Church Society, Bibles at less cost, besides Prayerbooks, and tracts adapted to every spiritual exigency. The members of our Church, therefore, and most especially the Clergy, would, with more consistency, give an extra guinea to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, than divide their subscription, as some occasionally do. • The only point, therefore, which will deserve specific consideration, is the foreign department of the Bible Society. Now we cannot see that every Clergyman can be called on to support this, however excel. lent in itself, or however unobjectionably conducted; for the wants of home are clearly to be first provided for. Bishop Porteus intimated to the Society the necessity of that clause in their fundamental rule, by which all copies of the Bible in the languages of the United Kingdom are required to be of the authorized version. Had this amendment been negatived, no Churchman could, without the grossest inconsistency, have suffered his name to countenance the proceedings of the Bible Society. Now the same regulation has not been extended to other countries. We will not, in the spirit of Mr. Poynder, assign interested motives for this very confined application of a most judicious rule ; but if the common peace of the Church of England required that her versions, even where not deemed perfect by all members of the Society, should be exclusively adopted, the peace of foreign Churches as obviously demanded, that their authorized translation should be also used. The plain dictates of Christian charity, which commands us to do as we would be done by, has been here unaccountably passed over.' The Society is free to circulate abroad what version soever it pleases ; and its foreign objects, so far as its own rules disclose them, are not those of Christian union, but of disorder and division.

We shall be reminded, however, of the obligation which heathen nations entertain towards the Bible Society, for their abundant distribution of the “word of life.” To the value of the Society's translations we may advert presently ; but we are now simply discussing its objects, without any view to the manner of their prosecution : yet we cannot but regard the idea of converting nations by the Bible, without note or comment, to be an egregious mistake ; proved so to be, not only by the evident failure of the scheme, but by the testimony of that very Bible which is affirmed to be the instrument of conversion. Moses did not write his Pentateuch, and then advance to the conversion of his countrymen book in hand. The Old Testament arose gradually, nor was its canon complete till the Jewish mind had been abundantly trained for its profitable study. Not one book of the New Testament was written for unconverted heathens. St. Mat

thew's Gospel was expressly intended for the Jews. St. Mark's was composed at the instance of the Roman Christians. St. Luke's was composed primarily for the advantage of a private Christian, " that he might know the certainty of the truths wherein HE HAD BEEN INSTŘUCTED."* St. John opens his Gospel with a confutation of the heresy of Cerinthus, which would have been wholly unintelligible where Christianity had never been heard of. The Acts of the Apostles were addressed to the same Christians to whom St. Luke's Gospel is dedicated ; and the Epistles and the Apocalypse set forth expressly that they were intended for the use of Christians. The Bible, therefore, is its own witness, that it was not intended as the preliminary instrument in the conversion of the heathen. Not a syllable of it addresses heathens for the first time, unless the record of apostolic speeches and discourses may be so understood. The Bible, indeed, supplies much valuable information on the means of conversion ; but it never exhibits itself as the sole or initiatory instrument. Its truths were communicated by the apostles to the heathen, not all at once, but singly, and as they were able to bear. There was strong meat for maturity, but there was milk for infancy. The purity and integrity of truth were no where compromised, yet prejudices were never revolted, often soothed, frequently compelled, like the sword of Midian, to turn their points against their own cause, before the lamp and trumpet of the gospel. The mere incident of the fatted calf, in the parable of the Prodigal Son, has been a formidable barrier to the conversion of India. The Bible is indeed the great river of life, from which all the nations are to be finally watered ; but the garden may as well perish with drought as be overwhelmed with a torrent. There is a spiritual as well as a natural plethora, which is not less fatal in its tendency. Put Euclid and Newton, " without note or comment,” into the hands of a peasant, and tell him to discover the system of the heavens, and you have some idea of the proficiency which a heathen will make in Christian knowledge with a Bible, similarly circumstanced. A Christian Church and a Christian ministry were the exclusive means appointed by the Apostles, themselves for evangelizing the nations. The Scriptures were left as the guide of that ministry, both in doctrine and mode of proceeding; and to be a guide also to those, who having acquired "the principles of the doctrine of Christ,” were able to “go on unto perfection.”+ The idea, therefore, of converting the heathen by Bibles, without note or comment, is unwarranted both by experience and Scripture. When the Ethiopian replied to Philip's interrogatory, “How can I understand except some man should guide me ?” he spoke the voice of nature,

* Luke i. 4.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »