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SINCE the present edition of this work was putting to press, I have seen a review of it by the Christian Instructor, and the following are the immediate observations which the perusal of this review has suggested. I meant no attack on any body of clergy, and I have made no attack upon them. The people whom I addressed were the main object on which my attention rested; and any thing I have said in the style of animadversion, was chiefly, if not exclusively, with a reference to that perverseness which I think I have witnessed in the conceptions and habits of private Christians. I have alluded, no doubt, to a method of treatment on the part of some of the teachers of Christianity, and which I believe to be both inefficient and unscriptural. But have I at all asserted the extent to which this method prevails? Have I ventured to fasten an imputation upon any marked or general body of Christian ministers? It was no object of mine to set forth or to signalize my own peculiarity in this matter; and if o rightly understand who the men are whom the reviewer has in his eye when he speaks of the evangelical clergy, then does he represent me as dealing out my censures against j. whom I honestly believe to be the instrumental cause of nearly all the vital and substantial Christianity in the land. Again, is it not possible for a man to have an awakened and tender sense of the sinfulness of one sin, and to have a very slender and inadequate sense of the sinfulness of another? Might not the first circumstance beget in his mind an honest and a general desire to be delivered from sin; and might not the second circumstance account for the fact, that with this mourning for sin in the gross, he should put forth his hand without scruple to the commission of what is actually sinful? I do not know a more familiar exhibition of this, than of a man who would be visited with remorse were he to
walk in the fields on a Sabbath day at the time of divine service, and the very same man indulging without remorse his propensity to throw ridicule or discredit on an absent character. His actual remorse on the commission of all that he feels to be sinful, might lead a man to mourn over sin in the general; but surely this general direction of his can have no such necessary influence, as the reviewer contends for, in the way of leading him to renounce what he does not feel to be sinful. But this is what he should be made to feel; and it may be done in two ways—either in the didactic way, by a formal announcement that the deed in question is contrary to the law of God; or in the imperative way, by bidding him cease from the doing of it, a way no less effective and scriptural than the former, and brought to bear in the New Testament upon men at the earliest conceivable stage of their progress from sin unto righteousness. I share most cordially in opinion with the reviewer, that he might extend his observations greatly beyond the length of the original pamphlet, were he to say all that might be said on the topics brought forward in it. I believe that it would require the compass of an extended volume to meet every objection, and to turn the argument in every possible way. I did not anticipate all the notice that has been taken of this performance, and am fearful lest it should defeat the intended effect on the hearts of a plain people. With this feeling I close the discussion for the present; and my desire is, that in all I may afterwards say upon this subject, I may be preserved from that tone of contro: versy, which I feel to be hurtful to the practical influence of every truth it accompanies; and which, I fear, may have in so far infected my former com munications, as to make it more fitted to arouse the speculative tendencies of the mind, and provoke to an intellectual warfare, than to tell on the conscience and on the doings of an earnest inquirer.
INFLUENCE OF BIBLE SOCIETIES,
TEMPORAL NECESSITIES OF THE POOR.
1. The Objection stated. , 2. The Radical Answer to it. 3. But the Objection is not true in point of fact. 4. A former act of charity does not exempt from the obligation of a new act, if it can be afforded. 5. Estimate of the encroachment made by the Bible Society upon the funds of the . 6. A Subscriber to the Bible Society does not give less to the Poor on that account. , 7. Evidence for the truth of this assertion. 8. And explanation of its principle. (1.) The ability for other acts of charity nearly as entire as before. 9. (2.) And the disposition greater, 10. Poverty is better kept under by a preventive, than by a positive treatment. 11. Exemplified in Scotland. 12. The Bible Society has a strong preventive operation. 13. And therefore promotes the secular interests of the Poor. 14. The argument carried down to the case of Penny Societies. 15. Difficulty in the o: , tion of the argument. 16. The effects of a charitable endowment in a parish pernicious to the Poor. 17. By inducing a dependance upon it. 18. And stripping them of their industrious habits. 19. The * effects of a Bible Association are in an opposite direction to those of a charitable endowment. 20. And it stands completely free of all the objections to which a tax is liable, 21. A Bible Association gives dignity to the Poor. , 22. And a delicate reluctance to pauperism. 23. The shame of pauperism isthe best defence against it. 24. How a Bible Association augments this feeling. .25. By dignifying the
Poor. 26. And adding to the influence of Bible Principles. 27. Exemplified in the humblest situa
tion. 28. The progress of these Associations in the country. 29. Compared with other Association: for the relief of temporal necessities. 30. The more salutary influence of Bible Associations. 31. And how they counteract the pernicious influence of other charities. 32. It is best to confide the secular
relief of the Poor to individual benevolence. 33. lightens this principle.
1. WITHout entering into the positive claims of the Bible Society upon the generosity of the public, I shall endeavour to do away an objection which meets us at the very outset of every attempt to raise a subscription, or to sound an institution in its favour. The secular necessities of the poor are brought into competition with it, and every shilling given to the Bible Society is represented as an encroachment upon that fund which was before allocated to the relief of poverty. .
2. Admitting the fact stated in the objection to be true, we have an answer in readiness for it. If the Bible Society accomplish its professed object, which is, to make those who were before ignorant of the Bible better acquainted with it, then the advantage given more than atones for the loss sustained. We stand upon the high ground, that eternity is longer than time, and the unfading enjoyments of the one a boon more valuable than the perishable enjoyments of the other. Money is sometimes expended for the idle purpose of amusing the poor by the gratuitous exhibition of a spectacle or show. It is a far wiser distribu
And a Bible Association both augments and en
tion of the money when it is transferred
there is no other fund to which we can *
pair for the requisite expenses. But there are other funds in the country. There is a prodigious fund for the maintenance of government, nor do we wish that fund to be encroached upon by a single farthing. There is a fund out of which the people of the land are provided in the necessaries of life: and before we incur the odium of trenching upon necessaries, let us first inquire, if there be no other fund in existence. Go, then, to all who are elevated above the class of mere labourers, and you will find in their possession a fund, out of which they are provided with what are commonly called the superfluities of life. We do not dispute their right to these supersluities, nor do we deny the quantity of pleasure which lies in the enjoyment of them. We only state the existence of such a fund, and that by a trifling act of self-denial on the part of those who possess it, we could obtain all that we are pleading for. It is a little hard, that the competition should be struck between the fund
substantial interests, while a set of men who
neglect the immortality of the poor, and would leave their souls to perish, are suf. sered to sheer off with the credit of all the finer sympathies of our nature. 4. To whom much is given, of them much will be required. Whatever be your former liberalities in another direction, when a new and a likely direction of benevolence is Pointed out, the question still comes back upon you, What have you to spare? If there be a remainder left, it is by the extent of this remainder that you will be judged; and it is not right to set the claims of the Bible Society against the secular necessities of the poor, while means so ample are left, that the true way of instituting the competition is to set these claims against some Personal gratification which it is in your Power to abandon. Have a care, lest with the language of philanthropyin your mouth, You shall be found guilty of the cruelest indifference to the true welfare of the spegies, and lest the Discerner of your heart *All perceive how it prefers some sordid indulgence of its own to the dearest interests of those around you. * Butlet me not put to hazard the prosPority of our cause, by resting it on a *andard of charity far too elevated for the oneral practice of the times. Let us now "P.Our abstract reasoning upon the reotive funds, and come to an actual spe**ion of their quantities. The truthis, that the fund for opius Society is so 2
very small, that it is not entitled to make its appearance in any abstract argument whatever, and were it not to do away even the shadow of an objection, we would have been ashamed to have thrown the argument into the language of general discussion. What shall we think of the objection when told, that the whole yearly revenue of the Bible Society, as derived from the contributions of those who support it, does not amount to a half-penny per month from each householder in Britain and Ireland? Can this be considered as a serious invasion upon any one fund allotted to other destinations, and shall the most splendid and promising enterprise that ever benevolence was engaged in, be arrested upon an objection so fanciful? We do not want to oppress any individual by the extravagance of our demands. It is not in great sums, but in the combination of littles, that our strength lies. It is the power of combination which resolves the mystery. Great has been the progress and activity of the Bible Society since its first institution. All we want is, that this rate of activity be kept up and extended. The above statement will convince the reader, that there is ample room for the extension. The whole fund for the secular wants of the poor may be left untouched, and as to the fund for luxuries, the revenue of the Bible Society may be augmented a hundred-fold before this fund is sensibly encroached upon. The veriest crumbs and sweepings of extravagance would suffice us; and it will be long, and very long, before any invasion of ours upon this fund shall give rise to any perceivable abridgement of luxury, or have the weight of a straw upon the general style and establishment of families. 6. But there is still another way of meeting the objection. Let us come immediately to a question upon the point of fact. Does a man, on becoming a subscriber to the Bible Society, give less to the secular wants of the poor than he did formerly? It is true, there is a difficulty in the way of obtaining an answer to this question. He who knows best what answer to give will be the last to proclaim it. In as far as the subscribers themselves are concerned, we must leave the answer to their own experience, and sure we are that that experience will not be against us. But it is not from this quarter that we can expect to obtain the wished for information. The benevolence of an individual does not stand out to the eye of the public. The knowledge of its operations is confined to the little neighbourhood within which it expatiates. It is often kept from the poor themselves, and then the information we are in quest of is shut up with the giver in the silent consciousness of his bosom, and with God in the book of his remembrance.
7. But much good has been done of late years by the combined exertions of individuals; and benevolence, when operating in this way, is necessarily exposed to public observation. Subscriptions have been started for almost every one object which benevolence can devise, and the published lists may furnish us with data for a partial solution of the proposed question. In point of fact, then, those who subscribe for a religious object, subscribe with the so readiness and liberality for the reief of human affliction, under all the various forms in which it pleads for sympathy. This is quite notorious. The human mind, by singling out the eternity of others as the main object of its benevolence, does not withdraw itself from the care of sustaining them on the way which leads to eternity. It exerts an act of preference, but not an act of exclusion. A friend of mine has been indebted to an active and beneficent patron, for a lucrative situation in a distant country, but he wants money to pay his travelling expenses. I commit every reader to his own experience of human nature, when I rest with him the assertion, that if real kindness lay at the bottom of this act of patronage, the patron himself is the likeliest uarter from which the assistance will come. The man who signalizes himself by his religious charities, is not the last but the first man to whom I would apply in behalf of the sick and the destitute. The two principles are not inconsistent. They give support and nourishment to each other, or rather they are exertions of the same principle. This will appear in full o On the day of judgment; and even in this dark and undiscerning world, enough of evidence is before us upon which the benevolence of the Christián stands nobly vindicated, and from which it may be shown, that, while its chief care is for the immortality of others, it casts a wide and a wakeful eye over all the necessities and sufferings of the species. 8. Nor have we far to look for the exlanation. The two elements which comine to form an act of charity, are the ability and the disposition, and the question simply resolves itself into this, “In how far these elements will survive a donation to the Bible Society, so as to leave the other charities unimpaired by it?” It is certainly conceivable, that an individual may give every spare farthing of his income to this institution. In this case, there is a total extinction of the first element. But in point of fact, this is never done, or done so rarely as not to be admitted into any general argument. With by far the greater number of subscribers, the ability is not sensibly encroached upon. There is no visible retrenchment in the superfluities of life. A Yery slight and partial change in the direction of that sund, which is familiarly known
by the name of pocket-money, can, generally speaking, provide for the whole amount of the donation in question. There are a thousand floating and incidental expenses, which can be given up without almost the seeling of a sacrifice, and the diversion of a few of them to the charity we are pleading for, leaves the ability of the giver to all sense as entire as before. 9. But the second element is subject to other laws, and the formal calculations of arithmetic do not apply to it. The disposition is not like the ability, a given quantity, which suffers an abstraction by every new exercise. The effect of a donation upon the purse of a giver, is not the same with the moral influence of that donation upon his heart. Yet the two are assimilated by our antagonists, and the pedantry of computation carries them to results which are in the face of all experience. It is not so easy to awaken the benevolent principle out of its sleep, as, when once awakened in behalf of one object, to excite and to interest it in behalf of another. When the bar of selfishness is broken down, and the floodgates of the heart are once opened, the stream of beneficence can be turned into a thousand directions. It is true, that there can be no beneficence without wealth, as there can be no stream without water. It is conceivable that the opening of the floodgates may give rise to no flow, as the opening of a poor man's heart to the distresses of those around him may give rise to no act of almsgiving. But we have already proved the abundance of wealth. [Sec. 8.] It is the selfishness of the inaccessible heart which forms the mighty barrier, and if this could be done away, a thousand fertilizing streams would issue from it. Now, this is what the Bible Society, in many instances, has accomplished. It has unlocked the avenue to many a heart, which was before inaccessible. It has come upon them with all the energy of a popular and prevailing impulse. It has created in them a new taste and a new principle. It has opened the sountain, and we are sure that, in every district of the land where a Bible Association exists, the general principle of benevolence is more active and more expanding than ever. 10. And after all, what is the best method of providing for the secular necessities of the poor? Is it by labouring to meet the necessity after it has occurred, or by labouring to establish a principle and a habit which would go far to prevent its existence? If you wish to get rid of a noxious stream, you may first try to intercept it by throwing across a barrier; but in this way, you only spread the pestilential water over a greater extent of ground, and when the basin is filled, a stream as copious as before is formed out of its overflow. The
most effectual method, were it possible to carry it into accomplishment, would be to dry up the source. The parallel in a great measure holds. If * wish to extinguish poverty, combat with it in its first elements. If you confine your beneficence to the relief of actual poverty, you do nothing. Dry up, if possible, the spring of poverty, for every attempt to intercept the running stream has totally failed. The education and the religious principle of Scotland have not annihilated pauperism, but they have restrained it to a degree that is almost incredible to our neighbours of the South. They keep down the mischief in its principle. They impart a sobriety and a right sentiment of independence to the character of our peasantry. They operate as a check "pon profligacy and idleness. The maintenance of parish schools is a burden upon the landed property of Scotland, but it is a cheap defence against the poor rates, a burden far heavier, and which is aggravating perpetually. The writer of the paper knows of a parish in Fife, the average maintenance of whose poor is defrayed by twentyfour pounds sterling a year, and of a parish, of the same population, in Somersetshire, where the annual assessments come to thirteen hundred pounds sterling. The preventive regimen of the one country does more than the positive applications of the other. In England, they have suffered poverty to rise to all the virulence of a formed and obstinate disease. But they may as well think of arresting the destructive progress of a torrent by throwing across an embankment, as think that the mere positive administration of relief, will put a stop to the accumulating mischiefs of poverty. 11. The exemption of Scotland from the miseries of pauperism is due to the education which their people receive at schools, and to the Bible which their scholarship gives them access to. The man who substribes to the divine authority of this simPle saying, “If any would not work neither should he eat,” possesses, in the good treasure of his own heart, a far more effectual security against the hardships of indigence, than the man who is trained, by the legal provisions of his country, to sit in slothful dependence upon the liberalities of those around him. It is easy to be elo'luent in the praise of those liberalities, but the truth is, that they may be carried to the mischievous extent of forming a dePraved and beggarly population. The hun. gry expectations of the poor will ever keep Pace with the assessments of the wealthy, and their eye will be averted from the ex: ortion of their own industry, as the only right source of comfort and independence. It is Quite in vain to think, that positive relief will or do away the wretchedness of poverty. “arty the relief beyond a certain limit, and
you foster the diseased principle which gives birth topoverty. On this subject, the people of England feel themselves to be in a state of almost inextricable helplessness, and they are not without their fears of some mighty convulsion, which must come upon . with all the energy of a tempest, before this devouring mischief can be swept away from the face of their community. 12. If any thing can avert this calamity from England, it will be the education of their peasantry, and this is a cause to which the Bible Society is contributing its full share of influence. A zeal for the circulation of the Bible, is inseparable from a zeal for extending among the people the capacity of reading it; and it is not to be conceived, that the very same individual can be eager for the introduction of this volume into our cottages, and sit inactive under the galling reflection, that it is still a sealed book to many thousands of the occupiers. Accordingly we find, that the two concerns are keeping pace with one another. The Bible Society does not overstep the simplicity of its assigned object: but the members of that Society receive an impulse from the cause, which carries them to promote the education of the poor, either by their individual exertions, or by giving their support to the Society for Schools. The two Societies move in concert. Each contributes an essential element in the business of enlightening the people. The one furnishes the book of knowledge, and the other furnishes the key to it. This division of employment, as in every other instance, facilitates the work, and renders it more efsective. But it does not hinder the same individual from giving his countenance to both; and sure I am, that the man whose feelings have been already warmed, and whose purse has been already drawn in behalf of the one, is a likelier subject for an applicationin behalf of the other, than he whose money is still untouched, but whose heart is untouched also. 13. It will be seen, then, that the Bible Society is not barely defensible, but may be plead for upon that very ground on which its enemies have raised their opposition to it. Its immediate object is neither to feed the hungry nor to clothe the naked, but in every country under the benefit of its exertions, there will be less hunger to feed, and less nakedness to clothe. It does not cure actual poverty, but it anticipates eventful poverty. It aims its decisive thrust at the heart and principle of the mischief, and instead of suffering it to form into the obstinacy of an inextirpable disease, it smothers and destroys it in the infancy of its first elements. The love which worketh no ill to his neighbour will not suffer the true Christian to live in idleness upon another's bounty; and he will do as Paul did before him, he will labour with his hands