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“ Not only did” these two (the Propagation Society being one) societies "exclude Dissenters in terms from joining their ranks, but, such was the determination (especially in the case of the Religious Knowledge Society) to confine even their own members (so far as was possible) to persons whose views and opinions coincided with those of certain leaders of the society, that several estimable members of the National Church, of unquestionable orthodoxy, loyalty, and piety (and so certified), were actually refused admittance, by the invidious practice of blackballing” (Poynder's “ Reasons why I am a Member of the Bible Society, p. 11). This schismatic spirit, which had been at work for above half a century, in the midst of an almost total apathy to the spiritual wants of the people and torpid inactivity to every thing but itself, was one main cause of the necessity of the formation of the Bible Society, and is a complete answer to the allegation of Mr. Perceval's “ Reasons why I am not a Member of the Bible Society," and others, that this latter was unnecessary because of the existence of the former.
Wherever a controversy has arisen between the Clergy of the Church of England and the Papists, the former have invariably urged the bounden duty of every minister to place the Scriptures in the hands of his flock. Yet this duty, so universally acknowledged, nay, contended for as a point of doctrine, was as universally neglected by both bishops and clergy throughout the united empire. Notwithstanding their confession of duty, and notwithstanding the society, which Mr. Perceval declares was all-sufficient, they did nothing. God then raised up, in mercy to the world and in judgment against the Church of England, an association of unauthorized individuals to perform that office which the hireling pastors had neglected ; and while this society has proved a blessing to mankind, it has engendered a clearer insight into the omissions of the ecclesiastical authorities, and given a consistency to the enemies of the Established Church wbich they never attained to before.
The next class of religious societies is the Missionary; such as, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, the London and the Church Missionary Societies, the Jews', the Christian Instruction, City Mission, Continental, and Reformation, &c. Causes similar to those which have been stated with respect to the Christian Knowledge and Bible Societies, operated in the Propagation and Church Missionary Societies. Nothing, however, can be more fallacious than the title of this latter : it is in no possible respect a Church society : it is under no ecclesiastical authority; any one who pays a guinea may belong to it; it chooses its own governors; and is, in short, as completely a dissenting, or schismatic, or sectarian and unauthorized and unsanctioned, a society, as any one composed of Independents or Baptists. Its name of Church is assumed for the purpose of asserting a filiation which its mother disavows. If it be a Church society, it is one of which its parent is ashamed, which it disclaims, and refuses to maintain. It is, however, in its sphere, like the Bible Society, a witness against the ecclesiastical rulers of the church; and, in bearing that witness, justifies God before the world for suffering her enemies to destroy her; while, at the same time, it contributes to wean the affections of her children from her, and thereby weakens her means of defence.
The Irish Society of London is another most powerful witness against the Churches of England and Ireland. For three hundred years, that the Reformed Church has been in possession of its immense wealth in the sister kingdom, no effort whatever has been made by the clergy to preach the Gospel to the people; while the exaction of their tithes has frequently been levied at the point of the bayonet, and wholly from non-conformist payers. It is almost incredible that men should continue year after year in a country, unable to speak the language of the natives; and out of Ireland no such instance can be found. Nothing can exceed the avidity with which the Irish listen to the Gospel in their native tongue.
But the ecclesiastical authorities are not alone to blame; for many individuals set their faces against giving the Scriptures to the people in the Irish language, who, in the Committee of the Bible Society, were daily voting money for the translation of the word of God into every other dialect under heaven; and it was not until after many repeated debates that the measure of printing the Bible in Irish was carried in Earl Street. The Archbishop of Tuam has, indeed, now declared that he will ordain, to the parishes within his province where the Irish is spoken, no candidate who cannot preach to the people in their own tongue : but this is only the act of one individual, which his successor may refuse to follow : and the more praiseworthy it is in him, the more condemnatory it is of the church's neglect during previous centuries.
The three Societies for promoting Religion among the Jews are characteristic of the alteration of feeling which pervades all ranks respecting those unhappy people. The Church of England is not more to blame than any other branch of Christendom for having neglected the Jews, though certainly as much; and we trust that these attempts to retrace our steps may be owned of God as a confession of our sins towards his ancient people in ages past. It is a remarkable fact, for which we are loth to assign the reasons which occur to our minds, that no class of Dissenters has espoused the cause of the Jews, or shewn the smallest interest in their favour. We suspect that the Jews are the same standing reproach to their system of theology with its spiritual millennium, that they are to Mr. Lawrance, who accounts for every other moral
the same; and with whom they associate in these places on a score of equality.
The principal error in doctrine which has been inculcated is, to exalt the dead book of the Bible above the living voice of the preacher. As the Papists set aside the Book altogether by their church, so have the societies set aside the church altogether by their Book. The Book is the correlative and continued corrector, but not the substitute for the ministration of the truth. In addition to this more than Popish idolatry of the paper and types another error is very prevalent, which is, that truth is truth because it is in the Book : whereas truth is no where pure but in God himself; and all things emanating from Him are equally true: revelation being true, is therefore in the Bible: its being in the Bible is the consequence, not the cause, nor even the reason, of its being true.
The object, tone of the speakers, and union of sects, &c. &c. have all conspired to produce that artificial system which under the name of Evangelicalism presents a large front of outward speciousness and of religious observance in these days. This system has elevated the expedient into the region of the lawful; whereby the latter has been completely subverted, and the expedient has come to be the only thing that is considered worthy of consideration. The chief benefit that has bitherto resulted from the labours of those who have directed the attention of the church to the Popish question, as viewed in the Bible, is, that a decided stand against this system of expediency has been made, and is making more and more every day. The expediency system makes men false whether they will be so or not. Many individuals, in themselves estimable, are rendered faithless and treacherous by the system in which they work. They are astonished at a charge of dishonesty and disingenuousness being brought against them, and are conscious in their own hearts that they do not deserve it; but, nevertheless, having been entangled in the propagation of delusion, or rather in the propagation of partial truth by spurious means, the duplicity of the system pervades the men, and, while singly good, they are collectively evil. Our meaning will be illustrated by a reference to the conduct of the different committees of the Bible Society, with respect to the Apocrypha, Leander Van Ess, M. Bost, Gossner, Haffner, the Turkish Bible, &c. &c., and above all by the last refusal to commence its proceedings with asking for a blessing from God. It was one thing to have omitted it, and another to persevere in the sin of omission now that it is pointed out; and, without pretending to any great gift of prophecy, we venture to predict that the society will be soon broken up, unless the Earl-Street Committee shall yield to its fear of losing money that which it will not yield to its love for God.
It is scarcely possible to credit the absurdity and sophistry by which the Earl Street Committee has hitherto resisted the de mand to commence its proceedings with prayer. When Mr. J.H. Stewart and several other members attended to give notice of a motion for regular discussion on the subject; the chairman of the day, and the committee, refused to let the motion be entered on their books. To give notice of a motion, by any member of any society, is an act of courtesy, for which the other members ought to feel obliged, but which it is by no means incumbent upon him to give. Mr. Stewart should have gone and made his motion notwithstanding, and have forced on the discussion ; but he has been intimidated by the opposition shewn in limine, and has taken no subsequent step. One reason assigned for the refusal is so pre-eminently absurd that it ought not to be passed over : it is alleged that it is to inflict a measure of
great harshness on the Quakers to compel them to pray whether they like it or not. But no one, either Quaker or any other, is compelled to pray by the chairman calling upon any body whom he pleases to pray; while, on the other hand, the Quaket does say that no one shall pray wherever he is present: if he only said that he himself would not pray, no one would have a right to find fault; but it is somewhat too bad for him to set himself as the sole judge of when it is right or wrong for others to pray, and greatly too bad for others to submit to that dictation. The real secret is, that the Committee in Earl Street thinks the money of the Quakers of far more importance for the success of their enterprize than the blessing of God; and they deliberately refuse to ask for the one, lest they should thereby diminish the amount of the other. It would not be difficult to draw a parallel between all that is going on now, both in the
political world, and in the religious world by its societies, and that which was attempted by the erection of the tower of Babel. Political happiness is to be attained by means purposely adapted to keep God's name and will from being ever brought to the minds of the people : religious knowledge is to be conveyed by printing and money, for the promotion of which men may meet; but no united dependence on God is to be acknowledged by any act of the collective body. The city is to be built as a tower of defence and protection against future catastrophe, but God is to have nothing to do with the building. They may, indeed, by such means build a temple on Gerizzim for their calf, but they never will aid in producing the true place of habitation for Jehovah.-It would probably be impossible to find, in the history of the world, a body which has laid more incessant claims to prudence, wisdom, benevolence, discretion, love, and every other Christian grace, than the Bible Society; or one in the conduct of whose affairs a greater number of failures of every sort and kind has been shewn. “ Pride cometh before a fall." "If the direction of God had been invoked, He would have furnished the wisdom that was demanded. When pressed now to turn unto Him in prayer, they tauntingly point to the Edinburgh Bible Society, and ask whether their prayers preserve them from the exhibition of an unchristian spirit. We reply, that we do not defend the spirit of many individuals there, but that to the Edinburgh Society alone we are indebted for an effectual check to the Apocryphal manœuvres of Earl Street, and that we do not doubt that God will direct that body aright which calls upon him to do so.
The mode by which the School Societies subvert the parental and pastoral charges of education, and inculcate disrespect and indifference to, if not contempt for, those ordinances of God, has already been pointed out. The Missionary Societies subvert the ordinance of the priesthood in a still more decided manner. The office of Ordination presupposes the idea that those who are not ordained are not so competent to instruct as those who are : yet if ordained ministers place themselves under the controul of lay committees they change situations with their flocks, and actually become inferior in the very office which involves, as an essential property, the idea of superiority. This controul is by no means merely nominal, or very slight: almost all the really zealous and efficient missionaries have complained of it: some of the best have found it impossible to act under committees; while the patronage the committees exercise makes them receive the grossest flattery, which those who give it know how to profit by, and which they are nothing loth to receive. It is very right that the word of God should be circulated from pole to pole; it is very right that His salvation should be proclaimed by missionaries going out into all the world, and telling it to every creature ; it is very right to bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord : nay, it is very wrong not to do all and every one of these things : but by losing sight of the ordinances of God, through which He appointed these objects to be effected, and by inventing new ways of forwarding them, more evil than good to mankind will be the result. No new translation should have been ventured upon by irresponsible and unauthorized individuals; nor tolerated, but by the express sanction of a church lawfully constituted. Instead of inducing men by money salaries to follow missionary work as a trade, the church should have looked for the power of the Holy Ghost to stir up men to go out without money or scrip: while the education of children ought to have been confined to religion, and conducted under the superintendance of the pastors of the churches of