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4. Naval and Military Bible Society. The Speeches delivered at the

Anniversary General Meeting held at Exeter Hall, on the 10th of

May, 1831. 8vo. London. 5. Observations addressed to the Trinitarian Friends and Members of

the Bible Society, comprehending the principal Arguments in Support of the Proposed Alteration in the Constitution of the Society. By a Clerical Member of the Provisional Committee, some

time Secretary to an Auxiliary Society. 8vo. 1831. 6. Conduct of the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society

reviewed. By Robert Haldane, Esq. 8vo. London. 1831. To

the divisions and disorders which arose in the primitive

churches, how much are we indebted, as having furnished the occasion of some of the most important and eloquent portions of the Apostolic Scriptures! And to modern controversies within the Church, we owe some of the most valuable of uninspired compositions. Much as we regretted, at first, the renewed attack upon the constitution of the Bible Society, as coming from a quarter in which we bave not been accustomed to look for adversaries, we begin to think that the exposition and defence of the grand principles of the Society, which it has called forth, will prove of so much lasting service, both to the Institution and to the cause of truth, as will more than compensate for the disturbance of harmony. Dr. Fletcher's . Let

ter' alone would go far towards reconciling our minds to the occasion, unhappy in itself, which has elicited so luminous and powerful a vindication of the two Protestant principles upon which the Society is grounded; and we must indulge ourselves in citing somewhat copiously from his pages.

• The controversy,' says Dr. F., ' which is now unhappily agitating the friends of the Bible Society, and causing the bitter waters of strife to spread in all directions, is of so momentous a character, and involves in its decision such important consequences, that it is incumbent on every supporter of that Society to defend, to the utmost of his power, the purity, simplicity, and integrity of its constitutional principles. Those principles appear, to my own mind, self-evident and incontrovertible. The recent attempt tointroduce a test in the Bible Society, produced something like the effect which results from the startling paradoxes of scepticism, when it assails the settled assurances of the mind on those points of historic belief or moral conviction, which had been heretofore regarded as fixed and incontrovertible. I have always been accustomed to consider the constitution of the Bible Society as impregnable on two grounds: first, that it recognized the supreme and exclusive authority of the Scriptures; and, secondly, that "it admitted the right of private judgement in matters of religion. These principles are the vital elements of Protestantism. They are no less essential to Christianity; and they are sustained by an accumulation of proof which gives to each and to both, the weight of moral demonstration.

• In the first establishment of the Society, almost every objection brought against it, might have been resolved into an opposition to one or other of these principles. Its constitution was the object of virulent attack and most unrighteous misrepresentation ; but whatever was the pretext of its opponents, all might have been reduced to the allegation, that its terms of admission were not exclusive, and that it presented its expanded portals for the reception of all, without exception, of every name and every clime, who professed to acknowledge the authority of the Holy Scriptures. The objection was itself the strongest argument in the Society's defence. It was its characteristic excellence, and the very crown of its glory, that it prescribed no preliminary inquiries, instituted no tests, and required no subscription to creeds and formularies. It therefore proposed no act of worship, or exercise of fellowship, which might so operate on the minds of the weak, the timorous, or the prejudiced, as to commit them unwittingly into an approbation of principles which they could not sanction, or a communion with persons whom they would be unwilling to recognize. Its projectors and tirst supporters were all, without exception, I believe, of what are termed evangelical principles, and, therefore, individually believers in the Holy Trinity. But their enlightened and comprehensive views went beyond all personal and sectarian considerations. They knew that the moment they selected any one principle of the great system in which they agreed, as the peculiar and distinguishing feature of their Society, there would be instantly introduced materials for debate. However they might have agreed in the abstract proposition, other principles, they knew, would be so associated, in different degrees and proportions, mixed up with more or less of error, that no single proposition would be a satisfactory guarantee for the prevention of what some would have been disposed to exclude. There was therefore no medium between a constitution altogether exclusive, and which would have confined the Society to a section of the Christian church, and a constitution of an unexclusive character. The one object aimed at, required no limitation ; while the immense magnitude of the work to be achieved, and the prodigious expenditure that would be necessarily involved in its prosecution, demanded and justified universal co-operation. Thus the constitution was settled on a large and unrestricted basis. It disarmed intolerance, conciliated prejudice, and afforded the most scrupulous no ground of reasonable offence.' pp. 4—7.

Dr. Fletcher states it as his deliberate conviction, that, such being, unquestionably, the original Constitution of the Society, the Committee, as trustees, appointed to execute the provi•sions of a specific deed, agreed upon by the unanimous con

currence of thousands and tens of thousands of the friends of 'the Bible,'—ought never to have entertained at all the proposition to make so fundamental a change.

I feel warranted,' he says, “ in asserting, that the moment a member of the Committee introduced a question which directly tended to violate the constitution, it became that Committee to have put it down instantet, and ended at once all discussion. Complainants in these cir4. Naval and Military Bible Society. The Speeches delivered at the

Anniversary General Meeting held at Exeter Hall, on the 10th of

May, 1831. 8vo. London. 5. Observations addressed to the Trinitarian Friends and Members of

the Bible Society, comprehending the principal Arguments in Support of the Proposed Alteration in the Constitution of the Society By a Clerical Member of the Provisional Committee, some

time Secretary to an Auxiliary Society. 8vo. 1831. 6. Conduct of the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society

reviewed. By Robert Haldane, Esq. 8vo. London. 1831. To the divisions and disorders which arose in the primitive

churches, how much are we indebted, as having furnished the occasion of some of the most important and eloquent portions of the Apostolic Scriptures ! And to modern controversies within the Church, we owe some the most valuable of uninspired compositions.

tions. Much as we regretted, at first, the renewed attack upon the constitution of the Bible Society, as coming from a quarter in which we have not been accustomed to look for adversaries, we begin to think that the exposition and defence of the grand principles of the Society, which it has called forth, will prove of so much lasting service, both to the Institution and to the cause of truth, as will more than compensate for the disturbance of harmony. Dr. Fletcher's 'Let

ter' alone would go far towards reconciling our minds to the occasion, unhappy in itself, which has elicited so luminous and powerful a vindication of the two Protestant principles upon which the Society is grounded ; and we must indulge ourselves in citing somewhat copiously from his pages.

- The controversy,' says Dr. F.,' which is now unhappily agitating the friends of the Bible Society, and causing the bitter waters of strife to spread in all directions, is of so momentous a character, and involves in its decision such important consequences, that it is incumbent on every supporter of that Society to defend, to the utmost of his power, the purity, simplicity, and integrity of its constitutional principles. Those principles appear, to my own mind, self-evident and incontrovertible. The recent attempt tointroduce a test in the Bible Society, produced something like the effect which results from the startling paradoxes of scepticism, when it assails the settled assurances of the mind on those points of historic belief or moral conviction, which had been heretofore regarded as fixed and incontrovertible. I have always been accustomed to consider the constitution of the Bible Society as impregnable on two grounds: first, that it recognized the supreme and erclusive authority of the Scriptures; and, secondly, that it admitted the right of private judgement in matters of religion. These principles are the vital elements of Protestantism. They are no less essential to Christianity; and they are sustained by an accumulation of proof which gives to each and to both, the weight of moral demonstration.

In the first establishment of the Society, almost every objection brought against it, might have been resolved into an opposition to one or other of these principles. Its constitution was the object of virulent attack and most unrighteous misrepresentation ; but whatever was the pretext of its opponents, all might have been reduced to the allegation, that its terms of admission were not exclusive, and that it presented its expanded portals for the reception of all, without exception, of every name and every clime, 'who professed to acknowledge the authority of the Holy Scriptures. The objection was itself the strongest argument in the Society's defence. It was its characteristic excellence, and the very crown of its glory, that it prescribed no preliminary inquiries, instituted no tests, and required no subscription to creeds and formularies. It therefore proposed no act of worship, or exercise of fellowship, which might so operate on the minds of the weak, the timorous, or the prejudiced, as to commit them unwittingly into an approbation of principles which they could not sanction, or a communion with persons whom they would be unwilling to recognize. Its projectors and first supporters were all, without exception, I believe, of what are termed evangelical principles, and, therefore, individually believers in the Holy Trinity. But their enlightened and comprehensive views went beyond all personal and sectarian considerations. They knew that the moment they selected any one principle of the great system in which they agreed, as the peculiar and distinguishing feature of their Society, there would be instantly introduced materials for debate. However they might have agreed in the abstract proposition, other principles, they knew, would be so associated, in different degrees and proportions, mixed up with more or less of error, that no single proposition would be a satisfactory guarantee for the prevention of what some would have been disposed to exclude. There was therefore no medium between a constitution altogether exclusive, and which would have confined the Society to a section of the Christian church, and a constitution of an unexclusive character. The one object aimed at, required no limitation ; while the immense magnitude of the work to be achieved, and the prodigious expenditure that would be necessarily involved in its prosecution, demanded and justified universal Co-operation. Thus the constitution was settled on a large and unrestricted basis. It disarmed intolerance, conciliated prejudice, and afforded the most scrupulous no ground of reasonable offence. pp. 4—7.

Dr. Fletcher states it as bis deliberate conviction, that, such being, unquestionably, the original Constitution of the Society, the Committee, 'as trustees, appointed to execute the provi

sions of a specific deed, agreed upon by the unanimous con'currence of thousands and tens of thousands of the friends of 'the Bible,'-ought never to have entertained at all the proposition to make so fundamental a change.

· I feel warranted,' he says, ' in asserting, that the moment a member of the Committee introduced a question which directly tended to violate the constitution, it became that Committee to have put it down instanter, and ended at once all discussion. Complainants in these circumstances there might have been; clamour and calumny might have furiously stormed on the occasion; the orthodoxy of one might have been assailed, and another might have been suspected of neologism. Intolerance and dogmatism might have uttered their wailings and de·clamations, and what then? Why, the abettors of these decisive measures would perhaps have formed a separate Society. Let them have done so, and made it another arena for polemic exhibitions and special pleadings against all who differ from them. If the Continental Society had not afforded them ample room and verge enough for assailing all the heresies of Germany and all the schismatics of Britain—and the Reformation Society had not been a sufficiently extended theatre for theological contentions, they might have established a new Eclectic Society, and have fenced it round with such provisions and enactments, as would have excluded from the protected enclosure, all but ultra-doctrinalists of various hues, though united in the most determined opposition to every thing which bears the name of candour, tolerance, and Christian charity. In the mean time the Committee of the Bible Society would have pursued its course of sublime benevolence. Communications from all parts of the world, proving that course to be marked by the approbation of the Most High, would have gladdened their hearts, and encouraged them to pursue their “ labour of love ;" and when they had retired from the scene of their deliberations, they would have been cheered by the remembrances of tranquil joy and devout satisfaction, instead of enduring the irritation produced by distracted councils and angry collisions. pp. 16, 17.

Referring to the measure proposed by Captain Gordon, Dr. Fletcher urges the unanswerable question, Why should the excluding requisition be confined to such as hold not the doctrine of the Trinity, when there are thousands with whom, on religious grounds', real Christians could have no consistent fellowship?'

• If the reasonings which apply only to the communion of a Christian church are made, by an unnatural and forced analogy, to apply to the Bible Society, then the whole system must be remodelled; the terms of admission must be strictly such, and such only, as ought to regulate admission to a Christian church ; every essential doctrine of the gospel must be added to the prescribed test, otherwise the communion would be vitiated, and the fellowship of unbelievers would mar the glory of the Society; the test of doctrine must be combined with a test of character, else the heresy of a bad life will be thought less dangerous than that of an erroneous principle ; and thus the investigation and supervision which are proper and consistent in churches formed on Christian principles, must be applied to the extended community of a Bible Society, in all its dependencies and ramifications! Unless the supporters of this rash innovation are prepared to follow out their principle to all its legitimate consequences, they have proved themselves the most ill-advised reformists that ever lifted themselves into consequence, by gratuitous interference and preeipitate zeal.' p. 25.

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