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· I will yield to no one in a decisive conviction of the momentous character of those great principles which Socinians reject, and by which rejection their system is, in my own deliberate judgement, awfully opposed to the truths of the gospel. On all proper occasions, I would unite with others in bearing my protest against their errors, as subversive of the characteristic doctrines of Christianity. But great and lamentable as is their apostacy from “ the faith once delivered to the saints,” they do not reject all the discoveries of revelation. While they maintain the divine authority of the Scriptures—appeal to their testimony as the professed rule of their belief-hold, in relation to some views of the mission, character, and doctrines of Christ, what is accordant with the truth—and in reference to the general evidences of the Christian revelation, are amongst the most able advocates and supporters of its authority, and have eminently subserved its cause-can you persuade yourself to think, that in no sense they are entitled to be called Christians? It ely cannot be forgotten that such writers as Lardner, and Pierce, and Clarke, and Locke, may be justly reckoned amongst Christian writers, whatever may have been the Socinianism of some, or the latitudinarianism of others. The established usages of language, in reference to parties and systems, require that we should in fairness, derive our conventional designations, not from the charges or constructions of adversaries, but from their own avowed and accredited professions. Justice, as well as candour, requires this mode of procedure. It may be presumed that those who differ from us, know their own principles as well as we do ; and if we have an honest desire to convince them of their errors, and induce them to examine our arguments, are we likely to succeed by telling them in limine, that we do not give them credit for their own reiterated and solemn acknowledgements ? Every man, who professes to believe in the divine authority of the Christian revelation, is entitled to be called a professed Christian. We secure no small advantage in our reasonings for his benefit, by admitting that profession. We may question his consistency, and endeavour to convince him of his danger. Availing ourselves of the principles which he receives, we may more successfully attempt to dislodge from his mind those errors which he has unhappily associated with those principles, and by which he has neutralized their force, and rendered them “ of no effect.”
It is a remarkable fact, that, during the last twenty or thirty years, Socinianism has, in our own country, visibly and extensively diminished. We know that this has been disputed, but it is by persons who know nothing about the matter. Its power as a system, so far as it can be ascertained by the numbers and moral influence of a party, bas been, Dr Fletcher remarks, amazingly reduced; and he adds:
• I know it to be an unquestionable fact, that even Socinians have become the recipients and advocates of evangelical truth, by means of their connexion with the Bible Society. Had a test of orthodoxy been proposed as a condition of their admission, they would have felt themVOL. VI.--N.s.
pp. 31, 32,
selves proscribed, insulted, and even calumniated as enemies to the Bible. Their unhappy prejudices would have been confirmed ; and no possible good could have resulted from the restriction that would compensate for the positive evil that would have been the immediate and inevitable result.
• But in the case before the public, the separation contemplated by the Sackville-street agitators, is not only inexpedient and unjust,-it is impossible. They are endeavouring to accomplish a separation that cannot be effected. Those who do not hold the doctrine of the Trinity are as much members of the Society as those who do hold it. They are indeed few in numbers, but they are in the Society, and in it by virtue of the principles which support its constitution. They have given their money to it ;—and some have bequeathed legacies on its behalf, who are gone to that world where there will be no controversy on the subject. The money thus subscribed and bequeathed was given with a distinct recognition of the constitutional principle of the Society, and would not have been given if that principle had not been considered by them to be as firm and irrevocable as the truth of the Bible itself.' Thousands and tens of thousands who were never in any degree identified with Socinians, have precisely the same conviction on this subject ; and on this ground alone they make common cause with them. These were the views and feelings of the immense majority that indignantly rejected the amendment at the Annual Meeting. They were not Socinians! To assert it is unwarrantable and unjust; it is a positive calumny, the effect of which is most injurious, because it conveys to the world an erroneous impression, and can tend only to the direct advantage and aggrandizement of the very party, whose exclusion was contemplated by the proposed alteration. It was not sympathy with Socinianism, but sympathy with the Society's essential principles, and a determination to abide by them as fixed and unalterable, that produced the unshrinking and magnanimous decision of that day. THAT DAY SAVED THE BIBLE SOCIETY; AND THE STORM THAT PASSED OVER IT HAS ESTABLISHED IT ON A FIRMER BASIS, AND MADE IT MORE THAN EVER IMPREGNABLE!'
Nothing, however, can be more grossly disingenuous than the whole conduct of the Sackville-street party; or more revolting than the system of personal calumny, which seems to be an element of modern fanaticism. Referring to the ungenerous attack made upon the learned and laborious Editor of the Comprehensive Bible, and the still baser reflections cast on one of the Secretaries of the Bible Society, Dr. Fletcher asks: 'Whose re. putation is safe, if heresy is to be the exclamation, whenever a man may happen to differ from the self-constituted oracles of modern coteries?' Mr. Haldane's pamphlet is a frightful specimen of malign and infuriated zeal, spurning alike the restraints of courtesy and the obligations of truth. His hatred of the Bible Society amounts to a sort of monomania. He tells us, that the Society have excluded God from their counsels ', --and that He has consequently frowned upon them, and scat
pp. 47, 48.
*tered the builders ', -that they have alienated, with scarcely an exception, the whole of the Established Church of Scotland, and the great body of other Christians in that country; and he calls upon all the Auxiliary Societies to follow their example, in withdrawing their confidence from the Parent Committee. The representation, as regards Scotland, is scandalously untrue. With regard to this country, we are happy to lay before our readers the following Resolutions recently passed by the Committees of two Auxiliary Societies, which, we doubt not, will be re-echoed throughout the country.
Preston, June 15th, 1831. * At a Meeting of the Committee of the Preston Auxiliary Bible So
ciety, the following Resolutions were unanimously and cordially
•I. That this Meeting, lamenting the unseemly inroad made upon the harmony of the last Anniversary of the British and Foreign Bible Society, notwithstanding the satisfactory statements previously made by the President, Vice-Presidents, Committee, and secretaries, wish to convey the expression of their unabated attachment and respect to those long-tried and efficient and esteemed Officers of the Institution.
II. That this Meeting, consisting of Members of different Religious Communions, never supposed that in joining the British and Foreign Bible Society they either made any compromise of their own private opinions, or gave any sanction to those of an opposite nature entertained by other Members of the Society.
* III. That as the utterance of sentiments usually termed Orthodox has never met with interruption in the Meetings of this Auxiliary Society since its formation in 1812—nor in any other place, so far as the knowledge of this Meeting extends--they cannot consider the subject of complaint to be a practical evil, or dangerous to the Society.
'IV. That, in the judgment of this Meeting, the Ninth Rule cannot fairly be understood to wear the character of exclusiveness, recently ascribed to it; especially when it is taken in connection with the Third and Thirteenth Rules, and with the early invitations of the Secretaries to Ministers of all Denominations, including even those whom it is now sought to banish from the Society.
‘V. That this Meeting, believing the Holy Scriptures to be the fountain of Truth, and feeling sincere compassion, not only for Jews, Mahommedans, and Pagans, but also for those who, professing to be followers of Jesus Christ, have unhappily embraced the errors of Arius or Socinus, nevertheless derive satisfaction from knowing that any of these have co-operated in the circulation of the Sacred Volume, inasmuch as it may prove of incalculable benefit to their own minds, as well as to those to whom they assist in sending it.
VI. That the passages of Scripture, 2 Epist. John, x. 11; Neh. xiii. 3, 8; 1 Cor. v. 11 ; and others of like import, seem to this Meeting to have been misapplied to this question, from an exaggerated view of what is implied in the Membership of the Society : and that Matt. xii. 29. Luke ix. 49, 50. appear much more relevant to the
·VII. That the exclusion contemplated would be extremely difficult to be put in practice fully; and would imply a countenance of all who remained in the Society, which, in some instances, this Meeting might find very painful, and highly objectionable.
- That, according to the judgment of this Meeting, the simple, well-defined, and glorious object of the British and Foreign Bible Society, together with the unassuming and unfettered nature of its composition, involve in them its stability, permanence, and vast extent of usefulness – That in its past proceedings it has well deserved the magnificent support which it has received— That attacks upon its original constitution, by its professed friends, are deeply to be deplored, and earnestly to be deprecated — and, That it is devoutly to be wished that the Society may uninterruptedly continue its most beneficial career, and increasingly, through the blessing of the Holy Spirit of God, promote the welfare of the world.
"R. C. WILSON, ·V. P. of the Preston Auxiliary Bible Society.'
Hull, June 20th, 1831. *At a Meeting of the Committee of the Auxiliary Bible Society of this
Town and Neighbourhood, It was Resolved unanimously,
'I. That this Committee regard with gratitude the faithful, judicious, and successful labours of the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society; sincerely sympathize with that Committee under the painful circumstances in which they have of late been placed ; and are anxious to cooperate with them, and to strengthen their hands, in the important services in which they are engaged.
II. That this Committee are satisfied that the simple and definite object of the British and Foreign Bible Society is such as may properly admit the co-operation of all persons willing to concur in it; and that the greatest advantages have accrued from the unrestricted constitution of the Society in this respect. That they therefore deprecate all infringement of this original principle of the Institution, and all such alteration or interpretation of its Laws as would introduce a Test in the admission of Members : not donbting that an adequate remedy will, in each particular case, be found for any incidental inconvenience which may arise from adherence to the present Rules, as hitherto interpreted.
III. That this Committee are deeply conscious of the necessity of acknowledging their entire dependence on Almighty God, and seeking His blessing in every thing; and that without the accompanying grace of His Holy Spirit, even the Sacred Scriptures will prove “ the savour of death,” and not of life, to those who receive them. That they therefore contemplate, with heartfelt pleasure, the facts--that in the Reports and Proceedings of the Society this principle has ever been recognised; that the Members have been constantly taught to seek the Divine Blessing on their labours; and that those addresses have ever been best
received, which most directly tended to lead them so to do: and that hence there is abundant reason to be assured that the Meetings of the Society have been, in the most important sense of the word, Meetings of Prayer and Praise. That the Committee are convinced that this state of things is satisfactory, and as much as is to be aimed at under existing circumstances of the Church of Christ; and that it would be highly inexpedient that any Law should be passed binding the Society to introduce Public Prayer into its various Meetings.
• IV. That these Resolutions be signed by the Members present, and transmitted to the Committee of the Parent Society. * (Signed) CHARLES LUTWIDGE,
· V. P. Chairman, &c.' We have left ourselves no room to notice the other pamphlets on our list. Mr. Brandram's Letter to Mr. Platt, is a very concise, pointed, and temperate reply, paragraph by paragraph, to that gentleman's strange epistle." We cannot refrain from expressing our admiration of the firmness, moral courage, and admirable spirit, which the estimable Secretary has displayed under the very trying circumstances in which he has been placed. To all who know him, the malignant aspersions with which he has been assailed, can excite no other feeling than indignation or pity towards his implacable calumniators. The Letter addressed to the Hon. and Rev. Baptist Noel, is a mild and forcible expostulation with that gentleman, as to the inconsistency of the principles maintained in his speechi, with his association with Socinians and others who deny the gospel, within the Established Church.
I believe', says the Writer, that, by exciting discussion respecting religious tests and public prayer in relation to the purity and practice of the Bible Society, you and your brethren have done that in relation to the Church which you never anticipated,----you have directed the eyes of numbers to such inconsistencies in the Evangelical clergy as I have been pointing out to you in this letter: they are wondering how it is that such men can tolerate, and oppose, the same thing at the same time-how it is that they can actually do what they condemn : they are inquiring into the reason of this ; and their inquiries are likely to terminate in conclusions by no means creditable to their legal instructors. For myself, I consider that every one of the clergy who held up his hand at Exeter Hall in favour of either of the amendments, did, by that act, declare his dissent from the Church of England; he publicly condemned a union in which at present he lives, and moves, and has his being. p. 38.
It will, probably, be discovered by the Sackville Street Reformers, before long, that they have placed themselves in a predicament somewhat embarrassing to themselves as Churchmen, and have taken a position which it will be inconvenient to maintain, and not very honourable to abandon.