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1831.] Reasons for not joining the Naval and Military Bible Society. 531 Mosheim) to Biekius's “Triplex In- polluted prayers, to the great disterim,” or "Das dreyfache Interim,” pleasure of Almighty God, and the Leipsig, 8vo. 1721. I hope I suc- serious distress of mind of all who ceeded in pretty satisfactorily an- regard his honour and glory.-Beswering the question then raised, cause, by excluding only one class without the help of the work referred of heretics, the Society gives a virto; but, as I am now reprinting that tual sanction to all others : thus part of my history to which it relates, misleading the ignorant; emboldenI should be very glad to have the ing the obstinate and impenitent in opportunity of examining Biekius's their evil courses ; and leading the book, or, what would still better an- wicked to hope, that, because they swer my purpose, the “Ex Actis are not Socinians, they are not far Synodicis collecta Expositio," Wits from the kingdom of God.-Because temb. 4to. 1559. Hitherto, how- no plan is adopted for carrying ever, my inquiries for these works into effect even the Society's primary have proved altogether unsuccessful: regulation, insufficient as that reguwhich makes me ask permission to lation is: so that a Socinian may, say in your pages, that I shall feel if he sees fit, obtain membership by exceedingly obliged to any person paying a guinea, and gain injurious who shall help me to either of them. A influence in the Society; while others, parcel to Seeley's (169 Fleet Street) who are sound in the faith and will be duly attended to, and any
zealous in every good work, but who loan it may contain carefully return- object to forms and tests in words of ed. I am,
man's devising, making Scripture
itself their only appeal, will be exHull, Aug. 1, 1831.
cluded.-Because the Society, being formed neither upon the principles of an open institution, like the Bible Society (in which, there being no test, there is no compromise or necessary spiritual or ecclesiastical union); nor of an exclusive institu
tion, like the Christian Knowledge For the Christian Observer.
Society (in which the members exBecause this hitherto excellent So- ercise brotherly scrutiny into each ciety, while propounding a religious other's life and doctrines); but upon test of membership, and thus form- a principle involving a test, while ing itself into an institution of spi- that test is neither sufficient in exritual brotherhood, has not endea- tent to be a security from damnable voured, as on its own principles it heresies, nor capable of being acted ought to have done, to cast from its upon even so far as it professes to pale those abominations of life and extend; is fallacious, dangerous, and doctrine which are incompatible with empirical; calculated neither to unite holy communion ; but admits to its together the faithful, nor to promote membership, to its counsels, to its the important objects for which the committees, and to all its offices, society was founded.—Lastly, beidolaters, Neologians, antinomians, cause a rule so restricted, and in self-justiciaries, swearers, drunkards, practice so unnecessary, may tend duellists, adulterers, and innumer- alarmingly to promote the Socinian able other sinners and heretics not heresy, by adding to the importance to be countenanced by any faithful of a sect hitherto of little note; exmember of Jesus Christ.—Because, citing them to renewed efforts to inin the union of this Society, a true culcate their doctrines; and causing believer may be called upon to be both the proscribed parties and present while one of the characters others to view the measure as a hasty aforesaid offers up unscriptural or ebullition of ill-judged irritating zeal,
REASONS FOR NOT JOINING THE NAVAL
AND MILITARY BIBLE SOCIETY UNDER ITS NEW CONSTITUTION.
OF THE BIBLE SOCIETY.
rather than the result of the meekness Let Lieutenant Rhind or Mr. Melof wisdom, the patience of hope, and vill, as in the sight of God, reply to an unfeigned desire to bring wanderers this serious inquiry. to the fold of Christ.
A MEMBER OF VARIOUS SOCIETIES. Such are the views of a humble Member of many Societies, some with tests and some without tests, but of none with a half-test. Can any LAWFULNESS OF THE CONSTITUTIOX member of the Naval and Military Bible Society, an institution too valuable to be subjected to fanciful ex
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. periments, give a manly and Chris. For more than a quarter of a centian reply to the preceding objections? tury I have derived pleasure, inforIf admitting persons into a Bible So- mation, and I humbly hope profit, ciety is bidding them “ God speed,” from the monthly perusal of your how does the Naval and Military pages, without once entertaining Bible Society dare to bid“God speed” the desire of appearing in them to idolaters, and all the other classes as a contributor. But you have inabove mentioned? If it is not bid- timated an intention of taking up ding them “God speed,” then there the question of the constitution of was no need of the late regulation. the British and Foreign Bible So
The foregoing objections proceed ciety ; and most cordially do I, in on the principles expressed in the common with many of your readers, Report of the Society; in which it is rejoice in this determination, under stated, that the object of the rule a conviction that the duty has beadopted at the last meeting was to come necessary, and that its fulfilshew that its members are
ment will be highly advantageous. sociation of Christians; ” and that Whether your intimation be intended not merely in the lax statistical use to invite the expression of opinion of that term, which includes sects by your correspondents, I know not ; of every name, and sinners of every but as it is a subject on which I feel dye, but in its exclusive spiritual deeply, and have thought much, sense, as comprising only persons allow me to assume and accept the “ held together”- '--so runs the Report invitation. ~"by one common bond of union On this, as on every other conand acting in faith upon the eternal troverted question in the present Son of God.” What common bond day, numerous publications have apof union and acting in faith can Mr. peared; no fewer than sixteen being Melvill, the mover of the Society's at this moment on my table ; five new resolution, and Lieutenant taking the negative, and eleven the Rhind, the seconder, find with the affirmative side of the argument : horrible heretics, the ungodly livers, the former labouring to convince me and the profane scoffers, to whom that the Bible Society is virtually a their arms are now open in the So- church; and the latter telling me, ciety ? Hitherto nothing of this spi- what I knew very well before, that ritual communion was professed, and the Bible Society is the Bible Society, therefore the same objections did not and nothing else. Now, though I apply. So far from the Society being feel much obliged to those who have now placed, as the Report says, “on taken all this trouble, and admire a firm and scriptural basis,” it the manner in which some of them rests on no basis at all ; it literally have handled the argument, I canfalls between two stools. Is it a not but think that the whole question firm and scriptural basis, for a so- is very simple ; and that the more ciety to admit swearers, drunkards, steadily we keep in view first prinantinomians, and idolaters, to a bond ciples, the sooner we shall come to of religious union and acts of faith ? a right understanding.
The primary point to decide evi- explicitly revealed in Scripture. We dently is, What is the Bible Society? are not left to reason by construction, And as evidently the answer is found or from analogy, as to what we are in the first law of the Society, which to do, and what we are to leave expressly states, “The sole object undone. The commandments of shall be to encourage a wider circu- God are express and distinct, and lation of the Holy Scriptures, with- are intelligible to all his rational out note or comment.” All persons, creatures. “ He hath shewed thee, whether friends or enemies to the Oman, what is good : and what Society, have for the last twenty- doth the Lord require of thee, but seven years accepted this definition; to do justly, and to love mercy, and nor do I suppose that the Provisional to walk humbly with thy God ?” Committee in Sackville Street have Now, I have carefully referred to yet agreed on a different reading to every text quoted by the writers and the received version of this funda- reported speakers on the Sackvillemental law. But they have agreed Street side of the question, and can-if I rightly understand their cir- not find a single one which justifies cular to the virtual abrogation of me in saying to any human being, that law ; for the adoption of what “ Thou shalt not do good, neither they call their “ principle," would, shalt thou come in the way of getin the deliberate judgment of nine- ting good.” If any of your readers teen-twentieths of the members of entertain the slightest doubt of the the Bible Society, discourage a misapplication of those passages by wider circulation of the Holy Scrip- the writers and speakers to whom I tures, and attach a note or comment refer, let me beg them to read the -I allow, in this case a true com- whole of the chapters in which they ment, but still a comment—to every are respectively found. If this will copy distributed.
not shew them how grievously ScripThe next inquiry is, Who are ture has been wrested from its plain the members of the Bible Society ? and obvious signification, nothing Again I refer to the original laws else will. of the institution, and find the plain But it is said, “We would not and intelligible answer, “ Each sub- refuse the subscription of any man, scriber of one guinea annually shall nor deny him the privilege of purbe a member;” “ and each subscriberchasing Bibles and Testaments on of ten guineas at one time shall be the lowest terms; we only refuse a member for life.” There is, as- him membership.” And to this suredly, no ambiguity here : every specimen of special pleading has rehuman being is at liberty to sub. cently been added another : “We scribe, and every subscriber of the do not wish that any test should be specified amount is a member. “And put individually to persons proposing why not?” is the natural question
to become members, or that any quesof every man who now hears, for tions whatever should be asked of the first time, a doubt expressed as
them.” But the man who pays his to the propriety of such a law. guinea annually, or his ten guineas “ Because,” say our friends in Sack- at one time, is a member, whether ville Street, we have discovered you call him so or not; and were the that it is contrary to Scripture." proposed “principle” to be adopted, And this, Mr. Editor, brings me and test and question to be kept out to the point at issue, on which I of sight, this scheme of purification would submit a few plain practical would look very like an invitation to considerations to your numerous men to become guilty of hypocrisy. readers.
If there be any meaning whatever in In every thing relating to moral the proposition, or in the circular duty, the Divine will is clearly and which professes to unfold it, that
meaning must be resolved into the cieties—for never has one been offassertion of an abstract principle, cially connected with the parent inwhich rests its only chance of prac- stitution—has been silently, but tical application on the unbending surely, proceeding for several years ; honourand scrupulous integrity of the and that simply by the force of pubvery persons proposed to be excluded. lic opinion, without any rule, test, Besides, nothing can be more unfair or question, and without the necesthan the system of taking men's sity for any effort on the part of the money and giving them no voice in orthodox members of those societies. its disposal, either personally or in In many instances Unitarians have the election of a representative com- excluded themselves, by withdrawing mittee ; and we are now called to their subscriptions; and in others, introduce this system into voluntary when a vacancy has occurred, no charitable institutions at the veryone has proposed a Unitarian to fill it. time when its injustice is causing it The total number of Bible Soto be exploded every where else. cieties in Great Britain, under all The meaning of the Sackville-Street the designations of Auxiliary or Committee, though they do not tell Branch Societies and Associations, us so in their manifesto, is, I con- exceeds 2,500. We may safely clude, that, as membership consti- average the number of officers at four tutes eligibility to office, they wish to for each, giving a total of 10,000 ; exclude
every Socinian, or miscalled and the average number of members Unitarian, from the possibility of of committees, including collectors, being elected an officer or member cannot be less than fifteen, which of the committee of any Bible So- gives a total of 37,500. Now, of ciety. Now, if this be their object, these numbers respectively, how they may safely disband their forces; many are professed Unitarians ? ! for I have the pleasure of telling have taken much pains to obtain them, that this object was very nearly correct information, and fully beattained long ago : and attained it lieve it may be confidently asserted, will be, not by, but in spite of, their first, that of the 10,000 officeinterference, which has done more, bearers there are but three-one of within a few weeks, to nail Unita- whom, indeed, denies that he is a rians to the Bible Society, and to Unitarian—and, secondly, that of give notoriety and prominence to the 37,500 members of committees their heresy, than the laws or prac. there are but thirty-two. It is more tice of the Society have effected difficult to ascertain the total numin twenty-seven years : nay, the ber of subscribers to the societies, Committee of the Navaland Military but we shall not, probably, exaggeBible Society, with an experience of rate in taking forty as the average, nearly twice this period, an expe- making a total of 100,000, of whom rience of more than half a century, I have every reason to believe not acknowledge, in their last Report, one hundred are Unitarians. I do that “ they cannot affirm that any not mean to intimate, that, if the inconvenience or evil consequences principle of the Bible Society were have as yet occurred from the indis- wrong, the smallness of the number criminate admission of members not of Socinians who have availed themholding the essential Divinity of the selves of it would make it right: no, eternal Son of God.” This, coming if it be unscriptural, we must rather from the very persons who have break up the Society than admit it, adopted the Sackville-Street prin- even though no one individual should ciple, is decisive as to the fact. ever act upon it: but to those whose
I repeat the assertion, that the alarms are rather derived from a exclusion of self-styled Unitarians supposed fact than from an abstract from the agency of local Bible Su- principle, the foregoing statement will have just weight. It will be entertaining those opinions, to whom seen with how little reason such that connexion has been a blessing, exaggerated notions have gone forth by being made the instrument of relative to the numbers of Socinians opening to them “ a more excellent in the Society.
way,” and leading them to the know“ But,” say the Sackville-Street ledge of Him“ whom to know is Committee,“ We wish a declaration life eternal.” There are such, Mr. against Socinianism.”—In this I Editor, among the circle of your own heartily concur with them ; for, readers, who daily bless God that blessed be God! I abjure Socinian- they can understand this reference; ism as much as any of these gentle- and perhaps I may hereafter trouble men; and one of my many reasons you with a few particulars in illusfor loving the Bible Society, as it is, tration of this interesting point.to my very heart, is, that I believe Now, as it is impossible but that these it to be the most powerful enemy of facts must be known to the immeSocinianism on the face of the earth. diate relatives and friends of the But the declaration has been issued; parties, the only subject of wonder and a far better one, too, than can would be an increase of Socinian be concocted by the Sackville-Street members. I confess, that, with those Committee, or any other ; and of views of the blessed Bible which, this full, explicit, and irrefragable de- through the unmerited mercy of claration not fewer than 7,024,727 God in Christ Jesus, I am gracicopies have been circulated already. ously enabled to cherish, a Socinian The Bible is a Trinitarian Bible, member of the Bible Society has and will do more, under the influ- always appeared to me one of the ences of the Holy Spirit, to cut up most inconsistent of mortals. But Socinianism, and every other heresy, I am not answerable for his inconroot and branch, than all the test- sistency: he comes to me, I do not acts made or repealed from the days go to him : the sacrifice is his, not of Julian the Apostate to the present mine. Certain I am that he will do hour.
good by circulating the Holy ScripIt is, I conceive, impossible that tures, and equally certain I am that any reflecting mind should be asto- he will also be more in the way of nished at the constant decrease of receiving good than he was before : Socinian members of the Bible So- and till I can find in the Bible a ciety. That many benevolent indi- prohibition infinitely stronger than viduals of this denomination, view the forced constructions and anaing the Society simply as a work of logies hitherto adduced, I dare not mercy, should have joined it at the refuse to any human being the prioutset, is only what might have vilege of distributing the words of been expected; but that they should eternal life, nor consent to the adopcheerfully continue their support tion of any measure by which the after witnessing the effects of its exercise of that privilege would be operations, would indeed have been impeded. extraordinary. I have watched these To the twenty-one Reverend geneffects from the commencement of tlemen, whose names are attached to the institution; and neither personal the Sackville Street circular, I would observation in a tolerably large respectfully submit the inquiry, Whe. circle, nor the result of extensive ther they should not enjoin their and long-continued inquiry, has yet pew-openers never to admit a Sodiscovered to me one solitary in- cinian into their churches; since dividual who has imbibed Socinian to unite with such a man in the views in consequence of a connexion sacred exercise of prayer and praise with the Bible Society; while, on must surely be more opposed to the other hand, I have the pleasure their views, than admitting him to of knowing several persons, formerly unite with them in distributing the