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advantage of the two parties; and surely it is of the very essence of French or jacobinical misrepresentation, and the very acme of bad taste, to distort so fair a principle of action into a deliberate intention to make our enemies “ shiver in the pitiless storm, destitute of that raiment, &c.” “ to make them linger in hopeless pining,” “gasp for 'refreshment,” “ die in the hospitals and in the streets,” and suffer the various other torments, with which the lively imagination of Dr. Maltby has loaded their bodies, to counterbalance the blessing of the Bibles which
have exported for the comfort and refreshment of their souls. The passage is alone sufficient to make quite clear to us the spirit in which the whole pamphlet is written, and really gives us no very exalted idea of the author's talents as a politician, to qualify himself for which office he seems so much to have neglected the objects of clerical attainment. For, admitting that the unheard of barbarity, which the enemy has introduced into the conduct of this war, makes it necessary for our government to deviate from the ordinary courtesies of ordinary wars, does that constitute the shadow of a ground for an imputation of inconsistency on those individuals whose Christian philanthropy induces them at their own expence to supply their enemies with the pure word of God? And this when learned societies are exchanging their medals and their prize essays without any fear of, or regard to, the hostilities between their respective coun-tries! We are sure that Dr. Maltby, upon consideration, will be ashamed of this passage, even without any extraordinary change in his religious sentiments; we shall therefore repress the severer observations which are ready to rise up in our minds against it.
We have been irresistibly led into such a prolixity of observation on this extraordinary pamphlet, that we fear we have left but scanty space for the notice of Mr. Cunningham's argumentative reply to it's sophistry.
We shall attempt, however, to do some little justice to it, at least by extracting one or two of the most striking passages.
Mr. Cunningham begins by arranging Dr. Maltby's objections against the circulation of the whole scriptures under two heads, first, that they are not intended, and secondly, that they are not calculated for general circulation. Upon the first point he very forcibly observes that God himself gave these scriptures tous without any restriction upon their general use; and he very safely defies Dr. Maltby to produce a single passage which tends to appropriate them to a few, which would authorize us to enshrine any portion of them for the sole inspection of the learned. He also infers that they were actually intended by God for
by “ the
general circulation from the manner of using them in the Jewish church, where they were appointed to be read without any regular comment or exposition, and as none were excluded from the synagogue, the scriptures were obviously published to all. “ Could the Bible then," he asks,“ be safe to them without expositors, and is it dangerous to us with them? Are the clergy of the church of England to be degraded into a sort of dead weight, which is merely to turn the scale against the free circulation of the scriptures?" We answer emphatically, forbid!”
Mr. Cunningham also successfully shews both by the example of “the use made of the scriptures by Christ himself,” and
express declaration of God,” that the scriptures were intended to go forth in their integrity to the people.
The second objection, that the scriptures are not calculated for universal distribution, is very justly answered by Mr. Cunningham, by shewing first, that some of the mysteries of religion will elude the amplest as well as the most feeble grasp of human intellect. “ God is a spirit,” and his religion never proclaimed itself to be free from mystery to our dull and material capacities. But he also strenuously contends that its mysteries are mysteries to all; that religion is no respecter of persons, and never intended to assign knowledge to the high, and mere practice to the low. “Under the Christian scheme, all distinctions are merged in the consideration that men are all equally immortal;- lost by the same offences;-redeemed by the same blood;” and saved or condemned by the same rule. To suppose, therefore, that any difference in the natural capacity for understanding that rule will not be made up to the humble sinner by supernatural means, is a crime no less against the justice than against the goodness of God.
To the objection “ that all which it is indispensable for man to know is contained in a very small part of the Bible,” Mr. Cunningham ventures to reply, first, by demanding
" whether there is no presumption in venturing to pronounce that a part will accomplish that for which God appears to have appointed the whole?" Next by referring to the fact that “ God in a variety of known instances, does not always work by the simple means we might anticipate ;" and lastly, he makes this general and conclusive objection to the narrowing or disparagement of the value of any part of scripture, “ that the work once begun, it is impossible to say where it will stop.” Of this we think that we have given conclusive proof in a former part of this article, where we exhibited the absurd and profane lengths to which the Socinians have proceeded from beginnings somewhat smaller than Dr. Maltby has ventured upon in the pamphlet before us.
Upon the general expediency of imparting the whole of the scriptures to the poor, we shall now lay before our readers the following eloquent passage.
“ Without reverting to the strong language of Dr. Horsley (p. 17), I should venture to say, that the purity of religious sentiment is scarcely less indebted to the simplicity of the unlearved, than to the curiosity and refinement of the literary. If the illiterate sometimes do not see far enough, the learned often see too far. If the first debase scripture through ignorance, it suffers no less injury from the prejudice and love of system in the last. Above all, whate ever benefit the learned may render to scripture by the light they shed upon its obscurities, the poor often no less befriend it, by rescuing the plain passages from the rack of presumptuous and innovating criticism. The learned man may perhaps be satisfied to speculate, whilst the poor man feels. The one is not unapt to look at christianity as a sort of remote eleemosynary system, of which, in the fulness of his prosperity, he does not feel the need : the other, as a religion precisely and mercifully adapted to his sufferings and his wants; as a lamp to his feet, and a medicine to his soul. In consequence of this, whilst the one is too apt to linger about the porch, or coldly measure the mere ornaments of the temple, the other penetrates to the altar, catches a ray of its sacred flame, seizes upon the vital parts of religion, and bears them forth as his consolation through all the pilgrimage of life. Agreeably to this reasoning, it will be seen that religion has often found its best, and even its most intelligent, friends among the multitude; that when the vessel of its fundamental doctrines has been well nigh wrecked under the pilotage of a false philosophy, it has been brought to shore by the hand of the common · fisherman. At the time, for instance, when it was asked, have any of the rulers believed' in Christ? the " common people heard him gladly. The disciples themselves, also, were found among the lower part of the community. And although christianity never made such a gigantic nominal and geographical progress as when it mounted the throne of the empire, it is to be remembered that its corruptions kept pace with its aggrandisement. Its period of greatest deterioration commenced when it exchanged the imperial sceptre for its crown of thorns.'- When, in like manner, the great father of the reformation appeared, he found the advocates of religious reform chiefly amidst the inferior ranks of the people. He presented the Bible to the crowded congregations of Wittemberg, and published his theses to the listening cities of the empire. They received the report;' conveyed it, like an electric shock, from man to man'; till some of the princes of Germany felt they must either support the reforma
n, or endanger their thrones. In the revival of religion, also, which has within fifty years taken place in our own country, the
lower and middle ranks of people have acted an important part. The increased precision in doctrine, and energy in practice; the decay of Socinianism, and what may be almost called the resuscitation of the fundamental doctrines of Christ; are in a considerable degree to be attributed, under Divine grace, to plain men putting plain constructions upon plain passages of the Bible. And so far is it, I conceive, from being the fact, that the poor universally enter little into the real meaning and spirit of the doctrinal parts of scripture, that there are to be found multitudes who both comprehend the principles, and bring them to bear upon their lives and tempers." (P. 29.)
Our own opinion upon this interesting subject is already before our readers; we shall therefore proceed without further delay to fortify the judgment we have given on another point by the following extract upon the relative value of the gospels and apostolical epistles.
“ The third proposition of Dr. Maltby, that (what he calls) the practical part of the epistles is substantially the same with the proverbs or the gospels, is not less remarkable. Not to dwell upon the inaccurate assumption of equality between the practical lessons of the gospels and the proverbs, is it the fact that the epistles did not enlarge the code of practical instruction presented to us by Christ himself? If even the word practical be confined to morality (which possibly the author designs), many moral duties are distinctly treated in the epistles alone; as, for instance, the duties of husbands and wives, of fathers and children, of masters and servants, of citizens and subjects, of the members of a church and their spiritual governors. And if the import of the word be extended, as it ought to be, to every branch of active duty, the epistles may be considered as making still larger additions to our practical lessons; for what may be called the practical part of religion is taught chiefly in the epistles. Nor is this fuller developement of duties in the writings of the first followers of Christ any disparagement of the gospels. It was in religion as it is in nature; the sun did not reach its meridian at once, but adapted itself to the eye of the spectators. The gospels, and the gospels alone, probably were suited to the actual exigences of the moment; and our Lord himself intimated, that in happier periods a fuller revelation would be granted: “I have many things to say unto you, but "cannot bear them now:'- When He, the Spirit of truth, is
come, he will guide you into all' truth:'-' he shall teach
you all things :' - he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.' Such being the fact, it is no depreciation of the gospels to say, that, alone, they less perfectly exhibit the scheme of christianity; to affirm of a part, that it does not accomplish the object of the whole. The religious creed and taste of that man are indeed suspicious, who, in the smallest degree, overlooks or undervalues the books of the evangelists. They present us religion as taught, and more
especially as practised, by Christ himself. They release it from its abstract form, and give it a shape and character which we may comprehend and imitate. They release us from the risk of transcribing into our own character the blemishes of any human model, by displaying God himself employed in the duties of man. Their sublime simplicity, their exquisite pathos, their devout as well as practical spirit, their appeal to the best feelings, their condescension to the weakest understanding; all constitute them a choice part of the dowry presented by Christ to his church. Such being their intrinsic worth, it is not less unnecessary than unsafe to exalt them at the expense of any other portion of the sacred volume. Nothing is gained to religion by dashing together the tables on which its lessons are inscribed. He will best fill up the doctrinal outline of christianity, who studies the gospels by the strong light of the epistles; and he best reduce its doctrines to practice, who illustrates the apostolic doctrines in the one, by the life of Christ in the other. Whether it is that God is pleased signally to mark his abhorrence of any attempt to separate the study of these divine books; or that a tendency to such errors has suggested this
very separation; the exclusive study of either has been often found to land men in the opposite errors of Socinianism or Antinomianism. Thus favouritism in religion has betrayed the cause it was perhaps designed to serve. The books of scripture have, as it were, refused to act alone; and men who have begun by despising a part of the sacred writings, have ended by mistaking or abusing the whole.” (P. 46.)
If it were worth while after the preceding observations to bring further proof of Dr. Maltby's Socinian propensities, we should stop to notice his proposition to substitute for the entire copy of the scriptures, a volume judiciously selected from Cappe's Life of Christ, that is from a life of Christ written by a known Socinian; but we pass this by in order to leave space for one or two considerations, which awfully press upon our minds on the review of the episodical controversy before us: considerations which we could wish to press upon those in whose hands resides the power of ecclesiastical preferment, with all the energy with which they will permit us to approach them. The first reflection which occurs is, whether a church founded on scriptural articles, but fostering in its lap a horde of Pelagian or Socinian ministers, can possibly support itself, even when not opposed by any extraordinary zeal on the part of sectaries and dissenters. And secondly, if this question must be answered in the negative, what is the peril of that crisis when a church so supported is violently attacked by swarms of opponents, many of whom have clothed their naked deformity with the armour so injudiciously cast aside by her natural and sworn defenders. While the church was sinking into latitudinarianism, the Method