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the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge has exhibited a laudable zeal, and an increased adaptation to the exigencies of the times. But it was not to these matters that we chiefly referred, when we spoke of the improved and improving character of the institution. Our reference was to the anxiety shewn at its Board for the improvement of its catalogue, by the insertion of works of a truly orthodox, evangelical, spiritual, and justly popular character, and by the exclusion of others of a contrary tendency. No person can have attended that Board without having witnessed the patience
from their intentions” than to make their magazine a paper for Sunday perusal, and that “the passage alluded to cannot, by any fair means, be made to bear such a construction." The Committee, certainly, best know their own intentions; and we are quite sure they mean no violation of the Lord's-day; but to add that the above passages cannot bear the popular construction, is a somewhat unguarded statement. Our own belief is, that the individual who wrote that paper, and who is publicly stated to have been a well-known and highly gifted layman, and not a member of the Committee, did mean what the words imply; but that the Committee did not observe their bearing till it was pointed out to them; and that they then disclaimed, as well they might, any such intention. But still, both in point of fact and in public estimation, the Committee's Magazine ranks with other papers published on Saturday for the poor man's Sunday reading, after his “family talk, and friendly walk, and Sabbath duties, and study of the Bible." We cannot but think, therefore, that it ought to be changed to a Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday paper ; which alteration would open a new market, banish the idea of rivalry, and shew the anxiety of the Committee to prevent even the appearance of evil in so solemn a matter as the due observance of the day of holy repose. If the change were conducted with care, and after ample and repeated notice, it needs not abridge the sale of a single copy. In mentioning this subject to many persons, we have heard but two replies to the above statements : one, that there would be a commercial difficulty on any other day than Saturday, because the country booksellers and stationers are in the habit of having a regular Saturday parcel of small works (that is, a parcel expressly delivered, in too many instances, late on Saturday night or on Sunday morning, for Sunday distribution); and the other, that, after all, though one would not openly encourage the Sunday reading of Penny, or even Saturday Magazines, yet as the working classes have often “plenty of time on that day, after they have done and served those good things ” — their talk, and walk, and Sabbath duties, and reading of the Bible-to read a®“ few pages,” they had better read the Saturday Magazine than Radical Newspapers and licentious trash. Neither of these replies appears to us to deserve the slightest consideration. In a matter of principle, an alleged commercial convenience, or a question of what worse thing men might do if they did not do this, is not an argument of any weight. We are to do what is right, at the hazard of all consequences.
We should not have alluded to this question in print, had we not reason to know that it has been frequently discussed in private ; and that the Committee, as they state in their sixth number, conscious of their own integrity, and not seeing how any man can mistake their views, see no reason for making the proposed alteration. Their integrity is unimpeachable ; but if a large class of pious and conscientious men, including not a few of the clergy, especially in the country, where the Magazine reaches their parish on the Sunday, feel a difficulty, it may surely be worth while to reconsider the question. The Committee after all its zealous and valuable labours, have been so harshly and unfairly dealt by in some quarters, and on some occasions, that we feel pain in offering any remark which may appear to wear an unfriendly aspect. But of this character are not the preceding observations. The Committee bave nothing to retract or compromise by altering the day of publication : they both meant right, and are satisfied they have chosen the best plan: but if they find that their own prospectus has unhappily given the public a wrong notion of their intentions, and that in point of fact they are currently identified with other works expressly published for Sunday reading, it surely deserves consideration, whether even yet they might not act wisely in changing the day,-especially after all that has of late occurred in regard to the due observance of the Sabbath. It would be a noble and a Christian proceeding for the Committee to say, Though we meant no evil, and discern none that of necessity attaches to our plan, yet as our good is evil spoken of, as our prospectus was misunderstood, and as in point of fact we are informed that our paper adds to the mass of Sunday selling and Sunday secular reading, we will change the day of its publication. Such an announcement would gladden the hearts and strengthen the hands of those who are endeavouring to promote a better observance of the Lord's-day, among the foremost of whom we rejoice to include some of the members of this very Committee.
and fairness with which objections are discussed, and the willingness expressed to make all needful alterations. Never did the Society number in its ranks so many truly pious and active friends as at the present moment; and never was there so vigilant, we might say so jealous, an eye over its publications. We do not believe that henceforth any work which can be shewn to possess powerful claims to be admitted, will be rejected; that any work against which a strong case shall be proved, will be left eventually unamended on the catalogue; or that any work will be removed without a conscientious assignment of cause*. If we should find ourselves wrong in this statement, we will acknowledge our error; but with our present belief we cannot but urge the claims of the Society upon the attention of every friend of the Church; and we earnestly deprecate every attempt to cripple its energies. It is a most equitable society; for it allows and invites its members without exception at its Monthly Board, where any one may ask any question, urge any objection, or vote against any thing that he considers exceptionable. It is the fault, therefore, of the collective body, if its proceedings are not what they ought to be ; and every individual shares the blame who has not done all in his power to correct every evil. This open constitution of the Board, which renders the Society an index of the actual state of opinion in the Church of England, is one of its most valuable characteristics, and we should strongly disapprove of any material alteration, which would take away from any member the privilege of attending the monthly business of the Society. One of its highly respected members, Mr. Benson, the Master of the Temple, has given notice of a motion at the meeting in July, for the appointment of a Committee in part elected by the members of the Society, instead of the present Standing Committee. Election and responsibility are necessary to the well-being and well-doing of all our societies ; and we so far hail Mr. Benson's proposition, and hope that it will be carried; but if it be intended that the proceedings of the Committee shall supercede the functions of the open Board, we more than doubt the propriety of the alteration, especially at this moment, when the Society is rising to unexampled magnitude and efficiency, and a process of fermentation is going on, which, however occasionally inconvenient, is likely to defecate it to a degree of purity which it has never yet enjoyed. Till the Society's present democratical constitution of an open board and universal suffrage becomes, what it has never yet been, an insuperable impediment to the transaction of business, we see no reason to abrogate it: but the election of its Committee is essential to its right conduct, and to the absence of that salutary principle may be traced most of the defects which have occurred in the Society's operations ; just as the miserable inefficiency, the obstinate prejudices, and the unpopular measures of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel have been the offspring of its anti-social and close-corporation constitution. How long would that Society have been permitted to fraternize with West-Indian slave-owners and Colonial Church-Unions, had there been either an open board or an elected committee to over-rule the dicta of a very few indi. viduals, who have hitherto shrouded the Society's proceedings in mystery', and shrunk even from an annual meeting of the members, lest a gleam of
A Correspondent lately complained in our pages of the removal of Gilpin's Lives of the Reformers. Mr. Cunningham has stated, in the columns of the Record, that the cause of that removal was that these works are tainted with Socinianism. We have not the books at hand to refer to, as umpires between the litigants; but Mr. Cunningham's statement shews that there may be good reasons for the removal of a book, which the public are not aware of. There is, however, much practical incon. venience in the silence and secrecy with which alterations and removals are conducted by the Standing Committee. The members of the Society ought to be furnished with such statements on these matters as may prevent misconception.
light should dart through a chink, and the Society be forced by public opinion to conduct its proceedings upon more liberal principles. Government having now diminished its grants, the Society supplicates, in despair, the public; who turn coldly away, and leave it to its own poverty-struck corporation dignity. The public do wrong: the Society is an ancient, venerable and eminently important institution, and, under a better system, might become an invaluable blessing to our multiplied colonial dependencies. There requires only an active, responsible, elected Committee, and the boon of membership to its subscribers, being members of the Church of England, to make it as prosperous as the most favoured institutions of the land. And why should it not be so? Why, when the Church Missionary Society has this year increased its already large funds by some seven thousand sovereigns, bringing its income to nearly fifty thousand pounds, and the Christian Knowledge Society has flourished after a similar proportion, should this ancient Church of England Institution languish ? Let the slave-cultured Codrington estates reply in part; and the remainder of the reply is not less obvious. We are, however, deeply grateful for what a few zealous and judicious individuals have done to improve the character and proceed. ings of that Society, and most earnestly and respectfully would we entreat them not to relax in their valuable labours, in disgust at the little success which has hitherto attended them. In due time they will reap, if they faint not, and a more noble work they could scarcely perform than to renovate this ancient institution. The incubus of West-India slavery will now be taken off by other hands; and more than one other incubus will fall off of itself, when light and air are allowed duly to ventilate the Suciety's apartments.
But to return to our thesis. We have, in the publications noticed at the head of this list, a specimen of what is passing in regard to the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. In that Society, and in what is called “ the Religious Public" who take an interest in its proceedings, we may trace three, or rather four, distinct classes—we will not use the invidious word parties. At one extreme we find those who prefer things as they used to be, when a few individuals practically ruled the Society, and vindicated those doctrines and proceedings for which the deceased Dr. Warton's Death-bed Scenes form a text-book. At the other extreme we find those who are contented with nothing but what is hammered upon their own anvil ; whom no practicable improvements are likely to please ; who contrive to carp at every Missionary, Bible, Tract, and Education Society in existence; who seem to love controversy for its own dear sake; and whose hyper-criticisms would find knots in bulrushes, and turn mole-hills into mountains. All our religious societies are more or less incommoded with these unreasonable, though we believe sincere and honest, spirits. We are not aware that they are very numerous in the Christian Knowledge Institution.
There is a middle division, which contains those who are zealously labouring for the improvement of the Society in a spirit of meekness and mutual forbearance. This division comprises, as we have before intimated, individuals of two classes, who, though differing in many of their views, coalesce in their desire to improve the character and workings and publications of the Society, and to give to the world the doctrine of Christ, and the duties of his followers, with as little as may be of party asperity and vexatious janglings.
We are no friends to unnatural coalitions; nor should we augur any good, but much evil, from the sacrifice of any doctrine or precept which the sacrificer believed to be a part of the word of God. But very different is a spirit of mutual conciliation, which leads to candid inquiry ; each party holding in the end his own opinion in meekness, if he cannot honestly adopt that of his opponent.
Let us try the Society by this test. The publications before us notice three tracts which the writers consider objectionable. Let us take the first of them—the work entitled Death-bed Scenes. The first extreme before mentioned, would approve of this publication : at least we judge so by the fact of its having been placed on the list of the Society, which could not have been the case had it not found some fautor to patronize it, and who of course approved of its doctrines and spirit. The other extreme would condemn altogether the Society which has admitted it, and vote at once for its annihilation as an incorrigible institution. The two middle classes would fairly meet together, and discuss its contents, and agree to abide by the issue. Now, let this be done ; and if we must have party names in the church, though we strongly deprecate them, let the party which Dr. Warton stigmatizes under the name of Evangelical be fairly heard by those who are currently styled Orthodox ; and let the standard of appeal, subordinately to the word of God, be the truth-loving documents of our own Church. To such a friendly discussion the author of the publication Number 1. in our list, invites the members of the Society; and we shall best subserve his object by quoting some of his most important statements. The test, then, will be this : Will the majority of the Society, when the real character of this work is known, continue it on their list? If they will, deliberately, and with their eyes open, then is the Society not constituted so as to afford much hope of its proceedings; but if it will retrace its steps, and put aside this very popular book-induced thereto, upon candid examination, by a conviction that its doctrines are unscriptural and its spirit unbecoming—then may we fairly say that the Society deserves the increased esteem of all the friends of the Church and of our common Christianity, and confidently hope, that, having made this sacrifice to truth, its members will be anxious to proceed in the same track wherever truth may lead. And this is all that any man has a right to expect from any body of men assembled for a given object.
The “ Clerical Member of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge” opens the discussion as follows:
“ In undertaking the painful task of exposing the doctrinal errors and the gricvous calumnies of the work entitled · Death-bed Scenes and Pastoral Conversations, it is necessary to remind the reader of the circumstances under which that work appears before the public. The three volumes were originally published in succession, with the announcement on the title-page, and in the advertisements, that they were written By the late John Warton, D. D.,' and · Edited by his Sons.' We accordingly find a posthumous preface by the author, and two or three explanatory prefaces written since his death by his sons. The author states that the manuscripts would be found by bis children among his papers when he was taken from them: that they might print them, if they thought proper, but that during his own life they could not be permitted to see the light : that the writer was fearless of criticism, as be should be mouldering in the dust, and it would fly harmless over his head ;' adding in conclusion, “And now, reader, farewell! When this comes into thy hands I shall be beyond thy censures or thy praise.' Dr. Warton's sons explain in their prefaces the circumstances under which their deceased father drew up bis manuscript.
« On the publication of the work, notwithstanding all the above solemn asseverations, it was doubted whether it was, what it professed to be, the production of a deceased Dr. Warton edited by his sons; and subsequent inquiries led to the discovery that the name of the writer was fictitious, and all the other circumstances above-mentioned mere invention. Hence the authenticity of the publication as a record of facts, which it professes to be, is entirely destroyed; and it becomes entitled to no credit but what may be due to it as a work of fiction, though published under the very questionable morality of a deceptive title, and with the solemn asseverations above narrated.
“ Under these very doubtful circumstances this anonymous or pseudonymous work was unhappily adopted by the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. With
some inconsistency, however, the Society, in placing the book upon its list, expunged the name of Dr. Warton and his pretended sons, doubtless as well knowing them to be fictitious, while it retained the whole machinery of pretended prefaces grounded on that very fiction. Nor was the inconsistency confined to the Society's catalogue, for the same inconsistency appears on the title-pages of the Society's copies; for while in the full work the fictitious name is omitted, in the tale called ' Penitence,' published separately, it is retained ; as any member may see by looking at the shelf of specimen books in the Society's public office. These may appear trifling matters, but they shew that the work has no character of authority, and that the Society felt it could not give its sanction to the imposition of a false name professing to be a true one. The pretended editors, however, (query, the author himself ?) boast much of the Society's sanction. The Society for promoting Christian Knowledge,' say they, having recently placed it upon their catalogue, after so decisive a proof of the good opinion of that venerable body, we can have nothing further in point of credit to expect, or even to wish. It is well known that such a distinction is not to be obtained by partiality, or purchased by bribes, or ever granted without the most deliberate and scrupulous caution.' So say the pretended Dr. Warton's pretended sons ; but the following pages will shew that the Society, in this instance, has by no means used that ' deliberate and scrupulous caution' above alleged; for it is only the want of such caution that can account for the admission of this work on the Society's list, it being impossible to suppose that the members of the Society will approve of the work after its character is known.
“ As the Society has struck out the name of Dr. Warton, it will not be further alluded to in the following pages; but the work will be spoken of as anonymous, as it appears in the Society's copies and catalogue. The professed author says, even in the Society's edition, that the severest criticism will fly harmless over my head, when I am mouldering in the dust;' and if this be so, no offence or pain can be given to any living individual. If it be not true, then the censures fall upon an anonymous writer, who will have no reason to be offended with them, provided they be written, as they ought to be, in a spirit of meekness as well as truth. One thing only is requested of those who may peruse these strictures, that they will not judge them to have been suggested by an over-fastidious and hypercritical spirit, until they have patiently examined them, as far as they apply to the more serious and dangerous errors of doctrine in this work. These will be noticed under separate heads.
“The object in view will be, to expose the very dangerous tendency of the book in matters of vital consequence to the souls of men. It is hoped that this will be done with all moderation consistent with that close investigation of the erroneous doctrines advanced which may be necessary to guard multitudes of incautious readers, to whom the whole style of the work is calculated to be pleasing. And here, those who in simplicity of heart may have read the author's book, without detecting the errors which it contains, are requested to favour these observations with a candid perusal, till they can fairly satisfy their mind upon the subject, and judge from actual investigation whether these objections are well-grounded or not : for in this consists one of the most dangerous tendencies of this book, that the erroneous sentiments are so interwoven with the whole course of the argument or narrative, which may be going on with another drift, that the mind unawares receives the sentiment, and is insensibly possessed with new and erroneous views, or is more confirmed in those which it had already imbibed.
“ It is hoped that these remarks may be the means of opening the eyes of some of those clergymen who may have too unreservedly commended this book to various members of their flocks, with whom their authority may have had some influence in causing these erroneous notions to be received with less suspicion. They have themselves taken the books without the least mistrust, in too much reliance upon the source from which they came, and in that confidence which it is highly desirable that members of the Church of England should be able to place in the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge; and, having very slightly run through the interesting narratives and cleverly-conceived dialogues, they have not so minutely examined the correctness of the positions as to feel any difficulty in recommending the book generally; and even if some statements have a little staggered them, the character of the Society has had such weight that they have dismissed these doubts, as over-refined scruples and fastidious niceties of verbal criticism.
“ The main object in these remarks will certainly be to shew the inconsistency of the author's views with the Holy Scriptures; but as there are no divines who do not profess to take their positions from Scripture, however opposed those positions may be to each other, a discussion might be opened which there would be little hope of soon adjusting : large quotations will therefore be made from the Homilies and Articles of our Church, which were framed for the express purpose of excluding divisions from the Church, and reducing to one common interpretation of Scripture those, at least, who minister within her pale.