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only of what arises from the natural and almost uniform tendency of circumstances on the infirmities of our common nature. Now, Sir, those who would uphold our Church by taking this narrow ground, seem to me not sufficiently to distinguish between nicety and wisdom: between that generous and candid temper which allows
every principle to stand on its true footing; and that fretfulness which, by pushing some points of importance indeed, but inferior importance, beyond their natural limit, rather weakens than promotes the strength of the whole. The energy of the true churchman, his zeal, his love, his fervour, will ever rest on the main points of the Christian faith. Upon other subjects, and upon the discipline of the Church amongst the rest, he will fix a steady and consistent regard; but he will never so far mistake as to be over-wise; he will never obtrude minor points of truth on occasions where they have no place; he will never sacrifice to doubtful, and at best inferior considerations, some of the noblest opportunities of glorifying God. Whether any measure of this kind of feeling may, however unintentionally, have operated to the disadvantage of the Bible Society, I will not undertake to say. I will only venture to affirm, that the more maturely I have been able to weigh this great question in all its bearings, the more decidedly am I convinced that the particular interests of the Church of England will be advanced by the exertions of her members in the circulation of the Holy Scriptures.
And indeed, Sir, if this view of the case generally were not so clear in itself, or so strongly confirmed by the uniform experience of every age of the Church, as it appears to my mind to be, I should still, I confess, be backward to believe that the apostolical Church of these realms would ever really suffer by her zeal in distributing that word of God, which first brought her out from the corruptions of the Papacy, and which can alone preserve in her the spirit by which that separation was made. And surely, Sir, to the mere surmises of those who would tell us of future and hidden evils, of secret sources of mischief, of unknown seeds of decay, it is fair to oppose surmises of a contrary nature; it is fair to avow our hopes of the blessing of the Almighty, of that blessing which is the real strength of the church. And indeed I think any one who has taken even a hasty view of the proceedings of the British and Foreign Bible Society, will testify, that, so far from any of the fears of the apprehensive having been realized, those proceedings have tended to increase the piety and zeal of the members of our church, to seat her more firmly in the affections of her people, to whom she is dispensing the most im
portant benefits, and thus in fact to strengthen the surest foundations of her power.
But, Sir, I am told that all these and similar" considerations are irrelevant, for there is another society which might have accomplished all that we have done. But on this point, I would only ask, whether any one acquainted with the two institutions will undertake to say, that if the British and Foreign Bible Society had never existed, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge would have performed all that she has effected--that is, that that Society would have distributed upwards of a million of Bibles and Testaments, in addition to those which she has actually circulated?' Nay, I would ask again, whether any candid person will say that that excellent institution would even have made the increased exertions which we have all seen and admired (none of us more than the numerous individuals, who, like myself, are members of both Societies), if the impulse had not been given, I do not say, by the British and Foreign Bible Society, but by that blessing of God which has rested on the dissensination of his own word. Sir, it is the interest excited in behalf of this simple and unadorned plan of distributing the Bible without note or comment, to which the new vigour of this, as well as of various other important religious institutions, is in a great measure to be traced. But, independ
ently of these considerations, it really does appear to me, that, when a grand scheme of bene-volence is on foot, and has prospered for ten or eleven years greatly beyond the expectations of even its warmest admirers, it is one of the most unfortunate arguments that can be devised to turn round upon it, and say, If you would but have remained quiet, we would have done all this good for you. 0, when will the unholy spirit of rivalry be extinguished in our breasts, and no other emulation be known but that of outstripping each other in the sacred race of charity! Instead of uncertain .speculations on the probability of events now beyond our reach, would it not be a better proof of a truly Christian spirit to adore that gracious Providence which works by means little thought of by man, which grants success when and where it pleases, and which advances by the concurrent efforts of different benevolent institutions, the common end of the divine glory in the salvation of the world:
For my own part, Sir, it is little for me to say that, with these views of the subject, I shall continue to support, insignificant as that support is, the great cause in which we are engaged, which contains in fact in the one unbending principle of circulating the Bible alone, the answer to every fair objection, and the motive to the most zealous exertions. The
most formidable objection against this Institution which I can imagine, would be, if it could be truly said, that the members of it were not living under the influence of the great doctrines and duties of the Book which they disseminate. To aim at a practical result from our meetings is the duty of us all. I am sure the celebration of the anniversaries of our subordinate Societies has a tendency to promote this end. Yes, Sir, we do not come here to deal out insipid commendations; we do not come to display ourselves or triumph over others. We come to be animated in our high exertions; we come to have the baser passions of our nature subdued, and the holier affections of it enkindled; we come to learn the progress and success of our past efforts, and to cast an eager view over the boundless prospect which stretches on every side around us. And, whatever may be the varying sentiments of different minds in the moment of darkness and prejudice now, we may be assured that in the solemn hour when the brightening rays of eternity shall break in upon us, and all the pursuits and objects of men lie exposed in their native colours, we shall never repent of those measures which we may have taken for the diffusion of that stupendous revelation of Christ Jesus, which is our best consolation in this life and our only source of hope for the next.