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teleton of cando nuts and with the experietence, and suble frailty
Of Dealtry's “ Review," then, we cannot help remarking in the ouiset, that it carries on its face no small share of that affectation of candour and good humour, mixed at the same time with malicious hints and uncharitable imputations, which to a discerning eye clearly marks the experienced controversialist. There is a shew of moderation in one sentence, and suppressed indignation ju the next. He bewaily at one moment, the frailty of man, bis prepossessions and his ignorance, and then, before be dips liis pen again in the ink, he ascribes the opposition of his antagonists to the inspiration of the Devil. “ He is satistied,” he says, “ that a controversial spirit is a bad spirit; and that most of us who engage in this warfare, are occasionally betrayed into expressions for which we ought to be sorry;" and yet this apothegm is uttered almost immediately after he had attributed to the suggestions and impulses of the Archfiend, every attempt to canvass or thwart the proceedings of the Bible Society.
« Is it likely, that the Prince of this world should behold the probable subversion of his kingdom, (by means of the Society,) without an effort to save it? In the early period of the Church, he availed himself of falsehood and persecution. No calumny was spared which could iropeach the character of the christian. We are not ignorant of his devices; a plentiful store of poisoned arrows remains still in his hands ; but there are few, I trust, which may not easily be repelled by the shield of truth.""
After all, we could almost venture to say, that Mr. Dealtry sees clearly into the real state of the question. Mr. Dealtry is a man of an acute and a luminous understanding, and is not likely himself to be deceived hy all the trash and the cant of many with whom he is compelled to associate. He appears, indeed, to write upon the subject with a certain levity of manner, from which we should almost suspect that liis friends no less than his enemies come in for their share of his ridicule. In fact, Mr. Dealtry writes on this subject, very like a man who is inclined to laugh at the whole affair.
“ I conceive it to be no question,” says he, “ either of mine or of the Bible Society, wliether Mr. Freshfield may be permitted to pray to God or not; whether the landholders of St. Pancras approve or disapprove of a new church in their parish ; whether the Evangelical Diary be a wise or a foolish publication; whether the Editor (Mr. Norris) or Bishop Burnet be most sound in the interpretation of the twentieth Article; whether the lecturers in churches be essential to the welfare of their congregations, or are to be esteemed only as an excrescence; whether the Vestry at Hackney consist of eminent theologians, or be constituted after
the manner of other vestries; whether a Welsh word should be spelt with an additional w, or without one,” &c.
Amusement, in short, appears to have been his chief object and solace in composition, when he could no longer withstanic the earnest entreaties of his friends to put forth a pamphlet Thus, we find him sti] disposed to make merry, even when he advances to meet the charges which, he says, have been mad, against his favourite society; which he states in the following manner :
66 Ist. li does not circulate the bible: it disseminates tracti. When this was no longer tenable, the enemy turned round, and proscribed the Society, because,
“ 2d. It does circulate the bible, and disseminates no tracts. The fact of distributing the Scriptures was converted into a ground of accusation!
“ 3d. It is a Dissenting Society!
« 4.th. It is not a Dissenting Society! Happy would it be for the Church of England, if such were the case! We should no longer be exposed to the hazard of baneful communications !
5th. It disseminates the Scriptures with comments! " 6th. It dares to send bibles into the world without comments ! to the marvellous increase of heresy, and the manifold danger of religion and the church!
“ 7th. It contains within itself the seeds of dissolution: it is a bubble that must presently burst!
“ 8th. It is a powerful confederation, and will subvert the estan blishments both of Church and State!
« 9th. Its machinations are secret!
“ 10th. It is the most noisy and clamorous creature upon the face of the earth!
“ Ilth. It introduces every where a false and spurious charity!
“ 12th. Wherever it goes it excites nothing but quarrels and debate!
“ 13th. It is a new institution : history tells of nothing like it!
$ 14th. It is an old institution, established by Pharisees and revived by Puritans !"
· It has long been observed, that there is a inethod in certain kinds of madness; and that kind of it which is assumed is perhaps the most methodical. Feeling himself unable to answer the charges which are actually urged by Mr. Norris on the best possible grounds, against the spirit and tendency of the Bible Society, Mr. D. endeavours to conceal his weakness by turning the question into a laugh. Whoever seriously accused the Bible Society of not circulating the bible ? or who among the oppo. ments of that Society has ever converted the fact of distributing
he Scriptures into a ground of accusation? To this the authơ. of the Examination replies,
“ How shall I express my astonishment at the bold wickedness of this remark? The fact of distributing the Scriptures was conrerted into a ground of accusation ! Never! The mode of its listributing them has often been objected to,—and the fact of its not accompanying them with the book of Common Prayer or any proper commentary ;-but the fact of distributing the Scriptures Never! This is the odious imputation which, as Dr. Marsh long ago observed, other advocates of the institution have endeavoured to fix on their opponents : but in vain! It has been again and gain protested against, with sentiments of just indignation and abhorrence. And yet Mr. D., whilst he proceeds to repeat the base and malicious slander, with a degree of effrontery of which I recollect no previous example, professes that he is repeiling poison. ed arrows by the shield of truth ?”
Mr. Dealtry's pamphlet is divided into two chapters; the first « on the leading principles of the ' Practical Exposition' and of the Bible Society;" the second “ on the mistakes and mis, conceptions of the author of the Practical Exposition." ;
“Of the leading principles ascribed to the work just mentioned, one in Mr. Dealtry's charitable judgment is, “ that the Editor considers the reading of the Scriptures as of little or no service without the aid of a preacher;" and, in support of this charge, be makes a reference to eight or ten pages in Mr. Norris's Practical Exposition. We maintain, however, in opposition to Mr. Dealtry's conclusion, that Mr. Norris has no where stated such a sentiment. To this the author of the Examination replies,
“ I have very diligently and minutely examined all those pages of Mr. Norris's book to which Mr. D. refers as his authority for this assertion. I find him insisting, indeed, with due force on the necessity and utility of a preaching ministry: but not one syllable is there throughout which can, with any semblance of propriety, be construed into a declaration that he considers the reading of the Scriptures, either as being of no service, or even as being of little service, without the aid of a preacher! The passages to which the note (Mr. D.'s reference) directs us, are too long to be here quoted. This consideration alone prevents me from strength: ening my remonstrance, by producing them. But if those passages will not really bear me out in it, let any portion of them whatever be cited in confutation of my statement, and I must yield at once.
To have quoted one plain and positive sentence, could it have been found, would have placed his charge beyond the possibility of contradiction. But it could not be found. The next expedient, then, which promised best to answer his purpose, was, to be
vague and general--to run the chance of having that charge acceded to in consequence of the multitude of his references. Few rearlers, perhaps, are at the pains of looking into these authorities at all, and fewer still of investigating them attentively. I repeat that Mr. D. has here attributed to the Editor a sentiment which the Editor has no where expressed."
The next charge brought against Mr. Norris, under the de. nomination of “ a general principle,” is “ dislike of the free and general circulation of the word of God.” It is almost unnecessary to add, that this charge is as groundless and unwarrantable as the other. The Editor of the Practical Exposition has in no part of his book manifested either dislike or disapprobation of the freest and widest distribution of the sacred volume: he objects only to the want of discrimination and prudence in its circulation, and to the obvious tendency which such a profuse and - thoughtless bestowal of it must have to degrade it in the estimation of the people. It must indeed be confessed, that it is not possible in all cases to escape imposition, or to prevent the abuse of benevolence, and all the instances of such abuse, with respect to bibles, which have hitherto been proved, would be entitled to comparatively little attention, were it not, as the au. thor of the Examination observes,
« A notorious practice of the Bible Society to desire the public to estimate their merits by thesums of money they spend and by the number of bibles they distribute. Where there is such an evident propensity for boasting, and the sources which feed this vain-glory are ir the occupation of the boasters, is there not some reason to appre. hend that it may be supplied too abundantly? If the Cicero of one district rises at an anniversary meeting, and states that a thousand bibles have been given away in his neighbourhood, the l'emosthenes of an adjoining district will cut but a sorry figure if he can only say that five hundred have been given away in his.”
Mr. Dealtry says, that instead of a pamphlet, he could have written a folio on Mr. Norris's inis statements. We believa him ; for whenever a man trusts to his imagination rather than to facts, and draws conclusions, in direct defiance of candour und fair reasoning, the limits to his undertaking will be dictated by the gratification of bis party, and not by the extent of his subject.
The mistakes and misconceptions of the Editor of the Practical Exposition are estimated by Mr. Dealtry as being fifty in number. Now the first question that occurs relative to these mistakes and misconceptions is, upon what authority did Mr. Norris inake his statements, and upon what authority are they contradicted by the present author. Generally speaking, then, the authority Xx
чрог VOL. V. JUNE, 1816.
the Christs, but Picious me on the mud avouonstances bu
upon which the statements in the Practical Exposition are founded was public documents, of various descriptions, such as newspaper reports, and publications by Auxiliary Bible Societies. Sometimes indeed the Editor trusted to private communications from people who had been present at Bible Society meetings, and who had taken notes of the principal speeches; but, as we have said, iu by far the greater number of instances, the sources of his information were public and avowed. With regard to Mr. Dealtry's authorities, on the other hand, they appear to us of the most suspicious nature. They are not only private and anonymous, but in several cases they are drawn from articles in the Christian Observer, of which it seems very probable that he himself, or one of his friends, is the author. All that Mr. D. is pleased to tell us, in relation to the sources of his knowledge on this question, is contained in the following sentence: “ I knew where to apply for intelligence, and I have obtained it chiefly from beneficed clergymen, who were thoroughly aco quainted with the circumstances which they relate.” Now, without attributing to Mr. Dealtry or his friends any very unworthy motives, we may be allowed to remark that it was altogether impossible for him to have thrown a greater degree of suspicion upon the credibility of his Review, than by this open avowal of secrecy and private understanding. When a man has a particular object in hand, and “ knows where to apply for intelligence," there is a prevailing chance that he will find only such intelligence as he wishes to receive.
Again, with regard to newspaper reports, we maintain that such articles, as to their spirit and general statements at least, are much more to be relied upon than the recollections of the speaker of an unpremeditated harangue. Every body must be aware that a person whose mind is on the stretch for the ideas of his next sentence is not the best judge either of what he is saying, or of the impression likely to be produced by his words ; and if, at the end of several months, when he finds that his speech has been publicly animadverted upon, he should come forward and state doubts as to the use of certain expressions which have been attributed to him, offering to substitute a report of his own niaking, free from all the objectionable passages, what effect would his remonstrance have on the minds of impartial men! Besides, as Mr. Norris observes in one of his notes, it is well known to be the practice of the Bible Society auxiliarists to have short-hand writers. in attendance at their meetings, and in some instances to have committees to prepare for the public papers a full account of the proceedings of the day. Taking up the matter, however, on its own merits, we are compelled to pronounce that statements resting on the