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§ VIII. Of the Badness of this Formulary, in respect
of Faithfulness, Matter, and Form, the Imposers of it on the Schools are conscious.
I. First, of the badness of that one of its features, which consists in its being destitute of the above-mentioned necessary securities for faithfulness.
To the weight of those considerations, which, to all thinking minds, could not but have been present from the first, -and by which, as above shewn, the conduct of the Scottish Church, as applied to this very species of instrument, had, in so conspicuous a manner and degree, been governed, let any one judge whether, at this time of day, it was possible for the rulers of any Christian church to escape being sensible.
But the proof rests not in any such universally applicable presumption. Behold it in their own practice.
Of the new system of religion, which, as above seen, under the name of Chief Truths of the Christian Religion, out of the funds raised by subscription, the Church of England Bishops pay subscribers for adopting, mention has there been made. In this « Catechetical Instruction" (for such it is, and on the title-page is said to be)—meaning a discourse in the form of question and answer,-may be seen a cluster of references-nor that a scanty one-with which each answer is garnished.
Of the intimation thus, howsoever unintendedly afforded, what is the import? - What but an acknowledgement-an acknowledgement, tacit indeed, but not the less expressive—that, in administering, in the instance of the old catechism, in lieu of the matter of the Bible, the produce of their own brains-without a shadow of proof, either of its being in reality, or so much as of its being by them really regarded as being, a fair deduction from the text of the sacred original,-the course taken by their predecessors, and persevered in by these their successors, was altogether an unwarrantable one.
Of this so newly adopted practice what has been the object? Manifestly to do what was found convenient, and deemed as little inconsistent as might be, with the spirit of their policy and the constant tenor of their practice,-towards providing themselves, if not with a defence, with something like a screen, behind which to hide themselves, in this one instance, from a reproach so just and obvious.
But, of this expedient what is the fruit ?--Justification ? No: nor any thing but greater condemnation. Except another tacit and unintended, but not the less indisputable, acknowledgementan acknowledgement of the insufficiency and inaptitude of the old mumpsimus, on the back of which they thus clap this their new sumpsimus,--what good purpose does it answer?- None whatever. The
passages to which these references are made had these passages themselves, as in the Scottish Ca. techism, been subjoined in terminis,-such appendages as these would indeed have served as testsas tests of the justness of the interpretation put all along upon the sacred original, and of the legitimacy of the inferences deduced from it: as tests of the justness of the representation all along actually so given, and thereby as securities against misrepresentation and spurious addition. In that case, to no eye would the alleged copy ever have presented itself, but to that same eye would the test of the faithfulness of that same copy have presented itself at that same time.
Such would have been the case, if, for their accompaniment and support, the passages respectively referred to had been added to these references. But these references, as they stand nakedthese strings of figures, by all which put together, no idea but those of number and place is conveyed -to any such good purpose, or to any other good purpose, in what way is it that they can serve? To no eye, at the same time with the pretended picture, will the test thus pretended to be applied be present ;-to no eye, at the same time with the pretended picture, will the sacred original be ever thus made visible. Of the thousands and myriads of eyes, under which these dead-letter figures are placed, by how many is there any the least proba. bility, that, between the original and this pretended miniature, any confrontation will ever be made ?
By curiosity or sectarian jealousy, suppose here and there an individual—suppose this or that professional, or any other scrutinizer, led to undertake the confrontation. By this eye supposewhat at least, for argument's sake, may be supposed-an instance of unfaithfulness discovered. What matters it?- What care the authors of it? Nothing. The answer is ready. So many men, so many minds. Of the subject in question, many parts are confessedly as obscure and “hard to be understood"-s0 St. Peter says of St. Paul-as they are sacred and important. Such and such are the interpretations, which to those eyes presented themselves as the true and proper ones. As for themselves, as men, they are but fallible. Be it so: but, as rulers of the Church of England, theirs is the interpretation, which, at every hazard, the other members—the subject-members of the same Church-are, as well by law as by conscience, bound to follow.
Here then are references: but here are no quotations. What was wanted was—the semblance of a test : what could not be endured was the reality of a test. Meantime the acknowledgement remains: the acknowledgement given of the need of a test:-of the need of such a test in such a case :the untrustworthiness of every picture, the faithfulness of which, as towards the original, bears not this sort of testimony upon the face of it. This acknowledgement stares their old catechism in the face, and testifies against it.
Another truth, these Chief truths serve to prove, and this too without the need of any very close inspection. This is that innovation is not regarded by them as a plea in bar, where the matter of it accords with their convenience: for example, that, if it did accord with their convenience, means would not be wanting for the abolishing of this old Catechism, or for the reform of some of the acknowledged imperfections, of that Liturgy, of which it makes a part :-not to speak of any such radical reform, as that of laying that same body of solid laudanum upon the shelf.
The sort of regard, shewn by these upholders of the Church of England religion to this handiwork of their predecessors to this substitute to the book containing the religion of Jesus—compare with it (for the contrast is not an uninstructive one) the sort of regard, paid by these same persons to that sacred book itself.
In the Catechism they continue to exhibit and by their own sole authority (this of course regards the whole corporation from the beginning, and not merely the present members) a substitute to the Bible :-to both Testaments, Old and New. The words, from beginning to end, their own: not one quoted from the original: not one so much