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Title: A Letter to the Right Hon. Lord Bexley - containing a statement to the committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society
Author: Cunningham, Francis A. (Francis Aloysius), 1862-1935
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the 1827 J. Hatchard and Son edition, by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org

                       THE RIGHT HON. LORD BEXLEY,

                               CONTAINING A
                                  OF THE
                    British and Foreign Bible Society,
                                AS TO THE
                      RELATIONS OF THAT INSTITUTION,
                          FRANCE, THE VALLEYS OF

                                * * * * *

                       BY FRANCIS CUNNINGHAM, M. A.
                      RECTOR OF PAKEFIELD, SUFFOLK.

                                * * * * *

                   J. HATCHARD AND SON, 187, PICCADILY.


                                * * * * *



The circumstances which have given rise to the publication of the
following letter are briefly these:—At the departure of the Author for
the continent, in the month of April, 1826, he tendered his services
generally to the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society; and
received from that body the power of disposing of a certain number of
copies of Bibles and Testaments, at any opportunities which might present
themselves to him on his journey.  Of this power he availed himself; and,
on his return to London, in the month of December, he went to the
Committee to give an account of the trust which had been committed to
him.  Whilst he was doing this, it was natural that he should add to his
statement a few observations, connected with the objects of the
Institution itself; and more especially, as various errors, into which it
was charged with having fallen, had become the subjects of public
discussion, both in Scotland and in England.  These observations Lord
Bexley, one of the Vice-Presidents of the Bible Society, then occupying
the Chair of the Committee, requested, in the name of those over whom he
presided, might be communicated in writing; and, in compliance with this
request, the following statement was sent.

After some delay, the author, at the suggestion of several friends, has
been led to make it public, hoping that it may supply to the supporters
of the Bible Society new motives for earnestly and generously persevering
in their efforts to promote the circulation of the Scriptures; and, to
the assailants of that Institution, an answer to some of the charges
which they, in his apprehension, have hastily and unwarrantably brought

The Author can only hope this document may be a means of forwarding the
interests of the Bible Society—an Institution, which, in his mind,
whatever may be the evil resulting from the circulation of the apocryphal
books, has sown the seed of more important benefits to mankind than even
the Reformation itself.

                                * * * * *

_Pakefield_, _April_ 5, 1827.


                                * * * * *

      MY LORD,

In compliance with a wish so kindly expressed by your Lordship, I shall
now endeavour to communicate in writing the substance of what I took the
liberty of stating in the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible
Society.  The observations there made chiefly respected the state of
religion on the continent of Europe—especially as connected with that
institution whose Committee I had the honour of addressing; and they were
exclusively such as had been suggested to me during a journey of eight
months through the various countries, to which it was my endeavour to
draw the attention of your Lordship and the Committee.

I must beg leave, however, to preface this brief and inadequate statement
by two or three observations.

In the first place, I must intreat that if this written document should
not be found precisely to correspond in expression or detail with the
address to the Committee, the difference may be ascribed, not to
intention, but to a defect of memory.  That address was altogether
extempore; and my recollection of particular expressions I may have
employed, is very imperfect.

In the next place, I wish to have it understood, that although I should
not have committed this statement to the press, except at the wish of
some members of the Committee of the Bible Society, I, myself am alone
responsible for the facts and opinions it contains.  It was highly
satisfactory to me to discover that many of the views taken by myself of
the subjects upon which I spoke, corresponded with those of a large
proportion of the Committee.  In other points, I might not be so
fortunate as to agree with that majority.  But, whatever might be the
amount of that agreement or disagreement, I desire alone to be made
responsible for the contents of this paper.

I must also be permitted to say that, in this communication, a few names
and particulars have been suppressed, which I did not hesitate to produce
to the Committee.  It is obvious that circumstances which might safely be
named within walls, from which they were not likely to escape; might
produce inconvenience, if published and circulated upon the continent of

I shall now proceed to give the substance of what I ventured to offer to
the Committee.

My first visit was to France, where I remained almost continually
journeying for several months.  It was a satisfaction to me to arrive at
Paris in time to attend the annual public meeting of the Bible Society.
I can truly say that the meeting was in the highest degree interesting.
The character of the reports, especially those of the Ladies’ and
Mechanics’ Society—the attendance of so many ministers of religion—the
introduction of extempore speaking—the feeling of warmth and zeal which
seemed almost universally to prevail—left me no doubt but that a deep
interest pervaded the minds of large numbers on the subject of the
circulation of the Scriptures.  I afterwards visited many of the
auxiliaries, great and small, of the Society in different provinces, and
the hopes formed at the meeting at Paris were not disappointed.  It
happened to me to pass through one small village in a very solitary
situation in the centre of France, where three associations had been
formed—one of children, another of young women, and a third of the
population at large.  In this village, under a very pious and able
minister, Mr. Duvivier, it was interesting to observe to what an extent
education had gone hand in hand with the circulation of the word of God.
Some of the children in the school repeated, as a Sunday task, not less
than two hundred verses of the New Testament.

With many of the larger auxiliaries of the Society, I was particularly
gratified.  In some districts the circulation of the Scriptures was very
considerable.  In others, much still remained to be done.  The Protestant
ministers were the general agents and protectors of the institution; and,
there were many of them full of activity.  Two collateral benefits of the
Bible Society were particularly obvious in France,—in the first place,
the truly valuable object which it supplied to many pious, active, and
benevolent minds, which powers might have been otherwise unemployed: and
in the next place, the rallying point which it afforded for the really
pious of all classes.  It is difficult to say to what an extent the
society has enlarged the efficiency, and strengthened the union of the
religious body amongst the Protestants.

Such was the influence of these and other circumstances on my own mind,
that I often found occasion to observe to my fellow travellers, that, if
ever I had doubted the benefits of the society, those doubts must now
have vanished.

Amongst both Catholics and Protestants much good has been accomplished by
the British and Foreign Bible Society.  By means of one of the most
active agents of this institution, the late Mr. Owen, the society was
regularly established amongst the Protestants.  And, amongst the
Catholics, even where the Bible Society has not been able to obtain any
regular establishment by means of our agents, a large number of Bibles
and Testaments has been distributed in the schools, hospitals, and
prisons, and amongst the population at large.  I have seen the Testaments
of this society in various important schools; in the hands of the sick,
and in the wards of the hospital.  I have known them carried to the
infirm and the dying by those who are so emphatically and justly called
the Sœurs de la Charité.  I had myself also the happiness of distributing
five hundred copies of those so kindly committed to me by the society in
a prison containing upwards of four thousand individuals.  We cannot
believe that these various gifts have been made in vain.  Much of the
fruit will be discovered only on the great day, when the secrets of all
hearts shall be disclosed.  But in the mean time no man can follow the
course of the Bible without perceiving the benefits resulting from its
circulation.  In one instance, I cannot but doubt that the conversion of
a large body from Popery to Protestantism, in a city in the south of
France, has been materially assisted by the operations of this society.

There are yet two points in connexion with France, on which I feel it
necessary to trouble the Committee.  In the first place, I have a debt of
justice and gratitude to render to Professor Kieffer, your society’s
agent at Paris.  I will here say nothing on the subject of his opinions
with regard to the distribution of the Apocryphal books, except that,
whether he is right or wrong, he has found many both good and wise men on
the continent and elsewhere, who agree in the views which he has adopted.
With respect to his religious orthodoxy, which I understand has been most
unjustly called in question in this country, I feel it right to say, that
no one who knows him can entertain a doubt.

As to talents, diligence, vigilance, and zeal, as an agent of this
society, he has few equals, and can scarcely have a superior.  As a man
of business, of regularity, vigour, and dispatch, he is very
conspicuous—and those who know the immense deficiency of business-like
habits on the continent, will know how to value such important qualities
in the agent they employ.

The other subject respects the decision of the British and Foreign Bible
Society, as to the distribution of the Apocryphal books.  It would be
unjust to deny that, when the question concerning the rejection of these
books was first proposed to the Bible Societies in France, they almost
unanimously declared their strong preference for Bibles with the
Apocrypha.  In the _Lutheran_, which is the smaller part of the
Protestant church of France, this preference still, to a considerable
degree, prevails.  But among the members and ministers of the _Reformed_
church, and especially those who felt the real value of the word of God,
I was rejoiced to find, how few dissented from your late resolution.  And
I feel assured that, when the question comes to be presented to
continental churches in all its bearings, and the danger is shown of thus
commingling error with truth, their grounds of opposition will be
removed; and they will feel it their duty to pursue the same course as
that in which your society has so wisely taken the lead.

It remains only with regard to France, that I should take the liberty of
urging upon the Committee the duties of the most strenuous and
affectionate co-operation.  It is impossible not to consider the general
state of the Protestant churches as much advanced during the interval of
five years when I before visited them.  The political feeling of the
Protestants appeared to me a good deal improved; and the government in
general of France has done much to deserve their confidence and
gratitude.  The Protestants themselves seem to me much more sensible of
the state of decay in their church; and are in proportion desirous of its
restoration to life.  It is true that heterodoxy of a very deplorable
kind has, to a considerable degree, crept into the universities of that
country.  But I was often struck by observing, that when some of the
clergy taught in those universities, entered upon the discharge of their
pastoral office; and it became their direct object to withdraw the
profligate from sin, and lead the miserable to comfort—to confirm the
wavering, to meet the wants and wishes of our fallen nature, to assuage
the sufferings of an awakened conscience, and supply a strong refuge in
the hour of death, they have been compelled to desert their own ground,
and seek, within the enclosure of orthodox and evangelical religion, the
weapons of their warfare, and the means of consolation and of joy.  I was
delighted indeed to find some of those who had been instructed in the
Neological school, among the most zealous promoters of the truth as it is
in Christ.

I shall next beg of the Committee to pass on with me from France to
_Italy_.  To the northern parts of this country, however, my visit was
alone extended; and there I found the same obstacles to exist against the
free circulation of the word of God, of which other travellers have
complained.  One exception however may be stated, and that with regard to
a people whose cause has excited a warm and most honourable interest in
this country—the Protestant inhabitants of Piedmont.  They, in common
with the other Protestant subjects of the King of Sardinia, are now
permitted to receive books of every kind, on payment of duty, and, on the
condition that they are neither sold, lent, nor given to Catholics.  This
concession came at a time of peculiar importance; as it facilitated the
introduction of the large grant of Bibles lately made by this society to
the Protestant inhabitants of the vallies.  And I learned from the
principal agent of the Bible Society in those quarters, that they had
received nearly 5000 {6} Bibles and Testaments from different
institutions.  These grants are of greater value at this moment, when the
Vaudois Committee in London is so wisely and assiduously labouring to
establish schools of various kinds in these vallies.  I am requested to
present the cordial thanks of the ministers of the Vaudois church to this

The next point to which I would call the attention of this Committee, is
Geneva.  The character and services of the Bible Society in that city
have, it appears to me, been grievously misrepresented in some of the
recent publications in this country, on the subject of the Apocryphal
controversy.  From the fact of the society in Geneva not discovering much
zeal for the distribution of the Geneva version of 1805, of which the
orthodoxy was called in question, the consequence has arisen, that the
friends of that version have gradually seceded from the ranks of the
institution.  And, let it be recorded to the praise of the society at
Geneva, that, when the great mass of the continental Bible Societies were
anxious, by establishing counter resolutions of their own, to manifest a
spirit of resistance to the Anti-Apocryphal resolution of the London
Committee, the Geneva Society opposed this measure, and publicly
manifested its fidelity towards the British and Foreign Bible Society,
and its lively gratitude for the favours bestowed upon it through a
series of years.  Assisted by powerful auxiliaries, and especially by
that of Satigny, under the administration of a most enlightened and
devout member of the church, M. le Pasteur Gaussen, they are doing much
for that part of Switzerland, and supplying an example on the continent,
of sending money for the distribution of books in remote parts of the
world.  Of two individuals, occupying distinguished posts in that
society, I must say a few words.  Its president, M. Vernet, is a person
who has experimentally felt the value of the Bible, and manifested, in
circumstances of deep trial, his confidence in its instructions and
consolations; and the secretary, M. Gautier, is an individual in whose
friendship as a Christian, and zeal as a member of this society, I have
found much cause to rejoice.  That the Committee is not framed upon a
more comprehensive and generous principle, is to be regretted; but it
labours assiduously and successfully as to the great object for which it
is brought together.

The Bible Society of the Canton de Vaud has acted upon the principle of
securing to itself a permanent income, for the perpetual distribution of
the Holy Scriptures, independent of new contributions—by funding its
capital.  This measure has displeased many individuals in the Canton; and
has probably assisted to give birth to other societies in Lausanne and
its neighbourhood, acting upon a different principle.  I speak from
pretty accurate knowledge of that Canton, when I say, that the state of
religion is very remarkably improved in it.  It is impossible that any
one who reads the religious publications of the day should be ignorant of
the severe measures adopted by the government of the Canton de Vaud,
within a few years, to prevent religious meetings, and otherwise obstruct
the course of true religion.  But the advancement in piety, and
especially amongst the members of the Established Church, is not a little
conspicuous.  I can truly say, that I visited no place where the spirit
of religious enquiry was more alive, and where the taste was more
extended for simple biblical reading.  The severity of the government has
in a great measure relaxed.  The piety of the people has increased.  Is
it unfair to consider as one of the instruments of this improvement,
that, in addition to the number of Bibles before in circulation there has
been circulated, by the Bible Society of that place, 15,000 copies of the
word of God, amongst a population of 160,000 persons?

As to the newly revised edition of Osterwald’s Bible, published at
Lausanne, it is impossible not to condemn in it both the deviations from
the original, and the employment, in what are called the improvements, of
a great deal of paraphrastic language.  In speaking of that edition of
the Bible, I think it right, however, to bear my humble testimony to the
general character of the authors of this revision; and to state my
conviction of the facility with which your Committee may have been
betrayed into something of undue confidence in them.  The gentlemen
engaged in that revision, were some of them amongst the persons in the
highest general estimation for talents and piety: of Professor Levade,
the president of the Lausanne Bible Society, I may say that a more
faithful friend to the general distribution of the Scriptures cannot be
found.  I have myself taken the liberty of strongly expressing my dissent
from him upon various subjects connected with the society in general, and
the Lausanne edition in particular.  But I must be allowed to say to his
honour, that, independent of the labour and cost he has sacrificed on
this edition of the Bible, he has for a series of years sustained the
burden of the Cantonal Bible Society on his almost unassisted shoulders,
and continues to exhaust the strength of his declining age in giving
efficiency to the operations of this Institution.

The next Bible Society of importance which I visited was that of Basle.
I was there soon brought into communication with the Committee on the
subject of their temporary estrangement from your Society on the ground
of the late resolution as to the Apocryphal Books.  I endeavoured to
explain to the Committee the probable result of the resolutions to which
they had come of refusing to be even the agents of those Societies which
had resolved in no way to assist in the circulation of the Apocrypha.
When they found that the decision of the London Committee was the result,
not of prejudice, but of conscience, they at once gave up their own
resolutions, and acquiesced in the proposal which was made to them.  They
passed a resolution expressive of their kind sympathy towards the British
and Foreign Bible Society; and they undertook still to serve it as
agents; although, at the same time, they could not, according to their
judgment of the question, consent personally, and for themselves, to
circulate Bibles without the Apocryphal Books.  I cannot easily convey to
you the high opinion which I formed of the Committee of the Bible Society
of Basle, and of its venerable President, the Antistes.  The interest
which they feel, and the labour which they devote to the distribution of
the Scriptures is what I have never seen exceeded in any other place, and
I can have no doubt, that whatever commission you are pleased to entrust
to them, will be judiciously and faithfully executed.

It is my wish in the last place to say something on the state of Germany.
And here the few observations I have to offer will be of a somewhat more
general nature, or, at least, less confined to particular societies.

I.  As to the question of the Apocrypha.

The German Societies labour under great difficulty respecting the
Apocryphal Books; and the greater part of them are not at present
disposed to give them up.  They ground their determination in general
upon the following reasons.  1st.  In all cases in Germany the Societies
are sanctioned by the government of the respective countries, on the
implied condition of distributing the Scriptures as approved by the
ecclesiastical authority, i.e. with the Apocryphal Books.  In some cases
that condition is even expressed.  The Societies could not therefore
alter the mode of distributing the Scriptures, without the permission of
the government, which permission they apprehend would not be granted if
it were asked.  2d.  There are in Germany a vast variety of moral school
books, the lessons of which are taken partly from the Apocrypha, and
which they imagine would be useless if the Apocrypha were taken from
common use.  3dly.  The original principle on which the Foreign Societies
formed their alliance with the British and Foreign Bible Society was
_conciliatory_.  The Anti-apocryphal resolution they hold to be
_reforming_; and they think that no Bible Society has a right to
establish a reforming principle as a law to other Bible Societies.  4th.
The question being, as they conceive, whether each Bible Society shall be
permitted to bind the Apocrypha together with the canonical books, at
their own expence; they think they may claim for the Apocrypha bound up
with the Bible, the same liberty which is exercised in England in the
case of prayer books bound up with the word of God.  A person, they
apprehend, in this country may bind up with the Bible he receives from
the Bible Society whatever tract he pleases, without forfeiting his right
as a member of that Society.—Some persons desire to retain the Apocryphal
books as valuable historical documents; others fear the ill consequences
which might result from appearing to the ill-informed to take away a part
of Scripture.—Of all these reasons it may be said that they are founded,
rather on views of expediency, than conscience; and are not therefore to
be put in comparison with the great principle involved in this question,
and which has directed the decision of the London Committee, viz. whether
that which is _not_ the word of God ought to be put on a level with that
which _is_.  I cannot but think that if our Christian brethren in Germany
were led to this view of the question; that if the writers on the
subject, in this country, were to direct a little of the zeal for their
instruction upon this point; the more pious part of our neighbours would
be induced, at no distant period, to adopt the resolution which we have
established.  In the meantime, there are very many persons and districts,
as the correspondence of the Society may testify, who, even now, are
willing to receive and distribute the Bible without the apocryphal
writings.  The example of these societies will, I doubt not, work
powerfully upon others.

From all that I was able to learn in Germany, it appeared to me that, to
every class of protestants, the resolution of your Committee respecting
the Apocrypha will be attended with immense advantage.  Great benefit may
result, from this resolution, to the general theological teaching of that
country.  A large proportion of the errors of the German divines, appear
to me to have originated in breaking down the boundaries of inspiration.
The first work published by Semler, who may be considered as the
originator of the new school of Theology, in Germany, is entitled
“Apparatus ad liberalem Novi Testamenti Interpretationem.”  The object of
this work is to give extent to the powers of human reason; and, in
defiance of the common notions of the authority of inspiration, to
accommodate Scripture to the philosophic views of the author.—Subsequent
writers have contended for the partial inspiration of the Scripture;
others for the unreasonableness of inspiration altogether, &c. till the
dignity and authority of the divine sanction, is wholly withdrawn from
the word of God, and critics have felt themselves at liberty to discuss
both the books of the Bible, and their contents with no other restraint
than they would feel in the examination of the most ordinary publication.
Now the anti-apocryphal resolution of the Committee will I conceive go
far to suggest for each man’s consideration, this important
question—“What is, and what is not the Bible?” and, thus, a primary and
most important question will be discussed, one which must stand at the
basis of all sound theology; and this, if rightly determined, will assist
to bring back the German divines from the wild notions they have so
generally adopted; and the benefit resulting from this resolution will
probably be a larger distribution of the Bible itself.  In those cases
amongst the protestants where the societies may refuse to act as agents
for the distribution of our canonical books, which cases will, I
apprehend, eventually be very few; those societies may be prompted to
greater exertion to secure their independent existence; and in the case
of most Bible Societies, it will be found that they are capable of doing
much more for themselves, and others, than they have done, whilst they
continued to receive assistance from this country.

With respect to the Catholic population any considerable distribution of
the _Old_ Testament will undoubtedly be prevented by the Anti-apocryphal
resolution.  But this need not hinder the circulation of the _New_
Testament.  This indeed may be distributed in larger abundance than
before.  Leander Van Ess told me that he had then before him applications
for 30,000 copies of the Catholic New Testament, whilst he had only two
or 300 in his depository; and that he waited only for the direction of
your Society to encrease his circulation to a very great amount.—I have
no hesitation then in offering my cordial approbation to those who have
supported the Anti-apocryphal Resolution of the Bible Society.
Independently of every other consideration, this resolution will I think,
speedily, as well as remotely, be attended with important benefit as
respects the advancement of real Christian knowledge.

II.  It may be desirable to say a few words as to the _Committees and
officers of the German_ Bible Societies.  It has been a subject of grief
to me, on my return to this country, to find these individuals
reproached, in very general terms, as ‘infidels,’ ‘Neologians,’
‘designing men,’ ‘who have taken the offices they hold for their crafts’
sake,’ &c.

It is true I apprehend that many Neologians are connected with the Bible
Societies in Germany,—some by virtue of the offices they hold, and others
voluntarily.  In Heidelburg for instance the fundamental rules of the
Society placed all the professors of divinity attached to the university,
ex-officio, upon the Committee of the Bible Society.  One of these
individuals is the professor Paulus.  But from all the inquiries I was
able to make, I could never learn that any individual in Germany,
publicly holding neological opinions, was an _active agent_ of the Bible
Society.  And how could any thing like an active agency be expected of
such individuals.  After the Bible Society had been formed in Germany, it
soon spread very rapidly.  Many Neologians, from various motives no
doubt, enlisted themselves in its ranks.  But what was the real history
of this movement?  The religious body were the originators of these
societies, but they were soon compelled to seek the protection of others
in authority, because the existence of societies in many countries must
depend upon their sanction; and they were glad, even in other cases, to
make those who heeded not the word of God themselves, the distributors of
it to the rest of the world.  But if, at this time, there are inactive
agents of the German Bible Societies; if there are even secretaries who
feel very little of the value of the Bible,—are there no counterparts to
these in our own country?  We take the best we can get,—lament their
deficiencies,—and devoutly wish them better; but still we prefer the
deposit for Bibles being placed in such hands, rather than having no
deposit at all.

I am able, however, by a convincing document, to shew what is the real
estimate taken of the Bible Society by the Neological party in Germany.
There is published at Darmstadt what is called the Church Newspaper,
which is devoted to the consideration of subjects connected with
religion.  The editor of this paper, as you will judge by the following
extract, is a Neologian, and let us hear the language in which he speaks
of the Bible Societies.

Extract from the Church Newspaper of Germany, Kirchen Allgemeine Zeitung,
published at Darmstadt, Sept. 28th 1826.

                           _Heading of the Number_.

    “Verily were Christ now to appear again he would say, ‘Woe unto you,
    Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites,’ for ye anxiously cling to the
    letter of the Scriptures, which ye misunderstand; and the spirit, of
    which ye cannot comprehend; ye insist on the doctrine of a dead
    faith, but neglect the weightier matters of the law, judgment and
    mercy; and ye appear outwardly pious whilst within ye are full of
    hypocrisy and wickedness.  Depart from me, he would exclaim, ye
    workers of iniquity, projectors of heresy, slanderers, and breakers
    of the peace, I never knew you.”

                            “ON BIBLE SOCIETIES.”

After stating some general advantages which might result from the
distribution of the Scriptures amongst the Heathen, such as “calling into
action the slumbering energies of man,” “ameliorating his nature,” and
laying the “foundation of his moral improvement;” the editor goes on to
mention the ordinary arguments which are made use of against Bible
Institutions in Germany, and which arise chiefly from the part which
foreigners have taken in their establishment.

He then states some particular reasons which should lead his readers more
carefully to consider the mode of conducting Bible Societies, and to
greater caution in lending them their support and patronage, particularly
at the present period.

I now give the translation of an extract.

    “In the first place we feel ourselves constrained to assert, that the
    dissemination of the Scriptures does not appear to us to be conducted
    in a proper spirit, and with proper views.  If we investigate the
    character of many of those who distinguish themselves by more than
    ordinary activity in the cause, it cannot be denied that they very
    frequently seem to possess only a narrow view of theology, and
    exceeding littleness of mind.  That laudable veneration, which they
    feel for the word of God, easily acts in them, in the absence of more
    solid theological attainments, as a check to the liberty of thought
    and judgment, to which Christianity leads; they confound an
    ecclesiastical system of doctrine with the Gospel, they adhere with
    enthusiastic devotedness to exterior forms, and sacrifice to these
    the heavenly spirit of Christianity; they seek the essentials of our
    religion in the blood and wound theology {15} (blut und wunden
    theologie) of former centuries, and it is sufficiently clear that, by
    the exertions of such men, a blind adherence to the mere letter of
    the word of God is again sought to be brought into use, to the great
    injury of genuine Christianity and moral improvement.  The peculiar
    interest which Mystics and Pietists of the present day take in the
    advancement of Bible Societies, and the connection in which they
    frequently stand with those who create disorders, by dissent and
    separation from the church, is a sign of the times which ought not to
    be passed over unnoticed.”

The editor next objects to the resolution taken in England on the subject
of the Apocrypha.  This the editor thinks should be opposed, on the
ground, amongst other reasons, that two _thirds of the canonical books of
the Old Testament_ might _with far less injury be withheld than one
single book of the Apocrypha_, for instance, the book of Sirach, &c. &c.

I think from this extract it will be obvious, that the Bible Society
abroad is regarded by the enemies of the truth as a great instrument for
promoting evangelical religion; and, in spite of what has been said
against its agents and its apocryphal books, I cannot but concur with the
German editor, in his general argument.  It is my deliberate conviction,
that the Bible Society has been in Germany the instrument of the greatest
good; and, if some of the heads of this institution have not profited by
it as they ought, the poor at least, in many considerable districts, have
been gainers to an extent of which those are little aware who have not
carefully investigated the subject.

In another part of the continent, I certainly found some persons,
professedly heterodox in their opinions, who were nevertheless, active
friends of the Bible Society.  In one case, I heard that the public
meeting of a very large city; and in another, that the welfare of a
society, in an immense Protestant district, depended upon the exertions
of persons of the class above described.  But could I fail, in such
cases, to thank God, who had kindly placed the antidote so near to the
bane, and had employed an enemy of the truth as the destroyer of his own

III.  A point, to which I must refer, is that of the _persecution of
religious characters_ in Germany, and which persecutions have been
represented as at least sanctioned by the friends of the Bible Society.
This statement as a general fact, I believe to be utterly incorrect.  I
took great pains to investigate it on the spot.  I wish, for obvious
reasons, not to enter far into particulars.  But of one individual, whose
history has been before the public, and whose sufferings have been
introduced to their notice with a sort of tragical effect, I can venture,
after a minute inquiry, to affirm, that his troubles arose, not so much
from his simple proclamation of the truths of the Gospel, as from his
indiscretions, from his resistance to civil as well as ecclesiastical
regulations, and his general intemperance of conduct.  I must also add,
that some of the persons who _protected_ that individual, were at the
very time active agents of the Bible Society in their own country.  One
simple fact will be sufficient to establish these statements.  The truths
of the Gospel have been and are proclaimed, and are tolerated, and even
approved in several of the places from whence this individual was driven.

With respect to the Canton de Vaud, a statement to the same effect has
been made.  It is certain that an angry feeling was excited in the minds
of several members of the Committee of the Bible Society of that
district, on the occasion which gave rise to the persecutions in that
Canton.  At the same time, any participation in this persecution is, as
to himself, distinctly disavowed by Professor Levade; and certainly those
who were the writers or actors in this persecution do not appear in any
way in the list of the officers of the Bible Society.  Two circumstances
connected with the measures which were pursued in this Canton, in
opposition to religious meetings, are sufficiently remarkable and
interesting to deserve our notice.  In the first place, the astonishing
progress of religion during this period; and, in the second, the
discovery, during the brief continuance of this opposition, of the utter
inefficiency of intolerant measures in checking the progress of inquiry
after truth.

IV.  A point, which I must bring before your notice, is the actual _state
of true religion_ on the _continent_, and more especially in _Germany_.
It is certainly true that Neology has to a lamentable extent taken
possession of the universities, the public prints, and the higher orders
of society.  At the same time I believe, that the statements which have
gone abroad, of the extent of its prevalence, are, as to two points,
inaccurate.  In the first place, they describe only one side of the case;
for, if there is much infidelity and neology on the continent, there is
also a considerable sprinkling of true religion.  And, secondly, The evil
which has existed, and does exist, may be said to be every day
diminishing.  As to the first of these facts, I could point out
individuals, parishes, and districts, where real religion is in active
operation; places and persons altogether unconnected with those agents
from England, who have been said to be the only instruments of doing
important good on the continent, and which are therefore unrecognised by
them, and possibly unknown to them.  I could name one little knot of
parishes, all within a small circle, in which are twelve ministers,
earnest, orthodox, and devout servants of the Redeemer.  I could name
another place, where forty ministers were lately assembled for purposes
of religious and spiritual communion.  I might also allege the fact, that
at different universities there are professors who openly, and from the
heart, confess the true faith.  I may indeed affirm that, from the
cottages of the poor to the palaces of kings, there are those who walk
worthy their high vocation as Christians and as men.  The admitted evils
are every day diminishing.  The number of converts is increasing.  The
opinions of Paulus and Schulthess seem likely to die away with
themselves.  What can be more remarkable than the change which has taken
place in the kingdom of Prussia, where the leaders of the state and the
university may now be said to hold the very opposite creed to that which
obtained with their immediate predecessors?

There are two individuals, of whom, as connected with Germany, I feel it
right to say a few words—the one is Leander Van Ess, the other your late
invaluable Secretary, Dr. Steinkopff.

Leander Van Ess I had the happiness of visiting; and I remained with him
during a day, which I passed at Darmstadt.  It was impossible not to be
prepared, by his writings, to form a very high estimate of his character
and his labours; and these expectations were, in my case, in no wise
disappointed.  I was struck with his holy devotedness to his great
object, with his unwearied diligence, with his unbounded charity.  He is
a man who rises at four o’clock in the morning to his daily task; pursues
it often without cessation through the day; and, as I was informed by
those best acquainted with his habits, he is often found at midnight
occupied with his work.  He is making a new version of the Bible, which,
by the help of the continental Bible Societies, he is about to print;
and, although he holds the opinions of the church to which he belongs on
the subject of the Apocrypha, he wishes this opinion to be no hinderance
to others; so that they will, in any way, read the word of God.  He is,
therefore, preparing his version for publication, in three forms.  First,
with the Vulgate printed in a small type at the bottom of each page, and
with the Apocrypha intermixed; this is the form in which the Catholics
wish to receive it.  Secondly, without the Vulgate, and with the
Apocrypha appended, for the Protestants of that country.  Thirdly,
without the apocryphal books, for the distribution of our own Bible
Society, if we are disposed to adopt it.  Here is a specimen of that
largeness of charity by which every part of his conduct is influenced.
So that, by Protestants and Catholics, who are partakers of the same
spirit, he is alike esteemed.  The king of Wirtemberg has presented him
with a medal, in token of his useful labours in his kingdom.  The
grand-duke of Baden has given him money to purchase Testaments.  And the
government under which he lives sanction his proceedings, and one member
in particular of the royal family of the grand-duke affords him constant
protection and assistance.  So that kings, I may say, are “the nursing
fathers” of his plans and labours.  I consider this society as
privileged, in no ordinary degree, in having such an agent and friend on
the continent.  The assistance which he has already rendered to the
Society has been very considerable.  He has a great work on his hands.
Communications are always to be kept open, letters to be written; and, in
a country where there is a fastidiousness in receiving any religious
offering from abroad, no one, who has not tried the experiment, can judge
how much judgment, care, and delicacy it requires to bestow the gift
without injuring the cause it is intended to promote.

The other individual, to whom I have ventured to refer, is your late dear
and honoured Secretary, Dr. Steinkopff.  The present was not the first
opportunity I had enjoyed of tracing the extent of his labour, and of
ascertaining the estimation in which he is held on the continent.  It is
right to be known, that Dr. Steinkopff, before he came to England, filled
an office of large correspondence on the subject of religion, and which
gave him perhaps a better acquaintance with the religious state of
Germany, than, I may venture to say, any other individual.  He has
constantly held communications with his successors in the important and
influential office which he himself held; and this has given, to himself,
a power of judging of the exact state of the continent; and, to his
labours, a degree of efficiency, which could scarcely have been possessed
without it.  But when I speak of the value of Dr. Steinkopff to the Bible
Society, it is not to any mere outward circumstance I would mainly
advert.  I may venture to say, that his character has been one grand
instrument of your success on the continent.  “If,” said a person, of
considerable influence in Germany, to me, “you do not want Dr. Steinkopff
any longer in England, send him over here, and he will find friends
enough.”  Wherever he has appeared, either as the officer of your Society
or as a private individual, he has left a name behind him which, next to
the favour of the Master he has so affectionately and devotedly served,
and the good which he has been the instrument of effecting for his
fellow-creatures, may be his comfort in his hours of sickness and of
solitude.  I saw none who knew him who were not ready to bear testimony
to his humility, his conscientiousness, his vigour, his undeviating
devotedness to the Society whose officer he was.  May God long preserve
him to assist us by his counsels, and to advocate the cause of the
Society, with a voice which, whether at home or abroad, has been rarely
heard in vain.

I will now venture, in conclusion, to urge upon the Committee, as the
plain inference from the foregoing statements, what appears to me to be a
most imperious duty.  It is that of cultivating and to manifesting a
_spirit of kindness_, _of generosity_, _and enlarged benevolence towards
our continental brethren_.  If it be considered as an offence that we
express our “unfeigned Christian regards” towards many of our fellow
labourers abroad, I trust that we shall continue thus to offend.  I had
constantly occasion on the continent, whilst speaking on the subject of
the Apocrypha to those who most materially differed from us, to urge,
that, whereas by the new resolution of the British and Foreign Bible
Society, the ground upon which we could unite was somewhat narrowed, our
temper of mind, our sympathy, and love might remain the same; and that,
if we could hope less than ever to “reconcile all opinions,” we might
still endeavour “to unite all hearts.”

This was the leading principle of our Society in the infancy of its
institution; and, now that we are more matured in age, let us labour not
to depart from it.  Far then from advising the officers of this Society
to suffer themselves, in their communications with the continent, to be
lectured into a cold, dry, measured style of writing, I would exhort them
to give vent to their warm and generous feelings.  They may, in so doing,
err in the sight of those disposed to make men “offenders for a word;”
but they will better please the compassionate Master they serve; they
will, under the divine blessing, cherish the fainting spirit of
continental Christianity, and fan that spark of piety and zeal which is
lighted up, I trust, never to be extinguished.

I hope too the Committee will be encouraged as to the general objects and
operations of the Society.  I am, by actual observation, more than ever
convinced, that, on a very large scale, this institution is on the
continent, a favoured instrument in the hands of Divine Providence.  The
good which it has accomplished is immense.  The evils which have been
charged upon it, exist, rather in imagination, than in reality.  Let the
Committee go on to do what they can, and to do all in the spirit of love
and generosity.  Let them commit every endeavour to the blessing of Him
to whom the souls of the multitudes scattered over the continent are
unspeakably dear; let them be confident that the word of the Lord will
have free course and be glorified; and that millions will arise, at the
last day, to acknowledge with gratitude and joy the labours of this
Society.  Let the temper of the Society remain unimpaired at home; and it
need not be disquieted at objections or assaults which will not at least
commend themselves to the world at large, by the general spirit in which
they have been defended.  And may we never fail to repose an honourable
confidence in the officers and friends of the Society; nor forget, in
judging of others, to take into account the infirmities of our common
nature.  May we feel that, having embarked in the glorious enterprise of
making all men acquainted with the pure and unadulterated word of God, it
is not for us to be checked by slight obstacles; but to go forward,
conquering and to conquer, in the name of him who has loved us, and given
himself for us, and who has consigned this volume, as his precious
legacy, to a perishing and suffering world.

                           Believe me, my Lord,

                  Your Lordship’s very obedient servant,

                                                            F. CUNNINGHAM.

_Pakefield_, _Lowestoft_,
      _Jan._ 5, 1827.

                                * * * * *



{6}  2397 Bibles, 2436 Testaments.

{15}  The doctrine of the atonement of Christ, and justification by

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