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Title: An Address to Lord Teignmouth - occasioned by his address to the clergy of the Church of England
Author: Sikes, Thomas
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1805 F. C. and J. Rivington edition from Bodleian
Library scans by David Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org

                        [Picture: Pamphlet cover]



                                    AN
                                 ADDRESS
                                    TO
                            _LORD TEIGNMOUTH_.
                             PRESIDENT OF THE
                    BRITISH AND FOREIGN BIBLE SOCIETY,
                              OCCASIONED BY
                               HIS ADDRESS
                                  TO THE
                                  CLERGY
                        OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.


                                * * * * *

                        _BY A COUNTRY CLERGYMAN_.

                                * * * * *

                                 LONDON:
          PRINTED FOR F. C. AND J. RIVINGTON, No 62, ST. PAUL’S
                               CHURCH-YARD;
          _By Bye and Law_, _St. John’s-Square_, _Clerkenwell_.

                                  1805.

                                * * * * *



AN ADDRESS, _&c._


MY LORD,

THE emotions of my mind, upon receipt of your Lordship’s address as
President of the British and Foreign Bible Society, were such as I am not
inclined, for several reasons, to describe.  Your friends represent you
as not hostile to the established church: nay, some assert that you are
its firm supporter; and doubtless it never could have entered your
Lordship’s mind to address a clergyman with proposals of lending his zeal
and exertions for the promotion of religion, but in the character of the
church’s friend.  Judge then, my Lord, at my surprize, to see your
Lordship’s name at the head of such a list of subscribers as that
enclosed to me; to find your Lordship’s patronage and protection bestowed
upon every description of its enemies, and your request that I would
promote their design.  Judge, my Lord, what must have been my grief, to
find a man of your Lordship’s respectability deserting the cause of sound
religion, and our poor country’s best defence, and confederating with
persons openly labouring the destruction of all that is sober, or
established!

My Lord, I presume to address you, invited by your Lordship’s known good
sense and candour, and much emboldened by a strong conviction that some
enemy hath craftily obtained your Lordship’s countenance to his project;
which, I am sure, if your Lordship knew all, you would spurn with
indignation and contempt.  I am persuaded that you know not the men and
their communication, to whom you have joined yourself.  Let this then be
my excuse for intruding myself upon your notice; and if I fail to
convince your Lordship, at least let me promise myself that patience and
respect which is always due to sincerity and good intention.  At present,
my Lord, you appear as the head of a party, (rather, should I say, a
legion of parties) by whom every opponent is sure to be reviled, as
illiberal and uncharitable, and as an enemy to the gospel.  I confess I
expect the honour of their reproaches.  I am thankful that I have enjoyed
them before.  “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how
much more shall they call them of his household?”  From you, my Lord, I
expect the treatment of a Gentleman and a Christian; and if I fail in the
respect which is due to those honourable characters, I sincerely profess
it shall be contrary to my resolved purpose; and I beg your Lordship to
let Charity do its perfect work, and cover this failure among the
multitude of my other sins.

It is very true, my Lord, that “to promote the circulation of the
scriptures at home and abroad, is an object in which every one who
professes the religion of Christ, must feel a deep interest.”  But the
_object_ of a society, my Lord, is not to be known from its public
declaration in print.  Your experience of the world will suggest to you,
that the most important objects, whether of a good or evil tendency, have
been prosecuted, and are now continually pursued in a close and
clandestine manner, under favour of public declarations of a different
and often of a contrary character.  It is impossible for any man to say
what shall be the _real_ object of any society, till he be in possession
of the favourite object of each of its members; for although a body of
men may at first associate for, and appear to bind themselves to the
promotion of some specific common object, we well know, that in process
of time, this common object is generally lost in neglect; and at last,
each individual pursues that particular object which, as a private man,
engages his affection and preference.

To say, therefore, what is or shall be the _object_ of a society, is no
easy matter, if we mean to guard against delusion.  The _real object_
will take its colour from the opinions and pursuits of those effective
members who shall contrive, either by an actual majority, or an
_assiduity and activity equivalent in force to the power of a majority_,
to give direction to the energy of the association.  Into how many
Proteus forms has Jesuitism wrapt itself, upon different occasions?  So
the monster Jacobinism has insinuated its poison, at one time or other,
into almost every species of society in Europe.

It is to little purpose we use our eyes, if we see this destructive
principle only in clubs and lodges, and spouting societies.  This serpent
has a far wider range; wherein there is a place and room to coil in,
there let the passenger beware, _latet anguis in herbá_.  And if your
Lordship will please to call to mind, the warnings of a learned prelate
of our church, you will remember that he is now in a remarkable manner,
and with much aggravation of malice and impudence, detected lurking
behind the cross.

Your Lordship cannot be ignorant how many hundred public declarations it
has set forth, to convince the world how simple are its designs, how pure
its intentions!  Need we be directed to consider, can we avoid
considering, those several political societies of the present day, which,
with the most enchanting titles, and with avowed objects of the fairest
sort, have perpetrated atrocities of the foulest dye?  Look into the
public addresses of those societies, sometimes decorated by honourable
and responsible signatures.  See the printed declarations of their
_reasons_, _objects_, and _principles_; then repair to the Old Bailey, or
the Maidstone assizes; there compare the acts and deeds of those
associations, with the plausible professions of their printed schemes and
declarations, and say, my Lord, whether it be prudent, at least in this
our day, to consider all as honest and true that meets our eye in print,
shouldered by the well-known signatures of respectable presidents and
vice-presidents?

My Lord, give me leave to say, you cannot answer for the _real_ object of
any association, but by being able to answer for the _real_ principles
and pursuits of its individual members; you may heartily wish, and
sincerely endeavour to promote the _avowed_ object of _this_ society:
(and I know no man more likely to do both, than your Lordship.)  Secure
those principles, be able to controul those pursuits, and no man who
knows your Lordship’s high character, would hesitate a moment to believe
that your society will be what it proposes.  If Lord T. will pledge
himself that the six hundred members of his society are, like himself,
honourable and upright men, who speak what they mean, and practise what
they profess; who abhor duplicity and deceit, and know no discordance
between the object they _profess_, and the object they _pursue_;—if Lord
T. can assure me this, I shall be proud to rank my name, and make
exertion under his protection.  If this he cannot do, at least let him
tell me where is my security that my contribution to the institution,
will not be turned to support some object, which I never intend to
support; and to promote not the object proposed to me in the letter, but
another, and perhaps a detested one?  Your presidency, my Lord, is not
exactly of the sort to which you have been accustomed, and which you have
much adorned.  But far be it from me to say, that you preside over an
association of men, combined for designs altogether bad; that you
patronize, and protect a society, whole objects and principles are
wilfully nefarious: All that I here assert, is this; that your Lordship,
for whose head and heart I have the highest respect, appears to have
undertaken the patronage of you know not whom or what; and, confident in
your own good intentions, you have recommended me to do the same.

But when I cast my eye over the list of your officers, and subscribers,
(over which your Lordship’s eye has undoubtedly passed,) I am really in
doubt, whether your Lordship be in jest or earnest, when you recommend
the institution to the attention of a Clergyman of the Church of England;
and, I wonder much, what arguments your Lordship can use, to press it
home.  In this list, I must acknowledge, I see many respectable names,
with which I should be happy to place mine.  But I likewise see a very
large proportion of others, with which, as an honest man, I can have
nothing to do; I see many names of persons, whose objects and pursuits
have been diametrically the opposite of mine: what I build, they pull
down: what I teach, they mock, and endeavour to render ineffectual.  The
sacred cause, which as a Clergyman of the Church of England, I have sworn
to serve and support, (and which, with the best talents I have, I will
support, as long as I have my life,) they hold up to scorn, and abuse
with hard names and jeers.  They vilify my character, as a servant of the
Most Highest, and set me forth to the world, as a dishonest man.  Now
were I, my Lord, allured by your Lordship’s invitation, and tempted by
the sound of what you call the “liberal basis of your establishment;”
(the sense of which I have not yet apprehended:) should I be induced, I
say, to venture myself into the company of men, of whom I have hitherto
always been horribly afraid, being frightened at the idea of having the
National Establishment blown up, as one of them said, clergy and all: can
your Lordship afford me protection and safety?  Can your Lordship shew
me, that our days are so evangelical, that the lamb may now dwell with
the wolf in safety?  I see your Lordship is ready kindly to allay my
fears; and to demand, if persons associating for the _simple_ and _pure_
purpose of disseminating the scriptures, ought to be suspected of such
views and projects?  My Lord, since I have been a shepherd, I have seen
so many wolves, and have undergone such terrors for my poor sheep, that
you must have the charity to pity my weakness, and excuse my
unconquerable fears.  Those who are old in the business, have a right at
least to be attended to, in matters which concern their experience.
Wolves, my Lord, our great Master has warned us, sometimes put on sheep’s
clothing; and we find, I assure you, much harder work with these crafty
beasts, than with those, which, without disguise, prowl about in their
proper character.  But have I not too good reason to be afraid of those
who openly, and fairly _avow_, that their object is to eat us up, both
sheep and shepherd too?  In plain terms, if your Lordship can demonstrate
to us, that those persons with whom you invite me to associate, under
pretence of doing God service, have at any time really revoked their
hostility to the church and ministry, which they have so frequently, and
so fully avowed; shew us the time when, and the place where, they have
deliberately recanted their well-known threats and projects, repented of
their numerous slanders and calumnies, and have as solemnly sworn peace
with the church and clergy, as before they have sworn and pursued their
enmity.  Nay, my Lord, I ask no unreasonable thing; if you can only shew,
that upon this present occasion alone, they have explicitly and solemnly
put off their old man of hostility and hatred, and have put on the new
man of peace, and love, and concord—I am silent.  I request your
secretary will please to insert my name, and accept my donation.  But, my
good Lord, if the enmity of these men has never been revoked; if their
hostility, and destructive resolutions have never been cancelled; if no
proof to the contrary can be adduced, but we are still left in possession
of the thousand well-known proofs; nay, in many places, of the open
confession of their intentions of undermining and destroying both church
establishment and clergy too: I then will leave it to any person of sane
intellect to determine, whether it be prudent, whether it be upright,
whether it be safe, to accept your Lordship’s proposal.

A notion prevails in the world, but a very mistaken one, that the
association of such a body of persons as appears upon the list, is the
unity so much recommended in scripture.  We are perpetually called upon,
in the name of Christian charity, to throw aside prejudices and
dissentions, and to unite for some common religious purpose.  Your
Lordship must know, that there is more of sound than sense in this
fashionable project.  That union enjoined in scripture, is not of the
hand and purse, but of the heart and mind.  Christian charity no where
recommends associations of discordant principles, combinations of men
professedly at variance, and in hostility with each other: but Christian
charity enjoins that which renders all these elaborate societies useless;
it teaches and obliges Christians to be _like-minded_, to have one faith,
one baptism, one speech, and one hope of their calling.

But I feel very strong objections, my Lord, to the whole plan: Not indeed
to the simple, pure object of disseminating the scriptures: one of these
days I hope to see the earth full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the
waters cover the sea.  The mischief lies in the _manner_, and the
_means_, of carrying that object into effect.  Your society is composed
of not only many secret foes, and treacherous familiar friends, but of a
very large proportion of sworn enemies of the church; to which enemies, a
much larger share of influence is given by the rules and regulations of
your society, than naturally they have any right to.  The consequence of
which measure is this: that your society, so far from being in amity with
the constitutional church of this kingdom, upholds and promotes the cause
of its adversaries; and consequently seeks and assists in its
destruction.  No one can for a moment imagine, that all this you intend:
for myself, it is as far from my thoughts, as I trust it is from yours.
Let me therefore crave your Lordship’s attention, only for a few minutes;
and let me have it pure and perfectly disengaged of all partiality for
your project.  Be not then deceived, my Lord, with the notion that the
_bare act of distributing Bibles_, _is the act of disseminating the
sacred truth_.  The word of God in itself is pure and perfect, and more
to be desired than much fine gold: but as the finest gold may be turned
to base purposes, so may the scriptures.  For, alas! through the lusts of
men, and the covetousness of the world, the precious book of life is made
the instrument of error, as well as of truth; of much evil, as well as of
infinite good.  When it is remembered, that to the scriptures, not only
the true church of Christ appeals for confirmation of its divine
doctrine, but likewise that every sect and heresy, by which it ever was
defaced, has regularly pretended likewise to deduce its error; when we
observe the Papist, and Puritan, the Socinian, and Calvinist, the
Baptist, and Quaker, all appealing to the Bible for the truth of their
principles, and pretending to prove them thereby—it will not be
maintained, I think, that the _mere distribution of Bibles_, under the
present circumstances of the times, is likely to spread the truth.  On
the contrary, it is to be expected, that each member of your
heterogeneous society, will draw his portion of books for the promotion
of his particular opinion: for it is easily seen, that a Bible given away
by a Papist, will be productive of popery.  The Socinian will make his
Bible speak, and spread Socinianism; while the Calvinist, the Baptist,
and the Quaker, will teach the opinions peculiar to their sects.  Supply
these men with Bibles, (I speak as to a true churchman) and you supply
them with arms against yourself.

For what reason have we to suppose, that your _simple_, _pure_, and
_important_ design, will be exactly prosecuted by all the various
descriptions of your society?—What security have we, that each zealous
religionist will not, according to the nature of his particular creed,
accompany his pious donation of the scriptures, with his own peculiar
interpretation and comment?—As a Church-of-England man, and sadly
experiencing daily before my eyes, that the Holy Book is made a nose of
wax, by the various discordant and opposite sects, I should deem it my
indispensable duty, not only to diffuse the text of scripture, but to
guard my people against what I consider as misinterpretations of it.
Does not this, indeed, constitute by far the greater part of the
Christian minister’s duty?  Is not this the chief design of most sermons
preached, and of most of the religious tracts, which issue from the
press?  And can we suppose that any conscientious and careful dissenter
will not do the same?  If he be indifferent to the prevalence, either of
truth, or error; that is, if he be hypocritical and insincere, he may not
perchance give himself the trouble: but if he be honest, and is warmed by
the least spark of zeal, he cannot do otherwise.  Were the Bible so
miraculously contrived, that it were impossible to misinterpret or
misunderstand it; that is, were it impossible to abuse it, all other
religious societies might be saved a vast expence of trouble and revenue,
by relinquishing all their former plans, and falling into yours.  But if
it be possible from the scriptures, not only to draw the word of truth to
salvation, but to support so much error and delusion, as every
religionist is ready to see any where, or every where but at home,
something more is required, than a Bible society, to secure the faith
once delivered to the saints.  If your Lordship sees no impropriety in
requesting a clergyman to aid and assist in the promotion of the various
hostile sects, which war against the church, and sound religion; if you
see no harm in his becoming the patron and fellow-worker, together with
Papists, Socinians, Quakers, &c. your Lordship, I am sure, will not
refuse to enlighten my mind upon the subject, and prove it to me from the
word of God.  At present, believe me, I am fully purposed, by God’s help,
never wittingly to lend my hand to sow tares in the church of God.  Quote
not, that the wheat and tares must grow together till the harvest, if by
that you would wind me to your present plan.  Tell me not that heresies
must needs come—I know it.  But by _my_ means they shall never come.  You
know, my Lord, it is the _enemy’s_ part to sow tares; heresies descend
not from heaven.  How then can you invite me to do the enemy’s work?  How
can I do this, and be innocent?

Permit me, my Lord, now to say a word or two upon the “liberality of the
basis of your establishment;” which is held out as “giving additional
force to the claims arising from the simplicity, purity, and importance
of the design.”  Not satisfactorily apprehending at first, what might be
signified by the expression of a _liberal basis_, I had recourse to a
well-known lexicographer, who under the word liberal, gives us these
meanings:—“not mean, not low in birth;—becoming a gentleman;—munificent,
generous, bountiful:”—then successively applying these several meanings
to the subject, I find the address to signify either one, or all of these
positions: that the basis of your establishment, is not a mean basis, nor
a basis of low birth; it is a basis becoming a gentleman, or it is a
munificent, or a generous, or a bountiful basis.  My author assists me no
further, these being all the senses that he has included under the word.
Here, I confess, I was a little posed, my mind remaining still
unsatisfied, that any of these meanings were intended, although I felt
that all the epithets, could they be applied to the subject, were such as
must recommend the basis of any thing.  It struck me suddenly at last,
that your Lordship must intend, by these classic words, only what the
vulgar would call “broad bottom.”  _The broad bottom of the
establishment_ “gives additional force,” &c.

Now, if your Lordship designs to recommend your establishment by its
broad bottom, permit me to say, it has no charms for me.  I know the
liberal basis, or broad bottom, is very much the vogue in all religious
(and chiefly in religious) projects; the reason of which, if this were
the proper place, I think I could unfold.  But do you really mean to
tempt a clergyman to join your society, by seriously holding out to him
the opportunity of joining his “zeal and exertions,” as you speak, with
the zeal and exertions of all sorts and descriptions of men, who pretend
to be Christians?  Do you imagine, my Lord, that your invitation can
derive additional force, from the prospect of meeting (when I must have
the honour of meeting your Lordship, as president of the motley group)
and associating with all sorts of preachers and teachers, from the
preaching blacksmith up to the fanatical ranter in holy orders?  Those
who are used to good company, know how to behave.  I must confess, that
being unfortunately not bred in such liberal-basis’d, or broad-bottomed
principles, I should not.  I should feel uneasy, my Lord; I should be
illiberally, perhaps, looking towards the door; I might uncharitably call
to mind that bigot Polycarp, and actually make my escape.  And what would
you have me do?  You have condescended to persuade me to meet my
inveterate foes, who have repeatedly declared their intentions of pulling
the church about my ears, and starving all the clergy; and who are
actually and openly perpetrating their fatal project; could you not bring
about a reconciliation, my Lord, before we meet?  Do you not think that
this would vastly promote and strengthen your present scheme?  At present
we are all to meet, it appears, each retaining his wonted mind, and
continuing his usual exertions; that is, we all meet under your
Lordship’s auspices, still to continue pulling, with all our might,
different ways!

Surely, to every thinking man it must be plain, that although your
Lordship should call upon such a babel of lips and languages, with all
the powers you have, for zeal and exertions united, there appears not the
least probability that that unanimity will come when you do call, till
you can prove that those very means which the Almighty adopted to
confound and divide, have changed their nature, and now may be used to
collect, and unite, and carry on a simple plan with effect.

Mistake me not, my Lord, as intending to deny the possibility of any
_sort or degree_ of union among certain descriptions of persons composing
the society.  This, I am sure, would be to deny that which authentic
histories have abundantly proved to be true.  I am perfectly aware, that
all the various and discordant tribes of dissenters from the Church of
England, may unite, from the Papist down to the Quaker; for they
frequently have, and frequently do unite _against_ the Church.  “Many
times have they consulted together with one consent, and have been
confederate against the church,” saying, “let us take to ourselves the
houses of God in possession.”  But when was it ever known, that they have
united _with_ the church?  Shew me the history, lay your finger upon the
page, and say, my Lord, _when_, _where_, and upon what _occasion_, did
they ever unite _with_ the church, for any important and righteous
design.  I must be satisfied upon this point; I must request some fair
example and precedent, to prove that the thing is neither impossible nor
improbable, before it can be even prudent to listen to your Lordship’s
proposal!

Alas! my Lord, you well know how many sad examples might be brought to
demonstrate the reverse: why then put me to the needless task of
reminding you of the many times and occasions when the “several
denominations of Christians have united, upon a liberal basis, their zeal
and exertion, to an unexampled degree,” for the utter destruction of
church and state?  Why should I be forced to enter upon the disgraceful
history of men, who, with words smoother than butter, and softer than
oil, with fair promises of taking sweet counsel together, and walking to
the house of God as friends, have put forth their hands against such as
be at peace with them, have broke their covenant, and drawn their swords
against them?  The church’s many scars and wounds as yet unhealed, and
sores that are daily vexed, have taught her not to lean upon every arm
that is held out to support her weak and tottering strength.  Experience
always begets caution; and knowledge of degenerate human nature, brings
with it circumspection.  She reads in the sacred volume written for our
learning, of Joab’s slippery trick with Abner; and till she can be
persuaded that he who speaks quietly and peaceably means no mischief, it
would now be worse than imprudence to turn aside to speak at all.  The
church, my Lord, is not solicitous for such companions as these; and why
should your Lordship be solicitous to bring her sons and servants into
familiarity with those who despise her, and are plotting her destruction?

Permit me to address you as a Church of England man; as a man who fears
God, honours the king, and hears the church.  Allow us, my Lord, to
reason together a little, upon this project of yours, to which you call
my attention, and endeavour to engage my feelings.  You propose an
alliance between the churchman and every description of religionists, who
either use or abuse the name of Christ; that is, in the new phrase,
between Christians of the “several denominations.”  Has your Lordship
weighed well the advantages and disadvantages that are likely to accrue
to the church?  Supposing the design of this proposed association to be
as pure as it appears to your Lordship, and that the exclusive object be,
to disseminate Bibles throughout the world; will this new connexion
empower the church to extend its bounds, and to confer its salutary
blessings upon those who sit in darkness?  Is this likely to be effected
by the aid and assistance of those whole delight has always been to clip
the silver wings of the heavenly dove, and to pluck her golden feathers
from her breast?  When did she ever soar, but to encounter a cloud of
enemies, to tempt the rapine of every bird of prey under heaven—to offer
a luscious and inviting morsel to all the several hungry “denominations
of christians, to whom the happy constitution of this country,” your
Lordship says, “affords _equal_ protection with herself?”  If the church
to which you profess to belong, be really a part of the Holy Catholic
Church, that kingdom of Christ in which we are promised pardon and
salvation—is it likely to be enlarged and promoted on earth, by a
coalition with those who profanely hold it in derision, and disdainfully,
dispitefully, and cruelly load her with all the ill names that the most
vindictive malice can suggest?  Look to all the public acts of your new
friends; observe the spirit of all their various and varying
publications; and what do we find, but one steady and unremitting plan of
hostility; sometimes marked with smiles and proffered fraternity;
sometimes ferocious and formidable, with open mischief and attack?  And
if by this connection, it be impossible to enlarge the pale of the
church, there appears no probability that its interests of any sort can
be safe and secure; for that opposition which would prevent its
extension, must infallibly operate, and does indeed operate, to produce
its destruction.

In this projected association, indeed, the danger of final destruction to
the established church is scarcely concealed; it is open and evident even
to him who runs and reads its proposals.  It scarcely needs a suspicious
eye; it only needs the attentive one.  How this has escaped your
Lordship, and several other illustrious friends of this association, I
cannot explain; unless we bear in mind, that those who mean well
themselves, are the last to suspect evil in others.

But let us see, my Lord, how the case stands, and examine what claim I
have to credit, when I assert, that your society is in direct opposition
to the interests of the established church.  In this association, with no
previous reconciliation between the church and her acknowledged
adversaries, the church is invited, by your Lordship, to meet the several
denominations of Christians in all their avowed and secret enmity.  Thank
heaven, the gates of nonconformity have never, since the grand rebellion,
prevailed against the church; and if her members were true to themselves,
and to the cause they profess to espouse, in this happy country they
never would.  But if such projects as this, which your Lordship
recommends, become popular and numerous, and are supported by such
patronage as appears at the head of this—with tears, and many an
heart-rending pang, I must soon bid a last farewell to that venerable
mother, that chaste spouse of Christ, who hath borne many an illustrious
child of God, and many an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven!

What your Lordship, who has seen a little of the world, can expect from
such a meeting, but the usual manners and actions of those several
denominations you convene, what you can possibly calculate upon, but the
scratchings and sightings, which you know are usual with the parties when
on the outside of the tavern walls, it is difficult to guess.  Not one
friend do you attempt to gain for the church, nor to conciliate a single
foe.  They are to meet; and by the sweet call of charity, chanted most
musically from your Lordship’s lips, peace is to be preserved, and war is
no more to be known.  But it was to have been expected, that your
Lordship, who professes to be of the _established denominations_ of
Christians, if you had been disinclined to _assist_ the church, would
certainly not have _betrayed_ her, in any degree or mode; much less have
addressed a clergyman, inviting him to do the same.  My Lord, this I
never will believe was your own act and deed.  You have lent an
incautious ear to some insidious friend, who abuses your respectable name
to purposes of his own.  How else is it possible to conceive that your
Lordship could have invited me into an association, under such a
regulation as that which is numbered eleven? in which the committee,
(which is “to conduct the business of the society, appoint all officers,
except the treasurer, have power to call special meetings, and are
charged with procuring for the society suitable patronage) shall consist
of thirty-six laymen; of whom, twenty-four who shall have most frequently
attended, shall be eligible for re-election for the ensuing year; six
shall be foreigners, resident in London or its vicinity; half the
remainder shall be members of the Church of England, and the other half
members of other denominations of Christians!!!”

_We have here a standing majority against the church_!  Oh, my Lord, how
could you join in such a plot?  What could induce your Lordship to lend
your name to such a business as this; and why should you think so basely
of the clergy, as to tempt them, by you own example and fair reputation,
to sign the death warrant of the established church, and the instrument
of their own ruin?

It cannot escape you, my Lord, that at present (and thank God for it) the
church enjoys a very large majority against the combined members of all
the several tolerated denominations of Christians.  According to the most
authentic calculation, she can produce more than four of her members to
one dissenter.  So that if the constitution of your committee had been
formed upon a fair and righteous basis, there plainly should have been at
least _four_ churchmen to _one_ of the other denominations.  But here, my
lord, strange to tell, you propose to deprive the church of her natural
numbers and strength, you take from her, her best means of defence, and
invite her into the midst of her sworn enemies!  Where is the liberality
of this, my Lord?  Where is the justice?  The first temptation held out
to the public, is the _liberal basis_ of your establishment.  Is it
liberal, my Lord, to deprive one party of more than three fourths of its
strength, and to throw it among the others, who have no other right to
it, nor expectation of it, but what they derive from your Lordship?  No
doubt, my Lord, if you can gain your point, and can tempt the clergy into
your scheme, there will not be a single Nonconformist, Papist, Socinian,
or Quaker, silent in your praise.  No doubt your unbounded liberality
will be sounded forth, by every gospel-preacher in the church, and every
twanging teacher in the conventicle.  Ungrateful wretches would they be,
were they to pass by unnoticed, and un-eulogised so great a friend to
their cause.  A friend indeed; whole unexampled zeal and exertions in
their favour, must raise their memory to their halcyon days of 1648, and
fill their beating bosoms, with well-grounded hopes of once more
realizing those scenes, which, but for your Lordship, and a few other
_liberal_ men, they little expected to see.  But what will the _church_
say?  What will _four-fifths of the nation_ think of your Lordship’s
“liberal basis,” which is treacherously withdrawn from the established
church, to build up the walls of conventicles and meeting-houses?  Do you
expect that any honest clergyman, in his sound senses, can relish your
Lordship’s liberality, for such conduct as this?  It is too gross, my
Lord, to pass.  I am lost in astonishment and grief, when I see a man who
professes so much good-will to the pure Christianity of the country;
whole well-known integrity and respectable talents, might have tempted
the woe-worn church to look up to his piety and pity for relief; whose
rank and credit in the world, afford him much ability to bestow it; when
I see such a man engaged in a fearful scheme, by which our Zion may be
pulled down, and her enemies exalted upon her ruins—alas! for these
things I weep: “mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the
comforter that _should_ relieve my soul, is far from me.”

My Lord, I repeat it again, I am convinced you have been deceived.  Were
you a known enemy to the church, or even a suspected one, doubtless it
would be highly gratifying to your Lordship and companions, to accomplish
the object to which you solicit my concurrence.  At present, the church
is far too strong for her combined adversaries; the contest is unequal.
Confident, I am, there is none but an enemy could have advised this:—an
enemy, with whom it is far more dangerous to treat than to fight;
therefore let her take a friend’s advice, for once, and stand upon her
guard.  Let her be _true_ to herself, and the gates of hell shall never
prevail against her.

In point of strength, therefore, to establish herself, and to resist her
numerous foes, it is impossible that the church can be any gainer by your
Lordship’s heterogeneous society; on the contrary, it is perfectly
evident that she would be extremely injured; in as much as she is
deprived of _more than three-fourths_ of her natural strength, which is
given by your Lordship to the general mass of her avowed enemies.  A
standing majority of dissenters is constituted _against_ her.  Nor can I
devise one argument sufficient to tempt her, unshielded as she is, by
want of discipline and good government, to throw away that natural
defence which God Almighty has given her, and trust to the liberality and
protection of those who threaten, and are daily compassing her
destruction.

Nor is the church more likely to gain any thing to her dignity by her new
associates, than to her interest.  It is prophesied in scripture, as a
comfort to the church, that one day she should have “kings for her
nursing fathers, and queens for her nursing mothers.”  Your Lordship
holds out nothing of this sort in your society.  It cannot be denied that
a few nobility are found in your list, and some other folk of high rank,
but of such a description as we should not have expected to find there.
But, my Lord, as it is not the mere presence of a nobleman that can make
the company which he honours with his presence, either creditable or
polite, so I presume at once, that I am not required to consider your
association as a creditable one, merely because I find at its head your
Lordship, and a few other respectable names.  For when I cast my eye
downwards to the motley list of subscribers, I find such names as can
certainly reflect no credit upon the church.  There I recognize the
dissenting teacher, the Methodist preacher, the preaching blacksmith, &c.
who can make but awkward nurses of the church.  But one thing is plain,
that although _our_ credit will be no gainer by the company you propose,
it is not so with _them_.  If we may take their account of themselves,
their doctrines and communications have hitherto been confined chiefly to
the inferior ranks.  If your society succeeds, it will be a society for
“bettering their condition;” a thing to them, it may be presumed, by no
means unpleasant or ineligible.  The scriptures promise to none called
Christians but in the church; and history proves that none but the church
have enjoyed the splendor and favour of princes.  If, therefore, these
several denominations have not, and cannot procure, the nursing of kings
and queens, is it to be wondered at that they should be glad to share the
partiality of a nobleman or two? the benign influence of some wandering
star?

Moreover, as it is notorious that several _liberal_ friends of rank have
strenuously defended the dissenting denominations of Christians against
the one established, but scarcely any have been persuaded to quit their
connection with the church, and honour the meeting-house with their
presence; it would not be an easy thing for those several denominations
to prove their connection with their friends in the church, were it not
for the opportunities afforded them by societies established upon
“liberal basis.”  Here, indeed, it is with all the members, as the
proverb goes, “hail-fellow well met.”  All is unity and charity, and
Christian benevolence; and every thing that is good!  Here is realized
the pretty hand-in-hand frontispiece to the Christian Ladies Pocket Book,
1803.  In sweetest harmony we view the preaching shopman and the British
peer; the Methodist, and Baptist, and Independent, the Antinomian, &c.
&c. &c. and a venerable Bishop of the Church of England.  But, my Lord,
if it be fact that few men of opulence, and fewer still of rank, frequent
the conventicle or meeting-house, although several are well-known
supporters of the cause; if men of influence and consideration, who
continue to revile the church, still think proper to remain nominal
members of her communion; till I am favoured by your Lordship with a
better reason for this strange inconsistent behaviour, I am satisfied
with this; that _her_ society is that, which in spite of calumny is to be
preferred, that still, in their sober moments, even men of the world do
think it more creditable to be accounted members of our venerable church,
than a subscriber to the meeting-house; they proceed as if they adopted
the idea of the gay king, and thought that the church was fitter for
gentlemen than the conventicle.

It cannot, therefore, be upon the notion of adding respectability to the
church, that your Lordship fosters this institution: although it is
evident that much respectability may be reflected upon our dissenting
brethren by a connexion with the church.  This they know and feel, and by
their conduct avow; and certainly no man could object to see their
condition improved by connection with good company, were it not that the
society by which they are benefitted, must feel exactly the reverse by an
association with them.  The question in short must be put, who are the
gainers by this new connection?  The answer will direct us to the party
to which your Lordship, either by chance or design, has condescended to
favour, at the expence of the other.

May I crave your Lordship’s attention to consider another material point.
I speak as to a true Churchman; judge you what I say.  How is it likely
to fare with true religion, as to _purity_, when your association shall
be arranged and perfected according to the proposed plan?  A man of your
Lordship’s known integrity and serious turn of mind, cannot be supposed
to be a member of the church but from conviction; upon conviction, that
of all the several denominations of Christians, that established is the
purest and best; of course, that all others are not so pure, and, upon
the whole, are worse.

Now we read in the sacred volume, that evil communication corrupts good
manners.  “He that toucheth pitch,” saith the son of Sirach, “shall be
defiled therewith.”  Shall we not then extremely endanger the rectitude
of our opinions and manners, by constant and intimate communication with
all sorts of impure and erroneous religionists?  Familiarity would soon
lesson the deformity of the most abhorred doctrines, and daily
intercourse would in time smooth the way, first with ease to tolerate,
and then to favour acknowledged and pernicious errors.  And this I speak,
not with relation to that denomination alone, to which your Lordship
belongs; it holds with all the others in common.  The Socinian, for
instance, charges idolatry upon the Calvinist; the Calvinist returns the
charge, and accuses the other of denying his Saviour.  And is it
possible, that two such opposite sects can cordially unite for religious
purposes, and enter into familiar friendship, without considerable danger
to the purity of that creed, which each of them deems the true one?  Will
the Socinian deem it safe to give the right hand of fellowship to an
idolator; and will the Calvinist do the same to the despiser of his
redeemer?  Surely not; if they meet upon such terms as shall secure to
each party the purity of his faith, they must meet upon the ground of
religious indifference: for if each party be hearty in his cause, and
zealous for his religion, he will not only stiffly maintain it against
his friend; but, if he be touched with one feeling of benevolence, he
will endeavour to gain his friend to that side, which he considers as the
religion of God; and then, I presume, it is evident, that all security is
gone, with respect to the other’s faith; for the zeal of his friend will
be perpetually assailing what he deems the truth; and, doubtless, each
party will be always ready to quote against his friend, the strong words
of the Apostle Paul.  “What concord hath Christ with Belial?”  “What
part” will the Calvinist say, “hath he that believeth, with an infidel?”
Whilst the Socinian with equal spirit may retort, “What agreement hath
the temple of God with idols?”  To speak in no hardier terms of your
Lordship’s invitation into your association, than I feel by conscience
bound to speak; do you not my Lord, at least, lead the clergy into
temptation, a thing against which they daily pray?  And is it not
presumption, to trust themselves in the company of so many agreeable
gentleman, who, if they be honest, must infallibly endeavour to seduce
them from their first faith?  The divine grace is no where promised to
those who sin wilfully: and surely, it is to tempt God’s providence, to
expect to come off harmless, where we know he has in general made no way
to escape.  My Lord, “you _know_ your strength, and I know mine: neither
our own, but given.”  Nothing with me has such fascinating charms as good
company; and nothing sooner would seduce me from my principles.  Feeling
myself, therefore, too weak to say, that it is positively out of the
power of any of your friends to persuade me out of the means of
salvation, or to defraud me of the all-sufficient merits and atonement of
my adored Redeemer, I must in prudence, and in conscience, decline your
Lordship’s invitation.  I am perfectly aware that there are some chosen,
favoured persons, who seem to possess much greater fortitude and
spiritual strength, than I can boast, or than I judge, the bulk of
mankind can pretend to; doubtless, (for charity compels us so to
determine) they have by some revealed means, secured a more than ordinary
measure of grace, and so can safely make a bolder flight in the thickest
of this world’s temptations and trials; else, might we ignorantly ask,
what concord hath a mitre with a meeting-house?  Why should a clergyman
of the Church, be unequally yoked with a lovely sister of the
conventicle?  But upon these heads, my Lord, I refer you to a certain
officer of the society.  Perhaps, he can resolve us how a clergyman of
the church, can attend the meeting-house, without danger to his
principles, or gross indecorum towards the church, and its spiritual
superior.  He perhaps, can shew us too, how a clergyman of the church,
can securely, and without breach of trust, take his pupils to hear the
harangues of those who daily revile her.  This to common understandings,
does not appear to be the likely way “to banish and drive away all
erroneous and strange doctrines, contrary to God’s word,” which every
clergyman at his ordination solemnly promises to do.  It wants some
clearing up.  I am sure I have no such extraordinary grace, as to justify
me in any such dangerous experiments; and therefore, I dare not expose
myself to such temptations, as I see persons more spoken of for piety,
practice every day.  In short, my Lord, I confess my great fear, that
frequent communication with those whom we both consider as corrupt
concerning the faith, would in the end defile the purity of my own; and
therefore, without presumption, I cannot join myself to your Bible
Society.

But, permit me, my Lord, to state a still more important objection to
your proposed society, than any already mentioned.  How is the purity
even of the Holy Scriptures themselves to be secured, if the translation
and edition of the sacred book, are to be entrusted to all the different
denominations of Christians?  The translation of any book, is in effect,
and in a certain measure, neither more nor less, than an interpretation,
or exposition of the original; for what does the translator set forth,
but that which he thinks fit to consider as the sense of his original?
About the original of the scriptures, there can be no dispute, except as
to the genuine text; which we know is now so accurately ascertained, that
variations of any importance, are very few, and have very little effect
upon the essentials of religion.  But of the several possible senses
which may be given of text acknowledged to be genuine, there are a
prodigious number; and such variety, as are capable of affording a
specious proof, for the most pernicious errors.  Hence it has happened,
that christian princes have usually considered the translation, and
printing the Holy Scriptures, as fit objects for their interference and
controul.  Your Lordship will recollect the history of the Rhemish
Testament, and of other popish translations, and will not be ready, I
should imagine, to entrust either the translating or the editing the Holy
Scriptures, to the care of that denomination of Christians called
Papists.  You will call to mind the crafty trick practised by another
party, of substituting one little monosyllable for another, for the
purpose of quashing one of the strongest proofs of episcopacy, and
forcing the text to speak in favour of presbyterian ordination: and, it
is to be hoped, your Lordship would not wish to see a repetition of such
transactions, nor be willing to confide in such translations of God’s
sacred word, as might issue from the hands of that denomination of
Christians, which has been guilty in _our_ opinion of such unjustifiable
liberties.  But what has been, my Lord, may be again; nay, if these
people sent forth their several translations, as those which, in their
sincere judgment gave the truest sense of scripture; they acted at least
like honest men: and who will say, that the denominations of Christians,
who, in these times, have adopted all their doctrines, books, and
practices, are less honest than their predecessors?  And therefore, we
must expect, if the power be put into their hands, that they will give us
the same translations and editions of the Holy Book, as were given
before!  Hitherto, my Lord, all sober Christians have considered the
church, and not the conventicle, as the only pillar and ground of the
truth; the best witness, and keeper of Holy Writ.  But when the oracles
of God are forced from the hands of those who are appointed to keep them,
and are thrown to a mixed multitude of contending religionists, to give
them out in what shape they please, as the genuine and pure word.—My
Lord, you see the consequences, as clearly as I can.  And when it is
remembered, that in your society, there is _a standing majority against
the church_, what can we expert, if the plan become general, but that in
time our present pure English Bible will be thrust aside, to make way for
others, translated and annotated to the different tastes of Papists and
Presbyterians, and all the other denominations, to which this happy happy
country is laid to afford equal protection?  Every different party, has
now its doctrine, has its interpretation;—but then each will have its
Bible too.

I shall here, my Lord, put a period to my address, not because I have
enumerated all the evils, which I see must follow such projects as that
you recommend; I have mentioned not a tenth part; but, because I am
persuaded, that if your Lordship be decidedly averse from listening to
any representation, in prejudice of your society, I have said enough to
exhaust your patience.  If you be inclined, (notwithstanding your present
engagement to patronize the scheme,) candidly to listen to the
suggestions of those who are unfriendly to it; I have said more than
enough, to awaken your Lordship’s apprehensions, and to procure your
patient, and very serious investigation of my objections.

                              I am, my Lord,

                                         Your Lordship’s obedient Servant.

Since these sheets were sent to the press, the author has been credibly
informed, that the British and Foreign Bible Society are at this time
preparing an edition of the Holy Scriptures in the Welch language, in
which, such liberties are taken in the translation as are by no means
warrantable.  He here gives it merely as a report, himself being
unacquainted with the Welch language, and therefore unable to examine it,
and determine how far it be true.  If however, it be in the least degree
founded in fact, Lord T., he presumes, will feel himself irresistibly
called upon to bestow his very serious attention upon those pages of the
address, which allude to this important subject; especially, when he is
informed, that the same representation has been made to the Society for
Promoting Christian Knowledge, who have thought proper to make further
enquiries upon the subject.

The author has been likewise told, that the distribution of tracts, as
well as bibles, was in the original plan of some of the first projectors
of this scheme, one of whom is known to be a zealous adversary of the
establishment.  Lord T. doubtless, has full information upon all points,
respecting the characters of the projectors, and will be able to
determine what degree of attention is due to those fears and forebodings,
so strongly suggested upon this head.

                                * * * * *

                                  FINIS.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                        _Bye and Law_, _Printers_,
                   _St. John’s-Square_, _Clerkenwell_.





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