« 上一頁繼續 »
those to do it who will not bungle. Remembering that they are directing the application of the chisel to chef-d'oeuvres, they should employ those who will not maul them. A blacksmith should not be set to mend a watch, nor a stone-mason to alter the Belvidere Apollo. The work should be done by one thoroughly and scientifically acquainted with doctrinal and practical theology, as well as familiar with the scope and spirit of the author, and with the peculiar views of the several denominations included in the Society. We think that whoever has made alterations hitherto, has had his eye directed by the benevolence of his heart, more toward the destitute masses for whom the volumes of the Society are chiefly intended, than toward the intelligent Christian readers and scholars who are jealous for the integrity of the works, which, next to the Bible, they love. We have been ourselves more troubled by the nature than the fact of the alterations. We think that many of them are entirely unnecessary, and that some of them evince, not merely a difference of opinion between denominations, but also a yielding to the littleness of the sectarian spirit. We think also—for we should speak plainly on this point if at all—that some of these changes have been unskillfully made—made in violation of scientific and judicious rules, both of rhetoric and theology. We can not afford room for instances. Some of them have been widely published, and have made a deep impression. We will allude to one— the alteration of the main propositions of Edwards's Treatise on Redemption. In the general introduction to that treatise, under the head of Doctrine, the author gives a summary definition and statement of the terms to be used, and of the positions to be established. The design of the work of Redemption he summarily expresses in five propo
sitions. Two of these propositions, and these the most important, have been altered This is enough to set theological and rhetorical teeth on edge. The very frame-work of the building, the chief bones of the body, are changed. Now this alter. ation was entirely unnecessary; for the same sentiments are inwrought in the whole work, and formal expressions of them are left, perhaps abundantly, and some even on the same page. But if they were ne: cessary for the Society's purposes, they should not be made. If the Publishing Committee can not adapt a treatise to the channels of the Society without altering its main propositions—its frame-work—we say, let that treatise be given up as im: practicable. Against such altera. tions, theology, logic, taste, nerves, cry out. We have not seen any public defense of this alteration, but we have heard that it has been privately defended, thus. These are not main propositions. Proof. —They are enclosed in a parenthesis. To this we answer: In the edition before us they are not enclosed in a parenthesis. And if they were, what then 2 Who does not know that some of the old writers used the parenthesis very freely, as modern writers do the dash, and often to include very weighty mat. ter? We have no patience to ar. gue such a point. It is the merest quibble, and every uncommitted man, who knows the nature of a parenthesis, will say so. We have thus briefly stated our views of the course which ought to be pursued by the committee of the Tract Society in the present exi. gency. We have carefully and anxiously watched the expressions of dissatisfaction, and the astonishment and grief, which exposure of the alterations in works of history, and of practical and doctrinal the ology, has produced. We have consulted with many lovers of the Society wiser than ourselves, and
we believe that the course of which we have spoken is not only right in itself, but will satisfy the members and friends of the Society, and heal the present alarming and growing difficulty. It will, we think, satisfy those who have uttered complaint, and made exposures of the alterations. “The Committee of the Synod of New York and New Jersey”—though in their publications on this subject, if we understand their commission, they ought to act, and if we understand their own explanations, they do act, not as “Committee of the Synod,” but simply as individuals, will, we should judge, be satisfied with this. For, though at first they seemed hardly to see their way clear, and to walk rather gropingly, and have appeared from time to time to change their ground, and have uniformly perhaps taken stronger ground than we, yet the gist of their objections has been, the falsification of historical testimony, and the tendency of the alteration of practical and doctrinal works to destroy the authority and bury in oblivion the arguments of standard writers on interdenominational questions. If this can be obviated, their anxiety and alarm will cease. The executive committee of the Boston Tract Society have marked out essentially this course, in their late “appeal to the members and friends of the American Tract Society in New England.” They say,+
“We come now, in the second place, to speak more directly with regard to the
rinciple and practice of accommodating É. to the great object thus contemplated by the Society.
“It would be a misfortune if this Society should present itself to any mind with its incidental arrangement of revising books in undue prominence. The revision of books is not the object for which the Society exists. It seeks to make known salvation by Christ through books and tracts to the largest possible number of souls in our land. When this can be promoted by issuing books which require no alteration, all will agree that this, for every reason, should be done; and such has §on the practice of the Publishing
Wol. III. 36
Committee. But when a book can, in the view of the Committee, promote the great object for which it was written more ef. fectually in the hands of the Society by certain changes or omissions, they feel that it is their duty to make them, and the book being thus prepared, as they think, in the very best way to teach the greatest number of minds the truths necessary to o they send it broadcast over the and.” “It is right and fair that each book which is altered by the Publishing Committee should apprise the reader of the fact. While it would be injudicious to make such a notice obtrusive, and while a desire to manifest conscientiousness may be so expressed as to defeat its own good intentions, it is indispensable that every book which is altered should not be in any danger of passing as the exact production of the author. If the present notices in any of the books are not sufficient, it will be easy to make them so. The Publishing Committee have assured us that every book which is altered shall contain such a notice, informing the reader of the nature of the alterations in it, without relying on his supposed knowl
edge of the Society's plan of publications
to suggest to him that alterations may have been made. They have also expressed their intention to prefix such a notice to all the future issues of their present publications which o require it. It will then be understood that those who wish for the works in their original form must look elsewhere sor them than to this Society, and those who are willing to circulate or receive books which, while they have been revised by the Publishing Committee for more extensive circulation, are still substantially as they were written, may avail themselves of the privilege.”— .American.Messenger, March, 1845, p. 15.
In other words they say, Let changes when made, be made cautiously and judiciously, and be distinctly announced. Let not the Committee presume on the reader's knowledge of the Society's basis of union for information as to the fact and nature of the alterations; but let them be so announced in the preface, as, that the work altered “shall not be in any danger of passing as the exact production of the author.” This ground, the defenders of the Tract Society have generally taken. The New York Observer, which has defended the course of the Committee, concedes that alterations should “be judiciously made and distinctly announced.” We think, therefore, that on this general ground the whole difficulty may be harmoniously adjusted. But, while this ground of adjustment has been indicated both by those who have assailed and those who have defended the course of the Publishing Committee in making changes in books, it has not been taken, or if taken, has not been announced by the Committee themselves. They have published in the American Messenger, the appeal of the Boston Executive Committee. But they have not announced the principles and positions of that document as their own. The Boston brethren inform us in their appeal, that the Publishing Committee have promised them, that the course indicated in that appeal, i. e. judicious alterations and distinct announcements, shall be pursued hereafter ; also, that the announcements of alterations in works already published, which are not sufficiently full and distinct, shall be made so. But the Publishing Committee have given no such assurance to the community. We looked anxiously for such an assurance in the address of the Committee which accompanied the republication of this Boston appeal. But we were disappointed. We did not find it, nor any thing which looked like it. For ourselves, we distinctly and emphatically say, that we can not be satisfied, and we fully believe that the New England Congregationalists will not be satisfied, until a frank, full and formal announcement is made by the Publishing Committee, that this ground is taken, and that this course will be hereafter pursued. We make no apology for speaking thus plainly on this subject. We have not commenced the discussion. We have regretted the mode of its commencement. We regret that those who have seen evil in the acts of the Publishing Committee did not
make their attempts to remedy it through the channels of the Society— did not take the course which the constitution of the Society points out for the correction, by the members of the Society, of any errors in the conduct of its officers.” But we find a discussion going on in the public channels of communication— a discussion which, unless arrested by a satisfactory adjustment of difficulties, will we fear seriously injure,
if not destroy the Society. The
Society depends for its usefulness and existence on the confidence of its members and patrons. If that confidence be destroyed, its usefulness and existence are ended. This fact, on the one hand, should produce great candor and caution, and forbearance, and orderliness of method in those who have complaints to offer; and on the other hand, it should induce a disposition in its of ficers, to attend to every breath of dissatisfaction among its members and friends, whether coming to them as individuals, or as officers, whether coming with due observance of technical order or not; and to be ready for inquiry and explanation, and adjustment, and a reference to their constituency—a disposition carefully to avoid creating distrust of the Society, and injuring its usefulness by undue partiality for their own acts, by pertinacity of opinion,
* The 10th and 4th articles of the Constitution of the Tract Society are as follows:
“Article X-The president, or, in his absence, the vice-president, or other officer first on the list in the city of New York, at the request of five directors, ma call special meetings of the board of directors, causing three days' notice of such meetings to be given. The board of directors shall have power to call special meetings of the society.”
“Article IV.-The society shall meet annually, on Wednesday immediately proceding the second Thursday in May, when the proceedings of the foregoing year shall be reported, and a board, consisting of a president, vice-presidents, secretaries, a treasurer, two auditors, and thirty-six directors, shall be chosen.”
or obstinacy of spirit, or assumed independence of the great body whose responsible agents they are, or by the imputation, public or private, of sinister motives to those who complain of their course. In conclusion, we assure our brethren of the Publishing and Executive Committee, of our sympathy with them in their trying situation. They have labored hard, and with excellent intentions, and it is doubtless grievous to them to find that any of their acts have been unsatisfactory. We hope that they may be divinely guided. We think that they are in danger of mistaking the state of the public mind and will. We have seen some indications of a disposition to consider the fact that the recent discussions have not diminished the receipts of the Society as a verdict against the complaints, and in favor of the course of the Committee. We do not like this disposition; and we protest in behalf of the Society, against such a mode of settling the pending questions. It is a mode which is by no means immediately decisive, a mode by which in so short a time, the public decision can not at all be inferred. We know that many have given to the Society, within a few months past, more freely than formerly, not because they wholly approve of the course of the Committee, but lest it should appear that the Society had already lost public confidence. We know that many have given, with the full conviction, that after what has happened, the errors complained of will not be repeated. We know that others have given under protest against those errors, and given more liberally than usual to evince the impartiality and friendliness of their protest. It is a mode of judgment which will ultimately indeed be entirely decisive. If tried long enough, it will settle the question as to the public verdict. But the decision, if unfavorable to the Committee's course,
will not be known till pronounced by the Society's injury and ruin. We protest therefore, in behalf of the Society, against a mode of ascertaining public opinion so dangerous to the strength and life of the Society. There is a more excellent way. Our prayer is, that wisdom and grace may be given to the Executive Committee to meet the present exigency with a right spirit and with excellent judgment. Then we are sure that the result of these discussions and trials will be an enlarged and strengthened confidence in a Society which they and we greatly love.
Postscript—Since the preceding article went to press, we have seen the Report of the Pastoral Association of Philadelphia, on the publications of the Tract Society. One of their resolutions takes a decided position against “any alteration being made in the works of any author at the suggestion of a sect, or so as to suit the basis of the union of the Tract Society, except where the consent of a living author has been obtained.”
The whole report, coming from a source so able and candid, is entitled to immediate and full consideration. A position, similar to that expressed in the resolution to which we have referred, has been taken by other Associations of ministers, and by the correspondents and editors of several religious journals, some of whom testify that the same opinion prevails in the community around them. We think these indications plainly point to the policy which we have suggested—viz. the writing, rather than the altering of books to suit the basis of the Society's union. That policy ought to be adopted at once, and a supply of books procured in accordance with it as soon as practicable. We think, however, that the position taken in the above resolution ought not to be at present insisted on. We believe that it can not be defended and maintained in its full length and breadth. We earnestly desire that all differences may be adjusted on the ground which has been indicated in the preceding article, and in various other quarters—viz. cautious, skillful and judicious alterations, and distinct announcements. True, there is room for difference of opinion as to the meaning of distinct announcements. That meaning should be accurately defined and settled. The meaning which we give it, is fully expressed in the foregoing pages.
“To this complexion must we come at last.” How irresistible is the tendency by which all ecclesiastical institutions and arrangements in this Congregational and “dissenting’ country, are carried towards the euthanasia of democracy. Behold a bishop in undisputed succession from the Apostles, canonically accused and presented for trial by brother bishops—canonically tried by a court, including all the bishops of the Anglo-American Catholic church in conclave assembled— canonically found guilty, and formally sentenced. And what next 2 All parties—as if perfectly conscious that the proceedings up to this point, are merely preliminary to the inquiry and decision upon which all
* The Proceedings of the Court convened under the third canon of 1844 in the city of New York, on Tuesday, December 10, 1844, for the trial of the Right Rev. Benjamin T. Onderdonk, D. D. Bishop of New York, on a presentment made § the Bishops of Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia. By authority of the Court. New York: B. Appleton & Co., 1845, pp. 334. A Narrative of Facts which led to the presentment of the Rt. Rev. Benjamin T. Onderdonk, Bishop of New York. By Paul Trapier, Presbyter of the Diocese of South Carolina. New York: Stanford & Swords, 1845. pp. 24. Bishop Onderdonk's Statement. A Statement of Facts and Circumstances connected with the recent trial of the Bishop of New York. New York: Henry M. Qnderdonk, 1845, pp. 32. The Trial tried ; or the Bishop and the Court at the bar of public opiniou. B Laicus. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1845. pp. 24. Statement of Bishop Meade, in reply to some parts of Bishop Onderdonk's Statement of Facts and Circumstances connected with his trial. New York: Stanford & Swords, 1845. pp. 22. Facts connected with the presentment of Bishop Onderdonk : a Reply to parts of the Bishop's Statement. By %. Jay, one of the counsel originally, employed by the presenting Bishops. New §." §...". Swords, 1845. pp. 24.
must turn—unite in carrying the entire case before the tribunal of “public opinion.” The conclave of bishops, by making an official communication of the whole matter to the public, with all the details of the testimony, and the arguments of counsel learned in the law, and with their own arguments elaborately set down, seem to acknowledge very distinctly that they can do little more than to present the culprit for trial at the bar of a higher tribunal than their own ; and that he must stand or fall, not by their decision merely, but by the verdict which “the church,” not their church only, but the “church catholic” in these United States, the entire “congregation' of the Christian people in this Christian land, shall pronounce after due consideration of the testimony and the argument. Bishop Onderdonk himself, and his friends from Laicus to the editor of the Evening Mirror, are agreed with the court of bishops, in appearing to plead before the tribunal against whose decision no sentence of any inferior court can have any validity. Mr. Trapier, Mr. Richmond, Bishop Meade, Mr. Jay, all unite with the court of bishops, and with the respondent and his friends, in getting the whole case intelligibly and exactly before the public. Here all are right. The proceeding is not only democratic, but at the same time truly catholic. “Tell it to the church,” is a rule older and of better authority than the ‘decretals of Isidore,' or the “canons of the Apostles.” What the decision of the public will be on this case, we have no doubt. We introduce the subject here, not because we suppose that it is particularly incumbent on us to pronounce that decision; nor with the idea that the decision of the tri