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half the street, with water of less value than the former, and at a superior expense to the individuals benefited. An association in the Seagate for digging wells would not be more ridiculous than a Scottish Bible Society. It would injure the general subscription, and thereby affect the interest of the whole town. And this unlucky diversion would be found to carry along with it more expense and less benefit to the very promoters of it. When I say that a separate society must produce an inferior article, I am quite correct. The power of capital multiplies beyond its own rate of increase.
£20,000 a year can effect more than twenty times what £1000 a year can effect. And think of the privilege which the London Society has of working off Bibles at a University press. This explains the cheap rate at which they can afford Bibles.
There is one circumstance which should never be forgotten in the administration of your society. You may overdo the supply of home objects-this is the great mischief to be apprehended from the Scottish. To prove its utility, it must do something; and to manifest its importance, it will make that something as much as possible. The peasants of Scotland purchase Bibles for themselves. This is too fine a habit to be repressed or tampered with. Our people think a Bible worthy of its price. They should be left to make the sacrifice. It endears the Bible more to them. And you may conceive the mischief that must accrue from an officious society substituting its own bounty, and issuing Bibles from their public repository in the same business style that they would distribute soup, or shoes, or greatcoats, or breeches. The auxiliary societies in England often detain one half for home objects. But remember that in England the habit is yet to form. In Scotland the habit is formed already; and to do any thing which can trench upon this habit would be to do an incalculable mischief. If the man who, at this moment, depends upon himself for a Bible, and actually buys one, is led by the indiscreet administration of your funds to depend upon the society, what becomes of that man when this dependence
He has lost the habit of purchasing for himself; and the security that Bibles shall be read, and possessed, and valued by our people, is transferred from the deeply-seated principles of their own hearts to the precarious exertions of a society irregular in its movements and uncertain in its duration. Send as much as possible to the London Society; avail yourselves as little of your privilege as auxiliary societies as is absolutely necessary.
No. II.-MR. JAMES ANDERSON TO DR. CHALMERS.
DUNDEE, 11th June, 1812. MY DEAR SIR-I am ashamed I have been so long in acknowledging your kindness at Kilmany, and the happiness I enjoyed under your roof. Could I maintain the impressions I there received, I would deem my Christian course rapidly progressive; but I am here in a widely different scene-little favorable to sober thinking. My mind, distracted with the bustle and cold-heartedness of business, recurs with difficulty to the contemplations of religion; and the want of a friend with whom I can communicate on these subjects deprives me of that excitement which is the life of every pursuit. I, however, feel myself much more decidedly attached to Christianity, and I hope, by the blessing of God, to attain the stability. of a true disciple of Jesus. I every day see more and more the propriety of deriving my religion from the uncommented oracles of God, and of forming my system on the connected declarations of the New Testament. I wish to unshackle myself from the vassalage of text-books, summaries, and human systems. I wish to give the Bible a fair trial; for if it alone is not sufficient to make a Christian, "we are of all men most miserable." I at present, therefore, confine myself to the perusal of the Bible, and occasionally some book of practical morality. I find many things which I do not understand many passages, indeed, totally unintelligible; but these difficulties are to be got over, not by a religious com
mentary, but by a classical criticism. I conceive, every duty of a Christian to be comprehended in the single word translation—a translation of the Scriptures into his own tongue, and a translation of their truths into his own heart and conduct. All we have to do is to ascertain the doctrines, and to believe them; to ascertain the duties, and to practice them; to make the Bible our vade mecum, our book of reference, our book of trust. I will rejoice, after my opinions are settled, to examine those of others; but I think it is inverting the process to begin with the latter. My objections to the school of theological orthodoxy are three: First, its tenets are not authoritative, and therefore may be wrong. Next, its tenets are not progressive. The New Testament gives you Christianity in its growth; a system of divinity displays it at some given step of its progress, or at best at its maturity. The latter is a religion of results. It has been formed by a man who has become unconscious of the steps of his own cogitations, and who, from familiarity with demonstrative truths, now regards them as axioms. He, from the sublime height of his own conceptions, looks down with contempt on the man who complains that he has removed the ladder by which he first ascended; and, accustomed to the wide ken of his own exalted region, wonders at those whose views rest within a narrower horizon. How different the system of the Bible! It leads you on step by step, and accommodates its lessons to your capacity. While perusing it, one naturally fixes on the truths which are most congenial; familiarity with these prepares us for others more remote, until we at length embrace the whole scheme of the Gospel. Thus, I may first delight to dwell on the Gospel morality; a second perusal may show that faith is also necessary; a third perusal may convince me that morality and faith must be united, and that it is not a union of separate acts, but of consequential duties; and I may finally come to the conclusion that our salvation resolves itself into a simple and disencumbered act of acceptance. But if you at once come forward with this last proposition, you present me with
a system in which I can not sympathize, and which, however well founded, rests on what must be to me a metaphysical distinction, until I arrive at it by a process of individual experience. My third objection is, that theological orthodoxy is too stimulative. It begets a disrelish for the simple excitement of the Gospel. It urges you by such a multiplicity of motives that you become too passive for a New Testament impulse. It clothes the doctrines in so much metaphysical acumen that you consider their Gospel dress as slovenly, and it anatomizes the precepts so much, that the simple exhibition of a text suggests no ideas of vitality. We revel in a kind of religious epicurism, and lose all taste for sober fare.
These and similar considerations have made me resolve to study, in the mean time, only the New Testament. I may not thus so well prepare myself for classing with a particular sect; but I will have greater security in my own principles, and in my intercourse with others I will be more ready to observe the maxim, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but you can not bear them now."
I will soon write you again. And requesting your prayers for my progress, I remain, my dear friend, yours,
No. III.-MR. JAMES ANDERSON TO DR. CHALMERS.
DUNDEE, 16th July, 1812.
MY DEAR SIR-I have expected a letter from you for two or three weeks past, but have been disappointed. I wish our correspondence could assume a more decided and regular form, and that I might be able to leave the generalities, which have hitherto occupied me, and proceed to the characteristic parts of Christianity. I must, however, once more beg of you to permit me to state the sentiments under which peruse my Bible, for even on this point I feel perplexed, and I see it occupying so prominent a place in the systems of matured Christians as to disconcert me with regard to the very first steps of my progress.