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WHICH ATTEND THE
STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURES
IN THE WAY OF
IN ORDER TO SHEW TIIAT,
SINCE SUCH A STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURES IS MEN'S INDISPENSA-
(AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE) THOSE DISCOURAGEMENTS :
IN A LETTER TO A YOUNG CLERGYMAN.
FRANCIS HARE, D.D.,
SUCCESSIVELY DEAN OF WORCESTER AND ST. PAUL'S, AND
LORD BISHOP OF ST. ASAPH AND CHICHESTER.
FROM Tue 800 EDITION OF HIS WORKS, PUBLISHED IN 1746.
EFFINGHAM WILSON, 18, BISHOPSGATE STREET;
The following Letter has been pronounced "one of the best pieces of irony in the English language.” It was published anonymously, and was so well received that it went through several impressions in a few years.
The author is said by Whiston (Memoirs, p. 102) to have “ aimed to conceal himself, finding this paper rather an hindrance to preferment;" but the writer was early discovered, and the Tract stands as part of Bishop Hare's Works, collected in the year 1746, into 4 Volumes 8vo. It will be seen by these Works that the shrewd Prelate acted upon
his own sense of “Difficulties and Discouragements," and turned from the study of the Scriptures to the more profitable course for an author, even though an ecclesiastic, namely, Party Politics.
No one can now mistake the object of the Letter ; yet the Convocation was offended at its humour, and, says Whiston, (ubi sup.,) “fell upon the writer, as if he were really against the study of the Scriptures.”
It cannot be thought unseasonable to reprint the Tract at a period when “The Bible, the Bible only," is the publicly-declared motto of an immense body
of Christians, and is inscribed in flaming colours upon all exclusive Protestant banners. The intelligent reader will learn from it the twofold lesson,(1) the inconsistency of asserting the sufficiency and supremacy of the Bible, while no care is taken bring before the people an unexceptionable Text and a perfect Translation--nay, while every effort of this kind is frowned upon, and the labourer in this department of sacred learning is usually reviled for his pains; and (2) the absurdity and even cruelty of calling upon men, as they value their souls, to read and judge of the Scriptures for themselves, and then giving them hard names, denying them Christian privileges and trying to deprive them of civil rights, if, in the exercise of the Protestant Right and Duty of Private Judgment, they arrive at conclusions not palatable to the multitude, or not agreeable to some local and temporary standard of truth, which, like St. Paul's idol, has been “graven by art and man's device."
The two biblical scholars whose case is cited by the author in illustration of his argument, are the celebrated WILL. WHISTON, the Mathematical Professor at Cambridge, and Dr. SAMUEL CLARK, the Rector of St. James's: the characters of both are, according to the invariable testimony of their contemporaries, faithfully and admirably drawn.
A YOUNG CLERGYMAN.
Sir, I do not wonder at the surprise with which you received, when we were last together, the advice I ventured to give you in relation to the Study of the Scriptures. For one who is a clergyman himself to seem to dissuade those of his own order from a study that has so many arguments to recommend it, and which, in the opinion of all good men, ought to be their chief business, has, I confess, the appearance of a strange paradox, and that of the worst sort. It looks like Popery and Priestcraft; and therefore young and tender minds may easily be forgiven if they startle at the first proposal of it, those especially who have a just sense of the excellency and inspiration of the Scriptures, and are eagerly bent on the pursuit of such truths as more immediately tend to the advancement of virtue and religion. As you are of that number, and went into orders with no other view but that you might the better study the Scriptures yourself, and advance the knowledge of them in the world, it was not to be expected you should presently come into other sentiments; which I am so far from taking amiss, that I think it to your commendation, that neither the affection nor esteem you so often express for an old friend, could prevail with you to act a part that might have the appearance of levity in a matter of so much consequence. is it less for your credit, that you can retain your opinion without losing your temper or shewing a backwardness to hear what is to be said against it. Most tempers run into extremes; they are either too volatile to be fixed, or else so fixed that no force of argument can move them. But it is your happiness that you can adhere without ob