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CHARTER CONSTITUTION, BY-LAWS,
OFFICES OF DEVOTION
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JOE THE PROMOTION OF
NO. 11 BIBLE HOUSE, ASTOR PLACE.
A Society, with the above name, having been organized during the present session of the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in these United States, by several of the Bishops, Clergy, and Laity of said Church, it becomes a matter of obvious propriety that they should submit to their brethren and friends the views by which they have been governed in their work. They invite your attention
I. XIBST, TO THE EIGHT TO ORGANIZE.
The Association which we have formed involves action on the voluntary principle. On this point we enter into no argument. We have acted on the already recognized right thus to organize. The right, among Episcopalians, to hold differing opinions—within the limits of orthodoxy in the faith, and of loyalty to the Church—carries with it the right to maintain these opinions, and to associate for their maintenance. Several of the most important of our religious societies are organized on the voluntary principle.*
We assert for ourselves the right to organize on the same basis. Permit us now to detain you a few moments upon
II. SECOND, THE SEASONS FOE O&GANIZING.
These have a relation to the object of our association; and this object leads us to the use of the press. Our reasons, then, for organizing for the religious use of the press are resolvable into two. We organize
1. First, because error is spreading through our Church.
It is not necessary, at this point, to enter into particulars. Unhappily we shall be too well understood by the mere allusion. We will therefore but say, in the general, that we refer to errors against which our judgments and our consciences constrain us to bear a solemn and most earnest testimony; errors touching both doctrine and the Church; both the way and the means of salvation.
With us the question is—not whether men may not hold important truths in connection with these errors— but whether these errors, spreading with the lapse of ages, and moulding the mind of successive generations, do not put saving truth more and more out of sight, till finally they leave countless multitudes without that whereby the Holy Spirit renews and sanctifies us in Christ Jesus; and whether, if operating without an antidote, they have not a
* The General S. S. Union, the New-York Tract Society, and the various Bible, Tract and Homily Societies are voluntary institutions.
present and immediate tendency to jeopard the salvation of the soul 1 This is the question which we have to consider; and our consideration obliges us to answer it in a way which, in our judgment, renders some such organization as the present imperative. As we have "learned Christ," we hold these errors to he dangerously corrupting to a pure Gospel and a pure Church, and deeply perilous to "a good hope through grace." We can not, for an hour, give place to the plea that they are errors in words more than in things. In our "best judgments, they affect the vital parts of the religion of Christ. We organize
2. Second, because without organization we are, and must be, instrumental in the propagation of these errors.
By our involuntary influence, by the implied sanction of our names, and by the indirect contribution of our means, we are, under our ordinary modes of action,' constrained to aid in disseminating views, against which our consciences have solemnly bound us to testify. At present, the stream of error, far too inadequately opposed, runs through every portion of our Church. Except to a limited extent, we caii not check its flow. With a power which at present it is difficult to resist, the press among us is subsidiary to the spread of a most perilous infection; and by our silence and want of organization, we label the poison as "Good Medicine" for our families and our parishes. Except when its character is already known, we can not buy a book for the family till we have read it; nor purchase a dozen for a Sunday-school library till we have studied perhaps fifty. We must have an organization for publishing, selecting, and sanctioning such books and tracts as we approve, and for furnishing them to our families and our parishes through our own recognized de