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“ Prove all things ; hold fast that which is good.”—1 Thess, v. 21.
SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, AND CO.
STATIONERS' HALL COURT.
I presume respectfully to address you on a subject of paramount importance to the religious welfare and prosperity of Great Britaina subject, therefore, not undeserving the attention of the Primate of the English Church. And I have the greater satisfaction in doing so, inasmuch as from the time of your Grace's advancement to the See of London, I bave retained a lively impression of your candour and courtesyan impression received a short time before that event, while in conversation with a highly-respected and valued friend of your Lordship.
Your Grace is aware, that the introduction of the Factories' Bill into the House of Commons, by Sir James Graham, during last Session of Parliament, had the effect of directing the attention of the Nonconformists to the Church Catechism, and that their objections to that formulary constituted one of the principal grounds of their opposition to the Bill. I believe, my
Lord, the Nonconformists admit some portions of he Catechism to be intrinsically good, but regard others as conveying erroneous views of essential Scripture truth ; and therefore that, viewed as a whole, it is calculated to obstruct, rather than promote, the formation of genuine christian cha· racter, and so to defeat the main object of christian instruction. With such sentiments, and conceiving they had just reason to apprehend that the plan of education embodied in Sir James Graham's Bill, if realized, would injuriously interfere with the communication-as to an extensive portion of the rising population of the countryof religious instruction, in their opinion more consonant with the Scriptures, one cannot reasonably wonder at their opposition to the Bill, or at the remarkable promptitude, co-operation, energy, and perseverance displayed by them in the prosecution of their object.
But, my Lord, if the Church Catechism be really liable to objections justly founded on the Scriptures, as the Nonconformists contend, similar to those which occasioned their late exertions to prevent the use of it beyond the congregational limits of the Established Church, it may also be imperative, both on the Church and on the State, to adopt measures to prevent the use of it, in its present form, within those limits. And as, in consequence of the large addition lately made to the Church Education Fund, a
very considerable increase in the number of schools in connexion with the Establishment is contemplated, which, indeed, are partly in progress, the present appears to me not an unsuitable time for the Church to submit its Catechism to careful examination with a view to revision ; in the prosecution of which work an impartial comparison with, and an inflexible adherence to the Scriptures would, of course, be indispensable.
As I feel no inclination, even at my advanced period of life, to urge others to engage in a work towards which I myself will contribute nothing, I purpose, in the present letter, with great respect and deference, to submit for the consideration of your Grace, independently of what others may have publicly advanced on the subject, that which has occurred to my own mind on what, at least, I conscientiously intended to be an unbiassed and impartial examination of the Manual of Instruction now in question.
In pursuing the proposed inquiry, my aim will be to follow the course of the Catechism itself, but it is probable that I shall sometimes find it necessary to deviate from this line; especially when the argument shall require portions of it, lying apart from each other, to be brought together in one view.
I beg leave, in the first place, to invite your Lordship’s attention to the answer which the Catechism is instructed to make to the