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THE SECOND EDITION,
ON MR. HALLEY’S PAMPHLET.
To be impartial to every body, we must say, that those who engage in disputes with the Socinians, and take new roads, seldom fail to lose their way.
CONTAINING Observations on “ The Improved Version
truly designated a Creed, A Letter to the Rev. James Yates, M. A., containing an Examination of his Letter to the Vice-Chancellor, &c., by Robert Halley, of Highbury College.” London, 1834. 8vo., pp. 68.
It has been the opinion of many of those who have attended to the Judgment of the Vice-Chancellor, in the case of Attorney-General v. Shore, that although in removing the two sets of Trustees he decided right, yet he came to his decision in a wrong way. Mr. Halley appears to go still further, as he takes the same view of the evidence even of the premises, upon which that decision was founded: for, although he agrees with the Vice-Chancellor in considering the “Improved Version” as a Creed, he totally differs from him respecting the reasons for considering it as a Creed. The Vice-Chancellor maintained, that its authors had by a plan of systematic and deliberate fraud fabricated a book, which they pretended to be a translation of the New Testament, when they knew it was not a translation. Mr. Halley has too much generosity to impute to them any such baseness : “I am sure,” says he (p. 5), “I have not the slightest intention of insinu“ating that they were so montrously wicked, as wilfully “and deliberately to falsify the records of divine grace." He only charges them with translating under the influence of a very strong theological bias.
The Vice-Chancellor likewise produced a number of passages, as specimens of the fraudulent manner of translating the whole book. Mr. Halley thinks that in about half of these instances no fault is to be found with the translation ; but he asserts that almost every chapter exhibits other instances, which prove the same thing.
In short, many have thought His Honour right in pronouncing that the Trustees onght to be removed, although he pronounced so upon erroneous grounds. Mr. Halley thinks him right in declaring the “Improved Version" a
Creed, although he advanced this declaration also upon erroneous grounds.
The Vice-Chancellor's Judgment consisted of a series of propositions and conclusions depending on one another in such a way, as to form that species of proof, which logicians call a Sorites. It may be useful to display the links of this Sorites in their proper order and connexion.
Every Trustee of a charitable institution must be supposed to concur in all the religious opinions and to be responsible for all the actions of every one of his co-trustees.
Every subscriber to a society which circulates religious books, must be supposed to hold all the opinions contained in any one of the books circulated by that society.
Therefore every Trustee must be supposed to assent to every opinion in every religious book, circulated by any society to which any of his co-trustees muy contribute.
But Mr. Wellbeloved, Mr. Kenrick, and Mr. Shore are convicted of subscribing to the British and Foreign Unitarian Association, which circulates the book called the “ Improved Version."
Therefore all their co-trustees, as well as themselves, must be supposed to concur in every opinion which is expressed in the so-called “ Improved Version.”
Moreover, every Trustee is required to concur in every religious opinion held either by the founder of the trust, or by any of its beneficiaries.
Lady Hewley is proved, by expressions contained in her trust-deeds and by her friendship for Dr. Colton, to have held opinions at variance with those expressed in the “ Improved Version.”
All Presbyterian ladies, who have left endowments for the benefit of old women, must have expected that those old women should to all eternity hold precisely the same religious opinions with themselves.
Hence we deduce the sum of the whole matter, viz. that the fact of three Trustees, Mr. Wellbeloved, Mr. Kenrick, and Mr. Shore, subscribing to the British and Foreign Unitarian Association, is a sufficient evidence that neither they, nor any of their co-trustees can be qualified to administer any portion of her bounty, and not even to appoint the old women to her alms-house.
In the Logic Class at Glasgow, where I learnt that art
twenty-seven years since, this argument would certainly have been pronounced a string of absurdities. But intellect is supposed to have marched with mighty strides during the last quarter of a century, and perhaps Logic, which is the art of using the intellect, may have undergone a corresponding improvement.
I also recollect a circumstance which may account for the peculiarities of His Honour's ratiocination. On the day of the hearing preceding that on which he delivered his judgment, the crowd of persons interested in the cause was detained two hours in court expecting his appearance. We were afterwards informed that the cause of the delay was, that His Honour had been employed with the other equity judges in giving the last finish and sanction to the rules, which were to be observed thenceforth in all chancery proceedings. It has occurred to me, that together with regulations on matters of form, that learned conclave may have adopted also a new kind of Logic, and that Mr. Thomas Wilson and the rest of the Relators had the benefit of the first instance of its application. I am rather confirmed in this conjecture by Mr. Halley's pamphlet, which expresses a general approbation of His Honour's decision, and is written to rivet one of the links of his Sorites, although the author, who probably adheres to the Dialectic of Aristotle, Burgersdicius, Watts, Duncan, and Whately, entirely repudiates the reasoning on which that particular allegation was founded, and even understands the allegation itself in a different sense.
Mr. Halley's object, as explained by himself (p. 4), is to show, that the Improved Version, as it is called, “is a “creed rather than a version, understanding by that ex"pression that it contains not so much the doctrine of the
original writers as the faith of the translators." He adds, that he of course asserts this only of “doctrinal pas“ sages.” By “the doctrine of the original writers," he must mean his own doctrine, or the doctrine which he believes to have been that of the original writers. This he considers as opposed to “ the faith of the translators.” The proposition, therefore, which Mr. Halley endeavours to demonstrate in more than fifty closely printed pages, is neither more nor less than this, that certain passages in the New Testament, to which Calvinists appeal in proof of their opinions, are so rendered in the “ Improved Version," as to