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and betraying the cause of their Lord and Master? And yet they did acquiesce, so far as we know, without a murmur. And the fact that they did, is evidence of the strongest kind, that no apprehensions were then entertained that so dear a right as that of choosing their pastors was about to be wrested from them.
That the part of the Constitution above quoted is not inconsistent with the rights of the churches, is evident from the very face of it. The Constitution says “that towns parishes, precincts, &c. shall have at all times the exclusive right of electing their public teachers,” &c. And so say we. It is their natural right, and they ought to have it. The church has no right to impose a religious teacher, an officer, upon the town or parish, against its will. Let the parish have, what the Constitution gives it, the exclusive right of choosing its own religious teacher.—But is the exercise of this right on the part of the parish at all inconsistent with the rights of the church? We think not. The parish has a right, by the Constitution, to choose a minister for itself; but no right to choose a pastor for the church. The church is quite another and distinct body-distinct in nature as well as fact; and the right of one body to choose officers for itself, conveys no right to choose officers for another body. The right of the parish to choose and contract with an officer for its own benefit, conveys no right or power to constitute an ecclesiastical officer, and establish him over the church.
But we have farther evidence that the Constitution is not inconsistent with the right of the church to elect its own pastor. The truth is, the churches generally have exercised this right, ever since the adoption of the Constitution ; and what is more, they have done it by the advice and recommendation of the highest judicial authority in the State. Says the Hon. Judge Sedgwick (in Avery vs. Tyringham) “ the mode of settling ministers has continued in every respect the same, since the establishing of the Constitution, that it was before. The church call the minister; the town, at a legal meeting, concur in the invitation and vote the salary; and the minister, after solemn consideration, accepts the invitation,” &c.* Chief Justice Parsons, in the same case, speaking of these ancient usages, observes “ They so manifestly tend to the preservation of good order, peace, and harmony among the people, in the excrcise of their religious privileges, it may be presumed that a departure from them will never be admitted by any town, but in cases of necessity.”+ Chief Justice Parker, speaking on the same subject, says, “ We agree with bim” (C. J. Parsons) “in estimating highly these ancient usages, protected as the people are by the constitutional provision, and in hoping that they may be observed in future, as they have been in past times."I-We have * Mass. Term Reports, vol. iï. pp. 171, 173. + Ibid. p. 180. Vol. xvi. p. 510.
here the testimony of our Supreme Judges, that, since the adoption of the Constitution, the churches have elected their own pastors, as they did previously; and what is of much more consequence, we have their earnest recommendation that the practice may continue. But would these high expositors and guardians of the Constitution recommend a practice which was inconsistent with the Constitution—repugnant to it—and which the Constitution was designed to abolish? It cannot and will not be believed. We inser therefore, conclusively—and we challenge any one to deny us the inference—that the Constitution of Massachusetts is not inconsistent with the right of the churches to elect their own pastors.-So far from this, we observe,
2. That the Constitution secures to them this right. The Constitution says, " that the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic, or religious societies, shall, at all times, have the exclusive right,” &c. The nnly question is, can Congregational churches be fairly included among the public bodies here specified ? We say they can be and are. They are not towns, or parishes, or precincts, we acknowledge ; but they are “bodies politic,” and were so considered, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. They are now, and were then, “religious societies." Reserving the proof of the corporate existence and powers of the churches to be exhibited in another place, suffice it to observe here, that they are frequently spoken of, by our early ecclesiastical writers, as “incorporate bodies.” This is precisely the phrase which Mr. Wise, in several instances applies to them.”* They are called in the Platform “political churches." (chap. iv.) The learned editor of Winthrop speaks of “each of our churches as a body corporate.” † In the law of 1754, which was re-enacted in 1786, but a few years after the adoption of the Constitution, churches are expressly denominated “ bodies politic.”
And unquestionably they are “religious societies." "What shall we call a voluntary association of professedly religious persons for purely religious purposes, if not a religious society? Indeed, Chief Justice Parker admits, that churches, distinct from parishes, “may be religious societies, under the statute of 1811."||—We speak here, let it be observed, merely of the phraseology which has been used on this subject; and we see (without going at present into the proof of the actual corporate existence of the churches) that they may be fairly included among these “bodies politic or religious * See Vindication, &c. pp. 49, 89.
Win'hrop, vol. i. p. 95. Province Laws.p. 606. Perhaps it will be said, that by “bodies politic" in the statute, are intended, not churches, but the deacons of churches. But the statute, in the section referred to, is "limiting the income of church grants." a rovides, that the income to any one such body politic, shall not exceed three hundred pounds per annum." The church then is here called a “body politic.” Indeed, if it is not so called, then the statute does not " limit the income of church grants,” but merely such as are made directly to the deacons.
Mass. Term Reports, vol. xvi. p. 505.
societies," to which the Constitution secures the “right of electing their public religious teachers, and” (if they please) “ of contracting with them for their support and maintenance."*
This right is secured to the churches, not only by the Constitution, but by existing laws. We refer particularly to the law of 1800, which provides,“ that the respective churches, connected and associated in public worship with the several towns, parishes, precincts, &c. shall at all times have, use, exercise, and enjoy all their accustomed privileges and liberties, respecting divine worship, church order and discipline, not repugnant to the Constitution.”—The churches, in 1800, had been accustomed to enjoy the “ privilege” and the “liberty” of electing their own pastors. Hence, the statute secures to them the continuance of this privilege, unless it shall be found repugnant to the Constitution. But we have shewn, beyond all question, that the exercise of this privilege on the part of the churches, is not repugnant to the Constitution. Would our Supreme Judges, once and again, recommend the continuance of a practice which was repugnant to the Constitution? Can Chief Justice Parker be supposed to hold “a usage in high estimation,” and to “ hope it may be observed in future,” which is repugnant to the Constitution of the Commonwealth ?—The right of the churches to elect their own pastors is not then to be regarded as repugnant to the Constitution; and if not repugnant to it, then this right is firmly secured to the churches, by the statute to which we have referred.
It may be inquired here, whether, according to the exposition given of existing laws, any alteration has been made by the adoption of the Constitution. And we answer, an alteration in a single particular, has been made. The provision of the law of 1695, by which, in case of difference between church and parish, the church, with the advice and consent of an ecclesiastical council, might impose a minister on the parish, is annulled. Under the Constitution, the church has no such power as this; and we are quite willing it should be so. We ask no such power for the church, and if it remained, we should hope it might never be exercised. The church still retains the exclusive right to choose its own pastor, as the parish does to choose its own minister; and this is enough.
But it may be asked, what will be the effect, in churches and parishes “connected and associated in public worship,” of giving to each the exclusive right of choosing its own religious teacher ? And we answer, The effect will be according to circumstances. If, owing to radical differences of opinion, or to any other cause, the
* We shall shew by and by, that the first churches in Massachusetts not only chose their pastors, but contracted with them, and assessed and collected money for their maintenance, The first church in Boston, it seems, continued this practice, for almost an hundred years, Many churches have the ability to do this now, and ought to have the right, if they please to exercise it. We are thankful that this right is secured to them by the Constitution,
choice of each cannot be made to fix upon the same person; then they must separate—as it is undoubtedly best they should. But if they intend to remain united ; then care must be taken, that the eyes, the hearts, and the choice of each may ultimately rest upon the same individual. A spirit of conciliation and kindness must be cultivated, and each must endeavor (so far as duty will allow,) to meet the views and wishes of the other. When things are prepared for an event of so much interest, the church has a meeting by itself, and makes its choice. The parish also has a meeting by itself, freely chooses the same person, and contracts with him accordingly. After an acceptance of overtures, and ordination in the usual form, this person sustains a twofold office or relation. He is the pastor of the church, and the minister of the parish. As pastor of the church, he is to guide its devotions, administer its ordinances, and preside in all its meetings for business. As minister of the parish, he is to take the lead in its worshipping assembly, teach the doctrines and duties of religion, and perform customary parochial services. To a person sustaining this twofold office or relation, it not unfrequently happens, that one part of the connexion ceases, and not the other. His ecclesiastical connexion perhaps terminates, while his parochial contract and office remain. Or his contract with the parish terminates, while his connexion with the church remains. We know several clergymen in Massachusetts, who are now placed in one or the other of these situations.
But it may still be asked, whether no legal provision exists, in case the church and the parish do not choose the same person, for bringing the one to submit to the other. And here we are brought to a new epoch in the legal history of our churches, occasioned by some late decisions of the Supreme Court respecting them. Opinions were expressed, particularly in the case of Eliphalet Baker and another vs. Samuel Fales, (alias the celebrated Dedham case) which, much as we respect and honor the distinguished individual who pronounced them, we must think unsupported by reason, or the laws, and of fatal influence upon the liberties, is not the existence, of the churches. We reserve to another place a particular consideration of the opinions here refered to, and of the Report of this decision generally. At present, we shall merely exhibit the riers of the Judges, so far as they bear upon the right of the churches to elect their own pastors. • When church and parish disagree in their choice of a religious teacher, an officer common to both; and neither body is disposed to yield; and the house of worship is the property of the parish; we cannot consistently complain, and we do not, that the church should be compelled to withdraw, and institute worship by itself. But this surely is all the sacrifice which the church, in such case, should be required to make. If its members are willing not only to leave the house of worship, but to abandon their interest in it VOL. 1.
as members of the parish, and provide other accommodations for themselves; this is sacrifice enough. But our Judges have so interpreted the Constitution and laws, as to feel compelled to say, that this is not enough. The church, it is decided, cannot withdraw. It is indissolubly bound to the parish ; and in no case of disagreement, however irreconcilable, or of oppression, however severe, can it disconnect itself. Its members may vote to withdraw, and may withdraw, in a majority of ten to one; but they withdraw only as individuals—they leave the church behind. Yea, if all go, and go by solemn vote, they do but commit ecclesiastiçal suicide; they extinguish the church, but cannot remove it. Hence, in case of disagreement between the church and parish, in regard to the settlement of a minister, there is now nothing left to the church, but to inflict violence upon itself, and perish by its own hands, or to receive a pastor, to preside in its meetings, administer its ordinances, and break to it the bread of life, whom it cannot love, approve, or choose, but whom the parish has placed over it, against its will. Now this, we are compelled to consider a hardship. We are compelled to regard it as unjust and cruel.
To the views of the Judges, as here exhibited (and it will appear that the account is not exaggerated) our objections will be offered hefore we close.
(To be continued.)
THOUGATS ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION.
(Continued from p. 42.) In continuation of my remarks, I would observe,
8. That the commencement of religion is not indicated by any exact order or method of divine manifestation.
The change which takes place, is a change in the affections. A change from selfishness to benevolence;—from sin to holiness; and from a supreme love to the creature, to a supreme love to God. This benevolence is, in its nature, that love which the law of God requires, and which, when perfect, is the fulfilling of the law. In its earliest existence, it is the generic principle of the Christian graces, every one of them being only love or holiness, diversified in its operations, and distinguished by other names, as it terminates in different objects. Thus, repentance is the sorrow which a holy mind feels for sin; and faith is the affectionate reliance of a sanctified heart, upon Christ; and resignation is a benevolent acquiescence in the divine will; and meekness is self-possession, and good will toward enemies, under circumstances of provocation; and brotherly love is the complacency which one Christian feels for another Christian. But if the question were urged, Which of