תמונות בעמוד

the Congregational dissenters have labored, time after time, to establish some sort of organization of the body, for the management of their common interests. But neither ministers nor people, generally, are as yet prepared to yield what is indispensable to the rendering such unions--unions indeed, or for making them effective, in any considerable degree. Besides, it is little more than the political well-being of the body that could come under the cognizance of a metropolitan committee; and even in relation to these, wide disagreements prevent the concentration of the will of the body. The very principle of these communities repels organization, and so strong a feeling of jealousy toward every species of ectended authority pervades them, that no sooner is any scheme advanced which might ripen into an efficient general government, than it draws upon itself universal dislike.

Considered in its relation to the pastors, individually, the Congregational system is, in one word, ---the people's polity, framed or adhered to, for the purpose of circumscribing clerical power within the narrowest possible limits, and of absolutely excluding any exertions of authority, such as the high English temper could not brook. The minister of the meeting-house or chapel is—one against all. His neighboring brethren may listen in sympathy to his complaints, but they can seldom yield him succor : to attempt to interfere, might be to dislodge him at once from his position. No adjustment of ecclesiastical powers can leave a smaller balance in the hands of the pastor. pp. 283—291.

The extract which we give below, follows the author's disclaimer of any intention of making an injurious or an exaggerated impression of facts; as also his commendation of the dissenters in certain points of view.

• But their opposition to the established church has deeply injured them ; it has set them wrong, very far, in polity and principles; it has infected them in no small degree, with a politico-religious fanaticism; and especially it has fixed them, almost universally, in a blind confidence of being, on all points, “in the right,” a confidence which precludes a modest and wise consideration of principles, and leaves scarcely a hope of their entertaining those serious and momentous inquiries concerning the general condition of our modern christianity, which are now called for.' p. 294.

A sort of summary arraignment of dissent, is found in the paragraph which reads as follows:

• We do not then find any where, among the dissenting communities, a system susceptible of universality, or much deserving to be thought of as likely to supersede the Episcopal church. Each of them is attached to certain prejudices, --called “great principles,” which keep them sectarian in practice and feeling. Private liberty and personal preferences, are too often set above considerations of public utility; the necessity of concession, of compromise, and of submission to authority, is not admitted : especially the christian duty and solemn obligation of

preserving union, is but faintly seen. The sin of schism stands indeed in the catalogue of vices, for the apostles have placed it there; but an instance hardly ever occurs in which the guilt of schism is allowed to be imputed to separatists. Any reason is deemed reason enough for splitting a society, and for founding a rival church under the eaves of the mother chapel. Congregationalism puts forth its shoots with a too ready exuberance; and our country towns, in very many instances, present what we are required to believe is the apostolic spectacle of christian societies, within gun-shot of each other, and differing in nothing but their grudges, yet preserving little or no fellowship. Bodies acting upon principles of this sort have to learn the rudiments of christian order.' pp. 297, 298.

These, and many other obnoxious charges, will be much more likely to create dissent from the author's speculations, than sosten the opposition of the dissenters to the English establishment.

3. It comes within the plan of the author to expose the corruptions of the English church, and to propound several important items of reform. Against this feature of his work, exceptions will be taken with no less sincerity on the part of the friends of the present establishment, than must happen to American republicans and English dissidents, in respect to portions in which they are depreciated. A reformation as extensive as he desires, would demand a new race of men in the members of the establishment. Indeed, he maintains, in a fearless manner, the inadequacy of the whole Lutheran reformation, and the necessity of achieving a “ second reformation, scarcely less important than the first.” Strongly as he advocates the church and state system, he is of opinion, that the proposed reforms in the English establishment must be fairly tried, before it can be known whether such a system is in principle wrong and impracticable. He avers, that the enemies of the establishment take an undue advantage of its imperfections or abuses, in arguing against the system itself; thus either blinking the abstract question of its propriety and utility, or mixing it up with extrinsic and accidental circumstances. We may here express our surprise, that the author's discernment did not lead bim to infer, that if after so many ages of trial, among so many nations, ecclesiastical establishments cannot be known to be correct in principle, they never will be known,-the evils that have attended them are not affairs of accident, but belong to their very nature.

His zeal for reformation, and even his radical turn, (radical in respect to the general principles of social and religious order,) cannot save him from the absurdity of attempting to wash the Ethiopian white. Might he not see, that it is a fruitless labor, and that it is time for the ablution to be performed, if it must be performed, at all, on a difficult and more promising subject ? Two or three paragraphs from the book, will give the

reader some idea of the author's feelings on the subject of reform in the English establishment, and indeed of the general purification of Protestant christianity:

• Much that is felt and thought by the people, in relation to their ministers, is never uttered, or is not uttered by the discreet and moderate, whose opinions deserve respect; and of that which is uttered, a very small portion at any time reaches the ears of the parties concerned. If the heavily beneficed pluralist,—we will suppose him mainly well-intentioned and respectable, (in a low sense of the terms,) could but, as he makes his way on a Sunday morning to the desk, penetrate the bosoms of his flock, and read the involuntary thoughts, not of the profligate and impudent, nor of the illiberal and vulgar, but of the intelligent and right-minded of his parishioners, he would hide his face in his sleeve, or shrink out of view, never again to meet the glance of his silent reprovers. While certain passages of scripture are on the lips of the minister, how pungent a feeling of his inconsistency pervades all minds! Even children, is acquainted with facts, are alive to the enormity of the offense of him, who, calling himself Christ's servant, and professing to deny bimself daily, and to take up his cross, and solemnly renouncing the love of this world, and the eagerness of gain, nevertheless loads himself, to suffocation, with unearned church emoluments; and trails after him, as he goes, a long purse, crammed with the price of souls.

A minister of the gospel can labor under no disadvantage heavier than that of an imputation of being mainly impelled by motives of cupidity and wordly ambition. This disgrace would be fatal to the influence of the highest talents, and the most laborious zeal : how fatal then is it to the influence of those who do not belie it by any zeal, or any spontaneous labors ! But the incalculable injury occasioned by such instances of sacrilegious selfishness, is by no means confined to the single cases in which it actually appears: if it were so, we might bear with some patience the particular wrong; but in truth, these flagrant examples (too numerous, alas,) affect the popular mind toward the church at large, and weigh against the clergy in mass. The clergy, at least the beneficed portion of them, whether or not they be sharers in the guilty emoluments, are sure to have their part in the shame and obloquy thence arising. They are supposed to acquiesce in these enormities; they are knowu to associate with their culprit brethren; and they are thought to be themselves ready to accept a portion of these flagitious gains. Who shall calculate the amount of that deduction from the general salutary influence of the established clergy, which is constantly to be set off on the score of these abuses ?

Let interested casuists spend their last grain of wit in excusing pluralities,—the sale of advowsons,—episcopal translations, and those ecclesiastical customs, of every sort, which have one simple motive,-the love of money ;-let these apologies be carried a little further; it can be only a little,- for the common-sense and strong feeling of the nation already condemns them.

Heaven will declare itself in anger

against them; and their abettors will sink confounded in perpetual shame.' pp. 299–301.

Let us then candidly admit the serious truth, that what stayed the downfall of the Papacy, three hundred years ago, and what has given it a lengthened life, was certain principles, not yet altogether renounced by ourselves, and the retention of which has turned aside the weapons of our Protestant warfare.

The Lutheran Reformation was a glorious beginning, that waits for its consummation. Had it indeed been complete and consistent in principle and in practice, it would have been universal in its actual spread. The Papacy still lives, and it must live, until Protestantisin shall be reformed.

Little difficulty would perhaps now be found in thoroughly dispelling what remains among us of the theoretic portion of the ancient despotism; but some real perplexities attend the clearing away of those notions and usages that have come down from the times immediately succeeding the apostolic age. We are still entangled in the snares woven in the age of Irenæus, Justin Martyr, and Cyprian. The argument for Popery is at present drawn from the authority of those ancient errors; and the weakness of Protestantism comes from the same source. Romanism sucks one breast of the pristine church, Protestantism another; but the milk which nourishes the stomach of the first, sickens that of the last.' p. 248.

4. The author opposes himself to the influence of the press, especially the periodical press, as at present“ alınost the sole medium of party warfare,” and as putting to jeopardy some of the most precious interests of religion and society. He has made an effort to disabuse the public of its illusions on this subject, and has ingeniously reasoned the point, that the press does not actually represent the religious community. He has discriminated (with what success we will not pretend to say,) between the leaders and organs of parties and the mass of the people, in respect to those exasperations which obstruct the progress of national religious reform in Great Britain. On this subject he says, in part:

A distinction like this is to be observed on most occasions of public excitement; but in the present instance a due recollection of it is of peculiar importance, inasmuch as the press, and especially the periodic press, has become almost the sole medium of party warfare. The periodic press not merely governs public sentiment, but it is from this, that the actual complexion of public sentiment is gathered, though incorrectly.

Nothing, it must be granted, can seem more imprudent than for a writer to call in question those who, under our present literary economy, sit as the masters of his destiny. But the author (not, as he hopes, in the spirit of arrogance,) long ago fixed it in his purpose to incur all hazards while discharging what he thinks his duty. In the present instance he must not conceal his opinion, that what is needed, as preliminary to wholesome measures, is to disengage the public mind (if it might be done) from the despotism of the periodic press, and to loosen the yoke fastened upon the neck of the people by our newspapers, magazines, and reviews.'


18. He has thrown the gauntlet amidst a formidable array of talent and enterprise; and if he has miscalculated at all the power of periodical literature, he will be made to feel it to his disadvantage.

These general features of the work, stamp upon it no small a degree of peculiarity. As a writer, be bas nearly cut himself off from the sympathies of numerous classes, who might otherwise give him at once a favorable and even enthusiastic hearing. He has arrayed himself against American republicans, English dissidents, English anti-reformers, and the makers and lovers of periodic literature. In the exposure of spiritual despotism, he has brought in, besides many who deserve the severe and unsparing detection, many also who would be his most efficient helpers, in putting an end to every sort of despotic influence.

The writer who can do and dare all this, must calculate largely on the justice of his cause, the good-nature of the community, and their superiority to passion and prejudice, or the strength of the logic with which he means to defend his positions. And he evidently does calculate on some or all of these circumstances, as an encouragement to his attempt, or as the ground of anticipated triumph. In the “measurable interval, and often a wide one,” which he seems to see between the journal and its readers, he finds the basis on which to plant the foot of his lever. He says, “ the author on this occasion challenges the public; and he looks too, with confidence to the candor and generous feelings of not a few of those to whom, in their public capacity, what he has to say may apply. He appeals then to readers, and to those writers too, wbose employment has not spoiled them as christians and as men.” Again, “ an appeal is here made to the personal conscientiousness of every christian reader," and to his particular acquaintance with the religious circle in which he moves, while this broad affirmation is advanced,—that the British people, and especially the religious portion of it, is less factious and perverse, is more docile, and more ready to approve of reasonable, conciliatory measures, than it appears to be, when judged of by the spirit and temper of our newspapers, magazines and reviews. The happy, tranquil intercourse of christians in the walks of private life, belies the intemperance of the literary leaders of party.” Again, “ No man could stand in a nobler or more conspicuous position, than one who should be able to hold this interference at bay, (that is, the intervention of sectarian writers,) and to work directly upon the better nature of the christian public."

We will not affect to divine the issue of this open and fearless challenge; but such is our favorable opinion of the talents and spi

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