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Applications were often made to the mother Church for an episcopate here; but the applications were warmly opposed from the fear that bishops here would assume the same spiritual authority they had exercised in England, and interfere with the original design of the greater part of the colonists in coming to the country.
During the revolutionary contest, all intercourse with the mother Church was entirely suspended. No candidates were able to obtain orders, and the parishes which were, from time to time, deprived of their ministers by death, remained vacant. Many ministers attached to the British government, were unwilling to omit in the liturgy, as they were required to do, the prayer for the king and ceased officiating. Most of the episcopal Churches, therefore, were entirely closed.
Upon the establishment of the American government, the episcopal Churches found it necessary for them to form some social compact, for the purpose of taking care of some charitable funds which they had held under the British governors, and promoting their general welfare. A meeting was held of a few clergymen in the middle states, at Brunswick, (N. J.) May 14, 1784. This was adjourned to a more general meeting at New York, in October, where the basis was laid of a future ecclesiastical government.
On the 27th of September, 1785, a convention of clerical and lay deputies from the middle and southern states, met in Philadelphia. The eastern Churches were not represented, as they had adopted measures to procure for themselves a bishop. The convention made such alterations in the Book of Common Prayer, as should adapt it to the federal gov. ernment. They next proceeded to the subject of obtaining a bishop. The Rev. Samuel Seabury, D. D. had returned to Connecticut from England, consecrated to the bishop's office, not by the bishops of England, but by the nonjuring bishops of Scotland, who had broken from the state in the revolution of 1683. But they preferred, if possible, receiving a consecration from the presiding prelates in England; and finding some encouragement, they made application, which was favorably received. An act of Parliament was obtained for consecrating for America; and the Rev. Samuel Provost, D. D., rector of Trinity Church in New York, and the Rev. William White, D. D., Rector of Christ's Church, and St. Peters, in Philadelphia, being recommended by the episcopal convention, were consecrated as bishops, Feb, 4, 1787, by the archbishop of Canterbury, in the chapel of the archi-episcopal palace of Lambeth. The Rev. Dr. Griffith, of Virginia, was at the same time recommended, but was unable to go to England, and soon died. Soon after, however, the Rev. James Madison, D. D. of Virginia, was elected in his stead, and went to England, and received consecration. Immediately on the return of these new bishops, they took charge of their dioceses, which extended over the states in which they resided, and proceeded to give orders, and to ordain bishops for several states in the union.
To perpetuate their body, the convention of Philadelphia framed an ecclesiastical constitution; in which it was provided, that there should be a triennial convention from the bishops, clergy, and Churches of each state, that the different orders of clergy should be accountable only to the ecclesiastical authority in the state to which they should respectively belong; and that the engagement previous to ordination should be a declaration of belief in the holy scriptures, and a promise of conformity to the doctrine and worship of the Church.
In the triennial convention in 1789, an union was formed between the eastern and southern Churches. Bishop Seabury was acknowledged; the liturgy was revised, and the Book of common Prayer was established in its present form.
The Episcopalians have now in the United States 18 dioceses, 17 bishops, 648 clergymen, and 750 parishes. Their bishops have been their most distinguished men. They can also boast of the two Johnsons, father and son, successive presidents of Columbia College; two of the most learned men America has produced.
They have five colleges under their direction, one in Virginia, two in New York, one in Connecticut, and one in Ohio; and four theological Seminaries, one in the city of New York, one at Alexandria, D. C., one at Gambier, Ohio, and one at Lexington, Ky.
PRESBYTERIAN church. The Presbyterian Church in the United States, was originally composed of a few strict Presbyterians from Scotland and Ireland, and some Congregationalists from New England and South Britain. These were scattered through
PRESBYTERIANS IN THE UNITED STATES.
the middle states for nearly half a century, with but few ministers and no bond of union, and in Virginia in particular, oppressed by episcopacy. The first presbyterian Churches duly organized were the first presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, and the Church in Snow hiil in Maryland. Which of these is the oldest it is difficult to determine. In 1704, the first presbytery was organized. And in 1716, a Synod was formed, called the Synod of Philadelphia, consisting of the Presbyteries of Philadelphia, New Castle, Snow hill, and Long Island. But in this body thus organized, there was not perfect harmony. The old Presbyterians were in favor of strict presbyterianism, and were great advocates for a learned ministry. The Congregationalists cared but little about rigid forms, and were willing to receive men into the ministry who were eminently pious, though they might be without great learning. In 1729, the Synod passed the adopting measure by which the Westminster confession of faith was adopted as the standard of the Churches, and every minister was bound to subscribe to it, on his entrance into the ministry; but the congregationalists were not cordial in it, and for many years contention ran very high. The two parties were called the Old side and New side, and sometimes New lights. These were more attached to experimental religion, than the Old side; and when Mr. Whitfield went through the country, such was their attachment to him and his preaching, and such the aversion expressed by the Old side, that a rent was made, and the Synod of New York was established by the New side, in opposition to the Synod of Philadelphia. The leading divines in this separation were the Tennents,* Blairs, Dickinsons, Piersons, Woodbridge, Dr. Finley and Mr. Burr. The Thompsons, Dr. Allison, and Robert Cross, headed the Old side. But they were men in whom was the spirit of piety and love, and soon grew ashamed and weary of contention. In 1758, a union was happily formed, and the two Synods moved forward in much harmony. Gaining in strength and impor
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* Gilbert and William, brothers. The first was minister of Philadelphia, a man of large stature, grave aspect, and powerful in persuading men by the terrors of the Lord. He succeeded Mr. Whitfield in his labors, in Boston, in 1741. His preaching there was exceedingly blessed. Above 2000 anxious sinners applied to their minister for guidance during his ministry there. He died 1764.
The second was minister of Freehold, N. J. and was the means of ad vancing the cause of religion in a very remarkable degree in New Jersey.
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tance, they commenced in 1785, a revision of their standards, and in 1786, resolved, that the two Synods be divided into three or more Synods, out of which shall be composed a general assembly of the Presbyterian Church. This assembly was first convened at Philadelphia, in 1789. From that period, the Presbyterian Church has moved on, not without internal contention, but with amazing prosperity and success, until she numbers within her bounds 22 Synods, 111 presbyteries, 2070 ministers, 2500 churches, and 233,508 communicants, scattered through the middle, southern, and western states. The whole government of the presbyterian Church is by presbyterial judicatories; from the lowest, a session, through presbyteries of a second and third gradation to a fourth and last. Her doctrine and discipline are strictly Calvinistic. Her clergy have been pious, learned, and active. Frequent outpourings of the Holy Spirit, have refreshed her in all her borders. For the instruction of her youth, a college was founded in 1746, at Elizabethtown, in 1747, removed to New York, and in 1757, to Princeton, N. J., which has to this day maintained a high standing. With this was connected, in 1812, a Theological Seminary. This has three professors, one of didactic and polemic theology, one of ecclesiastical history and Church government, and one of oriental and biblical literature, 16 scholarships. and usually about 100 students.
Theological seminaries similar to this have also recently been established at Auburn, N. Y., Hampden Sydney, Va., and at Alleghany town, near Pittsburgh, Pa.
As early as 1766, the Synod of New York and Philadelphia instituted missions to the destitute. After the formation of the general assembly, they were managed by that body until 1802, when a standing committee of missions was appointed. About 100,000 dollars have, in the last twenty years, been expended by them.
Besides those above mentioned, the presbyterian Church counts, among her distinguished lights, President Davies,* Witherspoon, † and Dr. Rodgers. I
* Rev. Samuel Davies was one of the most eloquent and useful ministers of the Christian Church. A very powerful revival of religion having commenced in Hanover county, Virginia, the seat of episcopacy, in 1778, application was made to the Synod of New York, for aid. "Mr. Tennent and Mr. Finley first visited that region. They were succeeded by Mr. Whitfield, and then by Mr. Davies, who was ordained to the ministry there, in 1748. In seven years, he had 300 communicants. In 1759, he was chosen
The General Assembly, composed of clergy and laity, delegated from the Presbyteries, meets annually in May, at Philadelphia.
CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIANS. In 1810, a body of presbyterians in Kentucky and Tennessee, separated from the General Assembly of the presbyterian Church, and formed an independent body, called the Cumberland Presbytery. The ground of separation was a difference of opinion concerning the proper qualifications for the ministry; they considering it advisable to put into the sacred office men of piety, though destitute of a liberal education. They use the confession and discipline of the Presbyterian Church, though they deny predestination. They commenced with nine preachers, and have now about seventy ministers, 110 congregations, 15,000 communicants and 150,000 population. Their preachers itinerate; with them originated camp meetings, which they continue. They labor and pray much for revivals, which have been frequent among them.
DUTCH CHURCH. The Dutch reformed Church was first established in New York, in 1693, exactly according to the pattern of the reformed Churches in Holland. From that period until 1737, nothing worthy of record transpired, excepting that the doctrines of the reformation were preached by learned ministers from Holland, in purity and power, and the ordinances of the gospel were regularly administered to a serious and devout people.
In 1737, some incipient steps were taken toward forming
to the presidency of Princeton College, which office he filled until his death, Feb. 4, 1761, ag. 36. Three volumes of his sermons are printed.
+ Dr. Witherspoon was, for some years, minister of Paisly, in Scotland, where he was highly esteemed as an able and pious divine. He was the leader of the orthodox party in Scotland. Upon invitation, he removed to New Jersey, and became president of Princeton college in 1768. He was also an eminent politician, and was appointed member of Congress. He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He closed his life in the service of the college and country, Nov. 15, 1794, aged 72. His works are in 4 vols. 8 vo.
# Dr. Rodgers was the father of presbyterianism, in the city of New York. He was converted under the preaching of Whitfield, and first settled in Delaware in 1749. In 1761, he removed to Wall Street Church, in New York, where he remained until his death, May 7, 1811, aged 83, full of usefulness and honor.