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Considerable time and labor have been bestowed to render the statistics of the several denominations as full and accurate, as possible. Indeed, the whole has been prepared with much care; and the Editor indulges a hope that it will prove acceptable to the public, as a book of common reference, on a subject of greater interest and importance, than any other to which the human mind can devote itself.
August 24, 1836.
Note. The Editor proposes to publish, annually, the Statistics of the several denominations of Christians in the United States and British Provinces. Any assistance from his friends, at home or abroad, to render the work accurate, will be very gratefully received
RELIGIOUS CREEDS, &c.
The followers of Arius, a presbyter of the church of Alexandria, about A. D. 315, who held that the Son of God was totally and essentially distinct from the Father; that he was the first and noblest of those beings whom God had created ; the instrument, by whose subordinate operation he formed the universe ; and therefore, inferior to the Father both in nature and dignity ; also, that the Holy Ghost was not God, but created by the power of the Son. The Arians owned that the Son was the Word ; but denied that Word to have been eternal. They held that Christ had nothing of man in him but the flesh, to which the Word was joined, which was the same as the soul in us.
In modern times, the term Arian is indiscriminately applied to those who consider Jesus simply subordinate to the Father. Some of them believe Christ to have been the creator of the world ; but they all maintain that he existed previously to his incarnation, though in his pre-existent state they assign him different degrees of dignity. See Matt. 4: 10.–15: 32.--19: 17.—27 : 46. Mark 5: 7.-13: 32. John 4: 23.–14: 28.-20: 17. Acts 4; 24. 1 Cor. 1: 4.-11: 3.-15: 24. Eph. 1: 17.—4:6. Phil. 1: 3, 4, &c.
ARMINIANS, Those persons who follow the doctrines of Arminius, who was pastor at Amsterdam, and afterwards professor of divinity at Leyden. Arminius had been educated in the opinions of Calvin; but, thinking the doctrine of that great man with regard to free will, predestination and grace, too severe, he began to express his doubts concerning them, in the year 1591 ; and, upon farther inquiry, adopted the sentiments of those whose religious system extends the love of the Supreme Being and the merits of Jesus Christ, to all mankind.
The distinguishing tenets of the Arminians may be comprised in the five following articles relative to predestination, universal redemption, the corruption of man, conversion, and perseverance, viz.
I." That God determined to bestow pardon and present salvation on all who repent and believe in Christ; and final salvation on all who persevere to the end, and to inflict everlasting punishment on those who should continue in their unbelief, and resist his divine
succours; so that election was conditional, and reprobation in like manner the result of foreseen infidelity and persevering wickedness. See Ezek. 18: 30–32. Acts 17: 24–30. Matt. 23: 37. Rom. 2: 4, 5.45: 18. 1 Tim. 11:1–4. 2 Pet. 1:10.–3: 9.
II. That Jesus Christ by his sufferings and death, made an atonement for the sins of all mankind in general, and of every individual in particular; that, however, none but those who believe in bim can be partakers of divine benefits. See John 2: 2.–3: 16, 17. Heb. 2: 9. Isa. 50: 19, 20. 1 Cor. 8: 11.
III. That true faith cannot proceed from the exercise of our natural faculties and powers, nor from the force and operation of free will; since man, in consequence of his natural corruption, is inoapable either of thinking or doing any good thing; and that, therefore, it is necessary, in order to his conversion and salvation, that he be regenerated and renewed by the operation of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God through Jesus Christ.
IV. That this divine grace, or energy of the Holy Ghost, begins and perfects every thing that can be called good in man, and, consequently, all good works are to be attributed to God alone ; that, nevertheless, this grace is offered to all, and does not force men to act against their inclinations, but may be resisted and rendered ineffectual, by the perverse will of the impenitent sinner. Some modern Arminians interpret this and the last article with a greater latitude. See Isa. 1: 16. Deut. 10: 16. Eph. 4: 22.
V. That God gives to the truly faithful who are regenerated by his grace, the means of preserving themselves in this state. The first Arminians, indeed, had some doubt with respect to the closing part of the latter article; but their followers uniformly maintain,
that the regenerate may lose true justifying faith, fall from a state of grace, and die in their sins.” See Heb. 6: 4–6. 2 Pet. 2: 20, 21. Luke 21: 35. 2 Pet. 3: 17. Arminius died in 1609, aged 49.
The Atheists are those who deny the existence of God: this is called speculative atheism. Professing to believe in God, and yet acting contrary to this belief, is called practical atheism. Absurd and irrational as atheism is, it has had its votaries and martyrs. In the seventeenth century, Spinosa, a foreigner, was its noted defender. Lucilio Vanini, a native of Naples, also publicly taught atheism in France; and, being convicted of it at Toulouse, was condemned and executed in 1619. It has been questioned, however, whether any man ever seriously adopted such a principle.
Archbishop Tillotson says, “I appeal to any man of reason, whether any thing can be more unreasonable than obstinately to impute an effect to chance, which carries in the very face of it all the arguments and characters of a wise design and contrivance. Was ever any considerable work, in which there was required a great variety of parts, and a regular and orderly disposition of those parts, done by chance? Will chance fit means to ends, and that
in ten thousand instances, and not fail in any one? How often might a man, after he had jumbled a set of letters in a bag, fling them out upon the ground, before they would fall into an exact poem; yea, or so much as make a good discourse in prose ? And may not a little book be as easily made by chance as the great volume of the world ? How long might a man be in sprinkling colours upon canvass with a careless hand, before they would happen to make the exact picture of a man? And is a man easier made by chance than his picture? How long might twenty thousand blind men, who should be sent out from several remote parts of England, wander up and down before they would all meet upon Salisbury plain, and fall into rank and file in the exact order of an army? And, yet, this is much more easy to be imagined than how the innumerable blind parts of matter should rendezvous themselves into a world. A man that sees Henry the Seventh's chapel at Westminster, might with as good reason maintain, (yea, with much better, considering the vast difference betwixt that little structure and the huge fabric of the world,) that it was never contrived or built by any means, but that the stones did by chance grow into those curious figures into which they seem to have been cut and graven; and that upon a time, (as tales usually begin,) the materials of that building, the stone, mortar, timber, iron, lead and glass, happily met 'together, and very fortunately ranged themselves into that delicate order in which we see them now, so close compacted, that it must be a very great chance that parts them again. What would the world think of a man that should advance such an opinion as this, and write a book for it? If they would do him right, they ought to look upon him as mad; but yet with a little more reason than any man can have to say, that the world was made by chance, or that the first men grew up out of the earth as plants do now. For, can any thing be more ridiculous, and against all reason, than to ascribe the production of men to the first fruitfulness of the earth, without so much as one instance and experiment, in any age or history, to countenance so monstrous a supposition ? The thing is, at first sight, so gross and palpable, that no discourse about it can make it more apparent. And yet, these shameful beggars of principles give this precarious account of the original of things; assume to themselves to be the men of reason, the great wits of the world, the only cautious and wary persons that hate to be imposed upon, that must have convincing evidence for every thing, and can admit of nothing without a clear demonstration of it."
Lord Bacon remarks, that "a little philosophy inclineth a man's mind to Atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion: for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may rest in them and go no farther; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederated and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity.” (See Appendix, Note A.)
BAPTISTS, A denomination of Christians, distinguished by their simple adherence to the Scriptures, by their views of the spiritual constitution of the Christian church, and of the holy design, subjects and mode of baptism. They hold that a personal profession of faith, and an immersion in water, are essential to baptism. There are several bodies of Baptists in the United States, which will be found under their different names. The Regular or Associated Baptists are, in sentiment, moderate Calvinists, and form the most numerous body of Baptists in this country.
The Baptists of all denominations, being independent, or congregational in their form of church government, their ecclesiastical assemblies disclaim all right to interfere with the concerns of individual churches. Their public meetings by delegation from different churches, are held for the purpose of mutual advice and improvement, but not for the general government of the whole body.
The following brief Declaration of Faith, with the Church Covenant, was recently published by the Baptist Convention of New Hampshire, and is believed to express, with little variation, the general sentiments of the Regular or Associated Baptists.
I. OF THE SCRIPTURES.-We believe the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true centre of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds and opinions should be tried.
II. OF THE TRUE GOD.—That there is one, and only one, true and living God, whose name is JEHOVAH, the Maker and Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth ; inexpressibly glorious in holiness; worthy of all possible honor, confidence and love ; revealed under the personal and relative distinctions of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost ; equal in every divine perfection, and executing distinct but harmonious offices
in the great work of redemption. III. OF THE FALL OF Man.—That man was created in a state of holiness, under the law of his Maker, but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state ; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint but choice; being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, wholly given to the gratification of the world, of Satan, and of their own sinful passions, and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defence, or excuse.
IV. OF THE WAY OF SALVATION.-That the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace, through the mediatorial offices of the Son of God, who took upon him our nature, yet without sin; honored the law by his personal obedience, and made atonement for our sins by his death ; being risen from the dead, he is now enthroned in heaven; and uniting in his wonderful person the tenderest sympa