תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

can population. What heart, if we cast them out from their own native Eden, could they have to nourish in a strange soil the plants, so long to grow, so hard to cultivate, but of which,—“their early visitation and their last,”—they had already experienced and loved the value.

We appeal to the Christian public, and ask if they can suffer, that, through the rapacity of one State, and the connivance of our Executive, not only our national faith shall be made a byword of contempt, but the rights of a whole people annihilated, and all that is flourishing in their institutions hopelessly destroyed ? If it be so, they had better be at the mercy of the Turks, and have the whirlwind of war sweep over them, as it did over Scio. They would have the consolation to reflect, that nothing better could have been expected from infidels and slaves. But to be thus treated by Christians and freemen—the possibility makes us thought-sick. May it never be said of our country, that when the blessings of Christianity had dropped upon an Indian people, and the light of civilization was already illuminating every cabin, we rose up to extinguish it, and drove them out to chase the buffalo and echo the war whoop, to' curse God and die,'—in the wilderness.

There is no American but must tremble for his country, who looks back with a reflecting mind on the indications presented by public events in the past and passing year. That the demon of party should have gained such possession of the souls of our Senators and Representatives, as to permit them, in the eyes of all the world, to set their hand and seal to the violation of the Faith of the Republic, plighted in multiplied and most solemn treaties, and lend their aid to carry forward a measure, which, if executed to the full intention, must annihilate the rights of seventy-five thousand freemen, and plunge them into irretrievable misery, is indeed a most dark and dreadful fact. It speaks volumes of danger to our free institutions. The danger remains : but that measure, we trust in God, will yet be stayed. There is a court of judicature, a light amidst all the storms that may threaten to wreck our liberties, aloof almost from the possibility of prejudice, and elevated above the commotions of party zeal. Before that tribunal, this great question is soon to be brought. Let the people of the United States prepare themselves firmly to support its decisions, and the rights of the Indians may yet be secured. But there may be delay; and if there should be, then must these unfortunate people remain, exposed to the galling oppression of the laws of Georgia, without the possibility of a redress of their grievances. It is well remarked by Mr. Wirt, that every officer of Georgia, who attempts to serve a civil process within the Indian territory, stands amenable for violating the laws of the United States. But the laws are a dead letter without an Executive; with an unprincipled one, they are instruments of oppression. We need not disguise from our readers, what they cannot disguise from themselves that so long as our present Executive maintains the opinions and the line of conduct he has adopted, there is no hope for the Indians but in the virtue of the people at large, to whom they have appealed. From the people, therefore, enlightened and determined that they will not suffer the stain of such cruelty, but that full justice shall yet be executed, a redeeming influence must enter, and be all-powerful, in the Congress of the coming winter. The Indians must be protected; the laws must be executed : if there be not virtue enough in the people to make their National Legislature see that this is done, then we are lost indeed.

THE HISTORY AND ANTIQUITIES OF DISSENTING CHURCHES, AND

Meeting HousES, IN LONDON, WESTMINSTER, AND SouthWARK, including the Lives of their Ministers, from the Rise of Nonconformity to the Present Time. With an Appendir; on the Origin, Progress, and Present State of Christianity in Britain. In four volumes. By Walter Wilson, of the Inner Temple, London, 1808.

In this rare and interesting work, we have accounts, more or less extended, of hundreds of Dissenting Ministers, who have lived, or are now living, in and around London. The history runs back to the origin of dissent, soon after the Reformation in England. The author treats his subject under six divisions, the Eastern, Southern, Northern, and Western in the city of London ; and Westminster, and Southwark. His plan is, after giving the name and situation of a particular place of worship, and briefly describing the changes it has undergone, to publish a list of its ministers, followed by a biographical notice of each. Many of these biographies are full and interesting, and constitute the only remaining record of men, eminent and useful in their generation, who have long since entered on their final reward.

Our principal object in noticing these volumes is, to avail ourselves of the testimony they furnish as to the effects of Unitarian ministrations in England. In our second volume, p. 669, we published long extracts from Bogue and Bennett's History of Dissenters, on the same subject. The testimony of Wilson is entitled to the more consideration, as he is a layman, and moreover distinguished for his moderation and candor. We shall make our quotations in the order in which they occur in the volumes.

Speaking of the Presbyterian establishment in Jewry Lane, the same to which Lardner, Benson, and Price ministered, Mr. W. says,

"The first Pastor was Mr. Timothy Cruso, who settled there a little before the Revolution. In his time, there was a flourishing church and congregation.After his death, the church was diminished on account of a division in the choice of a successor. “In the time of Dr. Lardner and Dr. Benson, it was in a very low state; for though they were men of learning and talents, and deserve honorable mention on account of their labors in defending Christianity against infidels, yet their sentiments and mode of preaching were extremely unpopular, and but ill adapted to preserve the church from a languishing state. After some feeble attempts to revive the expiring interest, the society dissolved in the year 1774, and the meeting house was disposed of to the Methodists." vol. i. p. 55.

The Presbyterian Society in New Broad Street, was collected soon after Bartholomew day, by the Rev. Thomas Vincent. Several of his successors, as Dr. Daniel Williams and Dr. John Evans, were ministers of eminence and usefulness.

“The congregation at the old meeting was very large and substantial, and continued so for some years after their removal to the new place; but for the last thirty or forty years, it gradually declined. At length, upon the expiration of the lease, about the year 1780, it was reduced to so low a state that a renewal became unadvisable, and the church dissolved. In point of doctrinal sentiment, the ministers of this society have deviated not very materially from the Harmony of Confessions of the Reformed Churches, with the exception of Mr. John Palmer, the last minister, [settled in 1755,] who was reckoned a Socinian." vol. ii. p. 190.

Pinner's Hall was, for more than a century, one of the most celebrated places of worship among the Dissenters. The congregation to which it belonged was collected in the reign of Charles the Second, by the Rev. Anthony Palmer. He was assisted by a Mr. Fownes, and succeeded by the Rev. Richard Wavel. All these ministers were zealous Calvinists.

“ Their successors, though divines of considerable eminence in their day, were of a very different stamp, and preached in a manner to empty pews. It is a most surprising circumstance, how a number of Christians, and many of them of long experience, should, from a warm, evangelical Pastor, fix upon one who, however learned and amiable, strove to keep his people in the dark, as to his sentiments concerning the leading doctrines of the Gospel. But Pinner's Hall affords not the only melancholy instance of this nature. The lease of the meeting house expiring in 1778, the church, after subsisting more than a century, became extinct.vol. iii. p. 254.

The Presbyterian meeting house in Monkwell Street, is probably the oldest now in existence among the Dissenters in London. It was erected, soon after the great fire, in 1666, for the famous

Mr. Thomas Doolittle, by whose labors the congregation was gathered. The society was very numerous at the time of his death, and continued to flourish under his immediate successors, who were men of strictly evangelical sentiments.

“But latterly, several circumstances have operated to the decline of this congregation. At present, the number of pews greatly exceeds that of the hearers, who are so few, that the ends of public worship seem scarcely answered by their meeting together. With the falling off of the congregation, there has been an equal declension from the doctrines taught by the earlier Pastors of this society. For many years past, those doctrines, that are peculiarly styled evangelical, have ceased to resound from their pulpit, and giren place to what is called a more rational mode of preaching." vol. iii. p. 188.

The Presbyterian congregation, which assembled at the meeting house in Bartholomew Close, was gathered near the end of the reign of Charles the Second, by Mr. John Quick. The church continued to worship here, under a succession of ministers, till the year 1753, when, in consequence of its reduced state, it was dissolved.

This congregation was never large, nor indeed would the size of the meeting house admit of it. But latterly it declined very fast, by deaths and desertions, nor did others appear to take their places, In the times of the latter ministers, there was an equal declension from the doctrines of the reformation. The earlier ministers were decided Calvinists; Dr. Fleming (the last] it is well known, was a zealous Socinian.” vol. iii. p. 371.

In the early stages of nonconformity, the society in PrincesStreet, Westminster, was one of the most fourishing among the English Presbyterians. Few congregations can boast such a succession of learned, exemplary ministers ;-an Alsop, a Shower, a Mayo, a Calamy, men who were instrumental in building up the great cause of Christianity, as well as of Protestant dissent.

“Prior to Dr. Kippis, the ministers of this society were Trinitarians, and may be considered moderate Calvinists ; at present the church ranks with what are called the Heterodox Dissenters. Since the death of Dr. Kippis, the people, who are but few in number, hare been in rather an unsettled state with regard to a pastor, none having continued with them for any length of time. Indeed, the purposes of religious worship seem scarcely answered in keeping open the doors to so few persons ; nor can it be very encouraging to a minister to preach to capty benches. Notwithstanding the pains that are taken by some zealous persons to uphold the cause of what is, by a perverseness of language, called “Unitaranism," their success is by no means apparent in our old Presbyterian churches, which seen fast hastening to a dissolution.

The meeting house in Maid Lane, Southwark, was erected about the year 1672, for Mr. Thomas Wadsworth, who gathered a church here, soon aster the passing of the Bartholomew Act.

“It (the church) subsisted at this place, for nearly the period of a century, under a succession of ministers, many of whom for talents and respectability, ranked high amongst the churches of their day. In its earlier days, the congregation was large and respectable, and the meeting house well filled; but under the ministry of Mr. Ward it declined so rapidly, that its dissolution became easy and natural, and took place about the year 1752. With regard to religious sentiment, there does not appear to have been any great difference before the settlement of Mr. Ward, who was then an Arian, and afterwards became a Socinian. The former ministers appear to have been zealously attached to the old Protestant doctrines, counting it their honor to set forth Jesus Christ and him crucified, as the sum and substance of their discourses."

The Presbyterian congregation at St. Thomas', Southwark, was collected in the reign of the second Charles, by Mr. Nathaniel Vincent, brother to Thomas Vincent, who wrote an account of the plague.

“Mr. Vincent left a large congregation at the time of his death; and it continued in a respectable state for more than half a century under his successors. Since that time, it has gradually declined; and for some years past, the number of people has been so few, that the purposes of public worship seem scarcely answered by keeping the doors open. One of the services on the Lord's day has consequently been dropped. There has been a very considerable variation at different periods in the religious sentiments of this society. The earlier ministers were zealously attached to the old Protestant doctrines, aud God remarkably owned their labors for the enlargement of the church: But for the last half century and upwards, both ministers and people have been gradually receding from their doctrines, and the effect has been, that one of the largest places of worship amongst the Dissenters in the metropolis, has become nearly deserted.“The remnant of the congregation have thrown off the antiquated term, meeting house, and substituted that of Unitarian chapel.vol. iv. p. 295.

Presbyterian Society, King John's Court, Southwark.

“This society was for many years in a very flourishing state; but in proportion as the old Protestant doctrines were departed from, and another gospel introduced, different from that which their earlier ministers gloried in, the congregation declined. The five first ministers were decided Calvinists; those that succeeded were far gone in Arianism.”. VOL. III.-N0. x.

68

« הקודםהמשך »