תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

its character well described in the influence of habit upon the readiphrases being " seared as with a hot ness, distinctness and accuracy of iron,” “ being past feeling, and the mind, in apprehending the rehardened through the deceitfulness lations of conduct to the rule of of sin."

right. A habit of carelessness often A good conscience denotes the produces a sleeping conscience, and adoption of the right rule, a readi- a habit of strict attention a wakeful, ness to apprehend the agreement or influential one. disagreement of conduct with it, Sometimes another effect of habit and a constant, uniform regulation is seen in its influence upon the of feelings, words and actions, ac- heart. By neglecting the compunccording to the rule. This is what tions of conscience, the sensibility the apostle sought to preserve when to error and sin becomes deadened, he exercised himself, “ to have al- and the heart is hardened in sin, al. ways a conscience void of offence though the apprehension of wrong toward God and man."

may be present. The understand. The principal thing intended di- ing may make a righteous decision, rectly by a good conscience is, 'uni- but the heart be too callous to feel. form obedience to its enlightened This state of mind is always acdictates, but it implies all that be- quired by degrees, from sinful inlongs specifically to an enlighten- dulgences, and never at once by ed and tender conscience.

any individual. A defiled or evil conscience is the Sometimes men have great senreverse of one that is good, and de sibility, and they are very conscinotes the adoption of a wrong rule, entious to avoid some things which a blindness of apprehension, or a are wrong, while, in regard to other callousness of feeling: either will things, even more sinful, they have produce an evil conscience. There no sensibility at all. This fact may is one thought more, which may be accounted for in one of two sometimes be intended by an evil ways; either the rule adopted is conscience, that is a sickly feeling defective, and so the fault is printhat leads to a wrong application of cipally in the understanding; or the rule, which in itself may be the feelings are perverted by the right. Any thing, in short, which dis- deadening influence of sinful intorts the apprehension, or perverts dulgence, and so the fault is printhe sensibility to moral character, cipally in the heart. The associamay produce an evil conscience. tion of thought and feeling, in some

A general remark should here be things, has been broken up by the made, on the influence of habit and habit, but in other things it remains education in forming and improving unbroken. the apprehension and sensibility of The whole discussion shows the the mind in relation to morals. The importance of early education, in facility and readiness with which the true principles of sound morals the mind apprehends any relations and pure religion. The mere acare greatly improved by a habit of quisitions of science, arts and budiscrimination, and injured by ne siness talent, however valuable in glect. Every student must be their place, have vastly less influaware of the influence which habit ence in the formation of character, gives to his mind in fixing the at- than moral principles and religious tention, in the investigation of ex- doctrines. Every child must adopt, act science, and in associating num as he grows up, some rules of estibers or facts. It induces a disci- mating his own conduct; to avoid pline of intellect, that makes things it is impossible, from the very coneasy which were before extremely stitution of his mind. To estimate difficult. Not unlike this is the the relations of things in the con

stant and almost exclusive employ- perverted their intellectual apprement of his mind, the relations hensions, by long continued violaof his own conduct to the objects tions of truth and duty. sought, are the most prominent and We close this article with a sinimportant to be estimated. To gle direction for the formation and bring these suggestions to their pro- preservation of a good conscience. per bearing, which to some may seem 'The first thing to be carefully ob. not very obvious, it must be recol- served is, to study the revealed lected that happiness is the great will of God, and adopt its maxims object of every man's pursuit, and and principles as the rule of estithat the relations of conduct to that mating conduct. The adoption of object involve moral principles, so a correct, righteous rule, is indisthat every man must estimate his pensably important to the formation own conduct by some moral rule of a good conscience. The next or standard. On the admitted prin- thing is, to habituate the mind to ciple and influence of human de- compare the conduct in all its parts pravity, children will be disposed to with the rule thus adopted. A just adopt rules that are wrong, and ul. and delicate discrimination of one's timately subversive of their own own character, must be the result of and others' happiness. Education, much and careful observance of the correctly and wisely conducted. comparison, Itis equally necessary, may do much towards forming an to the readiness and efficient influ. enlightened and tender conscience. ence of the comparison and judg

This law of mental operation ment, that the care should be habit. has more to do with the formation ual and constant. of character, than is generally sup Another thing is, punctually and posed by the teachers and guar. resolutely to obey, in practice, the dians of youth. As character is feelings consequent upon the comestimated by the people of this parison. This will cherish a tendercountry generally, good morals are ness of feeling, and serve to disci. more valuable to human happiness, pline the whole mind to its proper social order and publick prosperity, exercise and character. The last than wealth, or power, or science. part of the direction is, a prayerful Care should, therefore, be taken to reliance on the teaching of the Holy furnish the young mind with cor- Spirit for guidance. Philosophers rect rules of judgment, so that in may smile at this direction, incorsubsequent life it shall have no oc- porated in a discussion on mental casion to alter them, or adopt differ- science; but we shall show hereaf. ent rules of estimating the conduct. ter, that this is in its place, and These remarks may help to account yastly important to the correct for the fact, that an early religious knowledge of the subject. education is so very efficient in restraining men in after life from gross outbreakings in vice. Religious truth ever has more effect upon such THE PRESENT STATE OF THE PRESmen, and they are more likely than others, to become subjects of perma

No. IV. nent religious impressions. They have adopted correct rules of esti Having in our last number given mating their character, consequent- our views of the manner in which ly they cannot endure the compunc- the Moderator of the late General tions of their consciences, in the Assembly discharged the duties of commission of crime. This will his office, we expected to proceed always be true of all such, who immediately to a consideration, sehave not hardened their hearts or riatim, of some of the principal

BYTERIAN CHURCH.

acts of the Assembly itself; not swer, tolerably well, the design of doubting that the printed minutes those who devised it. There was of the Assembly would be in our not then the great inequality which possession, and furnish us with the now exists, in the number of memmeans of executing our purpose bers composing different Presbytecorrectly. But it appears that the ries—The Presbyteries were in geminutes, at the time we write,* are neral small, and the number of not yet ready for distribution; and members in each not very unequal. we must, therefore, proceed as well But the present state of the church, as we can without them.

renders the original plan of constiThere was one important transac- tuting its supreme judicatory one of tion of the Assembly, in regard to the most objectionable that can be which there can be, as to the facts imagined; and entirely subverts, of the case, no controversy; and in practice, that principle of equal. to this, therefore, we shall confine ity in representation, which the ourselves in our present number. founders of the church unquestionWe refer to a proposition which ably regarded as sacred. The inwas submitted, and discussed at equality of the Presbyteries is now, considerable length, that the opi- in some instances, enormous; and nion of the Presbyteries should be the principle of allowing every taken, on the expediency of chang. Presbytery, however small

, a reing the constitutional plan of elect- presentation of one minister and ing Commissioners to the General one elder, and the like allowance Assembly; that is, on the expedi. in all Presbyteries for every fracency of transferring the choice of tion of a number beyond the speciCommissioners from the Presbyte-fied general ratio-deprives the ries to the Synods—The decision larger Presbyteries of their right to of the Assembly was against trans- a proportionate representation, acmitting this proposition, at present, cording to numbers—deprives them to the Presbyteries. In this deci. of this right to an extent scarcely sion we think the welfare of the credible, till the subject is exachurch was not consulted; and we mined. Let us examine it—The are afraid it was not consulted from Presbytery of Philadelphia, for exthe influence of party views. We ample, consists, at this time, of shall assign our reasons for our opi- nearly fifty ministerial members; nion.

and is entitled to a representation 1. The present mode of choosing of four ministers and four elders, Commissioners to the Assembly and no more, in the General Asresults in a most unequal and ine- sembly. But suppose the number quitable representation; and also of its ministerial members, say 48, puts it in the power of the Synods to be divided by 6, a number suffurther to increase this inequality, ficient to form a respectable Preswhenever they may choose to do so. bytery-we shall then have eight If we would not impeach the under. Presbyteries instead of one, and standings or the integrity of the each Presbytery entitled to send to framers of our Form of church go- the Assembly one minister and one vernment, we must suppose that it elder. What is the result?

The was their intention and their aim, to very same number of ministers, give a fair and equal representation and the very same individuals, who to every part of the church in its now have in the Assembly a reprehighest judicatory; and we know sentation of only 8 members, would that the plan adopted for this pur- have, after the supposed division, pose did, for a number of years, an- 16—that is, the representation, after

Sept. 21—more than three months division, would be exactly the douand a half, after the rising of the Assemble of what it was before the divi. bly.

sion. What a palpable absurdity Assembly is considered as an object is this! But the allowance for frac- of prime importance. tions in all the Presbyteries, is cal Let it now be considered that the culated to produce a still more proposed synodical representation, extensive inequality. Say that a and the rejection of all fractions, Presbytery consists of 13 members; would remove at once and entirely every such Presbytery is entitled the whole of the inequality, and the to two ministers and two elders, or temptation to unfairness, which a representation of four members have been exhibited.

This we in the Assembly-just half the think too obvious to be dwelt on at number allowed to a Presbytery of much length. By throwing all the 48 members.

Presbyteries which compose a SyNor is it to be supposed that the nod into one mass, a fair, and equal, inequality we have exhibited is a and uniform ratio of representation matter of speculation only. It ac- may be established, throughout the tually exists to a very great extent, whole church. In this event too, in the present method of consti- there could be but a few fractions, tuting the Assembly.

in comparison with the present The summary statistical report number, since there could be but of the last year we have not seen one for each Synod. And we think that for the present year-states there can scarcely be a doubt in the number of ordained ministers any reflecting mind, that fractions in our church to be 1491, and the ought never to be representednumber of Presbyteries 98; and Their representation produces a far this will give an average of 15 greater inequality than their utter members to each Presbytery, with rejection would; as will be evident only a remainder of twenty-one. when it is recollected that, as the Now, as the average number must matter now stands, a single indibe diminished by the excess of that vidual-suppose in a Presbytery number in every Presbytery in consisting of 13 members—may be which such an excess is found-and entitled to as large and efficient a it is found in a considerable num- representation as 12 others. It is ber of Presbyteries-it is apparent remarkable that the constitution of at once, that there must be many our church and the civil constitusmall Presbyteries, and that their tion of our country, which surrepresentation must, agreeably to prisingly resemble each other in what we have shown, be far greater, most particulars, are exactly opin proportion to their numbers, than posed,' in this matter of fracthat of the large Presbyteries; tions. By the constitution of the especially as their numerous frac- United States, no individual state tions have each a representation is allowed an additional represenalso. Farther, as it is the exclu- tative in Congress, for any fracsive prerogative of the Synods to tion of the number of its inhabit. divide Presbyteries, and thus to ants, till the fraction reaches the increase their number, and as the prescribed integral number to which advantage of small Presbyteries à representative is awarded. The over large ones, in point of repre- eminently wise and discerning men sentation, is so great and so obvi. who formed that constitution, saw ous, there is a manifest temptation that a perfectly equal representalaid before Synods, to avail them- tion was not in all cases practicaselves of this advantage, whenever ble; and that by far the smaller the state of the church is such as evil would be chosen, by rejecting it unhappily is at present) that a all fractions without discrimination, superiority of party in the General than by attempting to provide for

no

them in any case whatever-and in stated, was 235-being fifty more such a matter as this, we know of than those of the preceding year;

reason why an ecclesiastical and the probability is, that the next constitution should differ from that Assembly will be larger than the of a well ordered republick. It is last, by a hundred members. This surely not necessary to spend many constant augmentation, under rawords, in replying to an objection tios of representation intended and we have heard--that as Presbyte. expected to produce a diminution, ries are the radical judicatories in is easily accounted for-Our new our church, and the fountain of all Presbyteries, with their fractions, power, they ought to be directly have increased the number of comrepresented in our highest court- missioners much faster than the We answer, They would be thus new ratios have lessened it; and it represented on the proposed plan, might easily be shown, that while and far more fairly than they now every Presbytery and every fracare; and to insist on retaining the tion is allowed a representation, name of presbyterial representation, there is no probability that any raat the expense of connecting it tio will or can produce the desired with inconvenience and unfairness, reduction. Such a reduction may is very seriously to sacrifice sub- be made easily, effectually, and stance to sound.

equitably, by the proposed synodi2. A synodical representation cal elections; and we know of no seems to be the only practicable other eligible mode, in which it can mode of fairly reducing the number ever be made at all. of Commissioners to the Assembly. The objections to a multitudi

- That in some way or other a re nous representation in the Assemduction to a large extent ought to bly are strong and numerous. The take place is, we believe, the uni- expense of attendance by such a reversal conviction. It has been presentation is unwarrantably great. twice attempted, by changing the The number having a claim

on the ratio of representation in Presby: fund provided for defraying the trateries; first from six to nine; and velling expenses of Commissioners then from nine to twelve, ministe- is so large, that each individual can rial members—as constituting, in receive but a small sum—the disevery Presbytery, the number for tant members not half enough to which a representation, consisting indemnify them for what they acof one clergyman and one lay el. tually expend. Beside, all that is der, might go up to the Assembly- expended by members unnecessarily the same representation being also present, is just so much money allowed for every excess of the wasted; which at the present time is number twelve, although falling greatly needed to aid benevolent inshort of its duplicate, triplicate, stitutions and enterprises; and were &c.—which we have denominated the number of attending members fractions. But this repeated ex no larger than it ought to be, those periment of changing the ratio, from a distance might have the while presbyterial representation is whole of their travelling expenses retained, has resulted in a complete discharged. Again-The taking of failure. Under this experiment, more than a hundred ministers unmade for the sole and express pur- necessarily from their charges, for pose of lessening the number of a number of weeks in succession, Commissioners, that number, so is a serious evil, which ought to refar from being diminished, has con- ceive a speedy remedy-Least of stantly and rapidly increased. The all ought it to be countenanced, and number of members in the last its continuance to be perpetuated, Assembly, as we have heretofore by the ministers of the gospel them

« הקודםהמשך »