Page images

because he makes use of the faculties which God has given him, and God will not require him to believe what appears to him unintelligible.

The ultimate difference then is, that the unitarians make the reason of every man a pope, while the Romanists confine this privilege to the bishop of Rome.

We ought to mention, that there is a class of protestants, who as much arrogate to themselves the title of "spi ritual Christians," as Dr. B. and his associates do that of "rational." These "spiritual Christians" maintain, with the church of Rome, that the Holy Spirit being the author of the scriptures, he alone can properly determine their sense; whence they infer that human reason or learning are of no use; that the teaching of the Spirit enables each favoured individual to determine the true sense of the scriptures; and that all to whom he does not vouchsafe this teaching, must walk on still in darkness, under a positive inability to do any thing by which the seals of this mystick volume may be opened.

All these extravagances of sentiment were avoided by our enlightened reformers. They disclaimed infallibility in any man or in any body of men. The high pretentions of the church of Rome were met by the unanswerable argument that both popes, and councils calling themselves general, have contradicted one another. But as the Holy Spirit cannot dictate opposite conclusions to the mind, the parties pretending to inspiration must agree among themselves before we can be required to admit their claims. The same answer guards against the enthusiasm of those private Christians who lay claim to inspiration, and discard the use of reason and the assistance of human learning. The pretenders to this extraordinary illumination have differed in their interpretation; consequently they are bound to prove their high pretensions before it becomes our duty to admit them.

There remains then no other test, by which we can determine the sense of the scriptures, but that of enlightened reason; the reason of man enlightened by the Spirit of God, and by all the aids of human learning. And, if the reasoning powers of every man were perfect, and his will were pure; if they were neither disturbed by passion, nor limited by ignorance, there would be no dispute on this point, between us and the unitarians. But since there is a vast inequality in the native powers of men's minds, since there is a great deal of obliquity in the human will, by which belief is greatly regulated; since the various pursuits and avocations of mankind, forbid their attaining to the same degree of knowledge; and since in consequence there have been endless disputes raised upon almost every point of Christian faith and practice; the question still remains, who has this en lightened reason? We maintain that it does not exist in any one individual, or in any small number of men, but in the great body of professing Christians, the church catholick or universal, as it has existed from its foundation. We think that sense of the scriptures the most likely to be true which we find to have been the oldest and the most generally received. As an example to illus trate this position, we extract the following passage from Dr. B's fourth sermon. "In respect to that class of texts which are adduced as divine authority for the doctrine of the supreme divinity of our Saviour, the real question is not whether these will bear, in accordance with the general principles of language, the construction trinitarians put on them; but whether they will not bear the construction of unitarians !" (p. 60.) We are by no means disposed to admit this ambiguity; but, supposing it to exist, and supposing that the general principles of language will admit of both constructions, we say that the sense which has on its side antiquity, univer sality, and consent is to be received as the dictate of enlightened reason.

It is on this principle that our church refuses to permit any of her clergy to become solitary interpreters of the scriptures. She considers the interests of the laity as too dear, and the correctness of their principles as too important, to place them at the disposal of any individual, how exalted soever may be his talents, or extensive his learning. She therefore demands from every man a promise "so to minister the doctrine and sacraments, and the discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and as this church hath received the same;" she does not say as this church hath decreed, but as she bath received the same; that is, according to the sense admitted by the catholick or universal church, in its most ancient, pure, and primitive state. The question, then, for the laity to decide is, whether Dr. B. and his associates shall have the liberty of thinking, and preaching, and praying for them in publick worship, according to the dictates of their solitary reason, without any one to restrain or call them to an account, or whether they shall be obliged to pay respect and deference to the enlightened reason of the universal church. We think there will not be a doubt in which way the liberties of the laity will be best preserved; and all this idle clamour about creeds, and articles, and confessions of faith, will be found to terminate in that restless spirit of insubordination which proceeds from the corrupt workings of the human heart. "As to make a confession of faith," says the famous Boston minister, Cot ton Mather," is a duty wherein all Christians are to be made confessors; and multitudes of them have been made martyrs; thus to write a confession of faith, is a work, which the faithful, in all ages, have approved and practised, as most singularly profitable." Magnalia, b. v. p. i. s. 2.

To compare the Christian to a traveller passing onward in the journey of life, toward the heavenly country of which he is a citizen, may appear to be

[blocks in formation]

a very trite similitude; yet will afford us no unapt illustration of the sufficiency of the scriptures and the right of private judgment; and with it we shall at present take leave of our readers. The traveller has in his hands an accurate description of the road which he is to travel, written by the direction of the holy Sovereign himself, who has also appointed guides to explain it and to conduct him on his journey. But there are some points of this road in which there are several paths; and there have been different constructions put on the sense of this description, so that he is uncertain which of these paths he ought to take. He applies to one set of these guides, who tell him that as he may mistake the description, and, if he trusts to his own examination, may lose his way, he had better give up the book to them; and submit also to be blindfolded, because he might otherwise dispute about the way, which would only retard his journey and would moreover imply a distrust of his guides.

There is another set of guides who tell him to keep the description in his own hands, and read it with continual attention, comparing with it every part of the road to which he comes. When, notwithstanding this careful reading, he is still in perplexity, these guides tell him which is the oldest and best trodden path, and that in which the most careful and intelligent persons have trodden from the time in which the path was opened. They do not pretend to infallibility, but they consider that as the safest and best path, to which the most ancient and general preference has been given, and therefore they advise him to pursue it.

There is another set of persons who, without any authority from the Sove reign, take upon themselves to tell him that the description is very doubtful, that nobody can be his guide, and that every man ought to be so independent as to pursue that path which seems to him best, even though he be purblind. Though they do not pretend to be

[blocks in formation]

We, thy creatures evanescent,
Bowing to thy boundless sway,

On this house implore thy blessing;
Be it thy abiding place;
Mortals, here their sins confessing,
Comfort with thy saving grace.

Should thy judgments fall upon us,
And for pardon here we pray,
Father have compassion on us,
Hopeless send us not away;

But on all, before thee kneeling,
Freely let thy mercy flow,
Like Bethesda's waters, healing
To the aching heart of wo.
Whatsoever ills beset us,
Pious confidence to wound,
In the strength of Jesus let us
More than conquerors be found.

By his infinite affection,
Holy birth, and life divine,
By his death and resurrection,
God almighty-make us thine.


New Hampshire.

The convention of the clergy and lay delegates of the protestant Episcopal church in this state, was held at Claremont, on the 22d of August.

Reverend James B. Howe, president; and Albe Cady, Esq. secretary.

The Rev. Charles Burroughs, Rev. James B. Howe, Rev. John L. Blake, Hon. John Harris, and Nathaniel Adams, Esq. were elected to compose the standing committee of the church for the ensuing year.

The Rev. Charles Burroughs, Rev. Robert Fowle, Rev. James B. Howe, Rev. John L. Blake, Maj. Ezra Jones, Hon. Samuel Green, Nathaniel Adams, Esq. and Hon. James Sheafe, were chosen delegates to the diocesan convention, to be holden at Portsmouth in said state, on the last Wednesday of September next.

The same clergymen, with Enoch G. Par rott, Esq. Dr. James F. Dana, Hon. James Sheafe, and Samuel Fiske, Esq. were chosen delegates to the general convention.

The committee, to whom were referred the parochial returns, reported,

"That the church in this state, well known by her friends to have commenced as the

"Religious instructers are forbidden to exercise dominion over the faith of their fellow-men, but they are directed to be the 'helpers of their joy."" Serm. i. p. 22.

two or three met together,' and to be at the present time but small, presents few interesting objects worthy of detail in an annual report. It is however satisfactory to be able to say that her sun has not yet passed its meridian; and we may reasonably anticipate the time when her excellences may be more extensively known, and when her members will be inspired with a more ardent zeal in diffusing the influence of her doctrines and her worship.

"From St. John's church, Portsmouth, Rev. Mr. Burroughs reports, 27 baptisms, viz. 8 adults and 19 children; deaths, 15 adults and 3 children; number of families about 100; communicants about 90; that a Sunday school of about 100 is attached to the society.

"Union church, at Claremont, continues still flourishing, and reports 120 families, 112 taxable persons, 620 souls, and 120 communicants; and since the last convention, 25 baptisms, 5 marriages, and 18 deaths. This church has received as donations, a pair of silver cups from widow Alice Dustin, a silver flagon from Sanford Kingsbury, Esq. and also an elegant altar piece from William W. Clapp, Esq. of Boston.

The church in Holderness, reports 30 families, 150 souls, 20 communicants, and one Sunday school, and, since the last convention, 1 baptism, 1 marriage, and 3 funerals.

"Rev. Mr. Leonard, who officiates one third of the time in Trinity church, Cornish, and administers the holy communion at that place once in two months, reports 40 communicants, and that since advent 1818, when his services commenced in said church, there have been 17 baptisms, 3 marriages, 6 funerals, and 15 persons have been confirmed.

"From Christ's church, at Hopkinton, there are reported 20 communicants; and there is exhibited evidences of growing piety and attachment to the church.

"No sensible alteration has taken place at St. Thomas's chapel, in Concord; but it is mentioned with gratitude from that church, that an elegant service of plate, for the use of the altar, has been presented it by the pious munificence of individuals in Portsmouth.

"It is also mentioned as a matter of satisfaction that through the exertions of the Rev. Mr. Howe, an Episcopal society has been organized at Charlestown, where there is a small permanent fund existing for its support.

We likewise mention that Mr. George Richardson, a graduate at Dartmouth college, and preceptor of the academy at New Hampton, and who is a candidate for holy orders, has collected a respectable congregation at that place, under auspicious circumstances, where he has for sometime officiated as a lay reader.

"It is also understood, though no official information has been received, that within a few months, a congregation has been collected at Colebrook, Coos county, and that the service and a sermon are read each Sabbath by a respectable lay gentleman."

The next annual convention to be holden at Holderness, on the first Wednesday in October.


Instead of giving our readers an abstract of our own of the proceedings of the convention of Maryland, we willingly take that which is made to our hands by the editor of the Churchman's Magazine. The sentiments he has expressed with regard to these proceedings are decidedly our own; and to say the truth, we are willing to spare ourselves an employment which could not give satisfaction to any one concerned in it. "An abstract of the journals of the convention of the protestant Episcopal church in the diocese of Maryland, held at Washington, D. C. 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th of June, 1822. "This convention was attended by the right reverend James Kemp, D. D.; about thirty-five clergymen, and nearly the same number of laymen.

"In his address, the bishop mentions, that

he had ordained one deacon and two priests, and confirmed ninety persons. And after enumerating the several changes which had occurred in the residences of clergymen, he remarks, that 'a more awful change than any of the former, has taken place in this diocese, during the last year. The reverend John Weems, for many years a respectable clergyman of this diocese, has terminated his ministry here on earth, and passed into that state, where he must yield an account of his stewardship.'

"The bishop then congratulates his brethren on the present appearances of the church, contrasted with its former depressed state, and expresses his belief, that, to extend its limits, nothing is wanting but a sufficient supply of well-educated, faithful, and pious ministers. He laments that some most valuable clergymen have been compelled to leave this diocese, for the want of support. In so abundant a country as we inhabit, this is a most appalling circumstance: and we confidently hope, that God, who bestows his blessings in such profusion upon our happy land, will inspire the hearts of his people with dispositions to grant an adequate portion of his good bounty, to support the ministers of his gospel. The church, by no means, wishes to accumulate wealth. All she wants, and all she looks for, is the comfortable support of those, who have relinquished the pursuits of this world, and devoted themselves to the service of the altar.' After stating the scriptural proofs, that this positive duty is no less imperious under the gospel, than it was under the law, he suggests to the people of the diocese, that they might relieve much of the inconveniences of their clergy, by occasionally bestowing upon them a portion of the good things with which a kind providence has blessed them. Such a practice would not only maintain the most affectionate intercourse between a pastor and his flock, but even yield a source of delight to every pious heart. While no one can more cordially disapprove of beggarly and murmuring cler gymen than I do, few things could gratify diocese in ease and comfort, devoting their me so much, as to see all the clergy of my whole attention to their holy calling.'

[ocr errors]

"We have extracted these observations, not without hope that they may catch the eye,

and occupy the thoughts of some of our readers. The subject is certainly an important one, but it rarely meets with that consideration which it deserves. And it is probably owing to a false delicacy, that it is so unfrequently made a theme of official instruction; and to its not receiving from our congregations that liberal regard which is due to it, that so many clergymen of great promise, have, at different times, removed from the

diocese of Connecticut, seeking that 'encouragement' abroad, which we have too often withheld from them.

"After appointing a committee on the state of the church, on the Episcopal fund, and on other business, the convention entered into a consideration of the expediency of establishing a diocesan missionary society, auxiliary to the domestick and foreign mis sionary society of the protestant Episcopal church of the United States. It was determined to organize an auxiliary missionary society, and a constitution for its government was adopted. The primary object of the society is, to supply the diocese of Maryland with a regular ministry; and by its surplus funds, to aid the parent society. Two dollars constitute a person a member for one year; and twenty dollars, a member for life. Members, who pay fifty dollars, are denominated.patrons. A sermon is to be delivered, and a collection made for the benefit of the society, during the session of the annual convention. The board of managers are to meet semi-annually; and the appropriation of the funds, and the appointment of missionaries are vested in them. We quote the last article of the constitution, on account of the excellent spirit which it breathes, and with a view of suggesting (what we fear is rarely practised to the full extent which it ought to be) the duty and importance of commending all our exertions in the cause of Christianity, to the protection and blessing of heaven. It is recommended to every mem. ber of the society, to pray to almighty God for his blessing upon its designs, under the full conviction, that unless he directs us in all our doings, with his most gracious favour, and furthers us with his continual help, we cannot reasonably hope, either to procure suitable persons to act as missionaries, or expect that their endeavours will be successful.'

"The following persons were appointed trustees of the general theological seminary: Rev. Dr. Wyatt, Rev. J. P. K. Henshaw, Rev. M. Johns, N. Brice, Esq., J. C. Herbert, Esq., T. Tilghman, Esq., and J. B. Eccleston, Esq.

"The following gentlemen were elected delegates to the next general convention. The Rev. Mr. Henshaw, the Rev. Mr. Johns, the Rev. Mr. Weeks, the Rev. Mr. Weller, J. C. Herbert, F. S. Key, T. Tilghman, and J. Goldsborough, Esquires.

"The convention adopted a resolution approving the efforts now making, by the Ameriçan colonization society, as tending to diffuse the blessings of Christianity.

"A resolution was adopted, earnestly recommending to the clergymen and vestries of the diocese, to exert themselves in the col

lection of annual subscriptions, and other funds, for the uses of the missionary society.

"The following resolutions, with the preamble, were adopted, 'Whereas, the calls of the church, in this section of the country, for ministers rightly to divide the word of truth, are loud and frequent, and are daily becoming more urgent and imperious; and since it is desirable to furnish every facility to those, who are solicitous of being duly prepared for the high and responsible office of the gospel ministry, and the experience of the church has borne the most ample testimony to the admirable tendency of well-regulated theological schools, to promote this object: Therefore,

Resolved, by the convention of the protestant Episcopal church in the diocese of Maryland, That it is now expedient, in reliance on the blessing of God for success, to establish a local theological seminary.

"And be it further resolved, That a committee, consisting of five members, three of whom shall be of the clergy, and the rest of the laity, be elected by ballot, to report to this convention a constitution for the government of said seminary.'

"The votes were taken by orders, and the yeas and nays ordered to be inserted on the journals. Clergymen, yeas 23, nays 8. Laymen, yeas 19, nays 11.

"The constitution of the seminary provides, that its regulations shall be consistent with the canons of the general convention, and the laws of the diocese under which it is established. The board of trustees are to be elected triennially, and to consist of eight clergymen and five laymen; the bishop of the diocese is ex officio president of the board. The secretary of the board is required to submit the record of their proceedings to the annual conventions; to which also, a report of the state of the seminary in all its departments, is to be exhibited. None but presbyters are eligible to the office of professor.The location of the seminary is to be determined by the convention, and all the acts of the board of trustees are subject to its revision. The seminary is to be located in Washington county, district of Columbia. The following gentlemen were elected members of the board of trustees: Rev. Dr. Davis, Rev. Dr. Wyatt, Rev. Mr. Henshaw, Rev. Mr. Weller, Rev. Mr. Hawley, Rev. Mr. Johns, Rev. Mr. M'Ilvaine, Rev. Mr. Tyng, J. C. Herbert, F. S. Key, J. Goldsborough, T. Henderson, and C. Smith, esquires.

"We have thus detailed, as summarily as possible, the proceedings of the diocese of Maryland on this interesting subject. But while we express our gratification at the increased exertions which the members of our

« PreviousContinue »