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has been the case, especially in reference to the jury lists. In preparing the special panel, the names of Roman Catholics were placed on the list by ballot, but every one of these was struck off by the law officers of the crown. This is taken by the Irish Catholics as “an insult and a wrong," impugning their loyalty and truth, and proclaiming to the empire that they are not to be trusted on their oaths. To a people so sensitive and irritable, this has been the signal for an universal agitation, and in one week, more than three hundred and twenty parishes, towns, and cities, located in every county of the kingdom, have held meetings and passed resolutions, &c., expressive of their indignation at this virtual repeal of the Catholic Emancipation Act.
In the mean time the state-trial has been slowly proceeding in Dublin, the case for the crown having occupied eleven days. To what extent the defence may be carried, no one can say, for it is reported that at least two hundred witnesses are to be examined, besides the speeches of counsel and the summing up of the court. There is much reason to fear that this will be regarded as a struggle for the ascendency of a party rather than for the sovereignty of law, and that consequently, whatever may be the result, the moral effects will not be to increase the stability of constitutional authority in that distracted land.
What the government intend to do respecting the support of the Irish priesthood, has not yet transpired. There is ground to fear that they have some such project in hand; and the dependent circumstances of the Pope may lead him to use his author. ity with the Romish bishops of Ireland to facilitate the measure. Should the proposal be made to Parliament, we trust that the sound Protestants of the empire will rise as one man to protest against the abomination. But, alas ! the Presbyterians of Ireland have the “ golden wedge” in their own camp; how can they stand before their enemies in the day of conflict ?
Parliament is again about to assemble, under very chequered circumstances; we are a miserably divided people. A spirit of selfish exclusiveness seems to grow upon
The claims of classes are advocated at the cost of the community. Interest against interest-party against party—altar against altar. May God in his great mercy dispose the people and their rulers to “look not every man to his own things, but every man also on the things of others;" and then monopolies will be abandoned, church oppressions will cease, and our countrymen will yet feel that we are a nation of brothers.
NOTICES TO CORRESPONDENTS.
Favours have been received from Rev. Drs. J. P. Smith and J. Matheson.
Rev. Messrs. B. H. Cooper, E. Mannering, R. Philip, G. Taylor, G. B. Watkins G. Wright, D. Ford, G. Smith, A. J. Morris, A. Wells, H. Edwards, S. Jackson.
Sir J. B. Williams, Mr. J. Williams.
We are requested to state that the Rev. S. Jackson, of Walsall, was appointed by his ministerial brethren in South Staffordshire to represent them at the late Educational Conference in London, and attended in his place accordingly; but from some cause which we cannot explain, his name is omitted in the list of those present.
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE EVANGELICAL CHURCHES
OF RHENISH PRUSSIA.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CONGREGATIONAL MAGAZINE.
SIR,—As your pages, I believe, are devoted to any kind of information which may tend to throw light upon the position and prospects of ecclesiastical affairs throughout the world, I thought that a brief history of the evangelical churches of Rhenish Prussia, might not be unacceptable to your readers. Many things connected with that history are, to the thoughtful observer, very instructive, and serve as data by which we may gain much insight into the working of spiritual authorities, when brought into connexion with the civil power. It is almost needless to observe, that the Protestant religion on the continent was divided, almost from the very commencement of the struggle for evangelical truth, intotwo branches, the Lutheran and the “reformed.” The Lutheran branch spread itself widely throughout Germany, and northwards into Denmark and Sweden ; while the “reformed churches,” (as they were termed,) commencing in Switzerland, spread throughout many parts of France, followed the course of the Rhine into Holland, and laid the foundation of all the different Presbyterian churches in Protestant Europe. In the district of Germany, to which this history refers, that, namely, which lies on either bank of the Rhine, from its junction with the Moselle northwards to the frontier of Holland, the Reformation made but little progress, and the mass of the population, to the present day, hold their allegiance to the papal see. On the left bank, however, westward, to the frontier of France and Belgium, a few Protestant churches gradually gathered themselves together, and following the plan of the French reformers, became united under the ecclesiastical government of “ local consistories.” In process of time, as the reformed churches became more numerous towards the north, owing, probably, to the
N. S. VOL. VIII.
influence of Holland, a general synod was formed, on the Presbyterian model, called “ The provincial synod of Cleve, Jülich, and Berg,” into which synod most of those churches were incorporated.
A similar course, in the mean time, was followed throughout the whole province of Westphalia, on the other side of the Rhine. The “reformed” churches were there also incorporated into a synod, called “ The united provincial synod of Mark,” while the Lutherans formed many congregations in the same district, and conducted them according to their own peculiar faith and discipline.
Such, then, was the position of the Protestant religion in this district, when at the conclusion of the last European war, the whole came under the power of the Prussian government. The late king of Prussia, it is known, was a great admirer of religious uniformity; and no sooner did his power extend over this district, than he commenced his attempts to unite the whole of the Protestants into one ecclesiastical régime. The first attempt he made was to unite the Lutherans with the “reformed,” by compromising their differences respecting the observance of the Lord's supper.
A proposition to this effect was made in the year 1817, under the king's authority, by the united synod of Mark, which was at once accepted by two of the minor presbyteries belonging to it, and by many of the churches in the larger towns on their own authority. The subject of Protestant union was also discussed, and resolutions passed respecting it in the provincial synod of Cleve, Jülich, and Berg, in the month of November, 1818, but no definite arrangement in either case was yet made for a united church throughout the whole of the Prussian Rhenish dominions.
In this state affairs remained until the year 1827, when the grand attempt of the Prussian monarch to produce uniformity throughout his dominions saw the light, headed by a new liturgy and a new rubric. At the next assembly of the united synod of Mark, a circular was drawn up, and sent to all the Protestant churches in the name of the president, of which the following is an abridged translation:
“ CHRISTIAN BRETHREN,
“ Three hundred years have passed by since the first division was occasioned in the evangelical church, by difference of opinion on the doctrine of the holy sacrament of the Lord's supper. Long ago has time virtually settled the contest. All enlightened and pious Christians know that the holy sacrament of the Lord's supper exhibits their fellowship with Christ, and all are conscious that they are not able to express the precise nature of the influence it exerts, in such words as shall be equally clear to all men. And how in fact can language exhibit adequately, in its cold and dead forms, what the work of God is in the spirit of man, a thing which can only be experienced in the deepest feelings of the pious soul? Your deputies, therefore, in the year 1817, declared, in your own name, and by the wish of our honoured and beloved sovereign, as well as with the concurrence of a great number of the evangelical churches of our father-land, that the separation of the evangelical communities should no longer exist, and that all the hitherto Lutheran and 6 reformed churches should belong to one and the same church fellowship. This declaration was received by you all with approbation and joy; and the synod has, from that time, laboured to assimilate whatever differences have grown up between the two separated churches. A common hymn-book will soon appear. A common and uniform service will be shortly introduced; and as to your form of church government, that has been, in all essential points, the same, from the days of the Reformation. You will have the same presidents in your synods and presbyteries. No difference between Lutheran and 'reformed' ministers or candidates will any longer be acknowledged ; while in many places the churches have already united themselves together into one congregation. As to the division which took place three hundred years ago on the doctrine of the holy sacrament, this manifests itself now only in the difference of the outward observance. This difference must also be done away, so that union may become apparent even to the ignorant, who are so apt to look for what is essential in the outward and visible. The synod of 1817 therefore determined, according to the desire of our beloved sovereign, that the mode of administering the Lord's supper should, in all our evangelical churches, consist of the breaking of bread (the manner to be left undefined) and the presentation to the communicant of the holy symbols with the words of the institution. Moreover, it (the synod) observed this form in the public service held at the opening of its assemblies, and all united in the determination that they would use every endeavour to introduce the said mode into all the churches. It has accordingly been already introduced into all the churches of the presbyteries of Soest and Hamm, and, to a great extent, into many of the larger churches belonging to the other presbyteries. These things I now make known to you, with the earnest request that you render every assistance to your ministers for the attainment of this great and Christianlike object. We preachers are so ready to fear lest we should give offence to the weak and appear in a bad light when we propose alterations, the necessity of which cannot be appreciated by single individuals ; We therefore venture hesitatingly to bring them before the churches. Much better, however, will the work succeed, if you unite yourselves in one mind and spirit for the same object,—if the enlightened and zealous instruct those who are ignorant or apprehensive, and if you thus make known your united wishes to your minister, who will most joyfully meet you in them.”
After some further observations on the desirableness of Christian union, the circular ends with an appeal to the ministers themselves :
“ To you, my honoured brethren, I have nothing to add ; for who am I, that I should say anything to you on this subject, further than the friendly entreaty, that you will endeavour to obtain for this official communication, an open ear in all your churches? I have not addressed it to you in order to arrogate anything to myself, or to give you to understand that I had any peculiar knowledge or understanding on the subject; but only to give you an occasion for bringing this great object under the consideration of your people. I pray you, therefore, to view it in this light, and to retain for me the confidence and affection which you have shown, far beyond my deserts. The Lord be with us and our churches, and further our honest and good designs to his honour, and to the spread of his kingdom on the earth. (Signed)
“ BAUMER, “ President of the United Synod of Mark.”
The object aimed at by this circular appears to have been very generally answered. The work of union went on with astonishing facility; the differences of three hundred years were soon compromised,
and the amalgamation of the two classes of evangelical Protestants thus almost completely effected.
In the mean time, another scene was transacting on the other side of the Rhine, in connexion with the churches belonging to the provincial synod of Cleve, Jülich, and Berg. In the summer of 1827, the general superintendent of it was summoned to Berlin, in order to treat on the subject of an ecclesiastical settlement with the government. On his return in the autumn, he summoned the superintendents of the different presbyteries together, laid before them the result of his negociations, explained the nature of the new ecclesiastical provisions and modes of worship, and informed them, that if they would all agree to introduce them (allowing even an exception of some things that might be considered offensive) his Majesty the king would still allow them, under certain modifications, the continuance of their ecclesiastical constitution, as founded on the former acts of their synod, and would, in every thing essential, confirm their presbyterian régime. It was likewise intimated that they might retain with the new forms, their accustomed usages, and, in addition, might employ, if they chose, a selection from those of their former liturgies and formularies, to which they might be strongly attached.
The superintendents made their remarks severally, upon the various points of the new ritual, with its modifications, and agreed that, although they did not consider themselves empowered, without a full commission, to treat of so important an object, yet they believed that the introduction of the new forms, when duly modified and freed from whatever might be offensive, would be attended with little difficulty, especially with the distinct assurance that the old form of church government should be retained undisturbed.
The general superintendent wishing to bring all the Protestant churches into co-operation, communicated the result of this conference to the united synod of Mark, and as they returned a similar answer, and agreed to co-operate in any general plan of union, he returned to Berlin to carry on further negociations with the government. The result of these negociations was, that two distinct and definite inquiries were sent in the month of November, 1828, to both the synods, to which the government required a distinct reply. First. Whether the kind intention of his Majesty, to unite the whole of the Protestant churches in Rhineland and Westphalia into one ecclesiastical family, by means of one and the same system of church government, would be received and acknowledged with pleasure and becoming gratitude ; it being moreover understood that the system of government should be the Presbyterian form, as then already held by the synod of Cleve, Jülich, and Berg, modified according to the requirements of the age ? Secondly. Whether they were disposed to accept the introduction of one uniform liturgy into these provinces, and to agree with the new ritual of his majesty under those modifications which should best seem to