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gospel so indefinite and obscure a thing, that living men cannot read what it is in the English Bible, and so give or withhold their fellowship, as this gospel is professed or denied ? “But heresy will by-and-by creep in.” As if the next generation were to have neither intellects nor souls of their own, which, enlightened by the Spirit of God, could be trusted to be vigilant for themselves! As if the present generation were to assume the care of orthodoxy for all coming time! Heresy will creep in, if you trust the defence of the faith to a dead statement of Christian truth, rather than to the zeal and vigilance of living teachers. Such statements, without this vigilance, guard from no evil, while they tempt the heretic to a perjured conscience, and the true to a false reliance in their efficacy to guard against error. As summaries of Christian truth, they are not to be despised, but as defences of the faith they are not to be relied upon.

“But we have no established usages.” It is true, we have no directory for public worship, and no order of common prayer, from which we may not deviate. Nor have we a rigid form, prescribed by authority, for the organization of a church, or the ordination of a minister of Christ. We have usages, however, consecrated by time, and commending themselves to all by their appropriate and significant simplicity.

“ But they are not printed in a book, and enforced by authority.” What if they are not ?—they cannot be thus enforced, and yet be consistent with our distinctive principles. In this, however, there is nothing peculiar or alarming. There is nothing peculiar. The customs of the common law—the forms of legal procedure—the rules of admission to the legal and medical professions-are regulated not so much by statute, as by actual practice. The law of evidence, by which life, and property, and person, are protected, or forfeited to law, is an unwritten thing. There is nothing alarming. We need not fear that those who follow us, will lose their memory or their common sense. It is not certain, that they will forget what has been the usage of the churches ; or, in a paroxysm of folly, will rush from its sober ways into some fanatical disorder. We know that there are those who are strangely fond of a perfect system of truth and order, that shall be printed in a book, and who, because a system is thus printed, will receive it if it be not so very perfect. There is a charm to such minds in dead machinery. They delight to imagine it in easy and beauteous motion. If it does not so move in fact, it ought to ; and they trust that by-and-by it actually will. If there is friction in the wheels, and every wheel brings so much added friction, there is no friction in the idea of the perfect church. If, to avoid friction, the machinery is kept still, or but barely moves, they have only to imagine how well it is fitted to move, and it rejoices their hearts to think of their most excellent church. Others there are, who wish a system most exact and rigid, that by

ecclesiastical rules they may accomplish purposes which they cannot compass by logic or piety-and by the spell of adherence to rules, may supply that magic power to the wand which was once so potent in clerical hands. Hinc illæ lacrymæ. If it be so, then we have good reason, instead of desiring regulations more minute and specific, to render thanks that we have none at all.

“But our system allows the validity of lay-ordination in cases of possible exigency." So does Richard Hooker—the often-quoted defender of the Elizabethan or English church-and so does every other man, who is not ready to swallow any absurd conclusion from the Divine right of the ministry.

“But it holds the doctrine, that it is the church which constitutes a man its pastor by its electing voice.” And what republican is there who should object to this doctrine ? Nay, what American is there who owes to this doctrine first asserted for the church, all the blessings which it gives his country, now that it is adopted in the state, should not blush for his ignorance and ingratitude ? Well is it, that it holds these principles. They are its glory, because they are just—and if they had been earlier asserted, they might have proved health and salvation to the dying church. To hold the opposite, is to make the priesthood to be the church, and to give to the body of the faithful, when the church has become corrupt, no hope of deliverance, except from the source whence hope has for ever fled. It is to fasten upon the diseased body, which, if left to itself, might gather the struggling energies of returning life, a carcase of death, and thus to poison and stifle its remaining vitality. He however who, from this admitted principle, infers that, as a matter of fact, our churches do not consult and respect their ministry, and give them all reasonable influence and control, argues from the theory of our system, but not from its actual workings. He argues just as all monarchical Europe does, from what they suppose must be the case in respect to democratic America. To convict him of a false conclusion, the very rocks of New England are ready to cry out.

“But we destroy the unity of the church, by giving a separate and independent life to the local body." Nay, we uphold that unity by this very thing—but it is a moral and spiritual unity, not an ecclesiastical and political commonwealth. By this very principle do we secure the church, as far as it may be in this world of ours, against the divisions and strifes that are incident to all societies of imperfect men.

“But it is a matter of complaint among laymen, that we have no ecclesiastical system; and there are some, who, because we have no book of standards, do not attach themselves to our societies, but unite with the church of the prayer-book.” This may be so—but we doubt whether this is the true reason, for there are many other reasons than this why a man in New England may prefer the church of Queen Bess

to that of John Robinson. We can see, however, that this may be possible with men whose dissatisfaction on this ground is fostered by the influence and example of their spiritual guides. But we cannot easily see how a New England man, taught by a truly New England minister, would hold such a sentiment. He would know better, or, if he did not, he might easily be taught, that such securities for faith and order are of little worth, and that the evil which they occasion, is too certain to be incurred for the doubtful advantage which they bring. It would seem that the simplicity of our system, its freedom from forms, its easiness of working, and its demand on the living energies of each individual member of the church, might be made, not merely its sufficient apology, but its triumphant vindication. It is easy to see, on the other hand, how it may and must happen, that when the minister is continually complaining of the looseness of his church, and is calling for a book of standards, and is manifestly deficient in sympathy with its great and peculiar principles, the members of the church may conclude that they are in a rickety and falling establishment, and may look about for the protection of one that is more firmly built.

We complain, then, of much of this distrust of our system, as without just occasion, as untrue to the first principles of our polity, and forgetful of all the lessons which history inculcates. We complain of it, as most injurious in its consequences—as certain to be the cause of the dissatisfaction which is said to exist. It cannot but happen, that what the teacher distrusts, the disciple will disown and deny. The strength of our system is a moral strength; it consists in the confidence of living men in each other, and in the system under which they live. The good sense of thinking men, the experience of the past, the voice of all history, testify in its favour. Where are the men who neglect these advantages, and fail to rally around the remembrances of the past, and the usefulness of the present, the best sympathies of their hearers? Why do they not breathe into their hearers the true New England spirit? Why do not they show the evils that lurk in every other church, and war against its spiritual simplicity and life? We speak thus freely and strongly of this distrust, because we regard it as without just cause- -as ungrateful for the best system of church government with which the world has ever been blest, as unmindful of the corruption with which power has ever cursed the church, as untrue to the high trust which God has placed in our hands for the generation which is to come after us, and as suicidal to our present life and hope.

While we are so earnest upon this point, we do not contend that there are no deficiencies in our churches. We have more than intimated already, that there is a call for improvement, and that such improvement may be attained. It is natural first of all to notice such as concern the ministry. The office of a religious teacher is recognised in the New Testament as essential to the perfection and prosperity of the church, and his qualifications are described with admirable fidelity and truth. He is a man well instructed in the truths which he is to teach, with skill to adapt them to the common mind, and with the earnest desire to accomplish this end. He is also a gentleman, intelligent, courteous, and open-hearted, who scorns duplicity and selfseeking, both in handling the word of God, and in his intercourse with his fellow-men. But he is not a priest ; he is in no sense a mediator between God and man; he consecrates not the baptismal water which introduces the infant to the church; he makes not the bread of the eucharist to be the food of the soul, through the virtue that passes from his consecrating hands. He is not studious of the rights which belong to his order in the church ; he strains not himself to keep his order or himself in his place, by a forced antagonism against the fancied inroads of his flock.

Whatever improvements are proposed by or for the ministry, should be based upon the apostolic model. They should be made in the direction of the Bible and of common sense, and not in that of the church, after the traditions of men. Now it has happened of late, that an epidemic of high-church feeling has invaded various regions of Protestant Christendom. As was to be expected, its attacks have been most violent where the predisposing causes were the strongest ; but it has not been entirely unfelt even in the healthful atmosphere of New England. Our Episcopal brethren are greatly amazed or encouraged, we hardly know which, at the appearance of some symptoms of church feeling in so unexpected a quarter.

The ministry, it is argued, must strengthen their position in these democratic days. They must take to themselves more distinctly, the sanction of a right Divine. They must maintain a sense of this sanction by a distant and imposing air, perhaps by a clerical habit—at all events, by attaching to their decisions a more solemn importance, as pronounced by the organs through whom God declares his will to man. Their presence in a meeting of laymen, is to be a matter of high consideration ; and they are never to forget-certainly they are never to suffer their people to forget—their dignity as a distinct and holy order in the house of God. By thus asserting to themselves their appropriate place, they will not only secure their lawful influence, but will throw around their office and themselves, a mysterious charm, and awful fascination. To feel thus towards a religious teacher, it is argued, is necessary and agreeable to man.

This we think to be a mistake. Clerical pretension does not, of itself, strike men agreeably. It may be admitted by the ignorant ; it may be enforced by the compulsion of law. But it asserts its surest and most potent charm, when it bribes the conscience by a false peace, or indulges sinful desire with an easy atonement. The New England people are not so ignorant as to be imposed on by clerical grimace. They do not endure a priesthood by law. We desire not, and certainly should not dare to bribe them by softening the truth of God, or indulging their desires after a lax religion. In the Romish church, the priest is a very great man, and the people love to have him so, and for a very good reason. So long as he will give absolution for a few pence, and, for the same sum, whisper in the ear of the dying, “ Depart, Christian soul”—80 long it is not only very easy, but very delightful, to believe that he can open and shut the doors of heaven. The homage to the priest is but a transformed idolatry of the man's own lusts—his attachment to the church, a love of a church that gives a religious license to sin. Let the priest preach a clean heart, and justification by faith alone, and his reverence and occupation would both be gone : or if the conscience owned the truth of the Gospel, it would disown the lie of the priest. The readiness with which the Episcopalian gains the ear of some people, and makes such excellent churchmen of the gay and thoughtless, is easily and truly explained, when the argument is known to be, not a musty and learned discourse of the Fathers, but the pithy maxim that “Episcopacy is the only religion fit for a gentleman." This traces its origin to Charles II. It is not remembered that he uttered any other religious saying except this, that “God would not damn a man for a little pleasure.' But for a Congregational minister to set up high-church pretensions, is certain to raise the cry of priestcraft. It will not go down, unless he takes off the edge of his pretensions by a little extra gentility, or an easy way in the application of his

sermon.

That tendencies exist towards disorder and disorganization, we do not deny. We admit that in some portions of New England, the pastoral office does not receive its just consideration. We also admit, that often there is an unreasonable demand for ministerial labour, and an excessive fondness for excitement. The minister is sometimes blamed for want of success, where the fault is not with himself. We know, also, that moral and political agitations have here and there engendered a fanaticism which is somewhat hard to be reasoned with. All this we admit. But the question is not, what are the facts, but, what is to be done with them? We answer, the people can be made to see that these are evils, and great evils. They can by logic, patience, and love, be made to see, that the pastor must receive a certain deference and respect, in order to the highest success, and, perhaps, as a condition of any success in his ministry—that excitement is not religion, while yet religion cannot but enkindle zeal—that narrow and divisive tests in the church are at war with the fundamental principle of a Christian society, which must tolerate and forbear with minor differences of feeling and of judgment. This must be done in love, not in wrath,-in patient meekness, not with irritated contempt,-by one in earnest sympathy with the popular mind, not by a man who loftily despises the people

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