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Middle States, having been to a large extent supplied by ministers from New England, where Congregationalism, and not Presbyterianism, is the prevailing form of church government, a spirit of independence, which is a prominent feature of Congregationalism, gradually grew up in the Presbyterian churches thus supplied; and became so evident in the General Assembly, that, in 1835, they resolved, as we have seen, that it was no longer desirable that churches should be formed in their Presbyterian connexion agreeably to the plan adopted by the Assembly and the General Association of Connecticut, in 1801."


But far beyond this jealousy of Congregational liberty, or independence of foreign judicatories, must be regarded as the cause and apology, if it has any, of this measure, the alleged departure of the plaintiffs from the orthodox faith. Not that "the new party" reject the authorized symbols of their church, -the Westminster Confession and Assembly's Catechism. Such a charge, we presume, they would absolutely deny. But it is with them as with the contending parties of the Church of England, the high and the low church, a matter of interpretation. The articles are alike subscribed by all, but variously understood. That the actual faith of the one party differs in some material points from that of the other, amidst common claims to sincerity and orthodoxy, will not be questioned. To attempt an exact description of these differences, or to mark the lines of separation, would be a hazardous task to one uninitiated. At present, therefore, we shall simply take for granted the existence of such a diversity; and, in looking at its sources, we

* This independence of foreign judicatories is the distinguishing feature of Congregationalism. According to its acknowledged principles, "every organized church has entire power within itself to manage the affairs of the kingdom of Christ, without a dependence on any superior power on earth." So that "a Congregational church or society is a body of Christians vested with full power to direct its own concerns; to maintain its discipline; to elect, and if necessity be, to ordain, or remove its own officers;"-"for if the people may elect officers, which is the greater, and wherein the substance of the office doth consist, they may, occasion and need so requiring, impose hands in ordination." This, however, is expressly stated to be only in cases of necessity for Congregationalism, while it maintains independence, encourages counsel and fellowship. Therefore, says the Platform, "We judge it much conducing to the well being of churches, that neighbor churches be advised withal, and their help made use of."

cannot be far from the truth in stating that to the tendency given to theological discussion by the writings of Edwards the author, of Hopkins the expounder of the system called after his name, of West, Emmons, and other divines of New England, modifying and explaining (not to say explaining away) the old doctrines; to conflicting opinions of more recent origin in relation to religious revivals, and the measures to be adopted concerning them; and, finally, to divisions yet later, growing out of the slavery question, is chiefly to be referred that state of things in the American Presbyterian church, which has issued in this suit.


As our purpose is only a historical statement, having neither authority nor inclination to judge in such questions, we leave our readers to their own judgment of the importance and probable result of these differences. That they are of a nature not to be composed by the verdict of a jury is very obvious; and, though the immediate effect of this verdict must be to reunite for a time the conflicting parties, in other words, to restore to their rights in the General Assembly the banished, yet like causes will hardly fail to produce like effects; and aggravated, as they now have been by legal contention, by the disappointment, on the one side, of defeat, and on the other, by the exultation of victory, it needs no prophetic wisdom to anticipate, that the union, or certainly the peace, will be of no long duration. It is seldom in the course of human affairs, that dissensions of any sort are thoroughly healed, so that no vestige whatever remains. But he must have read to little purpose the history of the church, who shall trust much to a reconciliation between ecclesiastic bodies, not voluntary, but forced by the judgment of a civil tribunal, and the causes of whose differences are unchanged.

But, independently of diversities of opinion, which have divided the clergy, there are causes of a different nature operating in the Presbyterian church among the laity, to produce dissatisfaction and disunion. This, we apprehend, is to be found in the spirit of the Presbyterian government itself, which

* See "A Narrative of the Revival of Religion in the county of Oneida, in the year 1826: Also, a brief account of the Origin and Progress of the Divisions in the First Presbyterian Church in the city of Troy, containing Strictures upon the new Doctrines broached by the Rev. C. G. Finney and N. S. S. Beman."

is essentially a spirit of dominion; apt to control rather than to persuade; and exercising itself over churches, in the disposal and removal of ministers, and over individuals by its vigilant inspection, its censures, suspensions, and still harsher discipline, it can hardly fail, with multiplying instances of authority, to procure to itself prejudice, and to alienate not a few of its own children. In Scotland, where for many generations it has been the established religion, the people are accustomed to the endurance of authority, and the spirit of their church, fostered by a monarchy, is not uncongenial with the spirit of their political institutions. They are attached, moreover, to "the kirk," by ancient and cherished associations; by its past history and that strong bond of sympathy, past suffering; and they enjoy at the same time the benefits of a ministry, which, for professional learning, fidelity, and exemplary virtue is not exceededwould it were oftener equalled-by any church in christendom. But under our government, which admits no religious establishment, and in whose sight all sects are equal, Presbyterianism can have no power but that which it makes for itself in the hearts and minds of the people; and the exercise of mere authority is not in American churches, nor with our notions of religious liberty, the effectual way to influence. Now, we are not prepared to assert, because we are not prepared to prove, that the clergy of the American Presbyterian church have, as a body, "exercised dominion" over their flocks. But this is evident, that the spirit and tendency of that church is to domination; and where the means and opportunities are possessed, all experience and history, sacred and profane, prove that the use of them is rarely neglected. It belongs to mankind to employ all the power, which it finds lawfully given, and as much more as it can safely take. And here, as we think, is the true source of the prejudice and divisions among the Presbyterian laity, which their clergy have of late years encountered. Their people have found in their pastors, rulers rather than guides, and the exercise of authority where they looked for love. Hence it has come, that in the divisions of the ministers, the people have been less concerned to maintain the particular religious party within the church to which they really belonged, than to make common cause against clerical domination; of which, not without reason, they have once and again complained.

Painful evidence of this tendency to arbitrary rule is furnished

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in the History of those "Revivals of Religion," technically so called, to which we have already referred, and which in their progress, more particularly through the western parts of the State of New York, some twelve or thirteen years since, under the ministries of Rev. Messrs. Beman, Finney, Aiken, and others of like spirit, threatened little less than destruction to the churches. To the doctrines at that time maintained, and to the extravagant "revival measures then pursued, may be traced in part the divisions which have since arisen in the Presbyterian body, and the origin in the General Assembly of the "Old and New Party." What may be the ultimate result of the decision of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, beyond its immediate effect of restoring the plaintiffs to their rights and privileges as members of the body, we presume not to anticipate, looking only at the aspects of the case in question, and unwilling to enter into the general merits of the parties. We believe we are but echoing the public voice, when we express our satisfaction in the very able and convincing charge of the judge; and in the ready and unanimous verdict of the jury.t

That the defendants, the "Old Party," should have been equally satisfied, was not of course to be expected. Whether their application for a new trial will be successful, or whether the issue of any trial would improve their position in the view of the Christian public, must be left to conjecture. This, however, we will venture to suggest for the consideration alike of both the contending parties, — that if the clergy of the Presbyterian Church in America wish to recover the influence they have undeniably lost, it must be by keeping in mind, that the kingdom of God is not in power only, but in love; that the fruits of the spirit are in gentleness, forbearance, and longsuffering; and that in a country like ours, all whose institutions are republican, and whose ecclesiastical establishments, if such they can be called, depend on the will of the people, it is no less the wisdom and the policy, than the duty, of the

*See for a notice of these extraordinary measures, and of the divisions thence arisen in the Presbyterian Church, an article in the Christian Examiner and Theological Review, Vol. IV. 1827.

†This jury, as we learn from the Philadelphia Reports of the case, included Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, Roman Catholics, and Quakers — but no Presbyterians.




ministers of Christ not to seek dominion over faith, but to be helpers of each other's joy.

Since the above was prepared for the press, the Defendants have appealed from the judgment at Nisi Prius, to the whole court, and have obtained, as the public are already informed, a decission for a new trial. The opinion of the Bench, as pronounced by the Chief Justice, (Judge Rogers dissenting,) was, "that the exscinding resolutions of the assembly of 1837 were constitutional; that the assembly which met in the First Presbyterian Church, was not the legitimate successor of the assembly of 1837; and that the defendants were not guilty of the usurpation with which they are charged."

Hence it results, that the commissioners from the presbyteries within the four exscinded synods, had no right to seats in the Assembly of 1838; and the New School Assembly of 1838 are declared to be not the legitimate General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.

In declaring his dissent from this opinion, Judge Rogers said, after the patient and impartial investigation by me, at Nisi Prius and at bank, I have nothing at this time to add, except that my opinion remains unchanged on all the points ruled at the trial." "This explanation," he added, "is due to myself, and because it has become necessary (in a case, in some respects, without precedent, and presenting some extraordinary features) to prevent misapprehension and misrepresentation.'

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Upon a decision, thus solemnly pronounced by the highest judicial tribunal of Pennsylvania, we should not presume to speculate, even did a full knowledge of the merits of the case, which we have not, or an interest in the result, which we feel not, authorize or invite such a discussion. So far, however, as a becoming respect, (not by us to be violated,) for the authority of a judicial body, may permit, we cannot avoid remarking the contrast of the clear, simple, common-sense statement of the case, as it appears in the charge of Judge Rogers, with the arguments and inferences of the same case, as elaborately exhibited by the Chief Justice Gibson. We really supposed, we had understood the leading points of the controversy upon reading the former; and we are not conscious, being wholly without the pale of Presbyterianism, of any biases to confuse our

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