« ElőzőTovább »
minister and one lay delegate to represent it in synod. A classis having more than six, and not more than twelve ministers, may be represented by two ministers and two lay delegates; and in the same ratio increasing for any larger number. Six ministers and six elders, from a majority of the classes, may constitute a quorum, as the constitution now provides.
A general convention of all the ministers and lay delegates of the whole church can be authorized by an act of synod, and not otherwise.
An appeal can be taken from the consistory to the classis, and from the classis to the synod, whose decision is final.
The German Reformed Church in this country is now spread over the whole of Pennsylvania and Ohio, and over portions of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and New York. There is a church in the city of New Orleans; others formerly subsisted in New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky; and some members are still scattered over the several states of the Union.
This church is divided into two bodies, which maintain a friendly correspondence, but are wholly independent of one another. Each is governed by a synod and its lower judicatories.
The eastern portion of the church is the original and parent body; and its synod, existing before the other, bears the title of “The Synod of the German Reformed Church in the United States.” Its territory extends in Pennsylvania westward to the Alleghany mountains; northward it includes portions of New York; and on the south, Maryland, Virginia and Carolina. It has under its jurisdiction ten classes, viz: Philadelphia, Goshenhoppen, East Pennsylvania, Lebanon, Susquehanna, Zion, Mercersburg, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. The number of ministers and licentiates, in connexion with this synod, was, in 1842, agreeably to the statistical report of that year, one hundred and forty-one. Of this number thirty-two were without a pastoral charge; and of these, sixteen were disqualified by age or other causes ; eight were engaged in the service of the church as teachers, editors, or agents; and eight were expectants, or otherwise employed. The number of congregations reported, was four hundred and sixtysix. From six pastoral stations the number was not reported. The whole may be estimated at five hundred.
This synod has under its care, or patronage, a theological seminary, founded in 1825; a grammar school, commenced in 1832; and a college, established in 1836. All these institutions are now located permanently at Mercersburg, a pleasant village, in Franklin county, Pennsylvania, and are in a flourishing state under able professors and teachers. Two spacious edifices have been erected for the seminary and grammar school, the former of which is occupied also by the students of college. Measures are in progress for the erection of a suitable college edifice. The site chosen for it, as well as the situations of the other buildings, is picturesque and salubrious. The college bears the name of Marshall College, as a mark of respect for the memory of the late John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. It is governed by a board of trustees, a majority of whom are ministers or members of the German Reformed Church.
Subordinate to this synod are a board of foreign missions, a board of domestic missions, and a board of education, which is also the board of visiters of the theological seminary; but these institutions are yet in their infancy.
The Board of Foreign Missions, which is of quite recent origin, has under its care but one mission, with a single station, and one missionary family. The mission is at Broosa, in Asia Minor, the same which was lately under the care of the Newcastle Presbytery in the Presbyterian Church. The missionary family are the Rev. Benjamin Schneider and his wife. The business of foreign missions is transacted through the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, with whom a connexion for that object has been formed.
The Board of Domestic Missions have hitherto done but little in their appropriate office; but they have created a printing establishment, which is rendering very important service to their church. In addition to other printing, they publish two religious newspapers: the “Weekly Messenger of the German Reformed Church," a weekly paper of large size, in the English language, of which about 3000 copies are issued every week; and the “ Christliche Zeitschrift," a semi-monthly in the German language, of which upwards of 1700 copies are issued every fortnight. The establishment is located at Chambersburg, Franklin county, Pennsylvania, where a convenient edifice has been purchased for its accommodation. It is under the immediate control of the executive committee of the board, whose locality is in the same place.
The Board of Education are charged with the care of beneficiary students, who are in a course of preparation for the gospel ministry in the church. They have under their patronage about thirty beneficiaries.
The western part of the church is located principally in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but extends also into the adjoining states, and has for
its field the entire valley of the Mississippi. About the year 1810 or 1812, the Rev. Jacob William Dechaut was sent by the synod as a missionary to the State of Ohio, and located himself at Miamisburg, in Montgomery county. He was followed by the Rev. Thomas Winters, George Weis, and others, who were willing to cultivate that long neglected soil. Prior to their settlement there was in all that region only one German Reformed minister, the Rev. I. Larose, who was not then in connexion with any ecclesiastical judicatory. In 1819 the Classis of Ohio was formed, and in 1823 or 1824, the majority of the classis separated from the parent body, and formed themselves into an independent judicatory, under the title of “The Synod of Ohio.” In 1836 the Classis of Western Pennsylvania, obtained permission to unite with the Synod of Ohio, which now bore the title of “ The Synod of Ohio and the adjoining States;" and by a late act this synod, which had previously been subdivided into three district synods, received a new organization agreeably to the plan of the constitution of the eastern church. The western church is now divided into classes, and its synod is a delegated body composed of the representatives of the classes.
The statistical tables of 1842, published as an appendix to the minutes of the eastern church of the same year, states the number of German Reformed ministers in the west to be fifty-one. The congregations reported were in number two hundred and fourteen. Nine pastoral stations had made no report. If these stations average four congregations each, the whole number will be two hundred and fifty. Some of the ministers preach to from eight to twelve congregations; only two limit their labours each to one; and only five others do not exceed three.
This synod has long contemplated the establishment of a theological seminary in the west. An institution of this kind was actually commenced some years ago; but after a very brief experiment it failed. It will, however, doubtless be revived at no distant day. The western church needs an institution nearer home than Mercersburg, and will feel the want of it more and more, as her numbers increase and her borders are enlarged. It will be impossible, without it, to keep pace, in the supply of ministers, with the rapid increase of population in the west; and it will be equally impossible, without a thorough education of her ministers, to maintain the dignity of the pulpit in her communion, amidst the growth of knowledge and refinement in the community.
THE JEWS AND THEIR RELIGION.
BY THE REV. ISAAC LEESER,
PASTOR OF THE HEBREW PORTUGUESE CONGREGATION, PHILADELPHIA.
When we endeavour to trace the origin of the civilization which rules with its benignant sway the mightiest nations of modern times, and none more so than the people inhabiting the United States of America, we shall soon discover that it must be ascribed to a great moral influence which had its birth in the gray ages of antiquity. For, disguise it as you will, seek with candour or prejudice, you must at length arrive at the conclusion, that the sources whence the modern rules of moral government are in the main drawn, is the same which refreshed the Chaldæan shepherd when he first felt moved to peril his all in the cause of that truth which his high-reaching intellect had discovered; that is to say, the truth of the existence of one Supreme, who created all and sustains in his mercy all that his power has called into being.–This source of light we call divine revelation, and it is contained for us, who live at this day, in the pages of that priceless book which we call the BIBLE.
Long indeed, however, had this Bible, this source of truth, to struggle against the furious assaults of pagan superstition ; long even after the establishment of Christianity was the leaven of ancient usages too powerful for the simple truths of the Word of God; but with all this, triumph is gradually perching upon the banners of divinely illuminated reason; and with the certain, though slow, pro- gress of mankind in the path of science and enlightenment, it is not to be doubted that pure religion will also become more and more the rule of life for the sons of There may be, and in truth are, many retrogressions; we find indeed that from some unforeseen causes, such as luxury, devastating wars, the irruption of barbarous nations, mankind have appeared, and to this day do appear, to deteriorate in certain periods; but upon the whole every age becomes wiser than its predecessor through the light of experience and by a knowledge of the evils which others had to endure. The storms through which civilization has periodically to pass, purify it from the stagnant air which entire repose would necessarily create around it; for it has to share the fate with every other gift which has been bestowed upon mankind, of being endangered if it is not constantly watched, and guarded against the enemies which have been wisely placed around our happiness, that we may not fall into inaction and effeminacy.
The Jews, and their predecessors the Israelites, have been always regarded with suspicion, and not rarely with aversion, by those who hold opinions different from them; but if an inquirer were to look with the eye of truth into the source of this suspicion and of this aversion, he would be disappointed, for the honour of mankind, to find that both are without sufficient ground to warrant their being indulged in by any person who can lay the least claim to intelligence. One would suppose that the Judæophobia must be owing to some monstrous doctrines which the Jewish religion contains, which would render its professors dangerous to the state as unsafe citizens or rebellious subjects, by teaching them to imbrue their hands in blood, or to plunder the unwary of their possessions. Perhaps calumny has asserted these things; perhaps ignorance may have imagined that this could be so. But how stands the case ?
In the days when the wealth of many nations' was not estimated by the gold and silver in their houses, and by the ships which bore their products upon the face of the ocean, but by the multitude of their herds and flocks and of “ the ships of the desert" the patient and burdensome camels, and the toilsome asses, and the number of their household: there arose a man in his beginning as simple as his countrymen, as unostentatious as any shepherd of them all. He was
lled Abraham; and lived in that fruitful country once known as Chaldæa. Around him every one seemed to have forgotten the existence of one Creator; for gross idolatry, or the worship as gods of things which have no power to save, was the prevailing vice of mankind. It is well to inquire, whether notions of right and wrong based upon such premises can be of real utility to man? whether a belief in gods full of human vices, according to the ideas even of their worshippers, can inspire the virtues which are the basis of true civilization? The candid reasoner will answer in the negative; for debasing conceptions of worship will naturally debase the understanding, and one is but too apt to excuse in himself what he discovers or fancies to exist in the being to whom he looks up with respect and adoration. This being premised, it will be readily conceded that at the appearance of Abraham the pervading popular