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seats, and the idea that the church could not continue to pray constantly for them, seemed to excite still deeper anxiety with regard to the salvation of their souls. Sereral of the leading members of the church seem to have that faith in God which we have seldom witnessed in any country, and their simple affecting addresses melt the whole assembly into lears. So the Lord has raised us up help where we little expected it, and to his blessed name be all the glory.
This evening we counted one hundred and thirty seven on the anxious seats, (several of the little ones being absent,) and some new and interesting cases. No evening before has been so awfully solemn; and now, though it is a late hour, I hear praying and weeping at the houses around us. And I seldom awake at any time in the night but I hear from some quarter the sound of prayer. We have now the names of nineteen who think their sins have been forgiven within the last two weeks, and the most of them within the last four days. One lad, about twelve years old, who has been considered the worst boy in the village, (whose widowed sorrowful mother has been obliged to put him under the care of her son-in-law, on account of his disobedience,) has, for the last two days, appeared deeply penitent and distressed on account of his sins, and has this evening felt that his many sins were forgiven. He found relief while two of the brethren were praying fervently for him. Several other cases of deep interest have occurred to-day. “ Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.”
ON THE ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF UNITARIANISM AND
UNIVERSALISM IN TIIE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
LETTER II. We are now prepared to inquire after the causes which, in the process of time, could produce and widely disseminate amongst a people so distinguished for their piety as were the settlers of New England, heresies of so dangerous a character.
I would remark, then, that most of these causes are to be traced to the plan upon which the colonies in New England generally, and especially those of Massachusetts, were organized. With the very best intentions which could influence men, the founders of those colonies, through a want of enlarged and accurate knowledge of human nature, and of the true organization of civil communities, established their colonies on such principles as led inevitably to the introduction of error in the course of one or two centuries. This result manifests itself in connexion with several proximate causes, which I shall indicate hereafter, but which, themselves, had their origin, in the very organization of these colonies, at the commencement; inde mali labes.
So important is it to understand this point perfectly, that I propose to occupy the present letter in giving your readers a full view of it. They will then have the key with which it is easy to open every difficulty.
Let us, then, go back to the time and circumstances of the founders of the New England colonies. It was in the early part of the seventeenth century. The doctrines of the Reformation had made considerable progress in England, as well as in many other parts of Europe. But the doctrine of civil and religious liberty VOL. 1. N.S.
had made very little. The rights of conscience were no where clearly understood. Both Protestants and Catholics were exceedingly ignorant of them. In the early stages of the Reformation the Protestants, either compelled by uncontrollable circumstances, or misled by the prejudices in which they had grown up whilst connected with the Romish church, or what is more probable, influenced by both causes, every where organized their churches in connexion with the civil powers, and constituted their Protestant kings and princes the heads of the Church as well as of the State. Hence came those disgraceful persecutions which sprung up among themselves, when any ventured to differ and separate from the national or established church. Such was the state of things in England. It was this which led to the persecution of the Independents or Congregationalists, or Brownists, as they were often called in those times, and caused them to seek that liberty of conscience in a foreign land which they could not find in their own. As has already been stated, they fled to Holland, and dwelt at Amsterdam and Leyden more than ten years. Thence they emigrated to America, upon leave being granted them by the English Government, and founded the colonies of what they called and what has ever since been called New England. Thither went other and successive bands of emigrants, almost all of whom belonged to the same persecuted sect in England. They formed at first what were generally separate settlements, but which gradually approximated, till in time they formed a connected, and eventually a compact population under the same or similar forms of government, and all, for more than one hundred and fifty years, in subjcction to the Government of Great Britain. And it is manifest, from their repeated declarations, that these eminently godly men songht a settlement in a country which, for hundreds of leagues, was destitute of inhabitants, save a scattered population of uncivilized aborigines, not more for the purpose of getting rid of oppression, and gaining the liberty of worshipping God according to the dictates of their consciences (great as they felt those blessings to be,) than from a desire to found communities on what they deemed to be truly scriptural principles, and in the hope that they might, for ages to come, be eminently religious establishments. This great idea filled their minds. They desired to found an empire in which pure Christianity might prevail, and where the church of the living God might flourish to the end of time. And a nobler desire never was cherished in the human breast.
With this desire, with this settled intention I may rather call it, they set out on their voyage, which placed them more than a thousand leagues from the land of their fathers. Animated with this desire, they landed in the wilderness which surrounded Massachusett's Bay, and founded their colonies.
In forming their settlements, the Pilgrim Fathers everywhere sought to establish them as nearly as possible upon a scriptural plan. They were men eminently acquainted with the Bible, and loved greatly its precious contents. Circumstanced as they were, being all, or nearly all, hopefully pious, and very many of them
eminently so, they thought it the most desirable thing in the world to found for themselves and for their children a christian and decidedly religious community. For accomplishing this object, no men, since the times of the Jewish emigration from Egypt, were ever more favourably situated. They were, at the outset, homogeneous communities. They belonged to the same persecuted sect or denomination of Christians. They were almost all actual members of the churches. They were well nigh unanimous in the objects for which they emigrated. They believed that they had a right to form such communities as they had undertaken to establish. And no other object seemed to them comparable to it.
With these views they entered upon the work of organizing and regulating the communities which they formed. They undertook a task of unusual magnitude, with but little light derived from experience or the existing state of things in any part of the world. But they consulted the word of God, and with the light which it afforded, together with that which other history supplied, they went energetically to work, and founded communities on a plan which may not inaptly be called the composite order in the architecture of civil governments.
Their political governments were, at first, generally democratic. But as soon as the population became too large for that mode to be any longer convenient, they by a natural process became representative. Their rulers of every order were, for more than seventy years, elected by the people. After that period their governors and judges were appointed by the Crown of Great Britain, whilst their legislators and other civil officers continued to be chosen by the people themselves. From the first no orders of nobility were allowed to exist amongst them, nor was there any difference of rank, but the gradations which official stations occasioned.
As I have already stated, with the Bible in their hands, they undertook to rear a system of civil polity according to that model which they thought the Scriptures, when rightly employed, supply. They believed that the civil laws which God gave to the Jews, so far as they could be separated from their ceremonial peculiarities, were the best models of jurisprudence which the world possessed. And they endeavoured, as far as practicable, to erect the edifice of their political institutions as closely as possible in accordance with the divine model. So that in reality they set up, in modern times, a theocracy which, in many respects, was a counterpart to that of the ancient dispensation. Their governors and other civil officers were not only members of the church, but also had a large influence in almost all ecclesiastical affairs. They were intended to be like Moses and Joshua in the modern Israel. Whilst the clergy had an almost unbounded influence in civil and political questions, a large number of the laws of the Jewish commonwealth were introduced as the basis of their legislation. Hence it was that violations of the first four commandments of the sacred decalogue, which relate to God, were punished by the secular authority, as well as transgressions of the last six, which relate to our fellow men. Idolatry was a crime against the state as decidedly
as was theft or murder, and rendered those guilty of it liable to condign punishment.
I have given the preceding general view of the theocratic character of the colonies around Massachusett's Bay, of which Boston became the capital, and which were the mother colonies of all the New England colonial family, because a knowledge of it is essential to a right understanding of some measures adopted by those colonies, especially in the earlier periods of their history, which would be otherwise inexplicable. For instance, it is known that about the close of the seventeenth century, or less than eighty years after the founding of the Plymouth and Boston colonies, there arose in the town of Salem, and some other places, a famous persecution of such as were supposed to be possessed of the spirit of witchcraft, and some persons were put to death. The cause of this persecution is to be sought in the laws which had been adopted by these colonies. Witchcraft was forbidden, as it was in the Jewish commonwealth. It was thus an offence against the state, and was punished as such. It was this attempt to form a civil community in modern times, and under circumstances wholly different, after the fashion of the ecclesiasticocivil polity of the Jews, of which God himself was the administrator, that led the Pilgrim Fathers to adopt laws which, when carried rigidly into effect, could not but lead, in some measure at least, to unhappy results. This they themselves, and their children more fully saw, at a subsequent day, but when it was too late to remedy the evils which had occurred.
Again, a knowledge of the views of the founders of the earliest New England colonies will account for and palliate, although it may not justify another species of persecution of which they are chargeable, that of imprisoning and of driving out from amongst them, persons who held religious opinions which they deemed to be dangerous. They had founded those colonies for themselves and their children, for the express purpose of placing themselves in circumstances in which they might serve God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and bring up their children amid good influences, and remote from those which they deemed to be pernicious. They believed that they had a right to do so, and it will not be an easy task for any to show that they had not such a right. They thought also, that they should be unmolested in their retreat to the wildernesses on the western shores of the Atlantic. And they could not but feel that it was hard that persons should come among them, and insist upon staying there for the avowed object (as was the case with some fanatical persons, such as Mrs. Ann Hutchinson and others,) of propagating their religious opinions. The Pilgrim Fathers fearing, for their children, an influence which they conscientiously deemed extremely pernicious, had recourse to the civil power to exclude such persons from them. This was natural, especially at that period of the world, though both impolitic and unjust. It is, however, done every year, more or less, in some part of Europe, even in our times. It was not fully understood then as it is now in some places, that the true and only suc
cessful way to counteract error is to propagate the truth by argument and facts in a spirit of love.
Having now given a general view of the plan on which the New England colonies were founded, I shall proceed, in my next, to exbibit some of those erroneous measures which resulted from the scheme adopted by the pilgrim fathers, and which exerted so deleterious an influence upon the cause of true religion, and eventually led to the introduction of much error in doctrine.
ON THE ENLARGEMENT OF THE CAPACITY, AND IMPROVE- MENT OF THE POWERS OF THE MIND.
(Concluded from page 228.)
We now pass on to the second part of our subject,—The intellectual and moral improvement of the mind.
1. An increase of knowledge does not necessarily involve an improvement of the mind.
We may load the stomach with food without increasing the strength of the frame; and the memory may be burdened with its wealth, while the other powers of the mind are debilitated rather than improved ; so true is the saying of Young,
“ Voracious learning often over fed,
Digests not into sense the motley meal." Some men appear to be all memory. Every thing which they read, learn, and see, is treasured up in this faithful repository; but they have no powers of arrangement and combination, and are destitute also of all accuracy of judgment. If they have learned something of literature, science, or the history of particular periods,--the knowledge of all these things exists in their memories as it exists in the books on our shelves, they aid the memory of those whose minds are not in this respect so richly stored as their own. With the improvement of the memory, therefore, it is highly desirable that the other powers should keep pace.
2. It is not every species of mental exercise that tends to improve the mind.
We very much doubt the value of those disputations, once so common in the schools, in which the opponent and the respondent, like two intellectual gladiators, contended for the victory-a victory often gained at the expense of temper, and not unfrequently by the defeat of truth. An acrimonious acuteness, or a fiery eagerness to refute every proposition that an opponent advances, is certainly no sign of mental improvement. It is an abuse of the finest powers of the mind,-and we never abuse the gifts with which our Creator has endowed us, without suffering by the deterioration of the very gifts themselves.
There are some whose whole time is devoted to feasting (if we