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The officer is not to be deposed, the case ? One witness is not sufor treated as deposed, on mere ficient. Are there other witnes. “ report:” There must first be ses? They must exhibit their an open trial ; an accusation sus- testimony before a proper judicatained by competent testimony; tyre, and in the presence of the he must have the accuser and accused, that he may hear, crosswitnesses face to face, that he examine and confront them. may hear them, and have an op- Must he defend himself on the portunity to confront them. spot? He is not prepared-bis Even written affidavits, taken at a witnesses are not present; he distance, are never to be admitted perhaps has objections against in such trials, nor indeed in any the judges, who assume to try ecclesiastical trials; for the gos- him ; and they were called for pel requires, that the witnesses quite different business. But be present. Our civil courts re- perhaps, it will be said, “ Here is quire the same in criminal prose- a minister, who has openly a• cutions. And church. prosecu- vowed his heresy, and who is sions are all crimjoal.
therefore condemned of himself. If we refuse to sit in a council, There is no need of other witnesto which we are called, some ses.” Be it so ; still Paul tells reason must be assigned for this us, that even in such a case, the refusal ; otherwise it speaks no heretic is not to be rejected, unexplicit language, and may be in- til "after the first and second adterpreted by men's suspicions to monition.” speak any thing and every thing If every man assumes to him. that is ill. If our avowed reason self a power to judge, hereticate be, that such a minister is present, and condemn his brethren, on and we cannot att with him, then mere report, or on his own priwe declare, by words and actions, vate opinion, or on surmise and that this minister ought not to be prejudice, without a fair, open owned and treated as a minister; trial,* whose character is safe? that the whole council ought to whose standing is securę? where discard him; that his people is the peace and order of the ought to withdraw from him ; churches ? where is the liberty that all Christians ought to shun with which Christ has made us him, as an evil and dangerous free? “ God is not the author of man. We not only slander him confusion, but of peace in all before proof of guilt, but, as far churches of the saints.” as our influence can avail, we lay, We may know a minister, him under censure ; and it is whom we think immoral in pracour intention, (if we have any tice, or unsound in faith. Such consistent intention) that our a minister we should endeavour conduct shall operate to this ef- to reclaim by private expostulafect. But where is our authority to censure and condemn him?
* We regret that no ecclesiastical We were not called for this bu- tribunal exists in our Congregational siness. Where is our evidence? churches, before which such a trial Report or rumour, is not to be may be had. We hope the wisdom
of the ministers and cburches will be received against an elder. Have employed to supply this great defect you or I personal knowledge in in our ecclesiastical discipline.
tion. If we fail of success, we 'our minds relieved from painmay desire some proper persons, ful suspicion ; and if he is guilwho know the case, to assist our ty, and obstinate in his crimes or addresses. We are to exercise errors, his folly may be made meekness, patience and candour. manifest to all men, and the And before we attempt, by any churches secured from dangeraction of ours, to impress a stig. ous imposition. ma upon him, I should suppose, Thus, I imagine, peace and we ought to institute a regular order in churches, and purity process against him, before some and soundness in ministers will proper tribunal, that if he is in- best be preserved. nocent, he may be acquitted, and
We invite the attention of our Readers to the following observations from “ The Religious Monitor,” a valuable periodical work, pubae. lished at Edinburgh, in Scotland. The few remarks, which are of a more local nature, contain information, which will not be unacceptable to our Readers, while the general tenor and spirit of the whole, it will be readily perceived, render them seasonable and ap- , plicable to the existing state of religion in our own country.
A BRIEF REVIEW OF THE PRINCIPAL CONTROVERSIES AMONGST
PROTESTANTS, WITH REMARKS ON THE PROGRESS OF RELIGION.
The state of society is seldom perhaps somewhat of our prolong stationary, and Paul speaks gress also, is to attend to the sucof the course of this world : cessive controversies, which have What then, it may be inquired, arisen among Protestants themsince the reformation, has been selves. our progress?
During the sixteenth century, I shall suggest a few hints on the chief controversy among the religion, rather with the view of reformers was about the habits, calling the attention of others to rites, and ceremonies. These this subject, than of exhausting were of themselves confessedly it myself. From the reforma- indifferent, and judging by the tion to the present day, the con- reasoning of Paul, Rom, xiv. the troversy between Protestants and guilt of schism rested on the im-, Papists has existed ; and a mi. posers. In a neighbouring hute attention to the different as- church,* a violent discussion has pects it has assumed, might been excited concerning their serve to discriminate the relig- articles, whether they are Ar. ious character of the intervening minian or Calvinistic. It has ages. Another method of ascertaining our direction at least, and • The church of England.
sometimes been hinted, that the the apostolical model, yet it is scriptures must be very obscure, certainly carrying the matter by since so many contradictory much too far, to make any one opinions are derived from the of them essentially necessary to same source : but this contro- the existence of a Christian versy may shew us, that no church. God hath been pleased words are so precise, as that an to bless the labours of Presbyte. ingenious disputant may not at- rians, Episcopalians, and Inde. tach to them a meaning different, pendants: May we not then nay, even opposite, to what they adopt the reasoning of Peter conwere originally intended to con- cerning the Gentiles, that as vey. Their expressions might God appears to make little difnot be so accurate, nor the line ference among these, so to insist of distinction so minutely defin- that any one of them should, in ed, as after the subtile disquisi- all cases, be submitted to, would tions on the Arminian point; be to tempt God, and wreath a but the sentiments of the leading burdensome yoke around the reformers, on the important doc- necks of our brethren. trines of the gospel, were nearly The Arminian controversy the same. At a subsequent pe- may be reckoned the third, by riod, not only their pious bish- which the Protestant church was ops, but even the House of Com- divided. Previous to the accesmons, rejected the Arminian in- sion of James, the doctrines of terpretation, classing it with that predestination, and of the perseof the Jesuits.
verance of the saints, had been Another, and perhaps more opposed; but it was not till after important controversy among the synod of Dort, that divines Protestants, was concerning the began to range themselves unform of
church government. der the banners of Calvin and This broke out before the close Arminius. James displayed a of Elizabeth's reign ; and was fiery zeal against the Arminian first agitated between the Epis- party in Holland ; but at home, copalians and Presbyterians, and as they did not oppose the arbia afterwards with the Indepen- trary measures of the court, they dants. James had long labour. were highly favoured, both by ed to introduce a species of himself and his son. Towards Episcopacy into Scotland ; and the close of the 17th century, from the time of his ascending Arminianism, somewhat modithe English throne, his purpose fied, was supported by Barrow was more avowed, and his at- and by Tillotson ; and without tempts more open. The same reproach, it may safely be affirmcourse pursued by his son, with ed, that during the 18th century, other concurring circumstances, the sentiments of by far the produced those dreadful calamis greater part of the English clerties, by which the middle of the gy, have been at least Arminian." 17th century was convuised. The topics brought under disOne form of church government cussion in this controversy are may be better adapted to promote far more important, than those the purposes of edification than formerly mentioned, and ultianother, as well as nearer to mately resolve themselves into
the question, Whether the glory and extensively diffused through of man's salvation ought to be the body of the people. One ascribed only to the Creator, or, thing may with safety be affirm. in part at least, is due to the ed, that religion has not that creature ?
hold of the public mind, nor that Soon after the
influence over individual conduct ment of the Reformation, the di- which it once had.. vịnity of Christ was questioned From this brief review, which, . and opposed. During the 17th though very imperfect, is, I hope,
, century, the opinions of Socinus so far as it goes, just, it appears were favoured by few in Britain. that our progress has been, from In the early part of the last cen questioning things indifferent, to
. tury, several persons began to proceed to those of importance ;
, speculate on these points, who from what is important, to those in general appear to have adopt- which are essential ; till at last ed the Arian hypothesis ; but revelation itself is by many as, from the middle to the close of sailed and rejected. In every the century, Socinianism met science, some first principles are with many open and avowed de necessary, on which the whole fenders ; and its progress among superstructure is raised. In the people, it was boasted, was geometry there are certain ax, rapid and extensive. As this ioms on which all the reasonings controversy respects the object are founded. If, instead of pur. of worship, and the method of suing the high speculations of acceptance with God, all who this science, a mathematician are not wholly indifferent to re- should exert himself to overturn ligion must admit, that it reaches the axioms, he might in this disto the very foundation of vital play great ingenuity, but the tengodliness.
dency of his labours, instead of Lord Herbert has long been advancing, would be to involve accounted the father of our En- the whole science in uncertainty. glish deists, and though his off- The sacred scriptures are the spring has been exceedingly nu- foundation on which divines build merous, few, if any of them, have their systems, and they furnish excelled him in ability, or equall- the materials of which these sysed him in propriety of conduct. tems are, or ought to be comHe did not absolutely deny the posed. But, if instead of holding possibility, or even the existence fast these, as our forefathers did, of revelation ; but overlooking and of imitating their example man's peculiar situation as a sin- in explaining and illustrating ner, unhappily supposed, that thein, we are chiefly employed the light of nature could discover in discussions about the truth of all that it was necessary for us to revelation, this shews that our know. During the last century, movements instead of progress a great variety of deistical publi- sive have been retrograde. cations appeared in England ; It is not meant that Christiania and at present, it is supposed, ty is unsupported by evidence, or that infidelity is pretty prevalent that its evidence ought not to be among the literary and philo- studied ; but from the language sophical part of the community, frequently used, we might be
tempted to believe, that if not abc place to their successors, which solutely to question the truth of grasp a more extensive range, or revelation, yet to controvert its are recommended by the ingenupeculiar doctrines, and to treat its ity of their principles, or the elewriters with little respect, are re- gance of their expression. Were ceived by some as sure marks of they fixed on a solid basis, such the progress and improvement changes would be unnecessary of theology. But does theology and hurtful. Few are now disadmit of no improvement? It posed to call in question the Newcertainly does; though I am tonian theory, and if no such afraid we are apt to be misled, agreement is found in morals, it by what took piace at the Reform- arises from the reluctance men ation, and by the successive the have to admit the principles of ories, which have been started scripture, and the impossibility of in moral and natural science. At finding a true foundation whilst the Reformation, a great and these are rejected. Truth adastonishing change took place in mits not of change, and it is the the theological systems; and we glory of Christians, that it is not are ready to imagine, that, to car- subject to the fluctuating fashions ry on the progress of what the of society. If we have the scripReforiners so happily commenc- tures exactly as they were left ed, it is necessary for every suc- by the sacred writers, and accuceeding age to depart as widely rate translations of these in our from that which preceded it, as own language, no farther imthey did from the doctrines and provement is to be made upon practice .of the Romish church. them. Diligent study and ferBut their situation and ours is vent prayer must be employed in widely different, Much of the searching the word of God-its time of the first Reformers was doctrines may be anew illustrated occupied in removing the rub- from historical fact, observation, bish, which one age after another or experience-and so far we had heaped on religion, and in ought to attend to the progress of searching for its true foundation, society, as to bring forward scriplaid in the word of God. When ture truth in opposition to the they obtained this, they held it reigning vices and errors ; and fast, and so ought we; as the on- to express our sentiments in such ly way, in which progress in re- language as may not increase the ligion can be made, is by adher- dislike, which the human heart ing to “ the word of the Lord, naturally has to the holy, hằmwhich endureth forever.” The bling salvation of the gospel. theories in Moral and Natural Still it must be remembered, that Philosophy, which have succes- it is on us, not on revelation, that sively been started, so far from the change is to be effected ; and being worthy of the imitation of that it is only by more cleartheologians, are proofs of the im- ly understanding its doctrines, by perfect state of these sciences. more firmly believing its prom. These theories generally account, ises, and by more stedfastly obey
, or seem to account for a variety ing precepts, that we can of phenomena ; but not compre- make progress in religion, or bending the whole, they give bope to excel the ages which are