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to be filled with this one ordinance and its effects, that they have been relatively outnumbered in its administration by another class, who perversely insist with Paul that Christ sent them not to baptize but to preach the Gospel ? The fact is significant as showing, after all, who really most honor His Church, and all of her divinely appointed sacraments and ordinances.
But while this comparison shows that the reviewer's fact is as purely imaginary as is his explanation of it, there is another mode in which this fact may be still more clearly exhibited. No comparison between fields of Christian effort so diverse in their social and physical condition as are the two selected by the reviewer, can do justice to the one which is scattered over a sparsely settled country, and in the face of a strong popular and political prejudice. The one of these Dioceses, for instance, came out of the Revolution with the prestige of having been oppressed and persecuted—the other with the odium of having been connected with the State, and of having been itself disposed to persecute, if not actually doing so. Putting aside, therefore, all such comparisons between different Dioceses as uselessly odious, irritating, and only to be made in self-defense, let us look at the working of the two systems of which these Dioceses are the exponents, in the same field of operation, during different periods of Church existence. Ecclesiastical history in Virginia affords material for just such comparison. Prior to the Revolution, there were, as hinted already, some noble exceptions to the prevalent class of the colonial clergy. Some of these lived over into the interval between the Revolution and the revival of 1814 and 1815. But the large majority, the predominant class, were of a different character. They all had the same contempt and intolerance towards the sects” which the reviewer exhibits. Some of them, from similarity of doctrinal viewsthose of Laud and his kind—and others from that natural intolerance which is apt to be called forth in the ministry of a Church recognized and under the fostering care of the civil government. That which the reviewer now desiderates for the Virginians, they then enjoyed in the fullest abundance. “Uncompromising views" were freely presented. The infants were all baptized. Funerals were scarcely regarded as decent, marriages were not legal, unless solemnized by an Episcopal minister. And if Dean Swift could have been made Bishop, doubtless the whole popnlation would have been confirmed and communicating. “ Sectarians and Dissenters” were regarded as the filth and offscouring of the earth ; and as we fear would be the case with us if the reviewer, like the old clergy, possessed connection with the civil government, an occasional solitary meditation in the county jail sharpened their own perceptions as to the enormity of their offenses, or helped to warn others against straying away from orthodoxy. No compromise in that mode of preaching or upholding the Church! And to borrow the language of the reviewer, it bronght forth, as might “reasonably” be expected, its appropriate fruit; but it was of a very different character from that which his language would lead us to anticipate. The experiment was an utter failure. The only vitality remaining, with which to begin the present onward movement, was with a portion of the laity who had never given up the Evangelical principles of the standards of their mother Church, and the exceptional minority of the clergy just mentioned. Nor can popular prejudice be urged as an explanation of this fail. ure. That popular prejudice was indeed overpowering. But it ought not to have been so. The same prejudice hampered the evangelical movement, rising upon the grave of this carcass of uncompromising Churchmanship. But it did not overpower this latter movement. That movement has lived and strengthened in spite of what killed its antecedent. It is living down prejudice now, and the Episcopal Church of Virginia holds a position at this time in public estimation, beyond that of any former period. No less clearly from this comparison than the former is it manifest, that the reviewer's fact, like his explanation, has no actual existence. If there were no principle involved, Virginia might well decline his advice, upon the score of policy.
As illustrative of this point, we may take the results afforded in the ministry of one of the ablest men of the types of uncompromising Churchmen, that Virginia or any other Diocese has produced. No one whose opinion is of any value-certainly not the Editors of the Church Review—has any doubt as to the talent, eloquence, energy, and force of character, of Bishop Ravenscroft. And yet his ministry in Virginia, for such a man, was a failure. If uncompromising principles meaning by this, un-Churching principles—are so successful, why did not he succeed more abundantly in his Presbyteratein his Episcopate? Why has not North-Carolina distanced Virginia? Why has not New-Jersey, which was so far in advance of Virginia in 1814, done the same thing?
Just about as well founded is the idea that Whitefield was connected with any Church movement in Virginia of an important character. The date of the revival between the years 1812 and 1815, as compared with that of his visit to Virginia, will show the absurdity of such an imagination. Doubtless the men who were the laborers in that revival—as did the whole English and American Church-received an impulse from that great awakening, in the benefit of which Whitefield also participated. High and Broad Churchmen alike, in England, now freely admit the beneficial influence of the work of Wesley and his associates, indirectly, as well upon the Church of England as upon themselves. It is to be hoped that New as well as Old England, is still enjoying some of the fruits of that great harvest. But as to any peculiar relation of Whitefield to Virginia, the assertion is purely ridiculous. He passed through Virginia twice, in going from New-England to Georgia, and was no where less personally acceptable. In the time of Commissary Blair, he preached once as an. Episcopal cler. gyman in Williamsburgh. The Commisary soon after hearing of his irregularities, wrote to the Bishop of London to know his opinion about him, and what course should be pursued towards him. Soon after, Whitefield spent five days in Hanover county among the first separatists from the Church, and just before President Davies came to the Colony. This induced five of the most respectable clergymen of that part of the Colony, to memorialize the Governor and Legislature on the subject of unlawful preaching. No man was less acceptable to the Episcopalians of Virginia than Whitefield. The Methodists who followed him, and were regarded favorably by the Rev. Mr. Jarratt, in opposition to the Baptists, soon became very obnoxious also. This, of course, is a matter of very little importance, except to show how recklessly one may write to sustain an indefensible position. It served a purpose, to give or keep up the impression that Virginia Churchmanship began in a Methodist revival, and thus to suggest the inference, that as it began, so it has continued until the present time.
And this brings us to the note, with which the article closes : the account of the preacher of the most radical of all the sects, who boasted, it seems, in the hearing or to the knowledge of the reviewer, how frequently, during the long time he spent in Virginia, he had been admitted into the pulpits of Episcopal Churches. If this meant that he was admitted to officiate to an Episcopal congregation, the hearer was hoaxed, and the speaker was giving a wrong impression. Agents of the great Benevolent Institutions of the country, lay and clerical, are frequently permitted to make their statements and appeals to congregations. But even here the agent is frequently an Episcopal clergyman. In certain feeble parishes, again, as in other Dioceses, Episcopal clergymen and people are kindly offered the use of church buildings belonging to other religious bodies. And under similar circumstances they reciprocate the kindness; the same course being pursued on both sides, in certain of the smaller towns, upon the occasion of Conventions and other great ecclesiastical assemblies.* But as to any thing of the kind insinuated in this note-amalgamation of services exchanges of ministers, between Episcopal and other bodiesevery congregation and clergyman in Virginia knows that it has no existence. Nor is there any probability, either in that or in any other Diocese, of such familiar intercourse. The same reasons operate every where. There are too many causes and occasions of suspicion and jealousy, to render such familiarity either probable or desirable; while the difference of tastes created by the attendance upon liturgical and non-liturgical worship would render it any thing but agreeable to either of the parties.
* See quoted, in our last number, by Mr. Wharton, the sense of the House of Bishops upon this point.
We have thus performed an ungracious duty, but one which the circumstances of the case seemed to render necessary. We trust that we shall not be understood as defending any one Diocese, or attacking another. We should have preferred defending the one assaulted without alluding to the one which was glorified at her expense. But the case did not admit of that form of argument; and we have endeavored to avoid all harshness in the necessary comparison to which by the reviewer we were invited. It is not, however, a contest of Dioceses, but of principles. The blow at Virginia is a blow at the great principles of which she is the exponent and representativewhich she has done so much to uphold and to extend. In this view of it, the attack becomes significant. It reveals the fact that there are two great parties in our Church ; and that those who, like the Church Review, deny this fact in words, reveal it in their actions. That Review has from the first, or an early period, sought and doubtless obtained patronage by assurances of great moderation ; of a determination to avoid any thing offensive to any party, and to conduct it so as to promote the peace and unity of the Church; to be in reality the “ Church Review.” Some who have taken it under such assurances, have often been disappointed in passages to be found in the articles and book notices. Nor is it any relief to this, that they find assertions elsewhere of a different character. How strangely, for instance, does the close of this very article which we have been examining, contrast with one of its opening paragraphs :
"The general reader will rise from the perusal of these lives of eminent clergymen, of various shades of opinion, and with diversities of practice, firmly persuaded that as a whole the clergy of the Episcopal Church are a compact and united body, holding a definite faith, acknowledging a common order; and we defy any partisan within the Church, who has the common feelings of a man, to read the whole book without a more charitable spirit towards those who differ from himself, and a feel. ing that after all his party does not constitute the Church."
Very admirably said ; and we hope the perusal of Dr. Sprague's volumes will produce this desirable effect. But would such effect be produced, or such impression be inade by the closing paragraphs of this same article ?