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pursue the wisest course. This opinion, however, which might have been correct in the age of Luther and Cranmer, was much abused in succeeding times, and has been used to bar all attempts at reformation in the English Church, for a period of two centuries and an half. We cannot however withhold our admiration, nor our gratitude to the gracious interposition of the great Head of the Church, that in all the moral darkness of the sixteenth century, with the authority of usages sanctioned by the prescription of ages, with the necessary aversion to the dominant usurpations of the Church of Rome, and the indignation which must arise at the discovery of her diabolical impostures, the Reformed Churches were established on such wise, scriptural and excellent foundations. On the foundations laid by Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, and Knox, with their great coadjutors, whose souls are now with God, the greater part of Protestant Churches, in the enjoyment of the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit, rest to this day. The difference of sentiment among their first Reformers, on the degrees of reformation to which they should proceed, with a pertinacious adherence to the limits prescribed, seem to have been the true cause of all the separations from the English Church.
Those who first appeared in this church as advocates for further reformation, and for an alteration of their religious service, were denominated, by way of reproach, PURITANS. They were thus denominated by their opposers, in consequence of their exertions to effect a greater purity in religious worship and discipline, and a greater purity in man
The Puritans had their rise in the reign of Queen Mary, A. D. 1555, among the numerous exiles, who fled for refuge to the protestant governments on the continent, from the persecutions of that bigotted princess. A number of these pious exiles fixed their residence in the town of Frankfort, in Germany. Being now subject to no Ecclesiastical authority but the word of God, they were at liberty to examine all those religious doctrines and practices, in which they had been instructed, and to compare them with the only standard of truth. On mature reflection, the small congregation at Frankfort became satisfied that some things contained in the liturgy of the English Church, which had been established in the preceding reign by the good Prince Edward VI. with several of their ceremonies and practices, were unauthorised by the holy Scriptures, were of no advantage to the practice of piety, and were burdensome services in the duties of religion. They considered them also, to be the relics of
popery, which they felt bound to oppose in all its powers.They, therefore, by universal consent, adopted the doctrinal sentiments of the Church of England, as agreeble to the holy Scriptures, but in their modes of religious worship and divine ordinances, they resolved to dispense with several things appointed in the liturgy, and enjoined in the ceremonials of that church.
In the establishment of the English Reformed Church, under the auspices of king Edward, the doctrines of faith contained in their articles were taken, principally, from the Confession of Faith of the church of Geneva, drawn by the great Calvin. But the ecclesiastical hierarchy, with the greater part of the ceremonies and forms of worship prescribed by the Romish ritual, still remained.-At least, these things were as much retained as was thought could be consistent with the disavowal of the supremacy of the hierarchy
The exiles at Frankfort, in the formation of their church, discarded, alike, the doctrines and the rites of the Romish church, and adopted the church of Geneva as their model, in forms of church government, in modes of religious worship, and in doctrines of faith. Of all the reformed churches, they esteemed that of Geneva, in all these respects, the most conformable to the divine standard. Thus while their articles of faith were conformable to those of the church of England, their form of church government, and their modes of religious worship and administration of ordinances were materially different.
The religious congregation at Frankfort having become regularly organized, they sent to their brethren in exile, în various parts, inviting them to come and join with them in the service of their Lord, and in the enjoyment of those religious privileges, and that tranquility which were denied them in the land of their nativity. This invitation brought many of their brethren to Frankfort. Several English Divines, residing at Strasburgh, having heard of the innovations in their religious establishment, made by the congregation at Frankfort, remonstrated against any deviations from their former practices, and refused to afford them their christian fellowship, unless these innovations were relinquished. They insisted that prayers should be read, and that the ordinances should be administered and all religious services performed in conformity to the prescriptions of the liturgy. The church at Frankfort consulted the church at Geneva, and having obtained their approbation of their existing order, communicated by their revered Calvin, they determin
ed to pursue the course which they had adopted. But in
[To be continued.] *^
From the Massachusetts Missionary Magazine.
The Character of Doct. Samuel Hopkins, of Newport, R. I.
"THE memory of the righteous is precious." We desire therefore to embalm the character of Dr. Hopkins, for his genius, theological attainments and spirit were excellent.
He descended from worthy parents of family distinction. in Waterbury, Connecticut. Having obtained the honors of Yale College while a youth, agreeably to the early impulse of special grace on his heart, he devoted himself to the study of theology. As his mind was in quest of theological information he soon discovered the eminence of President Edwards in the science of divinity, and gained the favor of his friendship and instruction. How long he continued the president's pupil we cannot ascertain; but he soon discovered such accuracy of thought and depth of judgment, that the president prized his opinion, and with pleasure listened to his remarks on some of his labored disquisitions for the public. Till the president's death, there subsisted between him and Dr. Hopkins the most intimate friendship and the great
est freedom of inquiry on theological subjects. When the president departed Dr. Hopkins was left comparatively alone; for his rising, inquisitive mind furnished more difficult questions in theology than he could with advantage refer to his cotemporaries in the ministry. The loss of the president to Dr. Hopkins, though great, was in a measure repaired, by having the use of his manuscripts, which were lodged with him during the minority of the children. These manuscripts he preferred before all other human compositions.
But the genius and theological eminence of Dr. Hopkins are more directly ascertained by his numerous publications on the most interesting subjects. His sermons, his theological controversy with Dr. Mayhew, and Dr. Hemmenway, and others, his treatise on future punishment and his system of divinity are lasting monuments of his distinguished merit.Like his instructor, he excelled both in theoretic and practical divinity; but not in the elegance of composition.Thoughts and not the ornaments of expression and style were the objects of these great men. For they came upon the stage when a taste for elocution and the embellishments of composition were in these states, but little cultivated. But, though the doctor's writings are destitute of some desirable ornaments, they are yet marked with that simplicity, purity and perspicuity, which are considered by the greatest masters the principal ingredients of admired composition and good style. As the light of day is discovered without looking at the sun, so the reader immediately comprehends the doctor's meaning, even while handling the most abstruse subjects. As there is no human composition which contains more theological information than his system, and fewer useless pages and paragraphs; so there is none more easily understood. The doctor saw his subject too clearly to leave it in the dark to his readers. He grasps it and hands it in a proper attitude to others.
Were not the doctor's publications the most conspicuous, and ample testimonials, we might add that he was a consistent Calvinist. For the first principles of Calvinism are manifestly the cardinal principles of his theory. That he extended the Calvinistic theory farther than president Edwards, and corrected all anterior Calvinists to the inevitable confusion of Arminians and Antinomians, we believe is manifest to every enlightened and impartial mind. For the consisteney between the universal agency of God, and the personal agency of man, or between the decrees of God and the entire freedom of man is advocated and established by the Dr. beyond the reach of availing opposition. In this respect his
theory of providence eradicates the foundation of partial divines on the subject. And who can deny that he has taught us to preach the gospel to sinners without unpreaching it in the next breath? Previously to the labors of Dr. Hopkins the scriptural method of addressing sinners was but partially practised or perceived. For their inability to conduct in a holy manner was considered a reason for directing them to perform actions destitute of holiness. Surely the scripture, as Dr. Hopkins has amply proved, does not furnish man with a cloke for his sins from the consideration of his absolute dependence on God for grace.
But leaving the deep and accurate divine, let us review the exemplary Christian and Minister. The writer having been a member of his rising family, and for many years admitted to the habits of friendship, feels authorized to use freedom in this connection. The Dr. was not only ornamented with the gifts of nature but with the graces of the spirit. He was the loving and obliging husband; the tender and vigilant parent; the attentive and faithful friend; the studious, the devout, and instructive preacher. His study was his home, and the regular light of his morning and evening lamp, in connection with the choice and use of his books and other peculiar considerations, evince that he lived in the pious habit of redeeming his time. He was the subject of that wisdom which made his face shine at home, and influenced him to furnish beaten oil for the sanctuary, and to meet his people in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of peace. No minister we think, was ever more justly esteemed and admired. For though he was destitute of natural eloquence, such was the choice of his subjects, the interesting, and properly arranged thoughts which constituted his sermons and prayers, that but few preachers commanded more attention and were favored with more solemn and devout assemblies. To administer eonviction and instruction, edification and consolation according to the respective conditions of his hearers, was the design and tendency of his preaching. Good people rejoiced and wicked people trembled at seeing him enter the desk.For he believed, and made them believe also, that his ministration would prove the savor of life to some, and the savor of death to others. How solemn the thought! How solemn and interesting the connection between minister and people! But this the Doctor felt, and this he was qualified to make others feel. Hence the devout and awful solemnity which attended his public performances. He preached Christ and not himself; he concealed himself and displayed the truth.