Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

church called King's Chapel, in Boston, by the extensive circulation, through the public libraries and otherwise, of the works of Priestley, Belsham, Lindsey, &c. All these concurring circum. stances prepared the way for the introduction of heresy, or led to its development.

7. Another cause which greatly promoted Unitarianism in Boston and the surrounding country, during the fifty years of the great declension of religion, and of which the war of the Revolution constituted nearly a central epoch, was the influence of great names. During that period of astonishing indifference to religious doctrine, it was taken for granted by very many, that such men as Governor Bowdoin, and General Knox, and President Adams, and Chief Justice Parsons, and many others of distinguished reputation, must be right. It is a fact not to be denied, that most, but not all, of the great men (as they were esteemed) of that period were Unitarian, as far as they had any opinions on the subject of religion. This had great influence, not only upon people living in Boston, which is the Metropolis of New England, but still more upon men of the world, -merchants, lawyers, legislators, &c., who were in the habit of visiting that city on business several times annually, and who came into company frequently with these distinguished citizens. Of course they imbibed and propagated their opinions in the towns and villages in the interior, and from thence they were transmitted into other districts.

To this cause of the further propagation of Unitarianism, I ought to add, that this system of religion is one that is exceedingly agreeable to the natural and unrenewed heart. The thoughtless, gay, rich, pleasure-loving, and fashionable world find nothing in it which denies them their darling enjoyments. It quiets their consciences with the names and forms of religion, and promises them happiness beyond the grave; whilst it demands few sacrifices, it advances no doctrines which are calculated to humble the pride of men. When we consider this fact in connexion with the causes which have already been mentioned, it is not a matter of wonder that Unitarianism made great progress during the times of which I have been speaking.

9. Another cause which has operated to introduce heresy into the churches of New England, and especially of the State of Massachusetts, is the influence which Harvard University has for the last thirty or forty years exerted, by sending forth men into the ministry who have imbibed a corrupted theology. This influence has been very great, and still continues to be great.

That institution, which is situated in the town of Cambridge, four miles from Boston, was founded by eminently pious and devoted men, in the year 1636, only sixteen years after the first colony was planted in New England, and only six years after the arrival of Governor Winthrop and the colony which founded Boston. It is the oldest University in the United States; and in some respects it possesses greater advantages than any other of the seventy or eighty colleges and universities in the country. It was founded for the express purpose of educating a pious and orthodox ministry.

Funds were early given by pious individuals for the purpose of supporting a professor of theology, who should be required to teach the doctrines of the orthodox faith. For a long period that distinguished institution nobly answered the end which its pious founders had in view. A large number of the earlier New England ministers were educated within its walls. Its presidents, and its professors of theology, continued for a long period to be sound in doctrine. But in 1804, the Rev. Dr. Ware, a Unitarian minister, was appointed professor of divinity by the corporation or board of directors, who live about Boston, and almost all of whom had themselves become Unitarians. In 1810, the Rev. Dr. Kirkland, another Unitarian minister, was appointed president of the institution. Since that period, this oldest literary establishment in the United States has been in the power of Unitarians, together with its liberal endowments, its library, &c. Its professors of the theological faculty are all Unitarian, and have under their instruction from thirty to fifty young men annually, preparing for the ministry. From this institution as from a great fountain, the doctrines of Unitarianism have emanated, and have been diffused more or less throughout New England, and especially throughout the state of Massachusetts.

I have now mentioned all the causes, excepting one, which have been most efficient in developing heresy, and disseminating it throughout New England. In my next, I propose to state fully the remaining one, and to trace its influence.

AN AMERICAN.

ON THE VALIDITY OF ORDINATION IN THE NON-EPISCOPAL

PROTESTANT CHURCHES.

(To the Editor.) SIR-The extensive circulation of your Magazine amongst an important denomination in the christian church, induces me to express the hope that you will allow it to become the channel of submitting to the public the following remarks.

Within and without the pale of Episcopacy, persons of narrow views and bitter spirits are to be found, the former of whom regard all who belong not to their own denomination as heretics or schismatics, and their ministers as unauthorised intruders into the sacred office, and unwarranted dispensers of the sacraments of Christ; whilst the latter consider the whole Episcopal system as a mass of error and superstition. I entertain no hope of producing any effect on minds labouring under prejudices such as these, but as it respects Christians of whatsoever name, who feel that the great things in which they coincide, should lead them to regard with comparative indifference the smaller points on which they disagree, I do not despair that the ensuing observations may tend to the increase of brotherly kindness and esteem.

Permit me, then, to express my conviction that the opinion, which I have reason to believe prevails to a considerable extent among non-episcopalians, that the ordination of their ministers is almost

universally deemed invalid by the religious portion of the clergy and laity of the Church of England, is unfounded. The numbers are not few, who conscientiously hold that the Word of God, which is and is alone our religion as Protestants, gives no countenance to the scheme of what is called “the apostolical succession," and is very far indeed from rendering the validity of the Christian ministry dependant on the laying on of episcopal hands. And if we are asked for human authority on the subject, we rejoice in being able to reply that we follow in the steps of our sainted reformers, and of those eminent divines who succeeded in their iminediate train; and we are confident that as in their doctrinal sentiments, so in their knowledge of the early history of our religion (and in their acquaintance with the writings of the Fathers, and their estimate of the respect which, on this point, those writings deserve), they are much safer and more competent guides than the modern theologists by whom their opinions are impugned.* · Our venerated martyrs, Cranmer, Latimer, and Hooper, maintained the identity of bishops and presbyters by divine institution ; and thirteen bishops, of the same age, with a great nuinber of other ecclesiastics, subscribed the proposition—" that in the New Testament there is no mention made of any degrees or distinctions in orders, but only deacons or ministers, and of priests or bishops.” In perfect accordance with these sentimients is the language of Jewel, who, of all our divines, is unquestionably the best entitled to the designation of the Coryphæus of our Protestant Church. In his admirable defence of the Apology for the Church of England, in answer to the Jesuit Harding, he indignantly exclaims :-"What meant Mr. Harding here to come in with the difference between priests and bishops? Thinketh he that priests and bishops hold only by tradition, or is it so horrible a heresy as he maketh it, to say that by the Scriptures of God a bishop and a priest are all one? or knoweth he how far and unto whom he reacheth the name of a heretic? Verily Chrysostom saith, Inter episcopum et presbyterum interest ferme nihil. "Between a bishop and priest in a manner there is no difference.' St. Jerome saith, somewhat in rougher sort, Audio quendam, in tantum erupisse vecordiam, ut diaconos presbyteris, id est, episcopis anteferret, cum Apostolus perspicue, doceat, eosdem esse presbyteros quos episcopos.' I hear say there is one become so peevish, that he setteth deacons before priests, that is to say, before bishops; whereas the apostle plainly teacheth us that priest and bishops be all one.' St. Augustine saith: 'Quid est episcopus nisi primus presbyter, hoc est

* The character of the theology of some would-be modern guides may be judged of by the publications which have recently issued from the press at Oxford, (not, however, the University Press, under the title of Tracts for the Times.' Who could have believed, without the evidence of these tracts, that men of acknowledged talents, high literary acquirements, and unquestioned moral worth, professing to receive, as the standard of their doctrinal sentiments, the Articles of the English Church, should symbolize with some of the worst corruptions of Popery, and partially vindicate some of its most palpable errors and most dangerous superstitions ?

summus sacerdos? What is a bishop but the first priest, that is to say, the highest priest?' So saith St. Ambrose, · Episcopi et presbyteri una ordinatio est uterque enim sacerdos est, sed episcopus primus est. There is but one consecration of priest and bishop, for both of them are priests, but the bishop is the first. All these, and other more holy Fathers, together with St. Paul the Apostle, for thus saying, by Mr. Harding's advice, must be holden for heretics.”

I shall only add a remark of Archbishop Usher, rather on account of its singularity, than that, after the testimonies already cited, any thing further needs to be adduced. This eminent prelate, being asked by King Charles I. whether he found in antiquity that presbyters alone ordained any ? he replied, “Yes, and that he could show his Majesty more, even where presbyters alone ordained bishops;" and instanced in Jerome's words (Epist. ad Evagrium) the fact of the presbyters of Alexandria choosing and making their own bishops from the days of Mark till Heraclus and Dionysius. .

I remain, Sir,
A CLERGYMAN OF THE Church of England.

Bath.

ON THE BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.

(Concluded from p. 375.)

7. Sacred Authors. It must not be disguised, that there is a remarkable appearance of uniformity in the language of the Old Testament Scriptures, as if they had all been composed about the same period. But this is not contrary to analogy, nor unsupported by the existence of similar facts in the record of other writings in the world. Ancient British manuscripts have been discovered, and published, of a thousand years date, and upwards, which are pronounced by our modern literati in Wales as perfectly intelligible to Welsh scholars; and the writings of Confucius prove, that the written and spoken language of China has not varied, in any important respect, for more than two thousand years.

Moses, personally or by superintendence, was a most extensive writer. It is not improbable that he was indebted to documents furnished by Israel, Abraham, Shem, and others, and the internal evidence of Scripture itself by no means accords with many Jewish opinions on this topic.

The Book of Job is of the deepest antiquity; whether written by himself, or Elihu, or others, may admit of question. It is in truth the “ Idnmean Encyclopædia," and requires “ all the wisdom of the East" for a full and satisfactory elucidation of its most comprehensive contents. VOL. I. n. S.

3 L

Joshua is a most faithful historian; and Samuel sustains a free, eminent distinction. Honoured with the prophetical spirit from childhood, and founder of the “ schools of the prophets," 1 Sam. X. 5, 10, he was most competent to write his valuable records with accuracy and intelligence.

David's incomparable muse has been universally acknowledged and eulogised. His gifted influence evidently created a new era in the productions of the Hebrew muse. The most inspired aspect of his genius appears to present itself, when he looks abroad on the universe with the eye of a poet, and with the breast of a glad and grateful worshipper of God, Psalm civ.

Solomon, with whose very name we associate whatever is intelligent, was a universal writer. 1 Kings iv. His unrivalled Proverbs, &c. which we now possess, are, perhaps, but the fragments of his mighty and matchless genius--the noblest intellectual structure in antiquity.

The Prophets have all their respective style, and each his peculiar beauties. The highest rank is, by universal consent, assigned to Isaiah. Collectively viewed, his poetry forms the greatest tablet both of awfully solemn and of joyfully beautiful conceptions, ever exhibited in poetic predictions. He is far from surpassing all the Hebrew poets in individual passages; but in his fulness, force, majesty, and propriety, he comprehends more excellencies of the poetical character than any one of them. The saying of Ezekiel xxviii. 12, may be applied to him :

“ Thou art the confirmed exemplar of measures;

Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty."

Nahum is ranked among the most classically poetical of the minor Prophets; and the commencement and close of Micah's book are almost dramatically impressive.

If Ezekiel's style was the old age of the Hebrew language and composition, it is a fine and vigorous one; and should induce us to trace its youth and manhood with the greatest attention.

Habakkuk's tone of prophecy accords with the probability of his having lived near the crisis of Jewish calamities. His warning is like the sound of an alarm-bell at the dead of night; yet he is not without a magnanimous and pious confidence: and chap. iii. is a model of lyric sublimity.

Haggai was among the first of the prophets who con forted the Jews after their return from captivity; and Malachi was the last. In both of them the spirit of poetry manifestly declines, as the reign of divination draws towards its conclusion; when the words of Mic. iii. 6, were most affectingly fulfilled.

We can merely “ touch and glance" at these illustrious names, any one of which might be replete with the most copious and abundant discussion. Still more concise must we be on New Testament writers, as Matthen, who unites energy and simplicity in his relations. Luke, whose productions indicate a liberal education, which would

« ElőzőTovább »