« 上一頁繼續 »
The following work may require some explanation and some apology. The author has been for some years engaged in a careful examination of the subject of church government, especially in reference to the claims of prelacy to an exclusive possession of the rights, privileges, and immunities of the church of Christ. He was thus led to publish his Lectures on the Prelatical Doctrine of Apostolical Succession, or the Protestant Ministry Defended against the Exclusive Assumptions of Popery and High-Churchism,' in 1841. This work he followed up, according to his original design, by his recent volume, just issued from the press, Presbytery and not Prelacy the Scriptural and Primitive Polity, proved from the Testimonies of Scripture; the Fathers; the Schoolmen; the Reformers; and the English and Oriental Churches. Also, the Antiquity of Presbytery; including an Account of the Ancient Culdees, and of St. Patrick. In pursuing the investigations necessary to complete these works, the
author was led to discover the determined claim, preferred by the prelatic and Romish churches, to a greater conformity, in spirit and in order, to our republican institutions than any other denominations, as well as to a greater liberality, and an exclusive catholicity. He was therefore induced to comprehend in the plan of the above work, a discussion of these questions, and to examine into the comparative adaptation of the different ecclesiastical systems to the system of our republican government, and their relative claims to the character of true liberality and catholicity. The following chapters were therefore embodied as a part of the third book of the above work, where they are found in the analysis of it, which was published in the Charleston Observer. It was discovered, however, that this work was sufficiently extensive without these chapters, and as they were not necessary to the unity of the argument, the author was induced, by the advice of judicious friends, to publish them in a separate form.
Such, then, is the nature and design of the present volume, and such the apology which the author offers, for again presenting himself before the public. The subjects embraced in it are believed to be deeply important to the civil and religious interests of this country. They commend themselves to every patriot as matters of great practical and present concern, which must, ere long, demand the earnest consideration of every reflecting mind. They are not
theoretical speculations. They contain principles which lie at the foundation of human conduct, and which
home to the business and bosoms of men.' There are those who think otherwise, and who consider the great questions which divide religious denominations as mere logomachies. Any alleged connection between the systems of ecclesiastical and civil government they regard as a mere visionary dream, concluding, that because politically distinct and separate, their moral and intellectual relations are equally independent. To such minds, the author presents the considerations offered in the following work, and asks for them a candid and impartial hearing.
Greatly would he rejoice could he have moderated the views which he is constrained to take of the dangerous character and tendencies of popery, and its kindred system, high-churchism. Tender associations bind him to many individuals in both these sects. Among them may be found many, distinguished by every quality that can give personal distinction, and attract the love and admiration of all who know them. It is, therefore, truly painful to the author, to be impelled as he is, by an irresistible call of duty, to utter his free thoughts concerning the religious systems to which such men are attached. Every day's experience and research, however, only confirm and strengthen the convictions formed by education. But it is with the systems, and not with their abettors, the author is at
To their own master these stand or fall, and by Him alone are they to be judged. While contending, therefore, earnestly for the truth, he would desire to cultivate towards all men that charity which is the bond of persectness, and which hopeth all things.'
He will only add, that he uses the term presbytery in its generic sense, as equally applicable to all nonepiscopal churches, and that the great portion of the present volume will be found based on those generic principles, by which they are all distinguished from prelatic churches. Such being his general design, the author will be borne with, in those illustrations which are drawn from his own denomination, and those arguments which are presented in vindication of its character.
CHARLESTON, S. C., 1843.