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persons who are truly pious, devout and sincere; who love the spiritual doctrines of the Gospel as heartily as any who are connected with the most thorough evangelical denominations; who look through the forms of the church to the pure truths expressed in the articles, and proclaimed from the evangelical pulpits in those churches; who love the liturgy chiefly for the expressions of piety which are breathed forth there; and who are opposed to the spirit of exclusion, who love all Christians, who wish to have fellowship with all who love the Lord Jesus, who give themselves little or no concern about the apostolic succession, and who have no sympathy with the preaching which they are often compelled to hear about ‘the three orders.” These persons are found more frequently we apprehend among the laity than among the clergy; and are probably increasing in number among the former while they are diminishing among the latter. They are composed of that class, of whom we have always supposed there were not a few, who would be more edified in a church where the forms of worship are prescribed than where they are not ; of those who have been reared in the bosom of the Episcopal church, and have been truly converted there; and of a few who have gone over from the different evangelical denominations, and who have borne with them the spirit of evangelical religion. These persons are often grieved with many things in the Prayer-book, and particularly with the doctrine of baptismal regeneration,” and would be prepared for such changes in that
* We have understood that some of the evangelical ministers of the Episcopal church are so much troubled with the to of the Prayer-book that relates to
aptism, that they omit that part which obviously teaches the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. This is to be obedient to the Gospel, but it is in violation of their obligation as Episcopalians.
book as would make it wholly conformed to evangelical views, but they have no power as yet to bring about that change, and they find so much in the church that accords with the best feelings of their hearts that they are unwilling to leave it. It will be seen from these remarks, that the field in which Episcopacy may hope to operate in this country, though respectable, is by no means large ; and that whatever accidental and local increase it may receive from the peculiar popularity or zeal of any of its ministers, or from the contentions and strises of other denominations, it is destined always to be among the smallest denominations of Christians in our land. The genius of this nation is not Episcopal. It is strongly opposed to every thing that is aristocratic or monarchical in its tendency; to every thing which savors of exclusive prerogatives and pretensions; to every thing which does not regard others as on perfect equality, and as entitled to equal rights at the communion table, in the pulpit, and every where else. There is doubtless in this country a class who would have a strong preference for the religion of forms to any other, but a large portion of this class will always find a more congenial home in the bosom of the Roman Catholic church. The Episcopal church in this country is highly respectable for its wealth. It has its full share of men of property, and probably, from the nature of its organization, will always continue to have. The reasons of this, we think, it would not be difficult to state, but they are so obvious that it is unnecessary. As the aristocratic tendencies founded on property increase in this country, —and as we have no other except our military titles, the American people seem resolved to make as much of this as possible, we may suppose that the Episcopal church will receive proportionate enlargement. It has, of course, great power to extend itself, if it chooses to avail itself of this power, so far as a church can be extended by erecting houses of worship, and endowing colleges and seminaries of learning. Thus in the single diocese of New York, there was reported for the year 1844, as we understand the report, the sum of $166,172 72, as expended in the “general contribution for church objects”—an amount which no other group of churches of similar extent had the power of contributing, and which we suppose to have been expended wholly in extending Episcopacy, and chiefly in the way of building churches. The Episcopal church is respectable for the amount of talent which is found among the laity. It has its full proportion of those who fill the learned professions; of those who occupy high offices in the land; and of those who move in the more elevated circles of social life. No one who attended on the services of the last General Convention could fail to be impressed with the conviction that men of a high order of talent and respectability were assembled there to deliberate on the concerns of the church, and that it would not probably be practicable for any other religious denomination to collect together in such a convention more that would be as capable of influencing the public mind. It is probable indeed that the exigency of the church drew together a greater amount of talent than would be ordinarily assembled in the Episcopal conventions, but it is an honor to a church to be able to enroll on the list of its members such names as are found on the roll of the convention. The clergy of the Episcopal church in learning and talent occupy a rank between those of the Presbyterian and Congregational churches on the one hand, and the Baptist and Methodist on the other. Their bishops, as a body, would not equal by any means what might be
selected from either the Congregational or Presbyterian churches, and divested of the mitre not a few of them would be regarded as quite ordinary men. They have contributed little to the cause of sacred learning, and they will mostly be remembered, not for any contributions which they have made to the theology of the country, but for whatever zeal they may evince in promoting Episcopacy, and for the performance of the duties of their itineracy over their extended dioceses. A few among them are men of elegant scholarship and accomplishments; a few are models of pulpit eloquence ; a few are close reasoners; but if they were to take their places as simple pastors of churches by the side of those of other denominations, they would acquire no eminence above their brethren for their talents, eloquence, or learning. Some of them, in respect to the estimation in which they are held, owe much more to the magic of the mitre and the crosier than it is desirable for ministers of the Gospel to owe. As a body, the clergy in that denomination are not equal to those of the Congregational and Presbyterian churches. They are less thoroughly educated. Their preaching is less bold, discriminating, argumentative. They are little accustomed to definitions of things, or to a careful discrimination of one thing from another. There is less solemn appeal to the heart and conscience; less that seizes upon the soul and bears it along at the will of the speaker; less that instructs the mind; and less that arouses and excites the whole man. There is less dependence apparently on the power of truth, and more aid expected from the influence of the other services of the sanctuary. Preaching, in the Episcopal church, is from the nature of the services there performed, quite a secondary object; or if not so regarded by the ministry, as we would hope by many of them it is not, such can hardly fail to be the practical effect of the arrangement of the prescribed services of the sanctuary. The long previous service, occupying ordinarily, when performed according to the rubric, not far from an hour, and sometimes followed also by the protracted communion service, necessarily crowds the sermon into a narrow space, and whatever may be said to the contrary in justification of this service, few men will feel like adventuring on a discussion that needs to be protracted after such a service, and the minds of few in an audience will be in a situation to attend to a discourse that demands much close application to comprehend the argument. The inevitable consequence is, that the sermons of Episcopalians are the briefest of all public religious discourses in the land; and that whatever advantage may be derived from “short sermons,” and sermons that do little to tax the powers of an auditory in marking the exact limitations of truth and error, may be found in the Episcopal church. As a body, also, the Episcopal clergy, it is supposed, are less inclined to discriminate closely than some others between the church and the world ; between the evidences of piety in its workings in the soul and the false appearances of religion in its counterfeits; between the true doctrines of the Gospel and those which claim to be such ; and between religion as existing in the heart, and religion as resting solely on forms. What some other denominations hope to accomplish by exact views of truth, they hope to accomplish by the influence of rites and ceremonies, and by inferences derived from the fact that they are in the line of the apostolic succession; and a part at least of what others seek to effect by preaching, they hope to secure by the use of the Prayer-book. It is hence, also, regarded as a matter of much less consequence what doc
trines are maintained, and whether their people are Calvinistic or Arminian, since it seems to be held as an axiom in that church that their articles teach neither distinctly; and that one class of doctrines may have as benign an aspect on piety as the other. There are noble exceptions to these remarks, but as a general thing the community expects much less thorough discussion, much less acute and accurate discrimination of doctrines, much less that will deal with religion as a spiritual concern, much less that will draw lines of close discrimination between the church and the world, and much less that will press with powerful argument and solemn appeal on the understanding and the conscience, in the Episcopal pulpits, than in those of some other denominations. At the same time, there is much true piety and zeal and love of souls in the ministry of the Episcopal church, though no one can doubt that the tendency of a religion, depending in any considerable degree on the efficacy of forms, is to produce such a religion as we have described.
The Episcopal church has claims to the especial notice of the Christian community at large, not so much on account of its numbers, its wealth, its talent, or in its actual influence, as in regard to its doctrinal views, and particularly its relation to the doctrines which are now known as Puseyism or Tractarianism. The eye of the community is very much turned from Episcopacy in all other respects, to contemplate its developments in regard to certain things which were left unreformed in that church in the days of Edward VI and Elizabeth; which have given occasion to the separation of the evangelical portion which from time to time has sprung up in its bosom; which made it necessary first for the Puritans to withdraw from its communion, and then for the followers of Wesley to imitate their ex
ample; which have been the occasion of contention whenever the evangelical spirit has revived in connection with the religion of forms; which have produced the conflict in these times between the high and the low church parties, and which, we think, are now carrying out the true spirit of certain parts of the Prayerbook, in the developments of Puseyism. The Episcopal church in this country is essentially Arminian in its doctrinal belief. We have heretofore supposed that this was not its settled characteristic. We regarded its articles as, in their obvious interpretation, Calvinistic. They are such, we know, as fairly express the views of the great body of Calvinists, and such as would be adopted by them without any material modification. So obvious to non-episcopal eyes is the meaning, and so much were we accustomed, in our simplicity, to suppose that the mass of men understood plain English alike, and so decidedly, as we supposed, had some of the leading fathers of the Episcopal church expressed themselves, in other times, in favor of the Calvinistic views, that we had hoped that, amidst what we had supposed to be prevailing Arminianism, there was quite a large portion of the Episcopal church, embracing most of the evangelical party, which was Calvinistic in its belief. Under this impression, in stating our views of the Episcopal church in our number for January, 1844, (p. 119,) we ventured to use the following language. “The low churchman is in general a Calvinist, and frequently of the highest order. He preaches the humbling doctrines of the cross, and advocates the lofty themes of divine sovereignty in the salvation of men.” The opinion thus expressed, in accordance with what we then believed to be truth, and which we supposed at the time would be regarded as kind commendation by the party particularly re
ferred to, we are constrained now with reluctance to retract. We think we see evidence from the acts of the late General Convention, that that the church as such desires to remove from itself every suspicion of its being Calvinistic, and that there is reason to apprehend that even the low-church party regards itself as aggrieved by any suggestion that it has such a tendency. In regard to the statement which we made respecting the Calvinism of the evangelical party, the Episcopal Recorder, published at Philadelphia, and which may be considered as the organ of the party in the Middle States, in a notice of our statement, made the following decisive reply: “On this assertion, we have simply to say, that we are unacquainted with a single clergyman of the Episcopal church who is a Calvinist; or who does not reject some of the very peculiar doctrines of Calvinism, such as the limited character of the atonement, and the reprobation of the ungodly, with abhorrence, as in no sense, the teachings of the word of God. These doctrines we leave to Presbyterian maintenance, as we believe they originated in Presbyterian invention.” It is true, that when the articles in the Recorder, purporting to be a reply to our article on the “Position of the Evangelical party in the Episcopal church,” came to be collected into a pamphlet, the assertion was so modified as to read, “Of this assertion, we have simply to say, that we are unacquainted with a single clergyman of the Episcopal church who is a Calvinist ‘of the highest order;' or who does not reject” &c. p. 14. But it was remarkable that the editors of that paper, qualified as they were for extensive observation, should have made the remark at all : it was remarkable that when made, it excited no surprise among the members of the low-church party, and that no one contradicted it, or remonstrated with that paper on the assertion, as if it were injurious to their belief; and it is remarkable that, even on a careful revision, the substance of the statement is still retained. It is still a disavowal of Calvinism, and is made with so much temper and spirit, that it is clear the editors meant to express themselves with promptness and precision on that point. Yet the declaration revealed a state of things in the Episcopal church, which was not even suspected. It showed, not only the fact that the evangelical party did not wish to be considered as Calvinistic, but that they considered the declaration that they were regarded as entertaining the views attributed to Calvinists, as one to be treated with a strong expression of reprehension. The gentlemen who were editors of the Episcopal Recorder at that time, have uncommon advantages for testifying on this point. They were identified with the evangelical party, and regarded as among its leaders. They conducted a paper which is the known organ of the party. They may be presumed to be intimately acquainted with the views of their brethren. Not far from a year, moreover, has now passed away, since the declaration was made ; it has been laid in various ways before the Christian public, and so far as appears, it has been received with silent acquiescence by all their brethren as expressing their views. If their brethren had dissented from it, it would be fair to presume that they would not suffer a statement of so serious a character respecting their doctrinal belief to pass unnoticed. No one, we think, could mistake as to the meaning of the editors of the Recorder. There is a warmth, an ardor, an earnestness about the language applied to Calvinism as a whole, which shows that there was no desire to be identified with it in any way whatever. It is such language of revulsion and abhorrence as a passionate Athanasian
might be supposed to use of Arianism; or a heated follower of Augustine would use of the views of Pelagius. There is the express declaration, “We are unacquainted with a single clergyman of the Episcopal church who is a Calvinist.” There is the language of strong “abhorrence” used of one of the doctrines commonly regarded as peculiar to the system. “We are unacquainted with a single clergyman who does not reject the doctrine of the reprobation of the ungodly with abhorrence.” There is the strong and positive assertion that these doctrines “ originated in Presbyterian invention ;” and that the editors are disposed to “leave them to Presbyterian maintenance,” as if no Episcopalian could have any thing to do with them. These views in regard to the opposition of the evangelical party to Calvinism, are established now in reference to the whole Episcopal church, by the doings of the late General Convention. In the progress of things in that body, it became necessary to institute a definite inquiry as to the doctrines which are taught in the General Theological Seminary of the church, and which is directly and especially under the control of the Convention. To reach the object in view, it was deemed proper to address a series of questions to the instructors of the Seminary, demanding an explicit answer as to the books which are recommended and studied there, and the kind of doctrines which are inculcated. These instructive questions show conclusively what the propounders desired should not be taught, or what they would have regarded as worthy of animadversion, as a departure from the doctrines which Episcopacy seeks to inculcate, as clearly as any explicit declarations could have done. These interrogatories, of a curious character altogether, bear in the Journal of the General Convention before us,