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and its liberty. Being free in his
conscience, he is free in all that'he
does. In him we see life, motion, advancement. We see activity, research, the enlistment of all the intellectual and moral energies of the man in the work of improvement— in a career of noble efforts for himself and others. In like manner, the faith of each denomination of Protestants, impresses its own features on the minds of those who embrace it. For the things, in which one sect differs from others, give a peculiar tinge to the things which they hold in common. The lines of difference indeed are not so clear and easily traced, nor the shades of distinction so easily perceived, as in the former case; but they are not the less real, nor the less evincive of the particular bearing of each on the actions of men.
Moral effects show the character.
of their causes. Good fruit proves the tree, which produces it, to be good. Any system of faith therefore, in its great moral tendencies, can be tested by the general conduct of those who embrace it. Its bearing on any particular interest, may be seen in the action of the men who adopt that system, in reference to that interest. It is perfectly fair therefore, to bring any principle, or set of principles, to this plain, practical test. There is nothing invidious in bringing into contrast opposite systems of belief, by a simple exhibition of facts. No rule of propriety is broken by such statements, nor by the pressure of inferences drawn legitimately from them. The advocates of any system of faith, who shrink from the application of this test, and take shelter from its scrutiny under the forms of some imagined decorum, give us good reason to suspect the soundness of their system. If they are not willing that it should be subjected in its past history to this trial, they surely can not ask that others should look upon it with much favor or respect.
The tree must be tested by its fruit. '
By this simple process we propose to examine the comparative influence of Calvinism and Arminianism on civil liberty. These two systems of doctrine, while they include some things in common, are in their great elementary principles opposed to each other. It is therefore, those doctrines in which Calvinists and Arminians differ, that constitute the two opposite systems; and it is of them in this aspect that we are about to speak. The distinctive features of these two systems need not here be formally stated, since they are sufficiently familiar to our readers. There are different phases of Arminianism, as held by Episcopalians, Methodists, and some smaller sects, but they are agreed in rejecting the fundamental articles of Calvinism, and in holding to opposite tenets. We shall endeavor not to do them injustice, but, throughout our argument, state with fairness and accuracy those doctrinal views, in which for the most part, Arminians are agreed, and in respect to which they dissent from the Calvinistic school.
The adverse influence of Arminianism on the cause of civil liberty might we think, be fairly inferred, a priori, from the obvious tendency of its peculiar doctrines. It matters much, in our apprehension, as it respects the morality of men, whether they feel that they are under obligation to the law of God in all its extent and spirituality, and on the ground that they are, in themselves, free agents; or look upon themselves as exempt from that obligation, except so far as gracious ability is imparted to them to keep it. It bears directly on the humility of men, whether they believe in their utter ruin by the fall, or only in a partial lapse from righteousness— whether they regard their depravity as their sin, or as their misfortune. It has much to do with the gratitude
of men, whether they feel that God made them willing and obedient, or that they did it themselves—whether they were converted through the special influences of the Spirit, or in consequence of certain “helps,” or ‘assistances,’ granted to men in common—whether they look upon their election as antecedent to their repentance, or as consequent upon it—whether they place the cause of it in the good pleasure of God, or in their own conduct. It bears mightily on the existence of freedom in men, whether they believe in justification by faith alone, and that faith is the gift of God, or so connect it with works as to regard faith, in part at least, as the fruit of something good in themselves, inclining them to believe. No truth concerns itself more immediately with the moral liberty of men than this. It is only in this light that they can see light. Just as their vews of justification are freed from all possible mixture of works with it, do they come under the influence of that principle, which dislodges superstition, breaks the rod of the oppressor, and makes men free by making them a law unto themselves. Now as Calvinism evidently brings men more entirely under the dominion of this and other great principles of the Gospel, bearing on the point before us, than the opposite system does, we may fairly conclude that it bears more favorably on the civil liberty of men. But our purpose is rather to bring out this fact in the practical manner before intimated. We call attention, then, in the first place, to the forms of ecclesiastical government, which these opposite systems of doctrines have developed in this country. Each system has framed for itself a body of laws and regulations, which may very properly be taken as an index of the tendencies and affinities of each, and as showing the bearing of each on the point under consideration; and especial
ly as they have been formed in a land, where men have been at liberty to mould their church polity in accordance with the principles of their faith. The forms of government in a church exert an influence on the manners, the habits and sentiments of those who live under . them, and, through them, on many others. The order of things is from particulars to generals—from many centers to a general circumference. The laws and regulations of the family circle have much to do in shaping those which exist in the community. The forms of church polity tend directly to bring into sympathy with their own peculiarities the views and feelings of men, relative to the features which the civil government should possess. For as Carlyle has well remarked, ‘the spiritual is the beginning of the temporal.’ It shapes the formation —changes it—leaves more or less of its own impress upon it. This is notoriously the fact in this country. Here the spiritual worked out the temporal—gave form and feature to the whole civil structure, and will keep it more or less in sympathy with itself. The character, therefore, of the polity adopted by these opposite systems of doctrine, bears directly on the point before us. In each case we shall see a most intimate connection between the principles of the system and the forms assumed, and thus be able to determine the bearing of both on the cause of civil liberty. We begin with the Calvinistic scheme of government. This makes very much of the people. Its first, great principle is, that all ecclesiastical power is by the Lord Jesus Christ vested in the church, the body of believers. The whole framework of this polity is formed in accordance with this truth. It admits no hierarchy—no right in one man, or body of men, to lord it over others. It argues with the people— recognizes in them the liberty
wherewith Christ hath made them free—the right to govern themselves. It gives, therefore, to every church the right to choose its own pastor, and to elect all its other officers, and places the whole government of each church really in the hands of the church, or of their chosen representatives. This polity, moreover, insists upon parity in the ministry, and thus sets its foot on all spiritual domination. In all its judicatories, and in all its acts of legislation, the laity have an equal voice with the ministry. Not a step can be taken, or a single regulation made, except by the church, or by those chosen by them to act in their name. This whole form of government, therefore, is republican to its very core; and, of course, its whole influence is in favor of republicanism in the civil constitution. Arminianism has developed itself in a very different manner as seen in the economy of the Methodist and Episcopal churches. In the former we see but little, if anything, that is republican. There is no recognition of the great principle in free governments, that the power is with the people. They had no agency whatever in forming this polity, and by it they are excluded from all participation in the general legislation and government of the church. They have no voice in the selection of their pastor. He is set over them by the bishop, and if unacceptable to them, as is not unfrequently the fact, they have no constitutional redress. They must submit to it. The whole power is in the hands of the itinerating ministry. In one capacity or another they appoint every class-leader, nominate every steward and trustee, license every exhorter, select every person who receives the quarterly collections of the classes, and choose every committee that distributes the funds raised for building new churches. Most of the moneys collected in the congregations passes into the
hands of the annual conference, in which there is no element of lay influence; and all the churches, so far as the laws of the several states will allow it, are secured by deed, not to the people who erected thern, or who worship in them, but to the Methodist Episcopal church ; and are to be open to such ministers as may be sent by the bishops to preach in them. The general conference, in which, also, there is no lay representation, “ have full powers to make rules and regulations for the church;” and, upon the joint recommendation of three fourths of all the members of the several annual conferences who are present, may, by a vote of two thirds, alter any thing and every thing in the Book of Discipline, except the articles of religion. This form of government, moveover, is episcopal. It has, practically, though not in theory, its three orders in the ministry—its bishops, its elders, and deacons. The bishops are chosen, not by the people, but by the general conference. They preside in all the conferences, annual and general, ordain elders and deacons, appoint the presiding elders, and assign to each his district, and to every minister and preacher his circuit and place of labor; and travel throughout the connection at large, overseeing the spiritual and temporal business of the church. The inferior clergy are taught implicit obedience to the powers above them,--to go where they are sent—to labor as they are directed to do. Such are prominent features of this economy. It is in reality a spiritual aristocracy. The power is in the hands of the clergy. The whole structure is antirepublican, and its whole influence, consequently, is of the same character. In the Episcopal church, Arminianism has framed for itself a system of government, which, in some particulars, is still farther removed from all sympathy with free institutions. American writers, in their attempts to show the democratic aspect of the Episcopal polity, lay great stress on the fact that lay representation is admitted into their diocesan and general conventions. But it should be borne in mind, that this is an innovation on Episcopal usage —a “new measure,” which was rendered necessary after the Revolution, in order to quiet the fears of men in reference to the monarchical tendency of Episcopacy, and to make it possible for them to prosper much in this country. It was opposed at the time as a new thing, as “incongruous to every idea of Episcopal government,” and as uncongenial to the whole system. But the changed circumstances of the country, and its struggle for civil liberty, made even a portion of Episcopalians jealous of bishops, and the lay element came in, not through any principle of elective affinity, or as showing any tendency in Episcopacy to popular privilege —but as the consequence of that contest for freedom. Although this popular element gained admittance under these peculiar circumstances, yet it has but little practical power against the aristocractic element, which still remains in full force and precedence. Such prominence is given to the prelatical features of the system, and such powers granted to the clergy as to impair if not destroy the influence of the free element in its practical working. In all other respects this economy is far enough removed from any semblance to republican institutions. In its diocesan aspect it is a spiritual monarchy. It sets its foot on all parity in the ministry, and thus prepares the way for the assumption of monarchical power. It contains no recognition of the great principle, that the power is with the people. The bishop is virtually elected by the clergy; for the lay deputies in convention have no right to nominate a candidate. They must either accept the nomination made by the clergy or Wol. III. 65
have nobishop at all. When elected, he is a permanent ruler, and in many things is clothed with absolute power. The whole spiritual government of the church is in his hands. In any case of discipline an aggrieved person may appeal from the decision of the pastor to the bishop, who can confirm it or set it aside as he pleases. No church can have a pastor without his consent; and no one can come to the communion table except through him. Recent events have shown but too painfully the power which he possesses, by reason of his pretended apostolical succession, over those confirmed and ordained by him. There is little difficulty in the way of his ordaining “whom he pleases, and of rejecting others; who, when once rejected by him, can with difficulty obtain ordination in any other diocese. Deacons are subjected to his will. No one can become the pastor of a church unless he consents to it: and no minister from another diocese can officiate in his, if he forbids it. In many instances he can prevent the trial of a minister charged with a misdemeanor; and when tried, he selects the judges, the jury in this case, and upon their verdict pronounces the sentence, which, while it is not to exceed in severity what they recommend, may be anything or nothing according to his will. In his diocese, therefore, he is a monarch—possesses and exercises over individuals, and over the acts of his convention, a decisive power. In one diocese he can prevent any act of the convention, even if passed by them unanimously. In its general aspect, this polity is a confederation of sovereignties, and the house of bishops an association of monarchs, who have a veto on all the proceedings of the general convention, and can thus prevent the adoption of any measure unless it is passed by four fifths of the convention. With their influence over the clergy, and with this veto in their hands, any one can see that they can prevent any legislation of the people. Hence, as we have said, the lay influence admitted into the system amounts to little or nothing. The other elements overrule it, crowd it out, and crush it. They have no sympathy with it. Prelacy is by nature a hater of all popular rights. It opposes every essential principle of republicanism. The great truth, that the power is with the people, is branded by the advocates of apostolical succession, as “a most pestilent heresy.” Here, then, we have the Episcopal church “ with its Calvinistic creed, its Popish liturgy, and its Arminian clergy,” under the influence of a form of government, which, in its essential elements, is the antipode of any thing republican ; and which, therefore, does not, and can not, in its action on the minds of men, tend to bring them into sympathy with the spirit of republican freedom. Many are with us in these views. Men not known as Calvinists, and men even opposed to Calvinism, have conceded all we here claim for it. “Calvin,’ says Bishop Horsley, “was unquestionably in theory a republican ;’ and adds, “so wedded was he to this, that, in disregard of an apostolic institution, and of the example of primitive ages, he endeavored to fashion the government of all the Protestant churches upon republican principles.” In his History of the Popes, Ranke, speaking of the popular form which the Protestant church in Scotland had assumed in opposition to the wishes of the government, and comparing it with that which at the same time existed in England, observes that ‘the former naturally bore a far stronger resemblance to the church of Geneva, and was infinitely more in accordance with the spirit of Calvin.” According to Bancroft, “Calvinism is gradual republicanism.” In this light it was viewed by James and by Charles, and by both, therefore,
cordially hated. In all monarchical countries, it has ever been regarded by men in power as strongly allied to popular privilege, as throwing all its influence in favor of the liberties of the people. And they have had reason thus to consider it. They have judged the tree by its fruit. But on the other hand, men thoroughly imbued with Arminianism, and men zealously in favor of Episcopacy, have claimed for both what we here attribute to them, a sympathy with monarchy. So far as it respects the point before us, we may speak of the Methodist and Episcopal churches as one. Both are Arminian—both Episcopal ; and both, we contend, are in their influence antirepublican. This is claimed by the stanchest friends of both. John Wesley, the father of Methodism and the framer of its economy, speaking for himself and his followers, declared from the first, “We are no republicans, and never intend to be.’ Hence, from the constitution of the church which he formed, he excluded every feature of republicanism. While he lived, the whole power was in his hands, and after his death, it passed into those of the clergy; where, as we have seen, it still exists. Laud, Neile and Montague, the fathers of Arminianism in the English church, utterly repudiated everything like republicanism, threw all their influence in favor of monarchy, insisted on passive obedience—entire submission to the king, and even placed him above all law. From their day onward Arminians generally took the same position. Hence it came to be the common feeling in England, as Bishop White admits, that Arminianism is allied to monarchy. Episcopacy has ever been considered as favorable to this. The shrewd counselors of Elizabeth clearly perceived this fact, and demonstrated to her that if the Geneva model should be adopted, and re