ePub 版

not make any personal and vocal expression of their engagement as their fathers did.” Hooker's Survey, part I, p. 48.

It would be impossible for us to dictate to the learned Hooker were he alive, words more apposite to our argument. And are we not all in this age the children of confederate parents ? But it may be said this extends to one generation only.

No ; "We maintain that the believing parent covenants and confesseth for himself and his posterity.Same author, part 3, p. 25.

Mr. Philips, speaking of a people made partakers of God's covenant, and all ihe privileges outwardly belonging thereto, saith, “ Themselves and all that ever proceed from them, continue in the same state, parents and children successively, so long as the Lord continues the course of his dispensation." Philip's reply,

p. 126.


Again, "A company became, or are a church, either by conversion, or institution, or by continuance of the same constituted churches successively by propagation of members who are all born in the church state, and belong unto the church, and are a church' successively so long as God shall continue his dispensation, EVEN AS WELL and as FULLY AS THE FIRST." Same work of Philips, p. 145.

* Mr. Shepard, in defence of the nine positions, page 143, hath this expression," "concerning the infants of church members; they are subject to censures whensoever they offend the church, as others are ;' and in 1649, in a letter to a friend, he says, cerning the membership of children, which he proveth by sundry arguments, that they are members, and sheweth at large what great good there is in children's membership. In which discourses he asserteth, that as they are members in their infancy, so they continue members when they are grown up till for their wickedness they be cast out."

This writer adds, what many would hardly dare to say even in this liberal age,

“That there is as much danger (if not more) of the degenerating and apostatizing of churches gathered of professing believers, as of those that rise out of the seed of such."

How could our present system of exclusion, and aristocratical pretensions have grown up in a church, in which a synod, after the platform, published such scriptural truths ? Is it not time to vindicate the rights of believers, and to [emove the stumbling blocks which keep so many away from the table of our Lord ?

“Mr. Prudden also is cited, as having written in 1651, three years after the Platform, " that the children of church members, are members;" which he supports by an abundance of argument and authority.

Mr. Nathl. Rogers, in a letter, 1652, says, “To the question concerning the children of church members, I have nothing to oppose, and I wonder any should deny them to be members too."

From these authorities, which the synod cite as their justification, they conclude, " That it was the judgment of those worthies in their time, that the children of church members are members of the church as well as their parents, and do not cease to be members by becoming adult, until in some way of God they be cast out; and that they are subject to church discipline.” It is true that there is an intimation, that though church members, they are required to own the covenant before they are admitted to a particular rite, the communion ; yet this does not impair their civil or other ecclesiastical rights. They are members of the church, and have all the privileges of other members in the transaction of its affairs. If subject to its discipline they must be entitled to the exercise of its powers. To be church members, and yet not church members, would be an absurdity. This synod completely supports our doctrine, that the church, corporately considered, includes all professing christians, and their descendants. Hooker's authority first cited, is the fullest, and states explicitly, " that a whole society, (in which there is not a single man who has made a personal and vocal profession) but whose parents were in covenant, 'are true members of the church.

The question is therefore we conceive, at rest. It seems however that the doctrine of this synod was attacked by the Baptists, and was most elaborately defended in another tract by sundry elders of the synod of 1662.

This work has the fault of its age, of proving what no man could deny, and of believing that in the multitude of words there is wisdom. There is only one part we shall quote, because it puts an end to a possible objection, that might be started, that the descendants of church members could not exercise all the rights of church members without a personal engagement.

The Baptists pressed them with this difficulty; “ If your children are ipso facto members, then if all the parents should die, they, the children, though not expressly admitted, be entitled to a vote in church affairs, which you now deny to them.”

Our congregational ancestors were not puzzled or appalled at this objection. They boldly replied, as we contend at the present day. “But we say that this second generation, continuing in a visible profession of the covenant, faith, and religion of their fa

thers, are a true church of Christ, though they have not yet made any explicit personal expression of their engagement as their fathers did."


A Sermon, exhibiting some of the principal doctrines of the

Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, by which that Church is distinguished from other denominations of Christians; by WILLIAM EDWARD Wyatt, A. M. Associate Minister of St. Paul's parish, and professor of Theology in the University of Maryland. Baltimore. Joseph Robinson. pp.

44. Letters on the ministry, ritual, and doctrines of the Protes

tant Episcopal Church ; addressed to the Rev. Wm. E. Wyatt, D. D. Associate Minister of St. Paul's parish, Baltimore, and Professor of Theology in the University of Maryland; in reply to " a Sermon exhibiting some of the principal doctrines of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States;" by Jared SPARKS, A. M. Minister of the First Independent Church of Baltimore. Baltimore, N. G. Maxwell. pp. 268.

Since Episcopacy sustained in 1763, the formidable assault of Dr. Mayhew, and to shield it, the rector of Cambridge and the archbishop of Canterbury interposed alike in vain, it has made no progress among us, such as could be satisfactory to its friends. The writings of that admirable man gave the alarm through New-England, and awoke the old congregational spirit. The measures of the English society* were disconcerted; and it was fain to turn again to the new settlers and the Indians, and leave the descendants of Puritans to take care of themselves. The revolution succeeding, of course did the cause of the English establishment no good; and the most important incident in its history, among us, since that time, is the separation from it, and open avowal of Unitarian sentiments, of one of the principal churches in its communion.

In other parts of the country it has been different. In NewYork, the rich endowment of Trinity, and, of late, the exertions of an active individual, have given a currency to Episcopal peculiarities, and church has pursued log- house with no

* Our readers are aware that the writings of Dr. Mayhew referred to, were occasioned by the society established under king William, “ for the propagation of the gospel in foreign parts," having engaged in proselyting operations in New-Englaod.

tardy pace, toward the savage frontier of the state. In Vir. ginia, the generation of clergy, who, as Bishop White with beautiful simplicity relates, “continued to enjoy the glebes, without performing a single act of religious duty, except, perhaps, that of marriage,"* in course of time was extinct, and under the auspices of bishop Moore, a somewhat better day is understood to have begun. In Maryland, it was not surprising, that, pursued by the Catholics on the one side, and the Methodists on the other, many should be glad to find shelter in an establishment, in which superstition assumes a less repulsive shape, and discipline and pomp do something to keep out fanaticism. In Connecticut, the abuse of spiritual power has created an opposition, which has placed itself, as every wise political opposition will, under that organization which will make it most effective. Almost every where, the church has been aided by the general prevalence of the spirit of inquiry, re-acting on those who do not feel this spirit. Encouraged as it is in the word of God, it is resisted by the indifference of most men on the subject of religion. Their dislike of trouble, they call love of peace; and when they are told that the articles of faith are but articles of union, that though the church seems authoritative and precise, yet after all, the church means nothing; and if they will not contradict, they may believe any thing, or not believe any thing, just as they will,—they are satisfied that the church is the place for them. From these causes, among others, it is no longer the insignificant body that it was, when nine clergymen and four laymen met in New-Brunswick, in 1784, and projected an American Episcopate. Bishop Hobart's visitations, we are told, are to more than an hundred parishes, and bishop Kemp's to nearly as many.

It is characteristic of this church, that its pretensions have always risen with its power. In England, a man cannot carry a pair of colours, till he has taken the sacrament according to the forms of the national church; nor can a dissenting clergyman solemnize a marriage. Among us, the clergy and members of this communion have always been regarded with a well-deserved respect and good-will, which, as yet, they have not endangered by challenging more. They have stood on the same ground with other denominations, recommending themselves by orderly Christian worship, and good Christian practice; but we suppose not one in an hundred of our readers ever heard the plea urged, of an exclusive right to the discharge of the sacred office being vested in their ministry. In the powerful diocese of Maryland, it seems, it is otherwise ; and the readers of Dr. Wyatt's sermon in this age of sober sense and theological learning, have the trial

* Memoirs of the Protestant Episcopal Church. p. 59.

appointed to them, of reading “ that to the order of bishops alone, belongs the power of ordaining ministers ; and that an ordination performed by the hands of a priest, deacon, or layman, or by any number of either, would be devoid of every degree of validity and efficacy, in conferring spiritual office and power.” It is this lofty claim, which declares the most religious part of the country to be almost without a ministry, that makes the matter of the controversy. We, on our parts, make no objection to a clergyman that he has been ordained by a bishop, and wears a surplice; nor would we complain much, though he should kneel at the communion, and make the sign of the cross in baptism. But according to this writer, one to whom the instructions and ordinances of religion are dispensed by a minister, who has attained and discharges his office after a different manner, would as well, or better, not receive them at all. It is this arrogant pretension to a superiour and exclusive official right that we repel, and not the claim of churchmen to possess a regularly constituted ministry. We are content that their candidates for the sacred office should be ordained by one minister, though we would rather it should be by three or four. We ask but for a similar concession.

In this sermon of Dr. Wyatt, he is seen in so amiable a light, that we sympathize with him for having published it. It will do probably no good to his cause, and certainly none to his reputation. He appears in it (and except from this discourse we have no means of judging) to be a mild and conscientious man; and were it not, that we think it ought to be more considered than it is, that none but the well educated should undertake to guide the public mind on such subjects, we would not say, that we do not recollect to have seen a composition in such bad English, by an author who could affix to his name the insignia of a second degree in the arts. A sermon preached, deserves all indulgence. A controversial sermon printed, claims none.

The work of Mr. Sparks is the best which has appeared in this country, since the time of Chauncy, on the episcopal controversy. He had the advantage over Dr. Miller in not writing in Presbyterian fetters, and in possessing a learning, possibly not so various, (for he is a much younger man) but far better digested, more systematic, and accurate.

The cause of letters owes much to this gentleman, and if it had not surrendered him to higher claims, would yet hope much

In his removal, the University resigned a member on whose reputation and services it set a high value, and it was felt like the loss of a distinguished freeman to the literary republic of the east. Under his direction, the North American Re

New Series-vol. II.



« 上一頁繼續 »