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No sooner had the orthodox Independents, who were the only orthodoxists living in the neighborhood, ejected the Unitarian Trustees, by virtue of this decision of the Lord Chancellor, than they prepared quietly to take possession of the spoils. Bnt their ardent hopes were destined to be somewhat damped. The spoils of war were not destined wholly to enure to them, (as Mr. Calhoun would phrase it.) It seems that in some remote part of England there had been lying perdue a little sect of people as orthodox as they, yes, even more so—and better than that, Presbyterians in their form of church
government, which they were not. These thought they had as good or better a right to the spoils than the Independents, and therefore petitioned the Lord Chancellor Cottenham, to be permitted to take part in the nomination of trustees. The Independents made a vigorous resistance, and declared on oath, that they were Presbyterians, in every just sense of the word, although Independents. But their case soon began to look quite disagreeably. Even if they were Presbyterians, there was no reason why they should monopolize these trusts, when there were other Presbyterians as good as they, who wanted some share in the matter. And although the Rev. J. Pye Smith, took oath that "the term Presbyterian is in a fair, just, and honorable sense, capable of being applied to the majority of English Congregationalists," it was very hard to show that one form of church government was exactly the same as another. Besides this, it soon was urged that these Independents were almost as heretical, after all, as the Unitarians. Their confession of faith, it was shown, was very indefinite. It even left out, dreadful to say, the word consubstantial, in describing the union of Christ with the Father, and might be signed by a Unitarian of Dr. S. Clarke's school. Moreover, it contained nothing about the imputation of Adam's sin, and there was great reason to believe that the Independents did not believe this doctrine. All this was urged with great solemnity and force by the orthodox Presbyterians.
The Chancellor was evidently in an awkward predicament. He had just ejected Unitarian trustees for not being orthodox, and now he is called upon to decide a new case of orthodoxy. Is the imputation of Adam's sin an essential doctrine, or not? The Lord Chancellor is surely getting into deep water where there is no standing. " The question of the orthodoxy of the Independent creed was evaded," so we are told, “and the Independent trustees agreed to sign the Westminster Confession of Faith."
“They agreed to sign it,” to the astonishment of every one.
For in so doing, they turned a theological somerset, fully equal to any like feat of political agility of modern times.
“ In these eventful times," says the London Christian Observer, a work conducted by orthodox Church of England men, “In these eventful times we have witnessed some extraordinary shiftings; but this sudden Independent tergiversation has struck us as perhaps the most extraordinary of all. We cannot forget that the very men who all at once were so ready to subscribe to the Westminster Confession, had, till the critical moment when their connexion with the Hewley endowments seemed to be endangered, zealously proclaimed their antipathy to the old Presbyterian doctrine of subscription. Nor can we forget that the Independent “ Declaration of Faith" of 1833, is still unrepealed—a Declaration, in which these bright exemplars of consistency, and other Independent Unionists, most incongruously asseverate their “protestation against subscription to any human formularies; " 'their “disapproval of the imposition of any human standard, whether of faith or of discipline;" and that "human counsels, canons, and creeds, possess no authority over the faith and practice of christians.” See the “ Declaration of the Faith, &c. of the Congregational or Independent Dissenters, as adopted at the third General Meeting of the Congregational Union of England and Wales, May 7th, 8th, and 10th, 1833.” pp. 4 and 10.
We have told this histoirette chiefly for the sake of a few reflections which it suggests.
st. How idle it is for any men to attempt to bind by legacies, the opinions of succeeding ages. As surely as the snake must cast his skin from year to year, so must men alter their modes of thinking and expression, from age to age. Many fondly hope to anchor their own opinions in the stream of time by fastening them to their money bags. But the result is to make either formalists or hypocrites. Those who, for the sake of the money, profess the opinions, either hold them as mere forms with no conviction at all beneath them, or use them as cloaks to cover up quite different ones. When will men have faith enough in their own convictions, to put a generous confidence in the power of truth, and leave the minds of those who shall come after them, free to find it? We hear in the present day of churches and colleges which are pledged for all time, by those who build and endow them, to the maintenance of certain specific creeds or forms. The worst instance which we have lately heard of this narrow bigotry, was in the case of a gentleman in Massachusetts, who in his will, offered a legacy to a church in the town where he lived, which
held a different faith from his own, on condition that it would adopt his opinions. The will further specified, that in case the society should refuse the legacy on these terms, it should be put into the hands of trustees, to be offered to them again at the end of ten years, on the same conditions. He thus contrived to insult by the same action, their convictions, his own opinions, and christianity; by showing that he considered them all marketable articles-to be sold like fish or broad-cloththat the gift of God could be bought with money, and that bank stock was a means of grace. The pride of purse never showed itself, we think, in a more extraordinary manner.
SECOND. How much better it is to relinquish at once the use of all advantages which cannot be held without a disguise of real convictions ! How much more enviable is the position now occupied by the English Unitarians than that of the Independents. It never occurred to the former body to conceal their opinions for the sake of retaining their funds. They migh perhaps have made an argument sufficiently subtle to puzzle the theological acumen of the Lord Chancellor, which seems not very great. They might have argued, like Dr. J.P. Smith, that "in a fair just, and honorable sense,” they might be considered as believing the Divinity of Christ, the Atonement, &c. just as much as Lady Hewley did. But they scorned such subterfuge. They relinquished at once their rich endowments, though many of their preachers were thus deprived of support, and left dependant on the aids of friendship and brotherly sympathy. Not to retain old privileges, not to avoid want and poverty, would they trifle with their convictions. But the Independents, for the sake of grasping funds, on which they had fixed a covetous eye, were willing to say and
unsay any thing. They subscribe a creed which they had all along denounced and ridiculed.
THIRD. How uncomfortable a position does the Lord Chancellor occupy, who, stepping out of his sphere, undertook to limit the progress of opinions, and to say to the searching intellect of man, “ Hitherto shalt thou come, but no farther." He probably can find no sect in England, at the present day, who hold the opinions considered essential by Lady Hewley. We feel confident that this decision will have to be reversed. Lord Lyndhurst's conservatism in this instance betrayed him. The principle, that a change of opinion in the holders, invalidates bequests made to religious bodies, involves consequences of a very serious character. There is probably no religious body, which has held property for a hundred years, which has not varied very much from the opinions usual in the time of
the donors. Who shall draw the line, and decide exactly where the change sholl invalidate the right of property?
1. First Annual Report of the Board of Education, together with the First Annual Report of the Secretary of the Board. Boston, Mass. 1838.
By the kindness of the Hon. Horace Mann, Secretary of the Mass. Board of Education, we have recieved the above valuable state document. This Board of Education was created by an Act of the Massachusetts Legislature, approved April 20th, 1837. It consists of some of the most eminent men in the state, Gov. Everett being the chairman. Hon. Horace Mann, for many years President of the Senate, was chosen Secretary, with a salary of one thousand dollars, it being understood that he was to devote himself exclusively to the duties of the office. The duties of the Board are to lay before the Legislature annually, an abstract of the school returns, and to make a report of their doings. The duties of the Secretary are to collect information with respect to the condition of common schools, and to diffuse information as to the best means of conducting them through the State. During the last year, conventions have been held in every county through the Commonwealth, of the friends of Education, delegated from the several towns. These conventions have been addressed by the Secretary with the happiest effects. interest has already been excited in the cause of Common School Education. The Board offer a few remarks on the construction of school houses; the duties of school committee men, (whom they propose should be remunerated ;) the education of teachers, (for which they hope that an institution will be founded ;) district school libraries; and school books.
Mr. Mann's Report is very able and interesting. We can but glance at its contents. He gives as the sources of his information, the representations made at the couuty conventions,
letters from the school committees, and his own observations in his travels through the state. He remarks
“ It would be depriving many persons of a most honorable tribute to which they are completely entitled ; and it would withhold from the friends of the sacred cause of education one of the highest satisfactions, did I omit to declare, that, neither at the conventions, which have been held in the several counties, nor in my intercourse or correspondence with any one, has there been infused into this cause the slightest ingredient of partizan politics. gard to this great subject, all have reverted to their natural relations as fellow-mon; discarding strifes about objects which are temporary, for interests which are enduring. In a spirit of harmony and unity, having brought the facts of individual experience and observation into common stock, they have regarded them as a fund, from which the wisest results were to be wrought out by the aid of common counsels.
“ The object of the Common School system of Massachusetts, was to give to every child in the Commonwealth, a free, straight, solid path-way, by which he could walk directly up from the ignorance of an infant to a knowledge of the primary duties of a man; and could acquire a power and an invincible will to discharge them. Have our children such a way ? Are they walking in it? Why do so many, who enter it, falter therein? What can be done to reclaim them? What can be done to rescue faculties, powers, divine endowments, graciously designed for individual and social good, from being perverted to individual and sociał calamity? These are the questions of deep and intense interest, which I have proposed to myself, and upon which I have sought for information and counsel.
In alluding to school houses, he makes the following observation which is worth attending to.
"" In populous places, there is a temptation to build too few, and to compact too many scholars into one house ; while towns sparsely populated are beset with the opposite temptation, of making too minute a subdivision of their territory into districts; and thus, in attempting to accommodate all with a school house near by, the accommodation itself is substantially destroyed. In many cases, this pursuit of the incident works a forfeiture of the principal. A school house is erected near by, but it is at the expense of having a school in it, so short, as to be of but little value.” He thus speaks of the duties of school-committe men.
Although it is not always in the power of school committees to introduce into the schools devoted and accomplished teachers; yet it is in their power, and it is a most responsible and solemn part of their duty, not to inflict upon the children of a whole district the