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ed they have knowledge enough of hu: “ It was once,” says Mather, " an unman nature to retain their popularity, righteous and injurious aspersion, cast they may carry their people with upon the churches of New England, them wherever they choose to lead, that the world knew not their princi. We appeal on this subject to the test ples ; whereas, they took all the occaof experience; and to the experience sions imaginable, to make all the world too of the people of New England. It know, that in the doctrinal part of reis a well-known fact, that the fathers ligion, they have agreed entirely with of New England were, to a man, doc- the reformed churches of Europe ; trinal Calvinists; and that one of the and that they desired, most particularcharges preferred by them against the ly, to maintain the faith professed by great body of the church of England, the churches of old England, the coun. from which they separated, was, that try whereto was owing their original." they bad utterly subverted “the faith B. v. p. 1. s. 1. in the important points of predesti Such was the state of the churches nation, free-will, justification, perse- of New England in the year 1680 ; verance, and some other things which but if we look forward fifty or sixty that church requires all her children years, we shall find that the ministers, to give their assent and consent un- and consequently their congregations, to.” Mather's Magn. b. i. c. v. sec. 3. had generally become what is now Mather refers his reader for a descrip- popularly known by the name of modtion of the religion of the first settlers, erate Calvinists. We say popularly,for, to the account by governour Winslow, in strictness of speech, there can be no who, he says, “ gives us to understand such thing as moderate Calvinism. The that they are entirely of the same faith five points are so intimately connected, with the reformed churches in Europe, that one cannot be relinquished withonly in their church government, they out dissolving the system. What was are endeavourous after a reformation termed moderate Calvinism, consisted, more thorough, than what is in many of in fact, of a cautious abstinence from them.” Magn. b. i. c. iii. s. 7. They perplexing and bewildering speculations had no idea of any further reformation on the subject of divine decrees and buin doctrine, but only in discipline.* man free agency. In a word, the divines
of New England had assimilated very • An attempt has been made, by the uni- much in doctrine to the clergy of the tarians, to press the Leydeo pastor, John Robinson, into their service, by quoting his church of England. They were what famous address to the Plymouth colony, as
the venerable Dr. Lathrop, of West an evidence that in his opinion there would Springfield, was, within the recollection be further light thrown on the subject of doc- of many of our readers. The sermons trine. But whoever considers the language of that pious and excellent man, are, of Mr. Winslow, above quoted, and other passages in Mather's Magnalia, (see especial. man of God, who yet saw not all things." ly b. ii. c. i. s. 3, 7.) will perceive, we think, The term Calvinist was applied in various that he had reference only to a further reforó senses, accordiug to the subject of controvermation in church government and discipline. sy. The Lutherans called them Calvinists " For my part,” said Robinson, “I cannot who opposed Luther's doctrine of consubsufficiently hewail the condition of the reform- stantiation. Those who maintained the ed churches, who are come to a period in re- presbyterian form of church government deligion ; and will go at present no further than vised by Calvio, were called, on that accounta the instruments of their first reformation. discipline Calvinists. Robinson thought the The Lutherans cannot be drawn to go be. Calvinistick form of church government ad yond what Luther saw ; whatever part of improvement upon Episcopacy, but still he his will our good God has imparted and re did pot think it sufficiently scriptural. As vealed unto Calvin, they will rather die than to the doctrine of the Calvinists, he agreed embrace it. And the Calvinists, you see, with them, and had no idea that on this point stick fast where they were left by that great any reformation was needed.
we conceive, a fair specimen of what in 1815, taken from Mr. Belsham's life the old and respectable ministers of of Theophilus Lindsay, and entitled, New England generally taught, before American unitarianism, developed the the coming of Mr. Whitfield ; and they fact, that a great proportion of the are very much like the sermons which congregational ministers in Boston, are preached at this day in the Epis. and in many of the adjacent towns, copal churches of England, Scotland, had become unitarians.* Till tbis and America. But the arrival of Mr. time, the great mass of their Whitfield produced a very great change gregations did not dream that they in the state of things. Numbers of the had forsaken the tenets of their foreNew England ministers were captivat. fathers. In the language of one of the ed by his preaching, and espoused his wits of Boston, “ the weathercocks had doctrine, concerning the mode of the turned several points, while the swalHoly Spirit's operation upon the mind lows sat contentedly on their respective of man.
Hence they were called the vanes, without being sensible of the new lights, and the ministers who op- motion.” And what was the fact when posed the innovations and extravagances the discovery was made ? Did their of Mr. Whitfield, were called the congregations desert them, as the pubold lights. Now in what manner were lishers of that pamphlet expected ? On the people affected by these divisions the contrary, they warmly espoused among ihe ministers ? Did not the their cause ; what was before conductcongregations of the new light minis- ed in secret, and by negative means, is ters become new lights ? And did not now done openly and with the most the congregations of the old light minis- energetick activity. There are a few ters remain old lights ? Whatever the perhaps, who are discontented with the ministers were, such were the people. change, but these are retiring, one by And, we ask again, is not such the case one, to other places of Worship, while at the present day ? We have not suf- the great body are ranging themselves ficient information, respecting the ac- under their respective leaders, despistual state of the orthodox ministers, to ing and ridiculing the faith which their know how many of them retain the old forefathers venerated. These facts, light character ; but we ask, whether we think, exbibit striking proof how those religious revivals which are com- little the laity are disposed to avail mon in all the congregations of the new themselves of what the Worcester comlight ministers, are not in an equal de- mittee call “ the independent exercise gree uncommon where the minister does of their Christian liberty." Whether not happen to be of the Whitfieldian it arise from indifference about religious class? If so, it exhibits evident proof truth, or from confidence in their pas. of the personal influence of the minis. tor's wisdom and integrity, we pretend ter in directing the faith of the congre. not to say ; but so it is, that the great gation. At the first introduction of body of those congregations which the new light system, some of the old have no publick written formularies, light ministers were led by their opposition to it, into an extreme beyond
* When we use the term " unitarians," in the point of moderate Calvinism, and this article, we do it merely from courtesy to
Dr. B. and his friends. Properly speaking, under the name of Arminians, began to no Christians are so strictly unitarian, as those Jean at least towards the Arian and Pe- who maintain the trinity in unity. Dr. B. lagian heresies. But there being no
should call himself a “duarian,” for though liturgy, and no test by which their re
he denies to our Saviour what he is pleased ligious sentiments could be tried, the to call the supreme Divinity,” he neverthe
less admits that he is called God in some inchange went on imperceptibly, till at feriour sense. What is this, after all, but length the publication of a pamphlet making two Gods ?
are disposed to consider their minister right of communion, on the ground as their standard of doctrine. The that they do not come up to his stanquestion, then, is, not whether tbe laity dard. are to have formularies, but whether The Nicene creed is nearly the they are to have written formularies. same with the apostles' creed, exceptFormularies of some kind they must ing that it is more enlarged with rehave. Wherever two or more persons spect to the divinity of the Son and agree in any particular exposition of Holy Ghost. If Dr. B. affirms that scripture, the tenets, which they hold this is the establishment of a doctrine in common, may justly be called their not found in the scriptures, we only creed. And this creed generally de- say that he assumes, as usual, the very pends upon the representations made point to be proved. On the credit of to them by their ininister. If then, his own belief, he has led his confrom the very nature of the case, the gregation to receive it as a fact, that minister of each congregation will have the doctrine in this creed was first some system of religious doctrine, in publickly asserted," in the council which he will instruct his people, a of Nice ; (p. 179.) and he has the written formulary can restrain no lib- assurance to call the commencement erty excepting that of the pastor. And of the fourth century, “an ignorant we think we shall be able to show that age of the church." It is really some such a restraint will increase the liberties exercise of patience, to read such asand preserve the privileges of the laity. sertions. After the immense learning
In our number for January, we with which bishop Bull has defended presented to our readers a collation the Nicene faith from the charge of of the apostles' creed, with the corres- novelty, comes Dr. Bancroft with his pondent passages in the scriptures, by whisk and sweeps down the whole which every
article of it may be fabrick, to the entire satisfaction of proved. This creed is not an exposi- his Worcester committee, with the tion of scripture, but merely a sum- simple expression of his belief. As mary of the principal points of Chris- an evidence how totally unfounded tian faith in the very words, of scrip- are such assertions, we shall lay beture. This is the profession of faith, fore our readers the following extract made at baptism, and consequently the from the works of Irenæus, who was terms of lay-communion. It has been born about the year ninety-seven received as such, from so early a pe- of the Christian æra, and who is the riod, and has been so generally and earliest of the writers now extant, so universally maintained, that we whose subject led him to speak of a know not a single Christian nation, or summary of the Christian faith. “The a single denomination, of all who pro- church,” says that apostolick bishop, fess and call themselves Christians, “although dispersed over all the world, the unitarians excepted, which has not from one end of the earth to the received and assented to it. This other, received from the apostles and creed, then, being established as the their disciples, the belief in one God, standard of communion, in the church, the Father, Almighty, Maker of hea. the laity know from it their privileges. ven and earth and sea, and all things They cannot be excluded from com- in thenı : And in one Christ Jesus the munion because on speculative points Son of God, who was incarnate for our they are followers of Calvin, or of salvation : And in the Holy Ghost, who Luther, of Arminius, of Hopkins, or of preached, by the prophets, the disWesley. Let the minister be of what pensations [of Godand the advent, sentiments he may on these subjects, and nativity of (or from) a virgin, and he cannot deprive the laity of their passion, and resurrection from the
dead, and the incarnate ascension of in the central point of the earth,) beld his beloved Son, Christ Jesus our Lord, or taught any other faith. But as one into heaven, and his coming again from and the same sun enlightened all the heaven in the glory of the Father, to world ; so the preaching of this truth sum up (áraxe aratárcofas all things, shone all over and enlightened all men and raise the flesh of all mankind, that that were willing to come to the knowl. according to the will of the invisible edge of the truth.” Christian reader, Father, every knee should bow, of which are we to believe ? Irenæus or things in heaven, and things in the Dr. Bancroft ? Irenæus, who, though a earth, and things under the earth, to French bishop, was a native of Smyr. Jesus Christ our Lord, and God, and na, and the disciple of Polycarp, the Saviour, and King, and that every bishop of his native church, who was tongue should confess to birn, and that also the disciple of St. John ; or Dr. he should exercise just judgment upon Bancroft, who has told us himself that all, and send spiritual wickednesses, all his knowledge is derived from and the transgressing and apostate " Mosheim, Priestley, Campbell, and angels, with all ungodly, unrighteous, the appropriate articles in Rees's Cy. lawless, and blaspheming men, into clopedia !" everlasting fire; but granting life to So far, then, were our reformers from all righteous and holy men, that keep “ establishing" the creeds “ as the test his commandments and persevere in of orthodoxy on their own authority," his love, some from the beginning, that they established them (if indeed others, after repentance, should confer the term establish is to be applied to on them immortality, and invest them what is only retained) because they with eternal glory.
may be proved by most certain war“The church, having, as we have rants of holy scripture." And so far before said, received this preaching, and were they from presuming to give any this faith, though she be dispersed over interpretation of the scriptures of their the whole world, diligently guards the own devising, that they give that only same as inhabiting one house. And, which the Christian church from the in like manner, she believes them as beginning, and wherever dispersed having one heart and one soul, and throughout the world, bas constantly harmoniously preaches, and teaches, received. In opposition to the docand transmits them down as having one trine of an unwritten word of God, the mouth.” Irenæus, adv. Hæres. lib. i. belief of which was necessary to sal.
vation, they maintained the sufficiency Let our readers compare the Nicene of the scriptures ; but they never creed with this extract from Irenæus, meant to say, either that the scriptures and then let them judge whether Dr. required no terpretation, that in Bancroft was not guilty of some teme. that interpretation every individual was rity, when he asserted that the Nicene to follow his own private fancy. This faith bad never been “ publickly de- appears. to be Dr. Bancroft's sense of clared” before the year 325, in which the right of private judgment, concern. that council held its session. Irenæus ing which, we shall now proceed to asserts, that " neither the churches inake a few observations. founded in Germany, nor those in The church of Rome maintains that Iberia, (Spain.) nor those among the the scriptures, being obscure, need Celts, (France,) nor the Eastern church- an interpreter ; that God being their cs, nor those in Egypt, or Libya, nor author, there are often two senses, a those founded in the midst of the world, literal or historick, and a spiritual or (by which he meant Jerusalem,and the mystick sense. The spiritual sense, a·ljacent churches, then supposed to be though to be found in both testaments
cap. X. 1, 2.
is not to be found in every sentence of ourselves to the expressions of Dr. B. them. Concerning the literal sense, “ Language,” says he,“ is necessarily doubts arise from two causes ; first the ambiguous. Particular words, and ofambiguity of the words themselves, ten whole sentences, will bear different and secondly, where the meaning of meanings.
Serm. iv. p.
“ The the words is clear, the uncertainty natural understandings of men differ, whether the sentence is to be taken in their education is dissimilar, and their a simple or figurative sense. But the course of life is various. These circumtrue sense of the scriptures must be un- stances lead to different views of reliderstood by the author of the scrip- gion and of all other subjects. A truth tures, the Holy Spirit. This Spirit, say that is plain and evident to the man of they, is to be found in the church, that ten talents, may be unintelligible to him is, in a council of bishops confirmed who possesses but one. Serm. i. p. 23. by the pope, or in the pope himself, as “ Reason and revelation, I think, the visible head of the church. On this warrant the position, that every man latter point, they are at variance ; some who seriously endeavours to acquire maintaining that the pope alone is ena. the knowledge of divine truth, and bled, by the Holy Spirit, to be an in- habitually practises according to the fallible judge ; others, that this infalli- dictates of an enlightened conscience, bility resides in a general council act will be accepted at the final judgment; ing by his summons and under his au. but the individual who complies with thority. Bellarm. de verbo, Dei. lib. this condition of acceptance, can be iii. cap. iii. To this sentence, when positively ascertained only by him who once passed, every private Christian knows the heart. p. 22. must submit under pain of eternal dam “ Though we do not pretend to compation in the world to come, and of prebend God in his attributes, in his punishment in this world, as a rebel works or ways, yet we say that our against this authority, if he makes any duty extends no further than our ca. overt declaration of his dissent, or at- pacity for knowledge extends ; and tempts to promulgate his sentiments to that we cannot consistently admit any the disturbance of the peace of the position as a doctrine of divine reve. church.
lation which consists of a set of terms On the other hand, Dr. R. and bis conveying no distinct ideas to the associates maintain that the language mind.” p. 27. of the scriptures being ambiguous from It will be seen, then, that the Roman the causes assigned by the Romanists, church, and these " rational or liberal the reason of every individual is to de. Christians,” agrec as to the total ambicide in what sense it is to be interpret. guity of words and sentences in the boed ; and as God has given to every ly scriptures, and differ only as to the man a certain degree of the reasoning judge in the case. The Holy Spirit, power, he will never condemn any one say the Romanists; human reason, say for interpreting the scriptures in that the unitarians. The pope or a general sense which appears to him most ra. council, say the Romanists; the reason tional, even supposing it to be, in fact, of every individual,say the unitarians : erroneous. We think we have fairly be who trusts to the decision of the stated the views of this subject, taken pope, and implicitly follows it, say the generally, by those who call themselves Romanists, will never be condemned « rational Christians." We could show for so doing, because he trusts in him this, perhaps, more explicitly, from the whom God hath set in his church as language of other writers, but as we the infallible judge of all controversies: presume it will not be contested that he who trusts to bis own reason, say such is their principle, we shall confine tbe unitarians, will not be condemned