« PreviousContinue »
idea is natural enough in the cir. has given the bishop authority to cumstances in which the liturgy was assume the prerogative of God, and formed; but surely unscriptural, pronounce with certainty concern. and perfectly ill-suited to a state of ing it ? things so entirely different as that The burial of the dead. This which exists in this more favored is a beautiful ceremony, manifest country.
ing great judgment and taste in To say nothing of the want of those who instituted it, and alto. foundation in the Scriptures for the gether unexceptionable, provided ceremony of confirmation; what mankind were much better than does it do for the child but confirm they are. Could we have confi. him in error which may be funda. dence that every baptized person mental in his estimate of himself, who had not been excommunicated and therefore, an obstacle to his from the church, and had not laid salvation ? We know that there is violent hands on himself—for to some modification in the practice every such person this form is apof evangelical clergymen of the propriated by the rubric-is a saint, Episcopal church in regard to the the service would be inimitably fine. proper subjects of confirmation. But when we take it as a service And as the bishop confirms none to be performed indiscriminately, but those who are presented by the over all the dead included within parish minister, a check is in the the prescribed limitations, we are hands of the latter which may be compelled to withhold our admiraused to prevent unworthy subjects tion. It is cheerfully confessed, from being officially and solemnly that the American edition of the pronounced regenerate by water and Prayer-book is less objectionable the Holy Ghost. But how difficult in this respect than the English. is it to use this check when the In the latter, we read, “ Forasmuch Prayer-book so manifestly author. as it hath pleased Almighty God, of izes every one to be brought to the his great mercy, to take unto him. bishop to be confirmed, “ so soon self the soul of our deceased brother as he can say the creed, the Lord's here departed, we therefore com. prayer, and the ten commandments, mit his body to the ground; earth and is sufficiently instructed in the to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to other parts of the church catechism, dust; in sure and certain hope set forth for that purpose.' Can of the resurrection to eternal life the child intelligently make the through our Lord Jesus Christ,” &c. promises demanded of him in this In the American Prayer-book less service, and can the bishop believe exceptionable language is used that they are of any avail when language of a more general char. there is no more evidence of a acter, not pronouncing with cer. moral change than the mere in- tainty concerning the state of the crease of years and of intellectual dead. There is, however, the idea strength? What more than this is running through the whole that it is done by a person who fully and a saint who is buried. There is heartily conforms to the principles the recognition of the voice from of the Redeemer's kingdom ? And heaven, declaring the blessedness does not the putting of such promo of those who die in the Lord, and ises into the mouth of one who has a thanksgiving " for the good exno spiritual feelings, no communion amples of all those thy servants with God, tend to make a mockery who having finished their course in of holy things ? But if there were faith, do now rest from their labors” probable evidence of a change of —which is little to the purpose, heart in the persons confirmed, who unless the person buried is a saint. Vol. I.
All this also, taken in connexion wholly unworthy of the dignity and with the direction at the commence- solemnity with which an attempt ment of the service, forbidding its is made to invest it by invoking the being said over any who has not glorious name of the Father, and received the Prayer-book regene- of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. ration, seems to take it for granted, The man is required to say to the that the person buried is among woman, “ With this ring I thee wed, those who rest from their labors. and with all my worldly goods I Inasmuch, however, as there is no thee endow: in the name of the direct declaration of this kind, and Father, and of the Son, and of the unlike the English Prayer-book, no Holy Ghost. Amen.” We call this confidence is expressed which defi- unmeaning, because the marriage nitely applies to the case of the is a legal ceremony. Marriage is deceased, we are not disposed to an institution of God, but the mancondemn this service. If read well, ner of celebrating it is entirely of there may be a solemn and useful human device. It may be British influence upon those who hear it. law, that a man is married by a It is decidedly the best part of the ring; but surely it is not American Prayer-book, and the only part to law. And the endowment of the which, as a whole, we should not bride with the wordly goods of the take strong exceptions.
bridegroom by means of the ring We had not intended to remark is an absolute falsehood. The inupon the marriage ceremony, lest heritance of property is not regulawe should appear to some stanch ted by the kingdom of Christ, which friends of the liturgy as rather cap- in this country is separate from the tious ; for the faults of this book state, but by the laws of the land. are so numerous that we may ex- If the law says that by virtue of pose ourselves to this charge. But marriage a woman is entitled to all we can not forbear to notice the ill. the “ wordly goods” of her hus. judged particularity and bad taste band, then she has them. But if in which the marriage ceremony the law says that she shall have a is drawn up, especially when we third ; or if the law recognizes a consider that it is not in its original jointure which may have been place among the cumbrous formali- agreed upon between the parties; ties of the British government, but then a man does not endow his under the plain institutions of re- wife with all his worldly goods. publicanism. It is no small lesson Now we consider this unmeaning which the bride and bridegroom ceremony, performed in the name must learn before they are qualified of the holy Trinity, as approachto be married. Since, however, iting to profaneness. It looks too
, is a mere matter of taste and not much like uttering a falsehood in of conscience which we have now the name of God. The authors of in view, we are not disposed to this ceremony have not only overdwell upon it, or to show the cor- stepped the bounds of good taste, rectness of our opinion by an ex- but have rather trespassed upon the amination of particulars. If any dominions of conscience. choose to subject themselves to all It is painful that in so solemn and this bondage of forms, we certainly interesting a transaction as have no objection. But there is one riage-on which every thing in the thing which appears to us to come welfare of the parties depends, so under a different principle. We much account should be made of allude to the ceremony of the ring ceremony and so little of prayer. This, in the circumstances of this The Lord's prayer, which is introcountry, is an unmeaning ceremony, duced on all occasions in the lit
urgy, as though nothing could be and more evangelical mode of apdone without it, and one short, very • proaching our Maker, we could not short and general, prayer, is all submit to be bound to a set form, that we find of invoking the divine and to a tacit endorsement of so blessing in God's own appointed many dangerous errors.
The naway! No opportunity is afforded tional church of England, whose to allude to particular circumstances influence every where appears in of interest, and no solemn appeal the Prayer-book, we do not admire, is made to heaven in behalf of the though we acknowledge it has emnewly married couple, as subject to bosomed, and still embosoms, many the trials, temptations, and vicissi- great and good men. The shadow tudes of life; but a mere formal of the British establishment, expetition of the most general and tending to our own shores, we can unimpressive kind imaginable ! not sit under with delight. We had
Such is the liturgy of the Pro- rather identify ourselves with our testant Episcopal church. It is Puritan ancestors, of whom the radically defective in regard to world was not worthy, being memProtestantism, being committed to bers of those churches which they many of the saints' days, and other founded in the primitive order and feasts and fasts of the Romish her. simplicity of apostolical example, esy; wearing distinctly a Popish unincumbered with the trappings garment throughout; and showing of England and Rome. Such is that its origin was in a dark age, the universal abhorrence of Popery unfit to dictate the devotions of this among these churches, that the susday of light. It is radically defec. pension of pictures of Christ on the tive in its prescriptions for the or- cross, such as are now seen in dinary worship of God on the Sab- many Episcopal churches, would bath. It is likewise defective in its not be tolerated. The Oxford move. provision for the communion and ment has no affinity with them. for baptism. It endorses errors
No semi-papistical influence has which have long ago been explo- been exerted upon them in the use ded. It obscures truths which it is of a defective liturgy, by which the the happiness and the duty of every way is prepared for such a system. one to see with the clearest eye. No disposition to exhume old errors And it occupies such a space on and bring them into the reformed the Sabbath, as to throw into the church of God, has been cherished background the great ordinance of among them. The Bible is in their preaching the gospel, which, ac- hands. And this is the record of companied by the Holy Spirit, is their faith. They care not what the power of God unto salvation. the liturgy, or the creed, or any With these great defects before us, other paper teaches: the Bible, the we can not agree with its admirers, Bible only, is their standard of faith in calling it, “ The excellent litur. and practice. The churches of our gy." Whatever may be the feel. Pilgrim fathers--the blessing of the ings of others, we could not con- Lord be on them ! For our brethform to this liturgy without an en- ren and companions' sake we will tire sacrifice of conscience. Ac
now say, peace be within them! customed as we are to a simpler
THE DANGERS OF OUR COUNTRY.*
DR. FRANKLIN once expressed the say, whether in comparison with the wish, that his earthly life might be past and in view of the probable fudivided into two periods, one of which ture, he would find more to please should occur something like two hun- than to pain him—more to inspire dred years after the other. This sin. his hopes than to alarm his fears. gular wish was prompted, if we re. And if such an one, speaking the member right, by his strong desire language of truth, should proclaim to witness the future condition of his to the people their political sins and country. He, in common with those dangers, is there not reason to be great men who, with him, establish- lieve that there are many who would ed, first its independence, and then turn from him with disgust, to listen its form of government, had his fears to the flatteries of demagogues, as
, as well as his hopes touching the is- the Israelites turned away from the sue of their doings. In order to holy seer to listen to false prophets ? rouse their countrymen to resist the They have so long been accustomed tyranny of England, they had exci. to hear the American people spoken ted feelings and appealed to princi- of as the happiest people on the ples which in some minds produced globe, the American government as hostility to all government. In fos- the best government, American intering a hatred in the nation against stitutions as suitable for every other foreign rulers, they had unintention nation, that they look with suspicion
. ally created to some extent a jealousy upon every foreigner as an enemy, amounting to dislike of all rulers. and upon every nation as a doubtful They had raised a spirit which they friend, who dares tell them the whole could not lay-a demon which they truth on these subjects. could not exorcise, as they found to But we rejoice to know that there their sorrow, when they came to es. are others, increasing in number it tablish a government of their own. is believed, who, neither deceived “ We are," said he, in 1778, when themselves nor wishing to deceive the present constitution was before others by the voice of adulation, can, the people for adoption,“ a nation of without feeling their national pride politicians. And though there is a wounded, bear to hear and to state general dread of giving too much things on this subject as they are. POWER to our governors, I think we One of this number was the author are more in danger from the little of the letter before us. Dr. Webster, obedience in the governed.”
always distinguished as he was for Could Franklin, resuscitated from his love of truth, had abundant opthe sleep of death, come forth now portunities for informing himself on among us, or could some one in the the subjects discussed in this letter. spirit and power of Franklin, take He was not only a diligent student the post of observation, with his in- of history, but a close observer of quiring eye, with his philosophic persons and events in his own times. mind, with his candid temper, with He was personally acquainted with his patriotic heart, it is difficult to this country while in the colonial
state, shared in the hopes and fears * A Letter to the Honorable Daniel which alternately animated and chillWebster, contained in a Collection of Pa- ed the patriot's heart during the pepers on Political, Literary and Moral Subjects, by Noah Webster, LL. D. Pub
riod of the Revolution, to accomplish lished by Webster & Clark, 130 Fulton
which, in the ardor of his youthful st., New York.
feelings, he volunteered his services,
helped by his pen to establish the 6. To the Honorable Daniel Web. constitution under which we live, as ster : Sir-In your public addresshe was one of the first, if not the es or speeches, and in those of other very first to make a proposition for gentlemen of high political distincits formation, which he did in 1785, tion, I have often seen an opinion in his “Sketches of American Pol- expressed like this—That intelliicy;" knew what were the purposes gence and virtue are the basis of a and sentiments of those distinguish- republican government, or that ined men who shaped its details ; lived telligence and virtue in the people through two generations of men far are necessary to the preservation and into the third, sixty-seven years from support of a republican government. the declaration of independence, and These words, intelligence and virtue, fifty-five from the adoption of the are very comprehensive in their uses constitution ; was brought closely in or application, and perhaps too incontact with the mind of the nation, definite to furnish the premises for “ millions of whom he had taught to the inference deduced from them. read, but not one to sin.” Such a Men
be very intelligent in some man has a right to speak. He ought departments of literature, arts and a
, to speak, and men should gather science; but very ignorant of branchround him to listen, as he throws the es of learning in other departments. collected light of the past on the By intelligence, as applicable to poevents of the present. And now, litical affairs, it may be presumed though he sleeps in his grave with that those who use the term, intend the blessings of his countrymen rest- it to imply a correct knowledge of ing upon him, he still, being dead, yet the constitution and laws of the counspeaketh, to instruct us in the lessons try, and of the several rights and duof wisdom hallowed by the sepulcher. ties of the citizens.
The letter above mentioned, pub- “But, sir, the opinion that intelli. lished first in 1837, and recently in gence in the people of a country his COLLECTION OF Papers, is an an- will preserve a republican governalytical examination of certain po- ment, must depend, for its accuracy, litical principles, avowed by many on the fact of an intimate or necesof our countrymen in their writings, sary connection between knowledge their speeches, or their conduct, as and principle. It must suppose that a sound basis of theory or of ac- men who know what is right, will do tion. Though in their opinion these what is right : for if this is not the principles may be as evident as the general fact, then intelligence will mathematical axiom, the whole is not preserve a just administration, greater than a part; or as profitable nor maintain the constitution and as the “ scoundrel maxim, a penny laws. But from what evidence can saved is a penny got,” the author, we infer that men who know what with philological accuracy, either is right will do what is right? In proves them to be false, or shows in what history of mankind, political what sense only they can be true. or ecclesiastical, are the facts recordHaving lived through more than one ed, which authorize the presumption, quarter of the period mentioned much less the belief, that correct acabove, during which his friend Dr. tion will proceed from correct knowFranklin was willing to slumber in ledge? Such an effect would imunconsciousness, waiting the devel- ply the absence of all depravity in opments of time, he was able, from the hearts of men; a supposition seeing the practical operation of which not only revelation, but all these principles, as well as their el- history forbids us to admit. ementary relations, to judge of their “Let me ask, sir, whether the correctness,
Greeks, and particularly the Athe