Page images
PDF
EPUB

strengthen their position in these and shut the doors of heaven. The democratic days. They must take homage to the priest is but a transto themselves more distinctly the formed idolatry of the man's own sanction of a right divine. They lusts—his attachment to the church, must maintain a sense of this sanc- a love of a church that gives a tion by a distant and imposing air, religious license to sin.

Let the perhaps by a clerical habitat all priest preach a clean heart and jusevents, by attaching to their decis- tification by faith alone, and his ions a more solemn importance, as reverence and occupation would pronounced by the organs through both be gone. Or if the conscience whom God declares his will to man. owned the truth of the gospel, it Their presence in a meeting of lay. would disown the lie of the priest

. men, is to be a matter of high con. The readiness with which the Epissideration ; and they are never to copalian gains the ear of some peoforget-certainly they are never to ple, and makes such excellent suffer their people to forget-their churchmen of the gay and thoughtdignity as a distinct and holy order less, is easily and truly explained, in the house of God. By thus as. when the argument is known to be, serting to themselves their appro. not a musty and learned discourse priate place, they will not only se- of the Fathers, but the pithy maxim, cure their lawful influence, but will that " Episcopacy is the only reli

, throw around their office and them- gion fit for a gentleman.” This selves, a mysterious charm, and traces its origin to Charles II. It awful fascination. To feel thus is not remembered that he uttered towards a religious teacher, it is any other religious saying, except argued, is necessary and agreeable this, that “God would not damn a

a to man.

man for a little pleasure.” But for This we think to be a mistake. a Congregational minister to set up • Clerical pretension does not of itself high church pretensions, is certain

strike men agreeably. It may be to raise the cry of priestcraft. It admitted by the ignorant. It may will not go down, unless he takes be enforced by the compulsion of off the edge of his pretensions by law. But it asserts its surest and a little extra gentility, or an easy most potent charm, when it bribes way in the application of his ser- . the conscience by a false peace, or mon. indulges sinful desire with an easy

That tendencies exist towards atonement. The New England peo- disorder and disorganization, we do ple are not so ignorant, as to be not deny. We admit that in some imposed on by clerical grimace. portions of New England, the pasThey do not endure a priesthood toral office does not receive its just by law. We desire not, and cer. consideration. We also admit, that tainly should not dare to bribe them often there is an unreasonable de. by softening the truth of God, or mand for ministerial labor, and an indulging their desires after a lax excessive fondness for excitement. religion. In the Romish church, The minister is sometimes blamed the priest is a very great man, and for want of success, where the fault the people love to have him so, is not with himself. We know and for a very good reason.

So also, that moral and political agitalong as he will give absolution for tions, have here and there engena few pence, and for the same sum, dered a fanaticism which is somewhisper in the ear of the dying, De- what hard to be reasoned with. All part, Christian soul-so long it is this we admit. But the question is

-not only very easy, but very de not, what are the facts, but what is lightful, to believe that he can open to be done with them? We an

а

swer, the people can be made to faith in the people, and instead of see that these are evils, and great complaining, that the people can evils. They can by logic, patience, not govern themselves, should more and love, be made to see, that the confidently rejoice in the many ad. pastor must receive a certain defer. vantages which the popular system ence and respect, in order to the ensures. Let none of them sigh highest success, and perhaps as a after the efficiency of a session or condition of any success in his min. a presbytery, that they may execute istry—that excitement is not reli- sooner, their own wise measures. gion, while yet religion can not but Nor let them indulge a pusillani. enkindle zeal-that narrow and di- mous longing for the grateful quiet visive tests in the church, are at which is said to be diffused from war with the fundamental principle the Episcopal throne ; but let them of a Christian society, which must set themselves with the utmost dili. tolerate and forbear with minor dif- gence, to make the fullest proof of ferences of feeling and of judgment. the superior excellence of our own This must be done in love, not in primitive and apostolic way. wrath, in patient meekness, not with This leads us to remark, that, irritated contempt, by one in earn- although our system is the most est sympathy with the popular mind, popular in its principles, it has not by a man who loftily despises often failed in a measure, of develthe people and their works. The oping all its capabilities in this re. work may be difficult, but it can spect, and has not entrenched itself be done. If it can not be done for as it might, within the popular sym. the sake of one's office, it may be pathies. The temptations to be done for Christ and his church. A careless in respect to this result, man must go to it, with the same are not inconsiderable. Ours are sturdy and determined enthusi. the original churches of New Eng. asm, with which Richard Baxter land, and seem to hold the soil by went into Cromwell's army and ar. right of prior occupation. We hold gued with the fanatic soldiers, and the sympathies of the most intelli. plainly, but patiently, talked them gent and wealthy of the people. down. In such a course, a minister Our system was transmitted to us may expect to do much good, and by men of whom the world was not as a consequence, strengthen him. worthy. It is not surprising that self and his order. If he pursue we put excessive confidence in these the opposite course, he may indeed advantages. We may trust too enwrap himself with the dignity of much to the impulse which has an imposing state, and make his been given us in the past, and think people stare at his mysterious pre. it will of itself carry us forward, tensions, and he may enjoy the in spite of the open assaults of ideal comfort of contending for a avowed enemies, and of the insinua. principle; but he will cut himself ting arts of proselyting dissenters. off from the substantial comfort of Our ministers, too, are scholars enjoying their warmest yet respect and studentş. They are metaphy. ful sympathy, and of turning that sicians of course. Such men are sympathy to the highest and holiest sometimes satisfied, if they see the uses. Perhaps he may gather about truth themselves, without sufficiently his ears, a very hail-storm of do. inquiring whether they lead others mestic wrath, and have nothing left to see it. They are as familiar with but the privilege of sighing for the the abstractions of systematic theol. good old times.

ogy as with household words, and We desire therefore that the min. may suppose that to others such ab. istry of New England, should have stractions are as full of interest and of meaning as to them. They de- fect. They are in the midst of light in the smooth and easy calm. difficulties and excitements and proness of philosophical disquisition, selyring efforts ; but their churches and forget that their hearers require prosper, and acquire a more prepon. the energy of popular argumenta derating influence. If there are parts tion. They are pleased and con- of New England where this is not vinced by a clear and lucid essay, true of the Congregational interest, and do not remember that the hearts it is but fair to ask, whether the of their hearers are waiting to bound ministry are enterprising,-laboring at the stirring notes of earnest and with discretion and heart and hope, warm appeal.

and bringing out, truly and fairly, Our system of doctrine has its pe- the power of the gospel and of our culiar truths. Rightly preached, popular system. they are eminently “ the power of If there is any one duty to which God unto salvation.” They may be the New England clergy are sum. so preached, that those who hear, moned by the exigency of the times, both the learned and the unlettered, that duty is, to study to be of the if they understand them as present people. We contend not that they ed, can not but pervert them to their should flatter the easy vanity of the own destruction. They may be pre- multitude, or excite their sectarian sented as if the object were not to or malignant feelings, but we do commend the gospel to the con. contend that they should aim to se. science, but to offend the conscience cure for their preaching, themselves, by dogmas abhorrent to its primal and their own system of church orinstincts.

der, the honest and hearty sympathy There are weak and ignorant and of the public. They should know excitable men in all our churches. no arts but manly arts.

Yet they Parties sometimes arise, and wax may and should make their ministry fierce and violent. It is not uncom. to be a ministration of the gospel to mon for the stronger faction to sac- the wants of living men as they find rifice to its obstinate self-will, the them, and cause it to speak to their interest of the church, by driving off consciences, their social sympathies, an excited minority, whom a little and their republican feelings. The forbearance and concession might gospel should be presented just as it have saved. In such a strife, the lies in the pages of the Bible, not as church and society acquires an in- a system of lifeless abstractions, nor heritance of odium, which a genera- as a bristling phalanx of metaphystion can not outlive. These things ical dogmas, but as real and living have been done at the instance of a truth. The aim of the preacher minister, who knew the right so well, should be, so to present the gospel, that he would drive it into his peo. that it shall be understood, --so to ple.

present it, that it can not but be unThere are portions of New Eng. derstood. He should press it on the land in which the clergy are enter intellect with the force of resistless prising, harmonious, and devoted to demonstration. He should make it their work. As pastors and preach. to flash through the soul, as lighters, they labor with considerate en ning illuminates an evening cloud. ergy and a just appreciation of the His intense and earnest desire should wants of their people. They are be, so to speak as to affect his hear. true Congregationalists, and rejoice ers, and he should not be satisfied in all the popular features of their in any way until this object is se. system. Thus, while they sympa. cured. His pastoral ministrations thize with the people, they can re. should not be doled out with a reprove them with plainness and ef. luctant hand; still less should they

be robbed of their freshness and lic service. Those who make this their zest, by peevish complaints of charge, forget that preaching is the the excessive demands of his flock; great ordinance of Christianity, and but they should come warm from the that it hath pleased God by the fool. heart of a sympathizing monitor and ishness of preaching to save them friend. To be a preacher and a pas. that believe. Yet it may well be intor, should put in requisition all that quired, whether the demand which he is as a scholar and a man. is made on our ministers for able

He should also be much of a man and well-wrought discourses, and the among his fellow-men. He should manifest reasonableness of this de. interest himself in all the questions, mand, has not led them to give less political, moral and social, which are attention than is due to the other parts now uppermost. In all that con- of their office in the sanctuary. We cerns the true interests of society, have been truly taught-and the les. he should be himself a wakeful and son is worth more than the most ve. thinking man, whose opinions smell nerable liturgy can be,- that the not of the damp and stifling air of form and manner of worship are of the cloister, but have been matured little consequence compared with the in the cheerful sunlight of the open spirit of the worshiper. But we may atmosphere.

be in danger of forgetting that the Thus will he realize the true idea full and fit expression of devotional of a religious teacher, and a minis. thoughts and feelings, especially in ter of Christ. Before such a man public worship, is necessary not only there can not stand up the modern to the highest decorum, but also to pretender to an exclusive priesthood the proper excitement and culture of by virtue of the apostolic succession. the spirit of devotion. The expressLet the pretender reason and dog. ion of any feeling reacts upon the matize as he will, he can not per feeling expressed. It deserves to be suade the people that such a pastor considered, whether improvements as we have described is not a lawful are not required in this respect, and minister of Christ, or that he has no whether the attention of the clergy right to preach the gospel. Into the may not be directed to this subject daylight that radiates from such a with manifest advantage. The conpastor, it will be hopeless to bring siderations of propriety, of good out the mysteries of Puseyitish char- taste, and of pious feeling, all de. latanry, or the quackeries of regen- mand it, as well as the interests of eration by the Episcopal water, and our churches as a body. of sanctification by the Episcopal eu- We do not admire a liturgy. charist. Nor will the insinuating Least of all do we like the liturgy arts of the busiest sectarian, nor the of the Episcopal church, for the disorganizing doctrines of the roving practical uses of a Christian asseminfidel in disguise, succeed beneath bly. To us it is picturesque rather the eye of his wise vigilance. than devotional, -suited rather to

We venture to suggest, whether impress the imagination than to exthere is not required in our congre- press the worship of the spirit. This gations a more considerate attention effect would be heightened, to our to the order and details of public minds, if it were still in the original worship. Is not our public worship Latin, and yet more if it were capable of being raised to a higher performed in some structure of the degree of interest and solemnity ? middle ages, and with the music of It has been charged against us, that, the Sistine chapel. We do not ask in our assemblies, the sermon is for such a liturgy, or for any other. made of too much account, in pro. But we would propose to the minisportion to the other parts of the pub- try, as an object of study and of

Vol. I.

73

effort, the improvement of the man: ing to the original structure of the ner and forms of public worship. parallelisms, than they can be in While spiritual worship should be any metrical version. Let Christian the great thing thought of, it should hymns be added, and metrical vertake its most graceful and appropri. sions of the Psalms, to any required ate external forms, and wear them extent; but let us also retain these with ease and dignity. To this end, ancient songs in the style and form we do not require any change in in which they were first uttered from our system, but only more richness, hearts inspired of God. But the ancomprehensiveness and variety in tiphonal way of chanting or reciting public prayers, and the training of from the choir and the pulpit, we our congregations to the observance would let alone. It is not appropriof any proprieties which they may ate with us. It has no meaning. It have slighted. Much depends upon is a theatrical exhibition for mere the manner of the pastor in conduct impression, and not a natural ex. ing the services of the house of God. pression of the devotions of the conReligious affectation we abhor. But gregation. It was against all that there is demeanor in the pulpit sort of church music, that the rewhich not only accords with, but is formers protested and contended. demanded by the sacredness of the Every such incongruous practice place. To be so much at ease in it may attract by its novelty for a as to be above its solemnities, or to time, but, as it is not in keeping affect an air of nonchalance, de with the general style of our ser. serves banishment from its enclo- vice, had better be let alone. sure by an outraged community. It deserves also to be asked,

To add to the interest of our devo- whether, a stronger social feeling tional services, some have proposed may not be cultivated in our socie. the reading of the Scriptures in al- ties, and an intenser warmth of ternate verses by the pastor and the kindly feeling called into life. Our congregation. We dislike the pro- New England manners

are proposal. We greatly prefer the spir- verbially cold. Many of our reliited reading of appropriate selec- gious societies, from being the old. tions by the pastor. It seems far est and in most cases the strongest, better suited to the object for which are far from being enterprising, es. the Scriptures are publicly read, and pecially when compared with those is better adapted to secure the atten- of the more recent sects. From their tion of the people.

age also, they sometimes have an It has also been proposed, and the accumulated inheritance of old preattempt has been made, to introduce judices, that result from divisions of into our churches a kind of chant- wealth and family, as well as from ing, not borrowed, we believe, from ecclesiastical and political strife. Popish or Episcopal churches, but There is also sometimes a bigoted simpler and more suited to the na. prejudice against every thing which ture and character of evangelical is not in the good old way. From worship. To this we make no ob- these circumstances, advantage is jection. Indeed this is the way in taken against us, to detach individwhich the Psalms, as given by Di. uals and families, whom a little vine inspiration, were originally sung attention might have retained. But in the temple. The Psalms in the this need not be so. We can do Hebrew, as David and Asaph com. to retain such persons, what others posed them, are not metrical ; and do to detach them from us, as far it has seemed to us that those Divine as it is right or desirable that we songs are more appropriate to be should ; and thus we may not only sung in an exact translation accord, increase the strength of our com

« PreviousContinue »