Slike strani

With such members, Congregationalism j evidence of regeneration. Such persons, would not be a safe system of church gov- on arriving at maturity, "understanding ernment. The applicant must, therefore, the doctrine of faith, and publicly professfurnish evidence of his fitness for member- ing their assent thereto, not scandalous in ship. He must give an account of his re- life, and solemnly owning the covenant ligious experience. This being satisfac- before the church, wherein they give up tory, he must be “propounded;" that is, themselves and their children to the Lord, his application for membership must be and subject themselves to the government announced from the pulpit, and his admis- of Christ in the church,” had a right to sion must be deferred for a given time, that Baptism for their children. This was an all the members might have opportunity to important change. It relieved the appliacquaint themselves with his life and con- cant for church membership from the neversation. These being found such as the cessity of furnishing evidence of his piety, Gospel requires, he was allowed to become and obliged the church, if it would exclude a member, by publicly entering into cove- him, to prove that he was heretical in his nant with the Church and with God. opinions or scandalous in his life. This

It must be particularly observed, that change was strenuously opposed; and as the burden of proof rested on the applicant. the synod had only advisory power, and Every man, the Puritans held, is born in many churches disapproved its decisions, sin ; and if no evidence of a change ap- it never became universal. pears, the presumption is, that he is stili

One step more remained to be taken. In in his sins. They regarded and treated 1704, “the venerable Stoddard,” of Northall in whom no evidence of regeneration ampton, avowed his belief that unregenerappeared as unregenerated; as persons ate persons ought to partake of the Lord's who must yet be converted or finally Supper; and in 1707 he published a serperish.

mon in defence of that doctrine. He mainThroughout Christendom, in that age, tained that the Lord's Supper is a means neither Jews, Turks, pagans, infidels, nor of regeneration, and that unrenewed men, excommunicated persons could enjoy the regarding themselves, and being regarded full privileges of citizenship. These priv- by the church as such, ought to partake of leges belonged only to persons who were it as a means of procuring that desirable in communion with the churches estab- change in their own hearts. One of his lished by law. The same rule was adopted arguments was, that it is impossible to disin New England. None but members of tinguish the regenerate from the unregenthe churches could hold offices or vote at erate, so as to admit the former and exelections. Here, however, it operated as clude the latter. After some controversy, it did nowhere else. As the churches this doctrine gained an extensive prevacontained only those who were, in the lence among the churches which had judgment of charity, regenerate persons, adopted the "half-way covenant” system, a large portion of the people, among whom Among these churches, the principles and were many persons of intelligence, of good rules of admission were now completely moral character, and orthodox in their reversed. The church was now obliged creed, were excluded from valuable civil to convict the applicant of a scandalous privileges.

life, or of heresy, or admit him to full comThe principles on which this system was munion; and one reason for it was, the founded the Puritans brought with them supposed impossibility of judging whether from England ; but the system was first he was regenerate or not. brought to maturity here ; and New-Eng- Stoddard was a decided Calvinist; but land Congregationalists, when on visits to his system fostered the growth of Arminitheir fatherland, did much towards giving anism. It taught the impenitent that they its form and character to the Congrega- had something to do before repentance, as tionalism that afterward prevailed there. a means of obtaining saving grace. The

The system appears to have been adopted unregenerate communicant supposed himin 1648, with a good degree of unanimity; self to be obediently walking in the way but as the number of unconverted adults which God had appointed for such persons increased, both by immigration and by the as himself. He could not, therefore, feel growing up of children without piety, there much to blame for being what he was, or was an increasing dissatisfaction with it. much afraid that God would remove him By the year 1662, such a change of opin- from the world without first preparing him ions had been wrought that what was called for heaven. This, combined with the bethe “half-way covenant” was introduced, lief that the regenerate could not be distinby a recommendation of a general Synod. guished from the unregenerate by their According to this new system, persons Christian experience, was enough to throw baptized in infancy were to be considered the conscience into a profound sleep. members of the church to which their The labours of the great Edwards, and parents belonged; though they were not to the “revival of 1740,” as it is usually be admitted to the Lord's table without called, form the next turning-point in this


history. Edwards was the grandson of allies in several of the pastors in Boston " the venerable Stoddard,” and his succes- and other parts of New-England, and sor at Northampton. In consequence of especially in the Tennents, and their felthe manifest increase of Arminianism, and low-labourers in New Jersey and Pennthe consequent habit of relying on works sylvania. done in impenitence as a means of prepa- These men assumed as an established ring for heaven, Edwards commenced his truth, and proclaimed with all possible discourse of sermons on justification by faith. tinctness and earnestness, the doctrine that These discourses, and others on kindred regeneration is a change accompanied with topics, were the means of a very powersul evidence by which it may be proved, and revival, which became fully developed at that all in whom no such evidence is found Northampton early in 1735, and spread are unregenerate, and in the broad road to into many other towns in Massachusetts perdition. They preached to them, accordand Connecticut. The converts in this ingly, not as Christians who needed inrevival were generally able to give a clear struction, but as impenitent, enemies of account of the exercises of their own God and righteousness, who must be conminds in their awakening, their conviction verted or perish forever. Multitudes were of sin, their submission to God, and ac- awakened, convinced, converted; and in a ceptance of Christ as their all-sufficient few years, tens of thousands were added Saviour. So many undeniable instances, to the churches; and other multitudes who in which the regenerate could be distin- were already in the churches, were in like guished from the unregenerate by the his- manner awakened and brought to repenttory of their religious exercises, gave a ance. serious shock to the doctrine that making Such an attack on men's hopes of heaven such a distinction is impossible. It taught could not fail to provoke resistance. As ministers to hope and labour for conver- has been shown already, the habit had been sions of which evidence could be found. It formed of hoping favourably concerning made those who had no evidence of their all who were not proved guilty of heresy own conversion afraid that they were still or immorality, and of admitting all such to unregenerate. By special request, Ed- the communion of the churches, for this wards prepared a narrative of these “Sur- reason, among others, that perhaps they prising Conversions,” which was printed were regenerate. The promoters of the in London, with an introduction by the revival made unsparing war upon all such Rev. Drs. Watts and Guise. It was soon hopes, and pronounced all who had nothing reprinted in Boston, and was extensively else to rest upon, heirs of perdition. This read, and exerted a powerful influence on their opponents called “censoriousness ;" both sides of the Atlantic.

and those who practised it were denounced From this time there continued to be as uncharitable, as usurpers of God's presimilar revivals, on a smaller scale, in va- rogative of judging the heart, as fanatics rious parts of New-England. In 1739, and who delighted to throw orderly, quiet Christhe beginning of 1740, they were evidently tians into needless alarm. Such was the increasing. The celebrated Whitfield, who usual language of that part of the clergy was ordained in 1736, had already exci- who leaned strongly towards Arminianism, ted much attention in Englan and was of their followers, and of many others. preaching with great success in the South Some zealous promoters of the revival ern American colonies. To help forward were guilty of great errors, and really dethis good work, he was invited to Boston, served these reproaches; and its adversawhere he arrived in October, 1740. The ries were not slow in seizing the advan-exciting point of his doctrine was the ne- tage thus brought within their reach. They cessity of a sensible change of heart in convinced many that the revival was made order to preparation for heaven. Like the up of uncharitableness and fanaticism, and old Puritans, and like Edwards, he held thus succeeded in setting limits to its progthat every man is born in sin, and unless ress. some evidence appears to the contrary, In a few years after the commencement is to be esteemed an heir of perdition. of this revival, Edwards became so fully The believers of this doctrine had always convinced that the prevailing system of adbeen numerous and powerful both among mission to the communion, introduced by the clergy and in the churches of New- his grandfather and predecessor, was wrong, England; and by those who were not its that he could no longer practise it. He believers, it was rather neglected than op- published his " Treatise on the Qualificaposed. It was now brought home to men's tions for Full Communion,” in which he hearts as they had never known it to be maintained that none ought to be admitted before. All have heard of the eloquence without such a declaration concerning the of Whitfield; and that of Edwards, though exercises of their own minds as, if true, in a different style, was at least equally would imply that they were regenerate pereffective, and more sure to leave perma- sons. This change of opinion led to his disnent results. These men had powerful mission in 1750. His doctrine on this point, however, even then, had many advocates. I butes long before Unitarian doctrines were It spread rapidly among the friends of the openly avowed, and probably long before revival, and is now held by all the Congre- they were distinctly embraced in theory, gational churches of New-England that except by a very small number. have not become Unitarian. Where the Unitarianism being introduced in this system of Stoddard and the half-way cov- manner, it is evident that no distinct acenant have not been abolished by a formal count of the successive steps of its progress vote, they have fallen into disuse, for none can be given. The revivalists of 1740 asthink it right to practise according to them. serted that “ Socinianism” was even then The ancient doctrine of the Puritans has in the land. This assertion was then rebeen restored, and evidence of piety is re- pelled as a slander; but Unitarians now quired of those who would become mem- admit and assert that several leading opbers of the Church.

ponents of the revival were Unitarians at The principal faults charged upon the that time, or soon after. The prevalence promoters of the revival by its opponents of Unitarianism, however, was not then were censoriousness and undue excitement. extensive. The greater part of those who They laboured to exclude both from their are now claimed as having then belonged own parishes, and, as far as they could, to the “liberal" party were only Arminifrom the country. To a considerable ex- ans, or, at the farthest, Pelagians; and tent they were successful. They produced some of them were decided Calvinists. a profound calm on the subject of religion From 1744 to 1762 the colonies were among all who were governed by their in- engaged, almost incessantly, in the wars fluencem a calm which amounted to indif- that secured them against the arms of ference. And as to censoriousness, they France. In 1765 troubles with England adhered to the practice of admitting men began, and continued till 1783. Then to the communion of the church without came the formation of our system of govevidence of their piety: Their doctrine ernment, and the anxious period of its was, that every man's piety is to be taken early operations. Thus the attention of for granted, unless some scandalous error men was drawn off from religion, and fixed of doctrine or practice proves him destitute on other subjects for about half a century, of it. The most important characteristic-affording a favourable opportunity for habthe fundamental element-of New-England its of indifference to become confirmed, Unitarianism was now fully developed. A and for error to make progress unobserved. party was formed, the members of which Yet it was not wholly unobserved. In condemned and avoided all solicitude con- 1768, the Rev. Dr. Hopkins preached in cerning their own spiritual condition or Boston on the divinity of Christ, and pubthat of others.

lished the sermon, assigning as a reason When this state of mind had been pro- for the choice of this subject, his belief that duced and confirmed, the remainder of the it was needed there. From time to time process was natural and easy. As in this other testimonies appeared of similar charparty there was to be no strong feeling with acter. respect to religion, except a strong unwill- The first congregation that became ingness to be disturbed by the “ censori- avowedly Unitarian was that at the ousness” of others, there could, of course, “King's Chapel,” in Boston. It was Episbe no vigorous opposition to a change in copalian. Being without a pastor, they doctrines, no vigilance against error. A employed Mr. Freeman, afterward Dr. system of doctrines, too, was wanted, con- Freeman, as reader, in 1782. In 1785 he taining nothing to alarm the fears or dis- succeeded in introducing a revised liturgy, i turb the repose of the members of the par- from which the doctrine of the Trinity ty. The doctrines of man's apostacy from was struck out. He applied to several God, and dependance on mere grace for American bishops for ordination, but none salvation, of the necessity of an atonement would ordain him. He was, therefore, orby the blood of the Son of God, and of re- dained by the church-wardens, in 1787. generation by the special influence of the For many years he maintained a constant Holy Spirit, were felt to be alarming doc- correspondence with the leading Unitari. trines. They were the doctrines by which ans in England, and was a convenient meEdwards and others had filled their hear- dium of communication between them and ers with anxiety, and produced excitement. the secret adherents of the same doctrines They were therefore laid aside ; but silent-in America. ly and without controversy, for controver- The first Unitarian book by an Amerisy might have produced feeling. Men were can author is said to have been“ Ballou on suffered to forget that the Son and the Spir- the Atonement,” published in 1803. Mr. it have anything important to do in the Ballou was pastor of a Universalist sociework of man's salvation; and then it be- ty in Boston. But the term Universalist came easy to overlook their existence. In must not be understood here as it often is this way the Unitarian party was formed, in Europe. It designates the belief that and furnished with all its essential attri- all intelligent beings--men and devils, if

[ocr errors]

there are any devils—will be saved. Some viduals. There was, therefore, an increase Universalists hold that all men at death of preaching and publishing against Unitapass directly into heaven ; others, that a rianism. In the Panoplist, a monthly magpart of mankind will undergo a limited azine commenced in Boston in 1806, this punishment in hell, or, rather, in purgato- subject received special attention ; but all ry, in proportion to the number and atroci- its warnings were denounced as "calumty of their sins. The doctrine has been ny." The facts, however, could not be favoured by a few men of considerable much longer concealed. learning and respectable morals ; but its In 1812, the memoir of Lindsay, by Bel- ! chief success has been among the igno- sham, was published in London. Only a rant, the vulgar, and the vicious, not one few copies of the work were imported, and of whom was ever known to be reformed these were carefully kept from the sight by it. Mr. Ballou was a man of some ge- of all but a select few for nearly three nius, but little learning. His works have years. At length, the Rev. Dr. Morse, afdone something to diffuse Unitarian opin- ter months of fruitless effort, succeeded in ions among Universalists. A Mr. Sher- obtaining possession of a copy. The acman, in Connecticut, published in favour count there given of Unitarianism in Amerof Unitarianism in 1805. He was dismiss-ica was extracted and published in a pamed from his pastoral charge about the same phlet. It contained letters from several time, and in a few years left the ministry leading Unitarians in Boston, especially and lost his character. In 1810, Thomas Dr. Freeman, of various dates, from 1796, and Noah Worcester began to publish their or thereabout, to 1812. In these letters modification of Arianism in New-Hamp- the spread of Unitarianism, and the means shire. The same year the church in Cov- used to promote it, were described without entry, Connecticut, became suspicious that reserve.

Concealment was no longer postheir pastor, the Rev. Abiel Abbot, was a sible. Unitarianism was, therefore, openUnitarian. The subject was brought be- ly avowed by those who had been detectfore the Consociation to which that church ed, and by others whose character and inbelonged, and he was dismissed. He then terests were closely identified with theirs. .called together à council, composed chiefly The ecclesiastical results of this discloof men suspected of Unitarianism, who sure need to be particularly explained. dismissed him a second time, and gave Among Congregationalists, each church, him a certificate of regular standing. The that is, each congregation of covenanted irregularity of this transaction called forth believers, has full power to manage its many expressions of disapprobation. own ecclesiastical concerns, without sub

In and around Boston no Congregational ordination to any earthly tribunal. There church had yet avowed itself Unitarian. was no way, therefore, of compelling Harvard College had an orthodox presi- churches that had become Unitarian to dent and professor of theology till after part with their Unitarian pastors. On the the commencement of the present century. same principle, pastors and churches that After the death of Professor Tappan, in continued orthodox were at liberty to with1804, the Rev. Dr. Ware was elected as hold Christian fellowship from those in his successor. While the question of his whom they had no confidence. There was election was pending, a suspicion of his no means of compelling orthodox minisUnitarianism was suggested, but it was ters and churches to perform any act by repelled by his friends as a calumny. which a Unitarian would be virtually acEven when President Kirkland was elect- knowledged as a Christian minister, or his ed, in 1812, it has been said, on high Uni-church as a Christian church. Orthodox tarian authority, that he could not have ministers, therefore, refused to exchange been elected if he had been known as a pulpit labours on the Sabbath with those defender of Unitarianism.

whom they believed to be Unitarians, or to No pastor of a Congregational church sit with them in ecclesiastical councils, or in or near Boston had yet avowed himself in any other way to recognise them as a Unitarian, either from the pulpit or the ministers of Christ. This practice, howpress. Yet the style of preaching ed ever, was adopted gradually. Many orby many was such as to excite suspicion; thodox men were slow in believing that several periodicals openly advocated Uni- one and another of their neighbours was a tarianism, and Unitarian books were im- Unitarian; and many undecided men conported and published in considerable num- trived to avoid for some time a declarabers. Orthodox ministers, when attending tion in favour of either party, and to keep councils for ordaining pastors, found them- on good terms with both. At length, howselves opposed and thwarted in their at-ever, successive disclosures made the ditempts to ascertain the theological views viding line so visible, throughout its whole of the candidates. Many other circum- length, that every man knew his own side stances indicated the presence and secret of it, and the parties are completely sepdiffusion of error; but the means were arated without any formal excommunicawanting of fastening the charge upon indi- tion of one by the other. They meet only


once in a year in the “General Conven- been thought best to disband them; but in tion of Congregational Ministers," and they a considerable number of instances they continue to meet together there only on have been suffered to become extinct, and account of a fund of about 100,000 dollars there remains only the parish and the pasfor the support of their widows.

tor, who' administers the ordinances indisOn the publication of Mr. Belsham's discriminately to all who desire it. Accordclosures, it was found that all the Congre- ing to some of their own writers, the regational churches in Boston had become sult is that the ordinances become cheap Unitarian, except the Old South and Park- in men's esteem, and few care to receive street, which last had been established them. Church discipline, of course, has within a few years by some zealous Trin- fallen into entire disuse. The discipline itarians. The whole number of Unitarian of the clergy appears to be also extinct. churches in various parts of New England, If any of their clergy become scandalousbut mostly in the eastern part of Massa- ly immoral, they are not formally deposed chusetts, was supposed to be about sev- from the ministry, or visited with any ecenty-five, though subsequent disclosures clesiastical censure, but are allowed to showed it to have been considerably lar- continue in office till their reputation beger. They had then almost entire pos- comes such that none will employ them, session of Harvard College ; and, by. a and then to retire silently to private life. chạnge in its charter, deliberately planned In 1825 the number of Unitarian consome years before, but hurried through the gregations was estimated at 120. Now, Legislature at a favourable moment, they in 1844, they are said to amount to 230. secured the control of it to their party. There are several causes of this increase.

A considerable number of churches in In 1825 the process of taking sides was, Massachusetts had funds, given by the pi- not completed. Of the few which then ous of former generations, for the support remained without character, a part have of the ministry and of Christian ordinan-doubtless become decidedly Unitarian.

The main object of the donors was Mr. Ballou's work on the atonement has to secure to their descendants, in perpetui- already been mentioned as the first Unity, the services of learned, pious, and or- tarian work by an American author. That thodox pastors; and the funds were com- and other works of a similar character mitted to the church, and not to the parish, prepared the Universalists, somewhat exbecause the church, being composed of per- tensively, to avow Unitarian opinions. sons of approved piety, would guard them The Unitarians have, to a great extent, most effectually against perversion. Such and it is believed generally, embraced the was the case with the First Church in Ded- doctrine of the final salvation of all men. ham. In 1818, a majority of the inhabitants There is, therefore, no doctrinal distincof the parish with which that church was tion between the two sects. As Unitariconnected chose a Unitarian to be their anism is esteemed the more genteel relipastor. The church refused to receive gion of the two, Universalists are under a him as their pastor. A few of its members, strong temptation to change their name, however, seceded from the church, chose and call themselves Unitarians. Such the Unitarian for their pastor, and com- changes very naturally occur when a Unimenced a lawsuit against the church for versalist congregation becomes vacant, and the possession of its property. In March, a Unitarian preacher of acceptable address 1821, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts offers himself as a candidate. Sometimes decided in their favour, and established the congregations change from one of these principle that, in all such cases, those who sects to the other, and back again, as temact with the majority of the parish are the porary convenience dictates. church, and have a right to the funds. By Unitarianism, as has been shown, orithis decision many churches have been ginally grew out of a dislike to the pracdeprived of their funds, their houses of tice of requiring evidence of piety in canworship, and even the furniture of their didates for admission to the churches. communion-table; and many Unitarian There are many, in various parts of the churches owe their existence to means country, in whom this fundamental feeling thus obtained.

of the sect is very strong, but who are yet After this decision the existence of a unwilling to live without some form of rechurch, as distinct from the parish, became ligion. They are easily organized into a unimportant among Unitarians. Its sec- society which requires no creed, and subular interests were wholly in the power jects them to no discipline. Societies of the parish, and might as well be held thus formed, however, often vanish as eaby the parish directly. Their churches, as sily and suddenly as they are made. has been shown, were never intended to be In 1787-a“ Society for Propagating the bodies from which the unregenerate should Gospel among the Indians and others in be excluded. There was, therefore, no North America” was incorporated by the longer any important end to be answered Legislature of Massachusetts. It acquired by their existence. Generally, it has not permanent funds to the amount of 9000

« PrejšnjaNaprej »