Slike strani

The pastor, it has been already remark- and theological, cannot begin to preached, is not only the president or bishop of will not be recognised by any church as a the church, but also the religious teacher candidate-till he has received from some and minister of the society. Of course he association a certificate of approbation, is elected by a concurrent vote of the two recommending him to the churches, which bodies. In this the church generally takes is his license to preach the Gospel on trial. the lead. The candidate is to some extent Such a certificate is not granted without known to the people, for he has already his having passed a close examination, preached to them on probation. His fitness particularly in respect to his piety, his for the place has been the subject of col- soundness in the faith, and his acquaintance loquial discussion in families and among with the system of Christian doctrines. neighbours. The church meeis, under the 8. The fathers of the New-England presidency of a neighbouring minister, or churches seem to have acknowledged no perhaps of one of its own deacons, and minister of the Gospel other than the pasdecides, sometimes by ballot, and some- tor or teacher of some particular church. times by the lifting up of hands (Yelpotovía), In their zeal against a hierarchy, they found to call him to the pastoral office, if the so- no place for any minister of Christ not ciety shall concur. The society, in like elected by some organized assembly of manner, meet, and by a vote express their believers to the work of ruling and teachagreement with the church in calling this ing in that congregation. The evangelist candidate to take the pastoral charge of was thought by them to be, like the apostle, the church and society. After this the only for the primitive age of Christianity; society determines by vote what salary Accordingly, the pastor, when dismissed shall be offered to the candidate on the from his pastoral charge, was no longer a condition of his accepting the call, and to minister of Christ, or competent to perpropose any other stipulations as part of form anywhere any function of the ministhe contract between the people and their try. In connexion with this view, it was pastor. Committees are appointed by the also held that the power of ordination, as church and by the society to confer with well as of election to office, resides exclu. the pastor elect

, and to report his answer; sively in the church, and that if the church and then, if his answer is favourable, to has no elders in office, this power of ordinamake arrangements for his public induc- tion may be exercised either by a committion into office. Sometimes the society tee of the brethren, or by some neighbourleads in the call of a pastor, and the church ing elders, appointed to that function by the

If either of these two bodies church, and acting in its name. But these does not concur with the other-which views were very early superseded. The very rarely happens--the election fails, of distinction is now recognised between a course, and they wait till another candi- minister of the Gospel having a pastoral date shall unite them.

charge, and a minister who sustains no 7. The pastors of neighbouring churche's office in any church. The man ordained form themselves into bodies for mutual to the pastoral office is, of course, ordained advice and aid in the work of the ministry. to the work of the ministry, and if cirThis body is called an association. It has cumstances occur which make it expediits stated meetings at the house of each ent for him to lay down his office of pastor, member in rotation. At every meeting he does not, of course, lay down the work each member is called upon to report the of the ministry to which he was set apart state of his own flock, and to propose any at his ordination. Sometimes, a man, question on which he may desire counsel having no call from any church to take the from his brethren. In these meetings office of a pastor, is set apart to the work every question which relates to the work of the ministry, that he may be a missionof the ministry, or the interest of the ary to the heathen, or that he may labour churches, is freely discussed. The asso- among the destitute at home, or that he ciations of each state meet annually by may perform some other evangelical latheir delegates in a General Association. bour for the churches at large. Such or

But the most important part of the duties dinations are rare, except in the case of of the association is to examine those who foreign missionaries, or of missionaries to desire to be introduced to the work of the some new region of the country where ministry. This is on the principle that, churches are not yet organized. as lawyers are to determine who shall be Ministers, therefore, whether pastors or admitted to practice at the bar, and as phy- evangelists, are now ordained only by the sicians determine who shall be received laying on of the hands of those who are into the ranks of their profession, so min- before them in the ministry; for though it isters are the fittest judges of the qualifi- belongs to the church to make a pastor, it cations of candidates for the ministry, belongs to ministers to make a minister. The candidate, therefore, who has passed is meant that which is obtained in making the curricthrough the usual course of studies, liberal* ulum of a college. It is synonymous with “ clas

* By the word “ liberal," as applied to education, I sical."



[ocr errors]

9. The reader has already learned that munion in America has done more for rethe American Congregational churches ligion and morals among its own people, disavow the name Independent. From the more for the advancement of learning and beginning they have held and practised the general education, or more for the diffusion communion of churches. Continually, and of the Gospel at home and abroad. None by various acts of affection and intercourse, has been more characterized by that large they recognise each other as churches of and manly spirit which values the common Ch as bound to render to each other, Christianity of all who “hold the Head," on all proper occasions, an account of their more than the peculiar forms and institudoings. They receive each other's mem- tions of its own sect. bers to occasional communion in ordinan- The highest ecclesiastical bodies by

Members of one church, removing which the Congregational churches in the their residence to another church, take United States are, in a sense, united or asfrom the one a letter of dismission and sociated, are, the General Associations of recommendation, and without that are not Connecticut, Massachusetts, New-Hampreceived to membership in the other. The shire, and New-York ; the General Conprinciple that, in matters which concern vention of Vermont, the General Consonot one church alone, but all the churches ciation of Rhode Island, and the General of the vicinity, no one church ought to act Conference of Maine. These bodies meet alone, is continually regarded in practice. annually, and they maintain the “bond of The ordination or installation of a pastor, fellowship” by sending delegates to each and in like manner his dismission from his other. It must not be understood that all office even by the mutual consent of him the evangelical Congregational churches in and his flock, never takes place without the states just named are associated,” the intervention of a council of pastors and that is, connected with the inferior assodelegates from neighbouring churches. ciations, and through them with the “genWhen any act of a church is grevious to a eral association,”

,” * general convention," portion of its members—when any conten- " general consociation," or "general contion or difficulty has arisen within a church ference" of the state in which they are which cannot otherwise be adjusted— situated. But the number not thus united when a member excommunicated deems with their sister churches is not great. himself unjustly treated, a council of the The Congregational churches in Ohio, neighbouring churches is called to examine Michigan, Illinois, and the Territories of the case, and to give advice; and the ad- Wisconsin and Iowa are not yet sufficientvice thus given is rarely, if ever, disregard- ly numerous to render the organization of ed. If a church is deemed guilty of any general associations convenient, or else gross dereliction of the faith, or of Chris- other causes have prevented this measure tian discipline, any neighbouring church from being adopted. may expostulate with it as one brother ex- The Congregationalists in New-England postulates with another, and when expos- have eight colleges, five theological semitulation proves insufficient, a council of naries and faculties, and about 300 stuthe neighbouring churches is called to ex- dents in theology. In the other states amine the matter; and from the church where they exist, they give their aid to the which obstinately refuses to listen to the Presbyterian literary and theological inadvice given by such a council, the neigh-stitutions. bouring churches withdraw their communion. In Connecticut the communion of the

CHAPTER IV. churches has been practised for about 130


consociations,” or voluntary confederations of from six to twenty con- Next to the Episcopalians and the Contiguous churches, binding themselves to gregationalists, the Baptists are the oldest call upon each other in all cases of diffi- of the various branches of the Christian culty which require a council. Elsewhere Church in the United States. And if we councils of churches, though ordinarily were to include under this name all who selected from the immediate vicinity, are hold that immersion is the true and only selected at the discretion of the church by Scriptural mode of baptism, without referwhich the council is convened.

ence to the orthodoxy of their faith, we Under this ecclesiastical system the should probably find that they are also the churches of New-England have, it is be largest denomination in this country. But lieved by many, enjoyed for more than two if we separate from them a portion at centuries a more continued purity of doc- least of those minor bodies which, though trine, and fidelity of discipline, and a more agreeing with them on that point, differ constant prosperity of spiritual religion, from them on important, and, in some than has been enjoyed by any equal body cases, fundamental doctrines, we shall find of churches, for so long a time, since the that they are not equal in number to the days of the Apostles. No religious com- Methodists.


In their church government the Baptists the way of salvation ; justification; the of all denominations are Independents, freeness of salvation; grace in regenerathat is, each church is wholly independent, tion ; God's purpose of grace; perseveas respects its interior government, even rance of saints ; harmony of the law and of those other churches with which it may Gospel ; a Gospel church ; Baptism and be associated in ecclesiastical union. Each the Lord's Supper; the Christian Sabbath; separate church possesses and exercises civil government; the righteous and the the right of licensing or granting permis- wicked; the world to come. sion to preach the Gospel, and of ordaining On all these subjects, excepting Baptism, elders or presbyters clothed with all the these articles express the doctrines held functions of the ministerial office. This by the Calvinistic churches of all denomiis the old ground at first maintained by the nations. The Bible is pronounced to have Independents. The Congregationalists, been" written by men divinely inspired”spoken of in the last chapter, seem to be has God for its Author, salvation for its Independents in theory, but in spirit and end, and truth, without any mixture of erpractice they are very nearly Presbyteri- ror, for its matter”—" is the true centre of ans, and have often been called Congrega- Christian union, and the supreme standard tional Presbyterians.

by which all human conduct, creeds, and Delegates from different Baptist church- opinions should be tried.” The “true God," es hold public meetings for purposes of it is affirmed, is "revealed under the permutual counsel and improvement, but not sonal and relative distinctions of the Father, for the general government of the whole the Son, and the Holy Ghost; equal in body, all right of interference in the con- every divine perfection, and executing discerns of individual churches being distinct and harmonious offices in the great claimed by these ecclesiastical assemblies. work of redemption.” “ The salvation of A very large majority of our evangelical sinners" is taught to be “ wholly of grace, Baptist churches are associated by their through the mediatorial offices of the Son pastors in District Associations and State of God, who took upon Him our nature, Conventions, which meet every year for yet without sin; honoured the law by his promoting missions, education, and other personal obedience, and made atonement benevolent objects. A general convention, for our sins by his death; being risen from called the Baptist General Convention of the dead, he is now enthroned in heaven; the United States, meets likewise every and uniting in his wonderful person the three years, the last always appointing the tenderest sympathies with divine perfecplace of meeting for the next after. The tions, is every way qualified to be a suitGeneral Convention is restricted by its able, a compassionate, and an all-sufficient constitution to the promotion of foreign Saviour.” • Justification," it is affirmed, missions. It held its first meeting in 1814. “consists in the pardon of sin and the But within the last ten years a Home Mis- promise of eternal life," and " is bestowed sionary Society, a General Tract Society, not in consideration of any works of righa Bible Society, and several societies for teousness which we have done, but solely the education of poor and pious youths of His (Christ's) own redemption and righhaving talents adapted for the ministry, teousness.” have sprung up in the Baptist body, and On the FREENESS OF SALVATION it is taught already exert a wide and happy influence. " that the blessings of salvation are made

The Baptists, like the Congregational- free to all by the Gospel; that it is the imists, make it a fundamental principle to mediate duty of all to accept them by a adopt the Bible as their only confession of cordial and obedient faith; and that nothing faith. Yet most, if not all, of the evan- prevents the salvation of the greatest singelical churches that bear the name, find ner on earth, except his own voluntary reit convenient in practice to have a creed fusal to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ; or summary of doctrine, and these creeds, which refusal will subject him to an agalthough they may vary in expression, all gravated condemnation.” Regeneration agree in the main, and, with few excep- consists in giving a holy disposition to the tions, among the Regular and Associated min and is effected in a manner above Baptists are decidedly Calvinistic. our comprehension by the Holy Spirit, so

A few years ago, the Baptist Convention as to secure our voluntary obedience to of the State of New-Hampshire adopted a the Gospel ; and its proper evidence is Declaration of Faith, consisting of sixteen found in the holy fruit which we breag articles, and a form of church covenant, forth to the glory of God." which they recommended to the Baptist On the subject of God's PÚRPOSE OF GRACE churches of that state, and which are sup- it is stated, “That election is the gracious posed to express, with little variation, the purpose of God, according to which He general sentiments of the whole body of regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners” orthodox Baptists in the United States. "consistent with the free agency of The subjects of these articles are : The man”—“ comprehends all the means in Scriptures; the true God; the fall of man; I connexion with the end” – “is a most

[ocr errors]



gracious display of God's sovereign good- ; whole body in Christian knowledge, holiness”—“utterly excludes boasting, and pro- ness, and comfort ;": “ to uphold the public motes humility, prayer, praise, trust in worship of God, and the ordinances of his God”-“ encourages the use of means in house;" “not to omit closet and family the highest degree”—" is ascertained in its religion,” nor the “ training up of children effects in all who believe”_" is the found- and those under their care;" to " walk ciration of Christian assurance” — and that cumspectly in the world,” and be as the "to ascertain it with regard to ourselves, “light of the world, and the salt of the demands and deserves our utmost dili- earth;" and, finally, to “exhort” and “adgence.

monish one another." On the subject of the PERSEVERANCE OF Such, in substance, is the “ Declaration THE SAINTS, it is affirmed, “That such only of Faith and Covenant," adopted, as I have are real believers as endure unto the end; said, by the Baptist Convention of Newthat their persevering attachment to Christ Hampshire a few years ago, and no doubt is the grand mark which distinguishes substantially exhibiting the doctrines held them from superficial professors; that a by the great body of the Regular and Asspecial providence watches over their wel sociated Baptists throughout the United fare ; and they are kept by the power of States. It will be perceived that it is modGod through faith unto salvation.” erately Calvinistic, and, indeed, to one or

According to this Confession of Faith, other shade of Calvinism all the Regular a visible Church of Christ is a congrega- Baptists in America adhere. Part of their tion of baptized believers, associated by body, particularly in the Southern and covenant in the faith and fellowship of the Southwestern States, are regarded as CalGospel, observing the ordinances of Christ; vinists of the highest school. Their docgoverned by his laws; and exercising the trinal views probably coincide with those gifts, rights, and privileges invested in of Dr. Gill more than those of any other them by His Word ; that its only proper writer. But a far greater number of their officers are bishops or pastors, and dea- ministers follow in the main the views of cons, whose qualifications, claims, and du- Andrew Fuller; views which, take them all ties are defined in the Epistles of Timothy in all, form one of the best systems of theand Titus.” And“ Christian Baptism is the ology to be found in the English language. immersion of a believer in water, in the The Baptist churches have increased in name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy the United States with great rapidity, parGhost; to show forth a solemn and beau- ticularly within the last fifty or sixty years. tiful emblem of our faith in a crucified, For although they commenced their exburied, and risen Saviour, with its purifying istence in the days of Roger Williams, power,” and “is a prerequisite to the formerly mentioned, who, having chanprivileges of a church relation.”

ged his sentiments on the subject of BapThe “ CHRISTIAN SABBATH is the first day tism a few years after his arrival in Massaof the week," and " is to be kept sacred to chusetts Bay, was the first Baptist preachreligious purposes ;" " civil government is er, and founded the first Baptist church in of divine appointment, for the interests and America, at Providence, in 1639; it was good order of society ; and that magis- long before this denomination made much trates are to be prayed for, conscientiously progress beyond Rhode Island. This arose, honoured and obeyed, except in things it would appear, from their being violentopposed to the will of our Lord Jesus ly opposed in most of the other colonies, Christ, who is the only Lord of the con- both in the North and in the South. In science, and Prince of the kings of the Massachusetts they were at first “fined,”

“whipped," and“ imprisoned.” And though And finally, on the subject of the world they afterward obtained liberty of worship TO COME, it is taught, “That the end of this there, they had but eighteen churches at world is approaching ; that at the last day the commencement of the Revolutionary Christ will descend from heaven, and raise war. In Virginia, where they also met the dead from the grave to final retribu- with much opposition and bitter persecution; that a solemn separation will then tion, they had scarcely, at that epoch, obtake place; that the wicked will be ad- tained any footing at all. In fact, with the judged to endless punishment, and the exception of Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, righteous to endless joy ; and that this * The reader must not infer, from what is stated judgment will fix forever the final state above, that Roger Williams is to be considered as the of men in heaven or hell on principles of author or founder of the Baptist Churches in Amer

ica. His influence was mainly confined to Rhode righteousness.” The coyenant which follows this decla- with us owe their origin to the labours of Baptist

Island. The greater part of the Baptist churches ration of faith expresses in a few brief ministers who came such directly from England. articles the determination of those who † Book ii., chap. iv. enter it : “to walk in brotherly love;" “ to ers were Cast into prison for preaching the Gospel.

| It happened often in that colony that their preachexercise a mutual care, as members one And often they were to be seen addressing from the of another, to promote the growth of the jail windows the people assembled outside!

[ocr errors]







424 1150





and Delaware, they almost no where en- tioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews (chap.joyed perfect freedom from molestation vi., ver. 1, 2). These, in 1841, had sixteen until the country had achieved its inde- churches, ten ministers, and 2017 mempendence by a struggle in which the Bap- bers. But the shades of difference in dociists, to say the least, in proportion to their trine are not of much consequence, so far numbers, took as prominent a part as any as regards the vital interests of the truth. other religious body in the land.

Above 3,500,000 of souls, being between But slow as was their progress before the a fifth and a sixth of the entire population Revolution, it has been much otherwise of the United States, and embracing a resince. This will be seen from the follow-spectable share of the wealth, talent, learn ing statement taken from the very com- ing, and influence of the country, are supplete “ View of the Baptist Interest in the posed to be connected with the Regular United States," prepared by the Rev. Ru- Baptists. A large and important part of fus Babcock, D.D., of Poughkeepsie, New- their churches lies in the Southern States, York,

and published in the American Quar- and includes many slaves and slave-ownterly Register, in the years 1840 and 1841. ers. With the exception of the Methodists, The number of Baptist ministers, church- they form by far the most númerous and es, and members, at five different epochs, influential body of Christians in that secare stated there as follows:

tion of the country:

A strong prejudice against learning in In 1784


the ministry unhappily prevailed at one 1790-92. 891

65,345 1810–12 . 2164 1605 172,972

time in this body, particularly in the South384,920 ern States, and this we might ascribe to seva

570,758 eral causes. In the religious denomination, Dr. Babcock estimates the superannua- which in Virginia, and the other Southern ted ministers and others who, from vari- colonies, they considered their greatest enous causes, are not actively engaged in emy, learning was too often associated the ministry, at about a seventh of the with want of piety, and sometimes with number in the above table. Deducting open irreligion. The effects of this prejuthese, and another seventh for the licen- dice have been very injurious, and are felt tiates, who also are included, we shall to this day in the Baptist churches throughhave 3717 ordained ministers actually em- out the Southern and Southwestern, and to ployed in 1840; which is, upon an aver- a considerable extent even in the Middle age, less than one minister for two church- States. . But a brighter day has dawned. es. Including the licentiates, who almost Great efforts have been made by zealous. all preach more or less regularly, and and devoted men among them to establish many of them in vacant churches, the colleges and theological seminaries, with number of preachers for that year was what success we have stated elsewhere. 4460.

I know not how many young men are pre, In the “ Almanac and Baptist Register" paring for the ministry in theological and for 1844, the number of the Regular Bap- other institutions, but ten years ago they tist churches in 1843 is stated to have been were estimated at 300 in New-England, 8482, the ordained and licensed ministers and about twice that number in other parts 5650, and the communicants or members of the United States. 637,477. It is believed, however, that had We have already spoken of the efforts the returns been complete, the last-men- of the Baptists in the Bible, Tract, Sundaytioned number would have been at least school, and Home Missionary causes, and 700,000. According to Dr. Babcock's mode shall have yet to speak of what they are of estimating them, the ordained and active doing in the department of Foreign Miss ministers were, in that year, 4036.

sions. Dr. Babcock makes a curious estimate We shall conclude by remarking that, of the probable proportion of the inhabi- although not a third, perhaps, of the ministants in each state, supposed to be direct- ters of this denomination of Christians ly under the influence of Baptist preach- have been educated at colleges and theoing. Without going unnecessarily into logical seminaries, it comprehends, neverhis details, we find, as the result of his re- theless, a body of men who, in point of searches, that in 1840 these amounted to talent, learning, and eloquence, as well as a fifth of the population in Massachusetts, devoted piety, have no superiors in the and to a fourth in Virginia, being the two country. And even among those who can provinces in which the Baptists were most make no pretensions to profound learning, persecuted; whereas in Rhode Island, not a few are men of respectable general which was their asylum, the proportion attainments, and much efficiency in their rises to two fifths, or nearly a half. Master's work.

In this enumeration Dr. Babcock in- Notices will be given of the smaller Bapcludes some of the smaller Baptist sects, tist denominations in their proper place, such as those of the Six Principles, who and they will afterward be grouped 10hold as their creed the six principles men-)gether, when we come to arrange in fam.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »