John Henry Hobart.

An apology for apostolic order and its advocates : occasioned by the strictures and denunciations of the Christian's Magazine, in a series of letters addressed to the Rev. John M. Mason online

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Online LibraryJohn Henry HobartAn apology for apostolic order and its advocates : occasioned by the strictures and denunciations of the Christian's Magazine, in a series of letters addressed to the Rev. John M. Mason → online text (page 1 of 23)
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Judge righteous judgment.

John vii. 24.


No. 160 Pearl-Street.




1 HE writer of the following letters and his
opinions having been pointedly and violently-
assailed in the Christian's Magazine, he is re-
luctantly compelled to obtrude himself upon
the public attention. He thinks he has a par-
ticular claim upon all those who have taken
up unfavourable views of those opinions which
that Magazine assails, for a candid perusal of
his defence. In that work he has been so-
lemnly arraigned " at the bar of public criti-
cism." The readers of that publication cannot,
therefore, he conceives, consistently with their
regard to justice, their love of truth, or the
claims of duty, refuse to hear him in his de-
fence. It is the first dictate of justice, to give
an accused person a patient and candid hear-
ing before judgment is passed on him. The
impartial pursuit of truth cannot be compati-
ble with an examination of only one side of
a disputed question. And they who will place
themselves for a moment in the situation of the
individual whom that Magazine denounces as
holding opinions of " deep-toned horror," will
at once feel it a sacred duty to admit him to
repel the accusation. They are required so to
do by that law of supreme obligation, " Do
unto others as ye would that they should do
unto you."

The writer of these letters disclaims from
the heart all feelings of hostility to the mnny


pious and respectable individuals, some of whose
religious principles may differ from his own.
Difference of opinion on important religious
topics ought not to break the ties of harmony
between children of the same common Parent,
and subjects of the grace of the same Re-
deemer. On political questions men divide,
who on other occasions meet on terms of
friendly intercourse. And surely no Christian
ought to esteem his brother his enemy because
he " tells him the truth."

He is doubtful whether he ought to claim
any indulgence for the imperfections of this
performance, from the peculiar circumstances
under which it was written. It was his wish to
lay it by for frequent and careful revision. But
the violence of the assault upon him seemed
to require an immediate defence. He was,
therefore, compelled to go rapidly on, amidst
constant interruptions, amidst the calls of his
usual professional duties, and often under the
pressure of bodily languor. He candidly states
these circumstances, because deference to the
public requires that no immature or incorrect
production should, if possible, be exposed to
its view. But he is writing idly. The per-
formance wields the weapon of controversy.
He concludes, therefore, that it can claim no
quarter. He leaves it to its fate. His chief soli-
citude ought to be, that its imperfections should
not injure the cause which it advocates.

New-York, June, 1807.



1 HE Christian's Magazine, which the newspapers lately
announced to the public, and the responsibility of which,
as Proprietor and Editor, you take upon yourself, I have
perused, and the determination is instantly formed to ad-
dress you on the subject.

The tendency of the system of denunciation which you
have adopted leaves me no alternative. This denunciation
is so injurious to my character, and aims at the same time
so deadly a blow at the principles of the Episcopal Church,
that a moment's delay in repelling it would be traitorous
to my sacred office. My soul must be palsied by cowar-
dice, or by apathy more criminal and disgraceful than
cowardice, if I could witness my writings denounced, m\
reputation and usefulness fundamentally assailed, and the
principles of my Church held up to scorn and execration,
without lifting the honest and ardent voice of remonstrance.

As Editor of the Christian's Magazine, you are re-
sponsible for its contents. The Editor of a miscellany
may sometimes think himself compelled, by motives of
delicacy or impartiality, to admit observations of Avhi?h
he is not the writer, and which in sentiment or in lan-
guage he may deem liable to censure. To even the
smallest indulgence on this plea you have renounced all
claim. You assert, that " you will feel yourself not only
at libertv, but under obligation to make such alterations in
the pieces which may be offered for insertion, as vou shall
judge expedient." But this matter is well understood.

For the triumphs with which taste, delicacy, and truth will
doubtless crown the first number of the Christian's Maga-
zine, you have no competitor — alone you stand rex, magnus
Apollo. You intend to claim the honour of having made 1
the first breach in the towering fortress of Episcopacy-
Your illustrious compeers have only to advance and raze it
to the ground ! All the original productions in the number
of the magazine before me, with the exception of the essay
on the visible Church, point with resistless evidence to you
as their author. And even if I had not been long taught
to expect from your appalling arm chastisement for my te-
merity in advocating the principles of my Church, the style
and spirit of the reviexv of the Essays on Episcopacy would
leave me at no loss to whom to tender my most profound
acknowledgments for the very honourable notice which
that review has condescended to bestow on me.

I behold and address you only as Editor and Reviewer.
" For vour personal character I entertain unfeigned re-
spect." We have often met, and I trust we shall often
meet again, on terms of friendly intercourse. " My criti-
cisms are intended to apply to you solely as an author."
" Nor can I be justly charged with violating" my " respect"
for you, " though I examine" your animadversions " with
as little ceremony as" you " have brought them forward."
I heartily subscribe to the noble maxim of the u imperial
stoick." And in " aiming at truth, by which no man was
ever injured," regardless of the dictates of a temporising
policy, or of the fear or favour of man, I am swayed by
the injunction of one infinitely greater than this " imperial"
philosopher. " Whosoever loveth father or mother more
than me" and my truth, " is not worthy of me."

Paradoxical as it may appear, I confess I am gratified
at the appearance of the Christian's Magazine. Present
calamity may be measured by the mind. Its magnitude is
accurately surveyed. Its dreaded terrors diminish by the
habit of contemplation ; and the mind, summoning resolu-

lion, proudly surmounts them. But threatened calamity is
often clothed with a thousand " nameless" horrors by the
magnifying and exaggerating power of a panic-struck ima-
gination. With the apprehension of a portentous cala-
mity I have long been tortured. My " Companion for
the Altar," as innocent in its design as it is in its con-
sequences to all the sincere inquirers after truth, had
scarcely found its way among those to whom some of its
principles were obnoxious, before vengeance was threat-
ened. Prudence, however, which in charity must certainly
be imputed to that mild and tender forbearance which knows
not how to pour from its soft-flowing tongue one harsh,
one unkind, one criminating expression, for near a year
repressed this ire. But before the expiration of a year a
" speck of war" appeared in the horizon. The prospectus
of the Christian's Magazine, in the spring or summer of
1805, threatened to disturb the " relations of amity," and
to engage Episcopalians and their fellow Christians in " the
unprofitable contest of trying who could do one another the
most harm." The opponents of Episcopacy, however, re-
solved to exhaust forbearance ! The Christian's Magazine
was delayed, and delayed, and delayed. Were I uncha-
ritable, I would suspect that an aversion to enter the
" bloody arena," on which Episcopacy had so often laid
prostrate its antagonists, had full as much influence on this
delay as the spirit of forbearance to which I feel the most
cordial disposition to ascribe it. A hero, however, no less
renowned than the Rev. Dr. Linn, not taught wisdom by
the salutary lessons which he had received some years ago
from the u Right Rev. Prelate of New- York," in a theo-
logical contest, felt all the vigour and ardour of his youthful
davs renewed. Indignant at this delay, and spuming the
restraints of his compeers, he rushed forward to spread
dismav among Episcopalians, and single-handed cover them
with defeat. In his numbers styled " Miscellanies," pub-
lished in the Albany Centinel, he attacked the principles of

Episcopalians. He was instantly met — met, and vanquished
by striplings, inferior to this venerable giant of literature
and theology in every thing but the goodness of their cause,
and judgment to defend it. Did these striplings or their
friends presume ever to triumph, that, clothed with the
armour which scripture and antiquity furnished them, they
had withstood the shock of the champion of Presbytery,
and laid low both him and his cause? They were instandy
humbled by the declarations, — The author of Miscellanies
has been rash and indiscreet — he knows not the strength
of his own cause — he has never read extensively on the
subject — he did not " take the question by the proper han-
dle" — But the Christian's Magazine! this will retrieve the
laurels which have been lost — this will flash such transcen-
dent light, that the cause of Episcopacy will not be able for
a moment to bear up against its overpowering effulgence.
Yes, Sir, my soul has often startled at the threat, that you
would rise in your might, and pouring the awful majesty
of indignant truth on the rash and adventurous advocates
of Episcopacy, would " chase them before you as the chaff
before the wind." The thunder has at length shot from
your arm. But — -I yet survive ! and, astonishing as it may
seem, I can summon resolution to maintain my principles,
and to expose your denunciations to the world. I thank
you, Sir — vou have kindly released me from all fear of
" the Christian's Magazine."



WHEN I understood that a " society of gentlemen" had
formed the resolution to expose the " fallacious reasonings''
of the assertors of Episcopacy, and to defend Presbyter)'
as the institution of Christ and his Apostles, I could not
avoid cherishing the hope that a mild and dispassionate
course would be pursued. I could not avoid cherishing
the hope (for it was flattering to my cause and to my feel-
ings) that, disdaining a svstem of denunciation, which is
calculated, by awakening prejudice and passion, to pros-
trate reason at die very threshold of inquiry, and thus to
prejudge the cause, yourself and your coadjutors would
bring the Episcopal pretensions to their only proper test,
scripture and antiquity. I did hope that you would
not onlv acknowledge " the right of an Episcopalian to
publish his peculiar sentiments," but would feel the force
of the corresponding obligation, to respect, and to treat
with decency and candour, the exercise of this right.
From the character and professions of some of the gen-
tlemen who were to conduct the Christian's Magazine, I
did flatter myself, that, as my principles, unfounded as
they might appear, were yet couched in decent language,
they would be tested in the spirit of decency and candour.
I did hope, that principles maintained by an host of the
most eminent men that ever defended Christianity by
talents, or adorned it by piety, would not, with rash and
impetuous hand, be " urged over the precipice" into the
gulph of infamy, till their fallacy had been u detected" by
the impartial eye of dispassionate reason. My imagination

sometimes deluded me with the hope, that a discussion
would arise firm and manly, yet temperate and honourable ;
a discussion which would rescue polemic theology from the
charge of that virulence which has hitherto often subjected
it to merited reproach. My feelings sometimes hailed the
prospect of a discussion which, releasing Christians from
the disgraceful chains of prejudice and passion, and guid-
ing them only by the mild lights of reason, scripture, and
antiquity, would lead them to form just views of the mi-,
nistry and ordinances of the Church, the sacred fold of
salvation, very properly styled by you, " the nursery of the
Church in Heaven."

But sober reflection soon dissipated these pleasing hopes.
I was satisfied that the cause of the opponents of Episco-
pacy was weak. It had ever shrunk before the touch of
dispassionate and impartial inquiry. Its advocates had
seldom disdained to shield it from the wand of truth, by
the weapons of low ridicule, of harsh invective, of virulent
and unfounded denunciation. I reflected too that while
but few men reason, all men feel; that where one man
follows the guidance of reason, thousands bow under the
sceptre of passion; that where mild and modest argument
lights one man to truth, bold and imposing declamation
rivets on thousands the chains of error. The opponents
of Episcopacy I knew would cany with them the resist-
less spirit of the times. Palsied by morbid indifference,
this spirit I feared would not rouse itself to patient in-
quiry on religious topics. Throwing down the enclosures
of truth, I feared it would frown on all pretensions which,
however scriptural, and however reconcilable on candid
construction with all the reasonable claims of charity, ap-
peared to be exclusive. Impressed with these reflections,
I confess I did fear that the opponents of Episcopacy would
avail themselves of the weakness of human nature, and of
the spirit of the times, so propitious to their cause. I did
fear that prejudice and passion, seated en the throne of

judgment, would be roused to condemn the cause of Epis
copacy, previously even to an investigation of its merits.
Investigation might fail — Denunciation would be sure of
success — For who would listen for a moment to these pre-
sumptuous, arrogant, and impious lords over the under-
standing, the consciences, the eternal destiny of men? Who
Could be induced even to contemplate " extravagant and
arrogant pretensions" — pretensions which " unchurched,
with a dash of the pen, all the non-Episcopal denominations
under heaven ;" which laid them under the ban of an " ex-
communication," " as criminal as it is dreadful !" Where
the bosom so steeled to the feelings of humanity as not, in
the burst of righteous indignation, to " urge over the pre-
cipice" the monsters who advanced " positions of such
deep-toned horror," as might u well make the hair stand
up like quills upon the fretful porcupine, and freeze the
warm blood at its fountain" ?*

This appeal to prejudice and passion, those tyrants of
our nature — this appeal, as unjust as it is ungenerous and
cruel — this appeal, precluding all candid and dispassionate
inquiry, even an honest political declaimer, in the mad fer-
vour of party zeal, would not use without a blush. The
man of letters, the Christian, the Divine should frown it
from him with righteous disdain. You, Sir, have conde-
scended to enlist it in your cause. Examine the review
of the Essavs on Episcopacy. Everv sentence rests for
triumph on the success of its appeal to the prejudices and
passions of the reader. Urge not, in extenuation, that ef-
fervescence of indignation which, at the first view of ob-
noxious opinions, mav overpower the cool judgment, the
mild charities of even the honest and amiable heart. More
than two years have elapsed since these obnoxious opinions
must have first met your eye. During this period the plan
of the Christian's Magazine has been arranging, materials

* This is the language in which you denounce me..

collecting, and the matter preparing that was to enrich its
pages. There has been full time for chastening the indig-
nant and passionate review of the Essays on Episcopacy ,
by the gende dictates of judgment and charity. The in-
temperate spirit which it breathes is left without even the
excuse of precipitancy and rashness.

Your endeavour to enlist the prejudices and passions of
Christians to condemn, without an impartial hearing, the
cause of Episcopacy, may obtain a triumph ; but it is a
triumph which I shall not contest with you. It is a triumph,
the full honours of which I shall not seek to wrest from
your brow. Yes, Sir, you may succeed in inducing non-
Kpiscopalians to reject a candid examination of opinions
on which you have fixed the seal of blasphemy, impiety
and horror. You may even rouse those Episcopalians who
are " ignorant of the foundation and reasons of that church
order to which they adhere," and who, " when any thing
is done which, though strictly proper, does not coincide
with their convenience or their habits, are both startled and
displeased ;" vou may rouse those Episcopalians who " have
thrown the reins on the neck of their charity," " who are
carried away by the current of a spurious liberality ;"*
you may rouse them to join with you in sinking under the
charges of rashness, imprudence, and illiberal zeal, those
guardians of the Church who presume to discharge their
solemn vows of ordination ; — to " drive away from the
fold those erroneous and strange doctrines" concerning the
constitution and ministry of the Church, which, within
these late ages, have rent her into numberless schisms. Be
it so. They who summon courage to attack the monster
error in the den where he has long reposed, must not
expect him to yield widiout a struggle, nor until he has
exhausted upon them the venom and fire of his rage. But
the sceptre of truth, wielded by patient and persevering

* I mavk as quotations r i i I an£uagp

courage, will at length paralize his efforts, and lay him
prostrate. If non-Episcopalians have any regard to the
sacred claims of truth and justice, they will indignantly
spurn every attempt to enlist their prejudices and passions
against opinions which it is their solemn duty seriously and
dispassionately to examine. As men of candour and jus-
tice, who consider their judgment and conscience as their
guides ; as honest inquirers after truth ; as Christians who
are to answer at the dread tribunal of God, whether thej r
have earnestly and honestly sought to subdue prejudice
and passion, I trust they will feel it their sacred duty to
disregard your denunciations, to read and judge for them-
selves.* Episcopalians, I trust, will all soon be ashamed
of that timid and false liberality which, by concealing the
distinctive principles of their Church, is levelling the bar-
riers with which the sacred wisdom of ages hath fenced
her round; and laying open that celestial " vine which the
right hand of the Lord hath planted," to the destructive
assaults of heresy and Schism, " to be rooted up by the
boar out of the w r ood, and devoured by the wild beast of
the forest."

My own determination is unalterably formed — in that
firm language which conscious truth inspires, but in " that
meekness of celestial wisdom" which the gospel enjoins,
to defend the Apostolic Church, at whose altar I minister,
against " every weapon that is formed against her" — to
maintain that sacred institution of Episcopacy, which,
committed to the Church by her divine Head, no unhal-

* Every principle of candour and justice loudly calls on them to peruse
the Collection of Essays on the subject of Episcopacy. To form a judg-
ment on this important subject from the partial representations of the
Christian's Magazine would be treason against truth and conscience,
The advocates of Episcopacy demand only candid inquiry, impartial in-
vestigation. Let it be remembered, the Collection of Essays on the sub-
ject of Episcopacy contains not only the arguments in favour of it, biu.
those of the Rev. Dr. Linn against it.



towed hand for fifteen centuries dared to touch; which has
been the sacred channel through which the ministerial
commission has flowed from him who is " the Head and
Saviour of the body," to whom " all power is given in
heaven and in earth/' I shall respect, I have always re-
spected, the conscientious opinions of others- I shall re-
sist the arm of violence, whether lifted up against their
religious rights or my own. I shall not denounce, I have
never denounced, the honest inquirers after truth, by what-
ever name distinguished. No difference of opinion, no
ire of controversy shall lead me to cut asunder the sacred
ties of friendship ; shall ever prevent me from regarding,
with sincere affection, every one who bears the holy im-
press of Jesus as the subject of his mercy and grace. But
while mindful of my own infirmity and liability to error 7
I presume not to wield the thunders of that tribunal where
I must mvself, through my Saviour's intercession, plead
for mercy, I shall discharge the sacred duty of maintain-
ing and enforcing that order of the Church which, it is
my conscientious conviction, bears the seal of divine au-
thoritv. As " a messenger, a watchman, and steward of
the Lord," bearing on my soul the solemn obligation " to
teach and to premonish, to feed and to provide for the
Lord's family, 7 * I shall not " cease my labour, my care and
diligence,"* in warning the members of Christ's fold of
the guilt and danger of schism, of separating from that
" priesthood who derive their authority by regular trans-
mission from Christ, the divine Head of the Church, and
the source of all power in it."| This exercise of a com-
mon right, even in the most unexceptionable mode, in ad-
dresses to persons of the Episcopal communion (and this
is the mode in which I originally exercised it), this dis-
charge of a sacred duty may subject me to odium and de-
nunciation. The destiny still more to be deprecated may

Ordination service. f Pre face to the Companion for the Altar.


await me, of being " wounded" (where I ought to find
encouragement and support) " in the house of my friends."
I shall still have the consolation of having faithfully borne
my testimony to the principles of the Apostolic and pri-
mitive Church ; to principles which " the noble army of
martyrs" confessed in their writings, in their lives, in the
agonies of those cruel deaths to which their persecutors
hunted them ; to principles which in every age have ranked
among their advocates some of the brightest ornaments of
science, and intrepid champions of divine truth. I shall
still have the consolation of having defended the cause of
Episcopacy, with inferior strength indeed, but with equal
zeal, in the same ranks with the " incomparable Hooker,"
the eminent and revered Bishops Hall, Andrews, San-
derson, Taylor, Beveridge, Potter, Wake, Wilson,
Horne, Horseley ; the learned and pious Divines Chii.
lingworth, Hammond, Leslie, Jones ; and "a legion
more," illustrious for talents, for learning and piety. I shall
still have the consolation of having " studied to approve
myself" unto my divine Master as " a workman rightly
dividing the word of truth." These are consolations with
which " no stranger iijtermeddleth," which even the rude
hand of violence cannot disturb. The system of denunci-
ation which you pursue is calculated to awaken a persecu-
tion more poignant to the feeling mind than even the flame
and sword that torture the body. I have no hesitation to
say that I deprecate it ; and I must pray, therefore, that
neither my faith be shaken, my resolution weakened, nor
my charity extinguished. I must pray that, amidst the
denunciation of foes and the desertion of friends, my soul
may be raised in holy hope above this misjudging world ;
may soar on vigorous wing to that celestial scene where
the mists of error shall be dissipated by the radiant beams
of truth, and its faithful and honest advocates find a refuge
from the scorn of the world in the eternal plaudits of their
Redeemer and Judge.




J HE Christian's Magazine comes forth in a proud and
imposing attitude, demanding instant submission to its au-
thoritative decrees; and, in the spirit which inflames every
sentence, denouncing immolation on the altar of its wrath,
against all who shall refuse to bend the knee to its dogmas.
Litde disposed to yield my understanding or my conscience
to the keeping of any man, whatever mav be his talents, his

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Online LibraryJohn Henry HobartAn apology for apostolic order and its advocates : occasioned by the strictures and denunciations of the Christian's Magazine, in a series of letters addressed to the Rev. John M. Mason → online text (page 1 of 23)