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which characterizes our laymen; but while we invite



them to discuss a theological doctrine, we need not make
them partisans for this or that philosophical analysis of
its relations. Such philosophical analysis presupposes a
scientific discipline in him who attempts it. It is indis-
pensable for clergymen who would be masters of their
profession. It should distinguish them from those whom
they instruct, should help to make them " a chosen gen-
eration," " a peculiar" class, " a royal priesthood." And
before we confound all distinction, in this regard, be-
tween the minister and the layman, before we make the
mass of the people umpires in strictly metaphysical dis-
putes, before we abandon all parts of theological science
which are not congenial with the popular taste, we do
well to be circumspect. We should remember that in
our land the clergymen who are supported by the people,
must in a measm'e supply the place of the professed the-
ologians in Europe, who are supported by the State ;
must be the guardians and standard-bearers of truth;
must attempt the rare union of a studious habit with
practical wisdom.

In the second place, it is an especial duty of the min-
isters of New England, to make no conditions of church
fellowship, which are not essential constituents of chris-
tian character. We are required to maintain the whole
truth, but not to imagine that all which is true is indispen-
sable to the religious life. We are bound to reverence
the entire system of theology, but we are prone to over-
rate those parts of it on which we contend. The very
fact that we prolong our meditation upon those parts, in-
duces us to magnify iheir importance. Tilings are large
or small by comparison, and when we confine our gaze to
the mint and anise, we have no opportunity to contrast
them with the greater matters of the law. The very cir-
cumstance, also, that we are in conflict about a mere nice"
ty, is apt to irritate the mind, and hence our zeal in the



9

contest is often in inverse proportion to the magnitude of
its object. We come, too, so often in contact with the
men from whom we difl'er in only a few particulars, that
the themes of our dissension are kept fresh in remem-
brance ; our pride of opinion and love of our own way are
incessantly provoked, and our controversy becomes like
the strife between family friends, more acrimonious' than
a dispute between strangers. But how strongly soever
we may be tempted to make a mere shibboleth the condi-
tion of christian fellowship, we must remember that a
new country is no place for so narrow a sectarianism.
We need all the strength of good men in league against
the common foe, and are bound to commune with all par-
ties who, loving their Lord supremely, love their neigh-
bors as themselves. This is a land abounding with sects ;.
in no other country on earth are so many divisions in the
church; hence is it our wisdom to fraternize with all who
are the children of our common Father. The spirit of our
national institutions is that of liberty and equality ; no one
man, no one body of men is allowed to monopolize the
favors of providence, nor should any one urge exclusive
claims to the treasures of grace. The genius too of the
ecclesiastical polity which prevails in New England, is
liberal and generous. It requires indeed that every man
think aright, but that he think for himself, that he be an
Independent in the formation of his opinions, and that he
offer the right hand of fellowship to all who love the es-
sentials of the gospel. Hence we are bound by no creed,
save that which every church sees fit to make for itself.
This is our prerogative, this our high distinction above
the dominant sects of the old world, that no council of
Nice or of Trent, no synod of Dort, no Assembly at West-
minster or at Savoy,* have any more authority over us

* There is probably not a single Contrregational divine, who is in
fellowship with the orthodox chu'ches of New England, who does not



10

than we deem it good to allow. With a great sum have
others sought to gain this freedom, but we are free born.
Therefore is it our birth-right to distinguish between an
important truth and an essential one ; to commune with
onr brethren who agree with us in " substance of doc-
trine," although they may differ from us in theories and
forms. We stand on a platform long enough and broad
enough to hold all the parties and schools tliat love our
Lord Jesus Christ ; and let them stand by our side, they
with us, and we with them, for blessed are all they that
agree in the one thing needful. Does a man believe that
in a metaphysical point of duration, not appreciable by
the calculator of time, the human will is in a state of tran-
sition from wrong to right, and therefore not exactly de-
termined for sin or for holiness ? Let him be welcomed
upon our platform, provided that his own will has passed
over this hair-breadth line of suspended morality, and be-
come decided for God. Does he believe that sin is ne-
cessary or unnecessary for the highest good, that it can
be prevented or cannot be prevented by a power extra-
neous to the created system in which it is committed ?
Still, if the theorist be striving to prevent sin in his own
heart, let him sit down with us in our heavenly places.
Does he fail to believe in election ? We are sorry, but if he

give his sanction to the main import of the Westminster Assembly's
Catechism, and at the same time feel himself at liberty to discard
some of its peculiar phrases. Upon the question, what are the essen-
tial, and what the subordinate portions of christian doctrine, few evan-
gelical theologians would differ among themselves. Nearly all, for
example, would dissent from the Oxford writers, who condemn the
Presbyterians, Independents and Methodists, as " not receiving the
truth respecting the doctrine of' laying on of hands,' which St. Paul
classes among the fundamental doctrines of Christianity," Heb. 6: 2.
They also condemn the Baptists, " who have departed from the truth
not only as concerns the dnctrine of' laying on of hands,' but also as
concerning the doctrine of baptism, another of the fundamental doc-
trines according to St. Paul ;" Tract, No. 36,^9. 4.



11

give evidence that he is elected to hohness, let him come,
and we will rejoice over him as one ordained to eternal
life, though he himself knoweth it not. Does he reject
the doctrine of the saints' perseverance ? We lament his
error, but let him come and we will strive to keep him
from falling. Does he believe in immersion as the ex-
clusive mode of baptism ? Let him sit with us at our ta-
ble, and we will give him of our bread ; we concede no-
thing in giving it, for we adopt the principle that " our
table," is the table of the Lord, and should be open to all
his children- Does he believe in the imposition of a
bishop's hands, as the only valid mode of ordination ? Let
him be invited to our feast of love ; we will gird the linen
towel around us and wash his feet We make no con-
cession in performing this act of service ; he makes the
only concession in allowing us, plebeians as we are so
often called, to touch his feet with our unanointed hands.
He may be a " taste man" or a man of no taste ; an " ex-
ercise man" or a man of but little exercise ; he may have
some ability or nothing but inability, and that by nature ;
he may be a sinner before he has sinned, or not until he
has begun to sin ; he may multiply his praises of the
prayer-book, or he may esteem the Bible as far better
than that ; whatever he believes, if he adopt no funda-
mental error, whatever he rejects, if he discard no funda-
mental truth, and if his heart be in unison with the essen-
tial spirit of the gospel, then is he a Congregational Chris-
tian, and will unite with us in the congregation of the
redeemed. This is American Christianity. It is in sym-
pathy with the l)roadness of our lakes, the expanse of our
prairies, the length of our rivers, the freeness of our gov-
ernment, the very genius of our whole social organization.
A narrow-minded religionist is no true countryman of ours.
In the third place, it is an especial duty of the minis-
ters of New England, to dispense with all needless ma-



12

cliineiy of government in the church. It is not said that
we must dispense with all government, but with all' un-
necessary government. The control of God over the
physical universe is never ostentatiously displayed. We
hear no friction in the machinery of day and night, the
stars move silent in their courses. The management of
the moral world is equally free from noise and parade.
We are governed by conscience, and in yielding to the
mandates of heaven, we yield to the principle of reason
within ourselves. Our all vi^ise Father has written for
us a few general principles of duty, but has left them to
be explained by our moral judgment, which would deny
its very nature if it should make an unreasonable exac-
tion. Thus does the divine government cherish in the
governed a sense of rational accountability, and elevate
obedience into the most manly of the virtues. In this
respect systems of human legislation should be modelled
after the divine. Laws should be so framed as to har-
monize with our moral nature, they should be and seem
to be needfid, not made to display the greatness of the
few but to aid the conscience of the many, and to foster
the habit of yielding a private to a public good. So may
the government of a family or a State be a preparative
for the moral dominion of Jehovah. If the citizen be not
hampered with arbitrary laws, disgusted with a parade
of supremacy, weighed down with too cumbrous a ma-
chinery of offices and honors, he may be predisposed by
obedience to man for a true submission to God.

Now the government of a church should be in a pecu-
liar measure like that of heaven. It should be a real
government, but should be well suited to the necessities
of the times. There must be ecclesiastical laws, but
they ought to be in harmony with an enlightened con-
science. They ought to facilitate rather than supersede
the moral judgment of the people. The members of our



13

churches are supposed to be intelHgent, they are suppo-
sed to be ransomed from the bondage of sin. Now we
know that as knowledge is increased among good men,
as piety is increased among educated men, the need of
muhiplying specific statutes is lessened. The rubrics of
certain denominations among us were written for places,
where there was no line drawn between the men who
sei-ved God, and the men who served him not; where
laymen were neither instructed nor interested in the gov-
ernment of the church ; where clergymen were the police
of the State. Such laws were not made for righteous
men, nor should they now be retained by free men in
Christ Jesus. Further, the members of our churches
profess allegiance to the will of heaven, and where the
hand of human office-bearers is thrust forward too boldly
and too visibly, it attracts to itself the attention which ought
to have been paid to a higher authority. Thousands and
tens of thousands are yielding to hierarchs the homage
which they are bound to reserve for the chief bishop of
their souls. Moreover, the members of a tnxe church
are in a school of self-discipline. That it should be such,
a school was the intention of its Founder. For this rea-
son has he given so little prominence to ecclesiastical
laws and offices, so little direction with regard to the poH-
ty which we should adopt. He designed that his disci-
ples should respect an office, but respect moral worth
more; that they should be influenced by virtue more
than by power; that they should rule over their own
spirits rather than appoint another man to be the keeper
of their consciences ; that they should study the Scrip-
tures for themselves and work out their own salvation,,
rather than lie at the door of cardinals or listen to the
whispers of a confessor. A school of self-discipline is
the church, and therefore is its organization so simple
that every member may feel liimself in immediate con-
2



14

tact with his divine Law-giver. It was one great object
of the incarnation, to abridge the seeming distance be-
tween the Deity and his children, to bring them into a
nearness with him ; and the chnrch was so organized as
to carry forward this object, to nourish the feehng of re-
sponsibihty to the nnseen God, and cast into the shade
all such earthly dignities as intercept the effulgence of
the heavenly. Some laws and some otRces we must
have in the church ; but when we see the phalanx of
clerks and wardens, curates and prebendaries, deans,
deacons, archdeacons, bishops, archbishops, lords spiritu-
al, and spiritual courts, we almost lose sight of him who
said, " Be not many masters." Secularized almost of ne-
cessity will the church become, if she make her officers
and her rubrics so conspicuous as to call away the thoughts
from her only master ; if she place her government like a
wall of partition between the Redeemer and the disciples
who are one with him, and who should live in close prox-
imity to liim. When hierarchs have abounded, the church
has ever been unmindful of her spiritual relations. The
laity have been debased by surrendering too many of their
rights. The clergy have been inflated by receiving too
much obeisance. Man may bear with some meekness
the honors of a chancellor or a senator, but when he is
saluted with the titles, Right Reverend, His Grace, His
Holiness, Father in God, The Head of the church, he is
in danger of the harm which our Saviour foresaw when
he said, " Be not ye called Rabbi." There is no eleva-
tion which makes the exalted one so soon giddy, as that
of an ecclesiastical dictator. Man was not made to be a
lord over the souls of his fellow men. He is not fitted
to bear any greater authority in the church than that of
a minister of the gospel.

It is then an imperative duty of clergymen, to discoun-
tenance all excess of government among christian breth-



15

ren. This is the special duty of ministers in New En-
gland. Ill Europe nearly everything is done for the peo-
ple ; but with us nearly all is done bi/ them. The ec-
clesiastics of the old world feel that they have a prescrip-
tive right to retain their fellow Christians in bondage.
But we have begun existence anew, far away from the
estabUshmeuts of other lands, unfettered by the customs
of feudal times. In Europe, the despotism of the civil
government lends important aid to that of the ecclesias-
tical. Men are so educated in the State as to be easily
domineered over in the Church, and so disciplined in
the Church as to become fit instruments of oppression in
the State. But our citizens are not so carefully fitted in
their civil traming for much display of human authority
in the house of God. When they bestow a high discre-
tionary power upon a magistrate, they are jealous of its
abuse, they circumscribe him with conditional and advi-
sory resolves, make him accountable to his constituents,
and cleave to the principle of rotation in office. An in-e-
sponsible life -bishopric may be congenial with transatlan-
tic institutions, but is not with American. When we
were colonies of Britain, she sent her agents hither for
the purpose of securing the aboUtion of oar ecclesiastical
polity, and introducing a more authoritative and ostenta-
tious government. She rightly judged that our simple
and modest organization was not in keeping with the
principles of a monarchy. If then we prize our national
government, we must love that form of ecclesiastical dis-
cipline which is harmonious with it; which gave an
early, strong impulse to it. It is an historical fact, that
the polity of our churches had a perceptible influence in
suggesting the framework of our civil constitution. In
return for what it has given us of political good, it de-
mands our support. The ecclesiastical policy of the
New Testament is, that we pursue our sacred calHng in



16

harmony with the political institutions of the land in
which we reside, and therefore a monarchical govern-
ment in the church must be modified in a repubhc. It
may be easier for us to dwell under a system that shall
give more power to the clergy and less to the people,
but we were not born for consulting our ease, and al-
though an anti-republican government may save us from
much labor, still it is not fitted to evangelize a free peo-
ple. We may live more placidly, if we can suppress the
voice of laymen, and become responsible to none but
dignitaries of the church ; but the great majority of our
thinking fellow citizens will not long submit to hierarchi-
cal pretensions ; and it is therefore unwise to sacrifice
an evangelical influence over them to the mere quiet of
living under a bench of bishops or cardinals. We must
not shrink away from hard service, and lay down our
heads upon the lap of an aristocratic church-polity. As
descendants of the Puritans we are often charged with
radicalism, and some of our brethren who thus assail us
appropriate to themselves the title of conservative. But
the true conservatism of New England is, to keep a fast
hold of those principles which are inwrought into the
warp and woof of our political system ; and where is
radicalism if not in attempting to eradicate the ecclesias-
tical polity which for more than two hundred years has
been growing with our growth and intertwining itself
with the character of our people. Where is the disor-
ganizing spirit and the far-famed sin of schism,* if not

* We by no means intend to say, that the sin of schism is chargea-
ble upon opposers of the ecclesiastical polity which prevails in New
England. We simply mean, that they who oppose this polity are in
some respects more obnoxious to the charge, than those who cleave
to the institutions of their fathers. We are aware, however, that
the phrase "sin of schism" is seldom used except as designating
the character of non-conformity to a prelatical government. Even
the bishop of Vermont writes thus : " We cannot regard the non-



17

in attempting to extirpate the usages of our Pilgrim
fathers, men who were as well qualified by nature, as
well fitted by intellectual and moral discipline to lay the
foundations of an apostolical church, as uninspired men
ever were, or perhaps can be expected ever to be. The
•citizens of some States follow in the footsteps of their
fathers from the mere influence of veneration for the
past. We should gather around the religious institutions
of our Puritan ancestry, because they are in the spirit of
the New Testament ; because they are the most vene-
rable of all our institutions; because they are homoge*
neons with our national character ; because, when they
fall, one prop of our civil liberties will fall with them.
Fifteen years since, many persons were anti-prelatical
in their views of the church, and repubhcan in their
views of the State, who are now the advocates of a semi-
papal discipline in the one, and of monarchy in the other.
This connection between freedom in sacred things, and
freedom in civil, is well understood by transatlantic ob-
servers of our republican experiment. They are predict-
ing, that the rapid influx of papal religionists among us
will impair our political immunities. They utter their
dark forebodings, when they hear that some of our intel-
ligent laymen are beginning to rejoice in the writings of
bishop Laud; and when they can be made to credit the
rumor that sixty American clergymen, freeborn and free-
bred, have kneeled down in bodily presence at the feet
of a bishop in New York, they will marvel that the
change is come so soon upon us, and will cry out, How

episcopal ministry as men regularly ordained, but rather as laymen,
exercising ministerial functions according to a rule of human, instead
of divine; of modern, instead of apostolic institution. Hence their
baptisms are lay baptisms. They are also liable to the charge of
schism, and are not free from the more grievous infection of heresy."
— Tlic novelties which disturb our Peace, pp. 51, 52.
2*



18



art thou fallen, Lucifer, Son of the morning, and become
as one of us I

In the fourth place, it is an especial duty of the minis-
ters of New England, to preserve simplicity in their mode
of divine worship. This is an important duty, though not
essential to the maintenance of a christian character.*
There must be some forms of worship. They should not,
however, be artificial, but such as the nature of worship
suggests. They should not be excessive in number, but
confined within certain limits. Symbols of truth may be
used to arrest the attention ; but, if they be inappropriate,
they will engross the attention. They may be used to
vivify the sentiment ; but if they be improper, they will
satisfy the mind with merely natural sentiment. Inap-
posite symbols are as hurtful, as the fitting symbols are
beneficial. Whenever religious forms are more numer-
ous than the prevailing usages of society require, they
will be used by the people as a telescope is used by a
child, as something to be played with rather than looked
through. Opposed by nature to the contemplation of sa-
cred doctrine, we often confine our gaze to the visible ob-
servances, and will not cast an eye behind them to the
idea which they represent. The design of these rites is
to shadow forth a principle, but the mind lingers among
the shadows, and is glad of an excuse for neglecting the
substance. — Hence results another evil of excessive for-
mahty in worship. It tends to confound all distinction of
moral character. It affects the amiable instincts, and
man is ever ready to mistake the effervescence of animal
sensibility for the deeper outflow of holy emotion. We
often hear that the feeling of reverence is promoted by
the Romish ceremonies, but some men are satisfied if
they revere a temple of worship, while they have no ven-
eration for the converted soul of a Protestant, which is a
temple of the hving God. They hope for salvation, be-



19

cause they are filled with awe when they see a relic of
the true cro^s, even if they have no respect for the humil-
ity and the meekness which are the substantial relics of
the Saviour. The tracts of the Oxford divines are famed
for the spirit of reverence which they breathe ; but it is a
•deceptive reverence, for it is always more conspicuous in
view of an outward observance in the church, than in
view of a moral excellence out of it. Men are flattered
by garnishing the sepulchre of a canonized patron, but
learn their true character from the spiritual teachings of
Jesus. The worshippers in a Roman cathedral are en-
tranced by their bands of music, and fascinated with the
vestments of their clergy, they become zealots for their
church, will lay down their life for it, but see no dividing
line between the men who are lovers of pleasure, and
the men who are lovers of God. All are on the Lord's
side in their own esteem, because all are dazzled with
the ceremonial at the altar, and feel no interest in
that truth which severs the righteous from the wicked.
But where the minister disdains to enrobe himself in gar-
ments spangled with gold-thread, where he holds up and
lu'ges forward the discriminating doctrines of the gospel,
there the friends of the truth become a peculiar people,
and the scriptural theory is developed of " one taken and
another left." A man may be regenerated by the instru-
mentality of a Madonna of Raphael, but there is far more
likelihood of his being engrossed with the softness of the
coloring and the loveliness of the form, and of his mistak-
ing the delights of an amateur for the complacency of a
spiritual worshipper. The winning child, smiling in the
arms of its virgin mother, may call forth a tear even from
the eye of a Borgia, but this child is not painted " for the
fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign
which shall be spoken against ; that the thoughts of many
hearts may be revealed." The vaU of excessive for-



20

mularies must be taken away from the eyes of a people,
or they will not see clearly those principles wliich " try
every man's work of what sort it is."

Still another evil of excessive forms is, that they de-
grade the dignity of worship. True dignity does not con-
sist in pomp and glitter, but in expressions of greatness
of soul, of solemn thought, of communion with God.
When we notice much regard to dress and etiquette in a
preacher, we feel that he has descended from the spirit-
uality of his calling. He should enter the sanctuary as


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