Massachusetts Pastoral Association.

Sermons online

. (page 8 of 16)
Online LibraryMassachusetts Pastoral AssociationSermons → online text (page 8 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

There need not be a doubt, however, that many of those ministerial
candidates who have left us, were conscientious in changing their re-
lations ; and that many warm friends of a prelalical church are guilt-
less of all attempts to urge its claims beyond the limitof fair and hon-
orable discussion.


and eighty-five persons ordained by a single bishop in
New England, two hundred and seven were converts
from other denominations. If the triumph were, that
these hundreds of clergymen and thousands of laymen
had been transformed from sin to holiness, we would
exult in the glad news. We call heaven and earth to
witness, that we rejoice in the advance of any sect whose
pure aim is to gather the wanderers from virtue into the
congregation of the saints. But no ; the boast is, that
converts have been made, not from iniquity to godliness,
but from sects and denominations to what is called, in a
peculiar style of catholism, the church.

All this activity of sectarian zeal we have witnessed
and have not remonstrated. We have seen that some of
our brethren, who left us from mere preferences of taste,
have at length been aided by the convictions of their un-
derstanding, and have gone higher and higher upward,
until they look down upon us as things of nought ; still,
we have borne it all with meekness and long-suiFering.
We have seen the aggressions multiply and become
bolder and bolder, more and more successful ; still, we
have chosen to return no injury for injury, no proselytism
for proselytism. We have been sileut until we have almost
given to those, who deny the validity of our ordinances, a
prescriptive right to labor for the aggrandizement of their
own sect, at the expense of ours. We have well-nigh aban-
doned all claim to our own possessions, and it appears
singular for us to withstand an encroachment. But our
forbearance has been interpreted into a sign of conscious
weakness, and want of self-respect. It has been said by
an eminent civilian, that we are ourselves grown tired
and sick of our Congregational platform, and are willing to
see it crumble down piece by piece. It has been con-
fidently said to our young men, that some of their fathers
in the ministry are gratified, when they see " the church"


extending itself upon the ruins of what was once called
" the standing order," and that they even advise the can-
didates for our ministry to secure a more elegant ordina-
tion than we can give them. It has been proclaimed in
triumph, that it is impossible to enlist the feelings of
any people in a church which has no gorgeous ceremo-
nial to charm the eye, and but little of outward circum-
stance to impose on the fancy ; and that we therefore
have but a weak hold upon our lay population. But we
cannot accede to such a statement. We believe, that if
the fancy be not often titillated by our observances, the
reason and the conscience are impressed by them. We
are confident, that if the truth on this subject be dissem-
inated, the strong sense, and the moral feeling of our peo-
ple will come out, and stay out, in the defence of Puri-
tan institutions. It is our profound conviction, that they
who abandon these institutions are lending their influence
to a system, which will hereafter be far more hostile to a
spiritual rehgion than it is now, and which must become
more modest in its pretensions, or it will soon wear out
the patience of meek men. It is in the nature of a reli-
gious commonwealth like ours, that the free Christians
who compose it will not so easily unite in a sectarian con-
test, as if they were marshalled by a few diocesans.
We are glad that it is so ; but when our brethren once
perceive that their principles are attacked, that their
young men are carried captive, that some of their schools
of the prophets have been injured by the assaults of a
proselyting spirit, they will rise of themselves with a
strength and an impetus that can never be equalled un-
der a prelatical discipline. It is true, and we rejoice in
it, that the genius of a popular organization like ours, pre-
disposes its friends to live in peace with other sects ; but
when they are assailed too freely, when they cannot pos-
sess their own without being molested, when their goods


are taken away even from their strong holds, then they
feel driven to self-defence, and one urges another onward
until they move, strong and pressing, like the waves of
the sea. We do believe, that the ecclesiastical system,
which our fathers have left us, imparts an activity, and
an energy, and a perseverance, and a deep-seated love
of truth, which prove the system to be " Apostolical," and
yet we hear it often said, that the system is worn out;
that it worked well enough in the rude times of the Pil-
grims, but is too unwieldy for a densely peopled State,
too clumsy for the refinements of modern days; that it
has been abandoned already by all young men of taste,
and is acknowledged by our older men to be inefficient
and ill-fitted for this polite generation. I know that we
have by our past indifference given some reason for this
charge, and have allowed the fascinations of ceremony
to steal in upon the plainness of truth ; but if we will
only wake up from our lethargy, I can have no fear that
the well-balanced mind of New England will prefer a
showy worship to a thoughtful one, an outward beauty
to inward strength. I know too well the hidden power
of a Puritan faith. By night have I dreamed of an old
ship of war returning from an important cruise, and lying
becalmed near the main land, her sails flapping lazily
against her shrouds, her sailor-boys playing at the mast-
head, and her mates sleeping quietly in their berths ; and
the painted canoes of her enemy came around her, and
flourished their gilded oars, and robbed her of her treas-
ures one after another ; but when she had parted with
more than she could afford to lose, and spared her good
things to her own hurt, — and when the breeze came, and
the winds blew, — then she remembered her name and
her destiny, she spread out her canvass to the gales, and
her pennon streamed in the air, and her young men hast-
ed to their posts, and her old men lifted up their voices


louder than the sound of the waves, and the cannon spake
from her sides, and she moved onward, clearing her way
through the small craft that had come out against her,
and riding forward conquering and to conquer. I know
it has been said of us, that we must be feeble so long as
we have no titled dignitaries for our defence ; that we
are rude and unlearned, having no taste, and being over-
run with fanaticism ;* that we are vuiordained, uncon-
firmed, unbaptized; able to exhibit no claim to a succes-
sion from the apostles, and destined soon to sink back in-
to the nothingness from which we so recently emerged,
as the creatures of a day. But do not let us feel ashamed
of our Puritan discipline. Do not let us aspire to become
more respectable and manly by hiding under the shadow
of a bishop's lawn. Do not let us fear, that, if we be faith-
ful, the prelacy will trample us into the dust, opposed as we
think it is to the spirit of the New Testament, and to the
earliest history of the church, and resisted as it has been by
such men as John Owen and John Howe and John Milton ;
by Mosheim, Neander, and the great majority of learned
Protestants in Europe ; by our own Millers and Masons
and Strongs and Springs and Dwights ; by the schools
of Chauncey and Hopkins and Bellamy and our two
Edwardses, — " geminos, duo falmina belli." Our duty,
brethren, is plain. It is to rise up and work ; to make
the truth known, and to hold it fast; not to think too
much of the minor evils that attend our church-polity,
nor to little of the preponderating good which comes
from it. While we choose to unite with all men who love

^ " Where little is given," says an Oxford divine, speaking parti-
ticularly of the Presbyterians, " little will be required." Tract No. 47.
The celebrated Dr. Hook of Leeds, speaking of the American Epis-
copal Church says, (we quote from memory,) " It constitutes the bo-
dy who stand between inhdelity on the one side, and fanaticism on
the otJier." Similar language has been heard, not unfrequently, in
our own land.


union in a god cause, we must disdain to purchase the
favor of secarians at the sacrifice of those principles
with which "came the germ of our repubhc," and on
which the prtvalence of a spiritual Christianity will ever
greatly rely. We are bound to make our spiritual heri-
tage an ornanent to our beloved land, and we have no
license to lea^^e it as a common waste ground, for the de-
predations of my who may have more zeal for forms than
for equal riglxs. Let us remember, brethren, that a Pu-
ritan ministe: is required, in a preeminent degree, to be
a workman tiat needeth not to be ashamed. On few
other men is aid so constant and heavy a demand for
mental impro/^ement.* Let us therefore raise the stan-
dard of Puritaa education. Let \is exhort our ministerial
brethren to nore diligence in study; to acquire more
freedom in ejtemporaneou's speech; to write fewer ser-
mons and mate those fewer better. Let us impress upon
our churches heir duty to collect large libraries, contain-
ing standard tiieological works, for their own use, but
more especially for the use of their pastors. Let valua-
ble collections of clerical books be deposited in every
county-town, and made accessible to all the devotees of
truth in that county.! Let us establish in this city of the
Pilgrims, a Pilgrim Hall, that shall contain the writings
of our fathers, and of our brethren, and of our successors ;
and let its walls preserve the portraits of our Cottons, and
our Mathers, and our Hookers, and our Emmonses, and
our Paysons, and our Hallocks, and our Beechers. Let
us have mercy upon our colleges, and no longer allow
them to hang their heads and pine away, as if they were
forgotten of the mother that bore them. Let us give an
adequate and a generous patronage to some one religious
journal, that shall commend itself to all parties and schools

* See Appendix, Note C. J See Appendix, Note D.



of the Puritans, and shall command theatteition of every

)arish be un-
comes forth

hamlet ui New England. Let not a single
visited by our Quarterly Periodical which
from New Haven, and wliich, from its published hst of
contributors, seems destined to be " the chtiot and the
horseman of our Israel. " Let us abandon all doubtful
charities ; and let us concentrate more of \>wc energies
upon the salvation of our Western Stat^. In those
States are the future interests of our churcjies garnered
up. Let us send our treasures hke rivers, ^d our men
like armies to the great valley, where the pope will reign
unless Puritanism be triumphant, and thai right early.
Let us not strive to estabhsh our peculiar thurch disci-
phne there in opposition to our Presbyteriai friends, but
to plant the essential gospel ; not to make our Western
brethren partisans with us i?i a sect, but f«llow-laborers
in the promulgation of a simple faith. Let ius wrap our-
selves round about with truth as with a garment, and let
our faces sliine with the light thereof Let us emulate
the piety of our ancestors, and be men mighty with God
and prevailing at the throne of his grace. Remember-
ing the fires of SmitMeld, and the ashes of our fathers
and our mothers who sleep in Bunhill Fields, let us draw
near to the footstool of mercy, and offer the prayer which
was so often repeated by our Puritan ancestors :

Give ear, Oh Shepherd of Jsrael! thou that leadest Joseph
like afiock ; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine
forth. — T/ioii hast brought a vi?ie out of Egypt; thou hast
cast out the heathen and planted it. TIwu preparedst room
before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled
the land. The hills ivere covered with the shadow of it, and
the boughs thereof icere like the goodly cedars. She sent
out her hougJis mito the sea, and her branches unto the river.
Let rwt, then, her liedges be broken down; so tJiat all they


ivldch pass by the ivay shall pluck her. Let not the hoar
out of the wood v)aste it, nor the wild beast of the f eld devour
it. Return, we beseech thee. Oh God of hosts, look dawn
from Heaven, and behold, and visit this vine, and the vine-
yard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch
which thou madest strong for thyself. — So will not we go>
back from thee ; quicken us, and we ivill call upon thy name.
Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts ; cause thy face to-
shine, and we shall be saved. Amen and Amen.



Substantially the same objections which were made by our fathers
to the established church of England, are made by English dissen-
ters at the present day. Speaking of a persecuting sectarianism, an
eminent writer says, " It makes the institutions of a particular church,
of greater importance than the Christianity common to all churches.
Zeal is always of this spurious character, when its aim is not so much
to make men religious who were not so, as to cause parties to leave
one place of christian worship for another ; and when, in respect lo
education, the solicitude felt is not so much to abate the ignorance
and vice of society, as to break down every apparatus of instruction
which has not exclusive connexion with our own religious com-
munion. From what we know concerning the proceedings of a very
large portion of zealous Episcopalians, we cannot entertain a doubt
that their ardor is very much of this faulty complexion. They have
zeal, but it is not so much a zeal for Christianity, as a zeal against
sects. They engage in education also, but it is not so much the
ignorance of the lower classes that they fear, as the bias of the know-
ledge that may be imparted to them. That the poor should not be
educated at all, would be deemed a less — a greatly less evil, than
that they should be educated in a manner which may lead them into
the ways of dissent. This kind of zeal, accordingly, has increased
only as the zeal of dissent has increased ; and its aim has been to
counteract dissent, rather than to work side by side with it, or to
employ itself upon the ground left in the greatest degree at its dis^


posal. It would sink into listlessness to-morrow, were it only that
the religious zeal, or political disaffection, which it is meant to coun-
teract, would follow its example. The forms of a particular church
are its one thing needful, rather than the substance of Christianity as
it may be found in every church. It is more concerned to put down
dissent, than to put down wickedness ; and to preclude dissenting
education, than to encourage education in any form. The plea is a
plea of religion ; the real object is to uphold a fashionable worldly
institute, and to strengthen a great political party. That multitudes
of educated men and women should allow themselves to be actuated
by a zeal which clearly announces that such is its character, would
be sufficiently humilating, though they should confine themselves to
fair and honorable means in the prosecution of their object ; but that
they should descend, with that view, to every sort of petty meddling
and oppression, is an exhibition of human infirmity truly distressing.

"It may be said that this account can only apply to worldly
churchmen — men who have no just idea of spiritual religion But
we regret to say, that the conduct just now described is as conspicu-
ous among the evangelical professors in the church, as among the
merely orthodox. It may be much more inconsistent in the former
connexion than in the latter, but it is as manifest in the one quarter
as in the other. No doubt there are evangelical churchmen, whose
scriptural piety renders them happy and honorable exceptions in this
respect. But, on the other hand, there is many an orthodox church-
man, whose natural pride, taking the shape of gentlemanly feeling,
would not allow of his descending, for a moment, to the paltry pro-
cesses of persecution, which are familiar as the matters of a daily
routine to not a few of bis evangelical neighbors. Unhappily, it is
no uncommon thing to find, that we are often safer in having to do
with a sense of honor in the worldly, than with notions of religious
duty in the case of persons making the largest pretensions to spir-
ituality as professors of the gospel." — In a note the author adds the
following instructive facts :

"The population of Westminster consists of about 56,000 souls.
For not more than 5000 of this population is church-accommodation
provided by the Establishment. In one district it has been ascertain-
ed, that of 1635 families, 1324 were living in the habitual neglect of
public worship; of 302 shops in the same district, 235 are open for
traffic on the Lord's day. Not a few of the habitations of Westmin-
ster are known haunts of the most vicious of both sexes. In the
Almonry, directly under the shadow of Westminster Abbey, are about
twenty-seven houses, nearly the whole of which are houses of ill
fame of the most abominable character. These houses have been


so occupied during the memory of the oldest inhabitants of the parish,
and they are all the property of the Dean and Chapter of West-
minster !

" But let it be marked, that in the leases granted by the said Dean
and Chapter, is the following clause : — '■Or shall build or erect, or
suffer to be built or erected, any chapel or meeting-house, for any sepa-
rate congregation of people dissenting from the church of England, as
by law established, or the said messuage or tenement to be used for any
such chapel or meeting-house.^

" Now, the first conclusion from these facts clearly is, in the es-
teem of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, the people of West-
minster had better be without any Christianity at all than be Chris-
tianized by dissenters. The second conclusion, following as clearly
as the first, is, that there is not so much to merit discountenance in
houses of the lowest infamy, as in places of religious worship, when-
ever the worship in them is not that of the established church. If
facts have any meaning, these facts have this meaning. If the Dean
and Chapter of Westminster can descend to do this — to say, by their
conduct, that to enrich themselves from the gains of such places is
an act of less doubtful purity than to tolerate the religion of a Watts
or a Doddridge, what may we not expect elsewhere 1 Society should
be made to perceive, more fully and widely than it has done, that
among the vicious passions which have place in the human spirit,
religious bigotry is one of the most irreligious, the most immoral,
and the most dissocializing !" — See pp. 105 — 108, in the second edition
of a loork on Congregationalism, by Robert Vaughan, D. D., Author
of the Life and opinions of Wyclyffe, The Causes of the Corruption of
Christianity, The Age of Great Cities, Tlie Modern Pulpit, etc.

It were easy to fill a volume with facts and statements, illustrating
the tendency of the English church, at the present day as well as in
the days of our fathers, to exalt the externals of religion above the
inward excellence of it. It is a tendency which is observed and
lamented by the most learned Protestants on the continent of Europe,
as well as by dissenters in Great Britain. From the increasing facili-
ties of intercourse between England and the United States, and from
the predominant inclination to preserve unity and avoid " schism"
in the whole Episcopal church, there is renewed reason to fear, that
the spirit of British Episcopacy will become more and more conspicu-
ous, among a people who, although independent in name, are yet
said "to borrow all their theology from foreign nations."



Lord Chatham denominated the Liturgy of the Church of England
"Popish." From the spirit which it breathes in reference to the
outward rites of religion, from the generalness of its phraseology,
and its want of appropriateness to the diversified, and in some re-
spects, peculiar wants of Christians at the present day, it must be
considered as deficient in several important elements of a truly spirit-
ual service. The commissioners who were appointed by the crown
for the revising of the liturgy about a hundred and eighty years ago,
thus express themselves : " We humbly desire that it may be consid-
ered, that as our first reformers, out of their great wisdom, did at that
time compose the liturgy so as to win upon the papists, and to draw
them into their church communion by verging as little as they could
Jrom the Romish forms before in use," etc. How far the sublime
Litany of the English Church differs from that of the Catholic, may
be seen by the following juxtaposition of the two :


Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, listen to us.
Father of heaven, God, have
mercy upon us.

Oh God, the Son, Redeemer of
the world, have mercy upon us.

O God, the Holy Ghost, have
mercy upon us.

Holy Trinity, one God, have
mercy upon us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy mother of God, pray for us.
Saint Michael, pray for us, etc.
Be gracious to us, spare us,

Be gracious to us, hear us, God.
From all evil ;

Deliver us, Lord.
From all sin ;

Deliver us.
From thy wrath ;

Deliver us.


Oh God, the Father of heaven,
have mercy upon us, miserable

Oh God, the Son, Redeemer of
the world, have mercy upon us,
miserable sinners.

O God, the Holy Ghost, pro-
ceeding from the Father and the
Son, have mercy upon us, misera-
ble sinners.

O holy, blessed, and glorious
Trinity, three persons and one
God, have mercy upon us, misera-
ble sinners.

Remember not. Lord, our of-
fences, nor the offences of our
forefathers ; neither take thou
vengeance of our sins.

Spare us, good Lord, spare thy
people, whom thou hast redeem-
ed with thy most precious blood,
and be not angry with us forever ;
Spare us. Good Lord.



From sudden and unprovided
death ;

Deliver us.

From the snares of the devil ;

Deliver us.

From wrath, hatred,and all evil

desires }

Deliver us.

From the spirit of fornication ;
Deliver us.

From lightning and tempest ;

Deliver us.
From everlasting death ;

Deliver v^.

By the mystery of thy holy in-
carnation ; Deliver us.
By thine advent ;

Deliver us.
By thy nativity ;

Deliver us.
By thy baptism and holy fast-
ing ; Deliver us.
By thy cross and passion ;

Deliver us, Lord.
By thy death and burial ;

Deliver us, Lord.
By thine admirable resurrec-
tion ; Deliver us.
By the coming of the Holy
Ghost, the Paraclete ;

Deliver us.
In the day of judgment ;

Deliver us.

We sinners beseech thee to hear

That thou vs^ouldst spare ;

We beseech thee.
That thou wouldst deign to
lead us to true repentance ;

We beseech thee.
That thou wouldst deign to
grant peace and true concord to
christian kings and princes ;

We beseech thee.


From all evil and mischief,
from sin, from the crafts and as-
saults of the devil, from thy wrath,
and from everlasting damnation ;

Good Lord, deliver us.
From all blindness of heart,
from pride, vain glory, and hypo-
crisy, from envy, hatred and mal-
ice, and all uncharitableness ;

Good Lord, deliver us.

From all inordinate and sinful

affections, from all the deceits of

the world, the flesh, and the

devil ;

Good Lord, deliver us.
From lightning and tempest,
from plague, pestilence and fam-
ine, from battle and murder, and
from sudden death ;

Good Lord, deliver us.
By the mystery of thy holy in-
carnation, by thy holy nativity,
and circumcision, by thy baptism,
fasting and temptation ;

Good Lord, deliver us.

By thine agony and bloody
sweat, by thy cross and passion,
by thy precious death and burial,
by thy glorious resurrection and
ascension, and by the coming of
the Holy Ghost ;

Good Lord, deliver us.

In all time of our tribulation,
in all time of our prosperity, in
the hour of death, and in the day
of judgment ;

Good Lord, deliver us.

We sinners, do beseech thee to
hear us, O Lord God, and that it
may please thee to rule and gov-
ern thy holy church universal, in
the right way ;

We beseeeh thee to hear us. Good

That it would please thee to
bless and preserve all Christian
rulers and magistrates : giving
them grace to execute justice and
to maintain truth ;



1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryMassachusetts Pastoral AssociationSermons → online text (page 8 of 16)