Imatges de pÓgina





chism, yet, as the avowed objecter with all actual transgressions, is to bring together in which proceed from it." harmonious body, persons funda- The corruption of man's namentally right, though some of ture, is, indeed, acknowledged by them may be partially incorrect, the gentlemen, of whom we are it would still be a matter of ex. speaking; but they do not believe treme difficulty to determine how that the sinfulness of man's fallen great a latitude might be allowa. 'estate consists in the guilt of A. ble :-how different a person's dam's sin ; of course, when they opinion might be from the literal subscribe to this article, it must import of the language, and yet be with very great latitude. subscribe that language, with a Again ; it is the opinion of good conscience. But nothing many, wbo advocate the meascan be more certain than that ure proposed that the divine efmany gentlemen, who most ficiency is as necessary to prowarmly advocate the measure, duce evil as good; that Adam must subscribe to the catechism,

sinned by bis if they subscribe at all, in a sense strength, than the sinner repents very different from what the and turns to God by his own language imports.

strength; that it was as much a The catechisin asserts, that divine power, which produced “ the covenant being made with an evil heart in Adam, as it is a Adam, not only for himself, but divine power, which produces a for his posterity, all mankind de- good heart in the regenerate. scending from him by ordinary Why should these persons be genera on, sinned in him, and required to subscribe such a fell with him in his first trans- sentence as this: “Our first gression.” Now, it is the belief parents being left to the freedom of many persons engaged to pro- of their own will, fell from the mote the contemplated coalition, estate in which they were created not that the posterity of Adam by sinning against God.” Sureeither “ sinned in him, or fell ly, they would not think it corwith him," but are answerable for rect to say, “ that the sinner, betheir actual transgressions, and ing left to the freedom of his theirs only: though they suppose

own will, turns from the state in that their actual trans;ressions which he was created by repentake place in consequence of his tance towards God." sin.

think the latter an erroneous exA latitude allowable to pression, or calculated to make man, is, doubtless, allowable to a wrong impression, they must another.

think the same of the former. 'The catechism assures Why should they be required to that “the sintulness of that e- subscribe to an expression, which state, whereinto man fell, con- they believe calculated to prosists in the guilt of Adam's first duce error? sin, the want of original right- If one person subscribe witli cousness, and the corruption of such latitude, why may his whole nature, which is com- another? What union then monly called original sin, togeth- will subscription produce? It is

[ocr errors]

If they




[ocr errors]

well known that subscription to lieve that it contains much more the Bible does not produce union truth than error ; may a man of sentiment. The Bible is safely subscribe it on that acsubscribed by Trinitarians, Cal- count? Some, no doubt, would be vinists, Arminians and Unitari- of this opinion; and might subans; how does this happen ? scribe, though Unitarians : othThey understand the Bible dif- ers would think, that they ought ferently. One denomination not to subscribe, if, in their apsupposes, that it substantiates prehension, it contained the their sentiments; another, that least error. it upholds theirs. Will this The thirty nine articles of the not be the case with those, who English church are Calvinistic. subscribe the Shorter Cate- Is it so with the clergy? Are chism? It is anwered in the they Calvinistic? A great majorinegative, because the language ty of them are, and have been of the catechism is more defi- notoriously otherwise. The minite than that of scripture. Be nority subscribe and preach acit so; and suppose, further, that cording to the true spirit of the all, who shall associate on the articles : the others subscribe proposed plan, understand the generally, or in substance, or catechism in the same sense, yet with mental reservation, or if they subscribe, not as they they subscribe to what they wish suppose the authors meant, but the articles were. as they suppose the authors Again, the kirk of Scotought to have meant, I ask land make the doctrines of again, where is the union? For Christianity, as generally exdoubtless, all persons would not plained in the Assembly's Catthink alike, as to what ought to echism, the basis of their union. have been the meaning of the But are they united in senti. Westminster Assembly. Is it ment? and none but Calvinists not clearly absurd to speak of an among them? The contrary is union to be produced by sub- undeniable. Surely those, who scribing to a confession, if it be feel most interest in this coaliunderstood, in the outset, that tion do not design, like king we may subscribe in what sepse James I. to prevent the discuswe please ? But it may be re

sion of those points in theology, plied, that the supposition here which are most often disputed. made does not accord with truth. Let it be supposed then, that A It is by no means understood, that and B subscribe the catechism. persons are to be admitted into The former holding the sentia this association unless they be- ments of Dr. Hopkins, the other lieve the catechism in substance. of Dr. Doddridge.

of Dr. Doddridge. They both, I reply, that the substance of the in each other's presence, preach catechism is a term extremely their respective sentiments. vague. Persons, who were strong. Will A feel at all more agreeably, ly opposed to many expressions in at hearing his own sentiments the catechism, might think it not controverted and condemned by inconsistent with uprightness, B, because they have made the to subscribe it generally, or in same confession of faith, than by substance. Almost all men be- another person? Will not the

audience perceive that their Another inconvenience likely union consists in words, not in to attend on the contemplated faith? Will it not be perceived association is, its being conducive that while A subscribed a cate to a wrong estimate of clerical chism, teaching such particular character. The catechism will, doctrines, the other subscribed a in the use proposed, be a standcatechism, the doctrines of which ard of orthodoxy. People will were very different ? Here be led to view those, who subthen will be at least two parties scribe, as orthodox; all who rein this harmonious association fuse to subscribe, heterodox. just as far apart as before, the Here are two men, let it beone desiring that his sentiments supposed, whose theological senmay prevail, to the suppression timents perfectly coincide. Both or extermination of contrary view the catechism as a remarksentiments ; the other as cordial- ably succinct and well digested ly reciprocating the same desire. summary of the Christian faith.

But, says an advocate for the Both believe in man’s hereditary measure contemplated, let both depravity ; but do not believe be prudent, and cautiously guard that the posterity of Adam either against mutual offence. Where- sinned in him, or fell with him. unto they have already attained, But though agreed in divinity, let them walk by the same rule; they are not agreed in every let them mind the same things. point of Christian casuistry. One So says the writer; but pray why supposes, that, taking all things may they not do this without into consideration, he may safely subscribing the catechism ? subscribe. He does it, and is reWhy may they not, at present, puted sound in the faith. The converse freely together, see other, whose faith is precisely the where they agree, and where same, judging differently as a casthey differ, unite in supporting uist, does not subscribe ; of what they both deem important, course, he is reputed a person of and to oppose what both unite in corrupt sentiments. His repucondemning? Why may not tation suffers, and his usefulness this be done without professing is diminished. a creed, which, it is extremely

These thoughts are suggested possible, neither subscribes, in for the consideration of the canthe sense of its original fram- did and pious. If they have no ers? The English clergy have, weight, or be counterbalanced by it is well known, brought much those, which have more, the wrireproach on themselves, by their ter cordially hopes, that the conreadiness to subscribe articles, templated coalition will be formwhich, in their most obvious sense, ed. On the other hand, if the they do not believe. It is not reasoning be just, the sincere easy to see why others who imi. friends of Zion will not despise it. tate them should not partake in But what, interrogates the the same reproach. Whatever reader, shall be done? Are the injury is done to the cause of up- peculiar doctrines of Christiani. rightness and true religion, in ty to be given up, or viewed with the one case, may be done in the indifference? Is it of no concernother.

ment, whether we preach the etha

pose them.

ics of Epictetus, or the gospel luctance to publish the precedof Messiah? And should we not ing communication has not ariscontend, with a Christian temper, en from want of respect for the for the Christian faith?

talents of their Correspondent, The writer humbly proposes nor, on the other hand, from a the following measures.

fear of meeting his objections in 1. Let those ministers who the most public manner. They believe that men are in a state, would not become advocates of a from which they need to be re- measure which, in their apprenewed by the Holy Spirit, en- hension, would suffer by fair, deavour to cultivate a friendly open investigation. The delay intercourse.

of the publication has proceeded 2. Let them collect the most from their unwillingness to occuimportant points, on which they py the attention of their readers do agree, and unite for the de: with arguments, which, though fence of them.

specious, are not weighty, and 3. Let them consider the which, in their serious judgment, threatening errors, which they tend rather to perplex, than to both condemn, and unite to op- enlighten the mind. They

have further considered how ea4. Though they should not

sy it frequently is, by a few senpretend union of sentiment, tences, to entangle a subject where it does not exist, let them with puzzling difficulties, and to not magnity the points of disa- inwrap it in obscurity; and how greement.

much attention and labour are 5. Let them agree not to act sometimes necessary to free it in the ordination of a candidate, from such entanglements and ubunless liberty be granted to ex- scurity, and to place it clearly in amine his qualifications.

the light of truth. This considTo these, let there be added eration, which has increased humble prayer, a mild temper to- their backwardness to publish wards all men, and increased the foregoing performance, must zeal in the discharge of ministe- be received, as an apology for rial duty.


the length of their reply.

But in attempting a just reply to the communication of J, it is by no incans necessary to prove,

that liis objections are wholly COMMUNICATION.

without foundation. We never Is the view of the Editors, the indulged the expectation, that plan of the GENERAL Associ- the plan of the General AssociaATION is favourable to the inter- tion would occasion no undesiraest of religion. It has, therefore, ble consequences ; nor are we received their decided approba. disposed to say that the evils, tion, and their cordial and zeal. which our Correspondent has ous patronage. It can), they be- mentioned, if they should follow, lieve, be defended on principles, are worthy of no regard. It is which result from scripture, be remembered, that no from sound reason, and from the scheme, though devised by the experience of ages. Their re- most consummate wisdom, and





calculated to yield the greatest generally is it the case, that our advantage to the public, can be judgment and practice are deproposed, against which a fertile termined in favour of a proposimagination and a subtle under- ed plan, not by the prospect of standing cannot urge very play- avoiding every evil, but by the sible arguments. What plan of balance of expected good ? Here, extensive utility to mankind has we apprehend, is the great misever been brought forward, the take of our respected corresponaccomplishment of which has dent. He appears too much imnot been hindered by a host of pressed with the few possible objections. If our finding men, inconveniences, which may atwho will object and oppose, be tend the plan of the General Asconsidered a serious discourage- sociation, and too little, with the ment, we must relinquish every immense good, which it is likegreat and good work, and despair ly to promote. Even if all the of ever attaining the object, to evils, which have occurred to his which Christian benevolence is imagination, could be certainly devoted.

predicted, those evils would, in No important measures for our apprehension, be lost in the the public good have ever been evident advantages of the Geneadopted and pursued, which ral Association. These advanhave not been attended with dif- tages have been briefly mentionficulties, and followed by some ed in a former number of the real evils. The medical art, Panoplist, and need not be rethough it has been a blessing to peated. See Pan. Vol. II. p. the world, has been the occasion 504.* of destroying the health and has- Upon the supposition, that the tening the dissolution of many evils apprehended should actualindividuals. There is no civil ly take place, it is still an imlaw or constitution, though most portant question, whether they wisely framed, and founded on would arise from any improprithe most rigid principles of pub- ety or defect in the plan of the lie justice, which may not, in General Association, or from some real or supposeable case, some other cause.

That plan open the door for a degree of in- ought not to be charged with justice to particular persons. evils, which spring from the The most important improve ignorance, the weakness, or the ments in the arts and sciences, errors of men. Readers will reand the most pious and success- member that the plan proposed ful plans for the reformation is simply this ; namely, that the and everlasting welfare of man- Congregational ministers in this kind have occasioned partial dis- commonwealth, who embrace advantage and injury. But what the doctrines of the reformation, reasonable man ever thinks of shall meet together once a year, urging an accidental, partial evil, to deliberate on the concerns of which may possibly take place, religion, and to devise and adopt as a decisive arguinent against a project, which promises a vast

• The reader is requested to reoverbalance of acivantage? How fresh bis mind with the No. referred

to. Vol. III. No. 10.


« AnteriorContinua »