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great object of worship? Is the roughest storm, and sustains unpiety of one individual to be hurt the rudest winter, and conjudged of by the piety of ano- tinues long to cheer the eye of ther? Are we to hear with in- man. Christianity does not allow difference, and even with dis- of precipitancy in its disciples.” like, the holy tempers and the " To the love of the marvelstrict morals of the Gospel incul- lous, as one cause, I ascribe cated on Christians ?”
much of the love that some “A false taste in theology is Christians have for the mysteformed and cherished: a false rious in doctrinal religion, for the standard of truth and piety is inexplicable in what is called established. The unfortunate experimental religion, and for individual goes to church : if the curious and allegorical in some of his favourite points are the interpretation of scripture. handled, he is almost lost in ad- He who would make real attainmiration. Why? Because such or ments in religion, must restrain such a doctrine was discussed. bis imagination. We are prone But if it happens that some topick to admire the mystical and the of Christian temper, or Christian fanciful, instead of attending to morality, has been expanded and plain and soher reality. This is pressed on the conscience, he sickly and pernicious." returns home peevish, discon- “Is there not naturally in man tented, and censorious. Why? a principle of pride, which makes Because the preacher has been him obstinate in his attachment only telling him what to do." to the views wbich he has once
“ But true religion is generally embraced ? He is therefore, reof slow growih. It is not a plant luctant to question the truth of that shoots up rapidly by means his opinions, and to hear the reof artificial heat, appearing before marks of others upon them. He us presently in its full. dimen. will not harbour the suspicion sions, and in all its charms. It that he may possibly be wrong. is the tree that grows impercep. Others may be wrong, but he tibly in the field, beneath the cannot. But this is neither sun, and amidst the showers of Christianity, Reason, nor Proheaven; which smiles in the testantism."
THOUGHTS ON THE DANGER OF INNOVATIONS.
“ Be it remembered, whatever now is establishment was once innovation."
Philanthropist, No. XL p. 289.
THE motto before us was ta- troduced “ to alter the sentence ken from a speech delivered in for high treason.” the British House of Commons, The law which this pbilanby Sir Samuel Romilly, in sup- thropist wished to have amended, port of a bill, which he had in- subjected the criminal to this
savage doom ;_"1. That the the thought never occurred, that offender be drawn to the gallows, all human laws, opinions and and not be carried or walk;- customs, were once as new as 2. That he be hanged by the those of yesterday, and as liable neck and then cut down alive ;- to be reproached as innovations. 3. T'hat his entrails be taken This however, is true of every out and burned, while he is yet human law that 'now exists, alive;-4. That his head be cut whether civil, martial, or eccleoff;-5. That his body be di- siastical. It is true of every vided into four parts ;–6. That human creed, of every article of his head and quarters be at the faith, which has divided the king's disposal.”
Christian world into sects, and To many it will probably ap- of every established custom, pear astonishing, that such an whether Christian, Mahometan,
, inhuman law was ever enacted or Pagan, merciful or unmerciful, by a British Parliament; and wise or unwise, disputed or unstill more surprising that so re-, disputed. cently as 1813 a humane attempt All those opinions which have to amend the law should have been either honoured or remet with opposition. But such proached by the name of orthois the fact, and the Bill was doxy, whether among Papists or rejected in the House of Com- Protestants, and whether true or mons by a majority of twelve. false, were once innovations.
No greater obstacles to human These innovations were made improvement can be named, than by substituting sone other words an undue veneration for the as preferable to those used in the opinions and customs of ances- scriptures; or by adding some tors, and the propensity which human invention to the word of exists to raise the cry of danger God. Christians have not been against every attempt for inno- in the habit of disputing this vation. One of the principal question--" are the doctrines reasons for rejecting the humane true which
taught by Bill of Sir S. Romilly was this,' Christ and his Apostles ?” But that the sentence for high treason this has been the ground of “ had been established for cen- dispute.--"Did Christ and his turies”—“ had existed from time Apostles teach the doctrines immemorial.” It was in reply which this or that Doctor, Rabbi, to this popular argument, that Pope or Council has affirmed to the mover of the bill said, “ Be be the doctrines of the gospel ? it remembered,whatever now The changes which have been is establishment, was once inno- mnade in stating the doctrines of vation.”
the gospel have all been innovaWhat can be more obviously tions; and the custom of forintrue than this remark? But what ing human creeds was itself an has been less considered by peo- innovation of a dangerous cha: ple in general ? How great is racter. Had it not been for this the number of mankind to whom innovation, Christians would Vol. IV. No. 9.
never have embrued their hands and a humane attempt to prein each others blood, nor kind- serve peace and to save the lives led the flames of martyrdom on of men, is regarded as a danaccount of differences in opinion. gerous innovation.
All the oppressivo and san- As the pagans ar savages guinary customs which exist support their barbarous customs among Pagans, or Mahometans, by the arguments from antiquity, or Christians, were once perfect- and the wisdom and piety of their ly novel, however much they ancestors; so do Christians, and may now be revered for their with equal propriety. antiquity.
As it is certain that all human The African slave trade was opinions,laws and customs, which once an innovation : but it con- are “now establishment” were tinued so long, that it required " once innovations," two conanother innovation to abolish the clusions follow of course :custom. The agents in the at- First. All those opinions, laws tempts for abolition were re- and customs, which have come proached as innovators.
down to us from our ancestors, The barbarous custom of du- should be examined with as great elling was once as novel among care as those of modern origin. men, as a similar custom would No article of belief has acquired be if adopted to day by women. a particle of truth by age. Nor
The same may be said of pub- has any law or custom which lick war for the settlement of originated in “malevolent pasnational disputes. This custom sions" acquired a particle of prooriginated in a rude and savage priety by obtaining popularity. state of society, and it has al. If we may sit down contented, ways been supported by savage, and admit a doctrine to be corpassions. But such is the pow. rect, a law to be equitable, or a er of popular custom, that even custom to be proper and necessaamong men who call themselves ry, because it was so regarded civilized Christians, the most by our ancestors, why may not wanton butcheries of the human the pagans with equal propriety family are regarded as honour- adopt the same principle, and for able and heroick exploits; and ever reject the gospel ? he that does the most mischief, Second. As we should reject receives the greatest share of ap- the antiquity of an opinion or plause. From a great portion custom, as not being any proof of the people in Christendom of its propriety, so also should the greatest destroyers of man- we reject its novelty. kind receive a far greater share opinion is to be admitted as corof renown, than the greatest be- rect, because it is new, for this ncfactors-GOD HIMSELF not ex- very reason we should admit the cepted! And such is the delu- correctness of ancient opinions ; sion which still prevails in favour for they also were once new, of war, that the greatest curse is and they have not grown false regarded by many as a blessing; by age. Therefore, whether an
opinion or custom be ancient or In examining ancient opinmodern, it should ever lie open ions and customs, we should take to the most impartial and strict into view the age in which they examination.
probably originated, and the As the most opposite opinions means by which they have been may have been of equal antiqui- supported. For some opinions ty, and equally popular in dif- which are now popular, originalferent countries, it must be evi- ed in ages of barbarity, compardent to every judicious and can- ed with the present; and some did person, that we never can have been supported by means safely infer the correctness of which give just reason to susan opinion, or the propriety of a pect, that they will not “bear custom, either from its antiquity the shock of rational discussion," or its popularity. If either an- and that they would long ago tiquity or popularity is to be the have been discarded, had they criterion of truth and propriety, not been protected by terrour.Protestants must yield to Pa- Truth and propriety stand in no pists, and Christians to Pagans. need of the Inquisition, nor the
Christ and his apostles were tongue or pen of the reviler for regarded as innovators by unbe- their support. lievers both among the Jews and General Associations the Gentiles. Luther and Cal- among the innovations of the vin, were regarded in the same prezept age in New-England.light by Roman Catholicks; and But they are not to be censured such has been the fate of reform- on that ground; for some innoers in every age.
vations are very useful, while From these facts it is clear, others are very pernicious. that people ought to be careful Consociations are " establishin respect to raising the cry of ment” in Connecticut—the atdanger, when the propriety of an tempt to establish them in Masancient opinion or custom is call. sachusetts is an innovation. But ed in question, or a novel opin- if no other objection can be ion is advanced. For by this urged against them, we ought cry, this imprudent conduct, the to be silent. This innovation, truth has often been rejected, however, appears to have been and the best of men have been proposed to suppress or prevent treated as the worst. People of other innovations. It then be. the present age should be ready
comes a question, whether it be to adınit the possibility that some not of a hostile character, and opinions and customs are still more dangerous to Christian libpopular, which are as injurious erty, peace and unity, than every as those which have already other innovation against which been exploded by the progress it is to be armed. But at first of light; and every man should view it seems not a little remarkview himself as liable to err, and able, that men who are so forto be unduly influenced by edu- ward to raise the cry of danger cation and custom.
on accountof innovations, should
themselves adopt an innovation which is not of their own making, in principle, in discipline, and that they are generally prepared practice, as an antidote for inno- to apply the observation introvations in opinion.*
duced by our Saviour respecting As all established opinions and wine, and to say,
“ the old is customs were once innovations, better.” With some, “ an old erso all improvements in the arts rour is better thau a new truth;" and sciences, in the modes of an old law, however savage and education, and in the means of cruel, is better than a new one, meliorating the condition of man- which is more humane; an old kind, have resulted from inno- custom, which has murdered its vations. Had there been no in- hundreds of millions, is better novations within four centuries, than a new institution which is we should all have been Papists; designed to preserve peace, and and had there been none ace to save the of men. the days of the Messiah, we It is not perhaps half a centushould all have been Pagans and ry since there was not in this Savages.
country one American DictionaThe innumerable institutions ry, Geography, Gazetteer, Arithof the present age, religious, cha- metick, Grammar, or even Spellritable, humane, moral and pa- ing book ; nor any periodical cifick, are but so many impor- work, except Newspapers and tant innovations; and on that Almanacks. But one innovaground they have generally met tor after another has been rising with more or less opposition.- up, and now the land is filled Even Bible Societies have been with American innovations. Each opposed, censured and reproach innovator in bis turn has had to ed; but much less in this coun- encounter some share of reproach try than in Great Britain. and censure, from those who
Such is the veneration which were disposed to say “ The old many people have for whatever is better.” In some instances was esteemed by their ancestors, perhaps the censures have been and such their alarm at almost just, in others, unfounded or every remarkable innovation, extravagant,
Since the above was prepared for the press, we have seen and read with delight, an extract from the last Pastoral Address of the General Association of Massachusetts Proper. It is an excellent document. We shall with pleasure give it a place in the Christian Disciple, as an important article of intelligence. The pacifick and benevolent spirit of this Address, may be regarded as evidence that, in permitting the General Association to be formed, “ GOD MEANT IT UNTO good.” Should the future proceedings of that body be in harmony with the spirit of this part of their Pastoral Address, the project for Consociations will of course be consigned to oblivion ; and the great object of the General Association will be, not to divide the churches of Christ and to exhibit them as churches, militant, and as enemies one to another, but to unite them in the exercise of mutual love, which is the bond of peace and christian perfection.
All who are acquainted with history very well know, that such clerical combinations have generally been destructive to christian liberty : But as they are capable of doing much evil, while governed by the spirit of intolerance and usurpation ; so they are capable of doing much good, while under the influence of the spirit of “ Peace on earth and good will to men."