Images de page

destiny. All that involves its infinite existence begins with me. Its whole constitution, body, soul, and spirit—its whole nature, animal, intellectual, and moral-its whole destiny, temporal, spiritual, and eternal, are more or less committed to my care, and dependant on my influence. To me, then, is committed this solemn responsibility-this precious deposite this honorable copartnery with Heaven in peopling Zion, should I be found faithfully discharging the all-important trusts reposed in me by the Progenitor of the Universe.

What a lofty and sublime rank is that apportioned to womanl Hers is not the immediate business of erecting cities, of founding empires, or of forming governments; her hands are not made to manage the labors of the field, to bear the weapons of war, or to wield the rod of empire. She has the more delicate, elevated, and godlike work of creating man and of moulding his soul for immortality. Neglectful of this, her chief business and distinguishing honor, she loses her rank in the scale of creation and falls beneath her highborn destiny.

The first woman received a most significant and memorable name. Her inspired husband called her Eve, a term which simply means LIFE, because she was divinely constitated "the mother of all living." She is, then, the mother of a world, the moulder of its character, and the president of its whole destiny. But Adam and Eve were the only unborn roots of the tree of humanity. All since have derived being, character, and fortune from them. That woman's power and place might at once be demonstrated, it pleased God to permit her to be alone in the hour of temptation, and first in the transgression. Thus her power of weal or 'woe has been inscribed on a monument as indestructible as that which perpetuates the love of God to man.

But while alone and single in the incipiency of sin, she had the honor to be equally single and alone in the mysterious origination of Adam the second, the author of immortality to man. If, then, by a woman came sin and death, by a woman came righteousness and life into our world. Eve's first born was a murderer; but Mary's was the Saviour and Redeemer of man. Ah me! how wonderful are the fortunes of woman! How high her rank! How sublimely grand and radiant with glory her destiny may be under the guidance of the bright and morning Star of Bethlehem!

But how shall I be the spiritual mother of these dear pledges of Heaven's esteem and regard for me? God has made me the natural parent of these tender little ones; how may I aspire to the honor of being their mother in Christ to all eternity?

Eternity! O eternity! What a pleasing, awful, overwhelming thought! Are these dear infants to live forever and ever! Are they to derive from me a character, as they have from me derived a being cominensurate with all the years of God, with all the ages of infinite duration! Awaken, O my soul! to this soul-stirring, soul-inspiring, soul-sub. duing thought! Am I permitted, ordained, commissioned by the King of Eternity to sketch on the soft clay of these intellectual and moral agenis the forever-enduring lineaments of moral character which is to be their passport not through the nations and families of earth, but through the realms, dominions, and empires of eternity., 0, Lord! what am I that I should be thus honored! How poorly educated, how singolarly incompetent and ill-furnished for such a work! I crave, I humbly crave the inspiration of thy spirit, the guidance of thy hand, the blessings of thy providence, while I essay to act the Christian mother to these dear children, which thou, O Lord, hast given me to nurture and to train for thee. For often, alas! by far too often, have I reflected, in days that are past, upon the ways and means of their advancement to the honors of this world. What a contemptible ambition that looks but to a moment of time and an atom of creation? How poor the inheritance of earth, how narrow the horizon of worldly fame and honor, compared with the boundless circles of everlasting and iofinite riches and honor! O Lord! forgive my shameful mistrust of thy kind providence and protection here in all their temporal infirmities and wants; strengthen and enlarge my soul to seek for them the portion of Jacob, and the Holy One of Israel for their inheritance; and help me to plant within them the seeds of goodness and humanity, which shall expand, and bloom, and fructify in them to all eternity! I ask not for them riches, and honor, and power on earth; but I humbly and sincerely ask for them the enjoyment of thy friendship and favor here, and the participation of the everlasting joys of thy salvation!"



A. C.


No. IX. Ph!LOSOPHY OF THE CHRISTIẢN ORGANIZATION. Much that is written opon this subject is widely aside from the mark; for until the facts are ascertained, what have we to do with philosophizing? It can only lead to delusion and error. The true Christian organization is to be ascertained by rigid induction. Then, indeed, it is a sublime occupation to look into its philosophy—its unity--its diffusiveness-ils catholicity-and its good for the use of edifying. Whether it be modelled after the Jewish Hierarchy, or the ancient Synagogues, or the heathen Basillica, are speculations amusing enough, as points of casual resemblance, after the facts are ascertained; but, attended to beforehand, they only embarrass the question.

The same may be said upon another very popular class of topica; whether such an organization suits the genius of our civil and political institutions; whether it is sufficiently democratical, or whether its elements and tendency are not aristocratical or monarchical. The scriptural and apostolic model must be catholic-it must be sufficiently well adapted to any endurable form of government, in any age or country; and it must tend to heighten and confirm its excellencies, and to modify and finally remove its evils. God's church must work just like God's Bible--for the good of the human family.

The question is not, a priori, whether God's Bible and God's church have such and such tendencies, and whether therefore they are worthy of all acceptation;--but what is God's Book, and God's church. The facts ascertained, it is a first truth to know that the philosophy of both is as perfect as the constitution and condition of our race by any means permitted.

There is a portion of this field, however, to which the question of its philosophy is strictly applicable: that portion is of course intended, which has been purposely left to human enactment,

A complete Christian organization may correctly be comprehended under four heads:-Positive divine institutesScriptural practices, the germs of which are discernable in the casual notices of the inspired writers—these germs, in their more full development in the facts recorded by the first uninspired Christian writers and those varying enactments which the incompleteness of all the above sources of evidence, or the ever-varying wants of such a society amongst men,

The last class is almost exclusively confined to what may be termed the CONVENTIONAL PARTS of the Christian organization, such as church synods, their times and places of meeting, and the rules to be observed by the different officers in carrying into effect the divine, or apostolic, or primitive design of their appointment.

Here Philosophy is at home. Improvements in the philosophy ef human governments may-nay, they should be thankfully adopted by the church. Their wisest results, as it seems to the writer, at present 1. That a government of men should be superseded by a GOVERN

Whilst every society must have officers, and those officers must have duties and powers, nothing should be left to discretion which can possibly be provided for, beforehand, by law.

2. That the several departments of government should be kept inde. pendent. separate and distinct The model of our own civil institutions is almost perfect in this respect. The legislative, executive, and judiciary departments are designed to be entirely separate and independent. Most ecclesiastical organizations work badly from an incu. rable defect.

Oh! the wisdom, research, and prayerfulness required by that man, or that set of men, who would impart to a large body of Christian people, almost wholly ignorant, both theoretically and practically, of the science of church government, an order of things strictly conforining to the pattern shown to us in the Mount, and yet wisely adapted to the age and country in which we live!


may demand.




The Bible alone must always decide every question involving the nature, the character, or the designs of the Christian Institution.Outside of the apostolic canon there is not, as it appears to me, one solid foot of terra firma on which to raise the superstructure ecclesiastic. The foundation of Apostles and Prophets is that projected and ordained by the Lawgiver of the Universe. On this, and on this only, can we safely found the church of Jesus Christ, whether we contem. plate its doctrine, its discipline, or its government. Nothing less authoritative and divine can fully satisfy the conscientious of all parties, or withstand the assaults of the adversaries of our most holy faith. Whenever we close the apostolic records and open the volumes of the primitive Fathers," the "converts and successors of the Apostles," as they are reverentially designated, we find ourselves on a sea of uncertainties, without a single haven in our horizon or on our chart.

The Barnabases, the Polycarpa, the Clements, and the Ignatii of the schools of successors, consecrated with the titles of "

66 Apostolic Men” and “Fathers of the Church,” were children in their minority, compared with that masculine energy of style, force of thought, eleva. tion of sentiment, and commanding authority which characterize and adorn every period of the inspired teachers. At best they are but imperfect copyists of the style, and feeble imitators of the manners of Christ's ambassadors, without the living fire, the vivid light, and the kindling devotion of their eloquence. Their views are so cloudy, their responses so ambiguous, and their authority so questionable, that a church founded in whole or in part upon them, much more resembles a pyramid erected on a quagmire, than a city founded upon a rock.

The masculine Horseley, in his nervous style, though as high a Churchman, and as fond of the Episcopal dignity of the Anglican church as any of her sons since Cranmer or Laud, has justly conceded to Priestly the following memorable repudiation of their authority as worthy of Christian confidence and esteem:-"I will here," says he, stake the liberty to remark upon the early Fathers in general, that in their popular discourses, and in argument, they were too apt to sacri. fice somewhat of the accuracy of fact to the plausibility of their rhetoric; or, which is much the same thing, they were too ready to adopt any notion which might serve a present purpose without nicely 'examining its solidity or its remote consequences."* If, then, in the judgment of one of the most gifted, most devout, and

Horseley's Remarks upon the 2d Letter of Dr Priestley,

most learned of the sons of the Episcopal organization of the English Church, such be the intellectual stature and veritable character of the men of the purest and most incorrupt agc, subsequent to that of the Apostles, what shall we say in admiration of the helps and facilities which they afford us in ascertaining what is wanting in the New Testament to develope the germs of an incipient, incomplete, and imperfect church organization! And still more unfortunate for much reliance upon the developments of the second age, is the lamentable fact that in it can be found not only the germs, but some of the more vigorous and wide-spreading branches of various extravagancies, which in a few of these primitive ages, ripened into that gigantic system of fraud, usurpation, and tyranny, which brought all the kings of Europe and the East to their knees in obedience to one Man of Sin, who pretended to find his prototype, as Vicar of Christ, and earthly head of his church, in the traditions, oral and written, of the age immediately subsequent to that of the Apostles. As often as I have thought of making out what is supposed wanting on any subject from the ancient, but not apostolic Christianity, of the second and third centuries, I have found this, to my mind an insuperable difficulty, that the testimony of these times proves too much for the religious faith and spiritual taste of any Protestant community in the world. Any addition to the New Testament from such sources is, alas! unworiny of that high confidence necessary to the establishment or authentication of any form of Christian government not found clearly sketched in the Christian Scriptures.

What is said on the philosophy of the Christian organization in the communication before us, has my entire approbation. Glad were I that I could thus express myself upon the four heads, which, in the judgment of our correspondent, comprehend a complete Christian organization. To the first two ) yield a ready assent-Positive Divine Institutions,” and “Scriptural Practices.” His fourth element-viz "Conventional Agreement," I could with a single qualification admit; and that would be, provided always, that the items of this conventional agreement do not in any wise involve any departure from, or contravention of, any item of the two first heads. But that remaining element, or component, deduced from any traditions, however ancient not found in the New Testament, as containing any farther development of the apostolic germs, I must still regard as of the most doubtful and dangerous tendency. The admission of such a source of evidence pioneered the way for a full development of all those elements of apostacy, secretly working even under the eyes of the Apostles, which ultimately terminated in the haughty Pontiffs and lordly Bishops of Papal Rome.

« PrécédentContinuer »