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scuttle her, or else beach her upon the sands of infidelity or Unitarianism; and that others, when they find her sinking, will prefer taking to a Boston-built pilot-boat, even though she have a heretic rig, to going on board of an old-fashioned Andover craft, rigged upon a new principle and propelled by a new power, whose only merit lies in the striking phrase in which its discovery is announced.
There are some other facts of a different nature, which we are almost afraid to refer to, though they are pleasant ones, lest it should be thought that we wish to give them a sectarian bearing with which they have no connection.
What a change in the state of feeling in the city of New York towards Unitarians is shown by the fact, that the Unitarian society of which Rev. Mr. Bellows is the pastor worship in a church owned by Presbyterians. Still more remarkable is the fact, that the Union Theological Seminary, in the most fraternal way, offered the use of their chapel to the same society; and this in a city where Dr. Channing's friends, some years ago, found it very difficult to procure a hall for him to preach in. The heresy of Rev. H. W. Beecher, if it be heresy to advise his hearers to go and hear Rev. Dr. Furness preach a sermon on practical Christianity, has attained a wide notoriety through the public prints. There 'are many heresies of a similar description which various Unitarian hearers lay at his door.
We do not wish to be understood as arguing from any of these proofs of the progress of thought in the ranks of our Orthodox brethren, that they are on the point of coming over to our side and of taking our distinctive name. Though the conclusions at which they have arrived are not Orthodox, they are not Unitarian in the strict acceptation of the term. Still, we have a right to regard such tendencies as indices that some, at least, of our distinctive principles, which we value most, are mak. ing progress, even though they never bear our name.
The broad nature of our subject will excuse, we hope, the length of our article; the circumstance that it was written with reference to an object requiring that various facts gleaned from different quarters should be presented in a comparatively condensed form, will explain why some with which most of our readers are very familiar
have been adduced here. We are not unaware of some of the unfavorable aspects of our cause, but we have felt that the degree in which they exist is often exaggerated by friends. We need to look on the many bright sides of our movement, as well as on the few dark ones. From empty fears, as much as from vain hopes and expectations, we need to be delivered. Presumption and Sloth, in the Pilgrim's Progress, “ going to sleep," are not to be imitated. Neither, on the other hand, are Timorous and Mistrust, who went back and gave up all hope of advance “ because of the two lions that lie in the way.” Are not some unduly frightened by the “two lions,” Orthodoxy and Rationalism, which seem to them lying in the way of the progress of Liberal Christianity? We think both can be safely passed by, especially if we are careful not to go too near them, and so we have written in a sanguine and confident, though not, we trust, in an uncharitable or presumptuous spirit.
Art. VII. — JUDD'S DISCOURSES ON THE CHURCH.*
Dr. Bacon of New Haven says, in a note to Mr. Judd, quoted in “ The Birthright Church,” that “he does not know, but supposes our church system to be modelled after our theological ideas." The supposition is a natural one, but a complete error. The Unitarian churches of New England found themselves Unitarian by no sudden revolution. They retained, very naturally, the ecclesiastical arrangements in which they grew up, even in instances where the arrangement or form would seem, to one outside, to press harshly on the integrity of the theology inculcated. Those arrangements had taken form after the revivals of the last century had brought in the notion that conversion is a miraculous and sudden action of the Holy Spirit on certain elect persons. They
* 1. The Church : in a Series of Discourses. By Rev. SYLVESTER JUDD, Pastor of Christ Church, Augusta, Maine. Boston : Crosby, Nichols, & Co. 1854, pp. 274.
2. The Birthright Church. A Discourse by the same Author. “Lo, chil. dren are a heritage of the Lord." Second Edition. Printed for the Association of the Unitarian Church of Maine. Augusta. 1854.
were, of course, not what would have been invented by a party, which believed that all men have equal opportu. nity to turn to God, — and ought to turn to him through all their sins.
A church which supposed that there is no possible fall from grace could consistently establish itself as a close body of persons who had been converted, judging of the qualifications of its own members, and prescribing rules for their admission. But a church which held that there is no moment of a man's life when he is not in danger of falling, – that human life always vacillates, none stand still in virtue or in sin, — would not, in the outset, have created such an organization of believers. A church which believed that the elect only had a share in the blessings of the Atonement, would with consistency restrict to them the commemoration in the Supper of Jesus's life and death. The Unitarian Church, believe ing that the Atonement is a blessing to all men, would not have the same reason to restrict the Supper to the use of the elect, or those who thought themselves such, alone. The view of baptism taken by these two bodies in the Congregational churches might be supposed to vary in the same way. Those who suppose that the Church increases chiefly by the growth of children in Christianity, and those who suppose that the Church gains its recruits by conquest, must regard baptism differently from each other. Those who suppose all children are born innocent would naturally regard their connection with the Church as different from that conceived of by those who think they are born depraved. In fact, however, the division of the Congregational body did not generally result in any formal diversity in their administration or church order. In many of the old churches the old, unsectarian creeds of the early settlers were still in use. They offered no especial stumblingblock to persons invited to be “ professors." And in consequence of this, in new Unitarian churches, which had their covenants to form, it has been the general arrangement that some broadly expressed creed should take the place which the declaration of a sudden change of heart took under the Orthodox system, when one of the elect was admitted to church-membership. The simple fact of which we have spoken, that our Unitarian churches
VOL. LVI. — 4TH. S. VOL. XXI. NO. III. 37
made no formal secession from Orthodoxy, but that Orthodoxy quite as often seceded from them, is reason enough why there should never have been any formal establishment of a church system, based upon the essential points of Unitarian theology. · In every Unitarian church, however, the theology believed has of course interpreted and bent the old ecclesiastical order. In none of our churches has the distinction between “ professors” and “non-professors” ever been as sharply marked as in Orthodox congregations. Our Sunday schools have been distinctly conducted on the idea that the children are growing up in Christ. And we suppose that more and more generally has baptism been administered to any children offered for baptism, without regard to the church estate of their parents. It has been generally admitted that the old ecclesiastical organization is founded only on its own supposed convenience. It derived this convenience from the fact that people were used to it in our congregations. It had its advantages; and its disadvantages must be covered, as well as might be, by the generous Christian spirit to be nursed in the whole society.
The historical fact that “the primitive meaning of the word church (ekkinoia) is assembly or congregation” has never been controverted. Our churches and ministers have recognized the fact, also, that “this is the meaning which it always bears in the New Testament and in the writings of the ancient Christians, except where used in an extended sense to designate the whole community of believers." This statement is in the words of Dr. Lam. son, in his Dudleian Lecture of 1834, where he also says: “ The term," when not used in that extended sense, “was always employed in the New Testament, or by primitive antiquity, to signify the body of believers accustomed to meet for public worship in one place, under their own officers, – that is, the whole parish.” Nor has there ever been any disposition in our churches to restrict the term “believer" to the number of those who had acceded to the various covenants of different churches, or were communicants. Without any reference to such a profession, persons are appointed teachers in our Sunday schools, and agents in our charitable societies. It is impossible that it should be otherwise, with any regard for that right and duty of personal private judgment which is the centre of the whole Unitarian
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Nor has there ever been any reason why, at one specific time, any general protest should be made as to the incongruity of this state of things, - which harmonizes as well as it can the ecclesiastical system arranged by the friends of Whitefield with the theological opinion which reverses his favorite dogma. It excites attention rather in separate neighborhoods, at different times, when a new church is established and makes its own regula. tions. In such a case, who is to regulate, for instance, the admission to the Communion? Those who are elect? No one in a Unitarian church dares claim to be. Those who were communicants elsewhere? They have, very likely, acceded to a dozen different covenants in as many places of Worship, nor have any of them any desire to claim, under our religious view of the Communion, any precedency, on that account, over others. Shall those lay down the rule who wish to unite in the service? It must be then a rule wide enough to admit them all; and mere consistency requires that it shall be wide enough to admit all others who wish to unite in it, also, when they, in turn, shall apply. Such a state of things naturally brings up, in such a community, the question of the relation of “church” and “congregation," — which settles itself variously, by one arrangement or another, as the freedom of congregational usage enables each church for itself to adjust it.
It has happened in this way, that there has been no distinct effort, so far as we are aware, before that made so zealously by Mr. Judd, to set forth in systematic order that simple, primitive, and efficient ecclesiastical arrangement which really befits Unitarian theology, and which it would have always worn here if a generous respect for the usages in which our older churches were founded had not retained those customs after the older theology was liberalized. All the different points of this system have been discussed, undoubtedly, in different forms. That growth, and not conquest, is the law of Christ's kingdom in Christian lands, was a matter settled with us before Dr. Bushnell proclaimed it. Baptism has been explained as the pledge of the Church to the