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the legitimate carrying out of this claim that has led to all her bloody persecutions, that has put out the intelligence and brutalized the consciences of her subjects, and held the world for ages in moral degradation and vice. Thus far protestants will generally be agreed.
We are now called to repeat more specifically, and sustain a declaration which it is painful to approach. Nothing but the conviction that the world's great interests demand it, could induce us to speak in the matter. It is our firm con
viction that the principal systems of church government which are called protestant, and which have sprung up as the result of the great reformation in the sixteenth century, are at war fundamentally with primitive gospel institutions, are despotic in their nature and operations, and rest on the same broad basis, which, as we have seen, upholds the papal hierarchy. In doctrines these churches and the papal differ essentially. In their great features of government, (and with these only have we to do,) they are one. We would not be understood to say that the protestant churches are disposed to carry the work of persecution to the same extent with the Romish; be that as it may this is not the point at issue. But we do affirm that in these churches a class of officers and institutions, existing independently of the control of the local church, and holding judicial power over it, do claim the right to dictate as it respects matters of "faith and practice," within certain limits, as absolutely as does the Roman pontiff; and the machinery by which to accomplish their purposes, or crush ecclesiastically their victims, is in their hands. Where church and state are united, these officers hold the power of inflicting death at pleasure. A position like this demands proof, and such proof as can only be given by examining into the nature of protestant forms of church government.
Let us look first into the government of the Protestant Episcopal church. This church, as it exists in Great Britain, was an off-shoot from the church of Rome during the reign of Henry the Eighth. This cessation did not take place because of any important dissatisfaction at the time respecting the doctrines of that church, or its leading features of government. The great cause was a quarrel between Henry of England and the pope, respecting the divorcement of Catharine of Arragon, and the king's second marriage. After this cessation the same cardinal features of government were retained which existed in the Romish church. The private
members of the church had no more to do with its government than they had when under the reign of Pope Clement. The sovereign of England was declared head of the church, and was invested with civil and ecclesiastical power. Persecution became the order of the day. After the death of Henry, and during the reign of his son Edward Sixth, and also of Elizabeth who succeeded Mary, many of the popish abuses were rectified, but the general principles of church polity remained the same, and do to this day. The sovereign holding supreme power may appoint bishops, reverse votes of parliament, and stop the proceedings of the clergy. The people composing the church, instead of choosing their own officers and teachers, are obliged to receive whomsoever the powers above them may see fit to appoint. Whether willingly or not, they are obliged to contribute to their support. The admission and discipline of members is wholly removed from their hands. "Articles of Faith" may not be any other than what the ruling powers please to prescribe. How unlike is all this to the simple form of church government which existed in the days of the apostles. It is almost the exact daguerreotype of Rome herself. That Puseyism in such a church should gain a foothold is no wonder.
The government of the Protestant Episcopal church of this country, with a few slight alterations not affecting its leading features, is the same with that of England. Here we have a "state without a king." Civil and ecclesiastical power are not united. These differences must somewhat modify the affairs of the church. In the Protestant Episcopal church of the United States, supreme power is vested apparently in a triennial convention, but actually in the board of bishops. This convention is constituted of two houses. All the bishops compose the upper house. The lower house is made up of delegates from the several dioceses. The concurrence of both houses is necessary to render the doings of the convention valid. This body regulates all matters belonging to the whole church. The next power below this is the diocesan church. This body forms rules for the government of the various societies of which it is composed, and decides in all cases of discipline. It may impeach a bishop, but he has power to appeal from their de cision to a court composed only of bishops. Thus the bishops, like the monarch of England, or the pope of Rome, are the supreme head of the church in such a sense as to stand beyond the reach of effectual discipline themselves, whatever
their conduct may be, and at the same time, constituting as they do the upper house in the triennial conference, be able to nullify whatever measures the powers below them may desire to carry out. These bishops also have the exclusive power of ordaining the clergy, of consecrating churches, and of administering the rite of confirmation. The two inferior orders in the ministry, after being inducted into office, are still to a great extent under the bishop's control. This church, holding the doctrine of apostolic succession, claims to be the only church. No clergyman of another denomination is allowed on any condition to officiate in their pulpits, and thus be recognized as a minister of Christ. How plain that in such a church, with such a government, the prerogatives enjoyed by early Christians must all be swept away. The private members remaining in the church have no liberty to believe or do except as their rulers dictate. If they have better doctrines and more liberties of conscience than the vassals of the church of Rome, it is because their rulers are less corrupt, and not because of any essential difference in the leading features of the two governments. Both are despotic.
The Methodist Episcopal church next claims attention. In the United States, and we suppose, in other countries, this church has substantially the same basis with the one we have just examined. As the Church of England was broken off from the Romish church, so was this from the English. It was founded in our country, 1784, by John Wesley. That which characterizes the ecclesiastical polity of this church more than any thing else is the plan by which the power to govern is removed from the people, and placed in the hands of the ministry. There exists a regular gradation of office, and it is remarkable with what uniformity, and to what extent, each higher authority rules all below it. Commencing with the class-leader, it is his business among other things, to recommend not to the brotherhood but to the " preacher in charge," any person whom he may deem worthy of membership. After sustaining six months honorable probation, these persons may be received by the minister, into full fellowship. This same minister has the power to appoint class-leaders, and to remove them at pleasure. He may license exhorters, and has the general oversight and direction of all the spiritual and secular affairs of his circuit or station. In case of discipline among those under his charge, the minister may select from the society whom he pleases to sit as jury. If the accused is found guilty, the minister pronounces such sentence as
he deems proper. If dissatisfaction is felt by the condemned party, an appeal may be made not to the brethren, but to the next Quarterly Conference, which is made up of church officers.
The next grade of office above the pastor or circuit preacher is Presiding Elder. He has authority subject to the next higher tribunal, to control and direct all the traveling and local preachers within his district. The Bishop who occupies the next higher office, has the sole power of appointing the Presiding Elders, of stationing the preachers, and being subject to certain restrictions may remove them at pleasure.-The highest judicatory in this church is the General Conference, which meets once in four years, and is composed of delegates from the annual conferences. This 'conference has the same authority over the Bishop which he has over the generality of the ministry. Thus every prerogative is taken from the people, and given to the ministry, by whom, as the world's history shows, it is greatly liable to abuse. They prescribe doctrines, appoint teachers and officers, and administer discipline according to their own pleasure. Now what does the Pope more, except that he holds the sword of civil power, and may not only crush down ecclesiastically, but also inflict death. This last can only be done where church and state are united. The difference between such a government and the apostolic model is manifest.
To avoid occupying space we shall notice but one other prevailing form of church organization—namely, that of the Presbyterian church. This church, especially in our country, claims to be purely republican in its formation and action. Let us see if this profession accords with facts. Presbyteri. anism, from the time it was first introduced into this country, in the beginning of the eighteenth century, till the present day, although at times it has undergone some modifications, and two or three divisions have taken place, has always remained substantially the same. It differs from the Episcopal church, both Protestant and Methodist, in maintaining the parity of the ministry, and has no inferior clergy who are required to take oath of obedience to their superiors, as is the case with both the others. But they all agree in depriving each local church of an independent government, and vest all ecclesiastical power in the hands of church officers. Like the Episcopal, the Presbyterian church is in theory a national establishment. The several societies, instead of being so many churches constitute but one-the Presbyterian church. This
is expressly declared in its "Form of Government." The government of each society-for we cannot properly say church-is apparently, though not in fact, in the hands of a church session, consisting of the pastor and several elders. These elders are chosen by the brethren. If the decisions of this board were always final, much of the objection which we now have to the government of the Presbyterian church, would be obviated. But this, unfortunately is not the case. The polity of the church makes provision for appealing from the Session to the Presbytery, which is the next higher power, and is composed of all the ministers within a given district, and one elder from each church. Now when a case of discipline goes from the Session to Presbytery it has passed entirely from the hands of the bulk of the membership, and selfgovernment is gone. The churches may regard their elders as officers of their own appointing, but this cannot be said of the members of Presbytery. Though each church may send one delegate, yet the body exists independently of that church, and at the same time holds judicial power over it. Every minister by virtue of ordination has as much power to govern, as has the whole membership of the church to which he preaches. Like the Pope of Rome, and the Episcopal Bishop, he may nullify whatever the church may choose to do. Presbytery also claims the prerogative of examining the records of each church session, and of altering them at pleasure. Indeed, every church is required to present her records to Presbytery once a year for inspection and revision. Discipline, therefore, and government generally rests neither with the brotherhood, nor with officers of their appointing. Further still, Presbytery has almost entire control over the churches as to the choice and dismissal of religious teachIt is true there is another power still higher than Presbytery to which churches and ministers may appeal-the Synod. But this arrangement only removes the government still further from the people, and gives to despotism a yet larger Synod is composed of ministers and elders from different Presbyteries-about an equal number of each—and is strictly a judicial body. As Presbytery controls the church session, reviewing and altering its records, so it in turn is controlled by Synod. In the New School Presbyterian church this is, and has been since 1840, the highest judicatory. But in the Old School church, the General Assemby has the same power over the Synod, which this body has over all below it. The principle in both cases is the same-the government is