Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

for his Hopkinsian delusions; which after a patient examination were condemned. The false. doctrines enumerated are nearly the same with those which we have before delineated, as taught in the north. Every one of them was condemned. It is gratifying, that in this condemnatory sentence there was not one dissenting voice among the Presbyterian delegates to the General Assembly. Two ministers indeed, did vote against it, but they were both delegates from a northern association. Like Amyraut, Mr. Balch did not regard the decision of the Assembly. Few who embrace these errors are ever reclaimed. “ Backsliders are filled with their own ways.” His errors struck deep their roots. The controversy in Tennessee has raged with violence; and as it has done in every other place, deprived the church of repose. Upon the whole, both in east and west Tennessee, the parties are probably at present nearly equal. In Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, the northern tares are gaining ground. The Rev. Dr. Maxcy, the principal of South Carolina college, a very powerful seminary, is decidedly anti-Calvinistic on several subjects. This gentleman belongs to the Baptist church.

In Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, few of the Presbyterians have yet abandoned the good old paths of righteQusness. The Rev. Mr. Baxter, the principal of Washington college at Lexington in Virginia, is orthodox. Hampden-Sidney college has been lately connected with the theological school of the synod of Virginia, in which there are between thirty and forty students, a considerable portion of whom are preparing for the gospel ministry. The Rev. Moses Hoge, D. D. a gentleman of high standing as a scholar, a divine, and a preacher, who is sound in the faith, occupies the two offices of president and professor. This theological seminary must produce a very salutary effect on the affairs of the Presbyterian church in the south.

The synod of Philadelphia is a numerous and respectable body, in the Calvinistic interest. Though there is not an entire harmony among the members on all points, yet a very great majority of them are opposed to the Hopkinsian

opinions. Events which occurred in the city of Philadelphia during the winter of 1815-16, gave occasion for an expression of the opinion of this synod. A Mr. Cox, who was educated in the Quaker society, renounced the Quaker creed, united himself with the Presbyterian church, and entered upon the study of theology. Though he did not possess a liberal education, yet such was his zeal, that without waiting to go through a collegiate course, he resolved to become a preacher after some preparatory studies in theology. The Rev. James Patterson, who had formerly been settled in a congregation in New Jersey, had been more than a year before installed in a pastoral charge in the Northern Liberties. His earnest addresses from the pulpit produced a great awakening among the people who worshipped in his church, and upwards of seventy persons were admitted to membership at one sacramental solemnity. The excitement extended itself partially into other congregations in the northern part of the city. Many week evening societies were held for prayer and exhortation. At these meetings, Mr. Cox took a very conspicuous part, and while pressing religion upon the worshippers, in his exhortations, taught with great zeal the Hopkinsian errors which he had been primarily taught in Newark. Two or three ministers of the Presbyterian church were also charged with incul. cating both publicly and privately the same opinions, while they were very active in endeavours to increase the religi. ous excitement. The Hopkinsian controversy began to be kindled, and serious fears were entertained by the orthodox that injurious opinions would be propagated too success. fully, while feeling, instead of judgment, conscience, and revelation, predominated.

The presbytery of Philadelphia contained at this time the Rev. Dr. Janeway, then senior and now sole pe stor of the Second Presbyterian church, who was educated id has ever maintained, all the systematic consistency in vinism of the venerable president Livingston; the Rev. seorge C. Potts, a sound Presbyterian, who was educated at Glasgow college; the Rev. Mr. How, who has lately been re

moved to Trenton, in New Jersey; the Rev. Messrs. Ely, Belville, Barr, Dunn, Freeman, Doak, Dunlap, Janvier, Todd, Latta, Jones, and other clergymen who were resolutely opposed to the licensure of a Hopkinsian; deeming it desirable that all such candidates should be immediately connected with men of their own opinions. Before this Presbytery Mr. Cox read a part of his trials, in which he maintained that God is the efficient cause of every sin. The presbytery after calling in Mr. Cox and examining him, that he might explain his own writing, refused to sustain his doctrines. The Rev. Dr. James P. Wilson, was appointed to express the determination of the presbytery to Mr. Cox, and exhort him to review with candour his own opinions; which was immediately done before the judicatory. Dr. Wilson is claimed by both the Calvinists and the Hopkinsians; and the latter have boasted that he would be with them in the General Assembly; but we know that he has frequently given the northern divinity a severe castigation from the pulpit, and in his reproof of Mr. Cox, explicitly stated, that he would not consent to license any man who held such opinions as those which the young man had exhibited. The Doctor has never pledged himself to the public in any writings on the Hopkinsian controversy. In an edition of Ridgely lately published, he appends many notes, selected from the New England divines, but he does not give them as his views.

Though the presbytery would have refused to license Mr. Cox, yet at a meeting when only a few were present, they gave him a regular transmission to the presbytery of New York, by which he was licensed not long after his ar. rival there.

Apprehending that there was too much reason to fear the introduction of heresy into their bounds, the synod of Phi. ladelphia, at its sessions in the autumn of 1816, thought proper to warn the churches under its care against the growing evils in our land, in a manner that could not be misunderstood. They issued a pastoral letter, the principal

part of which we shall introduce for the benefit of other churches and posterity.

" Christian Brethren,

“ The synod, assembled at Lancaster, at the present time, consists of a greater number of members than have been convened at any meeting for many years; and from their free conversation on the state of religion, it appears, that all the Presbyteries are more than commonly alive to the importance of contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints; and of resisting the introduction of Arian, Socinian, Arminian, and Hopkinsian heresies, which are some of the means by which the enemy of souls would, if possible, deceive the very elect.

“ The synod desire to cherish a stronger regard for the truth, as it is in Jesus, than they find at present subsisting among themselves; and because they are not ignorant of the disposition of many good men to cry “peace," where there should be no peace, and there is no danger," in cases in which God commands us to avoid the appearance of evil; they would affectionately exhort the presbyteries under their care, to be strict in the examination of candidates, for licen. sure or ordination, upon the subject of those delusions of the present age, which seem to be a combination of most of the innovations made upon Christian doctrine in former times.

May the time never come, in which our ecclesiastical courts shall determine, that Hopkinsianism, and the doce trines of our Confession of Faith are the same thing; or that men are less exposed now, than in the days of the apostles, to the danger of perverting the right ways of the Lord.

“ The synod would exhort particularly the elders of the churches to beware of those, who have made such pretended discoveries in Christian theology, as require an abandonment of the form of sound words, contained in our excellent Confession of Faith, and the Holy Scriptures.

« We know of but one anti-trinitarian synagogue in all our borders; and that there may never be another, we pray you, brethren, repeatedly to declare the truth, that the only true God in existence, is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; the God who is in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to himself. Signed by order of the Synod,

JAMES SNODGRASS, Moderator. Lancaster, Sept. 20, 1816.

“ Ordered, that the foregoing letter be printed, and sent to each minister of the synod, to be read in the churches. (Signed)

STEPHEN BOYER,

Stated Clerk.”

This paper, which was drafted by Mr. Ely, is an invaluable document, as containing a faithful testimony on behalf of important doctrines and against prevailing heresies; as expressive not only of decided opposition to Hopkinsianism, but of a belief that those who maintain the errors embraced in that term ought not to be permitted to enter on the Christian ministry, at any rate within the presbyterian church. Since the publication of the synodical letter, heresy has not been able to make any inroads into the bounds of the presbytery; and, indeed, what little existed in it, has for more than a year been resisted with vigour. The present state of this central and powerful judicatory, (inferior to none unless it be that of New Castle,) is more favourable than it has been for several years; for Mr. Reeve, the only minister, unless it be the clergyman of colour, the Rev. John Gloucester, who has ever avowed himself to be a Hopkinsian, has, lately been dismissed from his people and the presbytery. The general state of the city of Philadelphia too, has lately become more propitious in its aspect towards the true doctrine of the atonement; for in the place once occupied by the Rev. James K. Burch, we now have the pleasure of seeing the Rev. Jacob Brodhead, D. D. who is animated in defence of the doctrines which we love. The Rev. Mr.

« AnteriorContinuar »