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Many people attend at their temple on Sabbath, who do not yet embrace their notions. Most of these visitants are of the episcopal church; indeed, by far the greater part of their converts, both in England and America, are from that body. As in Britain, so in America, few of the poor join their society. They wish to be rich in heaven, though they are poor in this world. Those who have a taste for luxurious living, and the means of gratifying it, are enamoured with the “nectarious wines," and splendid festivals of Swedenburgh's heaven. This will probably account for their making so many proselytes in the episcopal church, in which there are so much gaiety, and fashion, and worldly spirit.
They have published, in Philadelphia, a manual for the direction of their public worship, of which the forms are, in a great measure, copied from the prayer book of the protestant episcopal church, resembling in form that instrument as much as the child generally resembles the parent. It also em braces an account of their creed. In their enumeration of the “ Complete Holy Scriptures,” they leave out of the Old Testament, the two books of Chronicles, the books of Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, and the Song of Solomon; and out of the New, the Acts of the Apostles, and all the Epistles. For this omission, they do not pretend to have any other authority than that of Swedenburgh, who tells them that the exploded books, were not written according to the science of correspondences.” Why the Baron proscribed so much of the Old Testament, is not very manifest; but the reason is plain, for the act of exile passed against Paul and the other apostles; the doctrines of the atonement, and divine decrees, are so clearly asserted by them, that the most commodious way of answering all arguments drawn from their Epistles, is to deny that they are a part of the divine word. Priestley rejected those parts of the Bible which did not suit his purpose. To give all this the most gentle name, it is semi-infidelity. They deny the doctrine of the resurrection of the body.
The doctrine of the atonement, is not in the Swedenburghian confession of faith. The object of Christ's incar
nation, according to this confession, was to subdue hell. And the object of his sufferings, they say was, “to unite his divinity with his divine humanity.” They maintain, that all men have an influx from heaven, and that by using it well, they may save themselves. This influx is the “ internal light” of the Quaker, the moral power of the Arminian, and the natural ability of the Hopkinsian.
The Roman Catholics make very great efforts to increase the number of avowed devotees to the see of Rome, and their success is very considerable. They have three colleges, one in Georgetown, one in Baltimore, and one at Emmets. burgh, in the interior of Maryland. The most conspicuous and influential of these institutions, is St. Mary's of Baltimore, under the care of the society of St. Sulpicius. This college was powerfully supported for many years. Its directors had a connection with the Catholics of Louisiana, and with those of Canada. But the illiberal means which they employed to make all their pupils Catholics, and the reputation of an opposition college, under the care of the Rev. Dr. Knox, have very much crippled this American “ Man of Sin.” Yet the number of chapels which are erected or erecting, in every section of the union, evince, that both their numbers and their wealth are very great, and that they are on the increase. Scarcely any opposition is made to them. Indeed, it seems to be a prevailing opinion, that it is a matter of perfect indifference, what religion a man embraces, or what doctrines he believes, provided his heart is good, and his morals .decent. Few pray the prayer of David: “Let my heart be sound in thy statutes.” The connection between theory and practice, is not well understood; nor is a regard for the honour of God, as displayed in a firm attachment to all known truth, a very prominent feature of modern professors. The cry of all is union.
The feelings and opinions of the day, have been embodied in Dr. Mason's Catholic Communion, mentioned in our His. torical Sketch. The difficulties in which this subject is involved, appear in the most striking light, from this volume. We are astonished that, in the hands of such a writer, it is
found to be so unmanageable. Though he would not extend the operation farther than we have mentioned in the Sketch, yet all the arguments which he offers, either prove nothing, or they prove much more, than the writer intends. If there are Christians, and who will doubt that there are, among the Methodists, and Roman Catholics; on his principles, Presbyterian sessions must admit them to the Lord's table, so soon as they exhibit testimonials, which, in a judgment of charity, establish their claims to piety of heart. All Baptists, Hopkinsians, Episcopalians, &c. of pious character, must also be admitted. Nay, much more, all must, even with their present opinions and practices, unite in the strictest bonds of church communion. Is this possible? How could Baptists and Presbyterians harmonize on the subject of infant baptism, when they would come to practical operations? How could any of them unite in the same judicatory, with Episcopalians? It would produce more confusion than that at the tower of Babel.
What then? Abandon the object altogether? Surely not. Let all, who love our Lord Jesus Christ, love each other, discuss their differences with candour, and say to each other from the pulpit and the press, and in social intercourse, what they say of each other among their own connections. Probe the wound, lay open the sore, and then heal it. But if you attempt to heal it, while disease lurks in the bottom, it will break out with tenfold virulence. To produce unity of action, and co-operation of plan, when opinions, and feelings, and practices are adverse, is as impossible in morals, as to harmonize, in physics, adverse elements. As Mr. M.Master has well expressed it, in his excellent Essay in Defence of some of the Fundamental Doctrines of Christianity; “ A war more fierce than before, from the approximation to each other of the contending elements," would be produced by such a union. Let all pray that a spirit of illumination may be poured out from on high, upon the church of God,--that “the light of the sun may become as the light of seven days,”—and that “the watchmen may see
eye to eye.” When this takes place, then, and not till then, “the Lord will build again the waste places of Zion."
The following extract, from the Constitution of the Theological seminary of the Reformed Presbyterian church, was omitted in the Historical Sketch.
“ No student shall be admitted into the seminary, unless he have previously graduated in some college, or university; but the supreme judicatory may direct the superintendents to admit such applicants, as, upon examination, are found to possess literary qualifications equivalent to those which usually entitle a student of college to the first degree in the arts.
“ The course of instruction shall occupy four successive annual sessions, and each session shall be of six months continuance; from the first of November to the first of May. The whole course shall be divided into three several parts, appropriated to three distinct classes, the first, the second, and the third, into any one of which, students duly qualified may be admitted.”
“ The first class shall be called the class of Biblical literature, and in it shall the student, during the first session, attend, in order that he may be qualified for understanding the sacred text.”
The students of this class shall be instructed in the languages of both the Old and the New Testaments, and in the cognate dialects, reading such portions of the Greek classics, as shall be prescribed for them: They shall attend, twice in each week, Lectures on History. It shall be the duty of the professor to condense into fifty-two lectures, the outlines of history, sacred and profane, from the beginning of the world till the (then) present time; following the line of prophecy, and connecting civil with ecclesiastical history, referring the students to the proper authorities, and directing them to consult other explanatory historians."
“ The second shall be called the class of pulpit eloquence, and in it shall the student, during the second session attend, in order to qualify him for expounding, in a persuasive manner, the oracles of God. It shall be the duty of the professor to deliver to this class a course of lectures on metaphysics, (including the science of the human mind and Christian experience,) on logic, on ethics, (including political morality,) and on elocution, and the method of sermonizing, giving a corresponding direction to their reading.”
“ The third shall be called the class of systematic and polemic theology, and in it shall the student, during the third and fourth sessions, attend in order to establish him in the analogy of faith, and enable him to resist gainsayers. It shall be the duty of the professor to deliver to this class a series of lectures on Divinity, pursuing the plan laid down in the declaratory part of “ Reformation Principles exhibited,” (the Testimony of the church) and directing the students to peruse and compare, the Confession of the Reformed churches, together with the most approved systems of theology. The whole course must not exceed the number of one hundred and four lectures."
“ All the students throughout the several classes shall be directed to attend occasionally to reading Hebrew, and other oriental languages; they shall also pay attention to sacred criticism, compose dissertations, and deliver discourses, as the professor of theology shall see meet to direct them, and they shall deliver discourses in public, at the annual examination, before the board of superintendents.”
“ No candidate shall be licensed to preach the gospel by any of the judicatories of the Reformed Presbyterian church, after the organization of this seminary, unless he produce a regular certificate of his having attended with approbation to the course of instruction prescribed for the two last years, or exhibit such testimonials as shall, in the opinion of the court, prove equivalent."
This excellent course of theological education has been pursued, and the plan substantially filled up by the Rev.