« AnteriorContinuar »
In the merits of his blood, and the efficacy of his grace and
intercession, place your trust, and all your backslidings shall be healed. Trust to this, and you shall be preserved blameless until the coming of our Lord; and then you shall unite with the unnumbered host of the redeemed in the glorified anthem, Worthy is the Lamb, that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing—For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to
God by thy blood.
1. A Brief View of Facts which gave rise to the New-York Evangelical Missionary Society of Young Men, together with the Constitution. Published by direction of the Society. New-York. Day & Turner. 1817. 8vo. pp. 20.
2. History of the Young Men's JMissionary Society of NewYork, containing a correct account of the recent controversy respecting Hopkinsian Doctrines. Published by order of the Society. D. Fanshaw. 1817. 8vo. pp. 40.
WE take these two pamphlets together, because they relate to the same event—the first actual schism effected by Hopkinsian doctrines in the city of New-York. The organization of a Missionary Society, with design to patronize and propagate these doctrines, forms an era, in the religious history of this city, to which the ecclesiastical historian may hereafter find it necessary to refer. We have now, before us, two distinct, and, in some instances, contradictory accounts of the event: but it may be of use, as introductory to our review of these productions, to make some retrospective remarks.
The five religious denominations in the city of New-York, which have assumed the Presbyterian polity, had dwelt together in equal friendship and harmony formany years. The
Presbyterian Church, the Reformed Dutch Church, the Associate Reformed Church, the Associate Church, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church—Each of these denominations, having its own distinct organization, always laboured to maintain and to promote its own individual prosperity: but all rejoiced in the success of each, and provoking one another to love and to good works, they proceeded, growing up together, some with greater and some with less rapidity, and without personal liti
gation or public strife, to mar their harmony in the holy doctrines of their common salvation. The ministers lived in
habits of private and intimate friendship; and their people, generally, either set or copied the example. They indulged a free and frequent interchange of Christian fellowship; and, such as deemed it both prudent and consistent with public ecclesiastical order, held occasional communion with each other, in ministerial services, and in the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. Private Christians made their profession of godliness in the Church to which their affections inclined; and in the exercise of those rights, which are guaranteed to them by the laws of the land, they continued in their religious connexion, or changed it, at their discretion, without affecting the intimacy or alienating the friendships of the different Pastors.
The Presbyterian Ministers of New-York, it is true, looked with some alarm at the prevalence, in many of the NewEngland Churches, of certain opinions, which they deemed of dangerous tendency to the interests of true religion—opinions which they judged to be not only a deviation from the faith of the ancient Puritans who planted those Churches, and from the acknowledged Standards of all the Churches of the Reformation, but also at variance with the scriptural doctrine. They perceived, with regret, an acute and enterprising people
misled with the reasonings of science falsely so called, and
growing up in habits of substituting for the forms of sound words, which the Reformers employed in public instruction, the more general and indefinite phraseology, which the loose philosophy of the seventeenth century had rendered current among writers upon moral subjects. They beheld, with anxiety, cur
rency given, in their country, and among a people so closely connected with them, to those indistinct notions of theology which are commonly denominated Hopkinsian tenets. Dr. Hopkins first embodied into a system of theology, otherwise Calvinistic, a few of those opinions borrowed from the ancient Controversialists of the European continent. Who could see, without concern, the Pastors of the Churches professing to believe (and probably sincere in their profession) with such men as Calvin, Ursinus, Owen, and Edwards, while, in the very important articles of Christian doctrine, they differed entirely from those eminent men, and while they cherished sentiments which had been, often, before exposed and refuted by the word of God, although to them they now appeared in all the charms of novelty P It must, however, be confessed, that if we find no new ideas in the system of Hopkinsianism, as at present existing, we do behold the long line which separated the most extravagant Supralapsarians from the disciples of Arminius, so turned and twisted together, by ingenious hands, as to make both extremes meet and adhere. There were, indeed, certain existing circumstances, which tended to allay the apprehensions of the Ministers of NewYork at the time of which we speak. It was seen, with pleasure, that, in the Eastern States, there was still a great body of pious and intelligent people, strongly attached to the faith of their fathers, who, if they did not oppose the New Divinity, were either not zealous in its propagation, or unacquainted with its peculiarities. The ministers, themselves, were known to be, in general, men of correct habits, and honest designs; and many of them possessed of distinguished talents and piety. They were far from being united in Hopkinsian doctrine. The Lord of the world, too, appeared, from time to time, to shine upon his Churches, in that part, as well as in other parts of our country, and to give them awakening and refreshing seasons, owning with his blessing those plain truths which flowed from the heart in despite of the obliquities of intellect occasioned by the perplexed subtleties of misguided reasonings. There was, moreover, ground to hope, that through the
instrumentality of the many excellent and distinguished Divines, who then served the Church in the city of New-York, their people would be so well indoctrinated, and so habituated to primitive truth and order that no apprehension could exist of a speedy defection from the faith. No human sagacity could have foreseen the change which was brought about in a very few years in the ministry of the Churches in this city. The Rev. Dr. Rodgers, Dr. Livingston, Dr. M'Knight, Dr. Linn, Dr. Abeel, and Dr. Miller, were removed by death, or called to occupy important stations in other parts of the Church. Since their day, all efforts to preserve harmony in doctrine, or establish reciprocal and confidential friendship have failed. Discord prevails, and the spirit of private party succeeds to the place of practical disinterestedness. Symptoms of this state of things have existed for several years. These came first into notice in the dissolution of what was called the Cleri
cal Association, and afterward in the extraordinary prosecu
tion carried on against the author of THE ContRAst of Calvinistic and Hopkinsian doctrines, the Rev. Ezra S. Ely, before the Presbytery of New-York. The unhappy effects of party spirit appear in the alienation of Christian affection; and in the disruption of the ties of former friendship. There are instances of Christians who, in the day of their anxiety for the consolations of the grace of God, unbosomed their feelings to certain pastors, and derived instruction and comfort from their doctrines, who, now, have enrolled their names with the Hopkinsian band, in publicly denouncing their former friends, as men of an intolerant spirit, resolved to burden the Church of Christ with incoherent and unintelligible dogmas; while it is acknowledged that these ministers preach and teach the same doctrines which they have uniformly taught from the com
mencement of their public ministry. Tempora mutantur et
mos mutamur cum illis. The history of the rupture, to which the pamphlets before
us refer, is short. Mr. Samuel Hanson Cox, whose trials for
license before the Presbytery of Philadelphia were arrested on
account of some Hopkinsian tenets, was, under the patronage of the Rev. Gardiner Spring, passed through the Presbytery of New-York: and his patron, who had him some time under his own tuition, was desirous to find him employment and a salary. Mr. Spring accordingly proposed Mr. Cox to the Young Men's Missionary Society of New-York. The Committee of Missions, intrusted with the power of examining candidates, thought proper to examine Mr. Cox before they would recommend him to the service. Mr. Spring, at that time Chairman of the Committee, proposed an examination by proxy; and offered himself as the substitute for his pupil, Mr. Cox.” The Committee, with some reluctance, accepted the offer; examined the teacher for the taught; but did not sustain the examination. The Chairman, as was very natural, was displeased with this decision : his personal friends in the Society took it as an insult; and defied the Committee and their friends to public combat. The Hopkinsian doctrines were of course
made the subject of controversy. The Society decided in
favour of the Calvinistic system, and Mr. Spring and his friends
“It has been an event which in pro pect we deplored, and which in its approaches has been resisted by every expedient which truth and charity could dictate. It has been a struggle for all that
* This is an instance of extraordinary tactics. Should the example be followed by the Colleges and the Courts, we should have an able set of examinations, but probably a feeble set of licentiates. We do not know which is most to be censured, the assurance which should propose to examine the tutor for the pupil, or the tameness which would submit to such absurdity. Happily in this case the precedent is not dangerous, seeing the teacher himself did not stand the test.