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some respects gloomy. The man of sin whose throne crumbled by the late revolutions in Europe, is again exalted by the combined efforts of all the kings of Europe. While heresy and lukewarmness overspread nearly all the greatest protestant churches, the pope is reinstated in his ghostly empire, and the popish religion, under his auspices, and those of all the kings who have given their power to him, again flourishes, and again threatens to cover Europe with a very dark night of superstition. Again the hopes of salyation, in nearly the whole of that quarter of the world, seem to be directing themselves towards those miserable means, which the catholic church presented, before the reformation. England has had a leading hand in the iniquitous elevation of antichrist. After his late reinstatement in his royal splendours, it is said the Prince Regent of England wrote him a letter, in which he says he puts a carte blanche into the hand of his holiness, and that he will do whatever he commands in relation to the church in his dominions. If this statement is correct, and there is no reason to doubt it, the Prince Regent, by that act, has formally undone all that was done by Henry VIII. in declaring Great Britain independent of the see of Rome; and has formally subjected, once more, the British empire to the dominion of antichrist. Thus, this once covenanted kingdom has in the most effectual, as well as formal manner, given its power to the beast. Notwithstanding all that is doing in Europe to cherish Bible societies and foster missionary efforts, we have little reason to hope that orthodox principles will flourish, while the
present state of things lasts. But God will arise and have mercy upon Zion, for the time which he has set to favour her, has nearly come. He will shake down those thrones of iniquity, and amidst their ruins he will build his church on a permanent foundation.
We now invite the attention of the reader to the new world, in which a vast field opens. The first settlers, who established themselves at Cape Cod in Massachusetts, A. D. 1616, were English Puritans, who understood well the doctrines of grace, and adhered to them, with great firmness.
Though they commenced their settlement in New England twenty-three years before the meeting of the assembly of divines at Westminster, yet they embraced the same doctrines which that venerable assembly embodied in their Confession of Faith and Catechisms. It was indeed their attachment to these principles, that induced them to forsake their native land, and encounter all the difficulties of settling in a strange and distant land, among the savages of the wilderness. Heaven had manifested its goodness, in bringing to light a new world in the west, just before the storm of persecution burst upon the reformers, that an asylum might be afforded them, from the violence of their adversaries. The fathers of New England have been represented by many of their ungrateful sons as a rude, ignorant, bigoted and unenlightened people. No representation, however, could be farther from the truth, nor more injurious to their real character. They did not indeed possess that polish, which has been acquired by more modern society, but they had what was of incomparably more value-great piety, zeal for the truth, clear conceptions of what is truth, and resolution to practise the duties which it enjoins. It has always been customary among the New England divines, to publish sermons which were delivered on stated and important occasions; and from all these that we have been able to see, they were harmonious and united in their attachment to the creed of the Genevan school, as explained and embraced by the British reformers.
In 1648, the Westminster Confession of Faith was approved by the clergy of Massachusetts; and in the year 1680, the Savoy Confession of Faith was adopted by the congregational clergy assembled in Boston and its vicinity, as the expression of their own sentiments. The doctrines of this latter system are the same with those of the Westminster confession, and in most instances expressed in nearly the same words. At its adoption, there does not appear to have been one dissenting voice, either among the clergy or laity. Their form of church government rendered it impossible for the association of clergy, who gave it their
sanction, to impose it upon all the congregations under their charge. They could do no more than recommend it, as all their congregations were associated bodies, independent of each other. It would, nevertheless, at that time have been deemed highly improper for any one of the ministers or of their congregations, to have departed from the system of truth which was embraced and recommended by the general convention. This very system of government, if it may be called a system, opened in some measure a door for the introduction of error, and gave to errorists facilities for introducing their tenets, which did not exist in the presbyterian church, in which all the members are directly amenable to the presbytery for those doctrines which they teach. In the New England churches, the clergy were directly and immediately amenable to their own congregations only; and, as the authority of the association over its members was very slight, a minister might exhibit opinions contrary to the analogy of faith, for a considerable time before any account would be taken of him. Those, however, who were found to be chargeable with heresies, might be cited before a council, and if found guilty, deposed from office. This power has, in some instances, been exercised by some of the northern churches.
For a considerable time after the adoption of the Savoy Confession of Faith, by the ministers of Boston, we have the most ample testimony, that the northern people maintained stedfastly the principles which are contained in that excellent compend.
The churches in Connecticut had become very numerous about the beginning of the last century, but the laxness of discipline, the irregularity of the life of many members of the church, and the want of an acknowledged general standard of doctrine, began to excite the fears of many enlightened men. At Gilford a measure originated, intended to produce a better state of things. The civil government of the colony considered themselves as entitled, by their office, to watch over the welfare of their citizens in relation to their religious interests; and in 1703, they invited a convention of
the clergy to assemble, and devise measures for promoting the welfare of the church. This assembly of the Connecticut clergy met at Saybrook on the 13th of May, 1708; and the result of their deliberations was the unanimous adoption of the Savoy Confession of Faith, as their standard of doctrine. They approve of the whole of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and speak of it in the very highest terms of commendation. In the Savoy confession they made a few slight alterations, rather of a verbal nature; but no change was made in the doctrine of divine decrees, the total depravity of human nature, and the definite satisfaction made by Messiah for the elect.
In an act which they passed on the subject of doctrine, they say:-“As to what appertains to soundness of judgment, in matters of faith, we deem it sufficient, that a church acknowledge the scriptures to be the word of God, the perfect and only rule of faith and practice, and own the doctrinal part of the confession commonly called the articles of the church of England, or the confession, or catechism, larger, or shorter, compiled by the assembly at Westminster, or the confession agreed upon at Savoy, to be agreeable to said rule.” Here we have the whole colony of Connecticut, both in its civil and ecclesiastical capacities, expressing its approbation of the doctrines of the Genevan school. Any person who should deny the truth and divine origin of the Holy Scriptures, or the doctrine of the Trinity, has always in Connecticut been incapacitated for holding civil offices; and that state has always adopted the principle, that the civil transactions of a nation should be rendered subservient to the great interests of man, and that the sacred scriptures are the rule by which men should regulate all their civil affairs. To the interference of the civil power, we are in this instance indebted for so excellent an expression of orthodoxy. This measure was a great means of harmonizing the affections of the Connecticut clergy, in promoting the interests of religion; and to it, doubtless, we are in part to attribute the excellent state of morals, and education, for which this state is unrivalled by any other section of the
union. The clergy were drawn together into a closer union, acquired more confidence in each other, and became more watchful in guarding their churches and associations against the inroads of error. When the people of Connecticut established grammar schools, or gave their sons a liberal education, it was chiefly with a view that the churches should be supplied with enlightened and learned ministers, who might make known to perishing sinners the way of salvation, through the obedience, death, and intercession of Messiah; and the supply of clergy always kept pace with their increasing population.
In the adoption of the Westminster and Savoy Confessions of Faith, the churches in Connecticut followed Massachusetts, the parent from which she was descended; and the state of orthodoxy was probably about the same then, in that colony, that it had been fifty years before in the parent state; in which it began to decline early in the last century. Many great and good men exerted themselves with faithfulness and zeal to preserve the ancient opinions and habits free from corruption. Among the most distinguished of these was the Mather family. The Rev. Richard Mather was the first of this stock, that emigrated to New England, to which he was driven by persecution. He arrived in Boston in 1635, and was the founder of a family of great respectability, many of whom have been ministers of the gospel eminent for their orthodoxy, piety, and influence in the political and ecclesiastical affairs of Massachusetts. His son, Increase Mather, was educated in Harvard college, where he graduated in 1656, and was ordained to the pastoral charge of a congregation, in 1659. Two years after his ordination he was invited to take charge of the college as its principal, but he preferred the situation in which he was placed, to the honourable station offered him. He did, indeed, at first accept it, and preside at one commencement, but immediately after resigned, in compliance with his own wishes, and those of his congregation, who were warmly attached to him, and would not consent to part with him. In 1662, a vacancy happening in that office, he was again