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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. Ma 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 Philadelphia, 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.
6 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 eare, to be strict in the examination of candidates, for licensure 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 doc. 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)
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 he permitted to enter on the Chris. tian 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 Glouces. ter, 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.
Parker, a judicious man, a chaste writer, and a divine of the same stamp, has lately been installed pastor of the Second Reformed Dutch Church, which was formerly the Independent Tabernacle. Mr. M'Cartee, a young man of considerable promise, from Dr. Mason's school, is also soon to be constituted the pastor of the Associate Reformed Church; and the Associate Church has lately received the Rev. Dr. Banks, a Scotch divine of unquestionable orthodoxy, famous for his Hebrew science; and one who in oriental literature is inferior only to the Rev. Samuel B. Wylie, D. D. Pastor of the Reformed Presbyterians in the city. Of two of the Baptist brethren, also, the Rev. Drs. Holcombe and Rogers, we may say that their influence is all exerted in favour of the ancient Calvinism: and concerning the Rev. Dr. Staughton, who is we apprehend sound himself, we have only to regret that he gives his name to Mr. Luther Rice, a Hopkinsian itinerant, who long delays his promised return to India. We ought not to omit the fact that the opposition made against Mr. Ely by the Hopkinsians, has been overruled for good: for it occasioned the erection of a sixth Presbyterian Church, of which the Rev. William Neill, D. D. is now pastor. He increases the strength of Calvinism in Philadelphia,
The “anti-trinitarian synagogue,” to which the synod alludes in the pastoral letter, is a Unitarian or Socinian convocation in the city of Philadelphia. Though Dr. Priestley resided in Pennsylvania, yet with all his efforts, there has · never been erected in the state any Socinian church, except this one. The doctor wrote an Ecclesiastical History, and his object was the propagation of those heresies for which he was an advocate; but his “Corruptions" have never been much read, and will never do much harm, because a great portion of his facts are not authenticated. He also published a small work, in which he compares the character of Christ Jesus with that of Socrates, evidently designed to elevate the character of the latter, and degrade from all pretensions to divinity that of the former. The Rev. Dr. Linn, late pastor of the First Presbyterian church in Phila.
delphia, replied to Priestley's Comparison, with great force of argument; in doing which he vindicated the Calvinistic doctrine of the atonement. Priestley died in the belief of those heresies, to the propagation of which, the principal part of his life had been devoted. Shortly before his death he called his friends around him and bid them farewel, saying that he was about to take a long sleep; thus with his last breath declaring his belief that his soul would remain in a state of unconscious inactivity, until the resurrection. He left few disciples behind him in Pennsylvania. Boston was the field which he cultivated with success, and the churches of Massachusetts are reaping abundantly the bitter fruits of his labours. The Boston clergy do not depart from the sin wherewith Priestley made them to sin. They gradually sapped the foundations of gospel truth, by mining, and are successful; while the few disciples of Priestley in Pennsylvania, honestly avow their creed and fail. As the personal efforts of this Socinian doctor did little in the state in which he lived, so his name affords little aid to his followers, for most of his works, as well as the greater part of the philosophical opinions peculiar to them, are rapidly descending after him into the grave.
Had the Pennsylvania Socinians asked less at first, they would have succeeded better. Nearly all professors of religion are as much shocked at the principles which the Unitarians avow, as they would be with the most downright deism. Hence it has happened, that though influenced by the principle of curiosity, many people occasionally attended their church for some time after it was opened, yet their hearers now are few; except when they are visited by some learned and popular preacher from the north. Their efforts would be much more successful would they confine them. selves to the Hopkinsian part of their system. They and the Hopkinsians united in attacking the pastoral letter of the synod. It is indeed remarkable that we find these parties so often together in the same array. They both assailed Ely's Contrast too, and which with the greatest severity, is doubtful.