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men now generally prosecute their theological studies under the care of the Rev. Dr. Helfenstein, of Philadelphia; who teaches them Latin, Greek, Hebrew, German, and theology. The number of their students rarely exceeds ten. The increase of this society is not rapid; one great cause of which is, that they preach chiefly in German, while that language is going into disuse, and must ere long be cultivated by very few people in America. Many of their ministers are devout, sensible men, and excellent preachers, and many of their people are pious and intelligent.
The Baptist society in the United States is large, increases very rapidly, and is spread over the whole republic. It embraces many men of learning and respectability, and has great weight in some seminaries of learning. Brown university, in the state of Rhode Island, is almost exclusively its property; and the Rev. Dr. Maxcy, who was formerly president of that institution, and now of the South Carolina college, as mentioned above, belongs to the Baptist church. At the beginning of the present century, they had in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, Delaware, and South Carolina, 360 congregations, which doubtless, was far from half their number. Their present number of congregations is certainly near eight hundred. During 35 years, in the state of Massachusetts alone, their increase was 62 congregations. By far the greater proportion of the Baptist clergy are illiterate; many of them, especially in the eastern states, or who have originated there, are of the Hopkinsian defection. The northern clergy of this society are generally more learned than their brethren to the south and west. In Philadelphia, great personal efforts are making by the Rev. Dr. Staughton, to improve the state of literature among the Baptist clergy, and by Doctors Holcombe and Rogers, to turn their brethren from the errors of their ways. From five to ten young men are commonly under the care of the former, whom he instructs in geography, composition, grammar, Greek, Hebrew, history, and theology. Many, who have been for some time engaged in preaching, have put themselves under
the doctor's tuition, and preach in the city and its vicinity, while they prosecute their theological studies. The influence of this school is thrown into the orthodox scale. The same missionary spirit which animates the Baptists in Europe, prevails among the American Baptists. There is no single society in the United States that has carried its efforts on this subject so far as they have done. They set an example worthy of universal imitation. Their zeal for making proselytes to their system, is, perhaps, greater than that of any other branch of the church in America, if we except the methodists. It differs from the Hopkinsian spirit in this respect, that they wish to make proselytes, and suffer them to continue in the churches to which they are attached, that with greater facility they may diffuse their errors; whereas, the proselytes to the doctrine of anti-pedobaptism, all unite themselves with the Baptist church.
Next to the Baptists, it is hard to say whether the New England churches or the general assembly have displayed the most of a missionary spirit. The former have established a board of foreign missions, and have several local missionary societies. The general assembly has for a long time had a committee, which was last year enlarged, and clothed with authority to act as a board of missions. They employ many settled pastors and others, in their new settlements, as itinerants for several months in a year. It is a favourable circumstance for the diffusion of the true gospel, that this board meets in Philadelphia, and that the Rev. Jacob J. Janeway, D. D. is its president. He has taken a decided stand in opposition to the indefinite atonement, and all the Hopkinsian innovations; and it may be expected that his influence will be exerted to send forth sound evangelists; and the orthodox only, as the missionaries of the general assembly; while the eastern missionaries are too frequently men, whose talents will procure them no establishment at home; but whose attachment to the New England divinity is obtrusive and unconquerable.
As in Britain, so here many of those whom we number among the baptist congregations are called irregular bap.
tists, the greater part of whom are Arminians. The regular baptists of the middle states generally embrace the system of Dr. Gill, who is much studied and copied by the clergy, and read by the common people. In forming an estimate of the influence which the various denominations will have on the doctrine of the atonement, the balance in this society would, upon the whole, be rather against the orthodox interest. The learning and the talent of the regular baptists are divided between the orthodox and the Hopkinsians, while the Arminians number in their ranks, the irregulars. Here, as in every branch of the church, the grand enemy of truth, the most to be dreaded, because the most insinuating and the most to be opposed, is Hopkinsianism. The irregular baptists, disappear before the light of literature and genuine scientific theology, and with them their delusions, while the northern heresy poisons the very fountains of literature and theology. It is a specious, falsely metaphysical system, that pretends to more than ordinary intelligence and piety. Among the regular baptists, there are much ardent piety, and numerous amiable people.
The Methodist society is numerically a powerful body; its system is well arranged and remarkably vigorous, for the materials of which it is composed. Its purest organization was imparted to it by bishops Coke and Asbury, both of them well acquainted with men, and the means of governing them. The great, as well as the most minute parts of the machinery which they put into operation, are adjusted with wonderful accuracy. They maintain precisely the doctrines that were taught by the Arminians of Holland, and embraced by the English methodists, whom they resemble in all the distinctive features of their character. They scarcely possess any learned men, and they rather despise human literature, than manifest any disposition to cherish and cultivate it. The stock of knowledge, and the themes on which their clergy declaim are soon exhausted, and hence all their preachers are itinerants. They declaim with great vehemence and arouse the passions of their auditors; and even the most ignorant of their preachers possess a
wonderful dexterity in this art. All their proselytes are formed into small bands, placed under the direction of the most active men, who are called class leaders, by whom they are drilled in such a manner, as is thought best calcu. lated to ensure their adherence to the society. Their operations extend from the district of Maine to the Floridas, and from the shores of the Atlantic to the remotest settlements of the west; but they are always most successful in the ruder sections of society. Would God the enlightened presbyterians had half their zeal!
When a learned clergy are planted in those neighbourhoods in which they have flourished, and schools of li. terature are opened, immediately the methodists begin to decline, and often, in a short time entirely disappear. In Virginia they are powerful. The destruction of the episcopal church, when its civil establishment was broken down, the deficiency of presbyterian clergy, and generally of the means of religious instruction, opened for them a wide field which they have not failed to cultivate with extraordinary assiduity. In the mountainous districts they have been active in their exertions, with very little to counteract their operations. They hang too on the skirts of population to the west, where the state of society verges towards savagism, and have formed numerous societies destined to vanish before the spreading beams of science and knowledge.
They have not, like learned and acute Arminians, advanced into the regions of Arianism, and Socinianism, which they will certainly do, if a spirit of illuminating grace prevent not, so soon as the condition of society forces them to turn their attention to the cultivation of literature. Hence many of them are theoretical Arminians, and practical Cal. vinists. In their prayers, they acknowledge the impotency of human nature, and seek for the efficacious operation of the Holy Spirit as necessary to their faith and sanctification: and the merits of Christ, as necessary to their justification. Hence many of them must, in consequence of judgment of charity be allowed to be devout in heart, and exemplary
in their lives. It is through want of intellect, and some degree of grace in the heart, that they habitually pray against their own creed, in their petitions to the throne of grace.
The German Lutheran church is a respectable body, as to numbers and wealth, in Pensylvannia and Maryland. The number of their clergy amounts to about fifty, and they have many vacancies. Many of their ministers have been respectable for learning and talents. Among the most conspicuous have been the Rev. Dr. Muhlenburgh of Lancaster in Pennsylvania, and the Rev. Dr. Helmuth of Phi. ladelphia. Dr. Muhlenburgh acquired considerable celebrity, for his botanical knowledge, and various other literary attainments; but his attempts to diffuse a taste for literature among the Lutheran clergy, generally proved unsuccessful. They have never established a theological seminary, and they labour under the same difficulties, which have depressed the German reformed church. Dr. Hel. muth has usually had a few young men under his care, some of whom have passed through the colleges. While the German preachers continue to officiate in a foreign language, daily going into disuse, their churches cannot flourish. In order to become learned, the clergy of the German societies must throw their weight into the English seminaries.
Luther's Catechism is the manual which they employ in the instruction of their children; but they are, like the Lutherans of England and Germany, nearly all Arminians.
They all maintain the doctrine of consubstantiation; or that the body and blood of Christ are in, with, and under the sacramental bread and wine; which, together with the episcopal form of their ecclesiastical government, keeps them and the German reformed church, distinct bodies. There is, however, a good understanding between them; and they often officiate in each other's pulpits; and embrace nearly the same views of the doctrines of grace. Both have nearly the same degree of piety and illumination, though the nominal Cal. vinists are esteemed the more evangelical.