FEW passages in the history of the Church are better calculated to raise the Christian heart in admiration and gratitude to the Giver of all good, than her fortunes in the United States, fortunes which have a still greater promise in the future, than a present accomplishment. Her power in withstanding persecution, in overcoming heresy, in retaining her hold over nations, in absorbing into herself and exercising the functions of political bodies, nay, her mere continuance in the world, though always to appearance losing ground and breaking up,--all these signs of an ever-watchful Providence are most wonderful; yet not less than any is the spectacle of the mustard-seed cast upon the wilderness, finding a lodgment in the hard soil, and taking root, no one knows how, and promising to become a large tree. In her first planting, and almost wherever she has been propagated, the Church went out as a whole, completely organized, fully furnished in all things, even though one or two individuals were the keepers of the treasure. A bishop issuing forth, to convert the heathen, evolves a Church from himself by his apostolical powers, and transmits to it the perfect creed which he has brought with him. Far otherwise was it with the Church's planting in America--she found her way thither in the most feeble and destitute condition. She had no bishops, no visible form of government, churches but here and there, scanty ordinances, few teachers. She was overrun and overborne by other forms of Christianity, and, when the Revolution came, she lost the provisions which had been made for her support. By that rough tempest the tender or rather sickly vine which the mother Church was rearing as she best might, was torn down from the props and lattices on which she had been trained; and lay along the ground to be trampled under foot by passers-by. How were those broken branches ever to bear fruit? How was that to grow which could not stand? Who would have prophesied anything hopeful of her, who thought it worth while to prophesy at all? Yet the principle of life was there; the holy stranger was for a while silent and was forgotten; but at length "the fire kindled, and at the last she spake with her tongue."
Even then though we had no especial connexion or concern with the American Church, we should be led as Christians to dwell upon her history as a signal instance of Almighty God's faithfulness to His own appointed ordinances, so that what seemed "born out of due time" lived and throve, and "out of the mouths of very babes and sucklings" praise was perfected. But to us English Christians the sight has a nearer and deeper interest. The English Church, the glory of Christendom, where Bede taught and whence Boniface went forth, now sits solitary among the nations. The Queen of the Isles, how has she suffered amid the passions of men! how straitened within her seas, who once had a continent for her range, and its bishops for her hosts or guests! It avails not to look at the past; what was done is (as they say) "a matter of history," which means, we may entertain our own private opinion about it. The result is pretty clear; Christendom is broken up, and we have suffered not less than other nations from the convulsion. Rome, Greece, and England, all have suffered; but just at this moment we are speaking about ourselves. We then have lost the sympathy of the world; and those who deprived us of it have felt in duty bound to do what they could to make up to us our loss. The civil power, which has cut us off from Christendom, has done, it must be confessed, its utmost to reconcile us to our degradation. It has maintained, of course, our captivity as a first principle of the Constitution, but it has taken very great pains to keep us from fretting. If the Church was to exist at all in England, it was like a law of the Medes and Persians, that she must exist for England alone; she must be a prisoner if she was to be an inmate; but, that being taken for granted, she has been accorded a most honourable captivity. Nothing has been denied her short of freedom; power, wealth, authority, rank, consideration, have been showered upon her, to make her as happy as the day is long. She has been like Rasselas in a happy valley, or like the Crusader in Armida's garden; what want was unsupplied? Yet even of our first parent it is said under far more blessed circumstances, "For Adam there was not found a help-meet for him." "Aliquid desideravere oculi," which neither fawning beast nor painted bird could supply. He found a want in Paradise itself; and so upon this our poor Church of England, which is not in Paradise, this evil has fallen, in spite of "princes and other children of men," that she has been solitary. She has been among strangers; statesmen, lawyers, and soldiers frisked and prowled around; creatures wild or tame have held a parliament over her, but still she has wanted some one to converse with, to repose on, to consult, to love. The State indeed, to judge by its acts, has thought it unreasonable in her, that she could not find in a lion and a unicorn a sufficient object for her affections. It has set her to keep order in the land, to restrain enthusiasm, and to rival and so discountenance "Popery;" and if she murmured, if she desired to place bishops in the colonies, or to take any other measure which tended to Catholicity, it has used expostulation and upbraiding. "Am I not," it has seemed to whisper, "am I not your own parliament? pour your griefs into my bosom. Have I not established you by law? Am not I your guide, philosopher, and friend? I am ready to meet all your desires. I will decide any theological point for you, or absolve vows and oaths for you, as easily as I send soldiers to collect your tithes." And if this did not succeed, then in a gruffer tone, "Are not you my own Church? Have I not paid for you? Have I not cut you off from Christendom to have you all to myself? Is not this the very alliance, that you should take wages and do service? and where will you find service so light and wages so high?"
Under these circumstances, the rest of the Church, either caring nothing for us, or accounting it a point of charity to wish us dead, and the State intruding its well-meant but unamiable blandishments, it is pleasant to look across the western wave, and discern a friendly star breathing peace and shedding benison. This is our second reason for rejoicing in the American Church. It gives us some taste of Catholic feelings, and some enjoyment of Christian sympathy.
There is yet a third reason for satisfaction more intimately important to ourselves. This friendly Church is a daughter of ours, and is our pride as well as our consolation. The daughter is the evidence of the mother's origin; that which lives is the true Church; that which is fruitful lives; the English Church, the desolate one, has children. There was a time when a satirist could say of her:
"Thus, like a creature of a double kind,
In her own labyrinth she lives confined;
To foreign lands no sound of her is come,
Humbly content to be despised at home."
That day of rebuke is passed. The English Church has fulfilled the law which evidences her vitality. So has it been from the beginning; stocks and stones do not increase and multiply, but all "grass and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed is in itself, after its kind." It is with the moral world as with the material. Genius is creative; truth and holiness draw disciples round them; the Church is a mother. This then is our own special rejoicing in our American relatives; we see our own faces reflected back to us in them, and we know that we live. We have the proof that the Church, of which we are, is not the mere creation of the State, but has an independent life, with a kind of her own, and fruit after her own kind. Men do not gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles; the stream does not rise higher than the spring; if her daughter can exist, though the State does not protect, the mother would not cease to be, though she were protected by the State no longer.
For all these reasons, as Christian, as solitary, and as their mother, the English Church looks out with thankfulness and affection upon the churches which are springing up in North America, whether in our existing or our late colonies; on both with affection, but with more of triumph on the latter. And on considering the vast extent of that continent, and its possible destinies in the divine counsels should the world continue, no anticipation seems too great for the office they are appointed to fill, and for the work they are to do in ages to come.
To Mr. Caswall, an Englishman by birth, an American by his Orders, we are indebted for the most graphic and circumstantial, as well as the latest account which has been published of the present state of the American Church. This gentleman is in all respects a man of note. He has the energy of a missionary, the curiosity of a traveller, and the sobriety of a man of letters. His special object, as he states in his Preface, has been that of "exhibiting to the British public the vital energy of the Episcopal system, and the real benefit of an adherence to its essential principles;" the very subject of which we have been speaking, and about which we shall presently say something more. "The view," he continues, "of a thousand republican clergymen, and five hundred thousand republican laymen, contending for a liturgy and for the sacred regimen of bishops, will be sufficient to prove that the system which has flourished under the tyranny of the Roman Empire, and the constitutional monarchy of England, contains in itself nothing repugnant to the principles of political self-government. At the same time, the wonderful progress and improvement of the American Church serve to confute the Romanist, who asserts, that the Church of England is sustained merely by the secular arm, and that in the event of her losing that support, she must of necessity become extinct."--Pp. v., vi. Elsewhere he tells us, that this young Church "is increasing in numbers more rapidly than any other Protestant denomination in America. It has even gained on the fast-extending population of the United States, so that it has quadrupled itself during the last twenty-four years, while the population of the Union has little more than doubled. Should it continue to increase in the same ratio, it will outnumber the Church of England before fifty years have elapsed; and before the end of a century, it will embrace a majority of the population of the States."
We shall not understand the full force of these statements, until we look back at the condition in which Episcopacy found itself at the end of the revolutionary war.
"When the colonies were actually separated from Great Britain," he says, "the destruction of the Church appeared almost inevitable, notwithstanding the fact that the great Washington himself was an Episcopalian. A few years nearly overthrew the work which had been slowly carried forward by the exertions of a century and a half. The Propagation Society no longer rendered its accustomed aid. Many of the clergy were thus left entirely destitute, and some were obliged to betake themselves to secular employments for support. In the northern states the clergy generally declined officiating, 'on the ground of their ecclesiastical connexion with the liturgy of the Church of England.' In the south, many worthy ministers, conceiving themselves bound by oath to support the government of Great Britain, refused to enter upon a new allegiance, and quitted the country. By an unjust decision, the lands possessed by the Propagation Society in Vermont were confiscated, and applied to the purposes of education. An equally unconstitutional sentence, ultimately despoiled the clergy of Virginia of their glebes and churches; while, in addition to all these calamities, Episcopalians in general became subject to unmerited political prejudices. Most of their churches were emptied; there was no centre of unity, no ecclesiastical government."--Pp. 173, 174.
This was the melancholy condition of the Church in 1783, and from that date to the close of the century it was fully employed in organizing itself upon the Apostolical model. It obtained bishops from Scotland and England by 1787, and in the course of the thirteen years which followed, "its members had learned in some measure to rely on their own resources, and its ministers were supported in some instances comfortably by the voluntary contributions of their flocks."--P. 184. Yet the number of clergymen little exceeded two hundred; and these were widely scattered through the country bordering on the Atlantic. No great enterprises were undertaken, because a hard struggle was necessary to maintain the ground already occupied.
In 1790 the number of bishops was seven; and by 1811 only one or two dioceses had been added. The inferior clergy had scarcely increased at all, and little attention was paid to theological preparation. But at this time the energies of the Divine Kingdom began to show themselves. Mr. Caswall gives us this summary:
"Few colleges were under episcopal control, and even there, theological education was neglected. The candidates were, therefore, compelled to pursue their studies under the direction of clergymen encumbered with parochial duties, or to resort to the institutions of dissenting denominations. Accordingly, about the year 1814, Bishop Hobart of New York issued proposals for the establishment of a divinity-school under the superintendence of himself and his successors. The deputies to the General Convention from South Carolina were also instructed by their constituents to propose a similar scheme. The subject was for some time under consideration; and finally, in 1817, it was resolved to establish a theological seminary at New York for the benefit of the entire Church, and under its control. In the same year the diocese of North Carolina was admitted into union with the General Convention, and measures were adopted to organize the Church in Ohio. The Rev. Philander Chase was consecrated to the episcopate of the latter diocese in 1819, and the Rev. J. S. Ravenscroft to that of the former in 1823. New Jersey had been provided with a bishop, the Rev. Dr. Croes, as early as 1815; and from this period, the advancement of the Church proceeded with almost unexampled rapidity. In 1814, the number of clergy was little more than 240, but in the course of twenty-four years, it has quadrupled itself, and the increase of congregations has been in an equal proportion.
"The destitute state of the western country led to the formation of a missionary association in Pennsylvania about the year 1818. By this association several missionaries were sustained in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and some churches were planted. In a few years this Society assumed a more extended form, and, under the auspices of the General Convention, became known as the 'Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church.' For many years its operations were extremely limited, and it was not until 1830 that it produced any considerable benefit. In the meantime, Washington College was instituted, the General Theological Seminary received a constant accession of students, and a second institution of the same kind was established at Alexandria, near Washington, designed especially to promote the interests of religion in Virginia and the other southern dioceses. Bishop Chase proceeded to England in 1824, in the hope of obtaining assistance towards the foundation of a similar institution in Ohio. His efforts, it is known, were successful, and in 1831 he had the satisfaction of beholding nearly 200 inmates of 'Kenyon College and Theological Seminary.' At this time the number of clergy in Ohio was between fifty and sixty."
In Kentucky and Tennessee, the increase of the Church has been as rapid as in Ohio. In 1825 there was but one officiating clergyman in the first-mentioned state. In 1832 it contained eight clergymen, and in the same year a bishop was consecrated. In 1834 the "Theological Seminary of the Diocese of Kentucky" was incorporated; in the following year it received great pecuniary assistance from eastern Episcopalians, and in 1836 contained eighteen students. The clergy in the diocese now amount to twenty-one. So late as 1832 there were but three clergymen in Tennessee. There are now in that diocese about twelve, with a Bishop Otey, and a theological seminary in connexion with a college is already in contemplation. In the eastern states the progress of the Church has also been rapid and steady. The Church in Vermont had become in 1832 sufficiently strong to separate from the eastern diocese of which it had formed a part, and to receive a bishop. It is highly probable, that before many years, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine will be provided with their respective prelates.--Pp. 187, 191.
In the Journal of the Proceedings of the General Convention of last year, twenty-one dioceses are enumerated. In 1835 the Church formally took upon itself a most important step,--the conduct of its missions, dispensing with the aid of the Society which had hitherto been indirectly its organ. Since this "great and momentous measure," as Mr. Caswall justly calls it, has passed, the missionary income of the Church has greatly increased. In 1835 it was about £6,000, and in 1836 it became £12,431.
From these great steps in the development of Catholic principles one most important consequence will probably follow, which could not have been anticipated when they were taken,--the destruction of the voluntary system in the bad sense of the word. Nothing is more Christian than that the people of the Church, who are benefited by her ordinances, should "willingly offer" for her support: nothing more unchristian than that individual clergymen should be at the mercy of the people, and be under the temptation of "preaching smooth things" to get bread, clothes, and lodging. Such an evil threatens to arise when there is a less demand for clergy in America than at the present moment. It was obviated in the early Church by the offerings being made to the bishop of the diocese, who distributed them at his discretion among the parochial clergy; that is, in the way in which missionaries are actually paid at this day. When once then the Church has in its hands funds for the payment of missionaries, it may easily extend the system to the payment of clergy.
There seems to be no lack of liberality in contributions among the laity of the Church, at New York especially. If there is an infant parish established in the West, and unable to erect a place of worship, application is made to New York. If there is a new school to be instituted in any part of the country, if there is a church burnt down, if there is a professorship to be endowed, recourse is instantly had to New York as the place where substantial tokens of sympathy may certainly be expected. "Applicants after applicants," says Mr. Caswall, "come crowding in, and the fountain of benevolence still remains unexhausted, and even increasing in abundance. I have been credibly informed that many of the wealthiest merchants habitually devote a tenth part of their incomes, and sometimes much more, to religious purposes."--P. 155.
This munificence shows itself, as it should, in the erection and decoration of churches. At Hartford, in Connecticut, where lately was a wooden building, in which Bishop Chase officiated, "a splendid and substantial Episcopal church, of stone," he says, "has been erected in its stead, and presents the noblest specimen of Gothic architecture which I have seen in America. At the time of my visit the tower was not wholly completed; but when finished, I should think that the expense could not fall short of twenty thousand pounds. The interior is in perfect keeping with the exterior; all is rich and solid, without any superfluous or trifling decorations."--P. 145. Elsewhere he tells us that in one of the eastern cities, "The Protestant Episcopal church of St. Peter is a finished specimen of Gothic architecture. The walls, which rise forty feet above the ground, are built of hammered blue-stone trimmed with granite. The dimensions of the church are 65 feet in breadth by 120 feet in length, including the tower and vestry-room. The tower, which is at the north end, is 23 feet square and 138 feet high. The pulpit and reading-desk are in excellent keeping with the rest of the work, for beauty and richness of design. The ground-floor contains 138 pews, and the galleries 68. At the northern end of the building, in the gallery, stands the organ, a splendid instrument, in height 31 feet, in breadth 21 feet, and in depth 13 feet. The number of draw-stops is 34. The cost of this organ was 5,000 dollars (£1,125)."--P. 283.
At Rochester, in New York, there is a Gothic church which cost £22,500.--P. 113. In the west too, it appears, some very handsome places of worship have been erected. Even in Ohio, there are two which cost respectively £12,600 and £5,400 sterling. "Church architecture," our author informs us, "is rapidly improving, and a better taste is prevailing more and more. Cathedrals are still confined to the Roman Catholics; but the Roman Catholic buildings of that description are often greatly inferior to Episcopal churches." It is an interesting circumstance that, as of old time we were indebted for our cathedrals to our bishops, so in America the present Bishop of Vermont has begun to tread in the steps of Wykeham and Wolsey, by publishing a book of architectural plans.
We are glad to add that other evidence of bountifulness in the worship of God are showing themselves. "Splendidly embroidered pulpit hangings, superb services of communion plate, and a profusion of silk and velvet, of gilding and of painting," are sometimes found; and though Mr. Caswall hints that these embellishments are not always of the severest and most reverential character, yet they show "the willing mind," and are pleasant to think upon.
The poorer districts seem to vie with the more wealthy in their voluntary care of an unendowed Church. "Not unfrequently," our author says, "[a clergyman] receives a waggon-load of substantial comforts, such as two or three barrels of flour, ten or twelve bushels of apples, a barrel of cider, and a sack of potatoes. Sometimes he is agreeably surprised by the receipt of a complete suit of clerical apparel, a hat, a pair of boots, or a variety of articles for his wife and children. I am acquainted with a young clergyman who, within a few weeks, received two or three fees for marriage of a hundred dollars each (£22). I have known fifty dollars (not a fee) to be presented to a clergyman on a baptismal occasion, and an equal amount at a funeral, though gifts of this description are not frequent. Medical men and lawyers seldom charge a clergyman for their services, and quite recently the missionary bishop was conveyed on board a steamboat, without cost, from New Orleans to St. Louis, a voyage of more than a thousand miles."--Pp. 305, 306.
Mr. Caswall informs us of the consideration which was exercised on different occasions towards himself:
"A gentleman of the Episcopal Church, residing in Circleville, a connexion and namesake of the justly-celebrated Nonconformist Dr. Doddridge, was part-owner of a commodious line of boats on the Ohio canal. Hearing of my indisposition, and of my arrangements for leaving Portsmouth, this worthy man, though almost a total stranger, informed me that accommodations would be provided, at no expense, for myself and wife, on board one of his vessels. Such offers are made, in this country, with the intention that they should be accepted; and, accordingly, I did not hesitate to comply. The journey by canal was one of 330 miles, and would have cost us together about twenty dollars.
"Instances of similar liberality to clergymen are by no means unfrequent in America. In travelling through Ohio, it has several times happened that after spending a night at an inn, and having taken supper and breakfast, the landlord has refused to accept any payment on hearing that I was a clergyman. For the same reason, a drayman, whom I once engaged to remove my furniture from one house to another, resisted all my efforts to induce him to receive a compensation. There are captains of steamboats who sometimes will carry clergymen at half-price, or without any charge."--Pp. 106, 107.
It should be observed, that this attention is paid to other ministers besides clergymen. "Medical men," the author adds, "also prescribe for the ministers of all denominations and for their families gratuitously."
In another place he observes of Albany, "Here we spent Sunday, and attended divine service at the two Episcopal Churches. The landlord of the comfortable hotel where we lodged was an Episcopalian. He treated us with the utmost hospitality, and refused to accept any compensation."--P. 115.
Mr. Caswall himself first belonged to the diocese of Ohio, whence he obtained his academical degree and his Orders; and he gives us an interesting description of a Sunday expedition in its vast and wild territory:
"We rise early, and get a light breakfast an hour or two before the ordinary morning meal, and then sally forth with a few books, and some frugal provision for the day. The sun has risen about half an hour, and the dew is sparkling on the long grass. We proceed about half a mile through the noble aboriginal forest, the tall and straight trees appearing like pillars in a vast Gothic cathedral. The timber consists of oak, hickory, sugar-maple, sycamore, walnut, poplar, and chestnut; and the wild vine hangs from the branches in graceful festoons. Occasionally we hear the notes of singing-birds, but less frequently than in the groves of England. We soon arrive at a small clearing, where a cabin built of rough logs indicates the residence of a family. Upon the abundant grass, which has sprung up since the rays of the sun were thus admitted to the soil, a number of cattle, the property of the college, are feeding; and the tinkling of their bells is almost the only sound that strikes the ear. We climb over the fence constructed of split rails piled in a zigzag form; we traverse the pasture, and are again in the deep forest. The surface of the ground is neither flat, nor very hilly, but gently undulating. After an hour we arrive at a roughly constructed saw-mill, erected on a small stream of water. The miller is seated at the door of his cabin, clad in his Sunday suit, and reading a religious book lent him by us on a former occasion. We hold a short conversation with him; he expresses a growing interest in religion and the Church, and concludes by telling us that he wishes us hereafter to use his horse on our expeditions. We accept the offer as it is intended; my companion mounts the nag, and I walk by his side.
"We then pass through the woods along the banks of Vernon River; and in due time my companion descends from his seat, and I mount the quiet animal in his place. After another hour we arrive at a small village, or rather a collection of log-houses, the scene of our labours. At the further extremity of the street is a school-house, built of logs, with a huge chimney at one end, and a fireplace extending across one side of the apartment. Within it are a number of rough benches, and all around it is a kind of temporary arbour, covered with fresh boughs, for the accommodation of those who cannot find seats within. Having tied our horse to a tree, we enter the school-room and sit down to rest. Soon the children come flocking from the cabins and through the woods; and with them their parents and many grown-up people, attracted partly by curiosity, and partly by a sincere desire of religious instruction. In a short time the school-room is filled, and a number of persons are standing without in the shade of the arbour; I then give out one of the hymns in the Prayer Book, reading two lines at a time on account of the scarcity of books. The people join in singing it, and then all kneel down to prayer. I repeat a large portion of the service by memory, knowing that my hearers, although belonging to no sect whatever, have at present all the prejudices of sectarians against 'praying by a book.' After prayer my companion adds a few words of exhortation, to which all listen with the deepest attention. We then instruct the children in the New Testament; and about midday we untie our horse, and set out on our journey homeward, intending to eat our cold refreshments on the way.
"But scarcely have we left the village, when a blacksmith runs after us and requests us to stop. He wishes us always to dine with him on Sundays hereafter. We accordingly return to his cabin, and his wife sets before us a plentiful repast, consisting of chicken, potatoes, hot bread, apple-pies, and delicious milk. After some profitable conversation, we bid them farewell, and about three o'clock arrive at the miller's house, almost overcome by the excessive heat. When we have somewhat recovered from our fatigue, we proceed to a spot on the bank of the stream, where the grass is smooth, and where the thick foliage produces a comparative coolness. Here we find about a hundred persons collected, in hope of receiving from us some religious instruction. We conduct the service much in the same way as in the morning. The effect of the singing in the open air is striking and peculiar; and the admirable prayers of our Liturgy are no less sublime in the forests of Ohio than in the consecrated and time-honoured minsters of York or Canterbury.
"The service concluded, we return on foot, and as we approach the college with weary steps, the fire-flies glisten in the increasing darkness. We arrive at our rooms fatigued in body, but refreshed in mind, and encouraged to new efforts."--Pp. 35-39 (abridged).
It is encouraging to find that the Church, though deprived of all external aids towards keeping up the appearance of unity, yet is recognized and joined, in those regions of religious extravagance, as the Catholic Church should be, on the ground of the consistency, definiteness, and stability of its creed. Persons of the most opposite sentiments, enthusiasts and (so called) Unitarians, seem in this respect to look upon her with interest and consideration, and to be drawn to her. However, we hardly know whether to regard the following as a pleasant specimen of it or not, but we give it in Mr. Caswall's words:
"I took the steamboat from New York on Saturday, and had a delightful voyage down the Connecticut river. On the way I entered freely into conversation with a gentlemanly and intelligent passenger, who proved to be a Unitarian from Massachusetts. Pointing to the Episcopal churches which appeared on both sides of the stream, he remarked, 'Ah, if those churches had been in Massachusetts, there would have been few Unitarians.' He explained himself by expressing his conviction that Unitarians objected not so much to the doctrine of the Trinity taught by the Church, as to the unpalatable and, as he said, the revolting manner in which Christianity was presented by the orthodox congregational divines."--Pp. 149, 150.
Certainly the excesses of sectarianism in the North American States are such, that one need not be of a Socinian turn to be disgusted with them. Besides the old Calvinistic Baptists, there are the Free-will, the Seventh-day, and the Six-principle Baptists; the Christian Baptists, who deny the proper Divinity of Christ; and the Campbellite Baptists, many of whom are but in part believers in the Holy Trinity, and modify the doctrine of the Atonement. Besides these there are the Seed and Snake Baptists, who, carrying out the Calvinistic system, divide mankind by a rigid line into the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent; and lastly, the Dunkers, who are principally German Baptists, and who wear a peculiar dress, a long robe with a girdle and hood, let their beards grow, feed on roots and vegetables, live men with men and women with women, not meeting even in their devotions, have each his own cell, a bench for a bed, a block of wood for a pillow, admit works of supererogation, and deny the eternity of future punishment. This strange mockery of Catholic Truth numbers as many as 30,000 adherents. As to the Calvinistic varieties, they go the lengths in numerous instances of even considering the religious education of children as a sacrilegious interference with the work of divine grace. Among the Methodists the same disorders prevail which marked their first rise in England. In their camp meetings "sermons and exhortations succeed each other in quick succession; the most lively hymns are sung perhaps for an hour together, and extempore prayers are offered with extreme force of language and energy of action. The people become powerfully excited; they shout 'Glory' and 'Amen;' they scream, jump, roar, and clap their hands, and even fall into swoons, convulsions, and deathlike trances"--manifestations which are far more like the work of evil spirits than of Him who on earth "did not strive, nor cry," nor make "His voice heard in the streets." Of the Quakers, Mr. Caswall tells us, one-third have lately declared themselves Unitarians. Besides these, there are, among other sects, 600,000 Universalists, who teach the annihilation of the wicked; 6,000 Shakers, or followers of Ann Lee, whom they consider the woman mentioned in Revelation, chapter xii., and who have all things common, lead a single life, and dance in divine worship; and the Mormonites, who, being the only sect of pure American origin, shall be described in Mr. Caswall's words:
"Their delusion seems to be founded upon a prevailing and plausible opinion, which derives the descent of the American Indians from the ten lost tribes of Israel. The Mormonites assert that, in the time of the Jewish kings, an Israelite embarked on the Persian Gulf, and, after many adventures, crossed the Pacific, and arrived on the American coast. To this individual various revelations were committed, which were written on golden plates, and hidden under a stone in that part of the country now known as the state of New York. In process of time, viz., in the year 1829, an angel appeared to a man residing in the vicinity, and directed his attention to the spot where the precious deposit was concealed. He searched and found the golden plates; but the language inscribed upon them was unknown. He was accordingly furnished with some talismanic power, by which he translated the original, word by word, and thus produced the 'Book of Mormon.' There are fifteen books, which fill a duodecimo volume of 588 pages, first published by Joseph Smith, of Ontario county, New York. It is needless, perhaps, to say that the original golden plates have never been produced. The Mormonites assert that the Land of Promise is beyond the Mississippi. They also declare that they possess the gift of working miracles. They consider the study of the Hebrew language to be a religious duty; and at one of their settlements, in Ohio, they recently engaged the son of a Jewish rabbi, a distinguished Hebrew teacher, to instruct the whole community. They already amount to 12,000."--Pp. 322, 323.
In reading such accounts, how are we thrown back into the times of early Church-history, and find ourselves among the Valentinians, Marcionites, Cataphrygians, Ebionites, Manichees, and all the other prodigies to which the presence of the true Church gave rise, as the sun breeds reptiles; and as the Church in those early times went forth conquering and to conquer amid them all, so we are prepared to believe that even in these fallen times she has so much of her ancient glory left her, as to eat them up like Aaron's rod, and to grow and increase while they fall to pieces. Nay, under such circumstances, we are not sorry to be told, even of the Church of Rome, that by means of its numerous and well-conducted schools and colleges, it is daily acquiring a more powerful hold upon the public mind; for surely it is better to belong to any branch of the One True Church, than to sectaries, who, not to dwell on their tenets, do not even profess to belong to it.
But to return: Mr. Caswall informs us that in the towns and villages along the New York canal the "disorders and divisions among sectarian bodies have brought multitudes within the fold of the Church."--P. 115. Elsewhere he tells us that a vast proportion of her members have originally belonged to one or other denomination of Christians, and "have united with her from a sincere and intelligent preference."--P. 332. And, what is still more remarkable, that "probably more than half of the parochial clergy, and certainly almost half the bishops, have been originally Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Methodists, or Baptists."
Mr. Caswall furnishes us with some instances of eminent individuals who have been converted from the sectarian communions. First may be mentioned Bishop Chase, who is well known to many persons in England. He is a native of Cornish, a small town in the western part of the state of New Hampshire. His ancestors were English dissenters, and emigrated to America nearly a hundred years ago. "He was himself," as Mr. Caswall tells us, "educated in the Congregational or Independent persuasion, and continued his attachment to those principles until the year 1795, when nearly the whole of his father's family conformed to the Liturgy, and became members of the Episcopal Church. An examination of the Prayer Book, and of the important subject of an apostolical succession, were among the principal reasons which led to this remarkable change. Then in his nineteenth year he resolved to devote himself to the clerical office. Accordingly, after several years of close application to study, under the tuition of a member of the University of Oxford, then officiating as a parish minister in Albany, he received holy Orders in 1798, and was appointed a missionary to extend the blessings of religion in the new settlements in the western part of New York."--P. 22.
Another, mentioned by Mr. Caswall, is the present rector of Bethel, in Vermont, "a venerable English gentleman, once a strong dissenter, and the minister of an Independent congregation in the mother country. Having arrived in America, he formed an acquaintance with the Episcopal Church, and became convinced that the chief grounds on which the dissenters originally seceded from the Church of England had been fully removed in this country. After due consideration, he was received as a candidate for the ministry, and was ultimately ordained to the priesthood, and elected rector of Christ Church, Bethel. He is a faithful and laborious pastor, and a zealous defender of the apostolic succession, and other distinctive principles of Episcopacy."--Pp. 140, 141.
Dr. Cooke, who is the subject of the following extract, was a Professor in the Medical School at Lexington, and is known by a work on the Theory and Practice of Medicine.
"Educated in Virginia, and connected with some distinguished families in England, Dr. Cooke spent his youth among the best society, and in habitual intercourse with the most cultivated minds. Sceptical opinions were then unhappily prevalent, and he imbibed the poison which has destroyed so many of the inconsiderate and unreflecting. While still a young man, he was induced, by a happy curiosity, to purchase of an itinerant book-pedlar, a work on the evidences of Christianity. He took it home, shut himself up in his room, and applied his whole faculties to the study of the interesting subject. His naturally strong mind felt the entire force of the argument, and his native straightforwardness led him to an instant avowal of the change which took place in his sentiments.
"Knowing as yet nothing of Church history, he was not adequate to make a proper choice of a denomination, but immediately connected himself with the Methodists, partly on account of their local proximity, and partly through a just admiration of their energy and zeal. For many years he remained an active and influential member of that sect. At length Dr. Chapman's sermons on the Church were published, and produced on his mind a strong apprehension that the American Methodists might be in a state of schism. He again shut himself up in his study, and applied himself closely to the perusal of such works on the subject as he could procure.
"During this investigation, he attended no place of worship, and determined to attend none until he had succeeded in discovering the true Church. Finally, he came to the conclusion that Scripture as well as primitive Antiquity concurred in requiring an external commission derived from Christ through His Apostles, as the only warrant for the performance of the ministerial office. He became convinced, also, that the possession of such a ministry was a necessary mark of the true Church, and that all religious bodies destitute of that ministry are in a state of separation from the primitive fold. By the light of ecclesiastical history he now traced the Apostolic Succession through the early Church. He therefore connected himself with the American Episcopal Church; since here he found all that is best in Romanism, without its corruptions; all that is valuable among the dissenters, without their disorders.
"He afterwards imported from abroad, at a great expense, an admirable library, containing most of the primitive fathers, and the voluminous writings of former times on the subject of Church history. His convictions were complete, and he devoted his time and money, with unsparing liberality, to the diffusion of those important truths which he had so providentially acquired."--Pp. 226-228.
Dr. Chapman, who is mentioned in the last extract, is a vigorous and striking writer. No wonder that thoughtful men come over to the Church, when a powerful cause has such powerful advocates. We will quote a passage from one of his sermons, both for the view given in it of the religious state of the country, and for the force and liveliness with which it is given:
"On the supposition that the original Apostles were to re-appear for the purpose of converting the heathen to the knowledge of the true God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent, what, I demand, would be the course adopted by them, the system they would deem it advisable to employ? If the Apostles, under such circumstances, were to pursue their previous course, it would be in strict conformity to the directions Jesus gave them when 'speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.' He was for one Church, and they would be for one, the same over which He presided as the Great Shepherd and Bishop of Souls. He said nothing about Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists, or the other Dissenters, and the like silence would be preserved by them. [But] supposing them to be now engaged in evangelizing the pagan nations, on your multitudinous system of sects, each individual would be obliged to found some fifteen or twenty discordant churches, in order to include the two or three hundred which have contrived to make themselves acceptable to the Christian world. Not only must John advocate Episcopacy, and James, Presbyterianism; Peter, the theological unity of the Divine Nature, and Thomas, a Trinity in Unity; Philip, everlasting happiness to the righteous only, with the like duration of misery to the unrighteous, and Bartholomew, the more gratifying doctrine of universal salvation; Jude, the baptism of infants, and Matthew, its limitation to believers; Andrew, the perpetuity of the sacraments, and Simon, the Canaanite, their eventual disuse; James, the son of Alpheus, baptism by sprinkling, and Matthias, by immersion; Paul, the Supra, and Barnabas, the Sub-lapsarian dogma; Timothy, an unlimited, and Titus, a limited atonement; Silas, a personal, and Epaphroditus, a spiritual reign of Christ upon the earth for the space of a thousand years;--but in addition to this, every one of the Apostles must prepare himself to bring forward at least twenty different sects, and school his conscience to contend earnestly for the faith of as many opposing creeds. Instead of the prayer of Christ being strictly fulfilled, 'Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are;' instead of such fulfilment, principles must be embraced and carried out of this nature,--'Divide and subdivide, contradict each other and contradict your own selves, create this schism in one place and that in another, pronounce justification to be by faith in the morning, and by works in the afternoon.' So shall 'ye continue in my word,' and be 'my disciples indeed;' 'ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.'"--Pp. 333, 334.
And now, having said enough by way of introducing the reader to the American Church in its present state, we proceed to our main point, which is as follows:--We have been surveying the remarkable birth of this Church out of the ashes; its instinctive appreciation of the Succession; its silent cherishing of it when obtained; and afterwards its sudden and vigorous development. Yet there is a very great deal to do still in America in the way of both the extension and the development of the Apostolical principle; extension through the body of Churchmen, development as regards its consequences. The former of these deficiencies is undeniable; many of its members do not yet hold the doctrine of the Succession, though the number of its maintainers is increasing. So far, however, everything is as we could wish; nothing substantial can be done in a hurry. "A great, and, it is believed, an increasing number of the clergy," says Mr. Caswall, "are strong in their assertion of the Apostolical Succession, and decline ecclesiastical intercourse with dissenting bodies."--P. 331. Again: "In every diocese there are very many, sometimes a great majority both among the clergy and the laity, who habitually consider their bishop as possessed of Apostolical authority, transmitted in an unbroken chain from the primitive ages. This opinion gives a dignity to the office in the estimation of the religious, such as no temporal wealth and no worldly titles could confer."--P. 86. All this is as well as it could be; but what we are anxious about, what meets with serious impediments, and is seldom even recognized as desirable, is the second of the above desiderata, the full and unreserved development of the Apostolical principle itself. American Christians possess and profess a high gift; but as yet they appear scarcely to understand, any more than ourselves, what that possession and profession involve. We shall devote the remainder of what we have to say to this point; perhaps we may be somewhat free; but if we speak with good temper and a kind purpose, as we hope we shall, we have a right to some portion of that republican liberty which our brethren allow to each other and consider a virtue. To convey our meaning, we must begin some way back, at the risk of seeming ambitious.
All systems, then, which live and are substantive, depend on some or other inward principle or doctrine, of which they are the development. They are not a fortuitous assemblage of atoms from without, but the expansion of a moral element from within. They cannot die a natural death till this moral element dies, though, of course, they, as all things below, may be overcome by violence. But they are indestructible, considered internally, while their informing principle continues; for it is their life. Within they have nothing of a self-destructive nature; everything is evolved from one and the same formula; part cannot quarrel with part, both being results or transformations of that one. Their parts cohere, not from any immediate junction or direct association, but because they all spring from a principle, and into that principle resolve. While their inward life remains, they repair their losses; if existing portions are cut off, they put out fresh branches. But when that life goes, they are no more; they have no being, they dissolve. However fair they may look for a time, whether state, nation, society, church, university, moral agent, they are dead; and if they in appearance continue, still are they but phantoms, kept together by extraneous influences acting for extraneous purposes. Unity without is a result of unity within; but when there is nothing real within, what appears is as little real and substantive as a man's face in a glass, which is not the bodily development of a soul, but the result of certain external laws of matter. And, it must be confessed, there are in the world a great number of these unreal beings and mockeries, whether in politics, religion, or morals; things like card-houses, or scenes in a playhouse, which make up an effect, but have no inside;--standing by the force of habit because no one meddles with them, and crumbling to bits directly they are touched,--or patched up and made decent by the interest of parties,--or recommended by the character or influence of individuals. Such a creature of time and chance many men have thought and think our own Church to be; and such she is proved not to be, as in ten thousand other ways, so especially as we noticed in the outset, by her vigorous offshoots growing up in the West. She scattered some of her seeds in the wilderness; and, while for a time they seemed to die, a spirit at length was found within them, which rose, throve, and at length took outward shape like her own. Thus she proved herself to be a living principle: she showed that her very dust is spiritual; that a soul is in her smallest portions; that when she imparts herself anywhere, be it in small or great measure, she gives herself whole and entire; she cannot give part of herself; she gives spirit, not matter, and by the energy of existence multiplies images of herself on every side. How unequal to great purposes, how shapeless and how unorganized were the companies which roamed from her bosom to the American continent! Without the look of a Church, and without the knowledge of their want. But a Church was in them, and when they came together in one, the spirit spake out. The word was in their hearts as a burning fire shut up in their bones, and they were weary of forbearing and could not stay. They had been without bishops, without ordinances, scattered among the mixed multitude of sectarianism and heresy; but they were different from them within, though in outward respects alike. They had a creative principle in them, which the others had not. Others might tend to utter apostasy. Puritans might become Socinians; Baptists might form and reform, resolve and change like a calidoscope; Shakers, Dunkers, Swedenborgians, Mormonites, might flit around them, but they, through God's mercy, were what they were and nothing else. They were ever tending upwards, not downwards, struggling upwards amid obstacles to the pure light of the Gospel, and, if let alone, then, by the power of the gift in them, ever developing into Churches, breaking forth into the Apostolic polity and the Catholic faith.
Still, it is true that obstacles might keep them down, and impede, or mutilate, or distort the development of the heavenly seed; and this, it would appear, is more or less the actual condition of every Church all over the world. No Church is fully and simply developed into its full proportions; all meet with external impediments, not the same everywhere, but some or other, which succeed in distorting and crippling them. One suffers from the influence of the temporal power, another from heathen masters, a third from the popular voice, a fourth from the schools of philosophy, a fifth from national progress, or civil institutions. One and all are tempted and more or less warped by fear of man, or covetousness, or cloth, or desire of rule, or present expediency, or the pride of reason. The inward principle develops in some degree, but partially and unequally, issuing in an inconsistent, or inchoate, or badly proportioned creed and polity. The American Church, if for no other reason, at least as being in her infancy, cannot hope to be free from this imperfection. In saying this we are bringing no heavy charge against her, since we as little arrogate such a good and perfect gift to any of ourselves, as to our American brethren.
But it is one thing to profess to have already attained, another to profess the necessity of attainment; one thing to pursue, another not to comprehend, unity of idea and action. And at this day, it is our habit, on both sides of the Atlantic, neither to desire nor understand real unity,--not to take-in the idea that effects follow from causes, and that a contradiction is self-destructive; but to call it moderation and judgment to sit down deliberately between two stools, or to leap into the ditch, and ultraism to clear it; extravagance, to dare to be consistent and to endure the conclusions of our admitted premises. Instead of viewing the Gospel system as a living growth, like "some tall palm," beautiful as being at once one and many, we build it up course by course, as we spread our layers of brick and mortar. Our architecture at the present day is a type, or rather an effect, of our state of mind. The lines of our buildings do not flow on, nor their arms expand, and return into themselves, as being the expansion of one whole idea, but we seem to be ever congratulating ourselves that we have got so far, and to be asking "What shall we do next?"--range rising above range, and pile placed aside of pile, without even the merit of being excrescences. And we make up for want of meaning in the whole by stress and earnestness in the parts; we lavish decorations on bit by bit, till what was at first unmeaning, ends by being self-contradictory.
Now as to the American Church, it has been her privilege to begin with so clear an announcement of that rudimental truth on which all true Churches rest, that we cannot but believe she is destined, in spite of obstacles, to advance onward to the measure of the stature of its perfect fullness. She has got that truth in her; and with gratitude we add, that the most considerable of her bishops, living and dead, have developed it accurately no little way. They have gone forward from one truth to another; from the Apostolic Commission to the Succession, from the Succession to the Office,--in the office they have discerned the perpetual priesthood, in the priesthood the perpetual sacrifice, in the sacrifice the glory of the Christian Church, its power as a fount of grace, and its blessedness as a gate of heaven. They had felt and taught most persuasively the unearthly supernatural state in which all Christians stand, and their real communion in the invisible kingdom of God. You would not know whether you were in America or England while their books were before you, in Birmingham or New York, amid collieries or cotton-crops. The external world sinks to its due level; and universal suffrage is as little found there, as is the House of Commons. How much further these writers ought to have gone, what doctrines they left latent, and what they but half developed, we have neither purpose nor ability to say; but without determining what would be presumptuous, so much we may safely maintain, that there is no conceivable point of opinion, or practice, or ritual, or usage, in the Church system, ever so minute,--no detail of faith and conduct ever so extreme, but what might be a legitimate and necessary result of that one idea or formula with which they started. Mammoths and megatheria are known by their vertebræ; men's bodily temperaments have sometimes been discriminated by their nails; and in like manner there is no development ever so ultimate but may be the true offspring of the Apostolical principle. A gesture, a posture, a tone, a word, a symbol, a season, a spot, may be its property and token, whatever be the real difficulty of ascertaining and discriminating such details; nay, and it is not fully developed till it reaches those ultimate points, whatever real danger there be of formality. However, let us see how far the American divines have proceeded, for that is the first point which comes into consideration.
First let us have recourse to Dr. Seabury of Connecticut, the first who was consecrated diocesan bishop. What makes his sermons more interesting is that they seem to have been covertly controversial,--efforts, and successful efforts, at development, in spite of opposite influences which were assailing the nascent Church. He says:
"The authority under which the Apostles acted being derived from Christ, in the exercise of it they were His ministers, because the authority was originally and properly His, and they could act only in His name; and this authority being by successive ordinations continued down to this day, all duly authorized clergymen now act by it, and are therefore the 'ministers of Christ.' On this commission is the authority of ministers in Christ's Church founded, and no man can justly claim any power in spiritual matters but as it is derived from it. No one will now pretend to have received his commission to preach the Gospel immediately from Christ, as the eleven Apostles had theirs, and none but enthusiasts will pretend to be empowered for that work by immediate revelation from heaven, as St. Paul was. It remains, then, that there is no other way left to obtain a valid commission to act as Christ's ministers in His Church, but by an uninterrupted succession of ordinations from the Apostles. Where this is wanting, all spiritual power in Christ's Church is wanting also, while they who have any part of this original commission communicated to them are properly Christ's ministers, because they act in His name and by authority derived from Him."--Vol. i. p. 12.
He thus speaks in another sermon of the holy Eucharist:
"That there was, however, a great and real change made in the bread and the cup by our Saviour's blessing and thanksgiving and prayer, cannot be doubted. Naturally they were only bread and wine, and not the body and blood of Christ. When He had blessed them, He declared them to be His body and blood. They were, therefore, by His blessing and word, made to be, what by nature they were not."--P. 149.
"The Eucharist is not only a sacrament, in which, under the symbols of bread and wine according to the institution of Christ, the faithful truly and spiritually receive the body and blood of Christ, but also, a true and proper sacrifice, commemorative of the original sacrifice and death of Christ, for our deliverance from sin and death--a memorial made before God to put Him in mind, that is, to plead with Him, the meritorious sacrifice and death of His dear Son, for the forgiveness of our sins, for the sanctification of His Church, for a happy resurrection from death, and a glorious immortality with Christ in heaven. From this account the priesthood of the Christian Church evidently appears."--P. 156.
To Bishop Seabury is owing the restoration to the consecration prayer in the American Communion Service, of the oblatory words, and the invocation of the Holy Spirit; "which," as Bishop White reminds us, "were left out of our own service at a subsequent review in King Edward's time, at the instance of two learned foreigners." [Memoirs, p. 154.]
He speaks of the state of the dead in the same forcible way:
"It was the belief of the primitive Christians, as well as of the old Jews, that at the departure of the soul from the body it went to a secret, invisible place, provided by God for its residence, there to remain till the general judgment; the wicked in uneasiness, remorse, and despair; the good in peace and refreshment, with an assured hope of God's favour, and a full acquittal at the final retribution. On this ground stood the commemoration of the martyrs, and prayers for the faithful departed out of this life, that God would grant them rest and peace in Christ, and free acquittal in the day of judgment."--P. 196.
Next, we will mention Bishop Hobart; he thus speaks of the Christian ministry in an ordination sermon:
"It is the distinguishing dignity of this office, and it will constitute also its tremendous responsibility, that it resembles in its origin, and in many of its important functions, the priesthood of Jesus Christ. As the Father sent Him in His human nature to be the Prophet, a Priest and a ruler of His people, so He sent His ministers to the end of the world to be the instructors, the priests and the governors of His Church. He received the anointing of the Spirit, and they receive by the laying on of the hands of that apostolic succession in which the power of ordination is vested, the gift of the Holy Ghost--that gift of office by which they became invested with power to minister in holy things."--P. 13.
In one of his posthumous sermons, he gives the following precise account of the supernatural state of the Christian Church:
"It is indeed a truth, established by the whole tenour of the apostolic writings, that the blessings of salvation are ordinarily conveyed through the instrumentality of the Church, of which Christ is the Head and Saviour, and that by union with this Church, penitent believers are made partakers of all the benefits of His death and passion. 'The Lord added to the Church such as should be saved,'--'Christ is the Head of the Church, the Saviour of the body,'--'We are one body in Christ, members of His Body.'--P. 308.
Thirdly, we will quote the glowing language of the eloquent Dehon:
"What tokens shall we give Him of our love? We must espouse the cause which is dear to Him. We must promote the work which He desires to see accomplished. And especially upon the Church, which He hath taken into so near a connection, as to make it one with Himself, we may bestow tokens of our regard, which He will thus receive. The Church He loves. With the Church He hath left the records of His truth, the representatives of His power, and the symbols of His presence. For the Church, as His Body, He is constantly interceding in heaven, 'that He may present it unto Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.'"--P. 266.
"Says the holy Chrysostom: 'When the Eucharist is celebrated, the angels stand by the priest, and the whole choir resounds with celestial powers, and the place about the altar is filled with them in honour of Him who is laid thereon.' What sobriety should these considerations beget in us, when we come into God's house. How powerfully do they enforce that decency in worship, which the Apostle recommends, 'because of the angels.' Especially with what pure hearts and clean hands, with what reverence and godly fear, should we come to the Holy Table. Consider with whom you there stand, who are the spectators of your conduct, yea! who are the associates of your devotion, when you 'laud and magnify God's glorious name.'"--Pp. 133, 134.
One other short passage may be allowed us from a writer who would be found to be most eloquent, if we had room to quote him at length. Speaking of the necessity of an appointed ministry, he says:
"Look through the pagan world, and observe everywhere a priest, where you find an altar, a sacred office where you find a God. Would you know the divine counsel in this particular? Behold the Deity, in the dispensation to His chosen people, selecting a particular tribe for His service, and confining to them the right and the duty of ministering in holy things. Above all, it should satisfy our minds upon this topic, that our Saviour did ordain selected men, authorizing them to send others, as He sent them, to preach His Gospel, to administer His ordinances, and to guide and govern His visible Church. It is presumable, from the nature of the thing, that there would be found in the world an established priesthood, unto whom this ministry of reconciliation would be committed, for the edification of the Church. And blessed be our adorable Head, such a priesthood there has been among His redeemed, from the first ministry of His Apostles unto the present day, nor can we doubt His will, that, after the way of His appointment, it should be perpetuated in the world until His coming again."--P. 48, etc.
It is pleasant to know that Bishop Dehon was as beautiful in his life and conversation as he is in his writings. He died in 1817, at the early age of forty-one, of the yellow fever; the personal tributes called forth by his death were of the warmest and deepest kind.
Such are the principles of the American Church, legitimately resulting from her idea, as Catholic and Apostolic. Now let us consider the "extraneous influences," as Mr. Caswall justly calls them, which at present prevent their being duly understood, accepted, expanded, applied, by the large body of her members.
Now, it is obvious, one most potent and continual disturbing force in the development of Apostolical principles, is a circumstance above recorded, viz., the spread of the Church among Dissenters. Action and reaction are equal, except where a Church is as firm as a rock; and, in the present instance, while sectarians have gained from her, the Church has lost from them. Considering that half the existing hierarchy have had their baptism and education from dissent, it is truly marvellous that the Church is what she is; and it raises in the Christian mind admiration and thankfulness for the innate power of that system, which could effect so much, with so weak a subject-matter to work upon. A Church must have the iron grasp of Rome to be able to catch, without being caught; nor is it to be expected that our American brethren will be free from this infirmity for a long time to come. But here we are concerned with more definite illustrations and causes of the existing state of American theology.
Let not the friends, then, of the American Church be startled, if we say that in her first years she suffered seriously, and still suffers, from certain influences, which are too grievous to call by their right name, but of which she must be made fully aware, if she is ever to get clear of them. In saying this, we are speaking of what Mr. Caswall truly calls, "extraneous influences;" we are very far indeed from implying that the source of them is in the body itself, or that they penetrate into the body, but they act forcibly upon the body by external pressure, and have committed it to acts which have done much mischief ever since. Nor in this respect are we better circumstanced than they; we too in the time of the third William and the first Georges had certain impressions of the same kind made on us, which chilled, attenuated, and shrivelled up our faith and spirit. What, indeed, is that desire of Evidences, that delight in objection and spontaneous incredulity, that pursuit of secular comfort, that contentment with mere decency and morality, which in its degree exist still among us all, but remains of the Socinian temper inflicted on us during that calamitous period? Nor have those malign influences ceased. They have worked their way unseen; and, whereas they are now more generally acknowledged than they were, they were detected years ago by one of the most keensighted men of his age, a name well known in America, Mr. Norris, of Hackney. He thus writes to Bishop Hobart in 1822:
"The American branch of Christ's Holy Catholic Church is filling at this time a most important station upon the earth. What our future fortunes are to be it would be presumptuous to calculate upon. There is amongst us a large measure of genuine Christian zeal and decided Church principle, and both are upon the increase; but then there is a tremendous confederation, topped by false brethren, and bottomed by Socinians, who are working incessantly and systematically upon all departments of the community. The specific object of it is, to make schism catholic instead of unity; unity therefore must fall, unless those who are its divinely appointed guardians cherish it with more than ordinary solicitude, and exercise an apostolic jealousy in maintaining one mind and one mouth among themselves."--Hobart's Life, p. 253.
This extract is curious as bearing on our general subject; but to return to the American Church:--the presence of a Socinian influence among her members was a subject of apprehension with some of the eminent persons in England who were interested or concerned in the question of their obtaining the Succession. Mr. Granville Sharp, in a letter to Dr. Franklin, mentions the uneasiness occasioned at home, at reports which were circulated about the changes which the Americans intended to introduce into the Prayer Book. An "Episcopal congregation at Boston," he says, "adopted a liturgy formed after the manner of Dr. Clarke and Mr. Lindsay" (p. 315); and the Socinian party flattered themselves that the proceedings of the Convention indicated the same feeling. He adds that "the reports of Socinianism gave great offence to many worthy people" in England, "and more especially to the bishops, who had been sincerely disposed to promote the Church in America." The leaning which was thus evidenced in the East, was seconded from the South, for at that very Convention, concerning which the above-mentioned report had been circulated, so far was true, that Mr. Page of Virginia, afterwards governor of the State, had moved to leave out the first four petitions of the Litany; "and instead of them," says Bishop White, "to introduce a short petition, which he had drawn up, more agreeable to his ideas of the Divine Persons recognized in those petitions." He professed not to object to the invocation of our Lord, "which, he was of opinion, might be defended by Scripture;" but "the objection lay to the word Trinity, which he remarked to be unauthorized by Scripture, and a foundation of much unnecessary disputation." But, since to admit only the fourth petition would leave the foregoing three liable to the charge of Tritheism, he thought it best on the whole to strike out all four. Nay, the general impression concerning the strength of the Socinianizing party was so strong at the time, that even Bishop Provoost of New York was believed, though, as it has since been shown, without foundation, to have advocated the omission of the fourth petition. This part of the Prayer Book, however, was saved; at the same time another portion of its contents, even more sacred, was sacrificed, the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds; after mentioning which, it is little to add that the clause of the Apostles' concerning the descent of Christ into hell was struck out also. On the remonstrance of the English archbishops, the Nicene Creed was restored, and the article in the Apostles', but the Athanasian remains excluded to this day.
Even as much as this was not gained without a conflict. The Virginians instructed their deputies to the General Convention to be held at Philadelphia, to represent to the meeting that though "uniformity of doctrine would unquestionably contribute to the prosperity of the Church," yet they "earnestly wished that this might be pursued with liberality and moderation." "The obstacles," they continued, "which stand in the way of union among Christian societies are too often founded on matters of mere form. They are surmountable therefore by those who, breathing the spirit of Christianity, earnestly labour in this pious work. From the Holy Scriptures themselves, rather than the comments of men, must we learn the terms of salvation. Creeds therefore ought to be simple; and we are not anxious to retain any other than that which is commonly called the Apostles' Creed." They proceed--"We will not now decide what ceremonies ought to be retained. We wish, however, that those which exist may be estimated according to their utility, and that such as may appear fit to be laid aside, may no longer be appendages of our Church." [White's Memoirs, p. 114.] In spite of them, the Nicene Creed, as we have said, was restored; but as to the Athanasian, Bishop White observes that, had the English archbishops insisted on its restoration, the pending negotiation for obtaining the Succession "was desperate, because, although there were some who favoured a compliance, the majority were determined against it; among whom were two members present, who had been chosen to the Episcopacy, and who voted against the restoration, as appears on the journal." [P. 107.] Here then we have distinct evidence of the presence of Socinianism, not of course introducing itself into the acts of the Church, whether more or less, but exerting an influence upon them; and this serious circumstance led us above to view with jealousy, what at first sight might have been welcomed without suspicion, the opinion expressed to Mr. Caswall by the Unitarian of Boston as to the possibility at one time existing, of the Church becoming the religion of his party, instead of the heresy which in fact prevails there. Nor is the following account pleasant which belongs to a date later than that of Mr. Caswall's emigration.
"Here [at Andover] an opening for the Church had been made in a singular manner, and not the most desirable. The majority of the Congregational population having determined to remove their meeting-house to a more convenient situation, the minority were displeased, and withdrew from the congregation. For some time it was doubtful whether they would engage a Unitarian or a Universalist minister to preach to them; but ultimately they concluded on becoming Episcopalians, and having drawn up articles of association, they elected a vestry and wardens, and were admitted into union with the Church in Massachusetts. They assembled on Sunday in a school-house to the number of about forty or fifty; but although attentive to the sermon, they generally took slight interest in the worship, and made little use of the Prayer Book. There were many amiable and worthy people among them, and a few decided Episcopalians; but I soon perceived that nothing but time and perseverance, with Divine help, could succeed in establishing the principles of the Church upon so uncongenial a soil."--Pp. 135, 136.