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come together in this spirit, there would not be such a want of harmony, such irreconcilable differences, as are imagined.
From the quotations we have already made from the Report, it is certain that the Platform of 1648, and probably the Confession of Faith of 1680, would not be adopted precisely as they are. Important alterations would probably be made in them, to meet the views and opinions of Orthodox Congregationalists of the present day. In many of these alterations the Unitarian Congregationalists would concur, and perhaps be fully satisfied with them. It might be, perhaps, that the calm and moderate men of both these portions of the Congregational body after friendly discussion and intercourse would find themselves nearer together than they now imagine, and might be able to agree upon some broad platform and confession, some general rules and principles of ecclesiastical polity, which would receive the approbation of a large majority of both the Orthodox and Unitarian Congregationalists, and thus the schism between them be healed, and these two parties like the Calvinists and Arminians of former days, present, as Congregationalists, an undivided front to the world.
For ourselves, we are free to confess that we should rejoice in such a result, and would do what we could, go as far as we could, to produce it; not from any selfish considerations growing out of the effect it might have upon our personal relations and intercourse with our brethren, but for its effect upon Congregationalism and the cause of religious freedom and truth. In this respect we cannot but regard it as a thing greatly to be desired, that the whole body of Congregationalists should be united, and their whole strength, interests, sympathies and cooperation be directed to sustain and perpetuate that simple and efficient system of church polity, with which all that is venerable and all that is glorious in the religious history and character of New England is so immediately connected.
But suppose the proposed Convention or Synod should not result in this union, — and we admit the great improbability that it would, - we are still of opinion that the interests of Congregationalism would be promoted, and a good effect produced upon our churches, by the action of such an assembly. The mere gathering of such a body for such a purpose would serve to awaken fresh interest in the system
Duty of Congregationalists.
of ecclesiastical organization in whose behalf it was convened, direct attention to its claims and diffuse a knowledge of its principles. This would be a benefit. As matters are, the probable result of the action of such a Convention would be the preparation and adoption of two Platforms and Confessions, one by the Orthodox majority and one by the Unitarian minority of the body. But even this is not a result to be deprecated. It would not tend to dissever these parties much, if any, more than they are at present, while it would tend to introduce more of order, system, regularity and adherence to established principles, in the ecclesiastical proceedings of both.
But whatever may be thought of this suggestion of a general Synod, we hold that it is the duty of Congregationalists at the present moment, in some way to define more distinctly their position, “ to re-affirm and maintain the principles and spirit” of their organization, and preserve more order and regularity in their ecclesiastical proceedings.We do not mean that they should attempt to introduce a stringent and oppressive organization. We should not be in favor of any thing of this sort. We could not vote for the adoption of such a manual of discipline as is offered by the Committee of the Massachusetts Pastoral Association. The Committee describe it as imperfect, and speak of additions to be made to it. To us it seems already too large, too minute and particular in its details; and one would think from the fulness of the chapters in relation to the trial of ministers and church members for immoralities, that these were things to be expected as common occurrences, and especially to be provided for in a manual of directions for the government of churches. The operation of such a manual of discipline as the one under consideration, would be to produce, not a body of Independent Congregational churches, in sympathy and fellowship with each other, but a confederation or consociation of churches, each under the control of the whole. We should not be in favor of anything that would destroy the independence of individual churches. But we would not have this independence so far preponderate, as to destroy all sympathy, union, co-operation and a general similarity of ecclesiastical proceedings. This seems to be the case at present. We would change this state of things. We would bring back more of that
mutual regard, intercourse and co-operation which once existed among our churches ; we would have this considered as only less important than the preservation of their independence. And for this purpose we would have them declare the ground on which they stand, and the general principle by which they are, and mean to be governed. We would have them adhere to ancient usages which time has hallowed, which experience has shown to be accompanied with many benefits and few evils, and for abandoning which no substantial or conclusive reason can be given. We would have them adhere to Councils, both ordaining and advisory - especially the former. Advisory Councils have sometimes failed to effect much good ; but ordaining Councils, we believe, have always had a good effect. They serve to keep up a high standard of character, of literary and moral qualifications in the clergy, to quicken feelings of sympathy, kindness and mutual interest between churches, and to impress both pastor and people with a deep sense of their reciprocal duties, and their solemn re-ponsibleness to God, and to each other. We believe that they can do no harm, and may do much good. We have no strong objection to ordination by the church itself, through its elders or deacons, but in most cases there seem to us manifest advantages in the assembling of a Council. These two modes of ordination by a Council, or by the church itself—are the only ones known to Congregationalism, and consequently, we presume, the only ones that would be recognised by the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth, as conferring the powers and privileges, which the laws assign to ordained ministers of the Gospel. We would have them adhere to local or district ministerial associations. We would have them adhere to, and use all wise means and practices that would serve to quicken the sympathies of our ministers and churches, to strengthen the ties of fellowship, to invigorate the sentiment of mutual responsibleness and obligation, and to combine the strength and the efforts of all in helping forward those grand moral results which it is the purpose of Christianity to produce.
But the great duty of Congregationalists is, to bring forth in freshness, abundance and beauty, the fruits of faith, to dwell upon the great practical truths, the spiritual realities of the Gospel, till they become the germs of a new and higher life to the soul, till they develop a new and higher
form of the Christian character, — beautiful in its proportions, firm in its soundations, heaven-aspiring and heavenreaching in its summit. A new and better form of practical Christianity — religion enthroned, her dominion absolute in the head and heart of society," - this is the want, the craving of the world. What the world craves, the Gospel prospers. What the Roman Church with a grand ambition conceived, and in a coarse and material manner accomplished, Christianity would spiritually effect, the subjection of the world to the power of religion, to the influence of its holy truth, its pure and loving spirit. That this effect may be produced, the world must see a beautiful and winning, a commanding and persuasive exhibition of the Christian character. Let Congregationalists strive to present that exhibition. We claim for our administration of the Gospel, that it is eminently practical, as well as simple and Scriptural; that unfettered by hierarchical power and priestly intervention, it makes the strongest and most direct appeals to conscience, exerts a quickening power over the affections, fills the soul with a deep sense of individual responsibleness, and imparts a holy and regenerating impulse to all the energies of man's nature. Let us strive to make this claim good
we are bound to do so. It is no child's play. It is a great and mighty work. It requires, and will receive, if we seek it, Divine aid. It requires an individual purpose
and effort in all our hearts. It requires a clergy, faithful, zealous, persevering, filled with a deep conviction of the responsibilities and grandeur of their office, a devotion of heart and soul and life to its duties. It requires a strongbeating spiritual life in all our churches. A church, a religious society, whose origin has been, whose aim is, the collection of a body of worldly men, who through the forms of an ecclesiastical organization shall answer the purposes of religion — much in the way that unprincipled selfishness is made a substitute for patriotism through modern political organization can never promote an advance in this great work. It is a spiritual work, and can be done only by spiritual means. Let there be a strong-beating spiritual life in all our churches, and let all our ecclesiastical organizations and usages be such as shall tend to quicken and invigorate this life, and Congregationalism shall remain what it has ever been, the glory and the boast of New England.
S. K. L.
NOTICES OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS.
Discourses and Reviews upon Questions in Controversial The
ology and Practical Religion. By Orville Dewey, D. D. New York : C. S. Francis & Co. 1846. 12mo.
388. Sıx years ago Dr. Dewey published a smaller volume than this, with the title, “Discourses and Discussions in Explanation and Defence of Unitarianism." The difference between that title and the present may intimate the difference in the volumes. Nearly all of the first is republished in the second, with important additions, not large, but of a more general and practical character. An essay published many years ago, now_little known, on “The original use of the Epistles of the New Testament, compared with their use and application at the present day," - a discourse on "Miracles, preliminary to the argument for a revelation,” being the Dudleian Lecture of 1836, – a review of Dr. Woods on Inspiration, and another of Dr. Wardlaw on Moral Philosophy, with an article on the Scriptures as the record of a revelation, first published in the Examiner, - and two discourses never before printed, — all these distinguish the volume before us from its predecessor. There is also the addition of some Notes, one of which is admirable as a reply to Professor Stuart's unmanly and disingenuous assault on Dr. Dewey and Mrs. Dana, in his late volume of Miscellanies. The new discourse on “Faith, and justification by faith,” seems to us one of the clearest and ablest treatises we have seen, for so brief a one, on a subject usually darkened by theological and metaphysical abstractions. The other discourse, now first printed, with the rather awkward title — "That errors in theology have sprung from false principles of reasoning" - aims to show, and to our mind makes it very clear, that the prevailing and popular theology is entirely “at war with the true inductive philosophy."
A volume from Dr. Dewey on such themes, comprising also what he had before written on the common points of religious controversy, is a most valuable addition to the means we already have of answering the question, - what is Unitarianism? A few years since it was not easy to answer this question, by referring to entire volumes or large treatises. But he who now follows Burnap, Peabody and Dewey through the books they have lately issued, and still asks, what is Unitarianism, either does not wish to know, or knows too well. Each of these writers