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used. Congregationalists are generally ag, ced in this opinion, that every church, or particular congregation of visible saints, in gospel order, being turnished with a pastor, or bishop, and walking together in truth and peace, has received from the Lord Jesus full power and authority, ecclesiastically within itself, regularly to administer all the ordinances of Christ, and is not under any other ecclesiastical jurisdiction whatsoever. Their churches, with some exceptions, disclaim the word independent, as applicable to them, and claim a sisterly relation to each other. The ministers of the congregational order are generally associated for the purposes of licensing candidates for the ministry, and friendly intercourse and improvement. Congregationalists are divided in opinion respecting the doctrines of the gospel, and the proper subjects of its ordinances. Those differences occasion but little altercation. They, in general, agree to difier, and live together in harmony." Next to Congregationalists, Presbyterians are the most numerous denomination of christians in the United States. They have a constitution, by
which they regulate all their ecclesiastical proceedings, and a confession of faith which embraces the Calvinistic doctrines; all church-officers, and church-members, are required to subscribe this confession. Hence they have preserved a singular uniformity in their religious sentiments, and have conducted their" ecclesiastical affairs with a great degree of order and harmony. The Presbyterian churches are governed by congregational, presbyterial, and synodical assemblies. These assemblies possess no civil jurisdiction. Their power is wholly moral, or spiritual, and that only ministerial and declarative. The highest punishment to which their authority extends, is to exclude the contumacious and impenitent from the congregation of believers. The church session, which is the congregational assembly of judicatory, consists of the minister, or minister and elders of a particular congregation. This body is invested with the spiritual government of the congregation, and have power to enquire into the knowledge and christian conduct of all
its members; to call before.
them offenders and witnesses, of their own denomination;
* Morse's Geography, vol. i. p. 270:
to admonish, suspend, or exclude from the sacraments, such as deserve these censures; to concert measures for promoting the spiritual interests of the congregation ; and to appoint delegates to the higher judicatories of the church.
A presbytery consists of all the ministers, and one ruling elder from each congregation within a certain district. Three ministers, and three elders, constitutionally convened, are competent to do business. This body have cognizance of all things that regard the welfare of the particular churches within their bounds, which are not cognizable by the session: also, they have a power of receiving and issuing appeals from the sessions; of examining and licensing candidates for the ministry; ordaining, settling, removing, or judging ministers; resolving questions of doctrine or discipline; condemning erroneous opinions, that injure the purity or peace of the church; visiting particular churches, to enquire into their state, and redress the evils that may have arisen in them; uniting or dividing congregations, at the request of the people; and whatever else pertains to the spiritual concerns of the churches under their care.”
A synod is a convention of several presbyteries. The synod have power to admit and judge of appeals regularly brought up from the presbyteries; to give their judgment on all references made to them of an ecclesiastical kind ; correct and regulate the proceedings of presbyteries; take effectual care that presbyteries observe the constitution of the church, &c.
The highest judicatory of the Presbyterian church, is styled “The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.” This grand assembly is to consist of an equal delegation of bishops and elders from each presbytery within their jurisdiction, by the title of “Commissioners to the General Assembly.” Fourteen commissioners make a quorum. The general assembly constitute the bond of union, peace, correspondence, and mutual confidence among all their churches; and have power to receive and issue all appeals and references, which may regularly be brought before them from inferior judicatories; to regulate and correct the proceedings of the synods, &c. To the general assembly also belongs the power of consulting, reasoning, and judging in controversies respecting doctrine and discipline; of reproving, warning, or bearing testimomy against error in doctrine, or immorality in practice, in any church, presbytery, or synod; corresponding with foreign churches ; putting a stop to schismatical contentions and disputations ; and, in general, recommending and attempting reformation of manners, and promoting charity, truth, and holiness, in all churches; and also erecting new synods.” The Presbyterians are divided into five synods and eighteen presbyteries. The number of Presbyterian congregations in America was in 1788 computed to be six hundred and eighteen : there were then , two hundred and twenty-six ministers.t. Since the American revolution, the Episcopalian church in the United States has been completely organized. The churches of that denomination in each state have their own bishop. The lyutch reformed churches in America are ancient and respectable. They are Calvin
* Morse's Geography, vol. i. p. 271.
istic, and differ in nothing
essentially from the Presby
t This account was given by the late
terians.: The number of Friends'
meetings in the United States,
not including New York, are two hundred and ninety-six.
The number of individuals
cannot be known : some meetings are small, while others are large. § The denomination of Methodists in the United States style themselves, “The United Societies of the Methodist Episcopal Church.” They profess themselves to be “a company of men having the form, and seeking the power of godliness, united in order to pray together, to receive the word of exhortation, and to watch over one another in love; that they may help each other to work out their salvation.”|| From the minutes of the Methodist episcopal church for the year 1800, it appears that the total amount of the Methodists in the United States, was, at that time, sixty-four thousand eight hundred and ninety-four. Since these minutes were published
Rev. Mr. Murray of Newbury-Port,
# Trumbull's Century Sermon.
§ This account was given by Mr. Moses Brown of Providence. | See a particular account of the rise and progress of the Methodists, and the characters of the principal leaders of that denomination, in Dr. Haweis'
destitute of mankind, in the different regions of the earth, have been converted to christianity. The missionalies generally support themselves by the assiduous labour of their hands, in their several arts and occupations. Such is the characteristic Moravian-missionary zeal, that they have attempted to spread the gospel in the distant East, the coast of Coromandel, and the Nicobar islands. They have also attempted to penetrate into Abyssinia, to carry the gospel to Persia and Egypt, and to ascend the mountains of Caucasus : and often have these indefatigable missionaries earned - the meed of highest approbation, where their labours have been least successful. The whole annount of communicants and adherents to the Baptist churches in the United States, is computed to be two hundred and fifty-five thousand six hundred and seventy.s The whole amount of the Roman Catholics in the United States, is supposed to be fifty thousand.|
character in the Historic Defence of
there has been an addition to
* See a short sketch of Zinzendorf's
Experimental Religion, vol. ii. p. 149. f See La Trobe's History of the Mission of the United Brethien
f Haweis’s Church History, vol. iii. p. 193, $ This account was taken by Mr. John Asplund, who visited the several associations of Baptist churches for that purpose. # This account, and the number of Roman Catholics in Maryland, were given by the Right Rev. Bishop Carrol,
The jews are not numerous in the United States. W. F. R. M. O'N T. The inhabitants of this state have adopted the principle of religious liberty in its fullest extent. Some of them are Episcopalians, others are Congregationalists, others are of the Presbyterian, and others are of the Baptist persuasion ; and some are Quakers. All of them find their need of the assistance of each other in the common concerns and business of life, and all of them are persuaded that the government has nothing to do with their particular and distinguishing tenets. It is not barely toleration, but equality, that the people aim at. Toleration implies either a power or right in one party to bear with the other; and seems to suppose that the governing party are in possession of the truth, and that all the others are full of errors. The body of the people in this commonwealth carry their ideas of religious liberty much farther than this: that no party shall have any power to make laws or forms to oblige another; that each denomination shall enjoy equal liberty, without any legal distinction or preeminence whatever,"
NEW H A M Psh IR. E.
The inhabitants of this state are allowed to worship God in the way which is most agreeable to their consciences. The churches in New Hampshire are principally for Congregationalists; some for Presbyterians and Baptists; and three for Episcopalians. Ministers contract with their parishes for their support. No parish is obliged to have a minister; but if they make a contract with one, they are obliged to fulfil it. Liberty is ever given to any individuals of a parish to change their denomination ; and in that case, they are liberated from their parish contract.
There is a small society of
* Williams's History of Vermont.
f Morse's Geography, vol. i. p. 390,