Page images

Churches, conformed to these principles do not often become apostate and corrupt. It is true that unconverted persons may be admitted into churches, and to baptism, even when the assembled body, with the help of the ministry, are the judges of application for admission. But it must be allowed that this plan affords the best safeguard against the intrusion of improper persons. All experience and history shows that a departure from this principle is sure to introduce corruption, and lead to general apostacy. The corruption of the Romish hierarchy is notorious. The English church establishment, though including many good men, holds a sad rivalry with her mother. The want of government patronage, and the influence of other religious bodies, prevents the Episcopal body in this country from going to the same extent. Even the Congregationalists of New England, with all their piety and orthodoxy, their virtue and intelligence, could not retain their purity and soundness in departing from this principle. The practice of introducing infants to some relation to the church, either involving membership or making it a matter of course, on the faith of their parents, in connection with the “Half-way Covenant," was the principal cause of the apostacy of many of their churches. Whereas, although Baptist churches have sometimes become extinct, like the seven churches in Asia, yet an existing apostate one can hardly be found.

But if these dangers exist where the temptations to vanity and ambition are small, and where the strictest measures to prevent the intrusion of improper persons are adopted, what must be the case where no such safeguards are provided ? *—where motives to ambition and rivalry exist in the very structure of the body itself? -where even the ministry presents motives to ambition

the difficulty, if indeed an ex post facto law is admissible in such cases! In the meantime parties are formed, feelings embittered, and a numerous and wealthy body of professed disciples of Christ are doing nothing to send abroad the blessed gospel, but much to bring it into reproach at home.

* It was affirmed without contradiction not long since, in a leading Episcopal print, that in the “diocese” of New York, neither law nor usage recognized any other church, than the pewholders of their respective places of worship. They choose their clergy, and they, with the clergy, elect the Bishop, and these bodies together enact all the canons, perform all discipline, and decide questions relating to doctrine and practice! A church composed of believers does not exist, even in theory, nor a ministry chosen by believers !

and rivalry ?* On the contrary, if the piety, the orthodoxy, the whole Christian experience and life of every candidate is freely and fully investigated in open church meeting, previous to baptism, the danger of improper admissions is much less.

But if the tendencies to corruption were equal, there is another consideration which should deter every friend of pure religion, or of human improvement in any sense, from lending his influence to sustain extensive religious establishments calling themselves churches, or “the church; and that is, their great power for evil when they become corrupt. Who can compute the immense mischief—the blighting, deadening, damning influence of a postate Rome? Arrogating to her hierarchy of unscriptural orders, the title of "Catholic Apostolic Church," and "only true church,” her deeds show her to be the “Mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.” Her emissaries of falsehood are in every clime, tainting and poisoning the morals and religion of the people, and her resources for the propagation of iniquity seem absolutely exhaustless. Her funds are the price of indulgences for committing sin ! The reading of God's word she prohibits—where she has power, she commits it to the flames, and gives the people masses, written in an unknown tongue, in its stead ! Wherever she has power, she enforces her iniquitous commands by the penalties of horrid tortures, by imprisonment, confiscation, and death! The whole story of her abominations can never be told.

What mischiefs would have been prevented, had that corrupt establishment long since been swept away! or rather, had it never come into being. And it could not, had the principles here advocated been faithfully adhered to. Or if an apostacy equally extensive had taken place among churches constituted according to these principles, it would not have cursed the earth with the continuance of a monster of iniquity and cruelty unparalleled in the annals of barbarism.

The apostle declares, “ He that desireth the office of a bishop desireth a good work." Now if the word " bishop” means prelate, it is right for every minister to desire to be a prelate, and to use means to be one. If it means, as some Episcopal writers say, “ the second grade of the ministry,” then that office is to be desired as a good work, and not that of a prelate. If it is right to have prelates, it is right for ministers to desire to be prelates; as did the ambitious disciples, in disputing who should be the greatest. VOL. XI. —NO. XLI.


The divine' beauty of the principles here advocated, which are as completely in harmony with all the interests of man, taught by the lessons of history, as they have elsewhere been proved to be with the teachings of inspiration, is seen in the fact, that, while they are most powerful for good, they are least potent for evil. They alone embody the true idea of a spiritual church ; seeking none but spiritual members, using none but spiritual means, directed to no other than a spiritual end. Should spirituality die out of such a church, it becomes to all intents dead; and though the fumes of its decay may for a short time pollute the moral atmosphere around, yet it cannot live again as a persecuting beast of prey.

If it be objected that these principles do not afford sufficient scope and encouragement to genius and extensive learning; the reply is, that they offer but small encouragement to talents and purposes like those of Hildebrand, Cæsar Borgia, Loyola, Richelieu, Wolsey, and Laud. But the transcendent genius of Milton and of Bunyan, the far-reaching faith and unconquerable soul of Williams, the profound intellect of Fuller, the burning energy and iron diligence of Carey, the classic grace, the giant strength, and the resistless eloquence of Hall, were quickened, and nurtured, and trained, by long and devoted communion with these principles. They inspire genius only as allied to goodness. They encourage learning only that it may be consecrated to Christ. They foster not genius which burns but to consume, nor learning which only erects a monument to its own glory.*

The Baptists of England first turned the attention of Christians in Europe and America to the work of evan

* Dr. Chalmers pays the following noble tribute to the Baptists of England :

“Let it never be forgotten of the Particular Baptists of England, that they form the denomination of Fuller, and Carey, and Ryland, and Hall, and Foster ; that they have originated among the greatest of all missionary enterprises; that they have enriched the Christian literature of our country with authorship of the most exalted piety, as well as of the first talent and the first eloquence; that they have waged a very noble and successful war with the hydra of Antinomianism; that perhaps there is not a more intellectual community of ministers in our islands, or who have put forth to their number a greater amount of mental power and mental activity in the defence and illustration of our common faith; and what is better than all the triumphs of genius or understanding, who by their zeal and fidelity and pastoral labor among the congregations which they have reared, have done more to swell the lists of genuine discipleship in the walks of private society-and thus both to uphold and to extend the living Christianity of our nation."

gelizing the benighted millions of the East. They commenced it amid scorn, obloquy, and opposition. But they persevered till the Scriptures have been translated into Tifty languages and dialects, till churches have been planted, prejudice subdued, the favor of governments secured, and many other bodies of Christians have entered into their labors. Their devotion and success find a parallel only in those of the apostles and the early churches. It is instructive to contrast their poverty and fewness, with the numbers, the wealth, and abundant resources of other religious bodies around them, in comparison with their achievements.

Not without good reasons, therefore, do Baptists maintain that the principles of church polity which they love and cherish are favorable to the development of the best order of individual character--to the highest culture and most luxuriant growth of the noblest graces of the mind and of the heart; that they are the most salutary and powerful to improve the civil and social condition of the human race, by fostering the love of liberty, restraining its excesses, and illustrating its real benefits by promoting general intelligence and self-government; that they are efficient in spreading throughout the earth the knowledge of Him by whom life and immortality are brought to light, in that gospel the effects of which are profitable to all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. These principles have no tendency to form a party, but, correctly applied, abolish all parties, and make every man who adopts them the equal, the friend, the helper of his fellow. Ours is no worldly establishment. Our principles find no interesied or partizan advocates. They challenge the credence of the world, by their simplicity, their liberality, their purity, and their truth.


OBSERVATIONS IN THE EAst, chiefly in Egypt, Palestine,

Syria, and Asia Minor. By John P. DURBIN, D. D. In two volumes. New York: Harpers. 1845. pp. 347, 299. 12mo.

By the EDITOR.

INCIDENTS of travel in the regions visited by Dr. Durbin can have, in these days, but little novelty. The whole ground has been again and again examined. Every thing pertaining to the route is nearly as familiar to most American readers, as the streets of their own native city or village. From the pyramids of Egypt to the Holy Land, we have accompanied so many travellers, through their narratives, that we are able not only to predict the chief objects of interest which a stranger will see, but even to discuss questions relating to the antiquities, the geography, the morality, and the economy of the several countries. The journals of oriental travellers must necessarily contain many descriptions of the same objects, scenes and characters. Not only the places which travellers visit, but even the men, are the same. The eastern world does not change. That which is variable elsewhere, here is stereotyped. Hence one might easily amuse himself, at his leisure, in constructing, from the existing works, a new book on the East, combining the excellences of all, and omitting what is feeble, irrelevant, personal, casual and of merely temporary concern, and we should have a volume or series of volumes surpassing all that have been written, in interest, fairness, completeness and accuracy.

The highest effort of the human mind in this department might be produced, without the necessity of leaving one's own fireside in New England. Something would be wanting in freshness; but more would be added in sobriety, exactness, and truth.

It is a natural and a laudable desire which men gratify in directing their steps towards those portions of the

« PreviousContinue »