« PreviousContinue »
Joint Communion.—At an early period of How could those members join in an invitathe session of the Assembly, the Committee tion of this kind addressed to a body, some on Devotional Exercises reported, “ That a of whose members were known to hold proposition had been made to them by the slaves, and which had officially sanctioned Committee on Devotional Exercises of the doctrines which they had pronounced merited Triennial Assembly, meeting in the First suspension from the ministry? The true soPresbyterian Church, to the effect that the lution of this difficulty we believe to be two Assemblies unite in the celebration of this. The proposition was never brought fully the Lord's Supper, and recommending the before that house for consideration. It was adoption of the following resolution, viz :- simply moved that their committee be auResolved, That the General Assembly accept thorised to confer with ours on the subject, the proposition of the General Assembly and this motion was adopted without consi. meeting in the First Presbyterian church, deration or debate. Had it been brought that the Assemblies unite in the celebration before them as it was before us, we are bound of the Lord's Supper; and that the Commit. to believe it would have met with quite as tee on Devotional Exercises, in connection much opposition in that body as it did in with the corresponding Committee of the ours. The Rev. A. W. Campbell, chairman other Assembly, make arrangements for the of the committee on the part of the Triensame.”
nial Assembly, has furnished, through the The Rev. Mr Palmer, as the minority of New York Observer, the true history of this the Committee, offered the following resolu. matter. He says, “At Bowling Green, Ky., tion as a counter report: “ Resolved, Tbat as I was coming on to this city, a memorial in the judgment of this Assembly, it is inex- upon this subject, drawn up without my pedient in our ecclesiastical character to knowledge by an honoured member of the accept the proposition made by the body now Old School Church, and signed by all the holding its sessions in the First Presbyterian elders of both Presbyterian Churches of that Church in this city, in consideration of the place, was put in my hands. A copy of the relations which these two bodies sustain to same paper was put in the hands of the each other, but that the whole question of Commissioner to the other Assembly, and, intercommunion be determined by the con- if I mistake not, by hiin put in the hands of sciences, and at the discretion of the mem. their Committee of Bills and Overtures. I bers severally.”
was permitted to attend an exceedingly inteThis was one of the most embarrassing resting union meeting of the two Presbyterian subjects which came before the Assembly, churches of Newark, Delaware. The elders and gave rise to a debate protracted at inter- of these churches also signed similar memovals through several days, and was finally rials to both Assemblies, which were placed determined by the adoption, with great un- in the hands of the lay delegate to the other animity, of the following minute:-“The Assembly, to bring to this city. After my Committee on Devotional Exercises having arrival in this place, I saw in the Christian reported to this General Assembly a com- Observer a suggestion from the pen of a lay: munication from a similar Committee of the man, in reference to a joint celebration of General Assembly in session at the First the Lord's Supper by the two Assemblies. It Presbyterian Church, representing that the harmonized with my feelings. I was desaid Assembly has authorized its committee lighted with the suggestion. I felt as if I to confer with the committee of this Assem- could return with higher conceptions of the bly, in relation to a joint celebration of the power and glory of our common ChristiLord's Supper by the two bodies; it was or. anity, were I permitted to see two such bodered that the committee respectfully ac- dies, so venerable, so learned, so influential, knowledge and reciprocate the courtesy of
and hitherto so alienated, sit down together the communication, and say in reply, that at the Lord's table. Without committing while this Assembly recognises the above any one, and wholly under the impulse of mentioned body as a branch of the Church such feelings, I arose in our Assembly and of our common Lord, and for this reason moved that the Committee on Devotional would, as individuals under appropriate cir- Exercises be instructed to confer with the cumstances, unite with our brethren in the committee of the other Assembly upon this celebration of divine ordinances, yet as this subject. Without debate, unanimously, and Assembly has never in its corporate and of. almost by acclamation, the resolution ficial capacity, united with any other body in passed. Such is the origin of this matter." celebrating the Lord's Supper, it judges it
It is obvious from his
account, the motion, inexpedient to institute a new usage at this
as far as the other Assembly was concerned, time.
was a mere matter of impulse, and that as “On motion, the Committee on Devotional far as the real movers in the business were Exercises was directed to communicate a concerned, it was intended as preliminary to copy of the above minute to the Committee a motion for the union of the two bodies. of the other Assembly."
Accordingly Mr Campbell inforis us that As this invitation purported to come with he presented the memorial from Bowling the sanction of the unanimous consent of Green upon the subject of reunion, praying the Triennial Assembly, it naturally excited
the Assemblies to appoint committees of conno little surprise. It was notorious that ference, and adds, "unanimously if I mismany members of that body held it to be take not, the memorial was accepted, and a unlawful to commune with slaveholders, and committee appointed, of which I had the that one of their synods bad suspended from honour to be the chairman." This is another the ministry one of their members for teach- evidence of the want of consideration with ing on the subject of slavery, the very dcc
which such matters sometimes pass large trine that our General Assembly had pub
bodies. licly arowed, the question naturally arose,
As before stated, the proposal for the joint
celebration of the Lord's Supper gave rise courtesy and fellowship, and by placing the to a protracted debate. The leading speak- refusal of the invitation upon the ground of ers against accepting the invitation, were- usage, deprived the refusal of everything that Dr J. R. Breckinridge, Dr W. L. Breckin- could wound the feelings either of the other ridge, Dr McFarland, Dr Reed, Mr Wilson, Assembly or the Christian community. Mr Palmer, Mr Torrance. Those in favour of the report of the Committee were-Mr IV. The last matter that we shall Watt, Dr Young, Dr Musgrave, Dr J. MacDowell, Mr Baker, Dr Lindsley, Mr Backus,
at present take up (reserving several Judge Grier, Mr Blauvelt, Mr Todd. The particulars for our next) is the discusreasons assigned by the speakers on either
sion in the Assembly respecting educaside, were very different, and no one is re
tion. sponsible for any reason, other than those
The following abstract of it is assigned by himself. Two, and as far as we of the highest interest and importance are aware, two only of the speakers objected at our present crisis. It will well reto accepting the invitation on the principle of close communion. One, if not more of
ward attentive rerusal. Our the speakers, founded his objection on the readers will find in it a clear and calm ground that the celebration of the Lord's Sup- statement of the arguments on both per was the work of an organized Church, and could not be properly attended upon
the momentous question of by an ecclesiastical body as such. The the duty of Churches respecting edumain objections, however, were of a very cation. We heartily rejoice in the different character. The grand source of di
resolutions adopted by the Assembly; versity of opinion as to the propriety of accepting the invitation, arose from difference and we consider the reasoning in faof opinion as to the necessary or natural in.
vour of them quite unanswerable. We terpretation of our answer. A large portion of the Assembly
thought that the only proper particularly commend the summary of interpretation of an afirmative answer, would that reasoning, as given in what we be, we recognise you as Christian brethren,
now submit, without farther note or and of a negative answer, we cannot thus recognise you. Those who took this view of comment, to the judgment of candid the matter were of course in favour of ac- and Christian minds. Our American cepting the invitation. Many others, how.
brethren have every possible induceever, thought that while declining the invi. tation, under the peculiar circumstances of ment and temptation to acquiese in the the case, would not imply a denial of the plan of mixed and miscellaneous eduChristian standing of the other Assembly, an
cation. They have also had a trial of affirmative answer would imply a great deal more than they were prepared to say. They it. And their testimony in favour of thought it would imply that there was a state the same system, substantially that the of barmony between the two bodies, whereas Free Church of Scotland is seeking to the fact is that in many places the two parties are in constant conflict. It was thought carry out, is peculiarly impressive and it would imply that we were prepared to un. emphatic. do all that had been done, i.e., withdraw our protest against the doctrinal errors against Parochial Schools.-A committee, of which which we have so long lifted upour testimony. the Rev. Dr James W. Alexander was chairIt was said that the natural inference from the man, appointed by the last Assembly, made two Assemblies communing together would an important report on the subject of Paro. be, that there was never any adequate reason chial Schools, which was read and ordered to for a separation, and that they ought now to be printed for the use of the members. The be reunited. It is not wonderful that those report closed with the following resolutions, who looked upon the matter in this light, viz : should strenuously oppose the measure. We “ Resolved, 1st, That, in the judgment of doubt whether there was a single member on the General Assembly, any scheme of educathe floor of the Assembly, who was prepared tion is incomplete which does not include into do anything which he regarded as a recan. struction in the Scriptures, and in those doc. tation of the testimony borne in years past trines of grace which are employed by the against the prevalent errors of the New Die Holy Spirit in the renewal and sanctification vinity, or who regarded the union of the two of the soul. churches as at present constituted, as even “ Resolved, 2d, That, in consideration of .possible, much less as desirable. There were the blessings derived to us, through our foreagain a large portion of the Assembly, who fathers, from the method of mingling the docwould have gladly voted for accepting the trines of our church with the daily teachings invitation, could it have been done with una- of the school, the Assembly earnestly denimity, but who thought it undesirable after sire as near an approach to this method as the matter had been so much debated and may comport with the circumstances of this opposed. The minute adopted was a compro- country, mise, satisfyiug no part of the Assembly en- “ Resolved, 3d. That the Assembly regards tirely, yet generally agreed to as the best with great approval, the attempt of such thing that could be done under the circum- churches as have undertaken schools under stances. That minute, by distinctly recog- their proper direction; as well as the real nising the other Assembly as a branch of the which has led individual friends of the truth church, by professing towards them Christian to aid the same cause.
Resoled, 4th, That the Assembly recom. These arguments have certainly great mends the whole subject of Parochial Edu- weight, but they do not seem exactly to meet cation to the serious attention of the church the case, nor to counterbalance the conside. -counselling all concerned to regard the rations on the other side. Dr Lindsley, Dr maintenance of gospel faith and order, in the Reed, Mr Mebane, and Dr Young sustained founding of new schools, the appointmont of the report, the latter speaking with great teachers, and the erection of places of edu- strength of argument in its support. It is cation."
& conceded point that children ought to be On motion of Dr Young, the following ad. religiously educated; that not mere natural ditional resolution was adopted.
religion, but Christianity, and not merely Resolved, That the whole subject of the Christianity in general, but in the definite report be referred to the Board of Educa- form in which we believe it has been revealed tion; that they may, from time to time, by God for the salvation of men, ought to be report to the General Assembly any further inculcated on the infant mind, so that the action that may be needed for extending rising generation shall be imbued with the through our churches a system of Parochial knowledge of Divine truth. Secondly, it Schools."
may be assumed as conceded that it is the The whole report was finally adopted. duty of the Church to impart this religious
The only point which gave rise to any de- education. This is one of the most imporbate was that contained in the second resolu. tant parts of her vocation. She received her tion, which affirms that “the doctrines of commission to teach ; she is by the will and our church” ought to be mingled “ with the authority of her author an institute of educadaily teachings of the school,” necessarily tion, established to communicate and preimplying that there ought to be schools under serve the knowledge of God, of Christ, of the the control of the church. This brought up way of salvation, and of the rule of duty. the great question, whether Presbyterians Thirdly, this is a duty which the Church can. ought to join with other denominations and not devolve on others; she cannot throw the sustain the common schools of the state, or responsibility on the State, for it is the very whether they should as far as possible esta
work God has given her to do, and she might blish Parochial Schools under their own es. as well look to the State to preach the gosclusive control. When the matter first came pel, as to make disciples of the nations by up, Dr R. J. Breckinridge made a sbort and teaching them. Fourthly, the only question effective speech against the principle of Pa- then is, how the Church is to acquit herself rochial Schools; and Dr Tallmadge spoke in this obligation; how she is to fulfil her reply and in favour of the report. The sub- vocation as teacher as far as the young are ject was then postponed and made the order concerned ? Can she safely rely upon family of the day for the afternoon of the following instruction, on Sunday schools, on the reli. Thursday. When that time arrived, after a gious teaching of pasturs, separately or comshort debate, the discussion was again post- bined ? It is acknowledged that all these poned, and finally the report was acted upon modes of religious education are legitimate without having been debated to any extent and important, and ought to be assiduously according to its importance. The principal used, but they are all inadequate. Unless objections urged against the report were,
therefore the Church can employ some other first, that the whole spirit of the age and of agency, she will not accomplish her vocation our country is in favour of popular educa- as the teacher of the people. That other tion; that spirit we cannot effectually re- agency is the common school. In all ages sist, it must have its course, and therefore it of the Church, and in every part of Christenis the duty of every evangelical denomina- dom, it has been considered a first principle tion to throw its influence into the movement that religious teaching should be incorpo. and give the common schools of the country
rated with the common school system. as Christian a character as possible. Second- Until the difficulty arising from diversity ly, that since Presbyterians, in consequence
of sects began to be felt, it was the universal of their general intelligence, have an influ- rule that the Church system, the doctrines of ence disproportioned to their relative num- the gospel as held by the Church, should be ber, they are of all denominations the last sedulously taught in the schools. To meet which should withdraw from this general the difficulty just suggested, the first plan partnership; they are sure to derive more proposed was to fix upon some common stan. benefit from it, and to have more power in
dard of doctrine in which the several sects controlling it, than would be due to them on could concur, and confine the religious teachaccount of their numbers. Thirdly, that it ing within those limits, leaving denominamust be disastrous for any body of Christians tional peculiarities to be otherwise provided to separate themselves from the community,
for. On this plan in Great Britain, the atsitting apart as on an isolated tripod, out of tempt has been made to unite not only evancommunion with their fellow citizens. If gelical Protestants, but even Protestants and they would prosper they must enter heart Romanists in the same schools. This plan and hand in the common enterprises of the
bas satisfied no party, and though still percountry, in which they have an interest, and
sisted in, has proved in a great measure a not attempt to set up for themselves. Fourth. failure. It is peculiarly inappropriate for ly, that the diversity of sects to be found in this country. Because, as we are obliged to all our towns and villages, renders it impos. act on the principle of excluding no class of sible that each church should have its own the people from the common school, this comschools. Fifthly, that the plan proposed
mon standard of doctrine is of necessity that would involve a vast expenditure of men with which the very lowest and loosest of the and money ; millions would be required to sects of the country will be satisfied. It is erect and sustain a school in connection with not only the Episcopalian, Romanist, Pres. every Presbyterian congregation in our land. byterian, Methodists, or Baptist that must be satisfied, but Socinians, Universalists, and truth of God, This is the only method in even Infidels. An immediate outcry is made which a religious education has hitherto ever about religious liberty, and the union of been given to the mass of the people of any Church and State, if in a public school any country, and the novel experiment of this religious instruction is given to which any age and country is really an experiment to of these parties object.
see what will be the result of bringing up This has led to the plan of confining the the body of the people in ignorance of God instruction of the schools to secular branches and his Word. For if religion is banished exclusively, and leaving the parent or pastor from the common school, it will be excluded to look after the religious education of the from the whole educational training of a children. This is becoming the popular large part of the population. It is an attempt theory in this country. It is already difficult to apply to the whole country what Girard in many places to retain even the reading of has prescribed for his college. Under these the Scriptures in the public schools. The circumstances, the Church of every denomiwhole system is in the hands of men of the nation is called upon to do its duty, which is world in many of our States, and is avowedly nothing more or less than to teach the gecular. Now with regard to this scheme, it people Christianity, and if this cannot othermay be remarked that it is a novel and fearful wise be done thoroughly and effectively, as experiment. The idea of giving an educa- we are persuaded it cannot, than by having tion to the children of a country from which
a school in connection with every congrega. religion is to be excluded, we believe to be tion, then it is the duty of the Church to peculiar to the nineteenth century. Again, enter upon that plan, and to prosecute it it is obvious that
education without religion with all her energy It is often said that is irreligious. It cannot be neutral, and in we cannot argue from the case of European fact is not neutral. The effort to keep out countries to our own. But the Free Church religion from all the books and all the in- of Scotland has taught us that it is not only structions, gives them of necessity an irre- in established churches that the system of ligious and infidel character. Again, the parochial schools is feasible. The devoted common school is the only place of education men who are laying the foundation of the for a large class of our people. They have new system in Scotland, never imagined that neither parental nor pastoral instruction to their duty would be done if they planted a supply its deficiency or correct its influence. pastor and a church in every parish. They Again, this plan is so repugnant to the con- at once, and with equal strength of convicvictions of the better half of the community, tion and purpose, set about establishing a that its introduction into our colleges has school in connexion with every church. It been strenuously resisted.
is as much a part of their system as having The conviction, we are persuaded, is fast ministers or elders. And it should be onrs taking possession of the minds of good peo- also. A school of this kind, established and ple that the common school system
is rapidly controlled by the session of the church, beassuming, not a mere negative, but a posi- comes a nursery for the church, the ministry, tively anti-Christian character; and that in and the whole land. Its blessings are not self-defence, and in the discharge of their confined to any one denomination. The peohighest duty to God and their country, they ple are so anxious to get a good education must set themselves against it, and adopt for their children, that they will not hesithe system of parochial schools; schools in tate to send them to a Presbyterian school, which each church shall teach fully, fairly, if that is the cheapest and best. and earnestly what it believes to be the
ASPECTS OF THE EDUCATIONAL QUESTION.
“ Register, Register, Register," was the High Church-or of the Church and the earnest battle-cry of the Conserva- State--systems, who can turn to most tive leader, when the Reform Bill account, for their own ends, any increase seemed to have completed that rout of of government patronage that may take his party which the Roman Catholic place, or any profuse expenditure of Relief bill had begun. The war of the the national resources. registrations was fought accordingly; We have sometimes asked ourselves the broken ranks of Toryism were ral- what the result might have been, if lied; the Liberals, novices in govern- our Liberal statesmen, during their forment, and divided among themselves, mer tenure of office, under the Grey gave way, and power again rested in and Melbourne administrations, had the hands that had been wont to wield been enlightened enough to frame and it.
follow out a generous and comprehen“ Educate, Educate, Educate,” is sive plan of ecclesiastical and educathe burden of the song now. It is at tional reform. The time seemed faleast a more respectable watchword vourable for a bold experiment, if than the other. It is the watchword, made in good faith and upon high too, of the winning, rather than of the principle. Men of large minds and losing side ; and Free Trade being large hearts might have attempted now happily conceded—there being great things, and achieved great things. also, as it would appear, a sort of under Both in Scotland and in England standing that existing establishments evangelical opinions were exerting a are not to be touched, and that the growing influence over the Established agitation of an appropriation clause, or Churches ; measures of improvement a suppression of bishopricks, or such were in progress ; and the minds of like, is not again to be risked,—the were prepared for extensive Liberal stock in trade is very greatly changes in the constitution, or at least, reduced ; and scarcely any move in the in the management of all existing incards remains, except Popish endow- stitutions. It seems beyond a question, ments and national education.
that had the Liberal Government It is a move, as regards both of bent their energies in the prime and these objects, in which each of the strength of their first possession of great political parties is anxious to have power, to the support of the reforming the advantage and of the eclat of anti- party in the Church of Scotland—the cipating its rival. Apparently, at pre- prompt settlement of the tithe and sent, the Whigs or Liberals have got church-rate questions in Englandthe start. They have the command of the more equal distribution of the Parliament and of the public purse; Church's revenues—the correction of and what more obvious than to take the the abuses of Church patronage, and sense of the one, and the substance of the enormous anomalies of the ecclesithe other, in favour of an indiscriminate astical courts—the redress of grievlargess to all sects alike, and for the ances oppressive to the Protestant support of schools and schoolmasters so Dissenters—the revision of scholastic neutral as to give offence to none ? and academic foundations—the enAt the sametime, we cannot but sus- couragement of sound Scriptural edupect that it is their opponents after all, cation-and other kindred improveand in the long run, who will be found ments;—and had they been sagacious, the best at playing this game, as well decided, and bold enough to announce as the former ; for whether it be that and carry out their measures without the children of this world are wiser in too sensitive a sensibility to the fluctheir generation than the children of tuations of the popular breeze :—they light-or from whatever other cause- might have strengthened materially we greatly fear that it is the friends of their own position, and proved signal