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ciple discussed there, in the religious connexion from which the author has separated, which constituted one of the leading causes of turning his attention to the subject and claims of Episcopacy, it was natural for him to notice it. It will be seen, also, that peculiar circumstances of the present time bave made it a subject of absorbing interest to the public.
The author feels, that it is due to himself to observe distinctly, that in the comparisons he has made in the second chapter between Episcopacy and other religious institutions of the country, in the estimate of their comparative powers, it is most remote from his design to depreciate the merits or importance of any of these organizations. There is no one of them, that he has named, which he does not hold in high respect; not one, which he does not regard as highly important in its place; not one, for whose prosperity he does not earnestly pray; and he regards them all and many others not named, as providential developments of the religious enterprise and energy of the community. Any slight criticisms he may have made are not to be taken as de. tracting aught from this high estimation and this praise. The author believes, indeed, that they will continue to undergo gradual changes, as they have heretofore done, for the better; and wherein they have erred, their errors will be corrected. Their existence, progress, and influence have demonstrated one great and practical problem, viz.-How much may be accomplished by social organization and combined enterprise ; and the wisdom of experience will doubtless be turned to a profitable account. It may not be necessary, or even desirable, that each and all of these institutions should continue in the same form, or under the same name. Having resolved the problem, of what can be done-or rather, that anything desirable may be accomplished by association—they may themselves be resolved into other forms, or gradually merged into other institutions, as
may be deemed expedient. Some may be expanded, while others are contracted; they may be increased in nuinber, or diminished; but the matter of power and influence is undoubtedly in them; they would be good for nothing if it were not so.
How that influence may be most safely invested and most securely applied, will of course be a question to be discussed and determined from time to time, as the exigences of society and the changes of opinion may require. To assume, that this point is not to be discussed, would be very imprudent. It is ever open, and will remain so. It is not the author's object, in the chapter referred to, to settle this question ; but simply to remove a common and popular objection to Episcopacy, as involving too much power, by showing, that American Episcopacy has in fact less power, than these institutions.
The author, however, is inclined to the opinion, that the lesson taught the church by these efforts, will be the means of rousing her to take that lead, with which she was originally commissioned ; and that, when she shall show a willingness to do the work, it will be resigned to her hands.
Although by a voluntary act the author separates himself from his former brethren by an Ecclesiastical pale, he will not be divided from them for want of respect and affection. He can never forget who were his parents ; who were the teachers and guides of his youth ; who were his theological instructers; who for many years were his brethren and fathers in “ the ministry of reconciliation;" who were the highly valued and cordially esteemed acquaintances providentially and from time to time made in that circle ; who are the many, with whom, in this country and in England, he has been accustomed to sympathize on all Christian themes, and with whom he has often “taken sweet counsel” and prayed ;—from all these he does not—he cannot turn away ; but will still and ever be with them in heart, in faith, in prayer,
and as a fellow worker in the “ kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.” To us all, “ there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism”—even that of the Holy Spirit. Though one may be “ of Paul, another of Cephas, and another of Apollos," we are all “ of Christ.” We can agree to differ, in all that is unavoidable, without being unkind. If the author has offended in any word of these pages, he will indeed be sorry.
He has tried not to do so, and will believe that he has succ
cceeded, till it shall otherwise be proved. His principles he has been obliged to maintain ; but his friends he will never cease to respect and love.
C. COLTON. New-York, May, 1836.
Changing Religious Connexions - New aspects of Religion in
America–Defects of Presbyterianism and Congregationalism.
CHANGING one's religious connexions is not in high credit. Ordinarily there does not seem to be much, if any good resulting from it, either to the public, or to individuals ; not unfrequently, and perhaps in the majority of instances, where it occurs within the range of Christian sects, there is positive evil.
To renounce any form of paganism for any form of Christianity, will be approved by Christians, at least; to pass from one Christian sect to another, is an indirect censure on that which is left behind, and a compliment to that which is adopted; the latter is gratified, the former feels injured. One has gained what the other has lost; but the public, the world, even in a religious point of view, has gained little—perhaps nothing—it may have suffered. It is doubtless better, for the most part, that accessions to the best and most useful forms of Christianity should be made from those, who have not attached themselves anywhere. All such increase is a positive gain to the body of Christians, and to society. In this way the true church of God may ultimately, and without violence--without disturbance even among the different sects who claim to be right-absorb the world.
It is not very natural-nor can I with my present views feel that it is very desirable—for frequent transfers to be made from one section or pale of the Christian community to another, for any other reason than the imperative demands of conscience. Then it is suitable, and if credited, will not in any case be dishonourable, nor injurious to the general interests of religion, except in peculiar circumstances.
The transfer of lay members of Christian societies from one to another, is comparatively of less importance, though not without influence. But when ministers change their relation, their conspicuous standing before the public makes an impression. The public is in some measure and for a moment startled. It is undoubtedly a responsible step, and ought to have good and strong reasons to support it.
I frankly confess, that, had not my pastoral relation been providentially broken up, and motives led me abroad, it is very likely I should not have been shaken or disturbed on this question. It is true, indeed, that the same events in the United States, which were the immediate occasion of challenging my attention to this subject, would necessarily have come before me. But I could not have viewed them in the same light; I could not have been surprised by them; it is possible, that in company with scores and hundreds of my ministerial brethren, I might have fallen into the same current, and. sympathized with those transactions and occurrences, which are now rather painful, than agreeable to contemplate.
But at the very moment when these events were in the incipient stage of their career, or before their proper character had been developed, I was removed to a distant position—to London. Before I had been there nine months, I became the expounder and advocate of American revivals of religion before the British public-a very presumptuous office, as some perhaps might think. But I was led into it, first, by yielding to special and earnest solicitations to preach on the subject; and next, by complying with similar requests to give the substance