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upon the spirit of free investigation ? What earnest aspirant for usefulness in the Wesleyan church would ever dare to trust himself in a single opinion for which he could not find a clear warrant in Wesley's notes or sermons, lest the doors of all the Wesleyan chapels in Britain should be closed against him? is of no avail to reply, that in point of fact the shackles do not press thus heavily; that Clarke and Watson and others have differed from Wesley in material points; that even the church generally have in divers respects changed their creed since the death of their founder. This only proves the folly of binding the faith of a whole denomination of christians to the opinions of an individual.
The burden of the yoke already begins to be felt. It seems, that many of the leading preachers are tired of that mutability in the pastoral relation which the poll-deed of Mr. Wesley has made essential to legalized Wesleyanism. Dr. F. thus alludes to the fact. “Make the best of an itinerant life, there is something in it so unpleasant to flesh and blood, that there is a constant tendency to a more permanent system ; and the idea was decidedly expressed by several of the leading preachers, that a longer stay than three years would be, in some cases, important; but the poll-deed will not allow of it. Thus has Mr. Wesley's forethought perpetuated a traveling ministry.” (p. 595.) Let the whole Methodist church, to a man, be convinced, that permanence in the relations of a pastor to a people is preferable to perpetual mutation, yet they cannot give up this feature of itinerancy in their clergy, so essential is it, without, at the same time, exposing themselves to a forfeiture of all their interest in their chapels and other ecclesiastical property, as well as of their legal existence. This circumstance will illustrate very well the bearings of Mr. Wesley's poll-deed on the character of British Methodism. It is very easy to see, that as certainly as mind is active, human opinions, and especially opinions in religious doctrine and discipline, are changing, and theological science advancing to perfection, the Wesleyan church must be agitated with contentions which the strong arm of the law alone will settle.
It further appears from the statement given above, that all the power of every kind is concentrated in the Conference, which is always to consist of one hundred members, the vacancies being supplied according to the directions of the "polldeed." They have exclusive control of all the chapels and other ecclesiastical property belonging to "the connexion.” They have the sole right to station the preachers. Neither the individual churches have liberty of choice as to whom they shall have for their pastor; nor the preachers as to the place where they shall be stationed. They, too, have all the power of disciplining their members in their own hands. By the Chancellor's decision confirming Mr. Wesley's deed, “the power to maintain and enforce moral discipline in the church is confirmed to the Conference and their official organs and members.” (p. 586.) Here is as perfect a system of ecclesiastical aristocracy as can well be conceived of. Dr. F. himself seems to be aware of its liability to objection on the ground of its possessing and wielding too great power. In endeavoring to vindicate the system from such objection, he uses the following remarkable language. " From the nature of the case there always must be a marked distinction between ecclesiastical and civil government; and the safety of the people, in ecclesiastical government, consists in this, that it is armed by [with ?) no secular power. The extent of its authority is moral discipline by moral means, with no other power but that of withdrawing fellowship from the incorrigible offender.” (p. 585.) But is not that government armed with secular power which has absolute and exclusive control over all the chapels and ecclesiastical property of its subjects?
This is not, however, the whole of the case as it is exhibited by Dr. Fisk It appears, that the Conference have various sources of income denominated "funds;" as the school-fund, contingent fund, chapel-fund, &c. Leaving out the funds for the erection and repair of chapels, probably not less than half a million is placed annually at the disposal of the Conference, besides what goes for the regular support of the clergy. What a vast amount of "secular power” must attend the power of distributing these funds, although to some degree limited as to their general object, may be better imagined than formally set forth.
It will not appear at all surprising, that a people who can submit to such unlimited and irresponsible control, should easily be led a step farther and yield themselves submissively to the dictation of an individual. In point of fact, the usurpation of authority by a single individual has given occasion recently to a violent agitation which has resulted in a large secession. In the proceedings of the Conference itself we have an instance of this. The president seems to have had the direction of every measure in his own hands. " When he said let it be so, the voice of the elders said let it be so, and so it was.” (p. 596.)
It will not appear at all strange either, that there should have been "frequent defections" from a body so constituted, among a people, politically, intellectually and spiritually free; nor, that in every case of schism "the principal complaint should have been clerical domination,' ecclesiastical oppression.'” Beyond all question, the more “the Connexion” advances in knowledge and in spiritual freedom, the more frequent will these defections become. It has recently lost from twelve to twenty thousand members from a schism growing out of this very cause, “clerical domination.”
Such are some features of British Methodism as presented in the volume before us. It differs, according to Dr. Fisk, from American Methodism only in being somewhat more systematic,-more matured,-more perfect in its operation. Does one in a hundred of American Methodists understand the beauty
excellences of their religious system? The present condition of this denomination of christians is represented as flourishing. It is remarkable, that they are very loath to consider themselves as dissenting. Many of their most intelligent men deny, that they are dissenters. In England, however, the breach seems to be widening between them and the Establishment. Dr. Fisk seems to consider as indicative of this, the fact, that at the meeting of the Conference which he attended for the first time, they set apart their young ministers with the imposition of hands. In Ireland the attachment to the Established church is very strong; so much so, that the children of the most wealthy and respectable Methodists frequently forsake the religion of their fathers, and, that " with the approbation and often with the high gratification of their parents."
The character of the British Wesleyan ministry, Dr. F. considers as more elevated than that of the Methodist clergy in America; and they will continue to improve under the influence of their new theological school in London. He does not rank them higher in the scale of spirituality and devoutness. They are a very cheerful set of men ; and, says Dr. F., “the best fed and happiest countenanced class of men I ever saw.”
We have dwelt longer than we thought on this work. It will probably meet the expectations and accomplish the object of the author in publishing it. Numbers to whom “the author, by his calling, holds an interesting relation,” will doubtless "receive some favorable impressions and gain some additional knowledge” from it, who would not be likely to read other books of travels. We might say better, perhaps, that Vol. X.
this object has been accomplished ; for, we perceive, the work has already passed through four editions, or shall we more correctly say, four different impressions in less than a year. The author, at least, will not be disappointed if it “ fall into the great mass of transient literature, that passes into oblivion with the age that gave it birth."
ART. X.-KINGSLEY'S HISTORICAL DISCOURSE.
A Historical Discourse, delivered by request before the Citizens
of New Haven, April 25, 1838, the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the First Settlement of the Town and Colony : by James L. KINGSLEY. New Haven: B. & W. Noyes. 1838.
“THERE is something essentially bad,” says one of our ablest writers, "in a people who despise or do not honor their originals. A State torn from its beginnings, is fragmentary, incapable of public love, or of any real nationality. No such people were ever known to develop a great character. Rome was not ashamed to own, that she sprung of refugees and robbers, and boasted, in every age, her old seer Numa, who gave her laws and a religion. Athens could glory in the fiction, that her ancestors were grasshoppers, sprung out of the earth as an original race. England has never blushed to name her noble families from the Danish or Saxon pirates who descended on her coast. Piety to God, and piety to ancestors, are the only force that can impart an organic unity and vitality to a state. Torn from the past and from God, government is but a dead and brute machine. Its laws take hold of nothing in man which responds." “Law is uttered by the National Life,—not by some monarch, magistrate, or legislature, of to-day, or of any day, but by the State, by that organic force of which kings, magistrates, legislatures, of all times, have been but the hands and feet and living instruments,—that force which has grown up from small and perilous beginnings, strengthened itself in battles, spoken in the voices of orators and poets, and been hallowed at the altars of religion. Glorious and auspicious distinction it is, therefore, that we have an ancestry who, after every possible deduction, stand high above the originals of every nation of
mankind,-men fit to be honored and sung while the continent endures."'*
Everything then, which tends to awaken the historical sentiment in the public mind, to connect the present and the future with the past, and to make us feel as a people, that we are descended from a noble ancestry, is of importance to the commonwealth. The labors and collections of our Historical Societies, among which, that of Massachusetts is facile princeps, the more stately performances of our historians, both the elder, like Hutchinson, Trumbull and Belknap, and the new, like Bancroft, (in whose great work now in progress the lesser fault of a somewhat exaggerated democracy, and the greater one of a mysticism which verges too near to mere pantheism, are “the worse for what they stain,”)—and not least, the numerous historical discourses and orations of a popular cast, each having some special interest, local or occasional, -have no slight value in their political and moral influence.
The discourse before us is of a class which can hardly be said to exist in the literature of England. Where among our kindred on the other side of the Atlantic shall we find the models of such discourses as the centennial orations by Webster, Story and Quincy? The sermons preached on the day which is there called the anniversary of the death of the blessed king Charles the martyr, but which some sarcastic old whig denominated the “general madding day," are the only English performances which we can now recollect as at all analogous to the various anniversary discourses of a historical nature, which occupy so large and so honorable a place in American literature. The English anniversaries are all ecclesiastical, and nearly all exclusively so. They have a calendar of "holy days," days dedicated to the memory of saints; but what anniversaries have they of a civil character, glorious with patriotic associations ? Their great battles of Agincourt and Cressy, of Blenheim, Trafalgar, and Waterloo, they have never chosen to commemorate in such a fashion; and why should they ?
The anniversary of the execution of Charles I, would be more readily celebrated by the better half of the English people, if instead of being set apart as a day of national humiliation and shame, it were made a sacred memorial of the responsibility of kings. The anniversary of the restoration of the Stuarts is in the calendar of the English church a day of solemn thanksgiving ; but what true Englishman can think of that event,