Imágenes de páginas

almost obsolete. In former years a clergyman took his parish as he did his wife, for life. Minister and people clung together, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death did them part. But all this has now become a by-gone story. A settlement of even ten years in the same parish has become quite a rarity, and we think that we do not mistake when we ascribe this melancholy change, in no small degree, to "the times" in which we live.

We have spoken, perhaps, rather too freely of what seem to us the leading reasons for the frequent changes by our clergy of their parochial residence. We would, before we close this article, take the liberty of suggesting a word or two, by way of a partial remedy, at least, for the evil.

We would urge, in the most earnest manner, upon the laity, a better pecuniary support of the great body of the clergy. We call upon the people, especially those residing in the country, to give their pastors larger salaries, and to see that those salaries be punctually paid.

We would urge upon every parish the importance of erecting a convenient edifice for the residence of their minister. Nothing gives to a clergyman such a home-feeling, nothing so soon extinguishes in his bosom a fondness for change, as the certainty of having a neat and commodious parsonage for himself and family. Many a valuable man will be content with a very meagre stipend, provided he has a pleasant home for his wife and children, free from rent.

We would most respectfully suggest a more direct interposition of Episcopal authority and discipline. We are among those who love to see our Bishops wield the staff of their office with decided vigor. We would have our Bishops govern, and govern, if need require, effectually.

We should like to see our Bishops insist upon every parish having its clergyman instituted, and prompt in quelling any incipient disturbance in a parish. A word in season from the chief pastor works wonders, and lulls many a rising storm. We should like to see the responsibility of the clergy to their Episcopal Head, a living reality. It would not hurt presbyters or deacons to know decidedly, that they have an overseer. And yet we are aware, that the unprimitive size of all our Dioceses, presents of necessity a most unprimitive illustration of the true relation of the Chief Shepherd, to the members of his flock. Many of our counties, and of our cities, are abundantly large to constitute a Diocese like those in primitive times. A return to those early precedents in this respect

seems to us desirable, for many considerations which we shall not now mention.

These are some of the remedies which, with all diffidence, we would prescribe for the ill complained of. Yet, after all, we have our misgivings. We have our apprehensions that whatever we, or others, may say on this subject, will be only so many words thrown away. The times are out of joint," and it requires more skillful physicians than we to set them right.

[ocr errors]

If, in the foregoing article, we have sometimes spoken more plainly than becomes us, we crave the charitable indulgence of our readers; and we doubt not that they will extend it to us, when we candidly assure them, that with regard to the evil here descanted upon, we are ourselves by no means impeccable. We are not without our own particular sin; and we know not, but that even before these pages are dry from the press, our own humble name may be going the rounds of the hebdomadal record of "Clerical Changes.'


Bp. black.

ART. IV.-The Power of Christianity.-A Discourse preach-
ed at the Dedication of the house of the Thirteenth Con-
gregational Church, in Harrison Avenue, Boston, May 3,
1848. By J. I. T. COOLIDGE.

Relation of Christianity to Human Nature.-A Sermon
preached at the Ordination of Mr. Frederick N. Knapp, as
Colleague Pastor of the First Congregational Church in
Brookline, Mass., on Wednesday, October 6, 1847. By
HENRY W. BELLOWS, Pastor of the Church of the Divine
Unity, in New York City.

Christ the Way.-A sermon preached at the Ordination of
the Rev. George M. Bartoe, as Minister of the First Church
of Christ, in Lancaster, Mass., Wednesday, August 4, 1847.
BY CYRUS A. BARTOE, Junior Minister of the West Church
in Boston.

We have selected these discourses from a large number lying before us, as favorable representatives of the latest and best form of Unitarian Theology. It is the doctrine of the sermon by Mr. Coolidge, that Christianity is not simply a form of religion, or an article of belief, or a law of conduct and life, but must be regarded as "a prevailing, mighty power, to purge away the leaven of iniquity, to exterminate every form of evil, to regenerate and make new the soul and the world continually, a power, of which all forms and beliefs and laws, are only instruments. Christianity finds man a sinner, at variance with God and his own eternal interests, in need of conversion, reconciliation, and constant renewal. He needs more than instruction, improvement, or a better development. He needs a change, a conversion, to be placed in a true position toward God and his own destiny."

Mr. Bellows declares, that "in operating on human nature and character, it is a definite, describable, and limited object the Preacher is to have mainly in view; a fixed and attainable change. It is a new heart that he is to create. His object is not so much to form the Christian character, as to beget the Christian nature. His aim is the regeneration of man, not his development, not even the development of the Christian nature, except as that is the indirect result of his labors.


[ocr errors]

Christianity assumes, (if the Apostolic preaching is any part of Christianity,) that there is in us a settled, universal obstacle to the reception of Christ's authority and theory of life. Man is pronounced an alien from God.The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.' And lest this carnal mind should be considered only the purely physical part of man, it is elsewhere written, The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.' It is not only the flesh lusting against the spirit which makes man a child of disobedience; the fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind' is the description of those of whom Paul says, they were by nature the children of wrath.' It is not then merely human character which is imperfect and disordered, but something anterior to that; in short, human nature itself, which, in its elementary form, has weaknesses and proclivities to evil, that makes sin a uniform and unavoidable consequence of existence." In another place he says, "Unassisted human nature then is in a certain sense incapable of obeying God. It is helpless. The world was lying in hopeless wickedness when Christ came. Aided as man had been by one Revelation, yet the world had gone steadily backward in moral purity. Why did Adam fall from his innocency, why did universal human nature decline from rectitude and goodness, and go away from God, if human nature is sufficient unto itself, if good tendencies steadily prevail over evil tendencies, if civilization and education are identical with Christianity? Oh, brethren! man might as well seek to fly to the stars, as to escape by his unaided powers from the captivity of sin. Interposition is a necessary, pre-arranged part of God's Providence. Help from without and above, a promised and an indispensable instrument of man's moral salvation. In the fullness of time God sent his Son to save the world; not to condemn the world, but to save it. The Gospel is the grace of God; it is good news; it is deliverance; it is rescue; it is salvation. It is not one of many other instrumentalities, but the instrument of salvation. Christ is the Physician of souls, sent to heal a mortal disease. He is the resurrection and the life, commissioned to raise the dead in trespasses and sins.' It is impossible to exaggerate or overstate the indispensableness, ascribed in the New Testament, to the mission of Christ. The world lay like a corpse prepared for the burial, and Christ kindled in it the spark of life anew. The impotent man upon the brink of the pool of Bethesda, who sees


an angel stirring the water, but whose paralytic limbs utterly refuse to bear him into the healing flood, is the type of human infirmity and helplessness. Every generation and age were increasing the difficulty. The sins of the fathers were accumulating on the heads of the children. The moral ear grew deafer, the spiritual eye weaker, the moral muscle more and more flaccid. The world, the flesh, and the devil, a triple cord not soon broken, was binding man in ever straiter and tighter folds. He could groan and sigh when he thought of a primeval innocency that existed only in his imagination! He could delight in the law of God, according to the inward man! But his sighs, and longings, and groans did not, could not help him to do what he ought. And there was no succor, safety, deliverance, except in doing. Then it was that he cried in his despair, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? And God graciously enabled him to say I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord."

The last of these Discourses, which is written in a style of singular compactness and beauty, assumes that "Christ is the way, the direct individual path of salvation. He that climbeth up some other way is a thief and a robber. There is no way that can be a substitute for him. And here is the great danger, which he himself foresaw, of making something else the substitute for him." Mr. Bartoe then proceeds to consider the various substitutes which are put in the place of Christ; and these, according to his arrangement, are, the Church, theological creeds, philosophy, reform. We can afford even to give only a single extract from this Discourse. "The philosophy which excludes Christ, or only receives Him divested of his authority, mighty works, and moral perfection, may affirm itself to be religious, but it prefers what it calls Absolute religion, to any special and defined system, like Christianity, which is as though one should prefer, for a habitation, the earth, when it was 'without form and void, and darkness covered the face of the deep,' to the well-finished and perfected world. To the human mind there is a vague, shifting, shapeless quality about this so styled absolute religion, which must render it of very little practical worth to the majority of men, however a few may pretend to perform the feat of grasping its immense and misty proportions. But the philosophy substituted for Christ, changes with Protean facility its own form. Sometimes it is a negative system, which could not stand at all, but by bracing itself against the Christianity it assails; and sometimes it is a positive spiritualism, which, in its own conceit, oversees Christianity, borrows from it what it deems good,

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »