Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

own conscience, and no one is restricted by law to any mode of worship, but when any person espouses the tenets of any society and becomes a member of their church, he voluntarily submits to the doctrine and discipline of that church. It does not become us to say who is right or who is wrong with respect to the Sabbath. This subject has been ably advocated and reprobated by men of the greatest abilities, the soundest judgment, and deepest penetration. But we quit the subject and leave the world to judge as they please.

CHAPTER XXIII.

FRIEND OR QUAKER.

A SOCIETY of dissenters from the Church of England obtained the latter appellation in the middle of the seventeenth century; the former they had before applied, and continue to apply to themselves. I'he first preacher of this society was George Fox, a man of humble birth and illiterate. The undertaking to which he considered himself called, that of promulgating a more simple and spiritual form of Christianity than any of those which prevailed, and of directing the attention of Christians to immediate revelation, required little more reading than the Bible. A constant reference to the scriptures, with great zeal, courage, and perseverance, in preaching and suffering, did more than literature could have done to spread his doctrine among the middling and lower classes.

The most prominent feature in the Friends' view of Christianity is this: seeing no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him, and seeing the revelation of the Son is in and by the Spirit; therefore the testimony of the Spirit is that alone by which the true knowledge of God is revealed. In this doctrine they agree, in substance, with the church of England, and all others who acknowledge the efficacy of grace. For, in whatever way this is afforded to Christians, it is power fully given to know and to do the will of God; and the communication of grace may be termed, in strict consistency with the sense of the New Testament, a revelation of Christ in the Spirit. The Friends receive the holy scriptures as having proceeded from the revelations of the Holy Spirit; they account them the secondary rules for Christians, subordinate to the Word, and therefore not the Word of God. According to these, they profess their belief in one God, as Father, Word, and Holy Spirit; in Mediator, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ; in the conception, birth, life, miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus; and in the remission of sins thereby purchased for the whole world of fallen mankind. Christ's redemption they believe to be perfected in us by his second coming in spirit; in which they who obey him are, through the obedience of faith, restored from their state of alienation and reconciled to God. They affirm that for this end there is given to every man a measure of the light of Christ, (called by their early preachers, the light within,) a manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal; which discovers sin, reproves forit, leads out of it, and, if not resisted, will save from it, and lead on the Christian to perfection. In public worship, they profess to wait on God in this gift, in order to have their conditions made manifest, in silence and retirement of mind. They look for an extraordinary motion of it for social worship, and considering the qualifications of a minister as a further gift which God confers and of which the church ought to judge in the same spirit, they do not limit its exercise to any description of persons. They suffer some inconvenience hereby, as they acknowledge; but they prefer bearing this to the establishing of any form of worship, save the forementioned waiting in silence. They do not baptize formally, or use the sign of the communion; they say,

the one has ceased as to obligation, and the true administration of the other is by the Spirit

alone. They deem it unlawful for christians to swear at all; and their affirmation in civil cases is made legal instead of an oath. They refuse to "learn war or lift up the sword,” as well as to contribute directly to military proceedings. Yet, as they inculcate inplicit submission, actively or passively to Cæsar, they neither resist nor evade the legal appropriations of their substance by him, as well to these as to ecclesiastical purposes. Against the claims of the clergy, as well as many other things, apparently lawful, they say, in their phraseology, they have a testimony to bear. Some peculiarities mark them out from their fellow-citizens. Simplicy in dress, in some instances nearly amounting to an adherance to their original though not prescribed costume; simplicity of language, thou to one person, and without compliments; simplicity in their manner of living; the non-observance of fasts and feasts; the rejection of those which they call the unchristian names of days and months: and the renunciation of the theatres and other promiscuous amusements, gaming and the usual outward signs of mourning and rejoicing, may be considered as their shibboleth. They marry among themselves by a ceremony, or contract, religiously conducted, and bury their dead in the most simple manner. They maintain their poor, and enforce their own rules by

means of an excellent system of discipline, founded by G. Fox. *They receive approved applicants into their society by an act of monthly meetings, or particular congregation, and without subscription of articles. They disown, in the same manner, after repeated admonitions, not officially only, but actually extended, offenders against morality, or their peculiar rules.

CHAPTER XXIV.

INDEPENDENTS, OR CONGREGATIONALISTS. In church history, a sect of Protestant Dissenters, which first made its appearance in Holland, in the year 1616. Mr. John Robinson appears to be the first founder of this sect. The appellation of Independents was applied to and adopted by this denomination of Christians, from their maintaining that Christian congregations are so many independent religious societies, having a right to be governed by their own laws, without being subject to any further or foreign jurisdiction. This term was publickly acknowledged in the year 1644, by those English Dissenters, who held similar sentiments respecting church government to the In. dependents in Holland; but on account of the ill use that many made of the term, by a perversion of its original meaning and religious designation, the English Independents renounced it, and adopted that of Congregationalists, or Congregational Brethren. The term Independent is still, however, applied to various sects of Protestant Dissenters, and seems justly applicable to almost every sect of non-conformists in this country. The doctrines of the Independents are the same as those of the Brownists. It is said that the only difference between these sects were that the Brownists were illiberal in their views concerning other denominations, while the Independents entertained enlarged conceptions of church communion, and allowed that other churches, though different from them in points of discipline, might properly be called Christian churches. It is, however, to be feared that the Independents, properly so called, being Calvinists as to points of faith, do not cherish very liberal sentiments concerning the salvation of those who differ from them in most of their articles of belief. A spirit which seems to be a natural effect of the creed of the Geneva Reformer. See BROWNISTS and PRESBYTERIANS.

17

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER XXV.

ARIANS.

A DENOMINATION of Christians that take their name from Arius, a presbyter of Alexandria, who flourished in the year 315. The propagation of this doctrine was the occasion of the celebrated Council of Nice, assembled by Constantine, in the year 325.Arius acknowledged Christ to be God, in a subordinate sense, and considered his death to be a propitiation for sin. The Arians acknowledge, that the Son was the Word, though they deny its being eternal, contending only that it had been created prior to all other beings. They maintain that Christ is not the eternal God; but in opposition to the Unitarians, they contend for his preexistence, a doctrine which they found on various passages of scripture, particularly these, “ Before Abraham was, I am;" and "Glorify me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.' Arians differ amongst themselves as to the extent of the doctrine. Some of them believe.Christ to have been the creator of the world, and on that account has a claim to religious worship; others admit of his pre-existence simply. Hence the appellation of high and low Arians. Dr. Clark, Rector of St. James, in his “Scripture Doctrine of Trinity;" Mr. Henry Tay. lor, Vicar of Portsmouth, in a work entitled, “Ben Mordecais Apology,” Mr. Tomkins, in his “Mediator," and Mr. Hopkins, in his “ Appeal to the common sense of all Christian People;" have been deemed among the most able advocates of Arianism. Dr. Price has been one of the last writers in behalf of this doctrine; in his sermons,

“On the Christian Doctrine,” will be found an able defence of low Arians. See also, a tract published in 1805, by Basanistes.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER XXVI

BAXTERIANS.

In church history, a sect of Christians, who look up to the celebrated Richard Baxter, as their founder, and who make the tenets of that worthy man the foundation of their faith. The object of Baxter was a hopeless cause: it was to reconcile the opinions of Calvin and Arminius, and his scheme is called the middle scheme. Although the old adage, that the middle path is the

roneous.

safest, may be true in many things relating to conduct in life, yet where truth and religion are concerned, there can be no middle way. There is no medium between what is true and what is er

Baxter taught, that God elected some whom he determined to save, without any foresight of their good works, and that others, to whom the gospel is preached, have the means of salvation put into their hands. He contended that the merits of Christ's death, of which he appears to have no precise idea, are to be applied to believers only, but all men are in a state capable of salvation. Mr. Baxter also assumed, that there may be a certainty of perseverance here; and yet he cannot tell whether a man may not have so weak a degree of saving grace as to loose it again.

CHAPTER XXVII.

BROWNISTS.

A NAME given for some time to those who were afterwards known in England and Holland under the denomination of Independents. It arose from a Mr. Robert Brown, whose parents resided in Rutlandshire, though he is said to have been born at Northampton; and who, from about 1571 to 1590, was a teacher amongst them in England, and at Middleburgh, in Zealand. He was a man of a family, of zeal, of some abilities, and had a university education. The separation, however, does not appear to have originated in him; for, by several publications of those times, it is clear that these sentiments had, before his day, been embraced and professed in England, and Churches had been gathered on the plan of them. This denomination did not differ in point of doctrine from the Church of England, or from the other Puritans; but they apprehended, that, according to scripture, every church ought to be confined within the limits of a single congregation, and have the complete power of jurisdiction over its members, to be exercised by the elders within itself, without being subject to the authority of bishops, synods, presbyteries, or any ecclesiastical assembly, composed of the deputies from different churches. Under this name, though they always disowned it, were ranked the learned Henry Ainsworth, author of the Annotations on the Pentateuch, &c. The famous John Robinson, a part of whose congregation from Lyden, in Holland, made the first permanent settlement in North America; and the laborious Canne, the author of the Marginal References in the Bible.

« ZurückWeiter »