« ZurückWeiter »
making it good. His principle was this-It is highly expedient that, in such a body as the Board of Trustees, all internal questions of contest should be carefully cut off, in order that they may be free to attend to their rightful duties, as the literary guardians of a seminary of education. Now that end can be attained only by giving to some one denomination or other, within the Board, such an undoubted numerical majority as may preclude all such party contests. To which denomination, then, is that control to be given to which does it of right belong, but to the one from whom the endowment of the college comes, and comes upon conditions, and who have, therefore, a moral right to a preponderance in the body by whom that endowment is administered, and upon whom those conditions are obligatory. Whether it be regarded, therefore, as a question of expediency, or of right, the case, he argued, was clear-Episcopalians should hold the decided majority.
Whatever might then be thought of this reasoning, experience certainly proved its sound
For, until it was adopted, the Board went on disputing instead of acting, until in the contest for power, the very object for which they fought was forgotten and almost lost. The college sank in reputation as well as in numbers, until, at length, its very warmest friends almost despaired of its resuscitation. Some laid the blame on the faculty, some on the trustees, some on want of patronage, others again, on its internal discipline, in having but a nominal and official president. All parties, however, agreed that something must be done, or the college would be for ever ruined. This, however, is in anticipation, since the contest which arose out of this condition of things did not take place until the year 1811.
But, in the mean time, subjects of minor controversy were not wanting, and in these skirmishes, preparatory as it were to a general engagement, the Episcopal interest rallied generally around their youthful leader; while its opponents were marshalled under the guidance of one who seemed as a Goliath to him, 'a man of war from his youth. Thus were first brought into contact and collision two of the most powerful minds which the ranks of the ministry have, in our day and country, produced. Men the very antipodes of each other in most points of character, and agreeing, perhaps, in nothing beyond the possession of great, or rather, pre-eminent talents, and the devotion of them to the worthiest of all causes.
Object of Mr. Hobart in his Publications--Attacked by Rev. Dr. Linn
- Miscellanies'-answered by Mr. Hobart and others-Collection of Essays,' &c.—Reviewed in the Christian Magazine'-' Apology for Apostolic Order and its Advocates - Justification of Manner-Character of Dr. Mason-Examination of the Argument-Result of it upon the Church-Letters.
That offences must needs come is one of the 'trials' of the Christian, but the 'wo’ is upon him by whom they come.' This leads to the inquiry, In what spirit and with what motive did Mr. Hobart publish those opinions which all admit it was his duty to maintain ?
On this point his exculpation is complete. He addressed himself to the members of his own communion; he wrote as a teacher to his own people, instructing them — which, as already seen, they stood greatly in need of - in the doctrines and discipline of their own Church ; and in thus doing was answerable certainly to none without.
Nor were the positions laid down by him either novel or strange, that other Christian denominations should feel as if they had a right to take offence at their promulgation: they were doctrines as old as the earliest age of Christianity, and deduced from what all acknowledged,
the union of the Gospel of Christ with the Church of Christ. That he taught these doctrines plainly was because he believed them truly : that he urged them warmly was because his heart was in the argument; that he devoted himself to the task was because he felt it bis duty to instruct those whom God had committed to his care :
* but the real offence was, that he taught them eloquently and efficiently, and thus aroused the jealousy of those against whose interests they seemed to militate.
While thus engaged, he was publicly denounced by name for maintaining such opinions, and challenged to defend them : that under such defiance he hesitated not to enter the lists, surely needs no apology; on the contrary, it was due both to himself and the Church : that he quitted not the field while an opponent remained, was equally a matter of common right, in him also of peculiar character, for he was by nature ardent, fearless, and persevering, ready in a good cause to go even to the death.' The particulars of this controversy were shortly these :
* Among the questions asked and answered at ordination to the priesthood, and consequently acquiring the solemnity of an oath, or vow, was the following ; 'Will you be ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrines, contrary to God's Word ?' To which he had publicly answered, 'I will; the LORD being my helper.'-(Ordering of Priests.)
In the summer of 1805, shortly after the publication of his Companion for the Festivals and Fasts,' there appeared in the 'Albany Sentinel,' a paper of wide circulation published at the seat of government in the Diocese, an attack upon the principles laid down by him in that work, and that not casually done, but systematically maintained and carried on, though under the harmless title of Miscellanies' for several successive months, the production, it was understood, of the Rev. Dr. Linn, one of the ablest ministers of the Presbyterian communion in our country.
Under these circumstances what was Mr. Hobart's course of duty ? Had it been like his a work didactic in its character, and addressed to the members of a particular society, Mr. Hobart would doubtless have accorded to others the privilege he exercised himself, of instructing those whom they were called to instruct, and passed it by without notice. But such was not its character : it was controversial alike in form and spirit, while the medium chosen addressed the argument to the reading public at large, showing conclusively that the object of the writer was not an official but a popular one ; a willingness, in short, to awaken again those political as well as religious prejudices by which the Episcopal Church had been at one period