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which, as it lies before the writer, and as bearing on the present question, seems to call for a passing notice. Speaking of Dr. Bedell's education, under the guidance of Bishop Hobart,
so certainly true did Mr. Bedell consider Bishop Hobart's views of doctrine, that he was accustomed subsequently to say, in reference to his early ministry, that, for its first years he "preached Bishop Hobart.” ' * And, immediately after, speaking of his first discourse, Dr. Tyng observes; 'In this sermon, in which his particular subject was “Gospel preaching,” we find just those partial and imperfect views of divine truth which a knowledge of his previous course and character would have led us to expect.' †
Now the answer to this unchristian condemnation may be found in Dr. Bedell's own acknowledgment, toward the close of life, when he states, that in his subsequent preaching, which his biographer so highly eulogizes, he had dwelt too little on the peculiarities of the Church, and that, God willing, he proposed to amend it.' It might too, we think, have occurred to his biographer, whether in giving permanency to such party words as, 'preaching Bishop Hobart,' he was not sipning against
those better words of peace, which he himself records, as Dr. Bedell's legacy of Christian charity to the Church,
• If,' said he, in the heat of party controversy, I have said or written any thing which has wounded the feelings, or been injurious to any one, I ask that it may be attributed to the heat of party controversy, and that this expression of regret be received in the spirit in which it is rendered.'*
Noble acknowledgment, and nobly expressed ! But we are well aware that in this sentiment
man more fully unites than his Christian biographer, and that whatever has escaped him, militating, even in words, against it, is to be attributed to haste or to inadvertency, and will, doubtless, be amended in a subsequent edition of one of the most beautiful and instructive memoirs that our Church has produced,
But what bears most upon our subject, in this volume thus incidentally brought up, is Dr. Bedell's own change of views. A few weeks before his death they are the words of the friend to whom they were addressed, he said, like many who thought and acted with him, he had for years said little on the peculiarities of our Church, but the period had arrived when they should be taught and preached. He then added, very emphatically, “If God spares my life, I intend delivering a course of sermons on Episcopacy this winter.” This course, he informed me, he had then in preparation.'
* Page 193.
As Bishop Hobart's views in this question were, and, perhaps, still are branded by many with want of Christian liberality, it is due to him to give his vindication in his own words.
Christian liberality' extends its charity, not to opinions but to men ; judging candidly of their motives, their character, and conduct. Tenacious of what it deems truth, it earnestly endeavors, in the spirit of Christian kindness, to reclaim others from error. But there is a spurious liberality, whose tendency is to confound entirely the boundaries between truth and error. It acts under influence of the maxim, not the less pernicious, because it allures in the flowing harmony of numbers.
"For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight,
He can't be wrong whose life is in the right.” Christian unity is a fundamental principle of the Gospel, and schism a deadly sin. But Christian unity is to be obtained, not by a dishonorable concealment or abandonment of principle, where there is no real change of opinion; nor even by a union in doctrine, could such a union be sincerely effected, of religious sects who continue to differ in regard to the ministry of the Church. The Episcopalian declines with mildness and prudence, but with decision and firmness, all proffered compromises and associations, which do not recognise these orders of the ministry, and which may tend to weaken this attachment to the distinctive principles of his own Church. He respects the consciences of others. He guards their rights, but he will not sacrifice or endanger his own. He defends and enforces those true principles of Christian unity which characterize his Church. He does his duty, and leaves the rest to God, in the prayer and in the belief that the gracious Head of the Church will, in his own good time, overcome the errors, the prejudices, and the passions of men, to the advancement of Christian fellowship and peace; so that, at length, “ the whole of his dispersed sheep shall be gathered into one fold, under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord.” '*
* Page 185.
How far the evils predicted by Bishop Hobart, as likely to result from such union in general societies, have been in truth experienced by other denominations, it is for them to say; certain it is such impression has gone abroad, that they have not proved baseless. To take a few authorities as they incidentally
• We award,' says the leading paper of the Methodists, in 1835, “to the Episcopalians the priority in the defence of church, or denominational religious societies,
* Berrian, pp. 173–175,
in opposition to the plan of national religious societies. We are informed that Bishop Hobart was the first to make a stand. Had other able men and excellent papers, upon the conviction of this being the better course, defended it with constancy, firmness, and discretion, the general Church of God in this country would have been in a much better state.'
The language of the Reformed Dutch Church is to a similar effect.
“The spirit-stirring Liturgy of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and a scrupulous adherence to it has, under God, notwithstanding the mutation of men and things, and all the aspersions cast upon her, as coldness, formality, and want of devotional feeling -we say, a scrupulous adherence to her Liturgy, has preserved her integrity beyond any denomination of Christians since the Reformation. Even defection from the articles of her faith, by men within her own bosom, has been restrained in its course by the form of sound words, so that, whatever dissensions prevail within, all are still united in maintaining a common cause. The example, we hesitate not to say, is worthy of imitation. It might be so in our Church. And why not?'*
But the controversy is now past, and a wider experience of missionary labor has enabled the Christian world to judge of the expediency, or inexpediency, of uniting the distribution of the Prayer-book with the Bible--and what says it?
* Banner of Church, vol. i. p. 131.