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riod in the history of man, during which this progress has been so rapid and perceptible as during the last three centuries. We see it in every thing; — in the disappearance of a thousand weak and debasing superstitions; in the repeal of many useless, oppressive, and sanguinary laws; in the great improvements which have obtained in education ; in the prevalence of a more liberal spirit on all subjects, and in the resistance felt and manifested against every form of usurpation and tyranny. Nor does this progress appear
any thing more than in those sciences necessary to the critical understanding of the Scriptures, and the effectual exposure of the pretences of false religions. Now, are we to believe, can it be imagined, that society and the human mind have been advancing for three long centuries, with unparalleled rapidity, in every thing else but religion, and even in the means of advancement in religion, and yet that in religion itself they have not advanced a single step? Possessing the same natural powers with the first reformers, and all the advantages which they had, and many more besides, - entering, as it were, on their labors, and beginning where they left off, is it to be believed, can it be imagined, that the pious, the learned, and the inquisitive, for three long centuries, have not been able to go forward a single step? The Protestant reformation grew out of the progress of society and the human mind, and this progress has been continually going on. Assign, then, if you can, a single earthly reason possessing even the poor merit of being merely plausible, why this reformation should not go on with its cause. The first reformers were but men, and acted as other men would have acted in the same circum
Is it probable then we would ask, — nay, is it possible, that mere men, uninspired men, who had but just broken away from the most degrading prejudices and superstitions, and who still thought, reasoned, and acted under circumstances the most unfavorable of all to cool and impartial deliberation, - is it possible, that such men, in the hurry and passion of a great moral revolution, could strike out at a single blow a difficult and complicated system, which in all after time would neither require revision, nor admit of correction ?
At the same time, we would not he understood to speak disparagingly of the claims which the first reformers have on our respect and gratitude. They certainly possessed many noble qualities, and we would honor these qualities ; nay more, we
would imitate them. Yes, who are the men that imitate the first reformers ? — that strength and independence of mind, by which they broke from the prejudice of education ; that noble daring, or rather that strict adherence to principle, with which they hesitated not to avow the convictions they felt, though new and unpopular doctrines; and the firmness with which they stood their ground against the voice of numbers, and the cry of schism, innovation, heresy. Yes, we repeat it, who are the men that imitate the first reformers ? It is bringing strange names into fellowship, but it is nevertheless true that Priestley was the Luther of his times. *
Still the alarm will be rung in our ears, You have begun to innovate on the popular faith, and you will never know where to stop. To all Protestants, and indeed to most Catholics of the present day, it would be sufficient to reply, You also have begun to innovate on the popular faith, and will not know where to stop, any better than we. But we choose to put our
* You say the petitioners are innovators. They deny this, and say they are antiquarians, only not superstitious enough to prefer the rust to the medal. But without availing themselves of this, they prove that the love of novelty is natural, that it puts men on inventing some things, and improving others; that new discoveries by the people call for new limitations, protections, laws from the state ; that the yearly assembling of the states is an allowance of the necessity of abrogating some laws, reforming others, and making new ones. That therefore innovation is neither foreign from the nature of things in general, nor from the British constitution in particular; and they might add that almost all the great men, that have appeared in the world have owed their reputation to their skill in innovating. Their names, their busts, their books, their elogiums, diffused through all countries, are a just reward for their innovations. When idolatry had overspread the world Moses was the minister of a grand and noble innovation. When time had corrupted the institutions of Moses, Hezekiah innovated (again, destroying what even Moses had set up; and when the reformations of others were inadequate, Jesus Christ, ascending his throne created all things new : twelve innovators went one way, seventy another, their sound went into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world, reforming and renovating the whole face of the earth. When wealth had produced power, power subjection, subjection indolence, indolence ignorance, and the pure religion of Jesus was debased, here rises an Alfred, there a Charles; Turin produces a Claude, Lyons a Waldo, England a Wickliff; the courage of Luther, the zeal of Calvin, the eloquence of Beza, the patience of Cranmer, all conspire to innovate again. Illustrious innovators ! You pleaded for conscience against custom; your names will be transmitted to all posterity with deserved renown. Robinson's Arcana, Miscellaneous Works. Vol. 11, pp. 84, 85.
vindication on higher ground. Our prayer to God is, that we may never stop.
We admire the declaration introduced by the Polish Unitarians into the preface to their Catechism; • We do not think we ought to be ashamed if in some respects our church improves. We believe with Robinson, that God has more light yet to break forth out of his holy word’; and besides, it is often a long time after the discovery of an important truth, before some of its most important applications are understood. We have too much confidence in Providence and in human nature to sympathize with those who
grow pale Lest their own judgments should become too bright,
And their free thoughts be crimes, and earth have two much light., A spirit is abroad, as we have said, free, bold, uncompromising and terrible as an army with banners, which is trying the opinions and institutions of the world, as by fire. It is the duty of the wise and good to endeavour to guide this spirit, to restrain its excesses, and above all to imbue it with a sincere and earnest love of truth, humanity, and God. fear not the issue. We believe that every accession of new light and intelligence will be found to illustrate and enforce the evidences of the Christian revelation, and give mankind a deeper and more living sense of its truth and reality.
Art. V. - A Liturgy for the Use of the Church at King's
Chapel in Boston ; collected principally from the Book of Common Prayer. Third Edition, with Alterations and Additions. Boston, 1828. 8vo. pp. 368.
THE congregation worshipping at King's Chapel is taking the only course with regard to its Liturgy, which can make a Liturgy tolerable ; the course, that is, of revision and improvement. The addition of new prayers in the present edition, we think, a special and most necessary improvement. Let a prayer-book contain a sufficient variety of devotional forms and expressions to meet all the general situations in life and the general states of mind, and especially that constitution of the mind by which variety, to a certain extent, is useful; and we have, for our own part, no violent ob
N. S. VOL. VI. NO, II.
jection to a Liturgy, and can conceive of some very good arguments in favor of it. We had rather not be tied to it. There would be times when we should wish to pour out our hearts, without the restraint of any lessons or forms. But there would also be times of less freedom, or times of weariness and exhaustion, when we should be glad to lean on forms and to frame our thoughts in the holy words of others, - times in short, when we should have power to be devout, rather than to originate devotion.
The object which we have in view in this article is connected in some points with the subject of ritual religion, and we have therefore placed at the head of it the Liturgy of King's Chapel. Our object is, to recommend more frequent and formal avowals of religious experience than are common among us; and with a view to urge upon the attention of our readers some of the proper modes of such avowal, we wish to lay before them two general considerations. One is, the importance of fixtures and landmarks in the religious course, and the other is the influence upon every man of an assumed character.
These points obviously bear upon ritual observances ; and we are the more willing to discuss them, because we believe that the tendency of the present times is too much to the neglect of such observances. If forms have had too much, far too much importance assigned to them in past times, this very circumstance might justly awaken our solicitude about the reaction of opinion in our own times. The Christian rites are falling into a disuse in this country, altogether unprecedented in Christendom.* The tendencies of so singular a state of things certainly deserve to be very seriously considered. This is not a country, most assuredly, which can forego any useful means of moral discipline and restraint. And he who lightly casts aside such means, or lightly talks of his liberty to do so, may be lightly doing or saying that, which is to have an inconceivable influence upon the welfare of future generations.
Now it appears to us, that in the way of life and in the
* This tendency of opinion in our country is seen even in the Society of Friends, the leading anti-formalist party in the Christian world. The peculiarities of dress in that Society, which there is a growing inclination to lay aside, were as truly a form and a profession, as the Communion is among other sects.
way of generations, there should be distinct and formal recognitions of the religious principle; and this is what we mean by fixtures and landmarks in the religious course. Every child, we are disposed to say,--every youth, every man, every people should be brought, at certain times and seasons, to the regular, stated, and solemn acknowledgment and cultivation of religion, as the great source of their happiness, and the great end of their being. If religion be such, and if, at the same time, it is not, any more than knowledge, spontaneous in its growth, why should it not be so cultivated ? Why should not moral culture be carried on by processes just as exact and as well defined, as intellectual culture ? Admit that there is a principle or power of religion in the mind, as there is a principle or power of intelligence. The most liberal philosopher and legislator for the mind would not, probably, demand any more. But the principle of intelligence is sent to school. It has lessons and tasks appointed for it. They should, indeed, be as carefully as possible adapted to the mind, and should possess as little as possible the character of mere tasks, and there may be, after all, a great deal of imperfection about them. Still no one hesitates to introduce them into the course of education. There are, also, regular gradations in the mental course, and distinct periods of instruction, and probation, and profession. Why should not à similar course be pursued with the religious principle ? Why so much dread or dislike, as some entertain, of catechisms and confirmations, and of the communion service? If knowledge is an object of rational pursuit and ac, quisition, so is religion. If the one is difficult to acquire, so is the other. But, should we think it safe to let the principle of intelligence take its chance for improvement in the world, without appointing for it any steps, or processes, or plans ? Why, then, should we think this of the religious principle ?
We have been careful, let it be observed, to speak of the general principle of intelligence in this comparison. There are specific and technical acquisitions of knowledge which to a certain extent distinguish it from religion. But if the object were to educate bare intelligence; if it were to train, for instance, the power of reasoning, to its greatest strength and perfection, it is obvious that plans and processes would be arranged for so doing. The pupil would not be left to