« AnteriorContinuar »
end is not yet." That which began in a retired ministerial circle in Connecticut; and which, in little more than a year, has become a controversy of widely extended interest, will continue to engage the attention of the ministry and the churches. We earnestly hope that it will enlist their prayers also; and that ministers, in their studies will seek, and in their pulpits will set forth, "the instructions of truth," which are involved in this matter.
We have no fears for the final result. There is a wakefulness in goodly multitudes of minds among us, on every subject where great first principles of Christian doctrine are concerned; and there is an amount of attachment to the faith of our Puritan fathers, and to "sound doctrine," which forbids us to believe that there will be any very extensive or important changes in the minds of the majority of New England Christians. Considerate, serious minds, here, are not thrown into ecstacies by any exhibition of theological sky-rockets; nor are they frightened by any explosions of the mephitic gases, generated in the laboratory of any adventurous experimentalist in philosophy. They keep on, thinking for themselves; and "searching the Scriptures whether these things are so." Finding them not so; and being more in love with old and tried first principles, than with any man's gorgeous dreams however well told, they are altogether inflexible. Let us be thankful to the blessed "Spirit of truth," who is the Author of all Christian steadfastness; whose instructions "make foolish the wisdom of this world; " who "keepeth the feet of his saints," and "directeth their hearts and minds into the truth."
OBSERVATIONS ON MEN, BOOKS AND THINGS.
THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION.In theological professors, the highest tone of orthodoxy should be combined with earnest piety. That the former qualification is necessary is evident from the fact, that while very few pupils are disposed, in this respect, to rise higher in the scale than their teachers, there is a tendency in the great body of them to fall somewhat short. This is evinced in the history of all our literary institutions, which are old enough to have a history, and in which especial regard has not been had to this matter. The moral gravitation of the human mind is hard to resist and overcome. One of our most celebrated professors, who sought to reduce the
standard of orthodoxy just a little, down to what he conceived to be the precise degree at which it ought to remain, and who has thereby given his name to a new ism, has been known to complain bitterly of his own pupils. Many of these have felt inclined to dilute his dogmas still further, and their weak notions have been laid to the charge of their teacher. He has been heard to remonstrate warmly against "being made responsible for the croaking of all the frogs in his pond." And now, in his advancing years, he sees rivals rising near his throne, who pay little heed to his theological land-marks, and excite his gloomy apprehensions, which yet he does not publicly venture to express.
The most popular theological seminary in the country seems to be that at Princeton. This cannot be ascribed to the celebrity of its professors; for though they have made many valuable contributions to biblical and theological literature, they have done nothing so very remarkable in that line. But their unimpeachable and unsuspected orthodoxy, and their anxious heed to cultivate the personal piety of their students, have inspired the public with the highest confidence in their instructions.
The opinion is gaining ground, that the mode of educating ministers among us might be changed with great advantage. Instead of cooping them up in cloisters, to be regularly "milled," and turned out by machinery of three years' operation, it is proposed to train them as men are trained for the other learned professions. Let them spend the winter months at the seminaries, under the highest pressure of lectures and discussions. The rest of the time let them be at or near their homes, or the regions where they expect to labor; each under the regular private instruction of some faithful and exemplary minister, who will thoroughly train them to the practical part of the pastoral work. Did space permit, we could expatiate largely on the advantages of this plan.
MEMOIR OF MRS. VAN LENNEP. - It affords us sincere pleasure to see this valuable biography in a new and improved edition. The wide circulation of such books is one of the best modes of diffusing the knowledge of "the doctrine which is according to godliness." Many persons strongly opposed to the doctrinal foundations of evangelical piety, become reconciled to them by the strength and beauty of the superstructure. Miss Hannah More, though inclined to Arminian sentiments, was fond of reading the practical and devotional writings of the strictest Calvinists. She used to say that she loved "the lean of their fat." It is to be hoped that such as begin to relish such fare, may improve in their taste for stronger meat, till they can enjoy the rich provision which the Lord hath made for his people, in the "feast of fat things, of fat things full of
HISTORY OF THE FLORIDA WAR.R.— Captain J. T. Sprague, of the army, who took an active part in this war, and was intimately acquainted with the other actors therein, has given a very copious account of the whole business. His work is one of great value, and
of painful interest. It is too much encumbered with documentary matter, some of which is not of the highest importance; but it contains by far the best account which has appeared of the "origin, progress, and conclusion" of that unhappy struggle. It originated in disputes between the slave-holding Indians and the slave-holding whites, as to the ownership of certain negroes. Then came the cruel strife, protracted by the wiles of the savage foe, aided as they were by the strange features of that singular country, and its climate. This strife exhausted the patience of our country, the skill of our statesmen, and the endurance of our ablest officers, till it was ended by the astonishing activity and prudence of General Worth. This is the commander, who, when asked where were his head-quarters, gave the prompt and characteristic answer: "In the saddle, Sir!" His rule was to give the enemy no rest, till they surrendered; and he did not always ask their consent to surrender. Had the conduct of the Mexican war fallen into his hands, we are persuaded that he would, in half of the time, have "conquered" a better peace, than that which still hangs in dismal doubt of ratification.. Among many other interesting matters, Captain Sprague gives the story of the Cuba blood-hounds, which General Taylor imported to trace the evasive Seminoles in their rapid flights over fifty thousand squaremiles of almost impassable territory. We have seen some of these dogs and their progeny; and miserable hounds they were, in no wise fierce or formidable, except in their close pursuit of the scent. The idea that an Indian, with his deadly rifle in his hands, could be worried by such assailants, is ridiculous. They were employed only as trackers, as were the Indian guides and half-savage Georgia hunters; but the four-footed scouts proved wholly useless on the "trail." The most interesting portions of Captain Sprague's volume are his numerous delineations of Indian character, habits, feelings, and religious opinions. He has contributed some most valuable additions to the history of that fated race. Our fathers, perplexed to account for the peopling of this hemisphere, considered it a work of the devil, "who thought, by removing a part of the human race thither, to place them out of the reach of the gospel." Would that they had been placed beyond the reach of our vices and our arms. Whiskey and gunpowder have beaten the Evil One in placing these sons of the soil beyond the gospel's reach and power.
THE BIBLIOTHECA AND THE EXAMINER.- A comparison of these able periodicals may afford a just idea of the difference between Andover and Cambridge. The Examiner is admirable for its literary merit, and aims to be popular; seeking rather what may serve for the embellishment of the life that now is. The Andover work is replete with rich and varied knowledge, presented in the grave and earnest manner of men who habitually look rather to preparation for eternity, than to the enjoyment of time. The Boston publication deals chiefly in historical and biographical articles, written in somewhat of a worldly spirit, and tinged with Unitarian prejudice and partiality. The orthodox periodical deals largely in substantial Christian doctrine and ecclesiastical history, but
most of all in Biblical literature. It is this last point, which constitutes the principal difference in the matter of the two works. The Unitarians frankly own their increasing deficiency in this respect. The last number of the Examiner says of its denomination, what it has fully stated before: "For several years critical theology has been sinking into disrepute among us." And naming the neglected writings of Norton, Livermore and Noyes, it asks: "When we have named these publications, what remains that bears witness to a love of sacred criticism among either ministers or people?" It asserts that "the study of the Bible in the original languages," "has given place to the gratification of tastes of a less professional character." It goes on to say: "We have mourned over the change, not only as affording a presage of the decay into which our denomination, if it continue to discredit the labors of the Biblical student, must fall, but as indicating an erroneous appreciation of the sources of religious truth." For our part, we cannot blame the Unitarian ministers for letting the Bible alone. That book was never made for them. Its timber is too tough, knotty, and refractory for their tools. All their hewing and hacking, their chiselling and gouging, their planing and sand-papering, cannot give it a Unitarian shape. Since the revival of Biblical studies, under the zealous efforts of Professor Stuart and his pupils, within the last thirty or forty years, Unitarianism in this region has lost its proud ascendancy, and lowered its arrogant tone; while the orthodox belief, drawn fresh from the pure "wells of salvation," has gained immensely in strength, and in social influence, and bids fair to resume the position it held in the days of our glorious ancestors. The Bibliotheca Sacra is nobly helping the good work. It would seem that a religious community which can furnish scholars capable of producing such a quarterly, must have enough of readers and thinkers of like tastes, to sustain it in full vigor. We would earnestly exhort all who are capable of deriving benefit from its pages, to sustain its circulation, as well for their own sakes, as for the sake of the cause they love.
Anniversaries. Great pains have been taken to give a more religious character to the meetings held in connection with our benevolent societies. A year ago, the pastors in the city and the secretaries of the various societies assembled, to see what could be done to improve the spiritual influence of our anniversaries. The result of several conferences has been given to the public, as prepared by a committee; and it is hoped that great good will ensue.
Clerical Changes. Rev. Austin Phelps has been appointed Bartlett Professor of Sacred Rhetoric in the Theological Seminary at Andover. On the 11th of May, he was dismissed from the pas
toral charge of Pine St. Church, in this city, by a Council convened for the purpose. We hope that, in this removal, he will be to us as the sun in the summer solstice, which warms us most when he is the farthest from us. - Rev. Mr. Hague, it is said, will resign the charge of the Rowe Street Baptist Church, and be associated with Rev. Mr. Olmstead in editing the combined papers, the Reflector and the Watchman. This journal, thus ably manned, with a subscription-list of about ten thousand names, must exert an immense influence on the Baptist denomination and others, in New England and elsewhere. A tremendous responsibility rests upon its conductors. May they have grace to do all things well, and to accomplish the greatest good.
New York Anniversaries. There is a great difference between the manner and spirit of such meetings as held in New York, and those which take place here. The morning prayer-meeting, which, with us, is one of the most delightful and profitable of all, has no place there, and its hallowing influences are greatly missed. Little or no provision is made for the entertainment of clergymen from abroad. The civility they receive is pretty much confined to an invitation to register their names at a certain book-store; and there it ends. Some, who came by invitation to address the different societies, were left to take care of themselves. Few of the pastors are seen at the public meetings. They take but little apparent interest in them; and are like men who never think of weeping under an affecting sermon, unless they hear it in their own parish. The business is given up to the secretaries of the various societies. More manifestation of feeling is allowed than would be considered decorous with us. There is much stamping and clapping, when a speaker pleases the audience. This gives a sort of politico-religious tone to the assemblies.
One of the most enthusiastic meetings was that of the Foreign Evangelical Society. Dr. Potts's church was exceedingly crowded. There was more of France and Lamartine, than of heaven and Jesus Christ. The whole world was laid under contribution for matters of interest, and a thrilling effect was produced. — The Tract Society is doing wondrously. Its receipts for the last year were nearly a quarter of a million of dollars. Its publications are so numerous, that the statistics do but confuse the mind. - The Bible Society is no less prosperous and active. This also received a revenue of a quarter of a million, being an advance of fifty thousand dollars on the income of the preceding year. It is a shame to Boston and New England, that we have not here a suitable depository for the Bible. The depository has been placed, sometimes among silks and satins, sometimes among hoes and hatchets ; and, for the present, it occupies a comfortable corner in the rooms of the Tract Society. It is to be hoped that the Massachusetts Bible Society will see a proper place provided for this purpose, a place which a man can find without a guide. The Sabbath School children of New York turned out to their anniversary, in an army of ten thousand strong, marshalled with batons and banners.