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found the best elements of Congregationalism, Episcopacy, and Presbyterianism, without infringing any fundamental principle; for there would still be ministerial parity essentially, subjection to a president being a voluntary arrangement on the part of the elders, and ambition being kept in check by such means as might be agreed on at the election of the bishops. The measure could be laid aside at any time should the church and elders see fit. It should have nothing compulsory about it. It should be nothing more than a voluntary submission of the elders belonging to a church, to a perpetual presidency on the part of one among them, elevated on account of superior qualifications or of age, or both."

In all this, he plainly goes beyond either the New Testament, or the Cambridge Platform, or John Cotton; and introduces, on grounds of expediency, an arrangement which has been once tried with results too well known to all the world. But now the Congregational bishop is to be limited in his jurisdiction to the elders of one church, and to be so restrained that ambition shall have no sphere wherein to operate!

Such is an outline of his theory of the best organization of a Congregational church. The right of choosing their own officers he regards as so essentially and fundamentally belonging to the members of the church, from the very nature of a free community, that there is no need of revealed directions to that effect. The Bible assumes this as too obvious to need statement or proof.

His views of ordination are very definite. By the choice of the church, and his own acceptance of office, the pastor is ipso facto, and at once, invested with all the authority of office. Ordination does not confer office or power of any kind. It essentially consists in the solemn invocation of the divine presence and assistance. The laying on of hands merely designates the person prayed for. There is no mystery in the transaction. The efficacy of prayer in this case is the same as in any other.

But neither prayer nor the imposition of hands is essential as a mode of induction to the office of elder or deacon, since all that is properly meant by ordination is not necessary to give validity to office. Still it is expedient to retain these forms if they are properly explained, and all transmission of authority or mysterious influences by them is disclaimed.

In his view, the performance of the rite of ordination properly belongs to the presbytery of the church. If there be no presby47*


tery, then the right reverts to the church, and they may choose whom they will of their own number, to lay on their hands, and to pray for the blessing of God on their pastor, and this will be full and perfect ordination. With this view, there is no objection to reördination as often as a pastor is called to preside over a new church. Still farther, if any person does not wish to be ordained at all, he has by his simple election ample power to perform all ministerial duties, and as the New Testament has not enjoined ordination as necessary, either by precept or by uniform example, "he cannot be styled disorderly who does not see it a duty to comply with the arrangement. In the eyes of a denomination, he may be irregular, but in other respects he is quite orderly." Still, "it is right to hold that the practice should be generally observed, for this is in accordance with Scripture."

He thinks that election and ordination should not be separated as two independent transactions, but should take place simultaneously. "Let the choice be formally and publicly declared, and the formalities of ordination forthwith succeed. Thus the entire appointment will be completed, and the office-bearer cease to occupy an ambiguous position in the eyes of those who have been accustomed to regard ordination as the conveyance of official authority, or of an indelible character. The importance of connecting election and ordination as parts of one transaction, or as making up together the appointment of an office-bearer, cannot be easily overrated. Much misconception has arisen from the unwarrantable separation of them into two distinct transactions."

Of course he would object to the American plan of ordaining by councils. He admits, indeed, that it has advantages, but he regards the disadvantages as preponderating. "Ordaining councils, and examinations of candidates, as they are called, too plainly betray a want of faith in the churches' judgment: for they come in as an adventitious agency to bolster and supplement the popular choice. They are a considerable approach to the principle of Presbyterianism, which is neither seemly nor scriptural." He fears that such councils may subvert the liberties of the churches.

In general he regards councils as too frequently called by the Congregationalists of New England. They should be sparingly summoned, and only in cases of great difficulty. He also objects to the practice of licensing by Associations; calling, ordaining, and dismissing ministers, and licensing candidates, is the proper work of the churches, and each is competent to manage its own affairs.

Of course he objects to all standing councils, and especially to the Connecticut consociations. They foster strife, are hostile to the liberties of the churches, and tend to Presbyterianism.


His views of the rights of the brethren are elevated. common cases, the ordinances should be administered by the elders of the church. But if in extraordinary circumstances there are none, the members should observe all the ordinances, even in the absence of spiritual officers, because they are both competent and bound by duty to attend to them always. And the Lord's Supper, or baptism, when thus administered by laymen, are as valid as when administered by the pastor. There is no more mysterious sacredness about them, than there is about exhorting, and preaching, and teaching; all of which lay brethren in certain cases may lawfully do. Still when there are officers in a church, it belongs to them to administer the ordinances.

From what has been said, it is plain that Dr. Davidson in his jealousy for the rights of particular churches, verges towards independency; not indeed absolutely rejecting councils, but regarding them with great suspicion, and disposed to resort to them as rarely as possible. He opposes them decidedly, even in cases of dispute between pastor and people.

On the whole, he agrees exactly with no writer, and with the practice of no body of men. His work is what it professes to be, an original and independent investigation of the whole subject. As such, any large-minded man may read it with pleasure and advantage. It indicates great learning and extensive reading, not only of English, but of German, authors.

We give this sketch of Dr. Davidson's opinions, on account of the importance ascribed to his book by our British brethren. His work throws much incidental light on the present state of the Congregational churches in Old England. But it would have been better and more wisely written, had the author been well informed as to the actual working of our system in New England. Here only, from the very beginning, have the principles of Congregationalism had a free and untrammelled development. The rights of our churches remain wholly unimpaired by the Associations and councils of which Dr. Davidson is so jealous. And each member enjoys a higher share of personal liberty, and freer scope for spiritual activity than if merged in one of Dr. Davidson's mammoth churches, with its monster meetings, and its bishop and his presbytery armed with veto-powers.


POPULAR OBJECTIONS TO UNITARIAN CHRISTIANITY CONSIDERED AND ANSWERED; in seven Discourses. By GEORGE W. BURNAP, Pastor of the first Independent Church of Baltimore. 1848.

We have run our eye over these discourses, and find nothing of very special interest in any of them, except the last. It would be easy to pursue the author, and to expose him on a thousand points; but we are not sure that the play would be worth the candle, and we desist. We pass over the first six discourses, and confine our attention to the seventh, which, however, has nothing to do with "popular objections to Unitarian Christianity.”

The object of this discourse is to shew, that "Dr. Watts was a Unitarian." Mr. Burnap allows that "Watts was educated a Trinitarian and a Calvinist of the strongest stamp," and that "these sentiments are woven into all his Psalms and Hymns." But later in life, he reëxamined the subject, and his "last thoughts were completely Unitarian."

Mr. Burnap's arguments to prove Dr. Watts a Unitarian are drawn almost entirely from his published works; and we shall, first, go into a consideration of the quotations he has given.

It is proved, from these quotations, that Dr. Watts did not regard the Holy Ghost as altogether "a distinct spirit from the Father,"-" a distinct intelligent Being,"-" another conscious mind." And what Trinitarian ever did so regard him? A Trinitarian is not a Tritheist nor a Dualist.

It is further proved from these quotations, that Dr. Watts rejected what has been called the eternal generation of the Son of God, and the eternal procession of the Spirit. And in this he is supported by very many Trinitarians of the present day.

Dr. Watts insisted on the propriety of "offering a doxology to the Spirit, and ascribing divine honor and glory to him, together with the Father, and the Son." He argues this point at considerable length; and Mr. Burnap gives us the substance of his argument. This, surely, does not look much like Unitarianism.

Mr. Burnap further quotes Dr. Watts as saying: "I believe the Spirit of God to be coëternal with God, and necessary to his very Being, and in that sense true God. And since he is represented in Scripture in a personal manner, or under the character of a distinct person, therefore, forms of praise may be lawfully addressed to him."

While Dr. Watts rejected what he called "the scholastic, popish explication of the manner of the derivation of the Son and Spirit, as the most inconceivable and indefensible of all the common, orthodox scheme of the Trinity," "I heartily agree," he adds, "to several other parts of it; viz., that God is one infinite, eternal Spirit, or conscious Being. That the Divine essence is but one and the same, though distinguished into three sacred persons." It will be remembered that these extracts are taken from Mr. Burnap's quotations; the same which he selected for the purpose of proving Dr. Watts a Unitarian.

That Dr. Watts entertained some peculiar views relative to the person of Christ is freely admitted; but these went, not to degrade the Saviour, but rather to exalt him. He held, in the first place, to the strict and proper divinity of Christ. He held also to the preexistence and to the vastly exalted nature of Christ's human soul; that in respect to this, he was literally "the first born of every creature ;""the beginning of the crea tion of God." The Sonship of Christ Dr. Watts referred exclusively to his humanity. Hence, as Son of God, though exalted far above every other creature, he was less than the Father.

This helps to explain a passage in one of Dr. Watts's letters to Dr. Colman of Boston, which has been often quoted to prove the writer a Unitarian. "I could not go so far as to say, with some of our orthodox divines, that the Son is equal with the Father; because our Lord himself expressly says, My Father is greater than I." Understanding by the Son no other than the human nature of Christ, Watts could not say that the Son was equal with the Father. But in addition to the human nature, he held, as we shall see, that our Saviour possessed a strictly divine nature; or that he was, in the most strict and proper sense of the term, God-Man. Keeping this latter fact, so far as possible, out of sight, Mr. Burnap has introduced a variety of quotations to shew that, in the estimation of Dr. Watts, the Son of God was not "consubstantial, coëqual, and coëternal with the Father." But, in view of the explanation above given, how much do such quotations prove? And what are we to think of the fairness of introducing them?


Finally, Mr. Burnap undertakes to prove that Watts was a Unitarian, by an appeal to his solemn "Address to the Deity." We also appeal to the same document; and if, after reading the

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