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to the amount of more than one hundred,—so that there have been actually added to the church more than four hundred, the most of these by profession of religion here first made. This would make an average of forty a year—which is a circumstance cheering in some respects, while melancholy in others. It is melancholy when we compare it with the numbers who continually listen to the sound of the gospel; but cheering when it is viewed in comparison with others. Not to mention the fact in relation to the communicants of any Episcopal church, I will merely state that in the life of a late most eminent and successful minister of the gospel (Dr. Payson) belonging to another denomination, it is observed that the communicants added to bis church during a ministry of thirty years continuance, averaged twenty-five a year. that for the last ten years we have exceeded that by an annual average of fifteen. So far then as numbers are concerned we go not behind any, and have reason to be thankful. But this is a small matter. It is not the number of the communicants of a church but their spiritual character, which constitutes the subject of rejoicing. But on this point I am forbid by delicacy to say much. Let it be sufficient to remark that with the most who have been admitted to the table of the Lord, under my own immediate ministry, I have reason to be satisfied. I have endeavored to be guarded and by some have been supposed unnecessarily severe. As it is, error has been made in some cases ; but I am not aware that there have been in ten years, more than six cases of actual backsliding. There are some few who I think are not careful to walk as circumspectly as they ought, considering the solemnity of the profession they have made-some who are too much given to worldly conformity, and are thus injuring their own spirituality, and the cause of Christ. But as a body I have reason to rejoice in God, that there is so much of real spiritual religion. My spirit has been continually refreshed with the idea, that with but little exception, (less, much less, than is generally experienced,) I have no reason to doubt of the spiritual state of those who kneel before this altar ; and when I think that nearly four hundred, who have at previous times, or will now this day join with me in commemorating the dying love of our Master and only Saviour, Jesus Christ, are able to trace their first religious impressions, to the blessings of my feeble ministrations, I have reason to say, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour. And then, as I remember that unto God, by whose
alone all this could be accomplished, belongs all the glory, on this hallowed day of the Lord, and hallowed as the tenth annual return of my first proclamation of the gospel from this pulpit, I feel a peculiar emotion of gratitude to him who hath done it all, and say with peculiar emphasis in the language of my text-" Hitherto hath the Lord helped.” ) p. 166.
In less than a year from this time his ministry was closed by death. In addition to the above mentioned labors, he accomplished much good by means of the press. Scarcely any minister of Philadelphia possessed as great literary infuence, and this was always used to promote the cause of Christ. He wrote a number of very valuable books for the Sunday School Union, and edited and composed quite a number of volumes for adults. They were all widely circulated, and were directly calculated to do good. His attention was given to this kind of labor during the last years of his life, when his very feeble health constrained him to lessen the amount of ministerial effort.
When we look at what he accomplished in the midst of sickness and suffering, we are astonished. Few men of the strongest bodily and mental powers have done as much. The secret was, he was living for Christ, he was always at work for Christ, wisely dividing his time, and making change of employment take the place of complete relaxation. Most men, had they been in his slate of health, would have held themselves excused from all attempts at labors. “I shall never forget," says a correspondent of Mrs. Bedell, “a reply he once made to me. I came in the room and found him as usual reclining on a settee, quite feeble and languid ; he kindly asked me how I was? I answered 'perfectly well. In that touching tone, indicating a heart faint under the burden of life, and yet meekly submissive, he replied, “I nerer know what it is to enjoy an hour's health. There was an inexpressible moral beauty in his countenance and manner as he spoke ; the expression, I presume, of those subdued natural feelinus, and deep pious emotions that were mingling in bis bosom.” We shall not give the particulars of his last sickness ; we assure our readers it is given in the Memoir most interesting and instructive. He died at Baltimore, on bis way home from Bedford Springs. The following is extracted from Dr. Henshaw's account of his death. 6. He then sunk into a state of rest, and apparent slumber, but in a short time roused again, and, as if conscious that the time of bis departure was at hand, and that he had already entered the dark valley of the shadow of death, rallied his remaining powers for a last effort in the cause of the blessed Savior, and for the promotion of his glory upon earth. Lifting up bis finger with great solemnity, (as he often did in the pulpit when about lo utter any thing emphatically iinportant,) he said, with a feeble and quivering, but yet distinct and articulate enunciation, “Hear me! I acknowledge myself to have been a most unprofitable servant-unprofitable, not hypocritical. I find myself to have been full of sin, ignorance, weakness, unfaithfulness, and guilt. But Jesus IS MY HOPE, -washed in bis blood, justified by his righteousness, sanctified by his grace, I have peace with God. Jesus is very precious to my soul :my all in all :--and I expect to be saved by free grace throngh his atoning blood. This is my testimony," with emphasis, “THIS IS MY TESTIMONY.” He died on Saturday, August 30, 1834, aged forty. We have not attempted to give even a full outline of Dr. Bedell's life, nor a delineation of his interesting and excellent character.
We have present
ed a few of the many interesting facts of his life, enough to create in our readers a desire to make themselves familiar with it. We hope all who may be able will procure the Memoir, and make themselves intimately acquainted with the life and character of one of the first ministers this country has produced. We assure them, that it is one of the very best biographies that has appeared from the American press. When the Episcopal church shall abound with such men as Gregory T. Bedell
, there will be an end 10 the controversy which now exists,—the time will be rapidly approaching when all the members of the church of Christ shall see eye to eye.
We intended to make some remarks on the present attitude and policy of the Episcopal church in the United States; but the theme is an unwelcome one, and we are unwilling to disturb the pleasant impression, that the glance we have taken at the life and labors of Bedell, bas, we doubt not, made upon our readers. At a future time, should it be deemed expedient, we may offer a few remarks on that topic.
ART. VI.-COLTON'S REASONS FOR EPISCOPACY.
Thoughts on the Religious State of the Country; with reasons for preferring Epis
copacy. By Rev. Calvin Colton. Second Edition. New-York : 1836.
Having already considered Mr. Colton's book both as it exhibits the natural history of his conversion to the peculiarities of the Protestant Episcopal church, and as it professes to describe the religious state of the country, we now proceed to fulfill our engayement with him by examining some of his reasons for becoming an Episcopalian.
We may class the most considerable of these reasons under the following heads,- First, the intrinsic defects of the Presbyterian and Congregational churches,-Secondly, the objections commonly preferred against the Episcopal church, and — Thirdly, the positive claims of Episcopacy. In our remarks on his argument we shall observe this order.
In animadverting upon the faults of Presbyterianism, the author very naturally gives the first place to the Presbyterian system of church judicatories. He says, that " for the most part, the business of these courts is unedifying, uncomfortable, and none more so than that of the General Assembly. Nor is it the experience of one particular year, as being attributable to adventitious circumstances, but of year after year, and it aggravates [the reader will take notice, that this is Mr. Colton's English, not ours) with the advance of years.” He gives two specifications of the “ unedifying and uncomfortable” character of the business transacted in these courts. First, there is too much law and too superstitious a regard for the prescribed sormalities of proceeding in cases of ecclesiastical discipline ; so that where a case is tried in an inferior court, it is always probable, that on a review of the proceeding in a higher court, some informality may be discovered, creating a necessity or at least an excuse for a new trial ; and so that trial being added to trial, years may elapse before a quarrelsome litigant aided by ingenious advisers, is finally disposed of. Secondly, there is too much anxiety to guard the Confessiou of Faith in all its details, and by the terrors of ecclesiastical censure, and of a violent thrusting from office, to compel all the ministers to think exactly alike. « These," our author says, " are certainly great and material faults in the constitution and practice of the Presbyterian church."
Now it is not for the like of us to attempt a vindication of the Presbyterian Church in this matter. Indeed we should hardly know how to begin, if we felt ourselves called 10 so great a labor. Nay, we will frankly declare, that we think the endless litigation which characterizes the Presbyterian church under existing arrangements, is a standing disgrace to the christian religion ; so much so, that is it increases in the ratio of the last six years, the annual meeting of the General Assembly will soon be not much better than an annual crucifixion of the Savior in the house of bis friends. If we regarded this litigation and contention, as belonging inherently and irremediably to Presbyterianism, we would forthwith forsake it and denounce it as Mr. Colton has done, yet without fleeing just at present into the refuge which he has chosen.
But is this essential to Presbyterianism? So far as it results from organization, might not the organization be reformed without being abandoned and destroyed? If
, for example, no appeal in relation to questions of fact, could be carried beyond the presbytery; if each presbytery were empowered to pronounce a foal judgment in regard to the standing of its own members and of church members under its care ; il synods and assemblies were to meet simply, or chiefly for fraternal communion and for the discussion and decision of questions affecting the common interests of the churches; and especially if the General Assembly were to be henceforth divested of all patronage, and of all control over great pecuniary interests, the Presbyterian church, without losing its identity might soon be radically cured of litigation and of needless zeal against heretical opinions. It is for Mr. Colton to demonstrate, that the present contentions in the Presbyterian body are the necessary result either of parity among ministers of the word, or of church sessions, or of presbyterial government, or of synodical assemblies, or of the system of doctrine" contained in the Westminster Confession, or of all combined. This he has neglected to perform.
It would seem from our author's statements, that within the pale of Episcopacy there is neither litigation, nor jealousy, nor party strife. Admitting this to be just so, and not stopping to inquire how long it has been so, we may ask, how this happens. How is it in respect to litigation ? Suppose the rector of a church, watching over the conduct of A. B., becomes convinced that this A. B. is living in a manner inconsistent with his christian profession, and therefore debars him from the communion. Suppose the individual thus excommunicated does not acquiesce in the decision; he considers himself wronged; his friends have confidence in hin, and pronounce him an injured man. Is there no remedy, do appeal from the sentence of this individual man, fallible and perbaps rash, prejudiced, and passionate ? The decision has been made it may be without any judicial investigation, and from such a sentence is there no appeal? We are not versed in canon law ; but we will presume, that an appeal may be made to the bishop. The bishop then must hear the appeal and decide, either with a trial or without. If with a trial, there must be wilnesses and pleadings ; and what is this but litigation ? If such cases are disposed of by the bishop without a trial, then let all the churches pray to be delivered always from such a system of church government. Do such cases never occur? Then it must be because no man is ever debarred from the communion of the church ith his own consent. And if this is the mode
which Episcopacy avoids litigation, we bave only to say, that litigation itself is better than such a remedy.
So in respect to the formation of parties. The Presbyterian church has always gloried in its forms of faith. The soundness of its doctrines, -as set forth in its public standards, as expounded in its schools of theology, and in the preaching and writings of its ministers, and as received and cherished by its members,—has been, from the days of John Calvin until now, its great distinction. Conceive then of a Presbyterian church as spreading itself over a wide empire ; as including within its spiritual jurisdiction thousands of congregations in different provinces and climates, and with various local and political interests; as served in word and doctrine by thousands of ministers, who not only share in the local interests and prejudices of their flocks, but have been educated under different influences, and are affected to a great extent by different hereditary prepossessions and ancestral recollections, and are yet at the same time all zealous for the truth and ready to exercise all their rights of free discussion; and finally, as having in its supreme judicatory the control of some hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, and the power of appointment to perhaps a dozen of the highest places of honor and emolument that can come within the field of clerical ambition; and in such a church,