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tary Associations, and Ecclesiastical Organizations are not names only, but things, grounded in honest convictions, and expressing settled tendencies, and producing different results. The Judaistic spirit of law and authority, and the Gentile spirit of liberty and life, always existing from the beginning, and always operating, in all ages, are here reproduced. The question is, when, where, and how far, they are to be maintained and defended, by individual Christians and organized bodies.
The spirit of co-operative Christianity characterized the early period of Presbyterianism in America, and eminently conduced by God's blessing, to make it what it was in its palmiest days, when “giants” were in the Church. It seems to grow naturally in the atmosphere of revivals of religion, and be one of “the fruits of the Spirit” in its more general effusion. It expressed itself, as all impartial historians must acknowledge, in the original composition of the Presbyterian Church in America, and manifested itself in the plan of union of 1801, which originated in liberal piety and true benevolence, and combined some of the best elements of then existing Christianity, though at a later period destined to endure rough handling from “a generation which knew not Joseph,” and on whom the mantle of Moses, “the ineekest of all men,” did not fall. It gave birth also, to the noble cluster of modern charities, called Voluntary Associations, the ideal once of some who have “left their first love." These are Associations, not of unbelievers, worldlings or pagans, but of Christians, united in the vitals of truth, and supremely devoted to the propagation of a common Christianity, and the common salvation, over our land and world. The flower of the Presbyterian church was found among the originators and advocates of these institutions. American Presbyterianism must deny her parentage and past history, if she become sectarian, denominational, and exclusive, instead of liberal, catholic and co-operative.
The other tendency, however, whether for ultimate good or evil, has been developed, and now distinguishes some parts of the Church. In our age and country there is a high-church tendency, whose genius it is to do their business in their own way, to build schemes of benevolence on a separate basis, to operate through distinctive Boards, and withdraw more and more from co-operation with other Christians. The American Tract Society has of late fallen under suspicion, and colleges are not supposed to be safe without ecclesiastical supervision. The query has been started recently, in unexpected quarters, whether Missions can be conducted at home or abroad, by different denominations in common, even by those so closely allied as Presbyterians and Congregationalists. We have had our clear convictions, and have still, as we have said, our beautiful ideal, but these tendencies will work out their results, and we watch the while, with a curious eye, and not unanxious heart, the progress and consummation.
Hitherto our course has been plain. We have suffered denominationally, no doubt, for our Catholicism. Our contributions and co-operations have redounded more to the grand interests of Christianity, than to the extension of our own body, and distinctive peculiarities. Our magnanimity has not invariably been fully reciprocated, and some of us have occasionally become restive. We have united our energies with others, and given liberally our means to circulate the Bible over the land, leaving its sanctifying influences on individual hearts, to assume their own free form of external Christianity. We have not been afraid or unwilling to assist in circulating the so-called “Baxterianized Calvinism” of the Tract Society, lest in saving men's souls unconstitutionally, or by a diluted Gospel, we should not swell our own numbers. We have not been jealous, lest the noble army of colporteurs, though “men of like passions with others,” in teaching sinners “the Way of Life,” should trench upon the dignity of the clerical office, or the preponderance of Presbyterian power. We have co-operated cheerfully in carrying a common Christianity and Calvinism over the waste places of the land, through the channel of the Home Missionary Society, though in more cases than we expected or desired, it has assumed external organizations not precisely Presbyterian, and benevolence has sometimes seemed like hampering and limiting our own enlargement. We have gone also with the American Sunday-school Union, and prayed for it, and given to it, and rejoiced in its success, though the benefits may have enured to others, more than ourselves. And so we have given our men, and means, and prayers, to the American Board, without stipulations of representation in distinctively Presbyterian churches, in proportion to our contributions. We have no regrets for our Catholicism in any of these particulars. " All are ours.” If there was loss to us denominationally by this course, it was gain to Christ and to God's glory. “Herein we rejoice, and will rejoice." But having obtained help of God hitherto, a crisis has arrived, when the bearings of this
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whole subject must be carefully and prayerfully reconsidered. We are called of God to a great work, which we must do, and none can do for us. Our Mission must be executed, if we would not be recreant to God and our Country. Co-operatively, if we can, but somehow it must be done. "All members have not the same office,” but we have ours. The dispensation of the Spirit is given to every church and individual to profit withal, with the solemn charge, “occupy till I come.” We believe that co-operative Christianity is the true ideal, and with the genuine apostolic spirit, is the most powerful for good. We should only cease to advocate it, and exemplify it, by necessity and a higher law, which forbids life to be wasted in seeking impracticabilities, or being martyrs to impossibilities and unattainable ideals.
We wish to speak to our Christian brethren, especially of New England and the Congregationalist body, with whom we have so many affinities, and for attachment to whom we have suffered so much at the hands of others, in the spirit of Christian frankness. We acknowledge and admire New England Christendom-a great Fact which cannot be ignored-kept hitherto from embroilment in our family quarrels, with exquisite judgment, though all the world knows where we stood on the question of the Abrogation of the Plan of Union, for “these things 'were not done in a corner.” We know the power of union, and desire to enjoy all this power that we can secure consistently and conscientiously. We desire to spread Christianity,“substantial unity with circumstantial variety,"as speedily as possible through our land and world, leaving its external form to be moulded in every case, by the wants and unconstrained preferences of the regenerated heart, and the instrumental agents. If you will meet us, with the spirit of Christian magnanimity, as Presbyterians, as we are, and purpose by God's help to continue, in principle and profession; here are our hands, hearts and purses, without any amalgamation of Churches, or unhallowed compromises, or relinquishment of distinctive peculiarities. We desire to continue and increase the ties of brotherhood and proper Christian co-operation, to prove what can be done for our common country, and wretched world, by a catholic spirit, and that the cause of our Master is dearer to us than denominational glory, or personal and party exaltation. But, after all, co-operation is not for its own sake, but as a means to an end; not for artistic effect, but for practical uses, and as an element of power. It ceases to be a virtue and an obligation, if it accomplishes nothing, or worse than nothing. “ The field is the world," and we must do our part to reclaim and convert it while we are living, and by the best instrumentalities in our power. It is better to retrace our steps, and confess our errors and sins, than waste our only opportunity of glorifying God, by persisting in purposes and plans which Providence proves to be impracticable, however ideally excellent. Let us be co-operative if we can, and as far as we can, consistently. Let us be denominational only where we must, by the necessities forced on us by others, or the plain calls of Providence, till the Spirit is poured from on high, and the Saviour's high-priestly prayer is answered, “ that they all may be one;" let us try to actualize as far as in us lies, the true ideal of Christianity, with “all that in every place call upon our Lord Jesus Christ, both theirs and ours.”
IV. There is an aggressive, as distinguished from a merely conservative type of Christianity, which we are called on to maintain and defend. These different tendencies have always existed in human nature, and been exemplified in human history, and they account for the first distinct divergence in primitive Christianity. The interaction of these two elements, keeps
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On the one hand, there are those whose creed is, that the chief end of man is to hold back; that the grace of God is given to keep the world quiet and orderly, and that the principal peril of our fallen, and now partially sanctified humanity, is undue activity and excessive zeal. With such, the Church is a high wall around the waters of salvation to keep them pure and unwasted, and transmit them as such to future generations. They apprehend no peril of feculence, or the formation of mire and marshy places from such a process. On the other hand, there are those who believe that the chief end of man, his duty, destiny and delight, is to be active: that to glorify God in order to enjoy him for ever, we must do something, be workers together with God, in the progressive developements of His plans. To them the Church is a great river, the streams whereof should make glad not only the city of God, but all the tabernacles of the Most High among men : yea, “ which being brought forth into the sea” of human corruption, “the waters thereof shall be healed, and every thing that moveth whithersoever this river cometh shall live," and that the only way to preserve the church itself, from becoming a marsh of feculence and pestilence, “ given to salt,” and incurable, is to have these waters always in motion, always išsuing forth with transforming power, upon the corruptions and evil institutions of the world. Conservatism has its place, we grant, and there have been times when it was a dispensation. At critical periods, when Christianity itself and all . Christian attainments were threatened, it was glory enough to be ecclesiastical Charles Martels, to stop the progress, and turn back the tide, of spiritual Saracenism. Some churches too embody the very genius of ultra-Conservatism; as for example, that ancient and venerable one, hoary with antiquity, ponderous with precedents and power, wedded to the state, and compromising with an evil world, is immensely conservative, a massive drag on the wheels of advancement. While she stands like a mighty breakwater, there is little danger that the tide of progress will roll too fast, however agitated and impelled. None can equal, and none should envy or try to imitate, such Conservatism. Yet men and institutions seem called of God, to breast the supposed fanatical velocity of the world's advancement, embalm antique forms of thought, reproduce obsolete modes of worship, and oppose the too rapid accomplishment of the world's salvation. Croakers against progress, the genuine “ let alone and keep quiet" generation, shout hosannas of applause, and offer holocausts of flattery. But these cloistered protestants against progress, the idols and idolaters alike, mistake the active spirit of the age, their vision is distorted by a kind of mental muscæ volitantes, from lack of healthful exercise of humane sympathies and terrene activities. Verily, they have their reward, to be left behind.
No one who has studied the genius of Presbyterianism, can doubt where she ought to stand in this country and period. The free church of Scotland is a glorious manifestation of genuine Presbyterianism and Calvinism. The residuary church in contrast, resembles the crispy caricature the locust leaves, when it emerges to life; or the caterpillar's grave whence at its resurrection, the butterfly begins its joyous flight. This is not the time or country for mere Conservatism. As the Lord once said to Moses, he now says to every standard-bearer in the sacramental host, “Why criest thou unto me? Speak to the people that they go forward.” “Go up and possess the land.”
Our body, to a large extent the fruit of revivals, and representing eminently the progressive spirit, and having a genial system of strength of doctrine and vigor of piety, must " take the responsibility" of being prominent in aggressive movements,