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to groan itof our ecclest brethren, endations, 117: but
theological “novelties to disturb our peace,” and no “dead orthodoxy” to groan its fears over all attempts at progress.
It has been a habit of our ecclesiastical opponents, to profess a good degree of confidence in our brethren, who happened to be their neighbours. Sometimes these commendations, if there were any hope of proselyting, have reached even flattery; but they have been balanced by a wise shake of the head, and a lamentation over some distant portion of our church, where heresy or disorder was represented as rampant. “You are a very good Calvinistic Presbyterian, but away off in some part of New York, Ohio, Tennessee, or somewhere else, your brethren are terrible heretics." These wailings over unsoundness in some "terra incognita” of our body, have had also a faint echo, from a few aged and easily alarmed theologians of New England.
We will not now pretend to argue the question, but meet assertion by the affirmation, that among our sixteen hundred clergy, and our elders and church members, there is as general and delightful a homogeneousness as has ever existed, based on intelligent conviction, among the same number of men in theological opinions, and that these opinions are in doctrinal harmony with the soundest and most orthodox churches of New England. So far as we are informed, there is not a minister of our body who does not love and cherish the Westminster Confession of Faith as the best human delineation of biblical theology; while all are prepared to bow implicitly and finally and fearlessly, before the only infallible standard, the word of God. “Our church standards as symbols for union, but the Bible for authority,” is the motto of our denomination.
In western New York, which has been so often represented as desolated by fanaticism, and needing “ orthodox” missionary effort, there will be found a higher standard of ministerial qualification, a more thorough pulpit-instruction in Calvinistic theology, a larger attendance upon the means of grace, a more thorough examination for admission to church privileges, a more effective discipline, as well as more regard to Sabbath keeping and temperance, than in the best districts, cultivated by our separated brethren. In the lips of our staid New England fathers, “new measures” meant something, and hence complaints from that quarter might be expected; but after having often witnessed the high pressure excitements of our sepa
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rated brethren in some parts of the country; with their anxious seats, their conversions over night, and admissions to the church in the morning, their lax discipline and low moral standard, we are amazed to hear THEM echo the cry of “new measures and disorder.” But we forbear.
We have with us the confidence of other Christian communions; we have in our body the grand and essential elements of truth, order, liberality and the spirit of progress; we have no stain of injustice on our history; we have our ancient cherished communion and co-operation as had our fathers, with the churches of New England; we have our noble and well manned collegiate and theological institutions; we have under our special influence, the northern belt of this glorious land, with its rapid advance in a free population; we have near sixteen hundred educated ministers, and nearly one hundred and fifty thousand church members, representing a population of some six hundred thousand souls; we have wealth, enterprise, and it is to be hoped the blessing of God. Well may we congratulate ourselves on our prospects. We can afford to love our branch of the church, and consecrate our labours and charities and prayers to its prosperity.
These are thoughts not new, but so grateful, that we desire to commend them to our brethren. “We would walk about our Zion, and mark her bulwarks," and thank God that they are “strong." We may well assume, that such an organization is destined to have perpetuity and expansion. It cannot be absorbed into a cold, formal element, with which in spirit it can have no affinity. It will not surrender its ecclesiastical life to gratify even its friends.
Associated with this idea of permanence, independence, integrity, and enlargement, is the plain principle, that as a denomination, we have the obligation and the privilege to originate and employ the means essential to our prosperity. The whole country is before us, and we claim the right common to all other denominations, subject to the law of Christian charity, to seek to mould the population of this land into the image of Christ, developed externally and ecclesiastically, in the form of liberal Presbyterianism. We are not to be denied fellowship, as heretics, and then asked as brethren, not to plant churches in cities and villages occupied by our separated brethren; while at the same time, it would be folly and guilt recklessly to disturb their order, or divide and scatter their congregations. We are not to lay a hand of violence on our great national societies, or cease to love and co-operate with them, while yet we claim the right to originate such Boards and Committees as will best develop our resources, and strengthen the power for good of our own church. We yield to our orthodox Congregational brethren the right to organize, when people prefer it, Congregational churches any where, or to any extent; but insist on our right to do the same, under our own preferences; stipulating also, that while we act in common for Foreign and Domestic Missions, that both parties shall exorcise a selfish, partisan, and proselyting spirit. While we subordinate the church to Christianity, and elevate its interior spiritual life over all outward ecclesiastical manifestations, yet other things being equal, we claim the right to give a practical preference to our own creed, and our own institutions. If a religious denomination be worthy of an independent existence, it is bound to employ the specific means essential to give that existence vitality, power and enlargement. For this purpose, we seek the aid of the press; that ubiquitous agency which concentrates talent, learning and piety, and radiates truth upon the world. In this respect, our denomination is behind the claims of the age. We have been unjust to ourselves. We have left it to others to do our thinking and writing for us, to inundate our churches with periodicals, either indifferent to our interests, or inimical to our doctrines and institutions. Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists, and the Presbyterians separated from us, have their Quarterlies, which invigorate and develop the intellectual power of their members, and advocate their doctrines. Has our denomination less genius, learning, pecuniary resources, literary cultivation and taste? On the prairies of the mighty west, in the savannas of the “sunny south,” on the lakes of the north, and in the great emporiums of the east; have we no genius undeveloped, no original burning thought, no scientific advances, no exegetical enthusiasm, no perception of a needed influence to mould the spirit and body of the times, no errors to combat, nor moral evils to reform, that we should be compelled to surrender the most efficient agencies of the press to other denominations ? Is science making no progress among us to be chronicled ? Do the issues of the press require no criticism, selection or commendation ? In the political horizon, are there no signs boding weal or woe to Protestant Christianity? Are there no influences abroad tending to skepticism or papal superstition, to religious anarchy or despotism? Is it not then a marvel, that in
the higher range of religious and literary discussion, the intellect, learning and piety of our church have to this hour, no natural and accessible channel to the public mind, save through the weekly press? If any exception were here demanded, it would be in favour of the Bibliotheca Sacra, of Andover, and the New Englander, of New Haven.
The “New Englander" is a valuable work, interesting for its piquancy, sprightliness and popular cast, as well as its general ability and fearlessness; but its locality and its ecclesiastical affinities, preclude its adaptation to the wants of the Presbyterian church. The “Bibliotheca,” of Andover, is a work of profound learning, comprehensive range of thought and most liberal spirit.* It has our entire approbation and cordial sympathies; but it is a work designed for clergymen and scholars of the church at large. It is not designed for the mass of society, and its plan and purposes will not allow the discussion of questions, in which as Presbyterians, our people have an abiding interest. We hope our readers, who can appreciate it, will retain it on the shelf, with the “Presbyterian Quarterly Review ;' but we cannot afford to rely upon it alone to meet the wants of our denomination.
We hardly think it necessary to name, in this connection, the “ Biblical Repertory,” of Princeton. Under the admonition “to love our enemies," and free to admire talent, learning, tact, industry, shrewdness, and occasional wit, any where, we can afford duly to estimate the “ Biblical Repertory.” So far as it advocates principles in common with us, so far as it promotes intelligent, spiritual, old fashioned, Catholic, American Presbyterianism, we regard it as a fellow-labourer. But we cannot forget, that while it always deprecated the necessity for the division of the church previous to 1837, it was converted suddenly, and in convenient time to be the apologist and advocate of the wholesale excision of Dr. Richards, Auburn Seminary, and some four or five hundred ministers without charge or trial, from the Presbyterian church. Since then, it has been compelled to see nothing to excite its approbation, sympathy, kindness or hope in our branch of the church. It has “snuffed up” heresy in every “east wind,” and felt chills of Presbyterial apprehension at every northwest breeze from the infected, ta
. While these pages are passing through the press, it is with deep regret we hear that Professor Edwards, to whom the Bibliotheca Sacra owes more probably than to any other man, is numbered with the dead. It is a great loss to New England, to America, to the entire Church.
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bood and exscinded districts of Western New York. Philip of Macedon employed a man to tell him that he was mortal. Our denomination may require a standing committee to spy out its defects, and a tongue to rebuke its short-comings; and for this they can rely on the Biblical Repertory, of Princeton. But as a church we cannot rely upon it for a bread," lest we should get a "stone.” Indeed, a petrified sneer, best represents the aspect of the Biblical Repertory towards American Presbyterianism.
We have alluded to these publications simply to show that as they do not occupy our field, nor meet our wants, a new “Presbyterian Quarterly Review” is needed by us. No such work exists in the denomination, from New York to San Francisco. The demand for such a work has been most earnest and unequivocal from all quarters, so that before the publication of this first number, nearly one thousand names of subscribers have been enrolled on our list. A revived and more resolute attachment to our form of Presbyterianism, has demanded an organ for its expression. It is not ushered into being to give prominence to any shibboleth of theological opinion peculiar to the editors, nor to ride any hobby of utopian reform. It is designed to give voice to the intellect, and piety of a great religious communion; to vindicate not only the doctrines of our faith, but those doctrines made symmetrical, transparent and consistent by earnest and thorough investigation and philosophic arrangement, under the best lights of science, ecclesiastical history, and the word of God. It is designed to increase the moral power of our ministry and members, by widening their scope of mental vision to the comprehension of those scientific, philosophical, literary, and political facts, by which God in His Providence is illustrating God in the Bible.
This Review is “set for the defence of the gospel" against all assailants, especially those who professing to abjure philosophy, yet philosophize the Almighty into a tyrant, and man into a victim; who represent a holy God as creating sin in a human soul, anterior to all moral acts, and then punishing that soul for being as he made it; who teach that man has no ability to do his duty whatever, but is worthy of eternal punishment for not enacting natural impossibilities; who limit the atonement offered for a race to the elect alone, and then consign to a deeper damnation, souls for rejecting an atonement, which in no sense was ever provided for them. These excresences on sound Calvinism, these parasites which