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the bearing of her greatest son. Daniel Webster stood for the Union. Our country, and our whole country; this was his principle. Whatever lay at the basis of a movement merely sectional, it was sufficient for him that it was sectional-he opposed it. He felt himself greater than a son of New Hampshire, or of Massachusetts—he was an American. The fisherman of Maine was his countryman, but so was the planter of Louisiana, the miner of coal in Pennsylvania, but the miner of gold, also, in California. And we feel sure that if the soul of Lyman Beecher would look forth once more, as at the Detroit Convention, and his own voice, unstifled by narrowing influences, could peal as in past time like a trumpet, he would speak, not for Congregationalism only, but for a liberal Calvinism, and a free yet orderly and united Church government, the land over.
Be it known, however, to our Congregational brethren, that when we thus speak, we speak mainly for the cause of Christ, and for the liberality and moderation which we always seek to make our great characteristics. So far as our own Church is involved, we are not greatly concerned about this matter. No one is better constituted for progress. In no Church do the ministry understand each other better, and love each other more. We would that every one could see the scorn in their eyes, at the idea of any of them becoming treacherous, and the smile that plays upon their lips, at the idea of our being dismembered. One of the sheerest absurditiesof sectarianism it is, to imagine fatuitously, that a Church, all whose enterprises are succeeding almost as soon as planned, which, in its church-building, is like the Emperor who found Rome brick, and left it marble; a Church of revivals, whose watchword is enterprise ; a Church producing publications so rapidly, that our Quarterly can hardly find room to notice them suitably—is crumbling to decay. Some other folly must be tried. This, like the old tricks of the well-known juggler, is becoming too transparent.
Rusticus expectat, dum defluat amnis, at ille
To our Church it does not matter greatly how this thing works. Whether this pressure may develope, more and more, - the church feeling within ourselves, and so we may carry on our
great and liberal principles through strict church channels; (if Christendom will force us to it, and by refusing, sect by sect, to unite with us, allow us no other way;) or whether all the power of all the Reformed Churches may be brought unitedly to bear against Congregationalism, and one mighty Presbyterian Church, on great compromise principles, may be formed, which shall stretch in grandeur from the Hudson to the Pacific; either will please us as Presbyterians. We are union men, if possible. We are for uniting with the whole Church of Christ if we can, and making one great visible Catholic unity, which we have no doubt is the true ideal. If we cannot do that, we should like to unite all Presbyterians; or failing that, to keep on terms of amity with those so nearly allied as Congregationalists and ourselves. In proof of this, we call attention to the known facts, that our separated brethren, and not we, made the schism in our Church by the Exscinding Acts; that we made several overtures for re-union, all of which were rejected; and that both they and the Albany Convention abrogated the Plan of Union, while we, only in May last, declared it in force.
Our denominationalism then, it will be perceived, is not so much one of choice, as of necessity. When a country is attacked by a foreign enemy, self-defence becomes the purest form of patriotism, and so it may happen that all our duty in this behalf, may concentre in the preservation of our institutions.
It is not our opinion that the sectarianism of this time has a superficial origin. The latter half of the eighteenth century, for whatever reason, was remarkably worldly. Men were absorbed in political revolutions, and the Church struggled for very existence. Spiritual religion began to awake with this century, and almost immediately it took a liberal direction, and developed a union feeling. The Plans of Union of 1801, 1808, and 1813, were succeeded by the formation of the great national societies, from 1816, onwards. These were hailed by the Church as the beginning of the millennial spirit, and eloquent orators told us that sect would melt away before the warm affection that would be wrought in the heart of the Church, by union in benevolent effort.
But as the spiritualism of the century deepened, precisely the contrary effect appeared. Attachment to religion, now become almost universal in some shape, took on the form of warm interest in the special Church with which each one was associated, and this effloresced in sectarianism.
Is not Isaac Taylor right after all ? Was not our remedy for sectarianism superficial ? Is not the real difficulty the division into sects at all? Is not our real want a visible Catholic unity ? For how can any one expect that the masses can become as much attached to a society, or to any set of societies, as to the Church itself? Must there not, where there is much piety, grow up by the power of a living association of ideas and feelings, an attachment to the Church where our children were baptized and trained for God, where we were ourselves converted, and instructed by a greatly beloved pastor, where we have communed with the people of God, and where we have buried our dead, stronger than to any thing outside the Church? And if that attachment embalm a certain set of minor opinions, forms and institutions, will not the heart fasten on them as part of the Church itself ? How then can we break down the spirit of sectarianism with one hand, while we build it up with the other; first, by having the sect, and next by clustering every thing sacred around it, instead of around the Church Catholic ? How this visible union is to be accomplished, it is far beyond our power to say. God knoweth, and is able to do it in his own time. All that we suggest now, is the query, whether our plans hitherto for union have not been superficial. It may be that we have sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind. Have we not split the Church into fragments, and then placed around it external ligatures? Has it not outgrown these, and in outgrowing forced them asunder, and thus placed the union of all Protestantism farther off, in all seeming, than in 1801 or 1816? In this view it is obvious, that the question of “The Church” is the one with which we need to grapple ; and one great reason, as we believe, for the slow progress made in solving this question, is the fact, that the deepest thinkers in theology, who are generally to be found in the Reformed Churches and those most affiliated with them, have not felt its importance. It is a question of the deepest interest whether this present sectarian development does not go down to the very foundation, and whether the fragments can be made to cohere by any methods that are not fundamental.
But are we to abandon the great voluntary associations as failures, and rely mainly on denominational effort, working thus from the individual Church to a Church Universal ? There are obvious difficulties about creating a unity on that plan. On the other hand does it seem as though the working of voluntary societies tended to weaken the power of sect? Is there not serious collision and alienation whenever sectarian interests come to be involved in their decisions ? The thing to be done is to create a unity, the great problem of the time is how to do it.
Protestantism, as a whole, is too much a negation. Its sects tend apparently not to union, but to still further divisions. The union of Popery is the most miserably superficial of all, because a mere external despotism; and Episcopacy, in its present phase, is following in the same wretched direction. We have no hope that this matter will be set right, until the churches of which Calvinism is the underlying foundation, investigate it to its very roots, see where the real difficulty lies, and apply a remedy as profound as the disease.
To conclude. We have shown, we think conclusively, in the last number of our Review, that American Presbyterianism is large and liberal in its character, and has been so from the beginning. We trust that since 1837 it has not proven itself less so in our hands. We have striven for re-union with the other branch of the Presbyterian Church, but have not been able to accomplish it. We have endeavored to retain the Plan of Union with Congregationalists, but we have not been allowed to do so. And now a thorough and radical separation from the last denomination with which we have held close connection, is threatened. For the sake of the cause of religion this is sad to us, for our own sakes we are not so much concerned for it. If this is, as we are inclined to think, the dispensation of separation, though not wrought by us; we are with calm and trusting hearts prepared to stand in our lot. This isolation and denominationalism is not our theory of the Church, but it may be the best thing that we will be allowed to do. If so, we must meet the crisis thoroughly, courageously, enterprisingly. To our friends who have determined to stand by our Church
and nothing but our Church, we would only say, do nothing rashly; let every thing be well considered ; let all our institutions be such as will be the natural exponents of the Church, the developments of her internal character. Let nothing be created that shall control the Church from without, but let every form and institution be the Church in her own free and natural action.
A History of the Division of the Presbyterian Church, in the United
States of America. By a COMMITTEE OF THE SYNOD OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY. New York: Published by M. W. Dodd, Brick Church Chapel. pp. 278. 1852.
On the impeachment of Warren Hastings before the British Parliament, Mr. Erskine, the counsel of the accused, complained of the length of the trial. Edmund Burke, in behalf of the prosecution, asked the learned gentlemen to remember, “that if the trial had lasted seven years, the oppression had continued for twenty-one years ;” and proceeded to inquire, “whether, after all, there were hour glasses for measuring the grievances of mankind.”
The hebdomadal organs of the New Basis, or Exscinding, Branch of our Church, meet every historical statement of the acts of their Assembly, in 1837 and 1838, with the cry that we are reviving an old controversy. It would certainly be very naughty in us, to give a resurrection to old quarrels, by stirring the ashes of forgotten strife. But we must believe that our separated brethren, if they shrink with horror from all advance in theological science, are, nevertheless, improving in minor morals. Otherwise we are amazed that men, who, for seven years previous to 1836, sounded the tocsin of war—who by the press and the pulpit, by acts, and testimonies, and conventions, filled the land with the cry of heresy and corruption—who garnered up east, west, north, and south, with scavenger diligence, every disjointed fragment of a sermon which they could torture into doctrinal error, and every measure among us which they