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the ejected ministers, as their own fathers in Christ, and not as men separated from the Establishment.
2. Many who greatly preferred the mode of conducting worship amongst the Nonconformists, and the privilege of attending ministers chosen by them selves, were so situated from the first, or afterwards removed to places at such a distance from any congrega. tion, worshiping in the manner they most approved, as to render it exceed ingly inconvenient and sometimes impracticable to give their attendance. The Independents and Particular Baptists did not object to lay-preachers; but those styled Presbyterians felt partial to ministers regularly educated, and qualified by learning, as well as piety, for public duty: such, not from choice, but what they deemed necessity, attended the Established service, to which their children, being accustomed from their infancy, frequently adhered in after life, though settled in places where they might have joined those assemblies which their parents reluctantly forsook.
3. Many of those who formed our first Dissenting congregations, the services of which they deemed most edifying, if, on the death or removal of a minister they liked, one was chosen, not quite to their taste, especially if his peculiar sentiments did not accord with their own, would go to their parish church. Such chose, if they must attend religious services they did not thoroughly approve, rather to join with the multitude than au unpopular sect. Persons strongly attached to high Calvinism and doctrinal preaching, grew unsatisfied with those ministers whom they suspected of not coming up to their standard of orthodoxy. Many, on the other hand, not approving high Calvinism, and preferring practical to controversial preaching, if the NonConformist minister was otherwise minded, would attend on the clergyman of the place, if his strain of preaching suited their ideas, especially if a good and amiable man. Angry disputes about doctrines, the Trinitarian controversy particularly, have often rendered excellent ministers uneasy in their situations, or driven them away, much to the displeasure of those who approved their services,
and lessening, perhaps dissolving, their attachment to the Dissenting cause.
4. Some have forsaken Dissenting worship, because the minister's manner or delivery appeared unpleasing. Very learned and excellent men may have unhappily contracted gestures or tones, to which persons truly religious would reconcile their minds, yet forming a pretence with others, to decline their attendance. Sometimes little altercations between ministers and a part of their hearers, a degree of blame perhaps attaching to both, have caused a falling off. Not seldom, also, has it happened, that disputes with their fellow-worshipers, quite unconnected with religious concerns, have caused desertion from the society itself. Such could not be serious and well-informed Dissenters, but they might, on the whole, have been truly respectable persons, and their remaining firm to the cause have done it service and credit. Now it happens very seldom indeed, that any desert the public church, on account of disputes with their fellowparishioners, or even a just dislike to the clergyman himself.
Methodists, or those styling themselves evangelical preachers, have frequently been very successful in drawing away hearers from those called by them legalists and moralists; but personal disputes with the minister or any of the people hardly ever take off any from the Establishment, but often from Dissenting places of worship, standing far more in need of individual support.
5. It has often happened that mi nisters of approved character and abilities, on whom age makes its advances, become unqualified for their work, perhaps unperceived by themselves. The circumstances of some, feeling and lamenting their increasing disability, have been such as to render the salary, though small, quite necessary to their support; so that absolute want would follow on resigning their office. Such as approved them in their better days, and would kindly bear with their infirmities, death and various other causes may have removed. Persons coming into life do not feel the attachment which would lead them patiently to wait till the aged labourer is called home. Stran
gers coming to settle in the place, finding the minister's abilities on the decline, if Dissenters merely from education and not principle, forsake the cause. Before a fresh choice could be made, many societies have dwindled, and the remaining members unable to procure a pastor by whose services the cause might be revived. Thus, without any blame to a minister, deserving the sympathy of feeling minds, the cause has, in various places, been weakened, in some, annihilated. Benevolent attempts have been made to establish a fund for the support of aged pastors, but hitherto without success, many difficulties opposing a regular, effectual plan. This, however, it is hoped, will at length be happily accomplished. 6. Fashion has mighty influence, especially upon the wealthy and persons engaged in public life. The established religion being countenanced by a vast majority of the great and the rich, as well as by the multitude at large, will prevail on many to leave the smaller and join the more numerous party. Even before the cruel persecution by which Louis XIV. of France, destroyed, and drove into banishment, thousands and tens of thousands of his loyal Protestant subjects, Popery made converts not a few. For a while the Protestants enjoyed tranquillity, and greater privileges than have been granted as yet to Dissenters in England. Popery, however, was the religion of the court and of the multitude, and numbers amongst the higher ranks particularly, were continually forsaking the Protestant assemblies. That the same cause should have produced the like effect in this country, where the objections to the established forms are apparently less numerous and important, is no wonder.
The Presbyterians being the most wealthy of the Nonconforming parties, and those denominated such, gradually mixing more and more with the world, have gone over to the religious profession of those with whom they were ambitious of associating. Having no root in themselves, from a knowledge of the true principles of dissent, and frequently void of serious attention to the most important of all concerns, custom and fashion prevail. A regard not to what was
the most scriptural, but the most fashionable profession, has had powerful influence. Of this, good Mr. Matthew Henry made mention in the very beginning of the last century, when recommending to Dissenters the education of the poor, that the cause which the rich were, in his days, forsaking, might still survive, and afford some encouragement to those then preparing for the ministry. Ministers themselves also, being but meu, have occasionally, by undue warmth of temper or imprudence in managing their concerns, given cause of offence. Immoralities ought never to be tolerated, and, if repeated, will never be borne with by any Dissenting societies. Small errors have, however, sometimes been too severely marked, and ministers of real worth treated with undue harshness for very pardonable imperfections, which time and experience might wholly have corrected.
7. The expense required to support the cause of dissent has been often avowed as a reason for deserting it.
"That it is an expensive thing to be a Dissenter" has been observed by some, whose attachment to the cause prevented their own withdrawing, but has had great effect on children, who might have filled up their places, and influenced many at different periods of life to conform. If a regard to true religion be a prevailing principle, the first inquiry will be, what course of conduct will best serve and promote it? But when the love of the world predominates, saving expenses, however worthily bestowed, will subdue the mind. Individuals must judge for themselves, what their circumstances will enable them to do for private charities or public services. The being obliged to support an Establishment, renders numbers far less able to maintain what they esteem more pure and edifying forms. Many zealous friends of the Church, besides such aid as the law obliges them to give, bestow largely in building, ornamenting and better endowing churches. Numerous chapels in the metropolis and various other parts of the kingdom, are built and maintained by the free gifts and subscriptions of those who pay their full proportion also to the churches, which, from personal or private convenience, they
do not attend: calls upon the liberality of Dissenters are also made to assist the widows and families of ministers, but the benevolent members of the Establishment voluntarily contribute likewise in this way to the distressed of their own communion. These are discretionary acts of bounty in those who bestow them, not necessary for the support of divine worship, though very encouraging to ministers, whose incomes render them incapable of laying up for a family.
These considerations, perhaps, may convince the thoughtful, that the decline of the Dissenting cause, in particular places, or throughout the nation, by no means proves that the cause itself is not of real importance and well-deserving support. The decline is owing to various causes, sometimes arising from a preference for the Established mode, but much more frequently from the difficulty of attending any other; from human imperfections, often allied to real worth, and the influence of fashion, present interest, and saving some expense. This conformity to the world all serious Christians of every party, as well as the Sacred writings, exhort us carefully to avoid, and heartily pray never to be drawn aside.
Nov. 25, 1818. Y grandfather was the largest contributor towards the pense of erecting a Meeting-house for Protestant Dissenters in M― Street, in the town of N. This was in the year 1696, seven years after the Act of Toleration gave full liberty to Dissenters to exercise their worship publicly. He died in 1725, and as in his life, so at his death, he shewed himself a warm friend to the Dissenting interest, for he endowed the chapel, by his last will, made two years before his decease, with the sum of five hundred pounds.
In the original trust-deed it was specified, that the chapel should be used "for the worship of God by Protestant Dissenters." At the time of the foundation of the chapel, there might, perhaps, have been amongst those who contributed to its erection, and who formed the first congregation, one or two persons whose minds having been much directed to that
question, had departed in a small degree from the doctrines commonly called orthodox; but the general character of the body was, that they were of orthodox sentiments, and I possess sufficient evidence that such were the sentiments of my respected ancestor in the earlier parts of his life: and though I have some reason to believe that he was not an inattentive observer of the controversies which were carried on both in and out of the Establishment on the question of the Trinity, and that his mind was much affected by the arguments of those divines who ranged themselves on the Arian side in those controversies, yet I am not prepared to state that he was not at the time of his decease a believer in the doctrine of the Trinity.
This, however, I know, that his widow, who long survived him, aud his three sons, who were respectable tradesmen in the town, one of whom was my father, were by no means of the sentiments commonly called orthodox. How this change was produced I cannot say; but I conjecture that it was in consequence of conviction produced on their minds by the perusal of the controversialists of their times, and by their own reflection and study of the Holy Scriptures. I have also reason to believe, that the minister of our society, on whom my grandfather attended, though himself of orthodox sentiments, was accustomed to recommend to his hearers the utmost freedom of inquiry, and an unbiassed examination of Holy Scripture. He used to boast of it as the great privilege of a Dissenter, that he could pursue his theological inquiries unfettered by creeds and articles, and follow truth wherever she led him, without fear of molestation or chance of suffering in his temporal interests. He was convinced that the more the Scriptures were examined, the more they would be found to establish the system of Christian truth, which he had been led to receive, and while he thought him grievously in error, he pitied Emlyn from his heart.
My age, Sir, is within two years that of the King and I well remember that when I was a very young man, living in my father's house, the minister of our congregation closed a ministration of forty-five years.
Different ministers were proposed to us as his successor. They were of different degrees of orthodoxy: some Calvinistic, some Arminian, some Baxterian, and some who were called Arian. Our society were naturally led on this occasion to consider what were their sentiments, and upon what views of Christian doctrine they should wish to be addressed by their fature minister: when it appeared that what had been the case in our family, had been the case also in fourfifths of the families composing the congregation, and that not only we the descendants and living representatives of the gentleman by whose exertious principally the chapel was erected, and by whom it had been so handsomely endowed, but that a large majority of the sons of the other persons who had contributed to its erection, and who had subscribed to the deed by which it was set apart for the worship of God by Protestant Distenters, were inclined to invite, as our minister, the candidate whose doctrinal sentiments were the farthest removed from orthodoxy.
We were unanimous in our next choice of a minister: but on another occasion, which occurred above twenty-five years ago, two ministers were proposed to us, one of whom was of orthodox sentiments, and the other very much heterodox. There was a decided and large majority for the latter; but one trustee and two families, members of the congregation, withdrew themselves.
Since that time we have been an harmonious, and, I may add, flourishing society but it is with alarm that I have lately heard that a society is formed in London, who meditate the dispossession of us and of other congregations similarly situated, of this chapel, built by our ancestors and endowed by them. I should, I own, be sorry to be turned by force out of the seat which has been occupied for considerably more than a century by our family, and where I have attended the worship of God for more than seventy years: and I cannot bring myself, at my time of life, to think that the attempt is becoming Christians, Protestants or Dissenters.
ONE OF A HUNDRED.
N answer to an inquiry in the Re
pository for October last, [XIII. 615,] by Mr. Rutt, respecting the existence of a small Unitarian society at Lexington, in Kentucky, to whom the Rev. Harry, now Judge Toulmin was pastor, I have it in my power to state the following particulars. I may first premise, that the letters of introduction which Mr. Toulmin took with him from England in the year 1793, were to many of the first characters in America, as the late General Washington, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison and the present President, Monroe. With respect to theological opinions or religious professions, he had often occasion to observe, in American society, a liberality which, to the enthusiast, might appear the effect of an indifference to, or a superficial acquaintance with those subjects. In his travels through the United States he frequently preached, and as his discourses were chiefly moral and practical, his peculiar tenets were in a great measure unknown. He was first invited to the presidental chair at Winchester College, in Shenendoah Valley, which was afterwards ably filled by Montrose Christie, until his zeal for the Unitarian doctrine prompted him not only to take every opportunity to broach it in private, but at length to challenge a public discussion in the newspapers. Many of the trustees who respected and valued him highly as a moral character and able tutor, were disgusted, not so much with his tenets, as his taste for and manner of proclaiming them. He was, therefore, obliged to resign; and thus himself and a large family were once more reduced to great straits and difficulties. This, by way of caution to Unitarian adventurers who cross the Atlantic, not to let their zeal over-run their prudence.
When Mr. Toulmin fixed at Lexington, in Kentucky, as President of the Transylvania College, he advertised that there would be weekly service on the Sabbath-day in the College, which was accordingly attended by a few of the most respectable families in the place. They were of that description who, disgusted with the ignorance, fanaticism
and camp-meetings of the Methodists and ordained the Rev. H. Toulmin to and Calvinists, had rarely attended be their minister, and were Indepenbefore, any regular place of worship. dents by name.' This instrument, Their minds were free from prejudice novel in the history of ordination, and open to conviction, and might was instantly sigued by all the bar, with truth be called inquirers. The and the licence was granted. The Calvinists and Methodists, who were Attorney-General then observed, that numerous, soon discovered that Mr. he was ashamed of the intolerant spirit Toulmin had not their shibboleth, and that day shewn by the bench to an evinced a persecuting spirit; when emigrant stranger, and that, if the he was persuaded by his friends to licence had not been granted, he apply for a licence at the Quarter should have forthwith visited them Sessions to solemnize marriages. To with an ex-officio information. the surprise of the bar, a fanatic justice, of the name of Patterson, asked if he had been regularly ordained and appointed the minister of a congregation, which was required by the statute book. It was observed in answer, that ordination amongst a cer
Toulmin belonged, had become nearly obsolete, but, that he had been regularly appointed by and officiated for a congregation during some years, there was a person in court to prove. The justice insisted that the statute required ordination, and the licence must be refused, his brethren concurring with him. The AttorneyGeneral for Kentucky, Mr. Murray, an acute lawyer, observed that the word ordain, had not in the statute book a scriptural meaning, but was merely an expletive of the word appoint; for if it had a scriptural meaning, there was an end of that toleration towards all religious professions, which was granted by the laws of the commonwealth. By those laws no person was disqualified by his religious tenets from filling any civil office, and marriage being recognized by the same laws as a civil contract, which a minister or a magistrate might solemnize, it was evident that the li. cence must be granted, or the bench would violate the laws of the state. The infuriate Patterson returned to the charge, but finding his brother justices convinced by the exposition of the Attorney-General, he then required that Mr. Toulmin should produce a certificate, purporting that he was the regularly-appointed and ordained minister of a congregation, designating itself by some name. Mr. Murray, the expositor, immediately drew up a paper, stating that "the undersigned had regularly appointed
P. VALENTINE. P. S. I can vouch for the authenticity of the above particulars.
common with many other good peo-