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military tourists. Some of them evidently imagine that when our rapidly increasing power shall have attained a certain degree, we, as other nations have been, shall be drawn into the whirlpool of warlike ambition. They look upon us as if we were to be judged as the despotisms of Europe, and estimate our disposition by our ability for conquest. But surely they have forgotten, or imagine that we shall forget, the essential difference of our institutions. The spirit of subjugation and conquest is utterly irreconcilable with the spirit of republicanism. The great truth, upon which our system of polity is based, is, that all men have certain inalienable rights,—all, of every kindred, and nation, and tongue, under heaven. But after having declared these truths before the world, we are not at liberty to trample upon those rights at the promptings of avarice or ambition. This declaration is not merely a cunning device to elicit a burst of applause in a Fourth-of-July oration. The principles which we have avowed are susceptible of direct application to our intercourse with other nations, and they will be violated, if we do not adopt a line of policy far more just and liberal than any other state has hitherto employed. We are not at liberty to emulate the exploits of those despotisms which have filled the world with wanton bloodshed.
It is true, republics, so called, have been as insatiably fond of conquest as ever were the tyrants of the carth; and the foulest, most detestable atrocities have been committed in the sacred name of liberty and equality. But we have founded our claims for independence upon certain fixed principles deduced from truth and nature, and not belonging only to some few isolated individuals, whom circumstances had enabled to cast off a foreign yoke, but of application as universal as their source. Consistency requires, therefore, that we concede to others the rights which we demand as our own. Liberty, like the air we breathe, or the refreshing dew, is the common gift of Heaven to all mankind.
But leaving justice and consistency out of the question, regard for our own welfare dictates the course which we have been advocating upon higher grounds. Very seldom are nations, who enlarge their dominions by conquest, really benefited. They may rise from obscurity, and advance rapidly in the career of fortune. Their armies may bear their flag in triumph over a continent, and their fleets unfurl it upon every sea. Cities may increase in wealth and luxury, and gorgeous palaces crown every hill Emperors may ascend the throne, and give audience to the ambassadors of a hundred conquered realms. All this is but a splendid mockery. The temple which they have reared, without so magnificent and im
posing, is but a whited sepulchre, filled with the bones of the unnumbered thousands who died to purchase its greatness, and blasted by the sighs of the widow and the fatherless. If America should enter the arena where nations are the combatants, and glory the prize, she may surpass her competitors, but her sole reward will be a fading wreath of laurel, and that, the price of blood. Her banner may wave in triumph above all others, but the breeze that stirs its folds will be the dying breath of her children, and the mount upon which it is planted, a pile of skulls. Then, let other nations
pursue their career of mad ambition. Let them strew the plains of Europe with the bleaching bones of their slaughtered offspring. Let the Eagle gorge itself upon the bleeding limbs of fallen and dismembered Poland. Let the Lion batten upon his helpless Eastern prey. We boast a nobler spirit, and more exalted aims than these. And when the song of our rejoicing ascends to heaven, let no discordant note jar with that anthem which proclaimed, in celestial strains, peace on earth and good will to men.
ART. III.-1. Puritanism; or, a Churchman's Defense against its
Aspersions, by an Appeal to its own History. By Thomas W. Coit, D. D., Rector of Trinity Church, New-Rochelle, N. Y., and a Member of the New-York Historical Society. New-York:
D. Appleton & Co. 1845. 2. The Puritans and their Principles. By Edwin Hall.
New-York: Baker & Scribner. 1846.
PURITANISM is destined to a sure and certain immortality. Leaving out of consideration all principles, two causes insure this,--the undying attachment of its friends, and the unceasing hostility of its enemies. Puritan blood and Puritan principles are wide spread; and staunch and able defenders, both of their faith and character, rise up daily. The press, with its thousand tongues, in the form of poems, essays, orations, or more elaborate works, constantly speaks in their praise.
The position which Puritanism has occupied in the history of England for the last three centuries, and in this country for the last two hundred and twenty-five years, and its intimate connection with religion, literature, and ecclesiastical and political economy, make it a necessary subject of investigation, and a fruitful theme of discourse, among all professions of men. Notwithstanding, Puritan is as despised a name with some, at the present moment, as it was in the days of James; and the principles of the Nonconformists are as ardently hated by others as they were in the times of Laud. The subject must, therefore, be one of importance; and, perhaps, to none, judging from the signs of the times, can it be more important than to the present generation.
We place at the head of our article the titles of two works on this subject, both recently from the press. The author of the first, Dr. Coit, formerly president of the Transylvania University, is now the rector of Trinity Church, New-Rochelle, N. Y. Circumstances have conspired to place in his study a very large and valuable library; selected in part, we believe, by himself while in Europe, and which contains many rare and choice books. The duties of a small country parish allow him time to pore over his musty treasures, and bring out, for the edification of his readers, things “old,” at least, from the records of the past. We may say, also, that he is in the full acceptation of the term a high churchman; happy, we presume, in the confidence and esteem of his church; and, until the publication of this book, enjoying, for aught we know, an enviable reputation.
The author of the second, Rey. E. Hall, is the respected pastor of the First Congregational Church in Norwalk, Conn.; a man devoted to the interests of his church, and rigidly attached to his own denominational order and discipline. We certainly mean no disrespect in saying he is a high Congregationalist. He believes that the “Puritanic system of church polity” is “broadly and solidly based on the Word of God;" and of course, therefore, of divine obligation.
As we have little space for extracts from these works, we shall, in noticing them, offer only a brief critique.
The main portions of Dr. Coit's work first appeared in a series of “ Letters,” published by the author in the “Churchman," during the year 1835. In the autumn of 1843 Dr. Coit received from “several of the bishops and a large number of the clergy a letter, relative to these communications,” expressing “an earnest desire" that they should be “revised and published in a permanent form.” This "was not the first nor the twentieth time, probably," says the author, " that I had been approached upon the subject-a subject which the recollection of abuse, (rain, hail, and horrid thunderclaps,) poured upon me without measure, determined me never to resume on my individual responsibility. But it was the first time that my brethren in the ministry seemed willing, by giving me their signatures, to share with me the responsibility of publishing
disagreeable facts.”—Preface. Being thus furnished with the opinion and signatures of several of the bishops and a large number of the clergy, the author addressed himself to the work of revising, &c., without further hesitation. In the mean time, however, the “church” was pleased to ask him to edit standard Prayer Book.” This, together with the necessity of rewriting most of the letters which had already appeared, delayed the publication till a later day than was expected.
From this it appears that our author was especially called to defend the church against the aspersions of the Puritans. The following extract shows the gist of his argument:
“ There seems to be no other mode left to teach some to look away from our magnified faults, but by calling the public to look at their forgotten ones.”—P. 238.
The title of the work is a complete misnomer: “Puritanism; or a Churchman's Defense against its Aspersions." Whereas it is neither. A better title, and one more in accordance with its contents, would be, "A Churchman's Recital of the Follies, Persecutions, and various Barbarities, practiced by the ancient Puritans, both in England and America; drawn from all available Sources, authentic or otherwise : and furnishing abundant Evidence that they were in many Respects as bad as the Episcopalians.” Setting out with this cognomen, we would readily concede that the author has labored most patiently and perseveringly to accomplish his purpose. And if he has not succeeded, the fault must be, in his case, not in himself.
Though this work contains more than five hundred pages, abounding in quotations from authors of all sorts, it has no "Index" to subjects; and the “Table of Contents” is a most meagre thing. Such neglect is inexcusable in the author of a work like this. And however valuable it might be as a book of reference, this deficiency will seriously detract from its worth.
The author's style is exceedingly hard. Long parentheses, quotations, explanatory remarks, and the regular thread of discourse, are sometimes huddled together in a strange and incongruous
The sense is obscured, and close attention is necessary to get at it at all. Take the following passage as a specimen :
“But one was now approaching, who would make it a theme even for the meeting house, and commend it to their own ears in such piercing words, that, like some of old, (Luke iv, 28, 29,) who professed greater purity than others, not a few were filled with wrath, rose up and thrust him out of the city.' He, passing through the midst of them,
went his way,'—was not to be found, when a warrant was issued to arrest him—or Witch Hill, or one of the summits of Tri-Mountain, might have told a tale, to make the rest of St. Luke's language applicable-cast him down headlong.'”—Pp. 290, 291.
The work gives evidence of having occasioned severe pain and protracted labor. We frankly confess it is not what we expected from the pen of Dr. Coit. Indeed, we are inclined to believe he has not done himself justice in its authorship. In reading the work, which we have done most carefully and patiently, not omitting the “Notes” and references which cover one hundred pages, in close and fine print, besides occupying considerable space on almost every leaf of the text, we were reminded of King Henry's speech to Gloster :
Thy mother felt more than a mother's pain,
Not like the fruit of such a goodly tree.”—Henry VI. The spirit of Dr. Coit's work has been severely censured He seems sometimes at a loss for ungracious epithets for the Puritans and Puritan historians and authors : not at a loss from incapability to use such epithets-for the work is full of them; but from complete exhaustion of the vocabulary. The whole body are indiscriminately called a “clan," "a hirsute generation," "a mad faction," and "canting hypocrites.” Mr. Neal is very sarcastically styled, "the candid Neal.” Mr. Bancroft, though honored with a place in the title-page, “belies himself.” And as for poor Bennett and Bogue, they are hardly allowed the benefit of clergy.
Dr. Coit writes with horror on the treatment Episcopalians, Baptists, Quakers, &c., received from the Puritans. And, if we admit all he says on the subject, what then? Why, it proves that they were as bad, in this respect, as the churchmen. Did the Puritans persecute, tax, fine, imprison, and banish? Did not the churchmen do the same? What if he make the Puritans as bad
“They (the Puritans] rule with a superstition, and under the promptings of a priestcraft, unsurpassed in the annals of popes or of lords, of high-commissions or star-chambers :--and all this for a “purely religious cause ?' They arrest, try, condemn, fine, imprison, fetter, brand, lash, maim, curse, banish, hang, and leave naked and unburied (save in the bowels of beasts of prey) their brethren in a common Protestant Christianity :—and all this for a 'purely religious cause ?'.... They tolerate such grossness in the pulpit, and in the press, (and against those whose sex should have been sufficient protection,) as might disgrace a bar-room :-and all this for a 'purely religious cause ?!”– Pp. 76, 77.