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self-recognition, to develop its distin- should have taken such a turn — “he guishing principles, and take final shape did taste of the New England air, when under better conditions than a pre- he fell into so passionate an affection with occupied Europe could offer.

the religion he found there, that incontiHere, then, on American ground prop- nent he began to persuade it with more erly began its career. It stands alone in zeal and success than before he had this. It is, then, the American polity. opposed it.” Would it not be well if Thoroughly rooted at Plymouth and some of her wandering children might brought to self-acquaintance, it was pre- taste again this New England air? Simpared to meet the settlers of Salem and ply “ Non-conformists” as they mostly Boston when arrived, ten years later, as were then, the leading men about Massathe polity“ in advance of all others ” this chusetts Bay might easily have adopted side the water. Governors Endicott and Presbyterianism or a modified EpiscoWinthrop, pastors Higgenson and Cot- pacy as did most of their friends left ton, though leaving England with other behind; but when consulting as to their notions, having freely conferred with the new tabernacle, a more desirable pattern Plymouth brethren, were fully persuaded was showed them in the mount at Plyof its promises, and embraced them. We mouth. We may thank God for the may doubt whether they had so easily effect of pre-occupation of the ground fallen upon it but for this aid. For that by one decided Congregational Church early emigration to Massachusetts be- upon the subsequent ecclesiastical and longed rather to the Episcopal and Pres- civil history of New England and of the byterial parties than to the Independents. world. In various external conditions We find the Presbyterian Baylie, in his those later comers were diverse from “ Dissuasives” (published, A. D. 1645, that body of the Lord's “ free” but poor against Independency, i. e. Congrega- people whose planting and training had tionalism), making this record, for exam- been at Plymouth. From a different ple: “Master Cotton

a man of very grade in society, many of them were excellent parts — contrary much to his men of high endowments, large fortune, former judgment, having fallen into a and the best of education ; scholars well liking of the Congregational way, and versed in the learning of the age; clergyby his great wit and learning having men ranking with the most able in the refined it, became the chief instrument realm. Yet they took counsel of these of drawing to it not only the thousands of Plymouth brethren; observed closely the those who left England, but also, by his working of their polity, comparing it letters to his friends who abode in their with Scripture ; caught its spirit, and country, made it become lovely to many adopted it for themselves. Rejecting who had never before appeared in the consolidation, and “ establishing their least degree affected toward it; for, so religious congregations on the basis of long as he abode in England, he went not external independence” and internal beyond Cartwright and the Presbyteri- equality, they “contracted a passionate ans; with the way of the Separatists he affection ” for this polity, and so diffused was then well acquainted, but declared it through the later colonies that all New himself against it in print.” Pastor Cot- England became a unit in its support. ton had been a Non-conformist and Pres- From thence, well matured, approved byterian. So Gov. Winthrop had been by its fruits, and arrived at self-undera conforming Episcopalian, until — in standing, it spread east and west. It the complaining language of this irate returned to the lately forbidden soil of brother concerning John Cotton, disap- Old England with a multiplying power pointed that Church extension in his day partly shown by that ingathering of a million dollars for Church erection at on polity and ecclesiastical organization.” the recent bi-centennial shaking of its We are sometimes told that “there is no boughs. It propagated itself westward difference worth sacrifices between their also; in due time sowing its seed — vital system and another; nothing beyond and prolific - across the land ; until now trifling matters of government; questhe representatives of twelve or fifteen tions of mere structural form.” Forced hundred churches of like faith and order, to answer, we ask, But what necessitated beyond the Hudson, gather in annual this new structural form ? Was the festival with brethren from the New Spirit so straitened as to demand it ? England centre, and are no longer re- What set of principles was that, not yet garded, if not as aliens from the com- distributed, or not yet exemplified, and monwealth, yet as living on the farther what class of functions belonging to His side of Jordan. But, spreading east or kingdom not yet happily undertaken, west, it is a significant fact, that it has that a new organization, with all the found not only its home but almost its inevitable frictions, must be called into limits, till now, within that race to which

being ? supremely belongs the craving for free- Analyzing this new polity, we find it dom, equality and brotherhood. With differing from its predecessors chiefly, if this glance at their movement, we come not wholly, in respect to the three-fold back to the question, What necessity was and cognate ideas of liberty, equality, that laid upon our fathers to separate and fraternity; liberty to the individfrom those Christian bodies wherein they ual, equality to the member, fraternity had been nurtured, and of which they throughout the body; and then, on had been the godly, peaceable, and, in broader' scale, mutual independence, some cases, the honored members ? equality, and fraternal relations among

Was it dogmatic dissent? Were they the churches. This polity was not pecudissatisfied with the received standards ? liar in limiting membership to the hopeCould they no longer symbolize with fully regenerated; it was not peculiar in adherents of the Thirty-nine Articles, or providing government and order; but it with the Reformed on the continent ? was peculiar (a) in asserting the sacraJohn Robinson says, “ We acknowledge ments to belong to the believer, and before God and men that we harmonize not to the Church; to faith, and not to so perfectly with the Reformed churches organization ; (b) in asserting every parof the Netherlands in matters of reli- ticular Church to be a society of certain gion as to be ready to subscribe their of the “Lord's free people,” joined in Articles of Faith, and every one of them, covenant for specified purposes, and as set forth in their Confessions."

under law to none but Him; and unto That venerated standard, the West- Him, under positive law, to limit governminister Confession, was it not in its ment of the member within bounds, dogmatic deliverances joint production of mutually ascertained at the outset; unto Presbyterians and Independents? Was Him under law never to demit adminisit not readily indorsed by New England tration to the law, as being an act hostile Congregationalists, then in synod at to freedom, equality, fraternity; but Cambridge, as very holy, judicious, and complete for itself in Him, and subject orthodox, in all matters of faith, (due in anything to none but Him. This was exception being taken to its polity), and peculiar to the new polity; we do not therefore to be freely consented unto for wonder that it found itself opposed by the substance thereof” ?

monarchies or aristocracies in Church If not dogmatic divergence, what was and State ; for its peculiarity reveals that necessity? It is said, " They divided with exceeding clearness that the Lord's free Spirit in his free people was crav- from Holland, that liberty in religion ing more than the existing polities beyond the seas might be confirmed tolerated.

to them under the king's broad seal. Doubtless they too served their ends. Stanchly consistent, they answered at But not one existed that welcomed that the risk of spoiling all, “ We will make Spirit; not one whose creating idea was them ourselves; the making of its minisconsistent with it ; not one but would ters is in the Church.” And so they break down in attempting it. This new went without other broad seal than God's polity was the “structural form” for good hand upon them. How does the that purpose. Our central text as a same tone sound through the farewell denomination, our starting point in the address of Pastor Robinson: Scriptures, was it not this ? “ Be ye not called masters; for One is your Master, “I charge you before God that you follow even Christ; and all ye are brethren.”

me no further than you have seen me follow Freedom for the individual; equality for

the Lord Jesus Christ. # # I am verily the member; fraternity throughout the break forth out of his holy word. I cannot

persuaded the Lord has more truth yet to body, not in spirit only, but in relations sufficiently bewail the condition of the Realso; are they not all there ? Anglicanism formed churches who are come to a period in stood for bishops against a pontiff. Pres- religion, and will go no further than the byterianism stood for “ parity of the

instruments of their reformation. The Lu

therans cannot be drawn to go beyond what clergy” against the bishops ; but the

Luther saw: whatever part of his will our parity of the clergy among themselves

God has revealed to Calvin they will rather is by no means identical with the free- die than embrace it; and the Calvinists, you dom, equality, and fraternity of all the see, stick fast where they were left by that members. The Independents were there. great man of God, who yet saw not all things. fore driven to refuse not prelacy only, This is a misery much to be lamented; for but Presbytery also, if they were all to though they were burning and shining lights

in their times, yet they penetrated not into be the Lord's free people, and secure a the whole counsel of God, but, were they “structural form ” to that end.

now living, would be as willing to embrace Challenged to submit to such authority, further light as that which they first received. they fell back upon their word, “ Be not

I beseech you remember-it is an article of ye called Master; we all have one Mas

your Church covenant--that you be ready to

receive whatever truth shall be made known ter; we are brethren. We stand alike

to you from the word of God.” near to Him. We stand therefore on essential equality.” Read their immor- But the documents are open and abuntal language : “ Resolved at whatever dant. In their light, as in that of history, cost to shake off the [anti-Christian] this polity seems intended to be a plea bondage, as the Lord's free people, we for freedom, equality, and fraternity. No renounce all obedience to human author- just explanation of its remarkable rise ity, asserting for ourselves ” — poor peo- can be given but this, that God's free ple of the humbler sort —"an unlimited spirit in his people felt constricted in preand never-ending right to make advances existing systems, and therefore created in truth, and to walk in all the ways this, not for its adherents alone, but to which God hath made known or shall pervade all others with its principles. make known to us." There it stands; a We doubt not that in all things of good declaration of independence! More than report, that in all principles and functhat, a proclamation of emancipation to tions of the Christian kingdom — howthe people of God of every communion! ever some of them may be specially

“Who shall make your ministers ?” assigned elsewhere — this denomination was asked of the Pilgrims petitioning is also to be partaker. Yet we are not on that account to ignore its having world acknowledge and practice that received a special charge.

triple yet one great thought. The nation This distinctive office may appear to was drifting away from its office and its some as of inferior dignity. But to own life, with so much unity of consent whom has a nobler special trust been as to seem almost beyond salvation. At committed ? If we examine the state this moment, the swift-descending curof the world when this word of the Lord, rent suddenly paused upon the brink. “ Call no man master,” came forth as a No momentum already on it, no pressure new evangel, to be energized afresh in a from behind, could prevent even its backliving polity, to shame down assumptions, ward flow. A power was present to save to roll away despotisms, and make the it. God had come. He revived the ideas humblest a conscious king and priest in which our national life is hid. The unto God, invested equally as the high- strife is deeper than that of armies. The est with rights, franchises, and liberties nation may conquer, and yet be conin the city of God, we shall then be able quered. Its physical forces shall destroy to answer whether the body called to the rebellion, and yet its organic ideas rescue and to stand for this great por- perish in the very moment, and even as tion of the heritage, in behalf of all that the result of its success. It largely profess and call themselves Christians belongs to us as a denomination, holding for ages to come, was not intrusted with a place of power in the land, to provide a service of more abundant honor. It against such a contingency. The nation certainly seemed no common trust to has this claim on us beyond others. the great calm minds by which it was What part our polity has had in bringfirst apprehended. In it, and for it, they ing it to refuse unrighteousness, and thus took joyfully the spoiling of their little preparing it for this crisis ; how conspicgoods, and were willing to endure the uously it has deepened conviction of loss of all things. Inspired by it, and divine authority, attaching to those ideas to open the way for those behind them, in which our national life consists; all they gathered the whole sheaf of suffer- this is matter of history. Our record is ings into their bosoms. With a great on high. It was the genius of our syssum did they obtain this freedom, and tem. Our pulpits and our papers could we were free-born. We have known not have been Congregational pulpits nothing of their sacrifices, but it is and papers without doing this. New granted to us to spread their principles England has been reviled by the mintill the whole Church is blessed by them. ions of the aristocratic spirit. Fools ! it

Standing now in presence of the his- is not New England, but that cherished tory, the distinctive principles, and the polity — vital in every part with its triple position thus assigned the denomination,

idea that has been penetrating the we are better prepared to return specific nation's sleeping and waking thoughts answers in two or three directions to our with such moral convictions. main question.

It is no reproach to it, though often 1. It is peculiarly obligatory upon it to urged as such, that our polity has never invigorate the national life. The life of a gained foothold and expansion in the nation is in its originating ideas. It was South. For this reason it has been the triple thought of liberty, equality, stigmatized as sectional. More than fraternity, in earthly things that created

two hundred years ago,

“ministers inthis nation. It is written on the fore- vited from Boston to the Puritan settlefront of our history that the grand office ments in Virginia, bearing letters from assigned it in preparing the way for Gov. Winthrop, by order of the General Christ's kingdom was this: to make the Court of Massachusetts, were silenced

our

by the government, and ordered to leave rors and limitations. There are men the country.” The Governor, Sir Wil- fearful of being free, impatiently restless liam Berkeley," was very malignant to- to be bound, recognizing no security but ward the way of the New England that of enclosing walls, covetous of being churches." By no accident was tethered by cords of prescribed length polity thus odious to the slave-holding to some stake of human driving. If such and caste-loving. South. The sensitive symbolism as this be intended, our polity instincts of slavery instantly discrimi- will have none of it. nate against it as an irreconcilable antag- With devout gratitude we accept the onist. But times are changed. “Puri- treasure of Christian doctrine and extan settlements” are now being made perience accumulated for us in the ages in Virginia of a sort not likely to permit of suffering and thought and communion “ministers invited from Boston,” or else- with God, which have gone over the where, to be ordered out of the country Church. We sit at the feet of venerated by any party “malignant toward the symbols which have condensed into way of the New England churches.” themselves so much of that result, – at New conditions arise to us out of that the feet of the men, “great and shining Southern chaos. A wide and effectual lights," through whom God's clear truth door opens before us.

came with least refraction. But none of 2. It peculiarly rests on this body to invig- them — “ remember, it is an article of orate throughout the Church of God this your Church covenant”- shall be tolertriple spirit in the several directions of the- ated one moment as a master over the ology, and experience, and polity.

inquiring mind of this humblest but For brevity we confine illustration equally free child of that God who has here to the first of these three. Success often been pleased to hide from the wise in advancing or maintaining the domains and prudent what he reveals sometime of theology demands for the devout unto babes, that the excellency of wisinquirer the feeling of personal freedom, dom may be to himself, and not to us. obligating equality, and of fraternity in Most of the received symbols and therights and duties respecting divine truth. ologies in the Church were wrought out Our polity protects that feeling. The by minds formed under despotic or arisidea is fundamental with it that there tocratic institutions. The word and shall be no “period” to theology; that, spirit of God are, indeed, not bound. as from the book of nature, so God has But who will say this absolutely for the yet more light to break forth from the strongest of finite minds — that obscuribook of revelation; penetrated as this ties, disproportionate or even distorted shall be more deeply, apprehended more "views in theology” will not come from sympathetically, and interpreted more educational training ? Who shall say, justly by an ever-rising average of Chris- for example, that a Luther, or a Calvin, tian experience, an ever-advancing Chris- or a John Robinson, living now, amidst tian consciousness. Believing in such an not only our enlarged scriptural inheritadvancement toward deeper things, car- ance — exegetic, dogmatic, experimental rying the whole body upon it, as a ship

but also amidst the free elements perits passengers, we expect to find the vading our times and institutions, would children beyond the fathers.

We are

have derived from God's word just those sometimes urged to more stringent sym- conceptions and shaped just those statebolism, to counteract what some are ments which he did under the powers pleased to term our“ centrifugal tenden- actually upon him? We recognize democies ;” urged to erect some authoritative cratic ideas, tendencies, and institutions, and final dogmatic standard with its ter- as more nearly corresponding to the ab

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