« PreviousContinue »
(FROM THE "CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE," PUBLISHED AT BOSTON.)
PUBLISHED BY N. G. MAXWELL,
NO. 148 MARKET STREET.
JOHN D. TOY, PRINTER.
A Sermon, exhibiting some of the principal doctrines of the
Letters on the ministry, ritual, and doctrines of the Protestant Episcopal Church; addressed to the Rev. Wm E. Wyatt, D. D. Associate Minister of St. Paul's parish, Baltimore, and Professor of Theology in the University of Maryland; in reply to "a Sermon exhibiting some of the principal doctrines of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States;" by JARED SPARKS, A. M. Minister of the First Independent Church of Baltimore. Baltimore. N. G. Maxwell. pp. 268.
SINCE Episcopacy sustained in 1763, the formidable assault of Dr. Mayhew, and to shield it, the rector of Cambridge and the archbishop of Canterbury interposed alike in vain, it has made no progress among us, such as could be satisfactory to its friends. The writings of that admirable man gave the alarm through New-England, and awoke the old congregational spirit. The measures of the English society*
* Our readers are aware that the writings of Dr. Mayhew referred to, were occasioned by the society established under king William, "for the propagation of the gospel in foreign parts," having engaged in proselyting operations in New-England.
were disconcerted; and it was fain to turn again to the new settlers and the Indians, and leave the descendants of puritans to take care of themselves. The revolution succeeding, of course did the cause of the English establishment no good; and the most important incident in its history, among us, since that time, is the separation from it, and open avowal of Unitarian sentiments, of one of the principal churches in its communion.
In other parts of the country it has been different. In New-York, the rich endowment of Trinity, and, of late, the exertions of an active individual, have given a currency to Episcopal peculiarities, and church has pursued leg-house with no tardy pace, toward the savage frontier of the state. In Virginia, the generation of clergy, who, as bishop White, with beautiful simplicity relates, "continued to enjoy the glebes, without performing a single act of religious duty, except, perhaps, that of marriage," in course of time was extinct, and, under the auspices of bishop Moore, a somewhat better day is understood to have begun. In Maryland, it was not surprising, that, pursued by the Catholics on the one side, and the Methodists on the other, many should be glad to find shelter in an establishment, in which superstition assumes a less repulsive shape, and discipline and pomp do something to keep out fanaticism. In Connecticut, the abuse of spiritual power has created an opposition, which has placed itself, as every wise political opposition will, under that organization which will make it most effective. Almost every where, the church has been aided by the general prevalence of the spirit of inquiry, re-acting on those who do not feel this spirit. Encouraged as it is in the word of God, it is resisted by the indifference of most men on the subject of religion. Their dislike of trouble,
* Memoirs of the Protestant Episcopal Church. p. 59.
they call love of peace; and when they are told that the articles of faith are but articles of union, that though the church seems authoritative and precise, yet after all, the church means nothing; and if they will not contradict, they may believe any thing, or not believe any thing, just as they will,-they are satisfied that the church is the place for them. From these causes, among others, it is no longer the insignificant body that it was, when nine clergymen and four laymen met in New-Brunswick, in 1784, and projected an American Episcopate. Bishop Hobart's visitations, we are told, are to more than an hundred parishes, and bishop Kemp's to nearly as many.*
It is characteristic of this church, that its pretensions have always risen with its power. In England, a man cannot carry a pair of colours, till he has taken the sacrament according to the forms of the national church; nor can a dissenting clergyman solemnize a marriage. Among us, the clergy and members of this communion have always been regarded with a welldeserved respect and good-will, which, as yet, they have not endangered by challenging more. They ¦ have stood on the same ground with other denominations, recommending themselves by orderly Christian worship, and good Christian practice; but we suppose not one in an hundred of our readers ever heard the plea urged, of an exclusive right to the discharge of the sacred office being vested in their ministry. In the powerful diocess of Maryland, it seems, it is otherwise; and the readers of Dr. Wyatt's sermon in this age of sober sense and theological learning, have the trial appointed to them, of reading "that to the order of bishops alone, belongs the power of ordaining ministers; and that an ordination performed by the
[* There is much reason to believe, that in regard to the numbers mentioned in this place, the reviewer is under a mistake. From a list published the present year, it appears, that in the diocess of New-York there are only sixty-six preachers, several of whom are missionaries, and in that of Maryland, number is forty-eight.]