Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

or little pieces of Mrs. Moore, Mr. Richmond, and others, are founded on such a state of things, and show what facilities, the situation of this class of people affords to the benignant labors of the gospel ministry, and how great is the influence which true religion may be made to exert over them. The beautiful lines of Goldsmith, on the Country Clergyman, seem certainly to be justified by the existence of such an influence, whether the poet, in the particular instance described, had facts in his mind or not.

The service past, around the pious man,
With ready zeal, each honest rostic ran;
Even children followed with endearing wile,

And plucked bis gown, to share the good pian's smile. In this country the clergy do not exert, in any peculiar degree, such an influence or enjoy such an intercourse, since there are very few in the community, who are willing to be known as dependent, or to be ranked in the class denominated the

poor. On the whole, we rejoice to acknowledge, that christianity as practised in Great Britain, notwithstanding some deficiencies as it is preached, even among the evangelical class of divines, appears to comparative advantage. And this is the fact not only among the lower, but, in a measure, among the higher orders of British society. There seems to be a real foundation for our tourist's remark, before introduced, that a higher tone of piety prevails, than would be expected from the general style of pulpit instruction, to whatever cause it may be ascribed—whether to the spiritual character of the liturgy, as he is disposed to think, or more, as we believe, to other circumstances.

We have ever supposed that much genuine religion exists, in the various branches that constitute the visible church of God, in Great Britain. It is needless to say how greatly we admire that vigorous piety, which has so often sprung up in her favored soil. We love to think of her holy and devoted missionaries, who in the spirit of Martin, Ward, and Carey, go into all the world, carrying the light of the gospel to the dark-minded pagan—of those of her ecclesiastical dignitaries, who, like Leighton and Porteus, not only adorn literature, but are zealous for the interests of pure, and undefiled religion, and of that increasing number of her lower clergy, who, with a small stipend, "with forty pounds a year,” or less, are "passing rich” in good works, exhibiting a consecration of body and soul to the service of Christ, beyond all praise. We only wish that there were more such men, and that the tone of piety in the community at large, was much higher than it appears to be. That the triumphs of the gospel are greater than would be expected, from the generality of English preaching, is justly an occasion of gratitude to God. But it might be hoped, that those triuinphs would

be greatly augmented, if a different and improved strain of preaching were more commonly to prevail : if not only the weekly dispensers of morality in the establishment, were to become evangelical, but all the evangelical were to follow more nearly the example of the pungent, thorough-going few, who themselves are humble imitators of Christ and his apostles.

Art. VII.-Review OF AN ADDRESS TO THE CITIZENS OF Bos

TON, AND AN HISTORICAL SKETCH OF WATERTOWN.

An Address to the citizens of Boston, on the 17th of September 1830, 'the

close of the second century from the settlement of the city. By Josian

Quincy, LL. D. President of Harvard University. Boston: '1830. An Historical Sketch of Walertown in Massachusetts, from the first settle

ment of the town, to the close of its second century. By Convers FRANcis, Congregational Minister of Watertown. Cambridge: 1830.

It is hardly ten years since the celebration of the close of the second century, from the landing of the fathers of New-England at Plymouth. Similar celebrations are now following each other in rapid succession, in the other principal towns of Massachusetts. These are events in which all New-England very naturally feels an interest ; as the old colony of Plymouth, and a few towns on the coast of Massachusetts bay, were the nurseries of nearly the whole New-England population. This is especially true of Connecticut. The first settlers in Hartford, and several of the other towns on Connecticut river, had resided some time in the neighborhood of Boston, before their removal to the west; and the original colonists of New Haven, likewise, had previously visited Massachusetts. Indeed, few of the first English inhabitants of Connecticut came directly from Europe, to the places of their final settlement. Many towns in Connecticut were settled in part at a later period from Massachusetts, by persons of the second and third generations from the original English emigrants. But there were other circumstances which served to unite the first inhabitants of Massachusetts and Connecticut, and of the other New England colonies, by the strorg bonds of mutual regard and sympathy. They had all been driven from their homes by the same persecution, they prosessed the same faith, and had generally the sanie views, and pursued the same measures, in establishing their new commonwealths. The course of events down to the war of the revolution, was such as to strengthen these early ties of feeling and interest; and since the acquisition of our independence, the descendants of the pilgrims, who are scattered through all the states of the union, though mem

bers of new communities, and such as were originally established on somewhat different principles, yet with few and inconsiderable exceptions, cherish the remembrance of their origin, and show a marked respect and reverence for their ancestors. Whatever, therefore, illustrates the history of the first settlements in NewEngland, is sure to be favorably received by multitudes throughout our widely extended territories.

The means of elucidating the early history of New-England have been greatly increased within the last forty years. Through the labors of societies and individuals, many historical documents of great value have been brought to light; and some additional information from the same sources, may still be expected. The great business however, of combining and properly digesting the mass of historical materials now within our reach, and of exhibiting a just estimate of transactions and of characters, cannot soon be completed. But every year brings new accessions even here to our stock of acquisitions: and the celebrations to which we have alluded, are occasions to which we may justly look, not only for new facts and new elucidations of our early annals, but for fuller exhibitions than we have hitherto had, of the great principles which guided the founders of these northern republics.

Boston, as the capital of New-England, ought of course to take a prominent part in these centennial celebrations. Its citizens are to a great extent, descendants of the original settlers, and there is no place where the early New-England history is better known. The Address of President Quincy is such an one, as the occasion demanded. The orator gives a rapid sketch of the political and moral state of England and of Europe, at the time when the colonization of New-England was begud; of the principles of the early colonists; and the reasons of some of their most important laws and institutions. He notices various facts in the history of Boston, illustrative of the character of its citizens,—as seen in their “clear conceptions of duty ; bold vindication of right; and readiness to incur dangers and meet sacrifices in the maintenance of liberty, civil and religious.” After some remarks on the situation of NewEngland generally, the address closes with a powerful call on the citizens of Boston, the men of Massachusetts, and the descendants of the early emigrants, to “ consider their blessings and to consider their duties."

That one great object of the emigration of our ancestors was religious liberty, and that they were compelled to abandon their homes through dread of the English hierarchy, is well known; but few, we believe, in these days of religious freedom absolute and unlimited, form a just estimate of the amount of evil from which our ancestors fled, and which for a long time threatened them, even in their distant retreat. Without noticing, at present, the oppres

sion which drove from England the first fugitives to Plymouth, we will advert for a moment to the state of things, when the settlements in New-England began to draw the attention of the civil and ecclesiastical powers at home. President Quincy has given an extract from the commission to archbishop Laud and others, in the year 1634, to regulate the affairs of the plantations. We will give a somewhat larger view of this instrument, especially as the powers it conferred were in full operation when Governor Eaton, the Rev. John Davenport, and their associates, who planted the NewHaven colony, lest England.

The Latin original of this commission may be seen in Hazard's collection of state papers, and a translation of it in Hubbard's general history of New-Èngland. It is addressed by king Charles, “to the right reverend father in God, our right trusty and well beloved counsellor William, * by the providence of God, archbishop of Canterbury, primate and metropolitan of all England," and ten other persons. The commission, after reciting the fact that English colonies had been established in several parts of the world, states that the king has been graciously pleased to provide for their “ ease and tranquility,” and authorizes the persons therein named, “ to make laws, ordinances, and constitutions, concerning either the state public of the said colonies, or utility of private persons, and their lands, goods, debts, and succession within the precincts of the same," &c. After which we find this clause: “ And for relief and support of the clergy, and the rule and cure of the souls of our people living in those parts, and for consigning of convenient maintenance unto them by tithes, oblations, and other profits accruing, according to your good discretion, with the advice of two or three of our bishops, whom you shall see fit to call unto your consultations, touching the distribution of such maintenance unto the clergy, and all other matters ecclesiastical; and to inflict punishment upon all offenders or violators of the constitutions and ordinances, either by imprisonment or other restraint, or by loss of life or members, according as the quality of the offense shall require.”

The commissioners are farther authorized; to remove, with the royal assent, all governors of colonies, and to appoint others in their stead, to punish those whom they shall judge delinquent, by mulcts and penalties, to appoint judges to determine civil causes, and to establish ecclesiastical courts, with such powers, as to the commissioners with the advice of the archbishop of Canterbury should seem meet, &c. This was placing the colonies entirely at the

mercy of the English church. The true character of the measures contemplated by the cominission will be more distinctly per

* Laud.

ceived, by recollecting that the colonies of New-England, which were brought within its operation, had been planted by men who sacrificed all that is commonly considered necessary to external comfort and happiness, for the sake of enjoying liberty of conscience. These colonies had been established and defended at the expense of the colonists themselves. But for their “ ease and tranquility," the very church from which they had fled, was now to be forced upon them, under the penalty of the “ loss of life or members," in case of resistance. Here we see the principal reason for the regulation originally adopted in Massachusetts, and afterwards introduced among the fundamental laws of the colony of New-Haven, viz. that the power of voting and of holding any civil office, should be confined to church members. This rule was established to secure, as well their civil as their religious freedom. It was essential to the existence among them, as they thought, of any thing like self-government, that all emissaries of the hierarchy should be excluded from every office, where they could use any influence towards introducing among them the very ecclesiastical tyrranny, from which they had Aed. The power of the archbishop, if predominant, would have led the way to the prostration of all civil power in the colonial authorities, and New-England would have been governed at the discretion of the crown. This was undoubtedly the view of the subject entertained by the colonists themselves. They were well aware of the dangers which threatened them, they had well considered their means of avoiding these dangers, and they ought not to be censured by those who judge of this feature of their government, only from the present circumstances of our country. The following remarks of President Quincy we consider important and just.

On the subject of religious liberty, their intolerance of other sects has been reprobated as an inconsistency, and as violating the very rights of conscience for which they emigrated. The inconsistency, if it exist, is al. together constructive, and the charge proceeds on a false assumption. The necessity of the policy, considered in connection with their great design of independence, is apparent. They had abandoned house and home, had sacrificed the comforts of kindred and cultivated life, bad dared the dangers of the sea, and were then braving the still more appalling terrors of the wilderness; and for what?-to acquire liberty for all sorts of consciences? Not so; but to vindicate and maintain the liberty of their own consciences. They did not cross the Atlantic, on a crusade in behalf of the rights of mankind in general, but in support of their own rights and liberties. Tolerate! Tolerate whom? The legate of the Roman Pontiff, or the emissary of Charles the First and Archbishop Laud? How consummate would have been their folly and madness, to have fled into the wilderness to escape the horrible persecutions of those hierarchies, and at once have admitted into the bosom of their society, men brandishing, and ready to apply, the very flames and fetters from which they had ied: Those who are disposed to condemn them on this account, neither realize the necessities of their condition, nor the prevailing character

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »