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diction afterwards signally veri- but experience has shown it to be fied.
a prudence, which in the beginning “ As another cause of debility surrenders at discretion to the eneand desolation, may be noted the my, to keep him quiet; which subdefections occasioned by the re- stitutes policy for duty, and relies storation of evangelical doctrine on temporizing expedients, instead and discipline. The revivals of of the protection and blessing of 1740, were the commencement of God, in the fearless performance a reformation, which has brought of duty. The uniforin effect has us back, with few exceptions, to been, weak heads and a faint heart the doctrines and discipline of to the minister, the loss of personour fathers. * A change so great al usefulness, the suspension of dihowever, and so contrary to human vine influence, the decline of vital depravity, fortified by custom, was piety, immorality and error in the not to be accomplished without church, and impiety and licenresistance. Accustomed to the tiousness without; until, at the immunities of church membership, death or dismission of the pastor, and pleased with this self-right- the church has become almost exeous, dilatory method of prepara- tinct, and the congregation is contion for heaven, the unconverted ducted to the verge of ruin." were alarmed at the demands of In the above extracts, reference immediate repentance, and offend- is made to Cotton Mather. His ed at the distinction, both doctrin- Magnalia, or ecclesiastical history al and practical, which now began of New England, was published in to be made, between the righteous 1702, about eighty years from the and the wicked. It was not till first settlement of Plymouth. after nearly half a century of con- Some extracts from that work will troversy, in the progress of which show that the
show that the progress of religious many churches were shaken, and declension in his day was such as many societies enfeebled, that the to create alarm in his mind, though point became established, that a he approved of the half-way cov
, credible profession of religion is enant, and was in other respects indispensable to church member- probably less strict than his ancesship; and that the seals of the cov- tors. The half-way covenant pracenant are to be applied to none tice was sanctioned by a Synod but to the members of the visible held at Boston in 1662, and in church and their children,
Cotton Mather's time, was gene" Another cause of desolation, rally adopted. more limited in its operation, but In an introduction to the Magnot less disastrous in its effects, nalia, the Rev. Mr. Higginson, of where it has operated, has been the Salem says, “Much more may we, timid policy of forbearing to preach the children of such fathers, lament plainly those doctrines which of- our gradual degeneracy from that fend, and of shrinking from a vigi- life and power of godliness that lant, efficient discipline in the was in them.
We their succeschurch, lest these things should sors are far short of them in many interrupt the peace, and endanger respects. Mourning under many the stability of the congregation. rebukes from our God, which they “ It has been called prudence; had not, and with trembling hearts
observing the gradual declinings * He is speaking of Connecticut, where that are amongst us from the holy Socinianism has never preyailed extensively
ways of God; we are forced to cry
out and say, Lord, what will be declaration unto you, earnestly come of these churches in time?” desiring, and, in the bowels of our
In his own introduction, Mather Lord Jesus, requiring you to be says, “In my own country, be very diligent and careful to catesides a considerable number of chise and instruct all people, esloose and vain inhabitants risen ' pecially the youth, under your up, to whom the Congregational charge, in the sound principles of church discipline, which cannot Christian religion.” live well where the power of god. They had reason to fear, that liness dies, is become distasteful the instruction of the people in for the purity of it; there is also the great doctrines of the Gospel, a number of eminently godly per- was too much neglected. The desons who are for a larger way.' cay of vital godliness is a natural
From what he elsewhere says, consequence of such neglect. it is evident that he is speaking of In the lives of Cotton and oththe principles of discipline, and ers, Mather says, “ I saw a fearnot the mode. Those principles, ful degeneracy, creeping, I cannot as recognized by the pilgrims, say, but rushing in upon these were too strict to suit the advo- churches; I saw to multiply concates of modern liberality, when tinually our dangers, of our losing administered in any mode. They no small points in our first faith, also are for a larger or looser way. as well as our first love.—I saw a
In a sermon at Boston, in 1698, visible shrink in all orders of men he says, “What changes have we among us, from that greatness and seen in point of religion? The pow- that goodness which was in the first er of godliness is now grievously grain. While in Europe, the Prodecayed among us.
Ye old men
testants have prodigiously waxed that are inhabitants of the town, worse; a revolt into Pelagianism cannot you remember, that in your and Socinianism, or what is half days, a prayerful, a watchful, a way to it, has not been more surfruitful Christian, and a well- prising to me, than to see, that in governed family, was a more com- America, those parts which were mon sight, than it is now in our planted with a more poble vine, days?"
do so fast give a prospect of affordIn 1668, the Governor and Coun-ing only the degenerate plants of cil of Massachusetts, in a circular
a strange vine." to the ministers, speaking of their And yet, probably, he little duty to their parishioners, say, thought, that in less than a centu“ Pastors and Teachers, besides ry, these prospects would be so their constant public preaching to much more than realized, that an them, ought to enquire after their extensive revolt would take place, profiting by the word, instructing not only into what is half way to them in, and pressing upon them, Socinianism, but into Socinianism whether young or old, the great itself. Let our churches take doctrines of the Gospel, even per- warning! Like causes produce like
! sonally and particularly, so far as effects. their strength and time will per- In the life of Bulkly, he says, mit. We hope that sundry of you “At Concord he preached over need not a spur in these things; the illustrious truths, about the yet, forasmuch as we have cause person, the natures, the offices of to fear that there is too much neg- Christ. What would he have lect in many places, we do there said, if he had lived in this evil fore, think it our duty to emit this day, when 'tis counted good advice for a minister of the gospel not to generation is for the greater part preach much on the person of another generation than what was Christ?"
in New-England forty years ago, How many are there among us, for us to declare our adherence to who think it good advice for a min. the faith and order of the Gospel, ister not to preach much on any of according to what is in scripture the peculiar doctrines of the gos- expressed in the platform of discipel! 'It has long been the wish of pline, may be a good means, both the advocates of error that the to recover those that have erred friends of truth should not preach from the truth, and to prevent much on the points of difference. apostacy for the future. In order
In 1679, à Synod was held at to reformation, it is necessary that Boston, by order of the General the discipline of Christ in the powCourt of Massachusetts, to answer er of it should be upheld in the these two questions: “ What are churches. It is a known and true the provoking evils of New-Eng- observation, that remissness in the land? 2. What is to be done, that exercise of discipline was attendso these evils may be reformed?” ed with corruption of manners; The reason assigned by the histo- and that did provoke the Lord to rian for calling said Synod, is, give men up to strong delusions in “The evil spirit of apostacy from matters of faith. Experience hath the power of godliness, and the va- evinced, that personal instruction rious discoveries and consequences and discipline hath been an happy of such an apostacy, became still means to reform degenerated conmore sensible to them that feared gregations." God." The Synod say, “ If New- The historian adds, “ That a England remember whence she is reforming Synod could not accomfallen, and do the first works, plish a universal reformation of there's reason to hope, that it shall provoking evils in the country, has be better with us than at our be- been a matter of most sensible obginnings. But if this, after all servation. Our manifold indispoother means in and by which the sitions to recover the dying power Lord hath been striving to reclaim of godliness, were punished with us, shall be despised, or become successive calamities; under all of ineffectual, we may dread what is which our apostacies from that like to follow.” În enumerating godliness have rather proceeded prevailing evils, they say, “ There than abated. The old spirit of is a great and visible decay of the New-England hath been sensibly power of godliness amongst many going out of the world, as the old professors in these churches. It saints in whom it was have gone; may be feared that there is, in too and instead thereof, the spirit of many, spiritual and heart apostacy the world, with a lamentable negfrom God. As to what concerns lect of strict piety, has crept in upfamilies and government thereof, on the rising generation." there is much amiss. There are Towards the close of the work, many families that do not pray to the author adds what he calls, God constantly morning and even-“ prognostications upon the future ing, and many more, wherein the state of New-England;" which he scriptures are not daily read, that introduces in this measure: “But, so the word of Christ might dwell oh, my dear New-England, give richly with them.” In showing one of thy friends leave to utter what is to be done, they say, “ In- the fears of thy best friends conasmuch as the present standing cerning thee; and consider what
fearful cause there may be for thee Such instances, doubtless, had to expect sad things to come.” begun to appear. Again, Among the reasons for expecting * Where a fountain shall be- sad things to come, are several come corrupt, there the streams which are worthy of particular no- will no longer make glad the city tice. One is as follows:
of God.” * Where churches professing a How strikingly has this been great reformation, shall in their fulfilled in the University of Camconstitution cease to represent un- bridge! What then existed to octo the world the holiness of the casion such an anticipation, we Lord Jesus Christ, and of his heav- not particularly informed. enly kingdom, they will become Again, loathsome to that holy Lord; their * Finally, there was a town callglory is gone, and their defence ed Amycle, which was ruined by goes with it; the dreadful wrath silence. The rulers, because there of heaven will astonish the world had been some false alarms, forwith the things which it will do bade all people, under pain of unto them.”
death, to speak of any enemies Whether any churches had al approaching them: So, when the ready so reformed their constitu- enemies came indeed, no tions or articles of faith, as to ex- durst speak of it, and the town was clude the essentials of Christian- lost. Corruptions will grow upon
| ity, or there was then reason to the land, and they will gain by siapprehend such things would soon lence. It will be so invidious to be done, we are not particularly do it, no man will dare to speak informed. Again,
of the corruptions; and the fate of “Where a mighty body of peo- Amycle will come upon the land. ple in a country are violently set Reader, I called these things proupon running down the ancient phecy, but I wish I be not all this church state in that country, and while writing history.” are violent for the hedge about the Corruptions have, indeed, grown communion of the Lord's table to upon the land; and they have gainbe broken down; the churches there ed by silence. The friends of are not far from a tremendous con- truth were off their guard, and the vulsion.
advocates of error crept in una. This paragraph may explain the wares. Silence on the great points last. Some things of that kind no of gospel doctrine gradually predoubt existed. Again,
pared the way, and at length error “Where churches are bent up- broke in like an overwhelming on backsliding, and carried away flood. Let the churches in this with a strong spirit of apostacy, land take warning, before it is too whatever minister shall set himself late with us also. to withstand their evil bents, will
A Son of the Pilgrims. pull upon himself an inexpressible
Utica Christ. Repos. contempt and hatred."
FOR TIL HOPKINSTAK MAGAZINE,
ness, but the writer does not per
ceive a want of correctness, in the Reply to the queries and observa- essay, to which J. alludes. In
, tions of J. in the last number, that essay an objection was made page 189.
to the sentiment, that free, moral There
may be a want of clear- | agency consists in doing as on
chooses to do. Upon which, J., who possess moral discernment, asks, “ Does the writer ever act are free moral agents. This w contrary to present choice?” The distinctly stated in the essay.answer is readily given in the neg- | Moral agency is not the same thing ative; but it does not hence fol- as a moral agent, he must be able low, that the writer may not choose to distinguish between right and to do many things, which he does wrong, or moral good and evil. ! not effect, for want of opportunity This leads J. to ask another quesor power. As doing, in this con- tion: '- Is not this making connexion, is distinguished from choice science and understanding one?”
? or volition, it means external ac- I answer, not precisely; but it is tion. And, therefore, if free mor- making conscience a natural fac
a al agency consisted in doing as ulty of the mind, which, together one chooses to do; then men could with perception, memory, judg. be free, no farther than they are ment, and several others, is comable to do, and actually do, what prehended under the general term they choose. But, men may be understanding or intellect. Conmorally free and accountable, in science and understanding are not desiring and choosing to do a thou- synonymous terms; nor are they sand things, which they have not to be received as wholly differopportunity and ability to perforin. ent.' “ Understanding,
says J. David was morally free, and did " “ is a perceptive power." I would what was acceptable to God, in rather say, that perception is one choosing and intending to build of the powers of the understanding. Him a house, though he did not J. adds, “by means of which (the build it. Hence God said to him, understanding) distinguish - Whereas it was in thine heart good and evil. Without this powto build an house unto my name, er, conscience cannot act.” Here, thou DiDST WELL that it was in I must beg leave to think, that J. thine heart.” And, on the other is deficient, both in clearness and hand, the forty men, who conspir- | correctness; in clearness, because ed and bound themselves with an he does not make a proper distincoath to kill Paul, were morally tion between the power of percepfree, and did what was offensive tion and the understanding, which to God and deserving of his wrath, comprehends all the natural powthough their hands did not, and ers and faculties of the mind; in could not perform their enterprise. correctness, because he represents Hence, it was said, in the essay, the faculty of conscience as entireto be the sentiment of Hopkins-ly distinct from the understanding. ians, that “ free moral agency I agree with J. in saying, that consists, simply, in choosing or “ without clear light in the underwilling." Upon this, J. asks, standing, the decisions of con“ Are not these powers or acts science are liable to be wholly found with every domestick ani- wrong.” The verdict of conscience mal?” The answer is again in the is always according to the evidence affirmative: but it does not hence exhibited before it, whether that follow, that every domestick ani- evidence be true or false. This, mal is a free moral agent. All however, is not saying, as some free moral agency may consist in have said, that conscience is choice, and yet ail choice may not one's opinion of his own action:' be free moral agency.
Every conscience obliges one to form à being, that: chooses or wills, is a favourable or unfavourable opinion free agent; but those beings only, ' of his actions, according to the