صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

command; although, after all, it is the very thing which the law requires. The same as to the command, "Thou shalt not covet." If we really covet our neighbor's house or wife, we are not transgressors, unless we had a previous voluntary agency in bringing the object before us. How often soever and how strongly soever we may covet, we are not blameworthy, if the exciting object is presented to our view without our choice. Now who of us has any right to take such liberty as this with the law of God, and to say, that it is not obeyed by that very affection which it requires, and is not disobeyed by that very affection which it forbids? Who of us would willingly be responsible for the consequences of such a theory?

As I understand the subject, if a man spontaneously puts forth either good or bad affections in view of objects brought before him without his previous design, this very circumstance does, in some respects, exhibit the goodness or badness of his character with peculiar clearness. If a man's heart is such that, whenever moral objects are brought before him, whether by his own voluntary act or not, he is at once filled with right affections and desires, we attribute to him the character of singular excellence. We say, he has an eminently good heart. And if, whenever moral objects are brought before another man, even against his intention, his heart instantly kindles into bad emotions and desires, we say, his character is stamped with uncommon depravity. In this we cannot be mistaken. Fruit growing thus spontaneously makes it very plain what the tree is. Here there is no constraint. The heart acts itself out with perfect freedom. So Christ says: "A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart, bringeth forth good things; and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things."

The remaining topics introduced by Inquirer must be deferred to another opportunity.



By one of the Professors of Yale College.

The History of Harvard University, by Josiah Quincy, LL.D., President of the University. In two volumes. Cambridge: John Owen. 1840.

[Continued from page 195.]

THE first proof of the liberality and catholicism of the founders of Harvard College, President Quincy finds in its early charters. He says: "The first constitution of Harvard College established in 1642, in enumerating the powers granted and the objects proposed to be attained by its foundation, makes use of these simple and memorable terms: To make and establish all such orders, statutes and constitutions, as they shall see necessary for the instituting, guiding and furthering of the said college and the several members thereof, from time to time, in piety, morality and learning."* In the charter of 1650, the objects of the institution are stated to be, "the advancement of all good literature, arts and sciences," and "the education of the English and Indian youth of this country in knowledge and godliness." The terms "piety" and "godliness," the author supposes to be" of all others the least susceptible of being wrested to projects merely sectarian." In reference to the language of these charters he remarks: "It is impossible even at this day, when the sun of free inquiry is thought to be at its zenith, to devise any terms more unexceptionable, or better adapted to assure the enjoyment of equal privileges to every religious sect or party."

The question is here immediately suggested: In what respect do these early charters of Harvard College, differ from the charters of similar establishments, which preceded it in England and other parts of Europe? To judge of the claims of the

[blocks in formation]

founders of Harvard College to a catholicism in that age so extraordinary, we wish to see distinctly what real advance was made, at the very outset in Massachusetts, towards liberalizing collegiate institutions, assuring" equal privileges to every religious sect or party," and preventing such seminaries from being "wrested to projects merely sectarian;" for it is most manifest, if the charters of Harvard, in their general provisions, differ not materially from such instruments as the founders must have had before them for models, that the conclusion as to the catholic spirit which they breathe is altogether too universal; the argument proves too much. If the language of these charters is not more liberal than that of earlier charters, the point to which this reasoning necessarily brings us is, that most, or all of those who were founders of literary institutions before the year 1642, as well as at that time, were influenced by views of the most enlarged catholicism; and that among this class of men throughout Christendom there has been little or nothing of bigotry, exclusiveness, or sectarianism;-a position, it is presumed, which President Quincy is hardly prepared to admit.

We have looked into the charters of the colleges in the English universities, as far as our limited means would allow, to ascertain the manner in which religion is mentioned, and its interests secured in those instruments; as these were the charters with which the founders of Harvard College were probably familiar, and which they would most naturally use as models in drafting a charter for themselves. We are by no means prepared to affirm universally on this subject; yet we are satisfied that the general fact is, that the precedents, to which the founders of Harvard College would of course look, and which they would be most likely to follow in forming its constitution, are less particular on the subject of religion, less definite and exclusive than the charter which they actually framed. In the Bull of John XXI. published in 1318, by which the several colleges in Cambridge were united in a university, neither "piety "nor "godliness," nor religion in any form, nor even the Holy Roman Church is mentioned; yet to infer from this, that the pontiff was looking forward to the time, when the church would be divided, and in the true spirit of modern liberality was endeavoring "to assure the enjoyment of equal privileges to every religious sect or party," would hardly be warranted by the premises. It would be to apply the opinions and usages of one age to explain and illustrate those of another SECOND SERIES, VOL. IV. NO. II.


wholly unlike ;-a kind of reasoning, the correctness of which no one will maintain.

So far as we have been able to ascertain facts in relation to this subject, charters had been granted to colleges both in England and Scotland only to give a corporate existence to a literary society, or to confer certain rights and privileges, which were thought essential or expedient for the attainment of the objects of its establishment; but in no case to secure the profession of particular articles of faith. These were left to the care of visitors of particular foundations or of the whole society; and the seminary itself was considered as having authority to form rules for upholding orthodoxy or excluding heresy. A college was instituted ad orandum et studendum; and the mode of arriving at these objects was prescribed by those of its own body who were authorized so to do, subject, however, to the control of its visitor or visitors. This arrangement was thought to give all the security to the prevailing faith, which the case admitted or required.

The founders of Harvard College, in settling its constitution and guarding the purity of its faith, seem generally to have followed existing precedents. In respect to religion, however, they adopted a new language. The youth, according to the first two charters, were to be educated "in piety, morality and learning," and "in knowledge and godliness." If we are not mistaken, there is here a kind of phraseology extremely diverse from that to be found in the charter of any other literary institution in the British dominions of that age. President Quincy, indeed, supposes that "piety" and "godliness" are words so abstract and general in their signification, as to be " of all others the least susceptible of being wrested to projects merely sectarian." But it should be remembered, that in 1642 and for many years afterwards, these words were far from having any transcendental meaning; and whoever, at that time, in England, should have talked of "piety" and " godliness" in reference to colleges and universities, would immediately have been recognized as a puritan of the straitest sect. There is a remark in the report on another subject of a committee of the board of Overseers of Harvard College in 1727, a part of which applies so well to this case, that we cannot express our own views better than by quoting a single sentence from it. The committee say: "It is a most clear, undeniable and universal rule, that the signification of terms must be decided in every country

[ocr errors]

according to the known and general acceptation of them, in · the several countries where they are used; and laws must needs be explained according to the general use of the terms in the places where they are made, in the times when they are enacted, and agreeably to the known principles of the legislators.' Apply the principle here asserted to the terms in question; and who, recollecting the character of the first puritans of Massachusetts, can for a moment doubt, that in the language of these charters, "piety" and "godliness" are to be interpreted in a restricted sense? The founders of Harvard College used these words as they understood them? If they had been inquired of what "piety" and "godliness" meant, in all probability they would have answered by repeating the whole of Calvin's Institutes; and if this failed to give satisfaction, they would have added" Ames's Medulla," with copious illustrations from the same author's "Cases of Conscience."


But not to insist on the meaning to be attached to the terms "piety" and "godliness" in these charters, it is certain that the founders of Harvard College were firm believers in what was considered the orthodox faith; and it will require very full proof to satisfy the minds of common inquirers, that they were willing to leave it in their new institution without all the protection and support which they could devise. That they did give it every safeguard which they thought necessary to render it perpetual is, we think, obvious from the constitution of their board of visitation. It was here that they placed their confidence in making their theological system permanent. England they had seen literary, religious and charitable foundations under the supervision of the Archbishop of Canterbury or York, or of the bishop of the diocese in which any such foundation was placed, and these establishments were thought in this way to be secure from perversion. In their case they had no archbishop or bishop to place over their college, to keep it in the straight path; but they appear to have thought that they had found a regulating and controlling power fully equivalent in the whole body, at that time, of the congregational clergy of the colony.

Considering the circumstances of Massachusetts at the time of which we are treating, the general agreement of the clergy in their system of belief, their rigid Calvinism, and the sacri

* Vol. I. 566.

« السابقةمتابعة »