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considerable reformation of manners and morals in the church, we find a reformation of doctrine as well. That great movement of the sixteenth century, which we call the Reformation by preëminence, furnishes a very striking illustration of this statement, the new church springing forth from the embrace of the old harlot, the instant she caught sight of the long lost doctrine of justification by faith. And it was exactly the same, when a little later, there went out such an exodus from the church of England. The Puritan movement was as doctrinal as the great Reformation had been : bringing out into special notice those "knotty points” of theology, by which the Calvinistic system is chiefly known. Those sturdy men contended as earnestly for the "faith once delivered unto the saints," as for a more decent mode of life among Christians and Christian ministers. People call them Puritans: it was the very name they deserved ; and they wore it till their virtues made it honorable.
It may be objected, however, that in other cases, strictness of doctrine has been associated with a much less orderly conduct. It may be said that the higher toned of two theologies has sometimes given quite the fainter utterance against some practical ungodliness; and that men who would exscind whole synods for a formula, have been ready enough to hold in fellowship those who practiced oppression upon their fellow-men. It is not necessary for our present purpose to deny these statements ; human nature is a singularly inconsistent thing even when partly sanctified; yet it will generally be found, that where the strong doctrine and loose practice are thus joined together, either the doctrine has been a little over stated, so as not to leave it in its best form, or else there has been some neglect in the application of it by preaching, to the practical issues of life. It is nothing new for men to entertain a traditional veneration for a creed from which the vitality has departed ; neither is it strange for them to insist vehemently upon a doctrine whose plainest practical inferences they quite ignore.
We have had some rich experience here in times but just gone by. One of the doctrines upon which as Americans and Protestants we have always insisted, has been the right of every human being to have access to the Bible. On scarcely any one point has our feeling been
VOL. VI.-NO. XXXI.
more united and outspoken ; and we have rallied the Romanists on the subject until we have obliged them to deny their own principles. And yet, it is scarcely four years, since the preacher who was bold enough to apply this doctrine to the case of some four millions of people among us, most of whom were forbidden by law even to learn to read this Book, took large risk of being branded as a fanatic, if he were not indeed held up through the newspapers, as one who " preached politics” ! Some ten or fifteen years ago a great interest was suddenly awakened upon the question of the unity of the human species. It started with some statements of Prof. Agassiz, in which he was thought to contradict the Mosaic record; and the religious press as well as the pulpit very appropriately undertook to show that " Adam was the father of us all." Yet who can have forgotten how much wisdom and courage it needed at that time calmly to go on and say, that if we all had one father, we certainly ought to stop buying and selling one another? That species of heresy raised a louder outcry than the other. So there we were, with medicine enough to cure the disease that was in the church, and the same carefully bottled and labelled, but nobody cured because it was not put upon the sore. We brought out our phial once a week, and shook it up, and said what a grand remedy it was for all the sins and woes of men, and then put it back again. There were some who attempted to do better, but they were not all skilful men, and the patient always objected to the treatment, and most of the doctors said it was wrong. It can scarcely be doubted that if from the time the first slaveship was landed on our shores, the Gospel had been faithfully applied to the sin of oppression, the evil would either have been entirely removed by a peaceful process, or would at least have been so restrained as never to have ventured on treason, rebellion and war. There was power enough in the truth to have disposed of this evil, but it was power not well applied to the case in hand. There is healing efficacy in the doctrines, but through our negligence or rashness in the handling of them, their best effects are sometimes lost.
It remains only to notice that the religion of power is distinguished from the æsthetic kind, by a certain spiritual life kindled in the soul. Christianity is not a mere doctrinal faith, nor
and laid away.
does it entirely consist of doctrines applied to needed reforms. It involves a work upon the heart, a religious experience, the personal enjoyment of the love of God. Without this doctrine is a dry skeleton, reforms are unsuccessful and unsafe, the grandest ceremonial is but a whited sepulchre. This spiritual life is susceptible of being combined, to a considerable extent, with art-forms and pleasant arrangements; and in quiet times it often turns them to a good purpose. But should they be lifted above their proper sphere, and should some emergency arise at the same time demanding more of vigor than of polish, it will cast all such ornamentations one side, and go forth to its work in the severest simplicity. In all periods of great awakening, the reforming party in the church has developed a tendency to lay aside mere ceremonial, much as a man takes off his coat when he takes hold of some hard work. Set formulas of worship, shaping everything to a settled propriety, constitute a kind of fair weather arrangement, under which to sit when the sea runs smooth, but when there comes a storm they must be folded
up who has come to some great soul struggle, such as Jacob had when he wrestled all night with the covenant angel, gets beyond his rubric; and the Syrophenician mothers, carrying to God their heavy burdens, find the prayer-book insufficient for the occasion. No really earnest soul will consent to be always shackled by prescribed forms.
Hence where such forms are made much account of, clung to, gloried in, you will find people commonly opposed to all earnest religious movements. In periods of reformation, the æsthetic religion takes sides against the reform ; and when the Holy Ghost is poured out from on high and sinners are turning to God, its clergy with but few exceptions will stand in solid rank against the movement, lifting up their white hands in holy horror at the shocking irregularities of the occasion, preaching pretty sermons against religious excitements, and picking up the converts that have been so badly made, not excluding a great many who would have been rejected by the other communions. The grand duke Constantine once said of his soldiers ; " I do not like war: it dirties their uniform !” For the same reason the æsthetic religion does not like revivals, they ruin her lawns and laces.
The fate of these liturgical performances, in active times, has been singularly uniform. Witness, first, the introduction of Christianity into the world. The Jewish faith, out of which the later system was developed, had been embodied in a beautiful ceremonial ; and as every particular of the ancient order had been prescribed upon divine authority, it might well have been expected that it would be continued under the new dispensation. But it turned out far otherwise ; the new life which our Saviour infused into the old system proved the complete destruction of the ritual service. The religion of Christ had no sooner attained to a distinct individuality, than its spirit expanded quite beyond the capacity of the ancient enclosure. The old shell, smoothed so beautifully, and mottled with scarlet and gold, was too small; it split straight through ; it fell off right and left ; and the new evangel taking wings, soared above the hollow ruin, as different an object in all outward appearance from the Jewish body out of which it sprung, as from those heathen systems, upon which it went forth to make war. The church once fairly organized flung out her banner with this inscription : " Neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creature !
Just so it was again when the church herself needed reforming. As her love grew cold, and the zeal of primitive times passed away, she had more and more availed herself of a settled ritual. For a dying faith it was found congenial and convenient in many ways. And the trappings were multiplied as the spiritual decay went on, until there was little else to be found. There was some protest against this very early; and at an early day some separation from it ; but the evil increased until that great uprising in which Luther and Melancthon, Zwingle and Farel called forth the Lord's people from the mystic Babylon. And the tendency was, wherever that movement was felt, to break away from the ancient forms. In England, however, an attempt was made to save what was being so rudely cast off, at least so much of it as was not positively evil, and having put it in the vernacular of the country, to animate it with the rising spirit of the times. Nothing could seem more prudent; and yet this arrangement produced almost immediate discontent. Those stately ceremonies and imposing forms, carefully as they had been revised, yet had the odor of the old abomination about them; and had they been ever so pure, they were unsuited to the wants of earnest men. Time, which allays so many
discontents, therefore only made this matter worse. Authority was then interposed to put down the rising feeling, and that of course aggravated it. At last, as might have been expected, the crisis came; and in one day two thousand brave men who had fought the battle of the cross went out from their livings in the establishment, not knowing whither they went. Thus was Puritanism brought into the world : a movement from its very inception making protest against the æsthetic religion, and to this day wonderfully illustrating the power there is in the Gospel of the Son of God.
This exodus did not leave much life in the house whence it came out, but the little it did leave proved tenacious and productive. In due season, therefore, another secession occurred in almost precisely the same manner. A large party, of whom the Wesleys were the representatives, were awakened to a desire for a more spiritual religion. They had no thought of casting off the old forms, much less of coming out from the old church; and even when their congregations began to form by themselves, they only called them "societies,” still indulging the pleasant illusion that they were not a separate body, but should soon be able to kindle up a soul beneath those ribs of death. But they found they had raised a spirit they could not control. God took the issue out of their hands. The result was inevitable. As the power of the Gospel began to be felt, all set forms and liturgical services became distasteful, the awakened multitude surged up against those restraints like the ocean waves against a crumbling cliff. The very idea at last became absurd. A warm Methodist praying from a book; shouting " glory” according to prescribed form ; answering " Amen” only where it came in course; going off with the "power” at a convenient pause in the services ! It would not do : the living force could not be so " cabined, cribbed, confined.” It came out from the grand old temples where it was born, and took to the cross roads and open fields. Then, it cast off almost every vestige