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he himself claims, and believe that each man has a greater interest in being right than another can have in making him so, is the disposition which generally does, and always ought to áecompany such freedom. This tolerating and catholic spirit is extensively diffused through this part of our country. It is indeed much opposed and suppressed, as far as their influence extends, by some, whose narrow, but honest minds, have been too long contracted to be capable of enlargement, and who are instigated most zealously by others, whom their own passions and interests have driven into opposition. Loud and bitter in consequence have been the denunciations against many of our clergy, for the freedom with which they have thought, and the liberty with which they have spoken. Two instances are yet recent, in which honest inquiry has been followed by all the obloquy that could be inflicted by the condemnation of self-appointed censors, and by all the temporal punishment they could impose. From similar causes the characters of many of the clergy of our metropolis and its neighbourhood have been misrepresented, and we may say, infamously misrepresented. The calumnies that have been circulated have been believed, we suppose, by the credulous and ignorant; and, for aught we know, have, by their frequent repetition, had some effect upon the minds of men of discernment and intelligence, who could not themselves be undeceived by personal observation. We have in different parts of our country, heard stories of the kind to which we allude, that were so ludicrously false, and betrayed such profound ignorance, that we were made grave only by remembering the mischief they were the means of effecting, and the criminal deception, the misrepresentations and misstatements of passion, and prejudice, and party zeal, in which they had their origin. But however jealous we may be of the reputation of men, upon whom, more perhaps than on any others, depends the respectability of our clergy, and however desirous that they should have the rewards of public approbation which their learning, their piety, their assiduity in the discharge of their duties deserve, we shall not attempt to vindicate them from the charges to which
they are exposed. We alluded to this subject only that we might present a strong and prominent instance of the objects of so much odium, cloaked as it is under the garb of opposition to heresy and zeal for the cause of religion, and an instance likewise of the mode of warfare which has been adopted. Let the character of our metropolis answer for that of her clergy. That its character depends much upon that of its ministers of religion, no one can deny. Let the voices be heard which constantly sound in distant places, as well as at home, in praise of her ready munificence, her extensive libes rality, and the relief which she affords to the wretched, of whatever communion or country. Her institutions for the promotion of human comfort and of literature are sufficient. evidence of the principles, which exist in the hearts of those, who have the disposal of her wealth, either by influence or possession. Above all, let her morality be remembered, by which her citizens are so much distinguished from the inhabitants of most large cities, and which in no small degree must be the result of the exertions of her clergy, and of the kind of instructions which they dispense. Our university has in like manner been assailed, but she has been shielded by the talents and virtues of her guardians; and the inefficacy of the attacks
upon her character could not be better evinced, than by the public confidence which is indicated by her present condition, and the patronage she now receives. The reason why our clergy have been thus reprobated, and our university attacked, is to be found in the notions on religious subjects, which are, or are said to be, maintained, in the opinions concerning the mode in which those of different religious opinions should be treated, and the degree of importance to be attached to the belief of certain speculative doctrines. In the mode of regarding these things there has certainly been a great change, since a period to be recollected, which we think is to be attributed to the influence of learning and criticism. Most of those who, from want of this learning, or from other causes do not see the reasons of it, are opposed to those who are concerned in it. The opinions in consequence, which are now enter
tained by many on some or all of these subjects are stigmatized by others as heretical-a term of theological abuse, which it requires no other quality of the mind or of the heart to enable and dispose one to apply, than that satisfied and undoubting confidence in the correctness of one's own opinions, which is the common result of ignoranee and want of examination. It is this great and increasing change, which we think has excited the zeal of the writer in the Panoplist. It is to overwhelm this heresy that he would erect his ecclesiastical tribunals, and the statement which we have made will explain his meaning when he speaks of the pass to which things have now come. When therefore we consider the character of the men who have been denounced or avoided because they maintain certain sentiments, the places where these sentiments are said to prevail, the apparent causes of their prevalence, and the weapons by which those who profess them have been assailed, we confess, that to us what is called hatred to heresy, appears to be opposition to sound criticism, to learning, and to catholicism. It is the blasting and destruction of these, which we think the authors of the proposition for ecetesiastical tribunals are aiming at directly if not willingly. Among those who might associate for their formation there would be some without doubt who would not be aware of the greatness of the power they were assuming, and of the misehief which they were about to assist in perpetrating. But it would bę blind charity indeed to believe, that this plan was only blundered upon, by such as were unable to perceive what consequences would result from its execution, and it would be against our conviction to profess, that its framers were not aware and desirous of some effects, which we should consider as disgraceful to our country, and most injurious to religion.
It must necessarily be a fundamental principle with those who associate themselves for the purpose of judging of the correctness of the religious opinions of others, and for punishing those who may deviate from their own, that there is no doubt that they themselves are right, both in the opinions they entertain, the importance they attach to them, and the power they assume in coercing those of others. They must believe that they have a full view of the subjects upon which they judge--that they see them in every direction. They must deny that the prejudices of education, the scenes with which; they have been conversant, or their occupations in life, circumstances, which affect the judgments of other men in a thousand ways, have had any influence upon them. They must suppose that their minds are perfectly pure, and free from any bias, which violent party feelings, or local attachments, which deep rooted prejudices, or bitter passious, or a mean, yet as powerful motive as any, interest, might be expected to produce. They must maintain, that in some way or another, they have been privileged (withoyt perhaps any particular efforts on their part) to escape the influence of all these motives; and that in consequence, by the peculiar cireumstances of the case, and by an internal consciousness of being certainly right, they are marked out as the delegates of heaven, to judge, and censure, and punish their fellow Christians for exercising that liberty on religious subjects concerning which some of them have heretofore been in the habit of thinking that they are accountable only to God. Such claims have been often made, and the plea on which they are usually founded by vulgar fanaticism is that of a special, miraculous illumination, which leads into all truth. The writer in the Panoplist however founds his claim to the certainty of being right upon his peculiar fairness of mind, and goodness of heart; a mind, if we understand him, too fair to yield to any preju. dice, and a heart too good to be influenced by any improper motive. It is because his heart is so good, and those of his opponents so corrupt, and their minds so blinded by the god of this world, that there are such differences of opinion between him and them: for, aş he believes, none of the circumstances which so much affect men's minds on other subjects can cause any innocent variety of sentiment on topics of religious speculation. When attempting to answer an objection, that it is difficult to determine what heresy is, he says, that on this point, “ There is no necessity for mistake. To a good heart that consults the Great Interpreter, revelation is sufficiently plain. If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not.""
As a further solution of the same difficulty, he adds in imme. diate connexion with what we have quoted, as follows: “But this knot is eut at a stroke. Latitudinarian principles allow every man a right to interpret seripture for himself, and (if the right is good for any thing,) to regulate his duties by that interpretation. Now, one plain duty is, to reject “a man that is a heretie.' In performing this duty then, every authorized tribunal has a right to its own interpretation of scripture, and must judge for itself what heresy is.”
We do not profess fully to understand what is meant by calhing the right of private judgment in matters of religion, a lati. tudinarian principle; we had thought it had been, professedly at least, a principle with all protestants. Undoubtedly however the writer means at least to express his dislike to it, for « lata itudinarian' with him is, without question, an epithet of disgust. Nor do we wonder that those, who are so eager to constrain to their own standard the opinions of their fellow Chris. tians, should thus indirectly express their aversion to that principle of protestantism to which they dare not openly avow their opposition.
But it seems that it is a plain duty, which the scriptures have made binding upon all Christians in all ages, to 6 reject” an heretic. We shall examine hereafter what the scriptures say with regard to this subject, but it may be well here to consider what it is, which this writer thinks is incumbent upon him and his fellow laborers, with regard to those whose opinions are different from his own. 66 If you do not,” he says, “ call private brethren to account for heresy," “ you are transgressors of as plain precepts as are found in the bible.» 6. For heresy alone Hymenæus and Alexander were deliv. ered unto Satan; though nothing worse appears against them, than an attempt to explain away the doctrine of the resurrection.". A much more venial thing, we are probably to under