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exact, and to expoct from him absolution of faults, which do not at all concern him. I could not be married without confessing. It was a necessity to which I submitted; but no power could have compelled me to go farther. All my thoughts and feelings had from childhood revolted from the communion, as the Roman Catholics receive it. Under various pretexts, then, I succeeded in dispensing with the pretended sacrament of the altar, and, notwithstanding that, I obtained the nuptial benediction.
The Lord, who never leaves himself without a witness in doing us good, though we offend him in so many ways, deigned to bless our union. Your birth, my dear children, placed me and your good mother at the height of our wishes, and left us no desire but to see you grow and prosper, and to devote ourselves to rendering you happy. Alas! in our mutual joy, in mingling our cares for you, we little thought that it would so soon be interrupted, and that death would deprive us of her, who had given you birth. But our great God, whose ways and purposes, though often unfathomable, are always full of wisdom, thought proper to separate us for a time; you from a tender and excellent mother, and me from a friend, who possessed my esteem, and a companion much beloved. She died after an illness of a few days, and left me overwhelmed with grief and regrets, which I should vainly attempt to describe.
Notwithstanding, terrible as was the blow which smote me, and painful the separation which then rent my heart, I now feel that the trial which sovereign mercy dispensed to me was necessary, and one of the links in the providential chain, by which it has pleased the Lord to snatch me from the miserable state in which I slept, and lead me to the source of grace and true peace.
The death of your poor mother was the cause of the circumstances, which some time after, by drawing my attention and inciting me to an examination of things with regard to which I had till then remained ignorant and careless, developed an activity of mind, of which I did not believe myself capable ; and finished, without the possibility of doubt, by engaging me seriously in the study of religion. I ought here to give you some details, which will show you how God can bring good out of evil, and which will inform you, that it was a Catholic priest, who set me in the way which leads directly to Protestantism.
The funeral obsequies of your mother were Catholic, that is to say, I spared nothing within my power to honor her burial. I still wished, either in conformity to custom, or to please my relatives, affected by the terrors of purgatory ; or because I myself partook of the error, that purchased prayers can relieve the soul from sin; or because all these motives acted upon me simultaneously with the grief, which filled my heart, and exalted my imagination; I wished still, I say, to have a neuraine, or the nine masses, which it is customary to have said for the repose of the deceased.
The priest, to whom I first applied, told me that he was too much occupied to take upon himself the whole ; but for three I might rely upon him. I found another priest, who undertook to say the six others, and indeed was not slow to satisfy me. Every Sunday, for a long time, I returned to the first to inquire if my three masses had been said during the week. He had always some one Inorc urgent than I, “ he had always promised, or he was overburdened, he had more masses than he could say." Thus from February to June this priest sent me away under various pretences. At length, weary of so many useless steps, I resolved to put an end to them. My dissatisfaction was extreme. I expressed it to your aunt, the sister of your mother. Your aunt inquired, if I had offered to the priest the money for the masses, which he had promised to say for me. I answered, no; the thought had never occurred to me; but if it had, I should not have dared to do it, for fear of offending him. I added, with derision, it was hardly the custom to pay before being served, and that few persons would have thought of advancing to me the price of a saddle before I had made it. No matter, said your aunt, I advise you to return to the priest, and offer him the money for the masses which you wish him to say.
I followed her advice, and for that time my request was favorably received. Having seen a crown, containing six francs, which I laid on the table, the priest seized it, looked at me and said, “Do you not wish me to say six ?" No, said I, with a feeling of indignation, which I could hardly suppress ; no, sir, I wish only three; return me the rest; poor men cannot spare so much at a time.*
* It is probablé, from this passage, that the price was six francs for six masses.-Ed.
I left this priest, ashamed of having contributed to satisfy his avarice; and strongly tempted to believe, that all that is given for religion is owing to a tissue of fables and impostures, to which avarice and the thirst of gold had given birth. I cannot tell you all the sad and painful reflections which I had during the rest of the day. I was overwhelmed with them and saw the night arrive with pleasure, hoping to find relief in sleep.
I went to bed; but vainly endeavored to sleep. Constantly agitated by what had so disgusted me, a thousand thoughts succeeded each other in my mind. I knew that all, which the priests teach and practise in the different parts of worship, they pretended that God had prescribed in his word ; and that this word of God, in which I then had the misfortune not to believe, was contained in the Old and New Testament.
Although in reality, I believed neither in purgatory nor in the Holy Bible, considered as the word of God, I nevertheless conceived the wish, and fixed upon the design, of seeking to discover whether this doctrine, so lucrative, was founded on the Gospel, and how it was there established. Recollecting at that moment, that I had on the chimney piece of my room a New Testament, which I had used to learn to read, and which I had not opened since I was nine or ten years old, I jumped out of bed immediately and dressed myself, resolved to begin my researches on purgatory. .
Having this object alone in view, I read the four Gospels, the book of Acts, the Epistles and the Apocalypse, without directing my attention to anything, but what might establish or contradict the doctrine which I sought. The reading of the whole New Testament, which I did without interruption, except to take my meals, so desirous was I to resolve my doubts ; this reading proved to me that the doctrine of purgatory was not in the Gospel, and must have been taken from another source.
In short, my dear children, I did not find a single passage which spoke of it, directly or indirectly ; on the contrary, I was struck with many passages, which established an opposite doctrine.
Thus I read, Matt. xxv. 46. “The wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal ;" which absolutely contradicts the idea of any intermediate state between hell and heaven.
I read the song of Simeon, Luke ii. 29, 30, from which it appears clearly, that this good old man did not think that he must stop on the road to heaven, and that he must endure any purging fire before arriving there, for he said, holding the infant Jesus in his arms: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation."
(To be continued.)
NOTICES. The reader of the introductory article of this work, and of the Review which follow's it, cannot but observe the striking coincidence between the Prospectus of the Evangelical Church Journal and that of the Spirit of the Pilgrims. This coincidence is so remarkable, that it will be supposed, that some hints at least had been taken from our brethren at Berlin. What is said, in both documents, of the reasons for a new magazine, the necessity of controversy, the undesirableness of personalities, the temper to be cultivated, &c. would seem to indicate some dependence of the one upon the other. The intelligent reader, who looks critically at this matter, will be surprised at the declaration, which we make solemnly, that the writer of the introductory article had not seen, till after that article was in type and had received the last correction, a syllable of the Prospectus of the Evangelical Church Journal; nor had he learned, in any manner whatever, a word of what it contained. The writer of the Review, in like manner, did not know anything of the introductory article, till both pieces were in type; now has he yet seen buí a very small part of it."
These facts will prove to every candid mind, that there was need of a truly evangelical inagazine at Berlin, and at Boston; that these works were commenced from a sacred regard to the cause of Christ, and not from sectarian motives; and that, in both cases, there are strong inducements, and great encouragements, to persevere in these responsible undertakings.
In our next number may be expected a long article on the rights of churches, involving the question whether, according to some late legal adjudications, the churches, which our fathers founded, were either non-entities, or, perhaps, a different name for towns and parishes; or whether they were, as we assert them to have been, independent, well defined bodies, perfectly known in law.
The Congregational churches of Massachusetts were intended to be formed after the model of the first Christian churches, and in all the late discussions respecting them, they have been compared with those of the primitive age. For this reason, it may be necessary to preface the remarks which follow, with some account of the apostolical churches.
I. There were churches in the days of the apostles, distinct from congregations, or from the whole number who often attended the worshipping assemblies of Christians. This is evident,
1. From the account given of the manner in which the primitive churches were gathered. From the vast congregation, assembled on the day of Pentecost, three thousand were separated and added to the Lord.—The preaching of Philip at Samaria excited much attention, and drew a great congregation after him, out of which, in due time, a church was gathered, of those who believed and were baptized. (Acts viii. 12.) Paul preached at Corinth, and collected a congregation, some considerable time before he gathered a church. (see Acts xviii. 148.) And so at Ephesus, when many of his congregation “were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples." (Acts xix. 9.)
2. From the directions of the apostle to the Corinthians on the subject of speaking with tongues, we learn that numbers were accustomed to frequent their assemblies, who were not of the church. “If all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?” (1 Cor. xiv. 23.)
3. It is evident, from the vast numbers who were added to the primitive churches, that unbelievers must have attended frequently, on the ordinary means of grace. For if such characters did not
attend, how were they enlightened and convinced; how were they brought to renounce their errors, and embrace the truth; and how can it be accounted for, that the primitive churches so rapidly increased? There must frequently have been persons, in the assemblies of the early Christians, in all the different stages between open idolatry and a public and open profession of Christianity; just as such are found now, in the congregations of missionaries, at many of the stations among the heathen.
4. The presence of unbelievers in the first Christian assemblies may be inferred from the general object of preaching, and from the manner in which the apostles preached. The object of preaching the Gospel is not merely to edify and comfort Christians, and benefit those who are already of the church ;-a farther object is, to instruct, convince, and convert the ungodly. This farther object the apostles well understood, and they preached accordingly. Let any one examine the different specimens and accounts which are left of their preaching, and he will be satisfied that they often had in view those whom they did not regard as fellow-disciples. They went forth and preached every where that men should repentand besought their hearers to become reconciled to Gad. But why preach after this manner, if their worshipping assemblies were mere church-meetings, and if no distinction between church and congregation was admitted ?
5. The fact of this distinction is demonstrably certain from the practice of excommunication. That provision is made in the New Testament for the exclusion of unworthy members from the church, and that such were, in primitive times, excluded, will not be doubted.* But if there was then no distinction between church and congregation, what did this act of exclusion import? What was done to the excommunicated person ? He surely was not debarred from attending public worship, and from ever appearing more in a Christian assembly. He was not excluded from these ordinary means of grace—a privilege granted, at all times, to heathens and publicans,—to the vilest and the worst of men. He still might be present in the worshipping assembly of Christians; but he was separated from the communion and privileges of the church.
Indeed the church, in the primitive age, was a distinct and well defined company. The public teachers knew who their members were, knew their names, and knew their number. The number of names, immediately after the resurrection of Christ, was an hundred and twenty. On the day of Pentecost, three thousand more were added. And shortly after, the church at Jerusalem had increased to fire thousand. So accurately did the apostles
* Chief Justice Parker admits the practice of excommunication in the primitive church. For he says. “ All the people were present at church censures-and none were restored without the knowledge and consent of the whole diocese."
who were baptimayers;”
ould be savedhat “the Lordhe day of
keep the number of their members, and mark the distinction between the church and the world.
II. We have evidence, not only of a distinction, in primitive times, between the church and congregation, but of the ground on which the distinction was made. This was, evidence of faith, or a visible, credible profession of piety. It was “those who gladly received the word,” and “who continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers;" those, in short, who gave evidence of piety, who were baptized and received into the church, on the day of Pentecost. Immediately after, we read that “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved”—such as possessed, and appeared to possess, that piety which is the condition of salvation. It was not till the Samaritans " believed Philip, preaching the things concerning the kingdom of Christ,” and in this way furnished evidence of piety, that they were baptized, and admitted to the church. When the eunuch expressed a desire for baptism, Philip replied to him, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And the eunuch answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” The Holy Ghost fell on the family of Cornelius, and thus satisfied Peter of their piety, before he would receive them to the church, and administer to them the ordinances of the 'Gospel. Ananias objected to baptizing Paul, till a voice from heaven assured him of the piety of this former persecutor. “He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” After the baptism of Lydia and her household, she said to Paul and his company, “If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and abide there." The Épistles to the churches all proceed upon the supposition that the members were saints, at least by profession. “Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling”-“Beloved of God, called to be saints "_" To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ”this is the style in which the apostles addressed the primitive churches, necessarily implying, that all their members were professedly pious.
Persons destitute of piety sometimes gained admission to the apostolical churches; but the terms in which they are spoken of shew that they came in by deceit, and had no right there. They are said to “ have crept in, unawares." (Jude 4.) Barriers were erected to keep the irreligious out; but, by deception or stealth, some of this character had “ crept in, unawares.”
It has been previously shewn, that there was a wide distinction in the primitive age, between the church, and the congregation or world, and we here see the ground of this distinction. It was visible piety. Those who appeared and professed to be truly pious, and who desired admission to the churches, were by con