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Eulogy delivered at the request of St. John's Lodge, on the character of Shubael Bell, Esq. By Samuel L. Knapp. Boston.
The Friend of Peace, No. 16.
Report of the Massachusetts Bible Society. June, 1819.
Reasons offered by Samuel Eddy, Esq. for his Opinions, to the first Baptist Church in Providence from which he was compelled to withdraw for heterodoxy. THIRD EDITION. Providence.
A Review of " The Trial-Calvin and Hopkins versus the Bible and Common Sense," has been received by the editors. They cheerfully express their approbation of the spirit and design of the writer of the review, but they apprehend, that the insertion of the article would on the whole be inexpedient. Whilst they wish to discourage a light and uncharitable method of discussing religious subjects, they are unwilling to give a pledge, as the author seems to desire, that they will openly disavow every work written in support of their sentiments, in a style which they disapprove. Should they take upon themselves this unpleasant office, it is obvious, that their silence in regard to some works, which they may think unworthy notice, would be construed into a testimony in their favour. It should be remem bered too, that controversial writings, not excepting the most able, have too often a mixture of human imperfection and passion, and that reviewers cannot reasonably be expected to watch over this class of publications for the purpose of branding what is unchristian either in friends or foes.
We fear that we shall be unable to make use of the paper communicated by W. If we should think it best to take so extended a view of the subject at all, we should hardly be ready to do it now. We should wish too, in a publication like this, to adopt a little different mode of treatment, and to avoid some of the reasoning which appears to us irrelevant and inconclusive.
We thank "A SUBSCRIBER" for the work he has sent us, and will take it under consideration. But we cannot admit his remarks upon an article in our last number,--not only because we are averse to entering into a controversy on the subject, but because it would be obviously improper to commence the endless task of inserting replies which may be made from every quarter to the sentiments we advance and defend.
The paper under the signature of " TRUTH," was not received in season for insertion in the present number. We have no doubt of the correctness of its positions, and it remains under consideration.
We have received an interesting account of Doddridge's Theological School. It shall appear in the next number.
In No. 1. First Edition, p. 39. line 11 for cannot, read can.
37 for The, read They.
31. for purifying, read justifying.
22 last line but one, for he read we.
36 for have read leave.
109. 12 for Buefwechsel, read Briefwechsel.
In a part of the impression of the present No., p. 170. line 8, for will be read is.
NEW SERIES-No. 4.
For July and August, 1819.
ON THE HISTORY AND CHARACTER OF DODDRIDGE'S SEMINARY. To the Editor of the Christian Disciple.
PERHAPS no name can be mentioned among Christian divines, at once so familiar and so dear to the friends of religion without distinction, as that of Doddridge. Most of us, therefore, would be very unwilling" to give up to party" one who belongs to the great cause of piety and charity throughout Christendom; and it is sufficiently well known, that justice to his character would forbid such a sacrifice, not less than regard to the interests of catholicism. To this sort of usurpation however, the most popular names are very naturally the most liable; and it is melancholy to think that he, whose candid and enlarged mind has secured to him the united love and respect of his fellow-christians, is the more eagerly claimed on this very account, by the zealots of a sect; especially, if any point of agreement in doctrine can be found between them. He is, when his own voice can be no longer heard, made an associate in the spirit and the acts of an exclusive party. We shall seek in vain, for a man whose name has been more continually thus abused, than that of the pious and liberal Doddridge. It is not easy without a smile to meet his name, regularly on the cover of our religious journals in the company of some, from whom (it may be said without hazard, I think) had he been a living cotemporary, he would have kept more widely removed; and he would, perhaps, on the same supposition, have had as little fellowship with those whose
New Series-vol. I.
names might be subscribed to many of the pages within, notwithstanding this pretended sanction of his own.
Of this sectarian appropriation of the name of Doddridge, I have lately met with an instance in a discourse delivered, Oct. 1818, by the Rev. Dr. Porter, "at the Dedication of a new edifice for the use of the Seminary in Andover ;" and I be lieve you will agree with me, that the very incorrect impres sion it is caculated to give, ought not to pass unexposed. The passage to which I refer, is found in a most remarkable paragraph, full of fearful forebodings, (in which the author is probably aware that he is not at all singular,) as to the future character of the institution with which he is connected. Neither" the strength of our own powers," nor" the elevated motives of our founders," nor "the safeguards of our constitution," he observes, afford any ground of reliance on its undeviating adherence to the purity of the faith. "Where are other seminaries," he adds, "which wisdom encompassed with its precautions, and piety consecrated to Christ and the church? Have we forgotten-can we forget the awful lesson furnished to mankind by the school of Doddridge?"
The language of Dr. Porter would lead to the inference, that the character of the school of Doddridge was in the lapse of time revolutionized, and the chair of this pious divine occupied at last by unworthy successors. His hearers and readers may not in general be very minutely acquainted with the history of this seminary; and perhaps, therefore, would receive this statement without suspicion or doubt. To attribute as little acquaintance with it to Dr. Porter, would probably be unjust, certainly uncomplimentary; and to his inconsideration therefore, I must ascribe a reference, which is not merely nothing to his purpose, but, what is more, will be easily shown to have been a most unfortunate example.
It is now more than a century since Wm. Coward, Esq. an eminent merchant of London, bequeathed his large property to pious purposes. In his views of Christianity, he was a decided Calvinist; but it does not appear that his mind was so bigoted to a system as to restrict his wealth to its exclusive support. Certain it is, that the terms of his will left his trustees at full liberty to devote this property to the cause of edu cation among the youth of Protestant dissenters indiscriminately. These trustees consisted of three dissenting ministers and one layman. For many years two respectable and flourishing institutions, having the above object, were supported by this fund; one, in the vicinity of London, successively under the care of Dr. Jennings, Dr. Savage, Dr. Kippis, and Dr. Rees. This list, one would think, was a sufficient an
swer to the supposition that this fund was at any period made subservient to the promotion of a peculiar system. The other seminary was at first established at Northampton, under the care of Dr. Doddridge. It was afterwards removed to Daventry, under Dr. Caleb Ashworth, and in 1785, the trustees, deeming the fund inadequate to the support of two institutions, united the first mentioned with that at Daventry, under the Rev. Thomas Belsham. They who are apt to be deceived by names, will startle probably at Mr. Belsham's, and imagine Dr. Porter's language to have been abundantly justified. Let it be understood, then, that this now well known divine was, at the time of his appointment, of that class of believers commonly called evangelical dissenters; and the circumstances of his resignation are both so interesting, and so accordant with my purpose in these remarks, that the relation of them, I trust, will not be to trespass on the patience of your readers.
During the period of Mr. Belsham's. connexion with this academy, the Unitarian controversy, occasioned by the writings of Lindsey and Priestley, was vehemently agitated in England. To this controversy, the Principal deemed it his duty to direct the attention of his pupils. For their benefit and his own, he prepared, after the manner of Dr. Clarke, a classification of all the texts referring to this great question, and supposed to favour either of the prevailing modes of faith, certainly omitting none, to which the advocates of the highest notions of our Saviour's nature are fond of appealing. He had the most undoubting confidence, that the controversy would soon be decided by the complete discomfiture of the new heresiarchs. But the result was far other than his expectations; for the young minds of his pupils, yet unfettered to a system, were more open to conviction, and many of them at length adopted those opinions they were expected to subvert, much to the grief of their friends, and not least to that of their instructor. His own habits of thinking were more firmly rivetted; and though, from the first of the inquiry, he was surprised to find so few unequivocal proofs of his favourite opinions, yet such was the ascendancy which the associations of education had obtained over his mind, that he does not believe it would have been in the power of argument to have subdued it, had not the nature of his office, which required him to repeat his lectures to successive classes, compelled his attention again and again to the subject. His original prepossessions became thus almost imperceptibly overruled, and he was brought over to a faith, against which his present interest as well as previous opinions alike revolted. Such, however, is the feeling with which the mind watches its vacillations in an inquiry of this high moment, when it is most anx
ious to form a correct decision, when almost every thing rests on that decision, and when it is most unwilling to suspect as error what it has long venerated as truth, that he could at last be convinced of the entire revolution of his views and senti ments, only by the distressing embarrassment occasioned him by the repetition in public of a sermon composed a few years previously, in which the doctrines he had just been examining were assumed as truths. Then it was that he felt it incumbent to resign his charge into the hands by which it had been conferred. To this measure, the peculiar conscientiousness of his own feelings impelled him; for the constitution of the seminary did not necessarily require his separation from it. But however compatible his present views were with the constitution, they were not probably with those of the then gov. ernors of the academy; and it was sufficient to determine a mind so open and honest, that the New Testament did not now present to him the same aspect, as when appointed to his of fice. In giving this account of Mr. Belsham's connexion with this institution, and the particulars of his removal, I have, as far as brevity would admit, used the language of his own recital. In the year 1789, the academy was again removed to Northampton, and subsequently to Wymondely.
But enough of the history of this institution; especially as what remains to be said, has the far more important reference to its character. Such a revolution as Dr. Porter intimates, would not have rewarded the slightest exertions it might have required in the friends of heresy, as he accounts them, to effect it. We assure him, that in no state of things could the cause of these men be more kindly fostered, than it was while this seminary remained under the care of its first evangelical instructor; and that, during his life and labours, it was the nursery of ministers to the societies of liberal dissenters throughout the kingdom. Now, if to any this historical fact appear enig. matical, our solution is ready at hand. The course of education pursued by this excellent man was, in deed and in truth, upon those catholic principles of unlimited inquiry and private judgment, with the profession and acknowledgment of which, happily, it is found neither safe nor wise altogether to dispense in "other seminaries ;" and the consequence was, that a large proportion of the students came to conclusions very different from those of their master. Fortunately there is now before me a catalogue of Doddridge's pupils during the twenty-two years that the academy was under his care (from 1729 to 1751;) in which are to be found many names whose celebrity has reached our own country. I am not a little desirous that your readers should know what names they are; and, to take certain