Sidor som bilder

poses of a tree by crawling around its roots, and never seeing its blossoms or its fruits, as for a man to comprehend the gospel without feeling its sanctified action on his own soul. The truth is, every man refers moral principles to his own ideal world within ; he goes to the Bible for letters and words, but to his own breast for impressions and images; and in the play between these opposite regions truth will be lost, unless the world within correspond to the world without. We mean here exactly what Paul means, when he says,The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

We would most earnestly entreat all ministers of the gospel and private men, who are conscious to themselves of no such inward impressions to which to refer the declarations of the Bible as are described in the life of Shepard, to pause and peruse the following reflections.-The Scriptures certainly seem to speak of a radical change; this is the most natural import of the language of Christ and his Apostles. Nature is certainly bad enough to need it; and even the most callous, in the hours of reflection, are dissatisfied with themselves.-We all naturally tremble at the thought of appearing before God. But in addition to all this, we find a cloud of witnesses who come forward and say they have felt it; they were distressed for their sins, and they passed from a course of selfishness and sensuality to the love of God. Their whole life answered thereto. These are the martyrs; and self-denying sufferers; these are the pilgrims, who renounced their homes, crossed the waters, and made the wilderness blossom like the rose. These are the men who have built up the nobler virtues on the deeper feelings of the heart. The argument is cumulative, and every part of the system tallies. It is like the apalytic and synthetic proof, in chemistry--the strongest proof possible.

What can a man say? Observation and Scripture both combine to show that, except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.

This book is a curious illustration of the history of the times. Indeed, biography as Lord Bacon has observed, is, in some respects, a more faithful memorial of past transactions than professed history. By preserving some trifling incident, some fugitive speech, it often lets us into the character of the chief men; and lays open the springs of events. We have sometimes been jealous whether partial representations and party feelings have not misrepresented the antagonists of the puritans; whether there were not some softening circumstances, which seduced the Episcopal party into their oppressive course; whether our fathers, opposed in their favorite speculations and goaded by oppression, did not use the black brush too much in painting their adversaries; and we have sometimes been tempted to relieve our pity and indignation by the saving maxim that there were probably faults on both sides. This little volume throws light on this perplexity. It is amusing to see how exactly the character of Laud, in his treatment of our author, tallies with what Clarenden has said of him. Perhaps there are few persons, who have been transmitted to posterity with so just a delineation. Friends and foes; churchmen and puritans; public documents and private diaries have all said enough to communicate to us the most exact representation of his character. We can seem to see him, a little dapper man, wrapt up in his canonicals towering in the pride of place; insolent from authority; incapable of the least opposition; now choking one of his own dependants : with his lawn sleeves; now throwing up his cap because some poor puritan preacher is condemned to have his nose slit; now sanctifying a church ; while he is suppressing the very genius of religion, bowing to the communion table, while he is opposing the religion of Jesus and endeavoring to impart that holiness to bread and wine and wood and stone, which he would be glad to exterminate from the heart of man; sometimes falling into passion with a courtier, who wittily plays on his temper; and sometimes pitching his sanctity against Archy the king's fool, to whom in point of abilities, he was undoubtedly inferior ; in short, a hateful compound of cruelty, oppression, pride and insolence; and all this covered over by the cloak of a religion, which was, after all, his greatest crime. There can be no mistake here. Every biography and pamphlet we take up of that period corroborates this representation of his character. The apologies of Clarendon and the exhibitions of his own diary are more fatal to his memory than any of the reproaches of the suffering puritans. Indeed, we are no believers in the doctrine of historical scepticism, which has sometimes been taught, as if, in the conflicts of party and the misrepresentations of opposing sects, truths must be lost. We believe on the contrary, that every public man finally finds his level. Not only actions but motives are at length

. pretty clearly seen. A few bigots may be found, who doubt whether, in the moral arithmetic, two and two make four. But these are exceptions. The ocean becomes settled, and every impartial eye can see the pebbles at the bottom.

We shall insert a short extract of Shepard's account of his

treatment by Laud, as it is an exquisite morsel to shew the character of the men and the times, the irritability and pride of the prelate, and the meekness of the humble preacher of Christ.

" Dec. 16, 1630, I was inhibited from preaching in the Diocess of London by Dr. Laud, Bishop of that Diocess. As soon as I came in the morning about 8 of the clock, falling into a fit of rage he asked me what degree I had taken in the University. I answered, I was master of Arts. He asked me of what Colledge, I answered of Emanuel. He asked me how long 1 had lived in his Diocess ? I answered 3 years and upwards. He asked who maintained me all this while, charging me to deal plainly with him, adding withal that he had been more cheated and equivocated with by some of my malignant faction than ever man was by Jesuit. At the speaking of which words he looked as though blood would have gushed out of his face, and did shake as if he had been haunted with an ague fit,—to my apprehension, by reason of his extreme malice and secret venome. I desired him to excuse me. He fell then to threaten me and withal to bitter railling, calling me all to nought, saying—"You prating coxcomb, do you think all the learning is in your brain?” He pronounced his sentence thus. I charge you that you neither preach, read, 'marry, bury, or exercise any ministerial functions in any part of my Diocess; for if you do, and I hear of it, I'll be upon your back and follow you wherever you go, in any part of this kingdom, and so everlastingly disenable you. I besought him not to deal so in behalf of a poore town,-here he stoppt me in what I was going to say—“ a poor town! You have made a company of seditious factious bedlams. And what do you prate to me of a poor town?” I prayed him to suffer me to catechise on the Sabbath days, in the afternoon. He replied, “ spare your breath, I'll have no such fellows prate in my Diocess. Get you gone! And make your complaints to whom you will !” So away I went-and blessed be God that I may go to him.'

We have in this book a specimen of the first clergy of New England. Shepard was but a single star in a noble and bright constellation, men, who formed the soul and spirit of this community. He seems to have walked in great harmony with his brethren; and, though a strict Calvinist, he took the right side, when those principles seemed to be strutting up into antinomianism. When the opinions of Mrs. Hutchinson were distinctly the contrary, Shepard was a firm friend to the Orthodox faith. It has always seemed to us, that this event has not received all the explanation it is capable of. Although antinomianism is a natural off shoot of high Calvanism; a spurious sucker round that venerable tree, yet it never appeared to us, that the chief difficulties respecting Mrs. Hutchinson originated in religion. Winthrop was Governor; a man whose fortune as well as his abilities and virtues, pointed him out as the fit person for a lasting rule in the Colony. While he was in the bloom of his reputation, universally venerated and obeyed, young Vane and Mrs. Hutchinson came over, the one in 1635, and the other the following year. The father of Vane was secretary of state in England; and all the colony were delighted to have the son and heir of so noble a personage come among them. His deportment was grave; he was



a professor of religion in its strictest form ; and these things

l ; with his youth, caused a party to be immediately formed in his favor. He was elevated to the highest office, even the gulernatorial chair. Respecting his abilities, what shall we say? Hume pronounces him a fool of an author ; writing nothing but mystics; and Sir John Mackintosh equals him to Lord Bacon. But let him stand where he may (and doubtless the truth lies somewhere between these extremes) it is not very probable that Winthrop could be very well pleased to see himself superseded in the affections of the people, by a boy, who, whatever were his abilities, could neither have the judgment nor experience of his accomplished competitor. This we think appears in the Journal of Winthrop, though he is very cool and cautious, and on the whole an upright man. Parties were formed ; and Winthrop, among all the thinkers, Wisure to regain his influence and perhaps resume the chair of' state. This Vane probably anticipated; and his resource Wits to form another party, suitable to his genius, on more refined principles of religion. Mrs. Hutchinson was his instrument, and she derived all her importance from being the ball bandid between these antagonist powers. Mr. Cotton supported her, and Mrs. Cotton was the friend of Vane.- It was almost wholly a political dispute ; and this we say, because some have been disposed to amuse themselves at the absurdity of our fathers in distracting themselves and the country about spliting hairs and forming shadowy distinctions in religion. Perhaps there was some absurdity in the case ; but it is an alwurdry which has cleaved, we apprehend, to all political transactions, from the time when Joab sent the wise woman to David, down to the day when Sir Henry Vane used Mrs. Hutchinson for his stalking horse, or Mr. Van Buren wrote his lasi incomprehensible letter.

Perhaps it may be asked how it was possible that the churches of New England composed of the very bolted wheat of the mother country, and watched over and wept for by such pastors as Shepard, should so early and at last so entirely depart from the faith and purity on which they were first setiled. We apprehend that seeds of declension were very early

There was one fatal mistake; very natural to be sure to good men in their situation ; but which made all their strictness and jealousy of the Church ;-all their battlements, to become as so many lodgements for any enemy, who was at last to overwhelm them. This was the opinion of Mr. Cotton, which unhappily prevailed, that none but Church members should be voters or capable of offices of trust and power.


This immediately filled the church with hypocrites and designing men; people, who would make any profession for the sake of gratifying their darling ambition.- We think there was a perceptible difference between the second generation and the first ; and a still greater difference between the third and second.---Religion, instead of that free and unconstrained air, which it ought to wear, and which it always will wear when it is an unforced emanation of the heart ; soon put on all the tight-lacing and artificial folds of a human dress. Men were orthodox because they must be so; they were moral because it was popular; and the form of godliness remained when the power was lost. The Church soon become a soil in which every heresy might be sown. To this add the corrupting influence of prosperity and foreign war, and we cannot wonder that even Puritanism on its own ground stood degenerate. The change was gradual. But when we bring the two extremities together how great the contrast! Where they had poverty and virtue; we have opulence and crime; where they preached the Gospel, we have Unitarianism ; where they saw the sanctuary, we behold the theatre and the ball-room ; where they beheld a church, venerated and enjoying its rights; we beliold the very furniture of the communion table pilfered by those, who deny the existence of churches, and are preparing to pronounce the sacrament a sensual indulgence; where they saw the majestic forin of truth ; we behold a Gospel without a cross; a Saviour without a crown; a tomb without a resurrection; a Bible without inspiration, and a God without justice. How is the gold become dim! How is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.

We tender our thanks to Mr. Adams for the service he has done in presenting to the Churches this interesting volume. We earnestly hope the very judicious remarks he has appended to it, will tend to bring the principles of its pious author into notice; and attract the sympathy and prayers of all hearts, which beat with his spirit, to the spot where he once labored and prayed. It must be a satisfaction to the Editor of this volume to know, that he stands on the spot where Shepard once preached and prayed; but infinitely greater must be the satisfaction of endeavoring to support the same cause, to which Shepard gave his life and soul.—Though times are changed; though he cannot look to an adjacent seminary, one devoted to Christ and his Church, for sympathy and support; though the spirit of Laud without an honest avowal of it, has since passed into a lax creed ; and rod of persecution with the sickening cant of liberality in its


Use the

« FöregåendeFortsätt »