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ligion, being requested to license a number of young men, who, though entirely destitute of any suitable education, and partaking largely of the fanatical excitement around them, appeared to be pious, thought proper to comply with their request, hoping that, although not regularly qualified, they might still be useful. Candidate after candidate of this character was accordingly licensed. After giving them license, finding that they were acceptable as preachers to large bodies of people, as fanatical as themselves, the Presbytery went a step further and ordained them. A number of these young men declined adopting the Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church in the usual form; declaring that they were ready to adopt it, "only so far as they considered it as agreeing with the word of God." They were, however, freely licensed and ordained, notwithstanding. All this was felt and acknowledged at the time to be contrary to rule; but it was hoped, on the old corrupt principle, that "the end might sanctify the means." But, as might have been expected, trouble of the most serious kind soon began to disclose itself. Those who had been introduced in an irregular manner, encouraged irregularity in others. Disorders multiplied. Errors of the most serious kind were preached. And ministers of this unhappy character were in a fair way to become a majority'; when the decisive course of the Synod of Kentucky, followed up by the enlightened and strong measures of the General Assembly, arrested the progress of the evil, by cutting off from the Presbyterian Church the greater part of those who had been thus irregularly introduced. The result manifested that the worst fears ofthe friends of truth and order were but too well founded. With very few exceptions, they all turned heterodox and disorderly; and could not have failed if they had remained in our church, to corrupt, as well as to disturb and disgrace it. A majority of these excluded men, formed the body since known by the name of the "Cumberland Presbyterians;" now consisting of a number of Presbyteries, professing to adopt the Presbyterian form of government, but avowedly embracing Arminian sentiments in theology. Another, but smaller portion, formed a new body, denominated Chrystians," and sometimes "New Lights," or "Stoneites," (from the name of their principal leader,) and became a kind of enthusiastic noisy Socinians. While the remainder, under the same lawless impulse, took a third course, and fell into all the fanatical absurdities of "Shakerism." Such have been the consequences of departing honestly, and with good
intention from Presbyterial order! All the churches in that region were agitated, and some of them torn in pieces by their operation; judicatories were, year after year, occupied and perplexed in endeavouring to repair the injury done by one false course of procedure; and monuments of the most. disastrous character remain, for our instruction and warning, to the present day.
The truth is, as all the churches in the United States, under the care of the General Assembly, have solemnly adopted a written Constitution-have pledged themselves to one another, and to the public, to walk together, according to a certain system of rules; they are bound to adhere to those rules "in every jot and tittle;" recollecting, that they act, in each case, not for themselves alone, but for the whole body; and that each act may, for aught they can tell, be brought, by reference, appeal, or complaint, before a higher judicatory, who must judge of it by the same rules which were prescribed for the lower judicatory, and which ought to have governed it.
It will, perhaps, be asked, can no case arise in which a Presbytery may be justifiable in dispensing with some portion of those literary attainments, in candidates for license and ordination, which our rules on that subject demand? To this question, I would respectfully offer an opinion, that there ought never to be such dispensation but in cases truly extraordinary; where a candidate, though he have not gone through a regular course of academical training, is, nevertheless, so distinguished for fervent piety, good sense, prudence, and aptness to teach all that he does know, that all who know him are ready to acknowledge that he may be useful as a religious teacher. For, in my judgment, no subordinate judicatory ought to feel itself at liberty, in any case, and especially in the delicate and important work of admitting the teachers and rulers of the church to their respective functions, to depart from strict rule, unless when the case is so strongly marked, and so unquestionable in its aspect, that, if the whole church were assembled by its representatives, in the highest judicatory, there is every reason to believe, it would approve of the proposed measure.
I shall finish what I have to say on Presbyterial order, in another letter.
Princeton, March, 1833.
REV. J. IRVINE.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX PRESBYTERIAN.
A FEW days after the melancholy tidings of the late Mr. Irvine's death had reached me, I went to Drumbanagher, with the view of improving the solemn dispensation, by preaching to his deeply-afflicted congregation, and I happened to call, on my way home, with a family where Mr. Irvine had paid many a kind pastoral visit. My mind, at the time, was full of the subject of his death; and while I was conversing with the family respecting the mysteriousness of the dispensation by which he had been removed, I was much affected by discovering the following lines traced with a pencil on the window-shutter of the room where we sat, which, they informed me, their departed much-loved minister had inscribed there a short time prévious to his departure for Clonmel, on the duties of the Synod's Home Mission, where he fell a sacrifice to untimely death by raging fever, and where he now sleeps, a stranger in a stranger's grave. They seem so singularly prophetic of his own affecting case, that I have thought of sending them to you for insertion in your useful periodical. I am, yours, JS. TIME speeds away, away, away→→→→ Another hour, another day, Another month, another year, Dropp'd from us like the falling tearDropp'd like the life-blood from the heartThe rose-bloom from the cheek departs, The tresses from the temples fall, The eye grows dim, and strange to all.
FOOLISH TALKING AND JESTING.
How strikingly the Apostle cautions us against "foolish talking and jesting," pronouncing them to be "not convenient." Truly, they are not convenient; and it may be questioned which is greater-the folly of jesting, or the mischief arising from it. A jester is a most contemptible, or a most dangerous person. He who delights in puns, scruples not to make himself the ape or the buffoon of a company he who indulges a more pungent and malig nant kind of evil speaking, spares neither the feelings nor the character of others. It is a considerable attainment, always to preserve seriousness without gloom, and cheerfulness without levity. The contemptible light in which jesters are held by all men of sound wisdom, is evident in many cautionary maxims left on record: such as "commit no business, no secret of importance, to a jester." "Let not a fool play with you in the house, lest he play with you in the market." "The joking of wits, like the play of puppies, often ends in snarling." He that makes himself the jester of the company, has but just wit enough to be a fool. The jester has seldom any reverence for sacred things. The sacred name of God, or some sentiment or precept of his holy word, is often perverted to give point to the strokes of his profane levity. "It may be wit to turn things sacred to ridicule, but it is wisdom to let them alone." "Sin is too bad, and holiness too good to make a sport of the one demands repentance, and the other reverence." They are fools who mock either at sin or holiness."
It is a great pity that even religious people sometimes indulge themselves in repeating the puns or mistakes of others on the words of Scripture, which are thus associated in the mind with improper and ludicrous ideas, and the sacred influence of the passage is entirely lost. Some ministers have declared themselves precluded from preaching on one or more very solemn and weighty passages of Scripture, from being unable to divest themselves of some ludicrous association imprinted on their mind, perhaps in the days of youthful vanity and folly; or, perhaps, which is still more to be lamented, presented more recently by some one who ought to have had enough of sacred wisdom to restrain this injurious indulgence of wit.
BIBLE INSTRUCTION.-No. XVI.
"Pray without ceasing."-1 Thess. v. 17.
It is remarked by Matthew Henry, in his treatise upon prayer, that " our English word prayer is too straight; for that properly signifies petition, or request: whereas, humble adorations of God, and thanksgiving to him, are as necessary in prayer as any other part of it." At present it is our design to present the subject in a very general view, and hence no more can be attempted than a mere outline of the different branches of prayer. And this, it is hoped, shall be attained by glancing at its nature, its obligations, and some directions necessary for cultivating the spirit of prayer and profitably reducing it to practice.
I. The nature of prayer. This is expressed briefly, comprehensively, and satisfactorily in the definition of it given in the Shorter Catechism. "Prayer is the offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies." Nor can the subject be more clearly stated than by considering separately the different parts of this definition.
1. " Prayer is the offering up of our desires." The desire of the soul is essential to it. He who has no anxious concern on the subject of religion, cannot be a man of prayer. It avails nothing how much he engages in the forms of prayer; the knee may be bent morning and evening-the closet, the family, and the church may be regularly the scene of his apparent devotions-these may be conducted with the utmost pomp and ceremony; yet does he never pray. Such were the Pharisees of old. They observed the forms, but were devoid of the spirit of prayer. The pulse of prayer never beats until it is produced by the earnest desire of the soul.
The spirit of prayer supposes that he who is the subject of it has had a saving discovery of what he is hy nature and practice-a sinner, guilty, weak, destitute, and exposed to imminent danger. Out of this discovery, it supposes, there has arisen all the anxiety of alarm; so that indifference to his state, or unconcern for the consequence, cannot longer exist. In bis alarm the sinner looks out for help-conscious of his own insufficiency, he looks away from himself and his eyes are directed to some one mighty to