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THE POET'S DELAY.
In vain I see the morning rise,
Amidst such boundless wealth without,
I only still am poor within,
The birds have sung their summer out,
Shall I then wait the autumn wind,
RUMORS FROM AN EOLIAN HARP.
THERE is a vale which none hath seen,
There every virtue has its birth,
There love is warm, and youth is young,
And ever, if you hearken well,
H. D. T.
HOLLIS STREET COUNCIL.
Proceedings of an Ecclesiastical Council, in the Case of the Proprietors of Hollis Street Meeting-house, and the Rev. John Pierpont, their Pastor, prepared from the official journal and original documents. By SAMUEL K. LOTHROP, Scribe of the Council. Boston: from the press of W. W. Clapp and Son. 1841. 8vo. pp. 384.
THE history of "ecclesiastical councils," special and general, from the synod at Jerusalem, in the first century, to the celebrated tribunal called the "Hollis Street Council," in the nineteenth century, affords many instructive hints. The story of any Science, traced from its beginnings in ignorance and rude conjectures to the study of facts, the development of a law, the discovery of first principles and the opening of a world of Ideas consequent thereon- this is always curious to the most superficial and instructive to the wisest minds. There is a gloomy and a bright side to human nature; and though the ludicrous may strike us at first, the melancholy features of the case will at last present themselves to all that think. Democritus and Heraclitus, the philosophers who laugh and the philosophers who weep at the tale of human woe will have their representatives to the end of time. To a pensive mind. the gloomy aspect is the most obvious. A sober wisdom, with abated fears and chastened hopes, does not come in the first moment of study, but is the result only of toilsome thought, or religious faith.
To look at the history of Morals, and trace mankind from the Cannibal to the Courtier; to see with what expense of toil and pain and tears and blood each advance has been purchased, and to consider how little has been done, even now, for the best interests of man, the sight is a sad one. To survey the field minutely, and study the two parties that wage interminable war, the one fighting the great battle for human souls, the other against them; to see the let and hindrance which Sloth, Ignorance, and Selfishness cast before the wheels of Reform; to consider the occasional blindness and folly of Reformers themselves, there is something very sad in the thought. We look back, and a tear must dim our triumph. We look forward,26
and it must be with a sigh for the future martyrs whom God raises up to bear the sins of unregenerate man.
But the gloomiest of all the pages of our human tale is perhaps the story of Religion; of what is deepest and highest in man; the cause of his greatest joy, or his most costly sacrifice. Under that name every imposture has found a shelter. The foulest rites, the most detestable doctrines, and hypocrisy the most shameful have here had a refuge, with none to molest nor fray them away. True there is progress, from the sacrifice of a CHILD in the days of Abraham, to the offerings of a LAMB in the time of Moses, still more to a DIVINE LIFE in the time of Jesus. But at what cost was the progress made? What war between the two parties of the Past and the Future, the Actual and the Ideal?
If one would read but a brief history of the "Councils of the Christian church," or turn over the folios of some ponderous collection, it would be with a sad heart. Would he ask for a completer history of human folly and bigotry? Would he not find there that each new Idea, as it dawned on the race from the eternal heaven, was at first regarded by the Shepherds of men, as disastrous, a star of ruin? What said the household of Terah to the calling of Abraham; the wise men of Tarik to the mission of Moses; the Scribes and Pharisees of Jerusalem to the glad tidings that Jesus brought? Nay, what said the Council of Constance to Jerome and Huss; the Council of Trent to the words of Martin Luther? The chronicles of pirates; the annals of crime; Newgate calendars; the "last words and dying confessions" of scoundrels hanged, disclose but a single phase of the sin that walks or creeps the world. A rascal armed with a bludgeon; an assassin with a knife in his belt, or poison in his pocket, is a dangerous man; no doubt of that. But crime in a cassock; villany that is "banded," surpliced, and stoled, and set off with phylacteries or a sceptre, this is greatly more dangerous. It was real heroism, and that the noblest, in him who said, The Publicans and Harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you, Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites. The obvious foes of the race it is cheap to condemn; but to attack and expel the secret enemies of man was worthy of that great soul. No doubt "a saint in crape is twice a saint in lawn;" at least the World says so. And if so, why may not a rogue in ruffles be worse than many a rogue in rags ?
One needs but little acquaintance with ecclesiastical affairs, to see, that the World and the Church differ very widely in name, and very little in the spirit with which they are managed. The early ecclesiastical synods, assembled for doctrinal purposes, were often planned and conducted by a spirit disgraceful to the human race; and an acute modern writer says well, "Men of the ecclesiastical profession, however respectable or venerable in their individual capacities, have never met in bodies, but they have become examples of anything but toleration; and this must necessarily be the case, without any particular fault of theirs, from the mere operation of the most established principles of our common nature." Ecclesiastical courts, to speak of them as a whole, have been instruments of tyranny.* Is it a century since men's tongues were cut out, and their flesh torn off with red-hot pincers, by the command of ecclesiastical authority, because they would not bow to the Host, a God of bread? The fact is notorious. It was done in the "most enlightened country of Europe;" done by pious men, who really thought, no doubt, they did God service, by thus maltreating his image. We live in a better age, though in a land where women have been scourged naked from town to town for their religion; where "witches " and Quakers have been hanged, the one for serving the fancied devil, the other for worshipping the only God, and the ecclesiastical power defended both the whip and the gallows. But leaving what thoughts we have to offer respecting "councils of the church" in other times and under circumstances, to which we, fortunately, are strangers, we will address ourselves to the work before us, the farfamed Hollis Street Council.
It is a delicate matter to treat of, and we come to it with reluctance. The subject is full of difficulties; they increase at every step. There may be misunderstanding on all sides, but there must be BLAME Somewhere. It is seldom all on one side. This council is a sore spot to some It should therefore be touched with tenderness and
* See some curious specimens of the tyrannical spirit of the Church in the middle ages, in Thierry, Histoire de la Conquête de l'Angleterre. Liv. I.
a practised hand. We have waited long and anxiously in hopes that some of the experienced and venerable men, the legitimate guides of public opinion, would open their mouth, and give justice its due. We have waited in vain. It is not with pleasure, but under a sense of duty, that we write. However, the fact of a Unitarian council being called in this city; its singular aspect; the character of the men who composed it; its long delays; its protracted sessions; the fame of the legal advisers retained by the two parties; the magnitude of the questions believed to be at issue; the deep interest in the case felt by the public, all these circumstances make it so significant, that we can in no wise allow it to pass over in silence.
An ecclesiastical council assembled in our city is a novel affair in this part of the century; a Unitarian council to try a minister has rather a singular aspect, considering the common views of church discipline taken by that sect. The accused was charged with no error in doctrine, but simply in practice, as we understand the case, and ecclesiastical bodies usually have contended more for the former than the latter. Some of the charges made against the Pastor, if we rightly understand them, are of a very unusual nature. The conduct of the council itself, considering the high character of some of its members, was very surprising, though no doubt substantial precedents could be quoted, both from legal and clerical usage, to justify the course pursued. But we shall not adduce them. Then again the "Result in Council" is curious and instructive; a matter every way worthy of comment in this Journal.
Now, before we proceed to the merits of this case, and in order to understand it the better, and come more successfully to our end, we must be allowed to say a word about the POSITION OF A MINISTER IN GENERAL. The real office of the Christian minister is twofold, abstract and concrete, namely, TO TEACH TRUTH and TO PROMOTE GOODHere then is a speculative and a practical work to be done. Now, in each of these divisions, it is obvious that there is a positive work to be performed, sowing the seeds of Truth and Goodness. But as the world is, a negative work also must be done, that of confuting Falsehood and exposing Crime. The soil must be ploughed before the