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192 Review of Mr. Whitman's Discourse
Religious anxiety, properties of
Works on the Geography
Rights and duties of different denomi-
sition of, in 1806,
Rose's account of Neologism,
INDEX OF NOTICES.
Notice of the Review of Mr. Whitman's
Dr. Griffin's Convention Ser-
Dr. Channing's Sermon at
Mr. Bigelow's Ordination
Mr. Cogswell's Sermon on
Professor Stuart's Hebrew
Mr. Greenwood's Lives of
Mr. Stone's Dedication Ser-
Dr. Channing's Ordination
The Day of Doɔm, &c.
SPIRIT OF THE PILGRIMS.
It has for some time past appeared exceedingly desirable, that there should be published in Boston a periodical work, in which that portion of the community, usually denominated orthodox, can easily and frequently express those views of truth and duty, which, after a full and fair examination, are judged to be of great importance. At present, although there are several respectable religious magazines in our country, none of them can be made to accomplish here, all the beneficial ends, which the interests of the church now require. After serious and prayerful deliberation, therefore, it has been determined to establish a new magazine. The determination was not made without duly weighing the responsibilities to be assumed; and, since made, it is regarded with much satisfaction by those who formed it, and by many others to whom it has been communicated.
Were there no experience on the subject, we might safely conclude, that a magazine, devoted to the defence of truth and the refutation of error;-to a free and candid discussion of those great topics, which are connected with the character and destiny of man as an accountable and immortal being;-and to those objects of expansive benevolence, which distinguish the period in which we live, must be one of the most powerful and happy instruments that could be employed. A monthly publication, which can be preserved in the form of a book, and is sufficiently large to admit of extended discussion, combines as many advantages, perhaps, as are to be had in any use of the periodical press; especially as applied to grave and solemn subjects. While literature, science, and the arts, avail themselves, to a very great extent, of the facilities afforded by monthly magazines, it cannot be doubted that these publications are equally fit to promote useful investigation in morals and religion.
But we are not left to inferences, however certain they might appear. Taking a retrospect of what has been done, during the last thirty years, both in Great Britain and America, for the promotion of practical godliness, or of harmony and brotherly cooperation, JAN. 1828.
or of Christian enterprise,-it is found, that almost every advance has been made, through the instrumentality of religious magazines. These have proved the most convenient and respectable vehicles of thought and communication, on all matters relating to the prosperity of religion; and without such vehicles of some kind, it would not be possible that ministers and churches should feel that strength, or derive that mutual support, or make those exertions for the common good and for the salvation of their fellow men, which are the result of free public discussion and united counsels.
There are many now living, who well remember the impulse, which was given to the more intelligent part of the Christian community, by the establishment of the Theological Magazine in New York, about the year 1796, or 1797, to which some of the first ministers in our country were contributors; particularly, that profound reasoner and able divine, Dr. Edwards, president of Union College, and son of the great president Edwards.
The Connecticut Evangelical Magazine was commenced not long afterwards; and was continued, with one short interval, for about fifteen years. During this period, it exerted a most salutary influence in many respects; but especially in exciting the proper spirit, and obtaining the necessary resources, for those evangelical operations, under the auspices of the Connecticut Missionary Society, by which churches were organized, revivals of religion experienced, and the regular preaching of the Gospel established, in very many new settlements, which would otherwise have remained a moral wilderness, with little prospect of being reclaimed for generations to come. And here it may be proper to say, in passing, that the trustees of that Society, a truly venerable succession of men, are entitled to rank high among those, who prepared the way for all the enterprises of Christian beneficence, in which our country now takes a part. No person, at the present day, entertains juster sentiments, than they uniformly felt and expressed, in regard to the duty of sending the Gospel to every part of our widely extending territory; and, during more than a third of a century, they have actually sent forth missionaries, beginning with four or five, and increasing to more than fifty, into the most remote and destitute settlements. This hasty tribute to their enlarged views, and faithful labors, we could not withhold.
Several other magazines, devoted to the same general objects, were published at different times in New York, Philadelphia, and other places. The design of this article does not require a particular enumeration of them.
The Panoplist, however, published in Boston from 1805 to 1820, in sixteen volumes, should not be omitted here. Besides exerting an important influence in the establishment and patronage of Bible, Missionary, Tract and Education Societies; besides furnishing a channel for the communication of thoughts on the
most interesting topics, to which the attention of the religious public was drawn; it rendered incalculable service to the cause of truth, by compelling Unitarians to leave the concealment, by which they had so long been gaining influence, and in which lay the far greater proportion of their strength. The charge of such concealment was indeed most indignantly resented, though the witnesses adduced in support of it were distinguished Unitarians, and their testimony was perfectly explicit. It is still more remarkable, that these Unitarian witnesses were not publicly reprehended for having given their testimony, nor was their veracity called in question, while the Reviewers in the Panoplist were bitterly reproached for republishing their statements from pages written by a leading Unitarian, for the express purpose of giving an authentic history of American Unitarianism. It is a curious fact, that the Christian Examiner, which is far the most important Unitarian publication in the United States, ten years after the charge was made in the Panoplist, found occasion to repeat and confirm it. The disclosures, to which we have here referred, led the way to the controversy of 1815, which called forth the talents of the late Dr. Worcester, so much to the advantage of the cause which he espoused, and of which he proved so able an advocate. We are among those who believe, that all the controversies with Unitarians, since the name was known in this country, have accelerated the progress of correct sentiments; have given strength, union and consistency to the orthodox; and are now contributing, in their natural and predicted consequences, to the return of Boston and the vicinity to the cordial reception of those doctrines, and the exemplary practice of those duties, which so honorably distinguished the first settlers of New England. Believing all this, we cannot doubt that a publication, which aided so essentially in the necessary developements, must have had an indispensable share in producing those great and happy effects, which are now witnessed. Unless we are greatly mistaken, the Unitarians will agree with us in saying, that if any good is to be derived from the Theological Seminary in Andover; if true religion is promoted by the erection of new churches for orthodox assemblies in Boston; if the doctrines of the Reformation, as preached in these assemblies, are to be approved; if revivals of religion, as the orthodox understand the phrase, are to be desired; if the education of hundreds of ministers, and ultimately of thousands, under the fostering care of charitable institutions, is to bring down countless blessings upon our land; if the sending of the Gospel to the heathen, by Christians in America, is a good work, upon which the blessing of God may be expected: -in fine, if the whole system of religious instruction and charitable exertion, as sustained by the orthodox, is a blessing to mankind; -then must the Panoplist be allowed to have discharged an important service, as it promoted and defended all the measures,
which led to these results, and was the organ of many original suggestions respecting them.
It is true that the magazines, which have here been mentioned by name, and many others, were successively discontinued; but this no more proves that they were not extensively useful, than the death or removal of a minister proves, that his labors, through a long succession of years, were of no value to his people, or to the church at large. A periodical publication may have a certain great work to perform; and when that is accomplished, it may peacefully and honorably repose. The fact is, that religious magazines in our country have been supported by personal sacrifices, on the part of their projectors, editors, and contributing patrons, of which the public at large have never had an adequate conception. No class of men have deserved more credit for generous and persevering devotion to the public good; and if they have not received this credit, so far at least as the pious and the wise are concerned, it is solely because the true circumstances of the case have not been known.
It should be added, with reference to the general utility of religious magazines, that they obviously prepared the way for religious newspapers, which are now exerting a very great and a very salutary influence in our country; but which, though destined to render essential service to all extensive operations of benevolence, do not supersede other uses of the periodical press.
The reasons, which have led to the establishment of a new religious magazine in Boston, are briefly the following.
First:-There has been for several years past, and especially of late, a great increase of attention to religion, in this city and the vicinity. We mean, not only that the number of individuals, who are resolved to make religion their highest personal concern, has been greatly augmented; but also, that many others have had their curiosity so far excited, and their minds so far aroused, as to make them inquire what religion is;-what orthodoxy is;—and what Unitarianism is. A spirit of investigation has gone forth,-a spirit of free inquiry,-a spirit that determines to examine for itself, to hear for itself, to think for itself, and not implicitly to confide in the representations of partisans; and this spirit is all the while adding to the number of those who hear orthodox preaching, who converse with orthodox ministers, who associate with the members of orthodox churches, who read the Bible with seriousness and with an anxious desire to ascertain its real meaning, and who admit the reasonableness of making religion the first, the constant, and the greatest object of attention. This spirit of investigation is a noble spirit, and it should be cherished, and cultivated, and satisfied.
In this connexion it is proper to say, that the inhabitants of Boston, and of many other parts of Massachusetts, are, to an