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called to bear their part in its duties, there is peculiar need of instruction on these subjects. And there are few pastors, I believe, in New England, who have not at some time looked round for some popular exhibition of the principles of our church order, and of the corresponding duties of church-members, which they might recommend to their people.

There are several books in circulation which touch upon these subjects; but not one I think which occupies precisely the same ground with the little treatise now submitted to the public. Dr. Hawes" "Tribute to the memory of the Pilgrims," is an eloquent vindication of the Congregational churches; but it goes into no details respecting the duties of church-members. Professor Upham's "Ratio Disciplinæ," is a guide for students, and ministers, and ecclesiastical councils, but probably was not designed for popular use. Mr. Harvey's "Obligations of Believers, to the visible Church," studiously avoids all questions about ecclesiastical order, and touches on none of the topics which I have attempted to exhibit, except in the able chapter

on discipline. Mr. James' "Church-Members Guide" is a book of great usefulness, and had it been written with express reference to the wants of the New England churches would have left no room for this humble effort.

Had I written with a view to controversy, the aspect of these pages would have been very different, the margin would have been duly fortified with an array of authorities, and here and there might have been a sprinkling of Greek, signifying the state of the author's equipments for disputation. But writing first for a popular audience, and then for readers of common learning, I have chosen to omit all those citations, and all those references to learned authors, which to such readers would be altogether unprofitable.

I do not expect that every reader will be pleased with every thing which he may find in this book; nor have I written with any such design. The book is designed for the use and benefit of Congregational church-members; if they read it, and profit by it, I shall not be solicitous about its reception in other quarters. It may be thought that in speaking of the opinions

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and practices of other evangelical denominations, I have spoken with little ceremony; but I trust none will say that I have spoken in the style of bigotry or ill-nature.

The question may be asked, Why treat of the peculiarities of Congregationalism? Why not take common ground, and illustrate the duties of church-members without reference to any form of ecclesiastical organization? My answer is, The views which we take in respect to the organization of churches, must needs modify very materially our views of the duties of churchmembers. What are the duties of a churchmember according to the system of the church of England, or of the Episcopal church in this country? What are the duties of a churchmember according to the system established by Wesley? What are the duties of membership in a Presbyterian church? Let the answers to these several questions be drawn out, and exhibited side by side with the duties of a Congregational church-member; and, if I have not mistaken the facts in the case, you will have a striking exhibition of the practical importance of

the question about the proper organization of churches. To make that question fundamental in the christian religion, and to unchurch all who do not agree with ourselves concerning it, is one error. To imagine that because the question is unessential, it is therefore unimportant, and ought never to be agitated; and that all forms are of course equally right and equally valuable, is another error,-I do not say a greater. The former is the error that most easily besets some churches; the latter is not unfrequent among Congregationalists.

Our fathers, it may be, attached too much importance to inquiries of this nature. Yet I cannot but think that their zeal for the principles of Congregationalism, was as wise as the indifference of some of their successors; for in its results that zeal of theirs has greatly benefitted the cause of christianity. I cannot but think that if the Congregational organization should be extensively adopted by evangelical christians every where, the result would be not only a vast extension of the principles and of the life of rational liberty, but a great developement of the

spirit of christian purity and fidelity, and of the energy of christian zeal. It is not necessary that this organization should be the only one; for wherever Congregationalism exists in such a form as to operate to any considerable extent on the public mind, there, in spite of opposing institutions, the principles of Congregationalism will take effect in every quarter. Such is the fact in this country. Every religious sect here, under whatever forms it may be organized, is more or less affected by those principles of the Pilgrims which have been sown broadcast over the land. And I cannot doubt that the formation of Congregational churches in France and Germany, would ere long give a mighty impulse to the revival of pure christianity in those countries. The existing institutions of Protestantism might not indeed be subverted; but if not to be subverted they would by and by be purified and quickened. A new sense of individual power and rights, and of individual responsibility, would rouse the minds of believers to inquiry, and stimulate their faculties to effort. Thus a new leaven would speedily be found working in the

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