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ARTICLE VI.—DR. CLEAVELAND'S REPLY TO THE NEW
Dr. Cleaveland's Statement, in Reply to Dr. Dutton's Review
of his late Anniversary Sermon, presented in the Third Congregational Church, New Haven, Nov. 28, 1858. New Haven: Published by Thomas H. Pease. 1858.
We have placed, above, the title of a “Statement,” which Dr. Cleaveland has printed with reference to our review of his late Anniversary Sermon, in the November number of the New Englander, because we think it demands from us some notice. Our review was written because we considered the language in his sermon to be another repetition of charges which have been made again and again in many other quarters, and by many other persons;-charges which we deem to be unjust, and injurious to the interests of religion throughout the country. We rebuked certain passages in his discourse, because we thought that in them he was identifying himself with those in New England, and out of New England, who have been so long in the habit of accusing their brethren of heretical tendencies and defection from the evangelical faith. We did not do it with any idea of subserving local ends, or as a matter of simply New Haven interest; much less on account of any unkind feelings towards him personally; but because we considered him a volunteer representative of the class of persons of whom we have just made mention, who had taken it upon himself to repeat and publish these offensive charges under our very eyes, uniting with them very injurious misrepresentations of that eminent theological teacher who had just been borne to the grave. What we said about the individual case, and the individual man, all had a wider reference, and was intended to have a bearing upon a style of remark which we have heard, and heard again, till forbearance has ceased to be a virtue. For some years charges have been made : against one and another of the conductors of this Quarterly which are fitted to affect their Christian standing and reputation for orthodoxy. We, personally, have felt this. Our friends throughout the country have been attacked by name in the public prints. We have in mind pastors, far and near, who have told us that their influence has been injured by statements, circulating in their parishes, that neighboring ministers had doubts with regard to the correctness of their theological opinions; and were imputing to them views, tending towards Unitarianism, which they most emphatically reject. There are those, here and there in New England, not to speak of what is beyond, who are ever mourning in most lugubrious style about the “danger in New England of defection from orthodoxy;" who say without hesitation that our Congregational polity is not "strong” enough to keep out Unitarianism. This is not confined to the region of Connecticut. Those who know anything about the matter, know what has been said, and how suspicions have been sown broad-cast through the land.
We do not consider it necessary to go into details.* The whole thing is patent. We have felt the more indignant about this, because some of the persons who have thrown out these suspicions have not hesitated to nse language which we consider a betrayal of the interests of Congregationalism. We will not enlarge on this point, although we might say much of grave import. We have reason to believe that there are some among us who would not hesitate to try to revolutionize New England, if they thought they could succeed-who would draw new ecclesiastical lines through its length and breadth, if the people, who are everywhere devotedly attached to our ancient polity, would permit it.
Now all this has been done, and is done, under cover of just such language as we have held up to public reprehension in our former review. And we had concluded that loyalty to truth and religion did not permit us longer to pass over in silence such groundless suspicions and injurious charges.
* We will give one instance. We have been credibly informed that a New England minister, preaching lately for a Presbyterian brother in Philadelphia, declared that the Congregational ministers in New England, very extensively, reject the doctrine of regeneration by the Holy Spirit !
Just at this juncture Dr. Cleaveland preached his sermon. Within one half hour, we were told, by those who heard it, that the New Haven pastors had been assailed, and in the very spirit and style of these other attacks with which we had been long familiar. The sermon was published. We found on reading it, that we were correctly informed; indeed, we
l deemed that the reality was worse than it had been reported. Not one syllable did we hear till after our review was published in contradiction of what we had first been told. We thought it to be our duty to review this discourse, and treat it as the representative of what had so long been a grievance.
In reply Dr. Cleaveland has published the “ Statement” whose title we have given. On reading it, we find it is due to him, on the one hand, to give him the benefit of placing before our readers his full and distinct disclaimer that he had any reference to the New Haven ministers, and to Dr. Dutton in particular, in a paragraph, which, as we judged, did refer to them, and could not have any other reference—a paragraph, charging on some of them departure “from the central doctrines of the gospel—the Trinity, Atonement, and Justification by faith,-exchanging signals of sympathy with Unitarians, transcendentalists, pantheists, and I know not what besides." And it is due, on the other hand, to ourselves, and especially to the memory and reputation of Dr. Taylor, to correct the errors, some new and others repeated, to which he has given expression in his “ Statement."
This “Statement,” as the title page indicates, was made by Dr. Cleaveland, in the Third Church, on the Sabbath, Nov. 28: which was right so far; as there the sermon, explained by it, was preached. It was published at the request of “members of his congregation,” who made their request on the ground that its publication would “tend to correct misapprehensions in the community.” Dr. Cleaveland intimates, in his reply to their request, that it “had been his purpose not to publish " it. On this point the judgment of these members of his congregagation was right. For an explanation, made verbally within the walls of the Third Church, of a sermon published to the world, which contained what was understood to be an attack
on some of his brethren in New Haven, and upon one of them especially, would not have been sufficient or fair. The publication of the Statement is right and honorable; and we intend to give it fair and honorable treatment.
There is an impropriety in the title of the Statement, which should be noticed at the outset. It is entitled a “ Reply to Dr. Dutton's Review.” If there was a design in giving this title to intimate that Dr. Dutton is solely responsible for the review, that design is not just. The Review was the New Englander's; and for it the New Englander is responsible. “The printed list of contributors accompanying the work,” to which Dr. Cleaveland refers, is given, somewhat reluctantly, to satisfy the urgent curiosity of subscribers, and not to divest the New Englander of individuality or responsibility.*
We will first dispose of that part of the subject which is, in some sense, personal, dwelling on it as briefly as the case will allow, that we may come to the charges against Dr. Taylor, which are of broader and deeper interest.
“But Dr. Dutton's heaviest complaint is, that I have charged my 'brethren in the ministry in New Haven,' (meaning, I suppose, the Congregational pastors in the city,) with having broken away from the central doctrines of the Gospel, the Trinity, Atonement and Justification by Faith ; and above all, that I have charged Dr. Dutton himself with exchanging signals of sympathy with Unitarians, transcendentalists, and pantheists; insisting that I must have had reference to the fact that Prof. Huntington, of Cambridge, had preached in the North Church in this city.
"To all this I reply, that Dr. Dutton is entirely mistaken in supposing that the language in question was intended to apply to him, or to my ministerial brethren in this city. By reference to the whole paragraph on which he founds his complaint, it will be seen that I speak in the most general terms; nothing is said of pastors or ministers, here or elsewhere, except in the remark that 'some have fallen back into a more scriptural style of preaching.' The passage to which he objects bears intrinsic evidence that it cannot be restricted to my ministerial brethren of this city. I speak of changes in the community here;—four or five ministers do not make the community. I speak of 'new parties, contending for new issues ;' an expression that evidently has a wider range than New Haven minis. ters, or New Haven itself. The very nature of the case forbids so limited an ap
With more care and caution than usual, the Article was read in manuscript to several of the conductors of the New Englander-to four of them at least--as well as to the editor, was stated substantially to others, and was published with their approbation.
plication of my language. Any current of theological opinion and speculation,' starting from what point it may, in process of time, ceases to be circumscribed by even state limits, and flows broadly over the land, gathering to itself new elements in its course. All that is said about new parties and new issues, disintegrations and re-constructions, conservative tendencies, and tendencies to Unitarianism, had a wide reference to the community in general. I might have been more explicit ; still the construction which my reviewer has put upon the passage, is by no means 80 clearly the only one it will bear, as to justify his public charges, when he might 80 easily have ascertained my real meaning.
But the whole truth in regard to the paragraph on which Dr. Dutton comments 80 severely, is not yet told. So far was I from making any unkind allusion to my ministerial brethren of this city, that the only clause in the sermon which does refer to them, was written in a fraternal spirit. I allude to the clause which states that in the process of disintegration and re-construction, some have fallen back on positions more in sympathy with the older theology.' This remark, so far as my New Haven brethren are concerned, was suggested by what I had seen and heard during the revival of last spring. Those of us, who remember the type of instruction cominon in our revivals twenty years ago, were struck with the happy contrast. And it was with special satisfaction that I felt authorized to make this friendly allusion to my nearest neighbors.” pp. 8, 9, 10.
Thus Dr. Cleaveland disclaims any reference to his New Haven brethren, or rather, any other than a favorable reference. We give him in our pages the full benefit of it, and also of our full credit to his testimony. And we express, moreover, our regret that we were led to impute to him a design which he did not entertain. But we insist that, if there be any fault
, here, it is his, not ours. We insist that his design, as now expressed, is very different from that which is given by the obvious and necessary interpretation of his language; and that for that discrepancy Dr. Cleaveland is responsible, not we. How could we judge that he, in his heart, intended a different meaning from that which his language plainly and inevitably expresses—a meaning which some of our most intelligent and candid men, and some of the conductors of the New Englander, who heard the sermon, received from it; and who say that they never dreamed even that he could have any other meaning, until they heard of his public denial of it? The attack, expressed by the language, and published to the world, was none the less real or injurious because Dr. Cleaveland, without the knowledge of those attacked, or of the public, did not intend it. He says, indeed: “If I did not design an attack, then