Congregationalism And Symbolism -- By: W. G. T. Shedd

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 015:59 (Jul 1858)
Article: Congregationalism And Symbolism
Author: W. G. T. Shedd

Congregationalism And Symbolism1

William G. T. Shedd

The constitution of the Congregational Library Association proclaims that it is the object of this society, to establish a material centre for the denomination, about which it

shall collect its scattered elements, and from which it shall radiate its forces. It is its design, in the language of its statutes, “to found and perpetuate a library of books, pamphlets, and manuscripts, and a collection of portraits,” and to lay up in its archives “whatever else shall serve to illustrate Puritan history, and promote the general interests of Congregationalism.” “It shall also be an object of the Association,” says the constitution, “to secure the erection of a suitable building for its library, its meetings, and the general purposes of the body.” Interpreting these articles and statutes in a broad and enterprising spirit, we find in them a desire to combine and unify the somewhat diffused characteristics of the Congregational denomination, by furnishing it a visible centre. This species of centre, and this sort of consolidation, though not of the highest order, though external in its instrumentalities, and external in many of its results, is nevertheless of great importance in the history of any organization. The influence of the national temple, the common, visible home and resort of all the tribes, upon the Jewish church and state, is well known; and no external event, perhaps no event, contributed more to the downfall of the Old economy, and the Jewish cultus, and thereby to the progress and triumph of the new dispensation with its simpler and more spiritual worship, than did the siege of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the old ancestral temple. That building of the pagan temples which began in Greece, immediately after the Persian war was brought to a glorious close, did more than even that war itself, to bring the various Grecian tribes into something akin to unity; and that so-called Sacred War which was signalized by the robbing of Delphi, and the scattering of its treasures, was at once the cause and the effect of the decline and destruction of Grecian patriotism, and Grecian unity. Mediaeval Catholicism embodied its ideas, and centralized its forces, in the great Gothic cathedrals. That outburst of architecture in the thirteenth century, when Rheims, and Rouen, Paris, and Cologne, shot up their spires, and threw out their flying buttresses, with a suddenness and energy that looks like

magic,2 —that majestic series of material centres for the Papal church did much ...

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