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CHAPTER III

and welfare of the colonial Churches. And it seems yet more strange, that these Churches, suffering as they did, many inconveniences from their servile dependence upon a foreign judicatory, were not prompted, at a very early day, to apply for a local organization with classical powers. But this expedient was not thought of, and for more than a century, they continued to receive their supplies from the Classis of Amsterdam, to refer their controversies to it for decision, and implicitly to obey all its commands. And that Classis, having long had the exclusive management of these foreign concerns, with the approbation or tacit consent of the other judicatories in the Netherlands, or without encountering any interference, was at last supposed to possess a sort of paramount authority. It acquired unlimited power over its American charge. It was invested with an imaginary infallibility, to which almost the same respect was paid that Catholics are wont to show to that imputed to his Holiness the Pope. The opinion obtained with some, that it was the only legitimate source of ministerial authority that no ordination was valid, except it had been performed, or approved, by the Classis of Amsterdam.

An instance of this kind of extravagance occurred in Albany, in 1675. It is thus related: "In the year 1675, Nicholas Renslaer, a Dutch

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Clergyman, arrived here. He claimed the manor of Renslaer Wyck, and was recommended by the duke (of York,) to Sir Edmond Andross, for a living in one of the churches at New-York or Albany, probably to serve the Popish cause. Niewenhyt, minister of the Church at Albany, disputed his right to administer the sacraments, because he had received an Episcopal ordination, and was not approved by the Classis of Amsterdam, to which the Dutch Churches here hold themselves subordinate." [See Smith's History, page 63.] The controversy excited a good deal of interest at the time, and in the end, was referred to the determination of the Consistory of the Dutch Church at Albany. Opposition to the settlement of Renslaer, under the suspicions entertained of his character and designs, was perfectly justifiable upon the ground of those suspicions, but not upon that of the supposed invalidity of his ordination. This, if not thought to be derived from quite so good a source as the Classis of Amsterdam and such an opinion would probably find some advocates at the present day, provided he showed a willingness to adopt the standards of the Church, and to put himself under its government, could not fairly be viewed as barring his reception; much less, could it be viewed as in itself wholly






        
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