Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

is not a sound one, for the ministers of the Presbyterianism disowns any connexion with primitive Apostolic Church were nearly all patronage. The yoke was forged by the un, illiterate men. Widely different is a true hallowed hands of an infidel Boling broke and and genuine Presbyterianism from the cari- an unprincipled Archbishop of Canterbury, cature drawn of it by F. J. L.: it is a true and fastened on the necks of the Scottish and living church; it is at present making Church against its consent. So strong, ingigantic efforts to reach the humblest indi- deed, was the feeling of the Scottish peoviduals; it has provided more church accom- ple against it that it was some tiine after modation for its people in Scotland than the act was passed ere any attempt was Episcopacy, with all its vaunted wealth and made to put it force; but when the cold, rank, has done in England; everything dreary blight of Moderatism rested upon the tends to show that it is by no means effete, church, the act was allowed to take its full nor yet likely soon so to be.

course; but year after year, from the comDr. Pusey, in his work on German Neology, mencement of the nineteenth century, saw gives the following very valuable testimony the evangelical party within the pale of the in favour of Presbyterianism as a system, a Kirk gathering fresh activity, and gradually testimony all the more valuable seeing that increasing, until, in 1832, they formed the it comes from an opponent. “ As far (says majority in the General Assembly. No he) as past experience or the nature of things sooner were they in possession of this majocould guide me, I could see no reason to rity than a determined crusade commenced, think that a different form of church govern- on the one hand against the unleavened ment would have changed the destinies of inasses lying around, on the other hand the German Church.” And yet mark the against the unjust and illegal encroachments admission he makes. “ Episcopal Denmark, of the State in ecclesiastical affairs, and as I understood, had suffered equally with against the odious and galling iron fetters of Germany; while Scotland, although Presby- patronage. The church was enslaved, and terian, had remained nearly free from it” the church was determined to be free; and (that is, from infidelity); à most important Presbyterianism as a policy was prepared to admission, proving, as it does, that the theory forego the endowments of the State, rather of church government is sufficient to explain than forego the appellation of the Church of the reason why Scotland and Holland were the People. In its ultimate effects, then, the only two Protestant countries that es- Presbyterianism has produced greater and caped so fully the withering blight of scep- more beneficial results than either Episcoticism and German Neology.

pacy or Congregationalism: neither of these In the arguments advanced by “Rolla” systems have provided so largely for the spiwe find nothing to reply to. F. J. L. has ritual welfare of the people within their very judiciously pointed out the weaknesses reach as Presbyterianism has done. of Congregationalism as a policy. Moreover, In conclusion, it is our heartfelt prayer “Rolla” applies his remarks only to Presby- that the time may soon arrive when members terianism as established; whereas, we have of the various divisions of the One Church all along been reasoning in consistency may see eye to eye, and be influenced by one with Presbyterianism as exhibited without common feeling of love to Christ and to each the fale of the Establishment. As a system, other.

WALTER. CONGREGATIONALISM.-ARTICLE III. Be not ye called Rabbi : for one is your mas. It is with no little pleasure we enter upon ter, even Cbrist; and all ye are brethren. And the present debate. We not only stand foris your Father, who is in heaven. Neither be ye ward to advocate our own convictions of what called masters : for one is your Master, even we believe to be the truth, but we find ourChrist."

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spirit. selves side by side with those who have erstual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual while on other topics been our antagonists: sacrifices, acceptable to God hy Jesus Christ." this, to our practical mind, should induce in

1 Pet. 11.5. us that kindness and forbearance in the ex“Unto Him that ... hath made us kings and priesis unto God and His Father."

pression of our opinion, which, while it conRev. 1.5, 6. vinces the judgment, shall not wound the

not at a trifle:

feelings of our opponents—conduct beauti- | will freely acknowledge that the practical fully expressed in the sacred writings as exhibition of his own system to be found in “ Speaking the truth in love." Far be it from the world, is not the pure ideal system existus to stigmatize the character of another, or ing in his own mind. Charity, then, which abusively deprecate the power of his intellect is mutual love, should put the best possible or the purity of his heart, because he happens construction upon the principles advocated by not to see eye to eye with us on the question antagonists, and not impute to a system the now before us. If we differ on this point, in abuses which wicked men have added to it. how many of the more important points of It is our care, therefore, to distinguish between faith and practice do we agree? In the abuses added and evils inherent in the system. intercourse of Christians of diverse sects The principles, then, of ecclesiastical polity, could we only believe that

independent of any particular locum tenens, “A little explained, a little endured, a little passed engage our attention. The phrase, ecclesiover as a foible,

astical polity, is intended to designate the And, lo! the jagged atoms fit like smooth Mo- general question of church government:—to

saic. Thou cans't not shape another's mind to suit form correct ideas of the character of a systhine own body :

tem of government, it is prudent that we Think not, then, to be furnishing his brain with should ascertain the elements of which the

thy special notions. Charity walketh with a high step, and stumbleth

This raises the body governed consists.

question, What is a Christian? The scripCharity hath keen eyes, but the lashes half con- tures alone can authoritatively answer this

ceal them : Charity is praised of all,—and fear not thou question. The derivation of the term Christhat praise,

tian is so apparent that we proceed at once God will not love thee less, because men love to the early history of the term. Luke thee more."

informs us in his history of the apostolic Could we only feel the full influence of churches, “the disciples were first called these sentiments, the debatable ground of Christians at Antioch,” Acts xi. 26. And Christianity, if not materially contracted, the same class of persons are indiscrimiwould at least be more pleasurable; because nately called disciples, Acts xxi. 16; believers, it would be the experience of all, that truth, Acts v. 14; brethren, Acts xxviii. 14, 15; not victory, should be the end and object of Cor. v. 11. Although these terms are controversy.

used as synonymous in their application to It is of paramount importance that we person and character in the sacred pages, should form correct notions of the sources the term Christian became at an early period of authority, and the character of the testi- the distinguishing appellation adopted by the mony, adduced on the present question. The disciples themselves, and used by their friends, sacred scriptures we receive as the only while the terms Galileans, Nazarenes, Acts authority upon questions of Christian faith xxiv. 5, airesis or sect, Acts xxviii. 22, and practice: all merely human history we were frequently applied to them scornfully receive as valuable, if it coincides with the by their enemies. From the foregoing passcripture history and precept; and we con- sages we learn that persons believing in sider everything worthless which does in any Jesus, receiving as disciples his teachings as way weaken, nullify, contradict, or exhibit the authoritative rule of life, feeling as inconsistency with the Divine records. Thus brethren the perfect equality of their reliwe limit and guard the sources of authority. gious position, the equal obligation of religious The testimony as to the practical value of duties, and the sameness of their relation to any system of church polity must be sought Christ, were in the scriptures called Chrisin the history of those systems, well authen- tians, Matt. xxiii. 8-10; 1 Pet. ii. 5; Rer. ticated, or in contemporary events, indubit- 1.5,6. He who has believed in his heart, and able facts, well known and freely admitted. confessed with his mouth, that Jesus is the

The present debate has hitherto taken its Christ, Rom. x. 9, 10, and given evidence of colouring too much from the imperfect views loving obedience to Him, is a Christian. each writer has entertained of his opponents' Hence, Christianity is a living principle in system, forgetting that each, whether Epis- the heart of the Christian. A personal sercopalian, Presbyterian, or Congregationalist, rice, a voluntary obedience, rendered to

canon.

[ocr errors]

The

Christ, is a subjective motive developed in the conditions of church fellowship are with the life, personal and voluntary by essential equal distinctness marked in the sacred necessity. The constituent elements of a “He that believeth shall be saved," Christian church are peculiar, and marked Mark xvi. 16. “Without faith it is imposwith great precision in the New Testament. sible to please God,Heb. xi. 6. “Him that The Church is, in fact, an aggregation of is weak in the faith receive ye,” Rom. xiv. 1. Christians, and, consequently, partakes of “ The Lord added to the church daily of such the nature of the Christian, in its most im as should be saved,Acts ii. 47.

" And the portant particulars. It affords facility for members continued stedfastly in the apostles' the social development of the living principle doctrine, and of breaking of bread and in of Christianity existing in the heart of the prayers,” Acts ii. 42. “So were the churches Christian.

established in faith,Acts xvi. 5. Paul adThe Greek word ecclesia signifies either dresses them as “the Church of God which the whole body of Christians, past, present, is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in and future, or a particular congregation or Christ Jesus, called to be saints," 1 Cor. i. 2. society of Christians, voluntarily associated “ The saints which are at Ephesus, and the together under the influence of Divine truth, faithful in Christ Jesus,” Eph. i. 2. " for the purposes of mutual edification in saints and faithful brethren which are at the observance of all Divine institutions." Colosse,” Col. i. 2. It is in the latter sense that it has relation “ Thus the first churches were constituted to the present question. "In any interme- in the apostolic age. The truth of the diate sense between a single congregation, glorious gospel, attested by 'infallible proofs,' and the whole community of Christians, not was proclaimed to men 'for the obedience of one instance can be brought of the applica- faith.' Wherever it was cordially received, tion in sacred writ. We speak now, indeed, it became, through the power of the Holy and this has been the manner for ages of the Spirit, the principle of obedience; it conGallican Church, the Greek Church, the strained those who had 'given themselves Church of England, the Church of Scotland, to the Lord, to give themselves to one anas of societies independent and complete in other, according to the will of God.' It led themselves. Such a phraseology was never those whom the providence of God had staadopted in the days of the apostles. They tioned near each other, to meet in one did not say the Church of Asia, or the place,' and to submit to all the laws and Church of Macedonia, or the Church of ordinances which Christ had enjoined, either Achaia; but the Churches of God in Asia, by his own authority, or the delegated the Churches in Macedonia, the Churches authority of his apostles. Here we witness in Achaia. The plural number is invariably the result of personal conviction, the effect used, when more congregations than one are of enlightened principle; and in all succeedspoken of, unless the subject be of the whole ; ing ages, those have most nearly resembled commonwealth of Christ. Nor is this the the primitive churches, who have formed manner of the penmen of sacred writ only. their union on the basis of evangelical truth, It is the constant usage of the term, in the and have regarded that truth as the ground writings of ecclesiastical authors for the two of their hope, the support of their holiness, first centuries.”—Dr. Campbell's “ Lectures and the firm bond of their mutual attachon Ecclesiastical History,” vol. i., pp. 204, ment, and zealous co-operation. In the con205; 1 Cor. xri. 19; xvi. 1; 2 Cor. viii. 1, stitution of a Christian church, we recognise &c. On the other hand, numberless in the authority of Christ as its warrant, the stances are recorded in which the singular truth of Christ as its foundation and agreenumber is applied in its true application to ment respecting that truth as the principle the single congregation assembling in one of fellowship.”—Fletcher's“Lectures, p. 28. place, e. g., Acts xiv. 23; Rom. xvi. 5; 1

* “ The visible Church of Christ is a congregaCor. iv. 17; xiv. 23; xvi, 19; Phil. iv. 15: tion of faithful men, in which the pure word of Col. iv. 15; Philem. 2; Acts xiii. 1; Col. iv. God is preached, and the sacraments are duly 16; Acts xx. 17; 1 Cor. i. 2; Rev. ii. 1, 8, administered, according to Christ's ordinance, in 12, 18; iii. 1, 7, 14.

all those things that of necessity are requisite to

the same."-Article XIÄ. of the Church of EngThe character of church members, and laud.

"*

[ocr errors]

Hence, we say, the Christian Church is a primitive churches as gifted brethren rather voluntary association of believers in the than as office-bearers—being peculiarly inLord Jesus, as the Saviour of sinners; as spired for the purposes of teaching and brethren, equal in the possession of rights, revealiug the will of God. They probably privileges, and liberties; owning no sovereign spake as they were moved by the Holy or authoritative ruler but Jesus—“ Call no Ghost,” when and where they were directed man your Father upon earth; neither be ye by the act of inspiration, hence, they cannot called Masters, for one is your Master, even be said to have sustained or filled any office, Christ,” Matt. xxiii. 9, 10. “In vain do but were brethren gifted with or by the Holy they worship me, teaching for doctrines the Spirit according as Divine wisdom saw fitting commandments of men,” Matt. xv. 9. “Stand in the circumstances of the primitive church. fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath Of the ordinary officers of the Christian made us free,” Gal. v. 1. Having ascertained Church, and which are of necessity permasome particulars relating to the character of nent, we mention elders, presbyters or bishops, the individual Christian, and the nature of and deacons; beyond these we are assured a Christian church, we now proceed to there are none mentioned in the New Testanotice the officers of a Christian church, ment, and there is no passage from which by What are they? their number, their position, inference any other office can be forcibly and their duties? The extraordinary office obtruded upon the Church of Christ in any bearers of the Christian Church in primitive age. Presbyters, elders, and bishops are times were--apostles, evangelists, prophets, evidently the same officers, employed by the and teachers. The apostles were those who, church in the performance of the same having personally seen Christ, and received duties, as by similar authority and circumtheir commission from him to preach the stances they were first called into existence. gospel and organize cburches throughout the A few passages will abundantly prove this: world, were gifted with special powers and Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and graces, by which to commend their message to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost in a miraculous manner to the hearts and bath made you overseers (episcopous), to consciences of their hearers, and to confer feed the Church of God, which he hath purmiraculous gifts upon others; these qualifi- chased with his own blood,” Acts xx. 28. cations never having been possessed by any The persons here addressed were the elders other Christians, and no record existing of (presbuterous) of the Church at Ephesus, the appointment of any persons to fill up Acts xx. 17. We also read in the Epistle vacancies in the apostolic office caused by to Titus, “ For this cause left I thee in Crete, death, we are led to the obvious conclusion that thou shouldst set in order the things that their office was peculiar to themselves, that are wanting, and ordain elders (presbuand was necessary only to the church at the terous) in every city, as I had appointed time they were living.

thee; for a bishop (episcopos) must be Evangelists were associated with the blameless,” Titus i. 5—7. In like manner, apostles in the work of preaching the gospel Peter also writes: “The elders (presbuand gathering Christians together into terous) which are among you I exhort, who societies—forming, in fact, new churches am also an elder. Feed the flock of God under the direction of the apostles. They which is among you, taking the oversight had the gift of tongues and were empowered thereof' (episcopountes), 1 Pet. v. 1, 2, i.e., to work miracles. Timothy and Titus were act as bishops-feed the church after the evangelists, as was also Philip the deacon. manner of bishops. The directions given Although evangelists discharged duties very by Paul, in 1 Tim. iii., with respect to the similar to our modern missionaries, being character and qualifications of a bishop, and gifted with superior powers, yet, there being his mentioning elders in the succeeding no apostles to send forth evangelists upon chapters, as though they were identical with their special missions and to communicate bishops, 1 Tim. v. 1, 17, 18, 19; and parextraordinary gifts, we presume their office ticularizing only deacons as distinct officers ceased with that of the apostles.

from elders or bishops, evidently lead us to It would perhaps be more correct to de- the same conclusions, viz., that the elders scribe the prophets and teachers” of the presbyters—and bishops of the New Testament, are the same officers under different the Christian Church. How they were first names, designating the peculiar phase of appointed is described Acts vi. 147. Their duty to which attention is desired by the origin appears to be a necessity of the cirsacred writer at the time he mentions either cuinstances of the church at that time; of them. We see in all the performance of their duties are distinctly defined in their the same duties— feeding the flock, oversee- origin, and the circumstances rendering their ing, taking heed to the flock, caring for appointment necessary; their office relieved them. They are ordained by Titus as elders; the apostles, elders, and bishops of all anxiethey—the elders—are qualified as bishops ties about the temporalities of the church, blameless in everything: in character, in and although as members or evangelists, they qualification, and in duty they are minutely were frequently employed as teachers, preachidentical. The probability is that the term ers, and messengers, this does not necessarily elder or presbuteros was most used among imply that teaching, preaching, or legation the Jewish converts to Christianity, as desig- was any part of the duty of the office;—their nating, in their estimation most suitably, the duty as deacons was to attend to all the new office by an old name, familiar as an pecuniary matters of the church; and if, in "household word” in the historic associations addition to their ability in this respect, they of their former faith. From like feelings the were endowed with gifts, they employed Hellenistic and Gentile converts would adopt those gifts, not in their right as deacons, but from their technicalities a word to denote the as members, pastors, teachers, &c. One word character and duties of the office, from their respecting the election and ordination of former political and religious historic associa- bishops and deacons: this seems to have tions; the same generic idea being expressed frequently devolved upon the apostles; but from the different stand-point of each convert, as frequently has the choice of the apostles whether Gentile or Jew. We find no authority been sanctioned by the churches. In the of an imperative or lordly character applied to appointment of deacons the church is directed or claimed by elders, bishops, or presbyters, to look out seven men, whom the apostles in the scriptures, but much to the contrary. might appoint, Acts vi. 3, &c. Thus it is In addition to passages already quoted, we apparent that the church elected, that the add the following: Paul says--and he was apostles did ordain, and it is equally apparent an apostle, and as such, had he claimed the that the evangelists and elders did also power, none could have disputed or doubted ordain, from 1 Tim. v. 22, and Tit. i. 5. his right to authority-yet he says: “Not It is in accordance with the New Testament that we have dominion over your faith, but to affirm that ordination belongs to the presare helpers of your joy,” 2 Cor. i. 24. Peter bytery of a church; when elders are already also accords with Paul on this point: “Nei- in a church, it is appropriate for them to ther as being lords over God's heritage, but ordain office bearers, who may be elected by being examples to the flock,” 1 Pet. v. 3. the same church: this opinion is sanctioned The right and duty of individual Christians by 1 Tim. iv. 14, “ Neglect not the gift that to think and act for themselves, goes very is in thee, which was given thee by the far to prove the absence of authority from laying on of the hands of the presbytery.”* the official duties and character of elders In This passage it is shown that even Timoand bishops. " Why, even of yourselves, thy the evangelist, and possibly also a bishop judge ye not what is right?” Luke xii. 57. or elder, was ordained by the laying on of the

I speak as unto wise men; judge ye what hands of the presbytery, i. e., by the elders, I say,” i Cor. x. 15. “Let every man be presbyters, or bishops of a church or single fully persuaded in his own mind,” Rom. xiv. congregation of Christians. We would, at 5. “ Prore all things; hold fast that which this point, remind our friends that there are is good," 1 Thess. v. 21. On this principle no successors to the apostles;-this we would the first Christians dissented from the Jewish impress npon their minds particularly, liesynagogue, and the Gentile converts from cause it is so loudly talked of by the advoPagan establishments.

cates of opposing systems of church polity. It remains only that we should speak It is a pure fiction, without the least foundbriefly upon the duties and character of deacons, the only other permanent office of • Davidson's “ Ecclesiastical Polity," p. 232.

« AnteriorContinuar »