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our share in promoting the prosperity of the church. The church, we know, depends for its prosperity entirely on God. He alone has power to convert a single soul. By his Spirit alone are believers sanctified, and Zion beautified and enlarged. This is a very impor. tant truth, implied and taught in our text, That in God alone are found the sources of Zion's prosperity; the very duty of praying for the prosperity of Zion, implies that all the springs of her prosperity are in God.
But while it is true, that the church depends for its prosperity entirely on God, and He alone can make religion flourish; it is also true, in building up and extending his kingdom in the world, God makes use of means. In this work He is pleased, in infinite conde. scension and kindness, to make use of the instrumentality of his people.
We have noticed a few things essential to the church's prosperity. Pence without, and harmony within; unity, or oneness in faith, in prayer, and in effort, among the ministers, and members of the church; purity in her doctrines; holiness in her members, a sacred guarding of her ordinances, and a wise and salutary discipline, and above all, the presence of Christ by his Spirit, are essential to the prosperity of Zion. By promoting these, then, that is, by promoting the purity, peace, and order of the church, and by being much en. ga red in believing, importunate prayer to God, for the presence of the Holy Spirit, we are instrumental, in promoting the true interests, the prosperity of Zion. It is then by living up to our high and holy vocation; by adhering strictly to the plain, and important truths of God's word; by cultivating a spirit of meekness and kindness, and brotherly love; by maintaining the order of God's house; and by communion with God in prayer, that we contribute essentially to the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdon. Beloved brethren, do we desire to see that kingdom advanced? do we wish to exert an instru. mentality in urging its onward march? Let us evince this desire by our love to the truth, by our love to the brethren, by our love to the order of God's house, by a spirit of self-denial, and by a wise, and holy, and devoted zeal for the honor of our Redeemer, and the salvation of the souls of men.
Let us leave to others the unholy work of distracting, and dividing, and desolating the church, by false doctrines, or a self-sufficient, con.
tentious spirit. Be it our delightful work to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem," and by every possible effort promote her purity, her order, her prosperity.
3. Finally, In view of this subject, what a fearful responsibility rests on this - General Assembly!” Composed, as this General Assembly is, of ministers and officers in the church, into whose hands God has, in a special manner, committed the interests of his Zion, and on whom, more especially, he has devolved the great work of building up, and enlarging the Redeemer's kingdom,--under what a weight of responsibility do we come together! Why have we come hither! What is the object of our meeting? For what purpose have these ministers, and these elders left their homes, and from all parts of our land assembled in this place of holy convocation!
The answer to this question is easily given: We have met in Gen. eral Assembly, to promote the interests of Zion,--to lay plans and adopt measures for advancing the prosperity of the church. We profess to have no other object. We should have no other, in assem bling here. Our very meeting together, brethren, for such an object, should call forth the best affections of the heart, and put up the mind to high thoughts, and noble conceptions. There is an unspeakable grandeur in the very idea of such a convocation as this-ma convoca. tion of the ministers of Jesus Christ, and of the representatives of his church, assembled to deliberate on subjects connected with the pros. perity of his kingdom, and the interests of immortal souls.
Why, brethren, it is not the temporary interests of worms of the dust--not the concerns of a perishing world, that claim our attention here. It is the concerns of many, very many, immortal souls; the interests of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. We come here, not to promote the interests of a party, but to employ our best instrumentality in advancing the magnificent and glorious designs of divine mercy in the world; and the results of this meeting, we have reason to believe, will be felt in eternity. It will have an influence, either salutary or the reverse, on the churches, and on souls, through the whole extent of our land. We come together under circumstances of deep and thrilling interest. The world is in agitation; the church is in motion Every careful observer of the signs of the times must feel that this is no ordinary period. In the present aspect of things, both in the church and in the world, while there are many things to encourage and
animate the friends of the Redeemer, there is also much to alarm and distress; there are prominent signs, both of good and evil, and it will be our part to do all we can to accomplish the promised good, and guard against the threatening evil.
We act here, in view of many witnesses. God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, has his eye on this Assembly. Angels, doubtless, are viewing it with intense interest. The church throughout our land, not only our own denomination, but other denominations of professing christians, are looking to this Assembly with deep and thrilling interest.
Infidels, and errorists of all descriptions, have their eye fixed upon us, and are closely watching us.
An interest in the proceedings of this Assembly is felt far beyond the limits of our own country. From across the waters, which separate us from the old world, many an anxious eye turns towards this Assembly, and many a renewed heart has breathed a prayer in our behalf.
Under what an amazing weight of responsibility, then, do we act! Verily, beloved brethren, we need large supplies of wisdom and of grace to meet our responsibility here. Oh! that we all felt this, and that every heart were engaged in prayer to Him, who is the fountain of wisdom, and the source of grace, to grant us the supplies we need.
Brethren, ministers of the gospel, like others, are dying men. We, who are here now, will never all meet in “ General Assembly" again, until we meet in one, very differently organized, and held for a very different purpose. What we have to do to advance the prosperity of the church, must be done quickly. Here is our opportunity; now is our time.
Let us, then, fix our eye and our heart on one single object--" The prosperity of Zion,"-and feeling that our only hope, for either receiving or doing good, is in God, let our united, believing, importunate prayer ascend to his throne. Let the whote, and every part of our business, be commenced, and prosecuted, and ended in prayer. And may God of his infinite mercy grant to every member of this body, a large supply of that “ wisdom which is from above; which is, first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocricy."
And may our covenant Jehovah prosper his own blessed cause. Amen.
The sin of disturbing the peace of the church, oflen originates with those who consider their opponents as especially guilty of neglecting the excellent advice of our author. The man who adopts the language of error, in explaining the essen. tial doctrines of the branch of the church with which he is connected; or, ne. glects her important usages, is laying a foundation for discord. He may think it is “ lawful,” to use any plırasecloyy in expressing his views, or engage in any speculations, so long as he holds the doctrines of her standards. But even this, is not always " expedient.”---(See 1 Cor. 10:23_-32.) By so doing he may oftend his “weak brother;" he may thus excite suspicions; he may cause others who do not know his real sentiments, to oppose him conscientiously; he may promote
“schism" in the church, by an unwillingness to relinquish modes of explana. lion, and his philosophy, which (he says) conveys no different ideas from the ob. vious meaning of the standards.
He may continue the causes of controversy by recklessly continuing his tin. warranted interpretations, by his apparent neglect of ecclesiastical order, by ridiculing or treating his brethren unkindly, by giving a preference to other in stitutions than those peculiar to the branch of the church who-e “unity" and “ prosperity" he has voluntarily pledged himself to " study” and promote. In our opinion, such a person (but especially fundamental errorists) as well as those who contend with their brethren about small matters, destroy the peace of the church. But we will cease to express our judgment, and give a limely extract from the " pastoral letter” of the General Assembly of 1817, found in the
Digest," page 112.
"Dear brethren, be UNITED AMONG YOURSELVES. If you desire to profit by your spiritual privileges; if you hope to be instrumental in promoting the cause of Christ, or to be honored with his blessing; cherish harmony of affection, and union of effort. Besides the common bonds of christian love, which unite the great family of believers; the ministers and members of the Presbyterian church are cemented by a compact which every honest man canuot fail to appreciate, We mean the “Confession of Faith" of our church. While we believe tire scrip. tures of the Old and New Testaments to be the only infillible rule of faith and practice, we do also, if we deal faithfully with God and man, vincerely receive and adopt this Confession, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures. Let us adhere to this standard with fidelity; and endeavor to transmit to our children pure and undefiled, a treasure, which onr fathers at great expense have, under God, bequeathed to us. But while we hold fast the form of sound wurds which we have received, let us guard against indulging a spirit of controversy, than which few things are more uniriendly to the life and power of godliness. It is never necessary to sacrifice charity, in order to main. tain faith and hope. That differences of opinion, acknowledged on all hands, to be of the minor class, may and cught to be tolerated, among those who are agreed in great and leading views of Divine truth, is a principle on which the godly have so long and so generally acted, that it seems unnecessary, at the present day, to scek arguments for its support. Our Fathers, in early periods of the history of our church, had their peculiarities and diversities of opinion, which yet, however did not prevent then from loving one another, from cordially acting togother; and by their united prayers and exertions, transmitting to us a goodly inheritance. Let us emulate their moderation and forbearance, and we may hope to he favored with more than their success.
The great adversary will, no doubt, be disposed to sow the seeds of discord and division among you. But resist him in this, as well as all his other insidious ef. forts. Surely those who can come together on the great principles of our public Standards, however they may differ on non-essential points, ouglit not to soparate, o lo indulge bitterness or prețudice against each other. Dear brethren, let there be no divisions among you; but be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment. Follow the things which make for peace, and the things iphereby ye may edify one another. Behold how good, and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! Brethren, farewell, love one another; for Love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth Gol.
Be of one mind; live in peace, and the God of love and of peace shall be with you. Amex!"
BY JOHN T. PRESSLY, D. D.,
THE SCRIPTURAL DUTY OF AVOIDING OFFENCES,
CONSIDERED IN ITS APPLICATION TO THE SUBJECT OF TEMPERANCE.
1 Cor. 8:13. If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh
while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
To the Christians of Rome the apostle addresses the following exhor. tation: Let us follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. The importance of fol. lowing after those things which may tend, to mutual edification, is probably not sufficiently appreciated by the generality of Christian profes
Wrapped up in their own individual concerns, and yielding too much to the influence of the contracted spirit of selfishness, there is among the professed followers of Christ too generally, a disposition to look, every man upon his own things, not upon the things of others. But
says the apostle, We being many are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Being thus compacted together in one body, we have a mutual interest in each other. It is therefore to the advantage of each individual member, as well as to the whole body, that there be no schism in the body of Christ, but that the members should have the same care one for another. And if one member suf. fers, all the members should sympathize with it, or if one member is honored, all the members should rejoice with it. Regarding each other as members of one common body, it should be with the disciples of Christ a settled maxim, that none of us liveth to himself. And there. fore while we study to advance the interests of godliness in our own souls, we should aim at such a course as may tend to mutual edification.
Delivered before the Temperance Society of Noblestown.