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and which must be referred to a meet- densome, but obedience to it was neing of rulers ; not, perhaps, from the cessary; which plainly intimates that difficulty of the case, but because it was not optional merely, but had there is needed an interposition of a the authority of the Synod. It was body which presides over the whole. delivered to the churches as a decree Such superior courts are a bond of to be kept, which was ordained of the union in the church, and necessary to apostles and elders which were at maintain general order.
Jerusalem. It was ordained, which II. That when an assembly of teaches that it was a solemn judicial the church takes up any cause, they appointment. It was a decree to be kept, should adopt all proper methods for a judgment by which the churches, coming to a righteous decision. were to be guided. When it was read This Synod had obtained no revela- to the members of the church at tion from God upon the case brought Antioch, “they rejoiced for the conup from Antioch, but they do not de- solation, regarding it as a settlement cline to take up the reference; " the of the matter in dispute--as a termiapostles and elders came together for nation of the controversy. In the to consider of this matter." It was a cities to which Paul delivered it, it reference, and the commissioners from was received as an article in their Antioch- were admitted as members creed, and as setting at rest the matof the court to take part in the dis- ter in dispute. “So were the churches cussion. At first the assembly were established in the faith, and increasfar from being of one mind. There ed in number daily.". Indeed the was much disputing;" but every one assembly could not look on it in any seems to have been heard' patiently other light than as authoritative, and and attentively. The mode of argu- obligatory on the churches. ment followed by those whose opi- say, “It seemed good to the Holy mions were adopted is before us; and Ghost and to us: Whatever seems we find that they grounded their judge good to the Holy, the Omniscient ment upon the doctrine which God Spirit, the promised Director of the was blessing to the church, and the Church, must be good in itself, and accordance of the judgment with the must seem good to all who are enOld Testamentscriptures. This patient dowed with the wisdom which dejudicious discussion appears to have scendeth from above. All should been blessed in overcoming opposition, hear what the Spirit saith unto the and in bringing the assembly to an churches. Indeed, the letter of the unanimons decision. This procedure Synod could not well have more than was so judicious, and is so suitable to it has of judicial ecclesiastical auour circumstances, that it ought to be thority, and less of that brotherly adfollowed ; and its success in this in- vice which the churches might consistance encourages us to hope, that, if der and follow, or depart from, as the church keep in the way of duty, they judged proper. It was given by God will guide her to righteous and the rulers, and it was received by the comfortable decisions.
churches as a judicial settlement of a IV. 'That when a general assembly matter very important to the interests of the church, guided by reason and of religion. the word of God, come to a decision But to some it "inay appear preon any matter of doctrine or duty, it sumptuous to speak of modern cliurch is a law to the church over which it courts as standing on the same ground presides. Into the nature of the de- as the meeting at Jerusalem; and to cisions in this cause it is not necessary speak of their decisions as s seeming to enter, but it is evident that it was good to the Holy Ghost and to them," obligntory. It is admitted to be burn would be considered as impiety: No church rulers who have wisdom will heathenism were not to be subjected, put themselves in competition with to circumcision and the observance those extraordinary men, who, upon of the law of Moses. Paul afterparticular occasions, were inspired by wards taught this truth by inspirathe Spirit of God, and exercised a tion from heaven, in language the singular power in the church ; but strongest and most solemn. But here, when those men were, without any in passing a temporary judgment on immediate direction that we hear of the subject, an account is given us so from heaven, met along with others full and particular, of the matter beto settle an important point, in which ing referred, taken up, discussed, dea speedy determination was requisite, cided, and delivered to the churches and God gave subsequent evidence for their direction, as leads to the that he approved of their procedure, belief that it was intended to teach did they not set an example which, us how important matters of general on proper occasions, should be fol- concern to the church should be malowed? And where is the impiety naged. Complaints may be made of of church courts saying now, that an uncertainty whether the officetheir judgment " seems good to the bearers of the church were all preHoly Ghost ?" If it can be shown sent, and if they were warranted to plainly that it is founded on the word act as representatives of the whole which the Holy Ghost has given, it society. In the state in which the must seem good to him. If such a church then was, it is surprising that case should occur as that which Paul this had so much the character of a decided for the Corinthians, who general assembly; and the way in would hesitate to say that it seemed which their sentence was given, and good to the Holy Ghost to deliver acquiesced in, shows that they legisthe transgressor to Satan? Should lated for the church at large. We any church member maintain any look to other places of the New Tes: damnable doctrine, or persist in any tament for information about the office flagrant immorality, there is no doubt of the eldership, and the way in that it seems good to the Holy Ghost which men were to be elected to it; that he should be cast out of the and here we find Peter,who says of church. Indeed, it seems very ques- himself, 66 who also am an elder," tionable if any class of church rulers with his brethren of the apostleship, should pronounce censures solemnly sitting in an assembly with the other in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, elders, judging along with them withunless they are warranted to say that out any official superiority,-teaching 4 it seems good to the Holy Ghost.” us how the eldership should proceed Nothing should be imposed on the in assemblies. Where else in the church with regard to doctrine, or Word of God have we such distinct worship, or duty, except what is im- instructions about the government of portant in itself, and plainly taught the church? It is a subject on which in the Scriptures; and there can be God speaks less fully than on many no impropriety in saying, respecting others; and it is gratifying to find what is found in the Divine Word, such direct authority for the formathat " it seems good to the Holy tion of church courts, the great Ghost.”
doctrine of the right of church memTaking the whole history into view, bers to elect their own office-bearers we cannot help considering it as in- is not more distinctly ascertained. tended to give instruction respecting When thus we find an assembly the administration of the church. convened, composed apparently of all It was surely meant to teach some. the office-bearers in the church who thing more than that converts from were best fitted to give judgment, at which private church members were selves, men of extraordinary gifts and present, but took no part in the dis- extraordinary power in the church, cussion and decision ; when a distinct consult along with the elders, and reference was made to them of a assume not any superior authority; cause from a regularly organized all exercise an equality of power. church, which they took up and The pretended successors of the aposjudged by reasons drawn from obser- tles, who act as lords over God's vation and experience, and the testi- heritage, assume a power which mony of scripture; when they passed apostles, on this occasion, thought a sentence on the case which was not proper to exercise. The passage obligatory on the churches, and was is still more opposed to Indepenobeyed by them, there can be no dency; for the private members of hesitation in deciding what plan of the church are not even members of church government this supports. It this assembly,_they are only menis the procedure of a Presbyterian tioned as joining in the salutation to assembly; it gives no countenance to the churches, and perhaps in the diocesan Episcopacy. Apostles them- choice of the commissioners.
BOTANICAL THEOLOGY-THE BEING OF GOD.
BY THE REV. DAVID SMITH.
On a fine summer day, an unex- he, “is the Father of Mercies ! This pected shower drove two or three bouquet is delightful. How delicately little parties into a cottage, for tem- formed are these beautiful flowers ! porary shelter. A Bible and a bou- how rich are their varied tints, and quet of flowers lay upon the table. how sweet is the fragrance they exA shrewd-looking man, one of the hale! But shall we forego the joy company, approached the table; he of inhaling their fragrance, and the was an infidel. He opened the Bible; delight of gazing upon their beauty, then closed it again with a smile that because we cannot explain the hidwas mingled with derision. He then den mysteries of their existence ? took up the bouquet. “This suits We know not how the dry, husky, me best,” said he, with an exulting unsightly seed, when set in the air, “for it has no mystery; I can ground, could start up into such glounderstand it. Its colours are fair, rious forms; we cannot tell how it and its scent delightful.” Saying this, is, that from the same soil such difhe pulled a flower from the bouquet, ferent stems should spring, and on and stuck it in his bosom.
the same flower such varied tints apA pause succeeded; but it was pear; nor know we why some of the soon broken by an old gentleman, fairest and sweetest of flowers should whose meek and mercy-loving face be thickly pointed with thorns. These was grateful to gaze upon, and whose things are mysteries; but, if we wait grey hair entitled him to respect. till we can comprehend them, the He had heard the observation of the flowers will fade away; for their life infidel, and felt anxious to counter- is short. Let us gaze, then, on their act its influence. Advancing to the beauty, and inhale their fragrance table, he also took up the bouquet. while we may. “How beauteous in his gifts,” said “And why should we not?” continued he, putting down the bouquet >> In now proceeding in the last place, and taking up the Bible_why and in conclusion, to call attention to should we not use tlie Word of God the vital principle operating in plants in the same way? Mysteries it hasas an argument for the being of God, deep and awful mysteries, which its we come to the most mysterious de Almighty Author alone can explain. partment of all in vegetable nature. But shali iwe waste our short lives in Mystéry is every where, but here we brooding over them, and neglect the are in the very heart and centre of greater part, which is quite plain, mystery. Still, like all the other and overlook the manifold mereies mysteries of God, this mystery is reit proffers for our acceptance ? Let plete with indications of intelligence. us leave then, all mysteries, both of Though 5 wheels are within wheels," nature and grace, till it shall please they are full of eyes." We see the God to unravel them to our under- divine light clearly shining through standing; and, in the mean time, let the darkness. In fact, there is very us, while rejoicing that God's works visibly, the wisdom of God in the and word both show that he is the mystery. We have referred, in our wonderful' gracefully place the glow- former illustrations, to a house in ing flowers of the bouquet in our which mechanical operations and bosoms, and the gracious consolationis chemical processes went on.
These, of the Bible in our hearts."
as we have seen, unequivocally argue In the spirit of this beautiful little intelligence and prove design. But narrative, extracted from one of the were there, in the supposed house, Religious Tract Society's publications, besides, such a principle included as we have endeavoured, in the preced- would form a perpetually moving and ing papers, to lead the attention from constantly adjusting power, rendervegetable nature to nature's God, ing the machinery self-acting and the and to apply the principles furnished chemical apparatus self-working, and by the Word of God to his works, thus dispensing with human superinWe have in this way considered, in tendence altogether, we would at succession, the material elements of oncé' consider it, even though we which a plant consists, the mechani- could not understand it, an additional eal organization which belongs to it, evidence of the intelligence and skill and the chemical processes which go of the original constructor. This we on in it; and have seen, as we pro- would reckon the highest triumph of ceeded, not only much to admire, but art; the consummation of construct much to astonish. The least of God's tive kill. But this there is not. works are great and marvellous." However far machinery and chemistry We cannot take the simplest plant, have been carried, they cannot do nor the simplest part of the simplest alone. There must be an engineer plant-not even the most common in
every manufactory; a chemist in blacle of grass--and say there is no every laboratory. But what there mystery here. It is God's manner, is not in art there is in nature. In in all his works, to enfold himself in every plant there is a presiding prinmystery. The words are as appli- ciple, or, as some prefer calling it, an cable to God in connexion with a active governing quality, always in flower as with a sun ; “Who by operation; in consequence of which searching can find out God, or who the mechanical actions and chemical can find out the Almighty unto per processes go on, not only without in fection?". Mystery, we may say in- termission, but in varying accommodeed, is the footprint of Deity; that dation to the constantly varying circould hardly be divine which we cumstances of the plant. This princould fully comprehend.
ciple or quality we call life.
But what is life? What is the na- kind of dead matter, organic or inor: ture of this mysterious agent, which, ganic, when left to itself, tends to even in the lowly vegetable, seems (lecay and dissolution. But this tenendowed almost with some of the dency in living matter is, by the vital
attributes of intelligence ? The ques; force inherent in it, overborne, and tion is more easily put than answer- counteracted. While the atmosphere ed. We can see obviously enough decomposes the surface of the hardest what it is not. It is plainly not me- roek, it produces no impression on chanical în its nature. Though me. the tenderest twig so long as vitality chanical ingenuity has gone far in remains. We see still further how imitating the form and appearance, life, whether we call it a principle or and even motions of living beings, it a quality, enables the plant, within has made no approach to the produccertain assignable limits, to right ittion of the quality of life. The mat. self when any disorder has been inter with which it works is as dead troduced into its economy, and to reand inert as ever. As little is life pair any wastes or injuries that may chemical in its nature as it is mecha- have been inflicted upon it. Fracture nical. Chemistry not only cannot a stone, or break a piece of crystal, make a living plant, but it cannot and the injury remains permanent: make a living grain of wheat, or a no effort is put forth to re-unite the living seed of barley. “Science," as parts. But in plants, when wounded, a writer, in Chambers? Journal re- a healing process is forthwith commarks, can analyse these, but by no menced ; as any one may see when a synthetical process imitate them. In branch is cut, or a portion of the vain it compounds the elements oxy- bark removed. The vis medicatrix, gen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon which, in the animal economy, is acin the exact proportions of the grain. knowledged to be such an unequivoThe chemist cannot make food, even cal function of vitality, is not less with all its materials, at liis command. palpable in the vegetable than it is in His art is confined to ascertaining the the animal. In short, we see how nature and properties of that which life enables the plant to carry forward has been subjected to the mysterious all its varied functions of nutrition, laws of vitality.” In short, it is ob- growth, respiration, and reproducvious also, that life cannot be a com- tion. It causes the vessels to act, the þination of mechanical and chemical sap to circulate, and the varied secrepower. Unite these as you may, tions in their due order and measure vary them as you'may, you can only to take place. While it continues, have mechanical and chemical results, these processes go on; but let it beThe effect cannot transcend the cause. come extinct, and though every thing What is mechanical can generate only else remains the same, all these prowhat is mechanical, and what is che- cesses will stop together. What was mical can be the parent only of what before organized matter, will become is chemical. Thus far, negatively, immediately subject to the same laws, all is plain.,
and exhibit the same phenomena as We can proceed, however, a step dead unorganized matter. beyond this we can see obviously These operations in the plant are enough what life does. The opera- obvious enough, and they can be retions of the vital principle are visible ferred only to the action of the vital to the senses. We sce, for example, principle. But here we are stopped how it enables the plant to resist those in our researches. A veil of hitherto laws of chemical affinity, the tent, inexplicable mystery intercepts four dency of which is to resolve all bodies vision, We see the result;s but the into their primitive elements. Every vital principle or quality itself, which