Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

1839.]

ON THE CHURCH.

15

[ocr errors]

honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine." In a critical analysis of many pages, he vindicates this translation of the original against all objections, and says, that “on the first proposal of the text, a rational man who is unprejudiced, and who never heard of the controversy about ruling elders, can hardly avoid an apprehension that there are two sorts of elders, some that labor in word and doctrine, and some who do not so do.” He then condenses the whole into the following syllogism :

Preaching elders, although they rule well, are not worthy of double honor, unless they labor in word and doctrine. But there are elders who rule well that are worthy of double honor, though they do not labor in word and doctrine. Therefore, there are elders that rule well, who are not teaching or preaching elders, that is, who are ruling elders only.”—p. 488.

(3.) That pastors cannot discharge arighit their especial duty in the ministry of the word and prayer, and yet attend adequately to the rule and discipline of the Church, and the personal walk and conversation of its members, without the co-operation of these “helps” and “governments.” The general prevalence of Church committees in New England appears to be a tacit admission of this fact. These points would appear much stronger, if set forth more in detail; but this is impossible, as the subject itself is sufficient to occupy an entire article. We are free to say that the author has convinced us that the subject is entitled to thorough investigation; and we have said thus much in the hope of calling attention to it.

We are obliged to omit the consideration of the author's views of the duties of the various officers of the Church, and of excommunication, which have given us much instruction and peace. These, with his various tracts concerning the walk, duties, and relations of persons in the Church state would require a full article of themselves, and would furnish most edifying materials for it. We can have no better wish for our American Churches, than that they were under the guidance of the principles which he sets forth. One topic remains, however, of the first importance, in relation to existing discussions, which must be noticed before we conclude. It is the communion of Churches," which is the subjest of our author's closing chapter. No

[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

subject appears to be less understood than the grounds, manner, extent, and ends of the association of Congregational Churches together. And we shall endeavor, as fully as we can, in a short space, to exhibit the author's mind upon this subject. He introduces it thus :

“ Churches so appointed and established, in order as hath been declared, ought to hold communion among themselves, or with each other, as unto all the ends of their institution and order ; for these are the same in all. Yea, the general end of them is in order of nature considered antecedently unto their institution in particular. This end is the edification of the body of Christ in general, or the Church Catholic. The promotion hereof is committed jointly and severally unto all particular Churches. Wherefore with respect hereunto, they are obliged unto communion among themselves, which is their consent, endeavor and conjunction in and for the promotion of the edification of the Catholic Church, and therein their own, as they are parts and members of it."--p. 569.

As more fully explanatory of what he intends by this edifying of the body of Christ, we will quote a passage from another chapter.

" Yea, one of the principal ends of the institution and preservation of Churches, is the conversion of souls, and when there are no more to be converted, there shall be no more Church on earth. To enlarge the kingdom of Christ to diffuse the light and savour of the gospel, to be subservient unto the calling of the elect, or gathering all the sheep of Christ into his fold, are things that God designs by his Churches in this world."--p.444,

“ All Churches, on their first institution, quickly found themselves indigent and wanting, though not as unto their being, power, and order ; yet as unto their well-being, with their preservation in truth and order, upon extraordinary occurrences, as also with respect unto their usefulness and serviceableness, unto the general end of furthering the edification of the Church catholic. The care hereof, and the making provision for this defect, was committed by our Lord Jesus Christ, unto the apostles during their lives, which Paul calls in uégouva nudāv Tūv xxa nosūv; 1 Cor. xi. 18. "The care of all the Churches. For what was only a pressing care and burden unto them, was afterwards contended for

[ocr errors]

a

*

*

[ocr errors]

by others, as a matter of dignity and power; the pretence of it in one especially, being turned into a cursed domination, under the style and title of Servus servorum Dci.'

“But if a thousand pretences should be made of supplying Churches, defects, after the decease of the Apostles, by any other way, or means, besides this of the equal communion of Churches among themselves, they will be all found destitute of any countenance from the Scripture, primitive antiquity, the nature, use, and end of Churches, yea, of the Christian religion itself.

But there is no place for such imaginations, until it be proved, either that our Lord Jesus Christ hath not appointed the mutual communion of Churches among themselves by their own consent; or that it is not sufficient for the preservation of the union, and furtherance of the edification, of the Church catholic, whereunto it is designed.

“ Herein then, we acknowledge, lieth the great difference which we have with others about the state of the Church of Christ in this world: we do believe that the mutual communion of particular Churches amongst themselves, in an equality of power and order, though not of gifts and usefulness, is the only way appointed by our Lord Jesus Christ after the death of the Apostles, for the attaining of the general end of all particular Churches, which is the edification of the Church catholic in faith, love, and peace. Other ways and means have been found out in the world for this end."-pp. 570—1.

“ But it must be moreover premised, that whereas this union of Churches is radically and essentially the same among all Churches in the world, yet, as unto the ordinary actual exercise of the duties of it, it is confined and limited by Divine providence unto such churches, as the natural means of the discharge of such duties may extend unto ; that is, unto those which are planted within such lines of communication, such precincts or boundaries of places and countries, as may not render the mutual performance of such duties insufferably difficult. Yet is not the world itself so wide but that all places being made pervious by navigation, this communion of Churches may be visibly professed, and in some instances practiced among all Churches, * from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, where the name of Christ is known among the Gentiles."--pp. 371--2.

“ But this communion of Churches cannot be duly apprehended, unless we inquire and determine wherein their union doth consist, For communion is an act of union, that receives both its nature and power from it, or by virtue of it. For of what nature soever the union of things distinct in themselves be, of the same is the communion that they have among themselves.”—pp. 572–3

He proceeds to state that in the Church of Rome, the Pope is the head, centre, and fountain of all union, and communion in that Church is of a character original and suited to this union. Having shown that by this order, all true communion of Churches whatever is subverted, he proceeds to declare that the only real union subsisting between particular Churches,

"Consists in that which gives form, life, and being unto the Church catholic, with the addition of what belongs to them as they are in particular. And this is, that they have all one and the same God and Father, one Lord Jesus Christ, one faith and one doctrine of faith, one hope of their calling on the promised inheritance, one regeneration, one baptism, one bread and wine; united unto God and Christ in one spirit, through the bond of faith and love."--p. 576.

“ Two things concur unto the completing of this union of Churches. 1. Their union or relation to Christ. 2. That which they have arnong themselves.

"I. The Lord Christ himself is the original and spring of this union, and every particular Church is united unto him as its head, besides which, with or under which, it hath none.

And unless this union be dissolved, unless a Church be disunited from Christ, it cannot be so from the Catholic Church, nor from any true Church of Christ in particular; however it may be dealt withal by others in the world. *

6 II. There concurreth hereunto an union among themselves, I mean all particular Churches throughout the world, in whom the Church catholic doth act its power and

* And the bond hereof is that especial love which Christ requireth among all his disciples, acting itself unto all the ends of edification of the whole body."

“This is that blessed oneness which the Lord Christ prayed for so earnestly for his disciples, that they might be one in the Father and the Son, one among themselves, and made perfect in one."

" This union of the Catholic Church in all particular

*

*

[ocr errors]

66

duty.'

*

Churches, is always the same, invisible, unchangeable, comprehending all the Churches in the world at all times.". p. 577-78.

“ These things being premised, I proceed unto that which is our present inquiry, namely, Wherein the communion of particular Churches among themselves doth consist."

"I. In the belief of the same doctrine of truth, which is according unto Godliness, the same articles of faith, and the public profession thereof; so that every one of them is the ground and pillar of the same truth.

“ II. This communion of faith respects the Church itself as its material object, For it is required hereunto, that we believe that the Lord Christ hath had in all ages, and especially hath in that wherein we live, a Church on the earth.

“ This communion of Churches in faith, consists much in the principal fruit of it; namely, Prayer. So it is stated, Eph. ii. 18. For through Christ we have access by one Spirit unto the Father.'. And that therein the communion of the catholic Church doth consist, the Apostle declares in the following verses. 19-22.

4. The unity of taith in all Churches, affecteth communion among them, in the administration of the same sacraments of baptism and the supper of the Lord.

“5. They have also by faith communion herein, in that all Churches do profess subjection unto the authority of Christ in all things, and an obligation upon them to do and observe all whatsoever he hath commanded.”pp.579-82.

“ The outward acts of communion among Churches, proceeding from this love, and the obligation that is on them to promote their mutual edification, may be referred unto two heads of advice and assistance.

“Churches have communion unto their mutual edification, by advice in synods or councils, which must in this place be considered."

"Synods are the meetings of divers Churches by their messengers or delegates, to consult and determine of such things as are of common concernment unto them all, by virtue of the communion which is exercised in them. pp.583-4

In favor of such synods, our author urges that the light of nature teaches that all societies of one kind as to original, rule, and end, are obliged to advise in common for their common good ; that compacted together as they are into the

*

*

« AnteriorContinuar »