Imágenes de páginas

body of Christ by one indwelling spirit, no single member can discharge its proper office without a joint acting with the other members of the same body; that in many instances particular Churches can in no other way fulfil the end of their institution in furthering the edification ofthe Church catholic: that inasmuch as every member of a particular Church is also a member of the Church catholic, the rule prescribed by our Saviour, Matt. xviii. virtually gives the parties a privilege of being heard and judged as to their interest therein : and lastly that the example of the Apostles acting under the infallible conduct of the Holy Ghost, Acts xv. gives them the nature of a divine institution.

The proper business of synods, he describes to be the care of all those matters in which the communion of Churches consists. 1. The preservation of pure doctrine. If differences or doubts arise about it, or heresis be broached in any Church or Churches, which they are unable to suppress, this is the last external refuge that is left for the communion of Churches in the same faith. 2. To preserve the peace, order, and unity of particular Churches, and compose all discords and strifes. 3. To correct any mal-administration of discipline, whereby any conceive themselves injured. 4. To preserve the purity of worship, manners and conversation unblemished in Churches.

In regard to their extent and bounds, these should be regulated by convenience, facility of assembling, and adaptation to the end in view. Churches near each other ought to be in readiness to assemble on all occasions of common concernment. The members composing such synods are to be such as are delegated by the Churches; but the elders or officers, some of them at least ought to be the principal, because on several accounts they are best qualified.

The proper power and authority of these synods he thus declares :

" The authority of a synod declaring the mind of God from the Scripture in doctrine, er giving counsel as unto practice synodically unto them whose proper representatives are present in it, whose decrees and determinations are to be received and submitted unto on evidence of their truth and necessity, as recommended by the authority of the synod from the promised presence of Christ, and the example given by the Apostles, Acts. xv.

“ Hence it is evident, that in and after such synods, it is in the power of Churches concerned, humbly to consider and weigh, (1.) The evidences of the presence of Christ in them from the manner, causes, and ends of their assembling, and from their deportment therein. (2.) What regard in their constitutions and determinations, there hath been unto the word of God, and whether in all things it hath had its due preeminence. (3.) How all their determinations have been educed from its truth, and are confirmed by its authority. p. 598.

From this synopsis of the author's views of the communion of Churches, in which we concur, and which more copious extracts would more fully evince to be just and scriptural, we deduce the following conclusions.

1. That all the true Churches of Christ on earth have an actual invisible communion with one another, whether it assume a visible form or not.

2. That all Churches as far as possible ou ht to make this communion manifest.

3. That by virture of it, they are bound actually to unite in such numbers as may be conducive to the edification of the Church catholic, and jointly adopt all those measures, according to divine appointment for the furtherance of Christ's kingdom, which singly they are unable to carry into effect.

4. That this union is Church-wise and not otherwise ; perfectly and alone adequate to the edifying of the body of Christ, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part; is alone known to scripture and primitive antiquity, and that any other sort of union got up to supply its place despoils it of its true beauty, glory, and efficacy.

5. That as unity of faith, doctrine, and order in conformity to the word of God, is presupposed unto the invisible universal communion of all the saints, so visible and professed unity in these things is a pre-requisite to visible communion in those Churches which exercise it, with due allowance for those differences in smaller points, which are incident to the best of men in this state of imperfection, in which “we know but in part.”

6. That all corruption of the Scripture doctrine order, or practice to the full extent of its existence necessarily mars this communion; and if it reach fundamentals, and be persisted in, ultimately destroys it. 7. That non-communion necessarily ensues at least he

[ocr errors]

tween those who regard each other as heretical upon vital points of doctrine and order.

8. That if any Church or set of Churches, deem any form of worship, doctrine, or government according to the mind of God, they cannot with safety, or with a good conscience forsake it, on any consideration whatever, and that to depart from it for the sake of union with any other class of Churches whatever, is to leave Christ and follow men. As our author says, no one can be obliged to disobey Christ for the sake of avoiding schism.

9. Therefore no man who regards the Church to which he belongs as constituted according to the word of God, and as “holding fast the Head” in doctrine, order, and practice, ought to stigmatize it as a sect, or sinsul secession from the body of Christ. Nor ought existing Christian denominations to be lumped together indiscriminately under the reproachful epithet of sects, nor ought any of them to be styled or regarded as such, except so far as it appears to have departed from the commands and institutions of Christ, in doctrines, order, faith, and charity.

10. Although there may be good Christians in denominations which are unsound in doctrine and order, yet for the sake of communion with these we are not obliged visibly to commune with and recognize the Churches to which they belong, as being according to the mind of Christ ; for no outward barriers can obstruct the invisible communion between all the members of the Church Catholic.

11. It is not necessary to the doing of things Churchwise, that all the Churches on earth do them jointly, or that more than a single Church transact them.

12. By virtue of the cominunion of Churches, there subsists a special communion or fellowship between pastors who are over them in the Lord, and hold one faith, one Lord, one baptism, one God and Father, whose cement is “charity which is the bond of perfectness.” It is wrong therefore to style the pastoral associations, conferences and unions in New England voluntary societies, meaning thereby that they are non-ecclesiastical, or without divine warrant.

Lastly.—The Churches in their joint action for the promotion of religion, and the advancement of Christ's kingdom, have not, as many would fain represent, any authority or power, except to consult the Scriptures to learn the will

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

of God on the doubtful subject, and their recommendations are to bear the divine authority to men's consciences as an inducement to compliance.

With the statement of these conclusions, we leave the subject, fearing longer to tax the patience of our readers, already, doubtless, wearied. We can truly say, that we have been instructed and delighted with these treatises on Church government, especially the last, and we are persuaded that very many ministers and laymen, if they peruse it, will find themselves greatly enlightened, comforted, and edified. It is no trivial matter of which it treats-It enters directly and fundamentally into the whole nature, structure, and economy of the visible kingdom of Christ. We regret that it is so scarce, and inaccessible, being seldom found separately from the edition of Owen's entire works, which few can afford to purchase. The copy which we have had in making out this review, is borrowed from an individual living fisty miles distant. We know not how any publisher of books could better subserve the cause of Christ, and especially the interests of Congregational Churches, than by giving it a republication.



(Continued from page 544.)

It is written that the devil was a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies, John viii. 44. The temptation, is the first that we hear of his work of deception, and death. The figure by which he then worked was a square: unique, for it has nothing in common with the true figure but the number of sides; but it contains all the elements and properties of the human triangle: and is in fact its genesis and original. The devil laid down his four principles as postulates; as axiomatic. 1. Ye shall not die. 2. Your eyes

[ocr errors]

shall be open. 3. Ye shall be as gods. 4. Ye shall know good and evil. Upon this basis, all principles are determined by voluntary and utilitarian tendencies; the law of God is made void ; and the rectitude of action settled by its consequences on human happiness. His own perfection and pleasure man is free to consult, as the chief end of his existence; and his understanding has strength sufficient to arrive at the knowledge of the truth in respect to his own happiness, virtue, honor and peace. Here is the fraternity of the human triangle ; for it is the devil, who has “deceived the whole world;" Rev. xii. 9; and here is the beginning of his work: “the head of the serpent” which "the seed of the woman shall bruise;" the very work of the devil, which the Son of God was manifested to destroy, 1 John iii. 8; John xviii. 37; Heb. ii. 14. All men are, by

8. nature, the children of wrath, and believe the doctrine of their father the devil ; Gen. iii. 15; 1 John iii. 10; Eph. ii. 3; John viii. 38–48. They believe they have life in themselves, that their eyes are open ; that they are as gods; and that they do know good and evil; in other words, all men are naturally resting upon satan's square or its equivalent, the human triangle : and hence their fundamental dependance is upon themselves, upon the flesh. They love their own thoughts, ways and works; though they are all wholly unlike and opposed to those of God. Isaiah lv, 8, 9; Gen. vi. 5. Hence the universality of the call to repentance and faith. To repent, is to renounce the devil's doctrines, the human triangle, and to despair of all hope from self. John ix. 41. To believe, is to receive the principles of truth only from the divine testimony; and to repose the eternal hopes of the soul upon the grace and truth and power of Christ. John xvii. 6-9.

The great work of satan is to keep men in the faith of his lying doctrines. 2 Cor. iv. 4; Rev. xx. 10; Matt. xiii. 19,39; Luke viii. 12; Eph. vi. 11, 12; 2 Tim. ii. 25, 26; Heb. ii. 14; 1 Peter v. 8, 9; Rev. xii. 9. In our notice of the history of the "doctrines of devils," and their influence upon the Church and individuals, we shall not speculate about how these things can be ;" we shall leave the ultima ratio and modus to the Jews and the Greeks. John iii. 9; 1 Cor. i. 22; Matt. xvi. 1-5, 12. Our concern will be for Facts; and therefore, we shall look for testimony. John. iii. 11, 33, 36; and xvii. 6-8, 26.

« AnteriorContinuar »