power :

this notion of an absolute and risible

“Jesus I know, and Paul I oneness as necessary to discipleship. know ; but who are ye?” Reflec. “But Jesus said, Forbid him not." tion would have shown him that And on thus prohibiting their en none could cast out devils in forcement of an exact and visible Christ's name, but by Christ's own uniformity, he addressed to the dis- power ; and that if it had pleased ciples then with him one of his most the Master to endow them thus, one solemn discourses; placing before particular company of disciples was his church, in all ages, truths, obe. not to interpose and forbid then, dience to which, without producing nor to imagine that discipleship was disorder in any Christian society, to be limited to themselves. Whatwould have combined all Christian ever agencies may be employed in societies in harmonious co-operation, effecting it, ultimately, union with for the removal of the same widely- Christ is spiritual, and by faith, and spread mischief, and the attainment is proved by those evidences which, of one common object. “No man as they cannot exist without it, so do which shall do a miracle in my they always exist with it. There is name, can lightly speak evil of me. no withered branch in the true vine: He that is not against us is on our there is no fruitful branch separate part. Nay, in forbidding him, be- froin it. Wherever, therefore, the cause he associates not with you, undoubted evidences of Christ's own you may become an occasion of operation are exhibited,-referring stumbling to him, and not only pre all such cases to the law and the vent him from casting out devils, testimony, as the only and sufficient but deliver him, as stumbled, into standard, there should Christ him. their power; and then what will self be honoured, in his power, by you not have to answer for? Who- the acknowledgment of his work ; soever shall offend one of these little and in his Mastership and supre ne ones that believe in me, it is better authority, by the fraternally-affecfor him that a millstone were hanged tionate recognition, as fellow-disciabout his neck, and he were cast ples, of all whom He has evidently into the sea. Renounce every prac- received, even though they “ follow tice, every opinion, every feeling, not us.” that might lead you to transgress The mischiefs occasioned by the the law of pure and humble love. spirit thus promptly, and with such If thy hand offend thee, or thy foot, earnest solemnity, checked by our cut it off; or thine eye, pluck it Lord, it would be impossible to estiout: it is better for thee to enter mate. Order, the preservation of into life without these, than with which has usually been put forth in them to be cast into hell-fire, where its justification, has not been preservtheir worm dieth not, and the fire is ed." Ecclesiastical history present: 10 not quenched. Ye are the salt of fact more undeniable than this, – the earth, not because ye profess that those religious societies which merely, but because your profession have been most rigidly exclusive in is caused by possession. Salt is reference to others, have also been good; but if the salt have lost his the most disorderly, taking the New saltness, wherewith will ye season Testament as the standard accord. it? Have salt in yourselves, and ing to which all things are to be

one with another." * done decently and in order." John, in his eagerness,—which soon Submission to some particular and after led him to ask if they might outward ceremonial, or form of go. not call down fire from heaven on vernment, there may have been ; the bigoted Samaritans who would but of the order by which the prenot receive Christ, “because his cious is separated from the vile, and face was as though he would go to all discordant varieties of doctrine are Jerusalem,”-overlookeil the solemn prevented, -the order, in a word, of truth, that Satan submits not to the genuine discipline,--scarcely a vesword of man. He derides those iige is to be found. And while who would exorcise by their own order itself has been lost, the bigotry

have peace

[ocr errors]


which denies brotherhood to all ment of Christ. He has received who are not included in one form of gifts for men : he gives gifts to association, and the terribly self- men. In this administration is deceptive presumption which gives there anything restrictive? We write it to all who are, become the charac. freely, for the times now demand teristics of the society. The time it. The honour of that revived and has evidently arrived which calls primitive Christianity which is called for a treatment of this spirit differ- Protestantism, calls for it. Does the ent from that which it may have Head of the church in any degree heretofore received. Instead of de- limit bis gifts and graces to the fending themselves against loud, but diocesan Episcopacy of modern pointless, charges of schism, these times,—very different from the episschismatics must now, without acricopacy even of Cyprian and Igna. mony, and in the spirit in which St. tius ?' He who ascended on high, Paul wrote concerning certain ene- and led captivity captive, and remies of the cross of Christ in his ceived for men the gifts which he day, tell their opponents, that, in. bestows upon them, that the Lord stead of attacking the discipleship God may dwvell among them,-has of others, they would be better em- he caused either the Roman or the ployed in establishing their own. Anglican Episcopacy to stand forth, Who are the schismatics, but they evidently distinguished the who refuse to acknowledge those Churches which he alone acknow. whom Christ has evidently received; ledges to be such ? He who, when alleging no other reason than one he instituted the Christian ministry which, when divested of all with as a perpetual ordination, and prowhich a special.pleading rhetoric mised to be to the very end of the has dressed it up, just amounts to a world with all whom the Holy repetition of the promptly-forbidden Ghost should make the overseers He followeth not us?"

(the ETLO KOTTOL) of his church,-has As Protestants, we have utterly be limited the scriptural marks of repudiated the not only unscrip- his presence to the men of high and tural, but antiscriptural, doctrine, exclusive claims, who say that they, that when the risen Saviour ascend- and they alone, are his anthorized ed into heaven, he left his church Ministers? Is their word alone a to the government of a visible head, word of power? Do they alone limiting his grace to the channels possess the scriptural signs of aposwbich might thus be marked out. tleship,-the multitudes of converted Christ actually, personally, as a liv. men and women ?

If all congregaing, observing, active Sovereign, go. tions of faithful men, having the verns his church, with which he is word of God faithfully preached, ever present by his living and ruling and the sacraments duly adminisSpirit. The officers in Christ's tered, are yet congregations of schischurch are not viceroys, but under- matics, and their Ministers selfshepherds. There are duties which called, unauthorized intruders, bethey are called to fulfil, and there cause they submit not to the Ro. are works which He alone can per man or Anglican Episcopacy :-if form. If it is wrong, on the one this be a truth so evident and funhand, for the flock to withhold due damental, as to justify the officehonour from those who really are, by bearers of those episcopacies in their the Master's call, under-shepherds absolute refusal of the right hand in the fold; so is it wrong for any of of fellowship, and in withholding these professed under-shepherds to the slightest mark of fraternal redeny the right hand of fellowship to cognition ;-is the Lord of the vineothers, who are proved to be under. yard unmindful of the order which shepherds by the genuine signs of an he is thus supposed to have estabApostle. Let the entire aggregate of lished, and which he is thus said to professing Christian societies, be care- have made, not merely important, fully noticed in reference to the un but fundamental? We will not deniable fact of the personal govern. pursue the comparison to the extent

to which it might be pursued. We recognised by the great Head of the will only say, that these denounced church universal. In answer to portions of the vineyard exhibit no their earnest prayers, the two great lack, either of the outward agencies blessings, without which a church ordinarily employed for guardian. is but a barren wilderness, a salt ship or cultivation, or of those spi- land not inhabited, are bestowed on ritual influences by which alone out them,-an unfailing and suitable miward agencies can be made effectual nistry, and the life-giving influences to the salvation of the soul. Let of the Holy Ghost. And the proobservation be limited to one single fessed servants of Christ would do branch of an extensive subject. In well to learn a lesson from this, of the order of Providence, there is mutual forbearance, and of mutual, now a way by which usefulness may affectionate, honouring recognition. be extended beyond the limits of They agree in the great essentials life,-a way by which the servants of truth, and God receives them; of God, even though dead, may and as men are liable to error, so continue to speak in their writings. do they for a time differ from each And are these, the undying teachers other. But as piety increased, and of generations, confined to those the light of truth shone more clearly, who have received the ordination of differences would gradually disdiocesan Episcopacy? We have no appear, and the movement of the wish to undervalue Church divinity. churches to a more complete agree. The theological student bas often to ment be visible and certain. While be grateful to God for the assistance thus loving, honouring, and recog. which, on many subjects, he derives nising each other notwithstanding from Episcopalian writers. But do their differences, those differences their works stand alone? We pity would not be an occasion of triumph those whose erring and exclusive to Papists, nor of stumbling to infibigotry leads them to the rash and dels. Were this the state of things unhallowed speech,

now in England, the prospects of read Dissenting divinity.They in the churches would be as bright, as flict on themselves a punishment of their condition would be pleasing. loss, of which they seem unable to But, as it is, are not men's hearts form any conception. On subjects failing them for fear? Is not the connected with the spirituality of future contemplated with feelings religion, on those doctrines which approaching to awe? Is there not relate immediately to the personal an almost indescribable, and yet un. salvation of the sinner, to his free conquerable, apprehension of an imjustification by the grace of God pending crisis ? Not long ago, through the redemption that is in Christians were rejoicing as if the Christ Jesus, and to his regenera- brightness of the latter-day glory, tion and sanctification by the Spir were in clear, thou

distant, prosand word of God,—to the laws, and pect before them ; and now, almost operations, and developements of imperceptibly, a thick cloud has the life which is hid with Christ in gathered, obscuring the prospect, God, -on such subjects as these, and chilling their spirits. And in the “ Dissenting divinity” is either what period, and under wbat cir. rich beyond competition, or only cumstances, has the change taken finds competitors in men like Usher place? The beginning of the cenand Leighton. Where Christ cruci- tury appeared to be opening a new fied is properly honoured, and his To the authority and power of salvation duly sought, and the great the word of God, revived and pub, principles of church-union are ac lic homage was paid; and this found knowledged, and its rules arranged a happy expression in the establishin reference to their great object, the ment and early triumphs of that furtherance of the work of God in blessed institution,—the British and the hearts of believers, and in the Foreign Bible Society. No sooner world of mankind; the church-cha was this homage paid to the word racter of these societies is mercifully of God, than bigotry seemed to

.“ We



receive an instant check; and Chris. fundamental principle of Rome, it is tian charity, too long dormant, to delightfully encouraging to behold awake with reconciling power. But, the continued tukens of the divine after a while,-we ask not for causes, favour and blessing, as manifestly we simply state facts,-the so-called vouchsafed to those whose church. Church-spirit revived, and the Bible character is so unhappily denied. Society spirit declined. And from What evangelical church, practically the time that agreement in funda- acknowledging Christ's Headship mentals, charity in subordinates, and power, is left destitute of the ceased to be the ground occupied instruments by which churches are by Christians in Britain, infidelity to promote the objects for which and political disquietude have in. they exist ? Nay, not merely genecreased ; Popery, for a time slowly ral and ordinary instruments, but advancing, has now come forward such as are required by particular with her highest claims; cold, semis exigencies, and for specific purposes. sceptical religious formalism and Where the work of the Spirit in indifference has spread its sad in- calling to the holy m nistry, is duly fluence among the great men of the honoured, God, in his wisdom and land ; and, at length, Popery seems love, raises up just such agents as as though it were permitted to take existing circumstances may require. a sort of lead, and, though on dif- There is not an evangelical church ferent grounds, and with different in Britain which has not had occaforms, to have obtained from inf. sion, from time to time, to admire delity, from disaff ction, from form- those specific adaptations of workalism, and from indifference, such men to work, with which they have actual support as justifies, to human been favoured. And as to the procalculation, the hope of certain and vision for general instruction, there speedy triumph. Had there been a has been the same benevolent and union of affection and recognition impartial distribution. That an inamong all true Protestants in Great dividual should be able to teach by Britain for the last five-and-thirty writing,--that his writings should years, this powerful combination be evidently writings not for a decould never have existed. Had nomination, or for an age, but for English Episcopalians, and evan the churches at large, for genera. gelical Presbyterians and Congrega- tions to come,-this is God's gift. tionalists in Great Britain and Ire. And what church is there which land, and Wesleyan Methodists, God has not thus honoured ? In been agreed, as they might have fact, so decidedly is it the case that been without the abandonment of a God has thus honoured all the evansingle New Testament principle, we gelical churches who have acknowshould not be compelled to see re- ledged him, that another lesson is vealed religion insulted by infidelity, suggested. God's gifts are not conspiritual religion opposed by formal. fined to any one church ; and yet it ity, zealous religion taunted and is in connexion with some one parcontemned by indifference, and Pro. ticular church, that these gifted intestantism threatened with overthrow structers of the churches generally by Popery, strong in the support are raised up. They have been contributed by infidelity, formality, church members ; and, by their and indifference, and in the subtlety positive and visible union with some which knows how to direct every one part, they have been, by God's separate movement to her one great grace, prepared to communicate inpurpose. “Be ye followers of God struction adapted to the whole. as dear children,” is a command for God gives his blessing neither to a churches, as well as for individual narrow, limiting bigotry, nor to an believers. He is to be honoured in unsettled, homeless vagrancy. The his gifts, wherever those gifts are lights of the church at large have found. And painful as it is to con- shown their love for the communion template the exclusiveness of those of saints, by that particular churchwho, in Protestant Britain, hold the membership which enabled them to,

[ocr errors]


enjoy it. They were sectional, that editions, what a quantity of invalu. they might be truly catholic.

able instruction has been diffused ! We need not say, that we differ And in numerous instances a still from the Baptists on those subjects more inportant effect, we cannot by which they are denominationally doubt, has been produced. Besides distinguished; but we must be the light that has been poured forth, blind indeed to the evidences of the mind has been stirred up from spiritual gifts, if we did not see that the inactivity of taking-for-grantedfrom amongst them, as from amongst ness, to vigorous, and accurate, and other churches, men have been se well-directed, to watchful and guard. lected whose names have become ed, but independent, thought. Mr. the property of the Christian world. Foster's mental labours must have Their home bas been denomina- been great and incessant; but he tional; but their influence has been would feel himself richly recomas extensive, and in many cases is pensed by their success. likely to be as lasting, as the lan The leading events of Mr. Fosguage in which they have writ ter's history, 80 far as public interten. Fuller and Ryland ; Carey, est is concerned, are few, and may Marshman, and Ward; Hall and be very soon told. His parents reFoster ; were all Baptists: and such sided on a small farm at Wadsworth, men, while they belong to the uni. near Hebden-Bridge, Yorkshire ; versal church, are evidences that the and here, in September, 1770, the society to which they belonged, future Essayist was born, and spent rested on the right foundation ; and the first years of his life. His father 80 acknowledged the ascended Sa was a weaver, and intended that viour and Sovereign, as to partici- John should follow the same trade. pate in the gifts which, as the Head Both father and mother were memof the church, he has received forbers of the Baptist church under

the care of the pious Dr. Fawcett. The name last mentioned that They are represented as combining of John Foster-has long been piety and good sense in happy placed on the list of British clas- union; and though possessing no sical writers. So long as profundity worldly advantages, yet commandof thought, on subjects of the high. ing, by excellence of character, the est importance, powerfully expressed, esteem of their Pastor, and of all shall be considered as giving value the fellow-members of the church to to the productions of an author, so which they belonged. long shall the productions of Mr. To their children, John and a Foster occupy the position which, younger son, these Christian parents almost from their first appearance, paid due attention; and under the has been conceded to them. That influence of their judicious training, the present age is too much attached and of the evangelical and impressto a sort of reading which is com ive ministry of Dr. Fawcett, John paratively superficial, provided it be grew up, with his mind deeply impassionate and exciting, is, we fear, bued with scriptural truth. What only too true; but that there are was better, his heart and conscience many readers of a very different were affected by it; so that, ip bis class, is proved by the reception seventeenth year, he felt it his duty given to works like Mr. Foster's to give himself unto God, and to " Essays." It is encouraging, in the church by the will of God. He the midst of so much that is melan. thus exemplified the important in. choly in the literary aspects of the fluence on the subsequent character day, to observe that though Mr. of religious training, and furnished Foster has but recently rested from an example of early piety which the his arduous and useful labours, the young may always consider with work which we have just mentioned, advantage. Happy was it for others, and by which he is chiefly known, as well as for himself, that he has reached a sixteenih edition. sought “first the kingdom of God Among the readers of those sixteen and his righteousness.” To the

« VorigeDoorgaan »