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THE Ministers who were engaged in the following Service, consented to publish their respective portions of it for two reasons:-first, that their views on the important subject of Ordination may be explained to those of their Dissenting Brethren, who object to this solemnity from an apprehension of a superstitious innovation on the simple forms of primitive Christianity: and, secondly, under the hope that the publication may tend to disabuse the public mind with respect to their religious principles, which, in the present state of fanatical excitement, have been much misrepresented or misunderstood.
The Appendix, it is hoped, will be found interesting to Presbyterians in general, not only as containing an important fragment of their local history, but as recording (however briefly and imperfectly) a memorial of many of those Ministers who were amongst the brightest ornaments of their name and profession.
Dublin, February 13, 1829.
BY THE REV. J. HUTTON,
CHARACTER, DUTIES, AND PRIVILEGES
ROMANS viii. 9.
"Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
Is there, in this assembly, an individual, who could bear to be told, that he is none of Christ's-who could endure even the thought, that he hath neither lot nor part in this matter that Christ for him hath died in vain-that he is neither a disciple here, nor hereafter will be acknowledged amongst the faithful followers of the Lamb? And yet, my brethren, how few are there, who possess the Spirit of Christ! Assuredly, we must deceive ourselves, when we cannot bear the thought, that we are none of his; and at the same time, search in vain for the demonstrations of his Spirit in our temper and lives.
The subject is of infinite importance, as on our correct view of it may hang our eternal destinies. Let us, therefore, earnestly implore the Divine assistance, that we may be enabled to discuss it with the integrity of truth, and with the force, which its great moment merits. The Apostle assures us, that "if we have not the Spirit of Christ, we are none of his." The language plainly implies, that he attached some importance to the being Christ's and this is the more remarkable, as he was once not merely indifferent to him, but extremely averse to his cause, and embittered against all his adherents. Would to heaven, that all the enemies of our Lord suffered a similar change, and felt with our great Apostle, the inestimable blessing of belonging to Christ -of being an integral part of that body, of which he is the head and chief!
Let us first, then, consider, what it is to be Christ's-what are its peculiar duties-what are its distinguishing privileges.
To be Christ's, implies that we have enlisted under the banners of the cross-that we are soldiers and servants of the Lord Jesus—that we have taken the oath to be faithful to our Great
Leader, the Captain of our salvation-that we will perish rather than desert his standard, or betray his cause-that we have renounced the world, and willingly forego its pomps and vanities, and pride and pleasures, to be with Christ; to seek the society of his true disciples; to hold a brotherhood of affection with all, who love him in sincerity; to find our truest enjoyment in the exercises of religion, and in the tabernacles of our God-to consider ourselves, in fact, as only pilgrims and sojourners here— that our proper home is beyond the grave, in the regions of the blessed, and in the presence of that glorified Redeemer, who poured out his blood for us; and that every object and pursuit is precious to us, which calls our thoughts from time to eternityfrom the sordid cares and unsatisfying pleasures of this world, to the substantial and permanent joys of that world, which is revealed in the Gospel.
To be Christ's, is to call no man master, spiritually speaking-to acknowledge no authority in religion, but the Bible; no master but Christ-to be in bondage to none, as being neither the slaves of superstition, nor the votaries of fashion; for how can they be said to be Christ's, who set up another head to his church, not only independently of his appointment, but even in direct opposition to his authority; who do not suffer us to judge for ourselves, but prescribe for us what we shall believe, and what we shall do, and that too without the sure warranty of Scripture? To be Christ's, we must adhere to him alone;-alone, I say, for he admits no co-partnership, nor hath substituted any authority in his place. "Neither be ye called masters, said he to his disciples, "for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren." And further, must take the holy Gospel, and search for ourselves, to find its hidden treasures; which we shall doubtless find, if we search with humility, and sincerity, and faith. "Search the Scriptures," said our Lord to the Jews; "for in them think (and truly, that) ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me." He does not say, Search the Scriptures, with the assistance of such and such commentators, and under the guidance of such and such doctors of the law; but simply, Search the Scriptures,-as if they had sense enough to discern the mind and will of God, by the force of reason alone. And indeed, that were a strange revelation of God to man, which should quire the assistance of the deeply learned to comprehend its meaning. And as they are not to be called Christ's, who admit an authority in religion separate from his, or in any degree opposed to it; so neither are they entitled to this endearing appellation, who, on that day particularly devoted to his service, direct their footsteps to no settled place of worship; but either wander from place to place, through an idle curiosity, or follow
the multitude, or go to gaze at fashion and beauty, or seek to attract attention, or perhaps, are wholly discouraged from attending any place of worship by a lowering sky, or an inclement atmosphere. Are they worthy to be called Christ's, who will surmount no difficulty to do him honour-who have no motive for their religion, but that which determines the fashion of their dress, the mere gratification of taste or vanity? Are they worthy of being called Christians, who forsake the assembly of his saints on the Lord's day-who allow the tenets which they profess to uphold, and the place of worship, which they seem by one act to sanction, by another act to appear wholly destitute of their support, and abandoned of their countenance? Are they ashamed of being seen to worship in a place not connected with the State, nor sanctioned by the presence of the Civil powers, nor countenanced by the resort of the fashionable? Let them remember, that our blessed Lord himself was a Dissenter, as were also all his immediate followers-that the Apostle Paul seceded from the synagogue at Ephesus, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus; and moreover, I will say, that they who act against their own convictions in any way, cannot be Christians. Whatever is not of faith is sin"-whatever, either in religion or morals, any man does, without a firm conviction that it is right, is wrong. "Blessed is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth." Many selfish and inferior motives may draw the hearer to the house of God, but one only is recognised by our Lord, as befitting his disciples-it is that of conscience, of duty, of respect to his authority, of allegiance to the only Lord of conscience, of obedience to the divine command.
Again, as they that are Christ's, have peculiar duties, so have they also distinguished privileges, if they discharge those duties as they ought-privileges in the estimation of the pious, in their own estimation, and in that of heaven: in the estimation of the pious, who rightly appreciate the comparative value of things temporal and things eternal-who know how infinitely the dignity of our heavenly Master transcends that of any earthly potentate, and therefore, how much more honourable are his faithful servants, than the highest officers of the greatest emperors. I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, says the pious monarch of Israel, than dwell in the tents of wickedness, however gorgeous and splendid. I had rather, too, will the godly say, have my portion with Christ, and be his in time, and his in eternity, although the meanest of his members, and in the humblest station of his church, than sway the most extended empire, or command the most powerful armies, apart from him, neither guided by his spirit, nor animated by his love. The true Christian will duly estimate the pious man, in whatever rank of life he moves. It is not the laborious mechanic he sees, or the poorly