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Q. 113. What are the qualifications of the deacons or public servants of the congregations?
A. That they be business men of known fidelity and integrity.
A. Yes; every thing in the christian kingdom that is done is to be done in some manner. Every thing is to be done in the name of the King, or by calling upon his name. Authority is always conferred by the voice and by the hands of the community over which the supervision or presidency is to be exercised. Their own voice and their own hands, their election and their separation and consecration to the work, are necessary to the appointment of all public functionaries.
Q. 115. What is meant by the discipline of a congregation?
A. The application of the laws of the Christian King to the behan vior of the citizens.
Q. 116, Are there general laws from the King for the exercise of discipline in the christian assemblies?
A. There are general rules and special examples found in the apostolic epistles to the congregations; and the Saviour himself for private offences propounded rules of universal acceptance, adapted to all ages and all conditions of men. But experience and prudence will, in reference to all specialities, guide in the application of these laws and precedents, for the preservation of the purity and unity of the congregation.
117. When the members of any community sin against one another, or commit offences of a private and personal character; and when they are not adjusted in private, but brought into the congregation, are they not to be managed in the public assembly as public misdemeanors or offences against the Christian profession.
A. Yes, so far as this:-that the congregation, or those appointed by the congregation to judge such grievances, must act upon good and valid testimony.
Q. 118. Are christian congregations to have any matter decided by a committee?
A. Not ultimately. The whole congregation must finally act in all cases which come before it. But as the whole congregation could not in all cases be judges of many matters, they are to appoint what Paul calls “judges," or "secular sects of judicature,” for the arbitrament or adjustment of such matters as could not be correctly examined by females and minors.
Q. 119. But are not the presidents of a congregation appointed, not only to preside in the meeting on the Lord's day, but also to see that the laws of the King be executed in reference to those who offend ?
A. They are indeed called rulers, presidents, overseers and elders, in the New Testament; which terms, in the then current acceptation of them, implied as much as that they had in charge the discipline of the congregation, but not in such a sense as to preclude the necessity of all cases of discipline being ultimately decided by the whole community whose organs they are. EXTRA, NO, IV.
Q. 120, Is there any peculiar meaning in the forms in which the discipline of a christian community shall be praticised, which calls for a divine model ?
A. No. The object is to preclude all injustice, unrighteousness, partiality and impurity, from christian communities. The things to be avoided are all pointed out, and the general principles which are to govern a community are propounded; but as there are no supernatural objects to be accomplished, there are no supernatural or extraordinary rules submitted. The only difference between the discipline of the church and any other society is this, that it aims at greater purity in its members, and to secure that object it proposes a more elevated code, and takes the most efficient measures to preclude par. tiality or injustice in the execution of its laws. · Q. 121. Is there no divine model of decency and order?
A. Yes, the visible universe, nature and society, are models of order, and suggest to us our first conceptions of decency. “Go tu the ant, thou sluggard!” “Consider the ravens,” you that are anxious for the morrow; “Observe the guests who seat themselves at the tables of public entertainments," you that aspire to high places; “Put new wine into new bottles," you that would confound things ancient and modern; “Look at nature,” you men who wear long hair. In every great house there are vessels of wood, earth, iron, silver and gold, “Have you not houses to eat in?" &c. &c. &c.
But there is no divine model of the mode in which every offence shall be tried and decided in a christian congregation. But whether it shall be decided upon the testimony of two, upon the first hearing, by the whole congregation; or whether it shall be communicated first to the presidents of the congregation, and stated by them to the congregation; or whether a committee, or judges be appointed; or whether these shall again report their decision to the whole congregation, are matters which are not decided by a positive law, as if the discipline of a church was, like the ritual of Moses, full of symbolic import, or a part of the positive worship of God. But one thing is evident, that that man is to be treated as a heathen or a publican who will not hear the congregation, whether it speak, every one in turn, or through its tongue--the president for the day; or by a committee appointed for the purpose by the parties, if parties there be; or by the congregation; or by the elders whom the congregation has chosen.
Q. 122. But would it not appear expedient, and scriptural too, that when there are presidents appointed in a congregation, no matter of discipline come before the congregation until they are apprized of it, and until the case is prepared for the ears of all who ought to act upon
A. There is no positive law that says so: but Paul puts to the blush the Corinthians, for not following their own reason and sense of pro
priety in a case not more clear nor evident than this. See 1 Cor. vi. · 4, 5.
Q. 123, What are to be the objects of discipline, of reproof, admonition and correction, in a christian community?
A. Unchristian words and deeds: not men's private opinions, but their individual practices. ·
OPINIONŞ. Q. 124. Are men never to be called to an account for their opinions?
A. No. There is no instance of this kind in the Jewish or Christian scriptures-God alone is judge of thoughts and private opinions.
Q. 125. But if private opinions are expressed, are they not to become matters of discipline?
A. By no means, unless a person express them for the sake of compelling others to receive them, or to exclude them from their fellowship if they do not receive them. In that case he is answerable, not for his opinions, but his practices. He is a factionist, is seeking his own honor, making a party, and on these accounts sins against the christian constitution; and such a person, after a second admonition, is to be rejected,
Q. 126, Are not opinions purely intellectual matters, and not to be regarded as moral principles ?
A. They are purely intellectual matters, and ought to be so regarded; but when any person makes them principles of action, he places them upon the same footing with divine oracles, and demands as much for his own reasonings as for the express commandments of the Great King.
Q. 127. How do you distinguish between faith, opinion, and knowledge?
Ă. Faith is the belief of 'facts testified, or of testimony; knowledge is the assurance derived from actual and sensible perception, by the exercise of our own senses; and opinion is the view which the mind takes of all matters not certified to us by testimony, or our own experience. Thus Newton knew that bodies specifically lighter than water, would swim in it; he believed that king Harry VIII. seceded from the Roman Catholic institution; and he was of opinion that the planet Saturn was inhabited. " Q. 128. Does not the correctness of a person's opinions depend upon the amount of information which chance may have thrown in his way, or upon the strength and activity of his own mind, and consequently are not necessarily a part of his moral character?
A. As the man who opines that the earth was once a metallic ball, and he who regards it as having always been as flat as a plate, may be equally good citizens, so he that opines that free agency and ra. tionality are the same thing, and he that opines that God in some mysterious way,
“Binding nature fast in fate,
Left free the human will," may be equally good citizens in the kingdom of Messiah.
Q. 129. Are not the opinions of men placed upon the same footing with the commandments of God in all the creeds in the christian world?
A. They are very generally, if not universally so.
A. I think we have one in the institution of infant sprinkling, and in every speculative dogma in all the terms of sectarian communion in christendom.
INFANT SPRINKLING. Q. 131. Do you call infant sprinkling a human institution, founded upon human opinion?
A. What else can it be called! Inasmuch as there is no testimony that any prophet, priest, king, apostle or lawgiver, in the thirty-nine canonical books of the Old Testament, in the twenty-seven canonical books of the New, in the fourteen apocryphal books of the Old Tes-, tament, and in the twenty-five pieces called the New Testamentsay, not one instance, in all these, of any prophet, priest, king, apostle, seer, or religious teacher, either sprinkling, or causing to be sprinkled, an infant. As, then, we have no testimony that it is a divine institution, we can have no divine faith in it; and as we never saw it practised by any divine messenger, apostle, or prophet, we can have no divine knowledge of it. It is certainly a human institution, and founded wholly upon human opinion.
Q. 132. How many reasons can you give why infants should not be sprinkled into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
A. I cannot tell you how many distinct reasons I could give, but I will give you one which has a hundred incit: it is this
# Because the Lord never commanded it to be done! Q, 133. How would you set about to find a hundred good reasons in one?
A. I will give you a specimen
2. Where there is no command, there is no trangression. Now, an act which is no duty, and the omission of which is no sin, is one which no wise man, understandingly, can perform in the name of the Lord. - 3. Because, to do a thing in the name of the Lord which the Lord has not commanded, is to take his name in vain.
4. Because an act done in the name of the Lord, which the Lord has not commanded, is will worship, and obnoxious to his displeasure,
5. Because, to do a thing in the name of the Lord which he has not commanded, says to him, You ought to have commanded it: and this is an imputation of his wisdom and benevolence.
6. Because, to legislate to the conscience is to usurp the throne of God; and to command a father to sprinkle his child, when God commanded no such thing, is to place ourselves upon his throne, although we may be ignorant of it.
In this way, I could find a hundred reasons in this one whiy infants ought not to be sprinkled. • Q. 134. But again: On whom is baptism a commanded duty, on the subject, or on some relative of his?
A. If not the duty of the subject, no man ought to be commanded to be baptized; but the command ought to be-A, take Band baptize him; and let every father baptize his children. But such is not the style of the New Testament: it is—"Be baptized, every one of you.” Consequently, it requires obedience in person, not by a substitute, nor hy proxy. Now, if it were the duty of a father to have his children sprinkled, the command would read: Fathers, sprinkle your children. Jt would be the duty, not of the child, but of the father. And thus, if the advocates of sprinkling were to follow up their premises, there would be no such thing as any one presuming to be baptized on his own responsibility. What is my father's duty as a father, is not my duty as a son. If it was my father's duty to have me sprinkled when an infant, and he neglected it, it cannot be a duty of mine to discharge a duty only incumbent on my father, unless there could be produced a command to this effect: “Children, whose parents ne. glected to have you sprinkled in infancy, when vou are free agente, and of full age, be sprinkled, every one of you." But neither Moses in the law of circumcision, nor any christian author of a heavenly calling, ever gave such a commandment as this.
Q. 135. If all the present fathers of mankind believed in infant sprinkling, they would have their children sprinkled to bring them into the church-would not, then, on their supposition, the whole world be in the church, provided their tradition was universally re. ceived ?
A. Certainly: such a church as theirs, if it could only get hold of the fathers and mothers, would have the whole world, with all its passions and lusts, in its bosom.
Q. 136. And would it not be a blessing to see the church triumphant, and no more world?
A. Yes: but not the Paidobaptist church-for if it succeeded no better on a large ratio than it does now with its sprinkled infants, it would be a very sprinkled and speckled sort of church triumphant, with all the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life, clinging to its paps.
Q. 137. But is it not a good and comely thing to dedicate our infants to the Lord?
A. Yes, indeed: but has the Lord commanded us to sprinkle them in his name, to circumcise them, or bore their ears, in order to dedicate them? No: never did he enjoin either circumcision, sprinkling, or branding, in order to acceptable dedication.
Q. 138. But why this zeal for a human institution?
A. Because on it rests a fleshly establishment of this world, which would rather dedicate sons and daughters in the manner of Jeptha, or say corban, or cause their infants to pass through a priest's arnis to the very edge of a bason, than to give up with all that it secures to