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ally be classed: the one possesses vigor, firmness, resolution; is active and daring; quick in its sensibilities; jealous of its fame; eager in its attachments; inflexible in its purposes; violent in its resentment: the other, meek, yielding, complying, forgiving, not prompt to act, but willing to suffer, silent and gentle under rudeness and insults, suing for reconciliation where others would demand satisfaction; giving away to the pushes of impudence, conceding and indulgent to the prejudices, the wrong-headedness, the intractability of others with whom it has to deal. The former of these characters is, and ever has been, the favorites of the world; it is the character of great men,—there is a dignity in it which commands respect. The latter is poor-spirited, tame, and abject. Yet so it has happened, that with the Founder of Christianity, the latter is the subject of his commendation, his precepts, his example, and and that the former is so in no part of its composition.” Dr. Paley in this place adopts the opinion of Soame Jennings, whose essay on the “Internal Evidence of Christianity” he strongly recommends; but I cannot consider it either as an accurate and discerning delineation of character, nor as exhibiting a correct representation of Christian principles. The Founder of Christianity did indeed pronounce distinct and positive blessings upon the “poor in spirit," which is by no means synonymous with the “poor spirited;" and upon the meek; but in what part of the gospel did Dr. Paley find him countenancing by "commendation, by precept, or example, the tame and abject? The character which Christ assumed upon earth was that of a Lord and Master; it was in that character his disciples received and acknowledged him. The obedience he required was unbounded, infinitely beyond that which was ever claimed by the most absolute earthly sovereign of his subjects: never for one moment did he recede from this authoritative station; he preserved it in washing the feet of his disciples; he preserved it in answer to the officers who struck him for this very deportment; to the High Priest he preserved it; in the agony of his ejaculation on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." He expressly declared himself “the Prince of this world and the Son of God." He spoke as one having authority, not only to his disciples, but to his mother, to his judges, to Pilate the Roman governor, to John the Baptist, his precursor; and there is not in the four gospels, one act, not one word recorded of him, (excepting his communion with God) that was not a direct or implied assertion of authority. He said to his disciples, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart,” &c.; but where did he ever say to them, Learn of me, for I am tame and abject? There is certainly nothing more strongly marked in the precepts and example of Christ, than the principle of stubborn and inflexible resistance against the impulses of others to evil. He taught his disciples to renounce every thing that is counted enjoyment upon earth; "to take up their cross, suffer ill treatment, persecution, and death for his sake. What else is the book of the Acts of the Apostles than a record of the faith, fulness with which these chosen ministers of the gospel carried these injunctions into execution? In the conduct and speeches of Peter, John, and Paul, is there any thing that could justly be called
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stame or abject”? Is there any thing indicating a resemblance to the second class of character into which Dr. Paley divides all man. kind? If there is a character upon historical record distinguished by a bold, inflexible, tenacious, and intrepid spirit, it is that of Paul. It was to such characters only, that the commission to “teach all nations,” could be committed with certainty of success. Observe the expression of Christ, in his charge to Peter; (a rock) and upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not pre. vail against it. Dr. Paley's Christian is one of those drivellers, who, to use a vulgar phrase, can never say No to any body. The true Christian is the “Justum et tenacem propositi virum” of Horace, (the man who is just and steady to his purpose.) The combination of these qualities, so essential to heroic character, with those of meekness, lowliness of heart, and brotherly love, is what constitutes that moral perfection of which Christ gave an example in his own life, and to which he commands his disciples to aspire. Endeavor, my dear son, to discipline your heart, and to govern your conduct by these principles thus combined; be meek, be gentle, be kindly affectionate to all mankind, not excepting your enemies; but never be "tame or abject;” never give way to the pushes of impudence, or showyourself yielding or complying to prejudice, wrong-headedness, or intractability, which would lead or draw you astray from the dictates of your own conscience, and your own sense of right: “till you die, let not your integrity depart from you;"build your house upon the rock, and then let the rains descend, and the foods come, and the winds blow and beat upon that house—“It shall not fall, it will be founded upon a rock.” So promises your blessed Lord and Master, and so prays your affectionate Father,
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.
DISCIPLINE.No. XI. The manner of electing and appointing the stated officers of the church, is a question on which there is much diversity of opinion; not, indeed, so much as regards primitive usage, but mainly upon the point of expediency. Nearly all the controversies upon the subject of church organization have grown out of the admission of the very dangerous principle, that there is no divine or apostolic model indicated, and therefore that it was intended to be left to the emergencies of the times and the discretion of the saints. Upon this subject we have already expressed our conviction, and attempted an induction of the scriptural model, so far as to ascertain the stated officers required and their respective duties. In the remarks we have so far made, however, we wish to be distinctly understood as referring to the organizations of single communities, called congregations or churches. To this single point our inquiries and remarks are for the present directed. Upon “the church” as a unit, composed of all the
congregations and the relation of its parts, we have some things to say,-but not yet.
We have now arrived at the very important question, How are the Elders and Deacons to be elected to these ranks and inducted into office? To say that this question cannot be satisfactorily answered, would be to reject both the teachings of scripture and the almost unanimous voice of history. The first example of election to office during the apostolic age, is that of Matthias. It seems that two persons were nominated in this case, and that this nomination was made by the men and brethren" assembled; for it is to these that Peter addresses himself; and at the close of the speech, the historian says, “They,” (that is, those whom Peter addressed, men and brethren,) “appointed two."
2. The seven Deacons, of whose appointment we have the history in the sixth chapter of Acts, were elected by the “multitude of the disciples” whom the Apostles called together for this purpose; and when they had chosen them and placed them before the Apostles, as the persons whom they preferred for this business, they were solemnly inducted into office by prayer and the imposition of the hands of the Apostles.
3. It is true, ihat no example is recorded in the New Testament of the people electing or choosing their Elders; neither is there one of any other person or persons choosing or electing them, in their stead. Paul and Barnabas are represented by the historian (Acts xiv. 23.) as ordaining Elders in all the churches in Lystra, Iconium, a id Antioch; Timothy is commanded to entrust the things he had heard from Paul, to faithful men, who should be able to teach others; and Titus was left in Crete to set in order the things that were wanting, and to ordain Elders in every city. The characters also who were alone eligible, are clearly depicted; but who shall elect those who are to be ordained is not afirmed. Still analogy, the nature of government, and light of history, leave no room to doubt that the choice was made by the people—the disciples.
The argument drawn from analogy is based partly upon the relations which the first Christians bore to the Jewish synagogue, but mainly upon the part which the church is represented as acting in other matters of equal moment. The offices of Elder and Deacon are evidently taken from the synagogue, a id in the only example of an election given us, that of the seven Deacons at Jerusalem, recorded in the 6th chapter of Acts, we find the election made according to the popular form of the synagogue. We can scarcely doubt, therefore, that this form would be equally applied in the selection of the other class of officers.
But the part which the disciples took upon various occasions, in matters of great moment, seems still more strongly to indicate that they would participate in the election of their rulers.When the dispute arose at Antioch about circumcision, it was "the brethren” who determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others should go up to Jerusalem unto the Apostles and Elders about the question; and after it had been fully discussed, it was the Apostles and Elders, with the whole church, who were pleased to send chosen men of their own party to Antioch, to bear their letter containing their decision; and on their arrival they assembled the whole multitude together, and delivered the epistle. The question here involved was one which might well have been claimed as belonging alone to official management; but even the Apostle Paul submits to the resolution of the brethren, acts as their messenger to the Apostles, Elders, and church assembled at Jerusalem, and thus gives confirm. ation to the precedent of popular congregational authority, in matters concerning the general good. The part which the Corinthian church is represented as taking in the separation of the incestuous person and other instances, which we might name, tend to the same conclusion and fill out the argument from analogy.
Besides this, the nature of the Christian government is such as to forbid any other method of electing the officers, who are to administer its affairs. The relation established by Christ and his Apostles, between the officers of a Christian congregation and the members, is such, that it would be, not only highly impolitic, but manifest tyranny to elevate to authority and office those, whom the body of the church might not choose or have a voice in electing, The relation evidently requires that the Elders should be men, acceptable to the brethren, and, in every respect, enjoying their confidence and esteem. What so likely to secure this necessary end, as to ordain to office those whom the people themselves had chosen! What more contrary to the liberty of the gospel, than to impose upon the freemen of Christ, rulers whom they had no voice in electing and who may or may not enjoy their confidence and esteem! Such a rule would be contrary to the entire genius of Christianity and subversive of that law of love, to which all things must be subordi. nate, and which is the essential element of every principle of action in the spiritual kingdom of Christ.
Take from an individual congregation the power to choose its own officers—and by what authority can they act? Is not the congrega
tion the fountain of authority to itself? Who else, then, can delegate it? But it will, perhaps, be replied, that the congregation is not the fountain of authority, but that Christ and the Apostles are. Let us not be confounded by this objection. We must distinguish things that differ. Christ and his Apostles are the fountain of legislative power—and so they are of all power in the Christian church. In some sense, Christ is the fountain of all authority both in heaven and earth: but some powers are delegated, whilst others are not. That the legislative power is restricted to Christ and his Apostles, we would come behind none in maintaining; indeed, the Apostles themselves were only to teach the things which Christ had commanded them; but the judicial and executive powers are committed to the church. This, the declarations of our Saviour abundantly authorize (Matth. xvi. 19, and xviii. 17, 18.) and the subsequent acts of the church, under apostolic sanction, fully exem: plify, (Acts i. 15, and xv. 1, et seq. I Cor. v. 2.) They both judged what should be done andprovided the means for having it accomplished. Now the propriety of having officers in every Christian church, is not a matter submitted to human decision. It is a law of Christ. But the execution of this law is a duty of the church. As the duty is upon them, the authority is in them. Hence we again ask the question, If the officers of a particular congregation receive not their authority to act from the church, in whom it is originally vested by the great King and Lawgiver, whence can they derive it?
But why do the scriptures represent Paul and Barnabas, and Timothy and Titus, and the Presbytery, as laying on hands in the appointment of officers, if the choice of these officers was not in them? That there is really no difficulty in this question, will at once appear from the case mentioned in the 6th chapter of Acts. Thus the Apostles ordained—but the people first chose. We are presented, then, with a distinction between choosing and ordaining, clearly set forth in an example. To ordain is formally to set apart to office, by certain forms or ceremonials prescribed in the scriptures; and to elect or choose is simply to designate the persons whom the congregation prefers for officers. The former was always done by Apostles, Elders, or Evangelists: the latter, always by the people. We have a similar provision in our form of government, the most rational in the world. The President elects or nominates to office: the Senate confirms or rejects. The right to choose is in the President: the power to apply the tests of qualification is in the Senate. If the nominee possess not the requisite qualifications,
SERIES 111.- VOL. V.