Images de page
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

pensable to the success of their labors,) but shall also be sustained or supported while so employed, or receive, at least, a fair remune. ration for the time devoted to the service of the church. But in order to the efficiency of the eldership, that democratic feeling so rife in many of our congregations, (that would subject every ques-tion to popular vote in the church, and thus make the elders mere cyphers, and their decisions nothing more than simple recommen dations, to be approved or annulled at pleasure, by a bare majority of the congregation present, composed of men, women, and children, influenced, perhaps, by sympathy, or urged forward possibly by some factious leader,) must give place to a more healthy and scriptural view of things. The congregations must remember, that while it is said that the elders must not be “Lords over God's heritage," that the same book also says, Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account.” These commands are not antagonistic, but are in perfect accordance with each other-both the rulers and the ruled being under law, which neither may violate with impunity.

Although these sentiments may not square so well with our no. tions of democratic equality, we should bear in mind that God has ordained this order of things in his church, and has commanded obedience and submission on the part of his people; and this should be sufficient to secure a hearty acquiescence on the part of every loyal subject of the King. And it does seem not a little strange to us, that some of our good brethren should be so much more jealous, and less confiding even than politicians; for they apprehend no danger to their liberties, so long as their rulers are chosen by, and are amenable to, themselves. And have we not all the safeguard that they have, and additional ones, besides? We select our own rulers and they are amenable to us, and, moreover, they must be selected from among our elderly and most approved brethren, for such only as have been first proved, are eligible to office. We would then ask, is not the idea that such men, under such circumstances, would arrogate to themselves unwarrantable power, worse than chimerical? Such notions may answer as a “raw head and bloody bones" with which to alarm the timid, but it does seem to us that the day cannot be far distant when they must give place to more just and scriptural views, at least with every Bible student, and, indeed, with every one who desires to see peace, and order, and good government, maintained in our churches.

Much has been said and written, of late, by our brethren, upon the subject of educating young men for the ministry, and in reference to the support of our evangelists; and there seems to be a disposition manifested on the part of the brotherhood, to respond favorably to these calls upon their liberality; and this is all right, for the conse. cration of education and talent to the Lord, is an offering, we doubt not, well pleasing and acceptable in his sight; and that those who preach the gospel should live off the gospel, is one of the ordinations of Heaven, which none, we hope, are disposed to disregard.

But while there has been so much said and written upon these subjects, it has been a matter of some surprise to us, that so little has been said upon the subject of the best method of developing and improve ing the talents of the church, in order to its growth in knowledge and in grace, and as a means of qualifying persons to fill the elders? office;


upon the subject of remunerating them for their services, as this is as positively enjoined as that the evangelists shall be sus, tained; for it is said, 1 Tim. v. 17: “Let the elders that rule well, be counted worthy of double honor, especially they that labor in word and doctrine”--that is, in publicly teaching the word. Here it is declared, that the elders that rule well, though they may not labor in word and doctrine, shall be honored by the church; and this term carries with it the idea of a support, or proper remuneration, as is evident from the scriptures themselves. Our Saviour upbraided the Scribes and Pharisees for making void the law of God by their traditions, in releasing the child from the command to honor his father and mother, upon the condition that he would say to them, (Mat. xv. 5, “It is a gift, (a thing devoted to God,) by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;" and again it is said, (1 Tim. v. 3,) “ Honor widows that are widows indeed;" v. 16, “ If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, (honor them,) and let not the church be charged, that they may relieve (honor) them that are widows indeed.” It is, therefore, evident, that in the scripture use of the term, the word honor includes the idea of support or maintenance. We are at a loss, therefore, to account why it is that so much has been said by our scribes upon the subject of the education and support of evangelists, and so little in reference to the qualification and support of elders, when it must be manifest to all, as we think, that the great want of the churches, at this time, is a proper eldership; and that without that want is supplied, the labors of the evangelists will, in all probability, result in but little good, as it is perhaps more than problematic, whether large accessions to the churches, in the absence of the proper over. sight and training, would, in the end, be of any advantage, either to the cause or to those proselyted. There are many instances that have SERIES IV.–VOL. I.


fallen under our own observation, where we are satisfied that injärý has resulted to both; as it is much easier to make a proselyte from the world than to reclaim an apostate, and the cause always suffers by every apostacy.

How, we would ask, theny, is this evident want of the church-a scriptural eldership-to be supplied ? for it cannot be that this cherished feature of the Reformation is to be abandoned. Can it be within the contemplation of any, to supply the churches with elders from our present corps of evangelists? This could not be done, for we have not as many evangelists as churches; and if there were enough to supply every church with a plurality of elders, it is very far from beirg the case, that every man that has the power of oratory or declamation, or is gifted with speech, has the qualification to govern a church; and if such an eldership conld be obtained, but few of our churches would be able to avail themselves of it, for the want of the means of sustaining those so employed. And if that order of things was to obtain, what would become of the world! Who would go and preach the gospel in destitute portions of the country? Or can the idea be entertained by any, of merging all official authority in the churches into the hands of the evangelists those that may be itinérating, and those that may be selected and located as elders? We cannot suppose this, as it would be a state of things against which we, in times past, have not only loudly declaimed, but it would be clearly unscriptoral; for then, as a matter of necessity, one evangelist, in many instances, would have to be bishop, at least de facto, to some three or four churches, thus perverting the order of heaven; for we have seen that, in the apostolic days, instead of one bishop presiding over several churches, each church had a plurality of these officers. There is, perhaps, one exception to this, in the case of Diotrephes, of whom it is said, “he loveth to have the pre-eminence;" " and who continues," adds the apostle, prating against us with malicious words; and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbideth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

If the state of things alluded to above should ever obtain in cur churches, then would this Reformation itself need reforming. 1, however, hope better things, though I thus speak. Though I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, I would nevertheless venture the opinion, that is the but too evident tendency of things to a retrograde movement, is not speedily arrested, the time is not far distant when language, much less equivocal, will express the true condition of things, than that embodied in the resolution offered by our venerable Bro. Scott, and adopted by the Kentucky State meet ing, copied in our former number, in which it is said, " There is amongst the baptized a slow and doubtful progress in the literature of the Holy Oracles-perhaps, consequent decadence or falling away.” If the scriptures are not more clearly adhered to, both in the organization of our churches and in the manner of their edification, we opine that a decadence so palpable will be manifest, that ne room will be left for doubt or uncertainty upon the subject.

Fearing that we have already taxed the patience of yourself and readers unreasenably, we will here close the present number.



REVIEW. Our attention has been called, from several sources, to the sceptical and learned, and very ingenious article, in the Westminster Review for October, 1850, titled “ Septenary Institutions;" and it is no less from respect to the wishes of our brethren, than from a sense of duty to truth, that we undertake to review it. The article is long, and the subject important, and we can scarcely hope to treat them as they deserve, without trespassing too much, both upon our space and the patience of the general reader. Still, the occasion justifies us in claiming unusual license, and we shall prosecute the work, if not to the full extent we could wish, at least so far as to show the shallow.sophistries and baseless assumptions of this most ingenious attack upon some of the most settled doctrines and customs of our holy religion. The writer of the article before us is manifestly one of those “free-thinkers,” (?) who regard the word of God as only binding, or, indeed, inspired, so far as it may tally with reason, (and, of course, their particular reason,) but, in other respects, to be rejected, as the traditionary legends of a vague and fluctuating superstition, gathered, in its scattered fragments, from the drist of the unhistoric past, and thrown together as a sort of patch-work or calico-quilt, to cover and decorate the idols of Rabbinical or Phari. saical invention. He does not scruple, therefore, to point his weapons against any thing, whether in or out of the word of God, which stands in the way of his own particular opinions, or to reject, as a corruption or a superstition, every passage which goes to establish the doctrine which he opposes, or which tends to throw into the shade the clearer light of his own divine reason !

We might here, with great propriety, suggest a few thoughts which occur to us, with respect to the proper sphere of reason, in relation to things revealed, but we must defer them for another opportunity, with the single hint, that if reason is to decide, not the fact of revelation itself; not whether the thing has been revealed; not whether the Bible is the word of God; but whether that proved to be a revelation; whether the things contained in the book, proved to be the word of God, are, indeed, rational and true; that, if each one may, for himself, decide so much to be true as suits him, and reject, as false, so much as suits him, then not only may the whole Bible, like the Musselman's pig, be consumed by these rational objectors, but all revelation is rendered utterly useless, since its rational things could have been discovered without it, and its superrational may be, and should be, rejected, as superstitious or false. With this single caveat against this dangerous doctrine, of some popular writers of the present day, let us proceed to the main work before us.

The author of the article we are reviewing, sets out by stating that “The septenary division of time has been frequently urged by theological writers, as a proof of the divine origin of the Sabbath," and this is true; but instead of directing his blows against this position, he very artfully changes the issue, and, enlarging upon the argument which is really urged in favor of a Sabbath, changes it from the assertion that the septenary division of time was generally observed in the ancient Eastern world, which can be proved, to the broader position, that it was universally observed, which cannot be proved. He then proceeds to the very easy task of showing that several ancient nations had no such general custom; and having thus disproved the broad and universal position, which none of those whom he opposes ever made, and upon which their argument is not based, he would have his readers to conclude that he has completely refuted the whole argument drawn from the antiquity and general prevalence of this observance in the ancient Eastern world! Before assuming this position for his opponents, and proceeding to spend so much learning in its refutation, the author should have first clearly established the fact, that the advocates of a Sabbath obser. Vance do, indeed, base their argument upon it. But has he done so ? In the body of his article, it is simply asserted. He says, “ It is known that the week of seven days is an institution of great antiquity; one familiar to many Eastern pations at the earliest period

« PrécédentContinuer »