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[JAN. stances so totally different as to change entirely the relative position of such societies? A church, existing in the midst of Christian society, but not including it, is ecclesia in ecclesia. Besides, it was not optional, in primitive times, whether a Christian should belong to the church or not. If not, he was a heathen. But a man may be a sincere Christian, and yet not belong to a Dissenting church; a pious worshipper of the congregation, and yet not a member of the church. What have such churches in common, circumstantially, with the primitive societies?
"2. Does the constitution of Independent Churches make any provision for the extension of Christianity? Indirectly, by allowing the liberty of prophesying, it may be said to do this: it tolerates the propagation of the Gospel, beyond any other system. But still it must be considered as making no direct provision; since, 1. the theory recognizes no such office as that of the missionary, allowing only bishops and deacons 2. It recognizes no authority that should send forth missionaries: 3. It presupposes a congregation, calling forth and choosing a minister, before any minister can be appointed to a local charge: 4. It makes no provision for the support of the missionary or itinerant. All that has been done, therefore, by Congregationalists, has been by means of specific societies or associations, having no connexion with their system of church polity, and acting in many respects at palpable variance with it. For, 1. The missionary is not elected by either the people to whom he is sent, or by any other church, but is appointed by a council, board, or committee. 2. He is an ordained officer, yet is neither bishop nor deacon. 3. He is a recognized minister of the church of Christ, yet not a minister of a particular church. 4. He is not independent and irresponsible, but accountable to a board of directors, and subject to oversight. A Missionary Society is an institution of Christ, or is it not? If not, if it rests only on expediency, how can it be pretended that we are adhering to a perfect model? If it may be reconciled with the Scripture model, then Congregationalism, from which this institution is foreign, cannot be identified with the primitive model.
"3. Has Independency proved adequately efficient to meet the wants of society at home? It seems to me that the rise and progress of Wesleyanism affords an historical proof of its limited efficiency. Wesleyanism, as well as Congregationalism, has had to make way against the influence of an Establishment: but the former has shewn a power of propagating itself, far superior to the energies of the latter scheme. All that has been done of late years by the building of private chapels, as well as by County Unions, Associations, and Home Missionary Societies, must be regarded as supplementary to the scheme of Independency, and as originating with individual zeal, rather than emanating from the principles of Congregational polity.
4. What relation has an academical system to the Congregational polity? The fitness of that system is not questioned, but it has grown up in modern times, and has been superinduced upon Independency. Yet our churches have, as such, no connexion with these schools of the prophets. The committees which try the candidates for the ministry, and virtually admit them, and send them forth, are not an ecclesiastical body. The tutor, whose office it is to commit the doctrine of Christ to these future ministers, is not, as such, an officer of the church. Here is, then, a Christian institution of the highest importance and responsibility, unconnected with the frame-work of our church polity.
"5. How does Independency propose to deal with those whom its discipline deters from joining its associations, or whom it places without its pale? Under existing circumstances, the whole of the higher ranks, the greater portion of the professional classes, vast numbers of the mecha
nical classes; in short, the bulk of society, good and bad, stand without the pale of Congregationalism. If not excluded, they elude the operation of the whole system, which takes no cognizance of those whom it does not, with their own consent embrace. Christianity reached all by its authority, embraced all by its provisions: its character is universality. Do our institutions approximate to this character of authoritative claim and universality? Is not their fundamental principle, separation from the world, a principle of repulsion, rather than of attraction; and is not its operation, when adopted as the exclusive principle, adverse to the extension of Christianity? May we not have erred by constructing our churches too much on the basis of a monastic separation, and by making our ecclesiastical institutions do, or attempt to do, what can be practically realized only by our personal conduct in the social intercourse of life. At all events, supposing our churches to be founded upon Scriptural rules; if Independency, as a system, does not look beyond them,-does not take cognizance of the mass of the several congregations of which they are but the nucleus,-does not bring its operations to bear upon the vast majority of Christian society, can it be the form in which Christianity is destined to become the religion of the world ?"
After noticing what the writer considers the "corruptions" of diocesan Episcopacy, he goes on to specify some of the corresponding "weak points" of Dissent.
"1. Inadequate or erroneous views of the genuine authority attaching to the office of pastor.
"2. A total misconception as to the office of deacon, which, without the shadow of scriptural evidence, is identified with that of the seven officers chosen to superintend the daily ministration. Acts vi.
"3. Limiting the officers of the church to two sorts, pastors and deacons, to the exclusion of subordinate or assistant teachers, itinerants, catechists, missionaries, and academic teachers, who are equally officers of Christ's church.
"4. Rejecting all gradation of classes within the church.
"5. Overlooking the relation of stated hearers to their recognized teacher, and of stated worshippers to the church.
"6. Overlooking the responsibility of the church in regard to the Pagan or rural population within its diocese.
“7. Disregarding the unlawfulness of schism, as chargeable upon any two churches in the same district, not mutually recognizing each other.
"8. The want of any central authority, such as even the most democratic system admits of, and which is necessary, not merely as an outward bond of union, but to render any salutary reforms practicable; the rejection, in fact, of any general organization. Even county associations are of modern date, and only partially adopted. The proposed plan of a congregational union is an acknowledgment of the deficiency which it seeks to remedy."
There is nothing in these remarks to lead to irritation; and I quote them in no irritating spirit. But when we find the leaders of the Dissenting body thus writing in their own publications, it is but justice to the Church of England, whose supposed anomalies and inconsistencies are so zealously dwelt upon, to shew how little even in this matter we should gain by an exchange. I would say, let all churches amend what is wrong or defective; but when we came to the question of secession, we ought to know what we embrace as well as what we quit; and much as I love and esteem many of our Dissenting brethren, I feel every hour more fully convinced that their system, if it came to be tried on a large scale, would be found far more full of flaws than any which have been pointed out in the Established Church; I mean as that church ought to be, and by the blessing of God will be, when the abuses which have crept into it are corrected.
ON THE ABUSE OF THE SENTENCE OF GOD'S
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
A CORRESPONDENT in your Number for November inquires, What is the best course to be pursued with a person who professes to ground his irreligion upon the sentence of God's predestination? Your correspondent thinks that such cases are not rare; and I believe he is right, having myself been more than once assailed by the remark, among young persons educated in the school of ultra-Calvinism, "What can I do? I cannot convert myself;" and more to the same effect.
In reply to his inquiry, I copy, from the Journal of the venerable Dr. Lathrop, a memoir of whom lately appeared in your pages, the following minute of a conversation with a person who thus pleaded moral inability, under the notion, real or pretended, that if he was predestinated, all was well; if otherwise, no effort on his part was of any avail. It would seem that this soul-destroying sophistry is not confined to either side of the Atlantic.
"February, 1803. Riding alone in my cutter (gig), I passed a man on foot, who belonged to my parish. He was nearly fifty years old-not a man of the most blameless character. I invited him to ride with me. A particular incident introduced religious conversation, to which he seemed not averse. I had before conversed with him. He would always receive advice and reproof without offence, and never would deny the faults of which he was openly guilty. Our conversation was as follows:
66 'Mr. why do you not attend public worship?'-' Because I think it will do no good. I mean to be an honest man, to injure no man.' So far is well. No man can be a real Christian without honesty; but this alone will not make a Christian. There must be a holy heart; a heart to love God; to believe in Christ, the only Saviour of lost sinners. There must be a conviction of sin; a godly sorrow for it; a hatred of it; a resolution and watchfulness against it in all its forms, and especially against the sins which most easily beset you. There must be a respect for all God's commandments, and a humble reliance on the grace and mercy of God through the Divine Redeemer.'-'I know all this; and I know I am a sinner; and I would give all I have in the world that I was a good man. I desire this above all things.' 'Why then are you not a good man?'-'I wish I was; but I can't be. I can't change my own heart. If it is ever changed, it must be done by the power of God's Spirit.' It is true, that for a change of heart you are dependent on the grace of God. But there are some things which you can do; and which you will do, if you really desire to be a good man. You can go to God's house on his appointed day. That is the place where, and the time when, you are to hope for God's Spirit. He begets men by the word of truth; therefore be swift to hear. There were many, in the Apostles' days, who received the Spirit in the hearing of the word of faith. You can withdraw your foot from the place of temptation you can lay apart the superfluity of naughtiness, and the gross forms of wickedness, which oppose the Spirit.' - Yes; I can do all this; but it will do no good. My withdrawing from the tavern, and going to the place of worship, will make no difference in my case. If God is pleased to send his Holy Spirit into my heart, and to renew it by his immediate power, I shall then be renewed. If not, I must remain as I am, and take my destiny. Nothing that I can do will make my case better or worse, more or less hopeful. I hope God will do something for me when he does it, then it will be done.' 'But, my friend, you certainly deceive yourself. You say you would give all you have in
the world that you was a good man; but you will not give up your bottle. They who are sensual have not the Spirit: and if you will not renounce sensuality, how will you have the Spirit? If ever you become a good man, you will become a temperate man. If you desire to be a good man, be a temperate man now. This you can be. If you would give all you have, that you were a good man, you will give so much labour as to go to God's house, and seek him there. If ever you become a good man, you will do this. Why will you not do it now? It is manifest, you do not wish to be a good man. You will not relinquish so small a thing as your bottle, nor take so small a walk as from your house to the meeting-house; though you know that, so long as you retain the former, and neglect the latter, you cannot be the man whom, you say, you wish to be. You are like those of whom God complains, that they will not frame their doings to turn to him. And how will he pardon you for this?'
"By this time we came to the place where it was convenient for him to leave me; and the conversation ended. I do not know that it had any effect. He seemed to be sensible that he was a sinner; and to think that it was no fault of his if he continued such, because he was dependent on the grace of God, and his eternal destiny was fixed by God's sovereignty— and fixed unconditionally. In his last sickness, which was not many years after, he was, to appearance, in a serious and thoughtful state of mind; was desirous of prayers from others; and he said he employed himself in prayer all his time. He condemned his past manner of life, and seemed to have some reliance on Divine mercy.
"This person had lived in different parts of the country. imbibed his fatalistical sentiments, I never knew; but his talk impressed on my mind the danger of such sentiments, and the duty of ministers to guard their people against them. The great doctrines of grace, such as renovation by the Spirit of God, and justification by the righteousness of Christ, ought to be held up to view. But the Gospel states them, and ministers ought to treat them, in such a manner as to encourage sinners in the use of the means of grace; not so as to embolden them in the neglect of these means. I have supposed there is an analogy between the scheme of providence and the scheme of grace. In both we are dependent on God; and in both there are means to be used by us. And as by the common influence of providence weak man can do some things in order to the support of his body; so by that common influence of grace, which accompanies the Gospel, fallen man can do some things in order to the conversion and salvation of his soul. And though there is no natural or promised connexion between the volitions or doings of a sinner, while he is a sinner, and the renovation of his corrupt nature; yet there may be a hopeful connexion; because it is in the use of means that this gracious change more commonly takes place. The Apostle says, 'God of his own will begets us by the word of truth. Therefore let every man be swift to hear.'
"There is no certain connexion between any man's labour and his success in his worldly calling. If he has success, this comes from God. It is a gift of His goodness; and His goodness is sovereign: it is not guided by human merit, but by His own perfect wisdom. Still we may act on the general principle, that the diligent hand maketh rich.' Prudent men pursue their worldly calling with as much industry, and as much cheerfulness, as if the connexion between the means in use and the object in view were ever so certain. Men love the world; and in regard to their worldly interest they generally reason properly and act prudently. They naturally have not a love to religion, and would excuse themselves from its obligations: hence in their reasonings on this subject they run into the grossest
absurdities. The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light."
Not much I think can, or needs, be added to this judicious treatment of such a case. It is a fearful thing to turn the grace of God into licentiousness, or to abuse the sentence of his predestination into an excuse for the "wretchlessness of unclean living." Let the minister of Christ beware that he do not, by any injudicious statement of Divine truth, give countenance to this delusion; but let him not, on the other hand, be deterred by fear of it from a faithful setting forth of the doctrines of the Gospel, in reference to the moral inability of man, or the free grace of God, however much they may be perverted by weak or ill-disposed persons. A. C.
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
HOUGH'S MISSIONARY VADE MECUM.
The Missionary Vade Mecum; containing Information and Suggestions for the Use of Missionaries, Missionary Candidates, and Committees. By the Rev. JAMES HOUGH, A.B., Minister of Ham, Surrey; and late Chaplain to the Honourable East-India Company on the Madras Establishment.
SUCH a compendium as this was much wanted. The missionary institutions of modern days sprang from pious feeling, and have been conducted in the main with wisdom and discretion; but as they have become enlarged, their conductors and agents have often felt the want of a code of rules and regulations applicable to missionary objects, as distinct from the ordinary discharge of the Christian ministry.
This defect Mr. Hough's little volume will go far towards supplying. He wrote the substance of it while he was himself engaged in missionary labours in India; and he offers the result of his experience to his brethren. The subjects which he discusses are, Devotedness; What constitutes a Call to the Missionary Work; Marriage; Faith; Hope; Love; Zeal; Studies; Preaching; Discussions and Intercourse with the Natives; Proceedings at the Founding of a Missionary Station; Intercourse with Europeans; Plans for the Improvement and Conversion of the Natives; Intercourse with the Natives; Treatment of Converts' Prepossessions and Infirmities; Diligence; Perseverance; the Preservation of Health; the Preparation of Journals; Economy; Attention to Instructions. From the illustration of these topics we shall copy a few instructive passages.
The first requisite in a missionary, and indeed in every minister of Christ, is devotedness to God and to his sacred office. At home, and in the sunshine of religious profession-which is often the darkest night of spiritual life—a minister may easily deceive himself in this matter, and pass through life with a fair character for religion while his heart is not right with God. But not so the missionary. Standing alone perhaps in his sphere of labour, uncountenanced by the presence of his fellow-Christians, and with snares and dangers on every side, a mere name or form of religion will afford him no support: he will soon shew what he is if unsound at heart, he will probably fall into grievous temptations; or if weak, though conscientious, he will become disheartened, and either desert his post or prove his unfitness for it. It is therefore most important, that before he embarks on his enterprize he should estimate the cost. If, before he quits his native shore, he does not steadily survey the danger, and feel enabled, in