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regenerate experience as a condition of to the judgment of the brethren. receiving the sacraments, and make a 1 Cor. v. 12. There was no middle distinction between the church and the class, partly in the churches and partly congregation. To invite to the table out of them. As soon as believers of the Lord all who think they are gave proof of their faith, they were Christians, whether they are baptized baptized as Christian confessors. The and connected with some evangelical spirit of the church covenant grew out church or not, is virtually to tell men of their faith, and affinity for the discithat they need not unite with any visi- ples of Christ; and as soon as possible ble church ; that Christ was too strict they associated with some Christian when he required the members of the church, and submitted to its discipline. early Christian churches to suffer The sacrament of the Lord's Supper martyrdom rather than give up the then implied full membership and comprofession which had made them such. munion in all who received it. There It is an act which tends to abolish the may now be reasons why we should visible church. In an age of formal- advise apparent converts to test themism, it draws the world into the church; selves for a time, before coming into in an age of religious indifference, it the church ; but there is no scriptural dissolves the church in the world. In precedent for extending to them the the one age, men will receive the sa- privileges characteristic of membercraments, hoping to be saved by them ; ship, before they are required to assume in the other, they will decline them with the obligations of members. If it be the conviction that, if deemed worthy said that while “probationers,” they to receive them, then they are good are expected to act as if holding the enough to be saved without them. It faith and under the covenant of the is true that some unworthy persons church, how can they differ from regumay receive the sacraments, if we make lar members ? reputable standing in some Christian The church is called the bride of church the basis of our invitation; but Christ, the Lamb's wife. The marriage the abuse will be far greater if we in- relation suggesting this figure is too vite those who have never submitted sacred to be made a matter of probathe question of their fitness to the tion. It should seem that the relation judyment of any Christian body, as of Christ's bride to him is of a nature one must in joining a church of Christ. admitting no experiment, no half-way In this matter we must either allow union from which we can be“ dropped” men to establish the rule for them- before the expiration of a certain time. selves, or we must establish it for them. This probationary plan may serve to or we must act on that given by apos- gather in the unstable and the reluctant, tolic usage. The first plan would abol- under the idea that they can retire ish the visible churches; the second without ceremony if they do not like would substitute human dictation for the experiment. It may afford an easy divine authority ; the third honors the way of retreat from a position assumed wisdom of Christ in teaching us how before counting the cost; but it does to behave in the house of God.

not tend to secure high views of the The custom in some churches, of ad- Christian profession ; it does tend to mitting “probationers ” to the Lord's obscure the distinction which should Supper, is unscriptural. Paul spoke of exist between the church and the all men as either without and not of the world. It enables the impulsive to church and under its discipline, or as take periodic excursions into the prewithin and of the church and subject cincts of the church, from which they can return without disgrace. It in- not expressly forbidden in the coveduces some under conviction to rest nant. The pledges of this document short of conversion.

should, therefore, be general. In its There are certain side ways of egress spirit it should forbid all unrighteousfrom some churches, convenient for a ness, and require us to educate concertain class of members, but unscrip- science and keep it tender. The evils tural. In a western community receiv- in question can be corrected only by ing a large immigration, we find cases elevating the piety of our churches. It like the following: A man from H. is impossible to secure a proper degree has a letter from the church in that of strictness in the admission of memplace to the church in C.; but he de- bers, impossible to exercise a scriptural cided to settle in W., and here he is discipline, in a wordly and spiritually with that letter given three years ago, weak church. It is useless to pledge and the church in H. supposes that he those coming into a church to a higher is in the church at C. or some other Christian life than those already in it church. Another is found with a letter are living. They are not likely to rise from the church in B., stating that the above the average piety of the church; bearer is at liberty to join any Chris- they are likely to fall below it. Scriptian church he pleases. Ile has kept tural discipline presupposes a spiritual it two years, and the church in B. and faithful church. Otherwise, no assumes that he is in some Christian Congregational church can exercise church. These persons are still mem- such discipline and keep out of itself bers of the churches from which they those who will weaken its influence for came. It is the duty of those churches good. Some of the objections urged to watch over them. It should be a against Congregationalism derive their rule that if these letters are not used apparent force from this fact, that a within a specified time they are void, church to whose members are left all and the church accepting them should the functions of discipline will fail to give notice of the fact to the church by perform many of them. But, does it which they are issued. Thus those make a local church any stronger to coming West with Christian character, take this work out of its hands bewould be induced to keep their church it does not fully perform it, connection good, and others would be and vest it in the clergy, or in a few? made“ an example,” instead of being Can the local church be schooled into allowed to slip quietly out of this side efficiency by thus relieving it of redoor.

sponsibity? Christ's plan is wiser. He In organizing churches at the West, requires the local church to retain the we sometimes find a wish for a clause prerogative of self-government, and, in in the covenant prohibiting the use of its exercise of this, to cultivate the intoxicating liquors, or some other sense of personal responsibility and sespecific sin prevalent in the commu- cure spiritual strength. The evils of nity. This is a vain attempt to secure, relieving a church from this duty can by the letter of the law, what can only not be counterbalanced by any other be secured by moral power in the plan of government. Even the isolated church. I have known a church with instances of “laxity and disorder," a “total abstinence” pledge in its cove- laid to the charge of Congregationalnant, tolerate a member in periodic ism, are more than neutralized by the drunkenness for years. Those inclined advantages of self-culture, and selfto loose living are apt to conclude that exertion, and moral firmness, called they may perpetrate any immorality forth by our plan of self-government.

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In fine, this discussion indicates the tion of Independence, - all testify that duty of a class of persons who give as one undertaking the Christian life needs good evidence of divine renewal as one the restraints and incentives of a can give while refusing to profess church covenant. To attempt this life Christ by joining some Christian without coming into some Christian church. We have seen that Christ re- church is to set an example which, if quires local churches, and that all be- followed by all, would abolish the visilievers in any place, as Rome or Jeru- ble church and its ordinances, and be salem, connected themselves with such a virtual declaration that Christ need a church. It is, therefore, the opinion not have given them to us. If any reof Christ that every renewed person generate persons ought to be churchneeds the restraints and the helps of a members, and preserve this blessed inchurch-membership. Those attempt- stitution, then every person who finds ing to be Christians without them are evidence that he is divinely renewed, liable to say, “Well, I have made no ought to confess Christ in this way. professions, I have no public reputa- We do not aflirm that no person so retion as a Christian to maintain, I shall fusing can be a Christian, but the predishonor no body of Christians let me sumptions are against him. He has do what I will.” We must vow unto not done what Christ required the the Lord before we shall say, I can primitive Christians to do, when it cost not go back. It was only after the them their lives. He must show some Israelites had done this, that their reason for the neglect which they did leader could say, “Ye are witnesses not see, or he has reason to fear the against yourselves this day, that ye words of ist, “Whosoever shall have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” deny me before men, him will I also All the covenants of the Old Testa- deny before my father which is in ment, the moral influence of the com- heaven.” . pact in the Mayflower, of the Declara

MINISTERIAL ASSOCIATIONS IN MASSACHUSETTS.

FROM NOTES OF H. M. DEXTER.

[ Additional to article in Vol. V., p. 293.)

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BRISTOL. - A memorial, addressed have been son of the second John, of in 1722, to the Plymouth Association, Barnstable ; and so, grandson of Lieut. for aid, by the feeble church in Acush- John, and great-grandson of the pilset village, says that “ye Rev'd Asso- grim John. He was born 13th Feb., ciation of the county of Bristoll already 1720–21 ; H. C. 1741 ; ordained at have proposed " to aid them. This Carver (that church then being the gives another Association.

second church in Plympton), 24th

Sept., 1746 ; married a daughter of PLYMOUTH.—The “ John Howle, of Rev. Daniel Lewis, of Pembroke ; had Plympton," vol. v., page 301, was John four sons and three daughters, and Howland, who is said, by Amos Otis, to died in 1804.

49

CREEDS AS A TEST OF FELLOWSHIP AMONG CHRISTIANS.

BY REV. SILVANUS HAYWARD, SOUTH BERWICK, ME.

FELLOWSHIP among Christians is of be hightened by a full concurrence of different kinds, and therefore expressed belief, yet it is evident, the creed has in a variety of ways. It is by con- no proper place in determining to whom founding its varieties that many mis- this kind of feliowship shall be extended. takes are made both in expanding and Wherever the love of Jesus is in the contracting the mantle of a fallacious soul, wherever the image of Jesus is charity. Hence the relation of creeds traced however faintly in the heart, to that fellowship must be as varied as there should we at once extend the the character of the fellowship itself. hand of Christian fellowship and

Creeds (from credo) are formal brotherly love, thither should flow forth statements of belief, and have been freely the warm current of Christian used in the church from its earliest re- charity. Of whatever color, class, or corded history. How far they should condition, of whatever name, sect, or be suffered to control the fellow- shade of belief under the whole heaven, ship of Christians is a complicated all who heartily accept Jesus Christ as and somewhat difficult question. That their Saviour and Redeemer, are one they have some proper relation to that in him, fellow-members of his glorious fellowship is undoubted, otherwise the body, and as such should recognize church would not have insisted on their and treat each other wherever they use for so many ages, even back to the meet. days of the apostles. But just what So far all true Christians will probthat use should be, and how general or ably agree. None will be found so how specific the creed for different bigoted as to refuse to join in Christian cases, it is certainly difficult fully to intercourse with another who gives decide. It is proposed in this article evidence of piety, whatever be his briefly to mention some different forms creed, unless perhaps we should exof fellowship, and to inquire how far cept such as, imbibing the spirit of our articles of belief should be allowed Popery, claim that none can be pious to control us in their exercise.

who refuse their peculiar creed. It The broadest and most general kind may well be doubted, however, whether of fellowship, that which is in one sense such bigotry can be found in connecthe lowest, and in another sense the tion with true piety. In any case, we highest, is that which relates to our do not propose here to contend with individual intercourse as Christians. such. But taking it for granted that By this fellowship we recognize each there may be those who give credible other personally as believers in Jesus. evidence of piety irrespective of creed, We express it by praying and holding let us see how far our fellowship to Christian communion together, by re- such should extend. ligious conversation, comparing the Shall we unite in the ordinances of past experience and present emotions the gospel with all such as seem to be of each other's hearts, with mutual love real Christians, or only with such as and sympathy as fellow-heirs of the believe as we do? Here the question same grace, fellow-pilgrims to the is still subdivided, for there is a great same celestial city. Though our mu- and essential difference between refustual enjoyment in this intercourse willing to permit others to join with us, and ourselves refusing or neglecting here the fundamental principle is unto join with them. In the first case, changed. As we should admit to our we may put up no bars which Christ administration of the ordinances those has not put up.

We may interpose no individuals whom we believe to be obstacle to those desiring Baptism or lovers of Jesus, so we should be ready the Lord's Supper, which Christ and to commune with any church that we his apostles did not interpose. We find believe to be a church of Christ. We them requiring nothing but faith in here come to what is necessarily more Christ. When any desired baptism, limited than mere Christian fellowship, the only question was,

“ Believest the one form of church fellowship. The thou in the Lord Jesus ?” that is tests by which we recognize a church simply, “ Are you a Christian ? " not of Christ are essentially different from

Do you accept this or that doctrine ?” those by which we recognize the indibut “Do you accept Christ as your vidual Christian.

There are many Saviour ?” We have been able to whose personal piety we cannot reasonfind no scriptural authority for any ably call in question, who belong to no more rigid requirement of those who church, or to organizations bearing desire the ordinances of the gospel. that name whose creed is so contrary By what authority may we exclude to what we believe to be Bible truth, from the baptismal waters where we that we can not and may not recognize have been cleansed, or from the com

them as churches of Christ. To these munion table where we gather, any individuals we are bound to extend whom the Holy Ghost has renewed, Christian fellowship. But we are not or with whom the Lord Jesus holds bound, nor have we any right, to excommunion ? The Lord's Supper is tend fellowship to the so-called churches not our feast, but Christ's, and he says, of which they are members. Bodies “Whoso shall offend one of these little of nominal Christians associated toones which believe in me, it were bet- gether upon a basis which denies the ter for him that a millstone were hanged divinity of the Lord Jesus, or the about his neck, and that he were doctrine of eternal punishment, or the drowned in the depth of the sea.” If necessity of the new birth, we may not then we thrust away from his table the by act or word fellowship as churches feeblest of all his flock, the weak- of Christ. There may be individual est, the dullest, or mfost confused in members, who give satisfactory eviintellect and understanding, we shall dence of loving the Lord with supreme surely offend the Lord of the feast affection, although intellectually behimself, who has enjoined upon us to fogged as to the nature of his person. feed his lambs. It is impossible for There may be those who adore and us to find any scriptural authority for love the justice of God, who nevertheinterposing the test of a creed between less, from peculiar temperament, or those whom we, in the exercise of dis- unfortunate training, have no clear view cretion tempered with charity, believe of its inexorable demands. There may to belong to Christ's great family, be those who, from confusion in their and the table where he invites all his understanding, deny regeneration in household to gather and celebrate his words, who admit it in fact, and have love. But when the question assumes

felt its power in their own 'hearts. the converse form, that is, how far we To all such, as individual saints, we shall join with those of different creeds should extend the hearty hand of when they administer the ordinances, Christian fellowship. But we must it is a very different thing ; yet even

not admit that a church formed upon

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