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or to women and children also, are points which, if not left wide open, by the entire silence of scripture, are only incidentally alloded to, in a manner so obscure and unsatisfactory, that those who cleave to the word of God alone for information upon these points, have decided them as differenıly as if there had been an entire silence.
The plea, therefore, that the grand catholicon for the church's wounds and divisions, is to refer to the scriptures alone, for the whole of the Christian organization, is, perhaps, the most egregious fallacy to which a favorite a priori scheme ever conducted an ardent and enthusiastic mind. Were it the aim of the writer to increase and perpetuate the present divisions which separate the followers of the Lamb, his first effort would be to get it to be believed and maintained, that every private Christian has only to consult the New Testament, in the authorized English or some improved version, for all that he was bound to receive and practise with regard to the outward order of the church. Presently we should have more orders of the ministry, more modes of worship, more ways of administering baptism and the Lord's supper, more sects and parties (if that were possible) than the same principle carried out by only a few leading minds, has already inflicted upon our confused, degraded, and disgraced Protestantism.
The firsi firm and safe step in this investigation cannot be taken, therefore, until the negative of the third proposition stated above, is acquiesced in; that the New Testament alone does not disclose, fully and completely, the Christian organization.
I presume there are none who will have the hardihood to maintain the first proposition, that the word of God is entirely silent upon the subject.
The second, therefore, must embrace the truth; that the GÆRMS of sueh an organization, and only the germs are provable by scripture.
What those GERMs are, would be the next step in the induction.The writer has yentured a very condensed sketch of a part of these germs relative to the ministry and the Lord's supper. But unless joudly called upon, to unfold his scheme with regard to them more fully, tie must beg to be excused from a work of so much labor. Indeed, he fears t:at the merest outline of that scheme, as present to his own mind, would utterly weary the readers of the Harbinger.
In another number he will endeavor to discuss the question, How the developemnet of the germs of the Christian organization is to bọ ascertained? If only the germs are to be found the New Testament, where is the completeness of that organization to be found?
A CN. That the fortunes and whole career of Christianity are much involved in the discassion and final adjudication of the questions now before 16 relative to church organization, no man of good sense and ordinary intelligence can doubt. The melancholy reminiscences of by-gone nges, as well as the most hopeful presages of future times, equally claim for the subject all the pious emotions and benevolent feelings so handsomely expressed by our learned and devout correspondent, in which we most sincerely and cordially sympathize with him. It is indeed, a lamentable fact, neither honorable to human nature nor to the
great luminaries of the church, that even now, in the nineteenth centiry of the gospel dispensation, it should yet be a question measurably uncertain and undecided, Have we a divinely instituted church organizalion? and if so, Is it ascertainable? and In what manner?
Our correspondent brings up the subject in a very logical and lumi. nous style, and very discreetly and rationally concludes that whenever it is proved that Christ has established a church, it is evident that he has also given to it an organization. To my mind, indeed, these are almost identical propositions. To establish a church is to organize a community. In this point we are most happi y of one mind. But whether only the germs of this institution are developed in the New Testament, and whether their full development is to be looked for in the uncorrupt a je immediately subsequent" to the apostolic, are questions concerning which men both great and good may be allowed to take different sides.
This view, indeed, is very happily and appositely expressed in the three positions offered in the remarks on "the laws of evidence appli. cable to the question of the Christian organization,” and which are by our correspondent so favorably submitted to our consideration. He selects the last of the three as 10 his view the most rational, that is the most logically inductive of the three We are, then, in duty bound carefully and candidly, and in the spirit of the gospel, to examine his facts and reasonings on the third position. This position is, that the New Testament alone does not furnish data enough from which to cons struct a complete system of church organization.
Concerning the Jewish institution we are entirely agreed that a complete divine model was given, and fully detailed in the Pentateuch, and also that no such model can be found in the New Testament. I am not sure, however, but much of the darkness and dubiety of Protestant Christendom on the whole subject of church organization, will, in the sequel, be found to emanate from the very general inappreciation of the reasons why the Jewish institution required such a complete model fully detailed by divine authority, and why such a one would be wholly incompatible with the genius of Christianity. I am, indeed, disposed to take the ground that the Papacy owes its very being to a misconception of this interesting point, and just so far as Protestania have looked to it for illumination and a model, they have erred from the spirit and character of the new and better dispensation. Such a model and complete Christian ritual never entered into the head or heart of the Chyistian Lawgiver or his Apostles. Much will depend on a proper estimate of this single point in this discussion,
"All the leading Protestant sects have confidently referred to the
scriptures alone in proof of their distinctive peculiarities.” This is also true. But what is the inference? That the scriptures alone do not afford a model of church organization! But may not an objector say that this inference is illogical, unless it be denied that the seriptures afford a complete and perfect system of Christian doctrine and morals: for is it not as generally true that all the Protestant sects have confidently referred to the scriptures alone in proof of their various systems of doctrine. If, then, a want of uniformity in their views of church organization be a proof of the need of some other document than the Bible from which to learn the Christian organization, will not a similar want of uniformity on a subject of at least equal importance demonstrate that we have in the Bible but the germs of Christian doctrine, and that we need some other treatise from which a more complete and perfect development of the whole sobject may be obtained! Is not the logic in both cases of the same category?
But the case of the Lord's supper is alleged as illustrative and corroborative of the position, that while the main action is expressly enjoined in the word of Gad, it is sometimes not only silent on the accidents, but frequently on some of the essentials of the action. All we divinely know of this ordinance is, however. derived from the Christian scriptures. And from what authoritative source can any thing be learned touching this ordinance more full and explicit than from the Christian scriplures? Some will ask, Are not the essential elements of every institution found in the Book of God?". And may they not ask with great reason, How can the very essential doctrine of Protestantism be maintained if the Bible be not of itself alone a full, clear, and
perfect revelation of the whole Christian institution. Do not all Protestants affirm that the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is the rule of Christian faith and manners? And may it not be asked with equal reason, Would it not be better to stop where and when the Bible stops, and regard and enforce all that we may find lacking to consummate our views of expediency, merely on the ground of human prudence, as.matters so left to the exigencies of times and circumstances?
I am not at all disposed to dogmatize on any moral subject, much lens on such a topic as that before us, and especially at so early a period of our investigation of its claims upon our consideration; still it may not be premature, in the spirit of a prudential caution, 10 inti, mate the probability, at least, that the Christian Lawgiver enacted as of essential and vital importance to church organization just so much as is detailed in the books of the New Institution, and all beyond that is matter of Christian prudence and discretion, illuminated by the
records of human experience and directed by the exigencies of society. I say, it may not be out of order in the commencement of this discus sion to have this point in our horizon, as presenting a safe harbor should we be incommoded by head winds and contrary currents which have so often been perilous to voyagers across this disastrous sea.
Take, for example, the Lord's supper, which has been very ingeniously and learnedly introduced as furnishing an argument for some other authority than the mere apostolic writings on the subject of Christian organization. This sacred institution was given to the disciples by their Lord. It consists of eating bread and drinking wine in grateful recollection of the slain body and shed blood of God's own Son. He gave the example in person of returning solemn thanks to God for the loaf and the cup, and as solemnly enjoined upon his followers to repeat the same acts in memory of him. “This do," said he, "in remembrance of me." We afterwards learn (Acts 2d and 20th chapters) that the disciples so practised; and Paul to the Corin. thians 'dilates upon the manner of iis observance. When, ihen, all this is done, I ask what need have we of further witness? Are we lo imagine that the Christian virtues of this sacred institution are. conferred to the mitred head or lawn-dressed hands that dispense the elements? Do Christians need for the loaf and the bread a eucharisti. cal consecration? Can any one consecrate anew the bread and the wine sanctified to them by the Lord! Popes and their successors have presumed to consecrate those + lements into the literal flesh and blood of the Son of God, which Jesus himself exhibited in his living hando as a loaf and cup of blessing. In one word, what new light or conviction, or what additional authority do all the church annals and ancient writings afford on this simple and sublime feast of sacred love!
The first safe and firm step in this investigation cannot be taken, in the judgment of our correspondent, until it is decided that the apostolio writings are wholly inadequate to furnish a model of Christ's church; that only the mere germs of the Christian institution can be learned from the New Testament. We must then agree to dip into the uninspired and unauthenticated writings of the second and third centuries, and from the traditions of those times reported by persons unknown to sacred fame, glean a model of that organization which Jesus gave to the Apostles, and the Apostles to the church.
Where, then, it will be asked, shall we find the volume from which these all-important lessons shall be learned? Ought not the whole church to be furnished with authentic originals and approved translaions; or must the laity and the inferior clergy suspend their faith apon le mere dicta of a portion of the ministry, whose testimony or whose
inferences are contradicted by another portion of that same ministry!I have myself searched antiquity in vain for such a volume and such documents. Traditions, oral or written, of an unambiguous and authentic character, from even apostolic succesosrs, have not yet fallen into my hands. It will then be indispensable to our advancing into the field of investigation, that we be immediately furnished with the volumes or other documentary evidence on which reliance may be placed as credible and safe guides in this all-important discussion.
Our correspondent has, indeed, very candidly acknowledged that the sacred scriptures do not afford but the mere germs of that organization which he would commend to the Christian communities of this 19th century. For my own part, always willing as I am to receive new light upon this much and long.vexed question, I shall feel myself indebted to him who will direct me to such ecclesiastic authorities as will satisfactorily settle that model of church order which he would recommend as worthy of universal acceptance.
This all will perceive is all-important at the very threshold: for the first firm step cannot be taken in the theory or the practice of church order in the absence of such evidence and authority. To rely upon the scriptures, or to enter the arena with only a Bible in our hands, would be foolish and unwise; inasmuch as it is confessed at the outset that from the Bible the whole Christian institution cannot be learned.
We then most earnestly and respectfully ask for that pure and oncorrupt ancient Christianity to which our correspondent would direct oar anxious eyes for light upon this vital and momentous question. If the scriptures alone in the hands of the laity have in all ages genere ated all the sects living and dead, and if there be any book or books in the form of folios, quartos, or duodecimos, that could annihilate divisions and unite all Christians, I, for one, will insist that the Bible societies and all other benevolent institutions will immediately conspire their energies to furnish the community with correct copies of them. I know of nothing more essentially premillennial than authentic and fair copies of such harmonizing and peace-making volumes.
A DISCOURSE, Delivered at the opening of the house of worship, erected by the Disciples of - Jesus Christ, in Frankfort. Ky.by P. S. Fall, President of the Eclectic Institute. Dedicated to all who sincerely desire the unity of the church, in order to the conversion of the world. Frankfort, 1842.
The following extract from the above named sermon is intended only to introduce it to the consideration of the brethren, as containing