Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors]

members, or must they judge, condemn and deny them? We must not think the apostle wanted charity, who will have them accursed ; and that gave Hymenæus and Alexander over to Satan, after that they had departed from the true faith, that they might learn not to blaspheme. In short, if we must (as our opposers herein acknowledge) pre

serve and keep those that are come to own the truth, by ty the same means they were gathered and brought into it, we

must not cease to be plain with them, and tell them, when they are wrong; and by sound doctrine both exhort and

convince gainsayers. If the apostles of Christ of old, and & the preachers of the everlasting gospel in this day, had

told the people, however wrong they found them in their faith and principles, “our charity and love is such, we dare not judge you, nor separate from you ; but let us all live in love together, and every one enjoy his own opinion, and

all will be well :" how should the nations have been; or ! what way now can they be brought to truth and righteousness?

Would not the devil love this doctrine well, by which, darkness and ignorance, error and confusion might still continue in the earth unreproved and uncondemned ; if it was needful then for the apostles of Christ in the days of old to

reprove, without sparing to tell the high priests and great i professors among the Jews, that they were stubborn and

stiff-necked, and always resisted the Holy Ghost, without

being guilty of imposition and oppression, or want of true di love and charity; and also for those messengers the Lord

raised up in this day, to reprove and cry out against the Ĉi hireling priests, and to tell the world openly, both profes

sors and profane, that they were in darkness and ignorance, it out of the truth, strangers and aliens from the commonJć wealth of Israel ; if God has gathered a people, by this

means, into the belief of one and the same truth, must not es they, if they turn and depart from it, be admonished, rek proved and condemned (yea, rather than those that are not

yet come to the truth,) because they crucify afresh unto themselves the Lord of glory, and put him to open shame ?

It seems the apostle judged it very needful they should be ti so dealt with, Tit. 1. 10. when he says, “ There are many

unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, &c. Were such a principle to be received and believed, that in the Church of Christ no man should be separated from, no man condemned or excluded the fellowship and communion of the body, for his judgment or opinion in matters of faith, then what blasphemies so horrid, what heresies so damnable, what doctrines of devils, but might harbour itself in the Church of Christ? What need then of sound doctrine, if no doctrine make unsound? What need of convincing and exhorting gainsayers, if to gainsay be no crime Where should the unity of the faith be? Were not this an inlet to all manner of abomination; and to make void the whole tendency of Christ's and his apostles' doctrine; and render the gospel of none effect; and give a liberty to the unconstant and giddy will of man to innovate, alter and overturn it at his pleasure ? So that from all that is above mentioned, we do safely conclude, that where a people are gathered together into the belief of the principles and doctrines of the gospel of Christ, if any of that people shall go from their principles, and assert things false and contrary to what they have already received; such as stand and abide firm in the faith, have power, by the Spirit of God, after they have used Christian endeavours to convince and reclaim them, upon their obstinacy, to separate from such, and to exclude them from their spiritual fellowship and communion : For otherwise, if this be denied, farewell to all Christianity, or to the maintaining of any sound doctrine in the Church of Christ.”

Isaac Pennington, after setting forth the authority of the Church, as given by our blessed Saviour, Matthew 18. 17. 18. queries

“ Is not this power and authority necessary to the true Church? What? a Church, and not have power over her own members, but every one left to the díctates of what they call the light within, and not be subject to the judgment, the true light, spirit and power of Christ, the Head in the living body? What a Church were this ? A mere Babel, an heap of confusion; a body that would never be at unity in itself.

But God is the God of the order of his own Spirit, life and power, and not of such confusion. This doctrine may go for truth in Babylon, but can never be owned in God's Jerusalem, where his Spirit did build up and defends the buildings, and judgeth out all such sandy and windy doctrines, which are loose and airy, and have not a ground or bottom in the truth." In the London Yearly Meeting Book of Extracts we find the following observations :

“When any by their inconsistent and disorderly conduct, or by imbibing and adopting principles and practices contrary to the doctrine which we have received, have first openly manifested their disunity with the Society, it is but just and requisite that, after endeavouring, and waiting to restore them without effect, the body should testify its disunity with such erring and refractory members ; at the same time earnestly desiring that they may be convinced of the error of their ways, and that through unfeigned repentance, and a consistent, orderly conduct in future, they may be reunited to the body. This being the utmost extent of our discipline respecting offenders, it is very evident that from the right exercise thereof, no degree of persecution or imposition can be justly inferred; for the imposition rests entirely on the part of those who insist on being retained as members, whilst at open variance with the body, either in principle or practice." Pertinent advice and caution from the writings of STEPHEN

Stephen Crisp makes these remarks, viz.-

“Oh dear Friends, consider these days are perilous times, and it is needful for every one to watch in that same eternal light to which you were first turned, that by its righteous judgment you may be preserved from every thing in yourselves that appears contrary to that precious life, of which you have tasted. And when you have so done, then take heed that the enemy do not do that by an instrument, which, through your watchfulness in the light, he could 'not do without. And all beware of that affected tenderness, that


cries out, be tender to all, and pray for all, and mind the good in all, and love all, and judge none, but leave judgment to God. I say, heed not the plausible words of that spirit, which, being guilty, to save its own head from a stroke, would bereave you of your judgment which God hath given you; and is indeed truly his judginent, and is to be administered in his wisdom and power, for the cleansing and keeping clean his sanctuary : for such as have no judgment in their goings, are they that know not the true way of peace, but make them crooked paths. He that goeth in them shall not know peace.

But some may say, was not Christ meek, and lowly ? and ought not all to be like unto him? It is true, my friends; but there is a difference between the seed's suffering and its reigning, and there are times for them both; and when it doth please God to permit the hour and power of darkness in the open persecutors, to exalt itself against his seed and people, by persecution or such like; they are led by his Spirit to appear in meekness and quietness, as sheep before the shearer. But what is this to suffering bad and perverse spirits, that appear under pretence of the truth, and yet are out of the truth, and enemies to its prosperity, striving to exalt and set up another thing instead of the truth ? Such as these the Lord doth not require you to use only patience and meekness towards, but, if that will not reclaim them, they must know the judgment of the truth, and you in it must stand over them: for, in this case, the day of the exaltation of Christ is come, and God is crowning Truth with dominion over every false spirit and corrupt practice thereof.

And therefore, dear friends, eye the Lord in his goings forth, and as you feel his life in you to witness against any evil and corrupt thing or practice, use plainness and keep sincerity, and turn not judgment backward; for that which is unwilling to be judged, and cries out, judge none, leave all to God, &c. the same will take upon it both to judge and rule, but not in the wisdom of God. And those that cry out so much for tenderness and against Truth's judginent, the same are in most danger to be drawn out from the patient suffering in the spirit of Christ Jesus, when they ought to appear in the most weekness; and to appear rough

and wrathful in the striving and fighting nature, and are most apt to be tempted into a spirit of revenge, as hath been seen by sad experience: for they that lose the exercise of that by which all should keep dominion over deceit, they lose that strength by which they should be enabled to suffer all things for the sake of Christ Jesus.” John Griffith


* It is of the utmost consequence, that the members who constitute the Church of Christ be thoroughly acquainted with the true spring of motion and action therein, lest any should presumptuously conceive or imagine, that seeing Church government carries much the appearance of outward economy and civil proceedings'; human abilities, natural and acquired, are sufficient to manage the same. If any man fall into such a dangerous error, it must be for want of duly considering the nature of the work to be engaged in; it being no other than what appertains to the spiritual kingdom of Christ, and the pro thereof on earth ; which kingdom, man by nature cannot see nor understand. And it is written, “the world by wisdom knew not God,” therefore they cannot know his kingdom, nor how to act properly therein, under the supreme Head, whom they know not."

“ It may be further observed, that those whose principal view is only maintaining the form or outward character in religion, feel very little or no pain on account of the disorderly practices of their fellow members, and therefore they can easily daub with untempered mortar, and smooth all over, crying peace, before judgment has laid hold of the transgressing part; and all this done under the specious pretence of charity and Christian tenderness. Yet when any in godly zeal are constrained to shew the pernicious consequence of healing the wounds of the daughter of Sion deceitfully, some such soon discover they are too much strangers to true charity, by their opposition to sound judgment, and those exercised therein, that the wounds might be searched to the bottom. Here something of a persecuting spirit appears, and the bitter leaven of the Pharisee is discovered, striking at the life of religion. But, agreeable to the usual craft of antichrist, they must call a godly concern and labour by a contrary name, or they could not

« AnteriorContinua »