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COPY OF A LETTER TO A BAPTIST CHURCH.

branches, (springing from faith as its root,) is an additional and a subsequent evidence to a man's own conscience, that he is a believer of the saving truth, according to the positive declarations of the sacred word, 2 Cor. i. 12. Gal. iv. 4. 1 John-iii. 14, 24. We further believe, that the Christian's spiritual love and joy arise principally from the believing regard he has to the truth; for we read in 1 Peter i. "Whom having not seen ye love, (speaking of the Lord Jesus,) in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." And also, that the believer's hope is more and more confirmed, as he goes on loving the same truth which at first relieved him, (in which the divine perfections most illustriously shine,) and keeping the commands of Christ.

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plain to be understood; and that it is not from any obscurity or defect in the rule, but from inattention and other worse principles, that they are not more regarded. The Lord hath said, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you," John xv. 14, and we conceive that what the apostles taught and practised, was that, and only that, which they received of the Lord. There are some who speak of an unity of affection, separate from an unity of judgment, in a Christian church: but this we conceive to be a mistake of great importance; for the word of God commands in the most solemn manner, that a church of Christ "be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment," 1 Cor. i. 10. And we apprehend this to be absolutely necessary for the peace and welfare of such a society. Besides, to imagine that God would command any thing, which in the nature of that thing is totally impossible, (as some affirm in the present instance,) is an imputation upon the Divine wisdom. While, therefore, there are differences amongst the members of any professing church, with respect to what is the faith of the Gospel, and what are included in the all things which Christ commanded his apostles to teach the churches to observe, (which is evidently the case with you,) there cannot be that unity of affection, which ought to subsist in the family of God.

After a person is baptized, being first carefully examined as to his knowledge and belief of the one truth, having publicly professed this, and been added to a Christian church, he is, we are informed, to be further instructed in the will of God; and the sentiments he may afterwards imbibe, together with the spirit and conduct he may manifest, are, in love, to be diligently watched by the pastors of the church, and his fellow members. If this plan be agreeable to the word of God, (which we are firmly persuaded it is,) we leave yourselves to judge, how little such a course of conduct is attended to amonsgt you.

These views lead us to observe, that the order and discipline to be observed in the churches of Christ, has its foundation in love amongst the members for the truth's sake; and that this love is excited by the great Head of the Church, under the influence of his Spirit, and directed in its exercise by the precepts of the written word. The New

Now, we apprehend the primitive churches were united, upon a profession of their belief of the one truth as before stated; and that their union was cemented, by the Spirit of Christ causing them to be of one mind, with respect to what was the ground of their faith and hope, and what were the moral and positive commands of their Lord and Master. The apostles speak of the unity of the faith, Eph. iv. 5, 13. of the common faith, Tit. i. 4.; and the churches are commanded to strive together, and to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, Philip. i. 27. Jude ver. 3. all of which we think, together with many more arguments that might be adduced, afford substantial proof, that they had one exact, uniform view of what the foundation truth of the Gospel was, and what faith itself had a respect to; and we are persuaded these are precisely the same in all ages.

The great Legislator of the Christian Church has also left upon record certain laws for the regulation of the subjects of his visible kingdom, and we are assured that each of these should be strictly complied with, and none of them held as matters of an immaterial nature, to be observed, or not observed, as our convenience, notions of expediency, or inclination may dictate; but they ought all to be considered as being of indispensable obligation, for the Lord hath said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments," John xiv. 15. We are fully convinced these commands are

Testament abounds with exhortations to the duty of brotherly love, with motives to it, and also with directions how it is to be manifested; all of which point out the closest union amongst the people of God; and we conceive it to be absolutely requisite to the very existence of a visible church, that all the precepts given us in the Sacred Word upon this head be punctually observed, and, if need be, enforced by the discipline which Christ hath appointed. It is the union and order of the people of God in their collective capacity, we understand, which is to be one means (under a divine influence) of conviction to the people of the world around them; for it is written, John xvii. 21. "That they all may be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."

MR. EDITOR,

Your correspondent F. II. has, in your Magazine for August, furnished some valuable hints "On Living to God;" but some of his introductory remarks are not at all relevant to that subject, nor calculated to produce or proinote the peculiar dispositions or duties he recommends. It is highly dangerous to represent sinners as not under obligation to love God with all their heart, and their neighbour as themselves, which I judge F. H. has done; unless indeed there are some dispositions and duties which are not virtually included in that love, which is the fulfilling of the law, and the very sum of Christian duty. It is pleasing to the carnal mind to be informed, that "unregenerate men, or believers, are not called to the exercise of certain dispositions and duties peculiar to a life devoted to God." It assists them in rebutting the charges of a guilty conscience, and maintaining peace, though they walk in the imaginations of their hearts. I look with jealousy upon every line in the Magazine that tends to exonerate a sinner from guilt, or that supposes the Lord does not require him to do otherwise than he does. I would recommend F. H. to re-consider the nature and extent of a sinner's duty to God, for his communication is at variance with itself. He calls upon profligates "to repent and believe the Gospel," and yet declares, "It would be very unscriptural to exhort such persons to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, as their reasonable service." Pray, is not the latter implied and contained in the former? Do not repentance and faith involve all the principles, dispositions, and duties peculiar to a life devoted to God? It is readily admitted that there is an order in the performance of Christian duties, and in the enjoyment of Christian privileges and blessings, and that the "first duty is to believe the Gospel." It would, therefore, be irrational, as well as unscriptural, to expect the fruit or blossoms, buds or branches, before there be a tree. Surely none tell unbelievers, "that they are the children of God, nor admonish them as such to be united to a church," &c. We look for the blade and the ear before the full corn in the ear. We do not exhort to any duty, no not even prayer, reading, or hearing the word, but in a way of

When we, therefore, compare the sentiments and conduct of your church, with the infallible standard, in the particular matters as before stated, we are led to conclude that there is an essential defect in your principles and constitution, and that as a body you are not upon a proper scriptural foundationwe mean as a visible professing church of Christ. We have, therefore, come to a resolution, that from henceforward our connection with you is dissolved in that relation, as we conceive it to be a matter unattainable, to make such an alteration amongst you, as agrees with our views, if we attempted it.

Our present determination has been the result of much thought, prayer, and examination of the word of God, and we are looking up to the Father of lights, for that further instruction and strength which we feel we need, and he has graciously promised to confer.

We are persuaded it is owing to inattention or disaffection to the Scriptures of truth, that every erroneous doctrine, principle, or practice, has its rise; we wish, therefore, that every one who nameth the name of Christ, would, like the Bereans, examine those faithful records, and follow their directions wherever they may lead, without fear of consequences.

We heartily pray, that grace, mercy, and peace, may be multiplied to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity; and we remain,

Youf affectionate well-wishers for Jesus' sake,

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NOTES ON EPHESIANS IV. 3.

believing. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" in any duty. Faith and repentance, so far from being excluded from the list of "Christian duties," stand at the very head of that list, and virtually include the whole. Faith worketh by love; it purifies the heart; overcomes the world, and the powers of darkness. The believer lives by faith, fights the good fight of faith, and by faith performs every duty, and gives glory to God. Indeed, in the enjoyment of the blessings of the Gospel, and the discharge of every Christian duty, we find the truth of the Saviour's remark, " According to thy faith, be it unto thee." "By faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." By the same criterion all religious services are now discriminated in the sight of God, and are profitable or worthless to man, as they are, or are not, the fruit of faith. Not to him that worketh, but to him that believeth. Israel did not obtain that which he sought, because he sought it not by faith. Let not sinners suppose that they are at liberty to neglect any thing that is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or of good report, without incurring the displeasure of God. He that believeth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is born of God, overcometh the world, and hath everlasting life, possessing radically every principle of fruitful obedience to God. Let us then boldly exhort sinners to faith and repentance, and every duty to God and man, and never insinuate that they cannot and ought not to do better than they do, lest we should encourage them in the neglect of duty, and in their final and fatal rebellion against God.

C. H. I.

Ramsgate.

NOTES ON EPH. IV. 3. Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." THE unity of the Spirit is that concord or union effected by the Spirit of God, by means of the faith of the Gospel: accordingly, it is called "the unity of the Spirit," and in ver. 13, "the unity of the faith." It is the unity prayed for by our Lord, John xvii. 20, 21: a union with the Father and the Son; and a visible union among believers themselves, such as the world may discern, and thereby know and believe that the

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Father sent the Son, and hath loved his people as he loved his Son, John xvii. 19, 20. But the minds of men are naturally alienated from God; they are enemies to him in their minds, and by wicked works: "the carnal mind is enmity against God." Men are also naturally hateful, and hating one another. The Spirit of God convinces of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, John xvi. 8. He convinces men that they have broken the two great commandments of the law, which require love to God and to our neighbour; and that on this account we deserve to suffer the wrath of God, or the curse which his law pronounces against "every one who continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them," Gal. ii. 10. The Spirit also convinces us that we are weak and without strength, utterly unable to do any thing for our justification and acceptance before God, Rom. v. 6.

Moreover, the Spirit convinces of righteousness, or of the way of justification and acceptance with God; leading us to perceive the love and grace of God, in sending his beloved Son into the world to seek and save the lost, and to give his life a ransom for many, Matt. xx. 28, John iii. 16. He shews men that the atonement of the Son of God is perfect, and all-sufficient to answer the ends for which it was offered; that God is well pleased in it; the law magnified and made honourable; and thus the conscience is purified from works deserving death, to serve the living God. Thus men are reconciled to God by the death of his Son, Rom. v. 10; are made sons of God, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. They receive the Spirit of sons, teaching them to cry, Abba, Father, Gal. iv. 6. They now have fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, 1 John i. 3. They now walk in the light, and have fellowship one with another, ver. 7. Being justified by faith, they have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. They have access into this grace where in they stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God, whose love is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit, Rom. v. 1-5. They are constrained by the love of Christ to live, not to themselves, but to him who died for them, and rose again, 2 Cor. v. 14. Thus they are one with the Father and with the Son.

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Believers are also united to one another in Christ. They have been taught, that the salvation made known in the Gospel is suitable to all men, and that all who believe in it are one in Christ Jesus. "In Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; they are all one in him." They are one body, of which Christ is the head. "There is one body and one Spirit, even as they have one hope of their calling," ver. 4, 5. This is the spiritual union of believers in the Lord. But there is also an outward visible union among them, which takes place by their mutual confession of the truth of the Gospel, as the ground of their hope and the bond of their union. Therefore they love one another for the truth's sake, which dwelleth in them, and shall be with them for ever, 2 John ver. 2. Hence arise the many exhortations to love one another, as Christ loved them; to forgive one another, as God for Christ's sake has forgiven them; and to do good to the household of faith. All which supposes, that they acknowledge one another as the children of God, united together in the bonds of the Gospel. It is not only a union in the faith, but in the obedience of Christ; for the disciples are taught to observe all things, whatsoever Christ hath commanded, Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.

This is the unity of the Spirit. He enlightens the understanding in the knowledge of the Gospel; leads to the profession of the faith of Christ, and obedience to his laws and ordinances; excites the children of God to unite themselves together to observe his laws, and especially to manifest the uniting tendency of the Gospel, which teaches them to build up one another in their most holy faith. By this men come to know that they are his disciples; and are led to believe that the Father sent the Son, and that he loved his people, even as he loved Christ. These things shew, that the union and affection of the disciples of Jesus should be manifest to all men; and the most important ends will be answered by their union, and the exercise of mutual love; even that they are united to the Father and the Son; that the Father hath loved them as he loved his Son, and that the world may know that they are the disciples of Jesus. And the apostle intimates in the context, that one grand end of our holy calling is, that we endeavour

"to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." This is made manifest when the disciples walk "with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love."

Let us now enquire into the duty of keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

1. This implies, that we hold fast that which is the bond of union, or THE TRUTH which unites us to God, and to one another. This is necessary in every one, for his own comfort and joy in the truth, as well as for promoting and maintaining union with the brethren in Christ. The Gospel is the first spring of hope towards God; it is necessary, therefore, that we hold fast the beginning of our confidence, and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end, Heb. iii. 14. In this way we abide in the Father, and in the Son, 1 John ii. 24. Again, as we love one another for the truth's sake, it is necessary that we hold fast the truth, as a motive to mutual love; and to perform the various duties we owe one another, arising from the principles and motives of the Gospel. All pretension to love without this is dissimulation or deceit; our hearts must be purified through the truth, to unfeigned love of the brethren, 1 Pet. i. 21. We are to forgive one another, as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us; but unless we hold fast the truth, we cannot feel the force of its motives upon our conduct towards one another. We may, therefore, perceive the necessity of being stedfast in the faith, in order to our keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

2. It is also necessary that we revere the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, in order to preserve the unity here enjoined.

The union of the disciples of Jesus is not only a union in the faith, but also in obedience to the laws of Christ. They are to keep the ordinances as delivered to them by Christ and his apostles, 1 Cor. xi. 1; and to observe all things whatsoever he hath commanded, Matt. xxviii. 20. His new commandment is, "that we love one another, as he loved us," John xiii. 34. 1 John iv. 21. In other words, that we should abide in union with each other and the Lord. But if once we begin to conceive, that we may neglect his commands with impunity, or if we lose sight of his authority, as binding upon our con

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IN THE BOND OF PEACE.

sciences, then every slight reason will form an excuse for neglecting our duty towards one another. The affection of brethren will get cold or lukewarm, and every trifling offence will widen the breach, till our minds be alienated from one another, and from our duty. But on the other hand, we should do every thing we are able to preserve and strengthen our unity; such as, speaking the truth in love one to another; or building up one another in our most holy faith; exhorting one another daily, lest any of us be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin; comforting our brethren under their afflictions, admonishing and watching over one another in love; administering to the necessities of saints; given to hospitality; each should fill up the place assigned him in the body of Christ; every gift must be Occupied for the good of the body. Blessed is that servant whom, when his Lord cometh, he shall find so doing. Verily, I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.

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will require us sometimes to exercise self-denial in yielding to others, giving up our own opinions in matters indifferent; not seeking our own profit, but the profit of many that they may be saved. Our honour, and ease, and worldly interest must sometimes be sacrificed to obtain peace. In order to gain our end, we must be " easy to be entreated;" and ready to be reconciled to our brethren. Any signs of their recovery from error, or relenting for sin, will lead us to "hope all things, to believe all things, and to think no evil." Our prayer will be, "the Lord give us peace always, by all means.' The strong will bear with the infirmities of the weak, and not seek to please themselves, but every one will please his neighbour for his good to edification, Rom. xv. 1, 2. Thus shall we live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with us.

3. We are to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The Gospel lays a solid foundation for peace with God, and with one another. We are enjoined to live in peace, to let the peace of God rule in our hearts, to which we are called in one body, &c. We should avoid every thing which would mar our peace, either by opinions or practices. We are to avoid questions which gender strife, rather than godly edifying, which is in faith. We should also avoid of ficiousness, or going about as busy bodies in other men's matters. This often proves a source of disquietude to individuals, and to the churches of Christ. When a case of discipline comes before the church, beware of introducing any thing aside from the matter, or of introducing any thing to retard the decision of the church. We should endeavour to go along with the church; unless we clearly see that they are departing from the truth, or acting in direct opposition to the laws of Christ. Then, in the spirit of meekness, we should shew our supreme regard to the Lord Jesus Christ, even above our love peace and unity with our brethren. 4. We are to seek peace, and pursue it. Not only are we to preserve it, as far as in us lieth; but when peace is broken we should endeavour to restore it, and thus become peace-makers. This

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Again, we should cultivate a spirit of union in our intercourse with one another, both in private, and in the church. Instead of wishing to appear singular, we should have an earnest desire to be of the same mind, and of the same judgment, 1 Cor. i. 10. This state of mind should especially appear in the church. Nothing should be treated as an offence, but a breach of the law of Christ, or a departure from the faith or obedience of Christ. And when we judge that our brother is guilty of either, we should do every thing in our power to restore him, see Matt. xviii. 15. And even when we are called to tell it to the church, our chief desire should be, the recovery of our brother from the error of his ways. If possible, we should all be of the same mind, and of the same judgment; but though this should not be so in our discussion or decision, we should not on that account be divided in our affections or love to one another. Every one should be at full liberty to judge what is right; while each should pay a due deference to the judgment of others, see 1 Cor. i. 10. Phil. ii. 4. &c. As we are not to be divided in our affection, far less are we to separate from the fellowship of the church, on account of different views of a case of discipline, even though the decision of the church should not accord, but be contrary to our views. While the church holds fast the faith of Christ, and acknowledges his authority,

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