Imatges de pÓgina

he did once entertain and avow the doctrines alleged as erroneous; but plead that he has since renounced them, and embraced the opposite sentiments. The council will then judge, whether this retraction be sufficient to satisfy themselves and others. And their favourable judgment will depend on the hopeful appearance of sincerity in the retractation. If he appears, on the whole, to be sound in faith, they will acquit him. If he appears obstinately heretical they will admonish him; and if, after a second admonition given at a proper distance of time to observe the effect of the first, he still remains obstinate, they will reject him. In such a case it may be expedient for the council to adjourn, either in a body, or by deputation, in order to see their sentence of a second admonition, &c. carried into effect.


If the pastor and church reject the proposal of their dissat-, isfied brethren for a mutual council, what course can the latter take for redress?


According to the platform and the usage of churches, they will call a council ex parte, for advice. For any person or number of persons have a natural right to ask advice when they need it. In the choice of this council, prudence and charity, as well as the apostolic direction before mentioned, will lead them to seek advice from those who have not interested themselves, or taken a decisive part in their controversy. The advice of such persons will usually be deemed the most judicious and impartial, and will always have

the best effect. This council, being convened, will request a conference with the pastor, and such others, as he shall choose to bring with him; or, (if there be a church meeting existing) with such as the church shall depute. If this request be rejected, the council will obtain the best information they can, concerning the state of the church, and the grounds of uneasiness in the dissatisfied. If they find the uneasiness groundless, they will say so, and advise the dissatisfied to remain in quiet communion with the church. If they find just ground of uneasiness, they will advise to a mutual council. This advice, with the reasons of it, will be given in writing to both parties. This is all that a council, called ex parte, have in the first instance a right to do. They may do nothing judicially, which shall affect the absent party, because nothing is by agreement submitted to them.

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If this refusal be known before the ex parte council is dissolved, (for it is not to keep the business in its own hands by adjournment) then, according to the platform, another council is to be nominated under the inspection and superintendency of the present council, who will act in behalf of the absent party, and prevent any improper choice.

If the mind of the absent party be unknown, then such a council, as is above described, will be chosen provisionally, to

be superseded, if a mutual council be afterward agreed on; otherwise to be convened. This council, if convened, is to have all the power of a mutual council so far as respects the dissatisfied. They will, when convened, first seek a conference with the absent party, who will be allowed to make this a mutual council as it now is, or by adding a proper number of churches, or to join with their brethren in calling a council de novo; and the present council will adjourn, or dissolve, as the case requires. But if the pastor and church will accept no overtures for accommodation, then the council will proceed; and will judge, that the aggrieved have taken all reasonable measures to obtain peace and reunion with their brethren; have exercised due patience and forbearance; have exhibited becoming charity and condescention; and therefore ought to be considered as Christians in good standing, and ought to be admitted to the fellowship of other churches. Or, if there be a competent number, and it be their desire, they may be incorporated into a distinct church, and recommended as a regular church of Christ.

This council have no power to dissolve the relation between the pastor and the people who adhere to him, or to receive and

judge upon any complaint against him for heresy or immorality; for no such power is committed to them, nor does the pastor appear before them, or acknowledge their jurisdiction over him. But the council have a right to judge on what they see and know as a council; viz. that the pastor and church have

rejected all measures of accommodation with their brethren, and have refused the assistance of sister churches, in a case where such assistance appeared strongly urgent and absolutely necessary; that consequently they have renounced the communion of other churches, and put themselves in a state of noncommunion, and that they ought to be considered and treated, as being in that state, in which they have voluntarily placed themselves, and pertinaciously continued.

This result of council ought to be respected by all other churches. Thus will it have all the effect, that a sentence of excommunication could have, if pronounced by a mutual council. TITUS.

ON THE NAME CHRISTIAN. Continued from p. 463.


WE shall consider the character of the persons to whom this name was originally applied.

This name was not applied to all indiscriminately, who lived in the town of Antioch; but to a particular description of persons, distinguished from others, by their being followers of Jesus Christ. Their badge of distinction did not consist merely in saying, "Lord, Lord;" but in doing the things which he commanded them.

They were per

sons, who not only had a name to live, but were also living epistles of Christ, known and read of all men. By nature they were like the rest of their townsmen, living without God, without

Christ, and without hope in the world. A very great and important change had been produced in their minds, before they became followers of Jesus Christ. This change, the Saviour declares, must be experienced by all, who enter his kingdom. John iii. 1-8. Concerning it the prophet speaks, Isai. liv. 13, "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord;" and wherein it consists Jesus explains, John vi. 45,"Every one who hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." How this change was effected may be learned from the following passages of scripture. John i. 12, 13, James i. 18, 1 Pet. i. 22, 23, 2 Cor. iv. 6, Eph. ii. 8, 9, 10, Rom. x. 17. It was after this change was produced, and in Consequence of it, they were called disciples. This was the name by which they were called, before they received the name Christian. "The disciples were called Christians first in tioch."


The term disciple signifies a scholar, or learner, and supposes a master from whom instruction is received. John Baptist had his disciples; and we read also of the disciples of the Pharisees, who followed them as their masters. When any were born of the incorruptible seed of the word of God, and made the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus, they were added to the church. This was the school in which the disciples were taught, and these were the persons over whom Jesus presided as master. No progress can be made in his school without a change of mind. To admit persons without it, is only to keep the school

in perpetual fermentation, bring it into public contempt, and greatly to retard the progress of others.

The term disciple, or scholar, suggests the idea of something to be learned. In the school of Christ, the only book to be used is the Bible, 2 Tim. i. 13, and iv. 3, 4, 1 Tim. vi. 3-5, Isai. viii. 20, Mat. xv. 1-9. This book, he assures us," is profita ble for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." All his disciples have not only received an understanding to learn, 1 John v. 20, but also an ardent love to the book to be taught, Ps. cxix. 97. The truth it contains is the joy and rejoicing of their hearts. All Christ's sheep hear his voice, know it, and follow him. This is one of the principal things by which his disciples are distinguished from others; for, saith their Master, "Every one who is of the truth heareth my voice, John xviii. 37. And again it is written by an apostle," He that knoweth God, heareth us; he that is not of God, heareth not us; by this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error," 1 John iv. 6. At their entrance into this school, they are but children, knowing only the first principles of the oracles of God. But leaving these, they go on unto perfection, growing in grace, and in the knowledge of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The knowledge to be attained is important and extensive. To be like their Master is the grand object proposed. To effect this, it may be observ

ed, in general, that to know more perfectly the doctrines he has delivered, to obey all the precepts he has enjoined, to observe all the ordinances he has instituted, to follow the example he hath set, and to imbibe the spirit he manifested, are a few of the leading principles of the knowledge to be attained. They who make the greatest proficiency in these are his disciples indeed. To attain these, requires application, perseverance, and constant dependence on the Lord; "for without him they can do nothing." As it is not by turning over the leaves of his book any scholar makes progress in knowledge, but by applying his mind to the matter it contains; so is it not merely by looking at the Bible, nor by a careless and partial perusal of it, that any disciple of Christ can grow in the knowledge of him, but by digging in it as for hid "My son, if thou will receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear to wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understand ing; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God." Prov. ii. 1—5, &c. The scriptures contain treasures of wisdom and knowledge which can never be exhausted. The greatest proficient in the knowledge of them confesses, that comparatively he knoweth nothing. The more he learns, the more he perceives his ignorance, and, Vol. III. No. 11.


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sitting at Jesus' feet, he looks up to him, and prays, "Lord, open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."

Love to Jesus their Master formed one radical feature in the original character of those called Christians. Love to him was the principle from which all their obedience proceeded, and which rendered his yoke easy, and his burden light. It led the Pagan to renounce his idols, the worldling his pleasures, the Pharisee his self-righteousness, and the Publican his wickedness, and all to follow Jesus. "The love of Christ constrained them." The love they had to him was both ardent and permanent. He was the constant theme of their public discourses, and of their private conversations. Through him their prayers were always presented, and in all their praises he was the burden of their song. Inflexible attachment to Christ and his doctrine made them suffer persecution from their nearest and dearest relations, renounce all the pleasures of sin, expose themselves to shame and contempt, take joyfully the spoiling of their goods, and live in perpetual suspense, as to life itself. The doctrines of their Master, which they firmly believed, were opposed to all the ideas the world had of religion; his precepts, which they conscientiously obeyed, were a constant reproof of their unholy practices; and their manners throughout such, that hostilities on the part of the world seldom ceased. The united powers of earth and hell could not alienate their affections from him. The persuasion of friends, the influ

ence of interested priests, the threats of civil rulers, yea, all the horrors of poverty, persecution, and death, could not deter them from preaching his name, nor obeying his commandments. The following sayings of their Master seem to have made an indelible impression on their hearts; "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me. If any man love me, he will keep my words. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings. Ye are my friends, if yé do whatsoever I command you. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul! or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul !"

Love to one another formed another prominent feature in their character. It was by love to each other that they were to be known; "by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." This love they expressed to each other in every possible way. They visited each other when sick, fed each other when hungry, clothed each other when naked, were in bonds with them who were bound, wept with them who wept, and rejoiced with them that rejoiced. They are represented as the members of one body; "and if one member suffered, all the other members suffered with it; or if one member was honoured, all the members rejoiced with it." The mutual and affectionate love which existed among them sur

passed every thing the world had beheld, and constrained them to say, "See how these Christians love one another." Those, who wish to know the degree of love to which they were exhorted, the extent to which they carried it, and the various ways by which they expressed it, may consult the following texts of scripture. John xv. 12. 1 John iii. 16-18. Rom.xvi. 3,4. 2 Tim. 1. 16-18. James ii. 14-26. Acts xi. 27-30. Phil. iv. 14-18. Mat. xxv. 31-46.

Separation from the world also distinguished the first Christians. This separation did not consist in abandoning the abodes of men and retiring to a nunnery or abbey; but in separation from the spirit and practices of the world that lay in wickedness. While interwoven with society in all its possible connexions, they performed all the relative and social duties of life; and although surrounded with temptations to sin, they kept themselves unspotted from the world. They were subject to the powers that be, not only for wrath but for conscience' sake; whether the government was monarchical, democratical, or tyrannical, they rendered to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute was due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour. If husbands, they loved their wives, and were not bitter against them; but dwelt with them according to knowledge. wives, they were in subjection to their own husbands. parents, they loved their children, and did not provoke them to wrath; but brought them up in the nurture and admonition

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