Page images
[ocr errors]

filth and off-scouring of the world ; and looking that men Thould say all manner of evil of them felfely for the Lord's fake.

5. It is expected of all who desire to continue in these societies, that they should continue to evidence their de. fire of salvation,

Thirdly, By attending upon all the ordinances of
God: Such are

The public worship of God:
The ministry of the word, either read or expounded;
The fupper of the Lord;
Family and private prayer ;;
Searching the scriptures; and
Fasting or abstinence.

6. These are the general rules of our societies : all which we are taught of God to observe, even in his written word, which is the only rule, and the sufficient rule both of our faith and practice. And all these we know his Spirit writes on truly awakened hearts. If there be any among us who observe them not, who habitually break any of them, let it be known unto them who watch over that soul, as they who must give an account. We will admonish him of the error of his


We will bear with him for a season. But then, if he repent not, he hath no more place among us. We have delivered our own souls.


N O T E S.

The present section forms, perhaps, one of the completest fyftems of christian ethics or morals, for its size, which ever was published by an uninspired writer. We speak this the more readily, because it was the work of the first divine, we believe, . fince the time of the apostles, the late Mr. Welcy, after matured experience, with only a small addition, which the circumsiances of these states required. The rules are so clear, and so obviously approve themselves to every candid mind, that we need only touch briefly upon them, proving them by quotations from the facred writings.

I. Of class-meeting we shall speak hereafter: We would here anly explain a few particulars concerning the office of a leader.

We have found it necessary in innumerable instances to enlarge the number of the class, from the impossibility of providing a fufficiency of class-leaders, if the number were always limited to iwelve. The office is of vast consequence. The revival of the work of God does perhaps depend as much upon the whole body of leaders, as it does upon the whole body of preachers. We have almost constantly observed, that when a leader is dull or careless or inactive-when he has not abilities or zeal sufficient to reprove with courage though with gentleness, and to press a present fa vation upon the hearts of the fincere, the class is, in general, languid: but, on the contrary, when the leader is much alive to God and faithful in his office, the class is also, in general, lively and spiritual. This arises from the nature of the christian plan of falvation. It is the same, in general, with a minister and his Hock; and every leader, as we have before intimated, is, in fume degree, a gospel minister : though we may add, that among us a fpiritual body of leaders may counteract the otherwise pernicious consequences of a languid ministry.

At the beginning of Methodism, the leader called weekly upon each of his class, in which cafe twelve were quite fufficient for his inspection. But very soon it was found abundantly preferable for the whole class to meet the leader together, not only for the sake of the leader, but for the good of the people, who, by that means, enjoy the unspeakable advantages of christian fellowship. At the saine time the leader is expected to visit the inembers of his class at their own houses, especially when they are fick or confined, as often as his circumstances will admit.

Numb. xi. 14-17. “I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if thou deal thu's

pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy fight; and let me not see my wretchedness. And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.” Ver. 24, 25. “And Mofes went out, and told the people the words of the Lord, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle: and the Lord came dovin in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.” Exod. xii. 18.“ Moreover, thou shalt provide, out of all the people, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetoinfo

with me,

kill me, I

#ess; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.” [It is, we think, evident from the context, that these men were ap. pointed not only to determine on civil questions, but in respect to every difficulty relating to the ceremonial law, and “ all the statutes of God, and his laws,” ver. 16. in short, to act in every thing in the place of Moses, except in matters of great moment.] I Cor. xii. 28. God hath set some in the church; first, apostles; secondarily, prophets ; thirdly, teachers ; after that miracles; then gifts of healing, belps, governments, diversities tongues.” See the whole chapter. Ephef. iv. 16. “And he gave fome, apostles; and fome, prophets; and fome, evangelists, and some, pastors and teachers.

2d. The desire to flee from the wrath to come, and to be saved from their fins, is expressed as the single condition of being admitted into our society, because these two are inseparably united. There never was a soul which truly desired to flee from the wrath of God, but at the same time desired real falvation. They both come from God: and his Spirit never gives the sacred wish to avoid the one, but he bestows an equally ardent desire to obtain the other. The nature of God and the whole plan of salvation by Jesus Christ require this. The creation and redemption of man, and all the operations of the Divine Spirit, have no other end but the making us like to God, and prcparing us for his service, and for the eternal enjoyment of himself. Matt. xi. 28. " Come unto me,” says Christ,“ all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Luke xviii. 13, 14. pu'lican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me, a sinner. I tell you, This man went down to his house justified rather than the other."

3d. The soul which sees its danger, and longs for salvation, will not intentionally offend the God it fears—the God it desires to love. At least, if it have not power over inward sin, it will abhor the vices and criminal amusements of the world. All its former pleasures are embittered to it. It now seeks a happiness which the world cannot afford it, and, therefore, loaths every thing which tends to keep it from the object of its wishes. Matt. iii. 8. “ Bring forth fruits meet for repentance." See also Luke iii. 8. 2 Cor. 7, 10. “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to falvation not to be repented of.”

1. The taking of God's name in vain is fo gross a vice, that those must be wholly given up to Satan, who will commit it. Exod. xx. 7.

“ Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh

“ The

his name in vain." See also Deut. V. II. Lev. xix. 12. " Neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God.” See also the scripture-references taken from the New Testament in the notes on the 25th article of religion.

2. Sabbath-breaking is a vice which may be committed under various fpecious pretences, though it is the forerunner of all evil. In this day especially it is a vice inexcusable in those who make the least profession of christianity; when the entire rejection of the fabbath is looked upon by the enemies of revealed religion, in general, as the most effectual means to destroy christianity itfelf. O let us all come out to the help of Lord against the mighty (Judges v. 23.) and love the fabbath for the fake of its Divine Founder and the inestimable blessings flowing from the due obfervance of it. It has been already honoured by the divine rest from creation, and is an emblem of that spiritual and eternal rest which remains for the people of God. (Heb. iv. 9.) See particularly the numerous scripture-references in the notes on the 15th fection of the first chapter, as also the references on the 23d section.

3. The sin of drunkenness should be particularly guarded: against in a country where the materials for distilled liquors fo much abound. Sensuality, alas! of every kind, but particularly that which arises from intemperance in the use of distilled liquors, foils and defiles the soul, fills it full of impure desires, and turns the human nature, capable of the image of God, into a loathsome. beast. Luke xxi. 34, “ Take heed to yourselves, leit at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkennessy and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares." Rom. xiii. 13. “ Let us walk honestly as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness.” I Cor. v. 1. “ .--A drunkard-with such an one no not to eat.” vi. IO. “--Nor drunkards-mshall inherit: the kingdom of God.” Gal. v. 19–21. Now, the works of the fieih are manifest, which are these :--drunkennefs, &c. Epher. v. 18. “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”-i Theff. v. 7. They that be drunken, are drunken in the night.' 'Tit. ii. I--3. “ Speak thou,that the aged women [be] not given to much wine.”

4. The buying and felling the fouls and bodies of men (for what is the body without the soul but a dead carcase) is a complicated crime.* It was indeed, in fone measure, overlocked in

[ocr errors]

* Are there not many proprietors to be found on this continent, who refirain their paves from enjoying the privileges of the gospel, and thereby invade the rights of the fouls and consciences of their faves, 12 well as their bodies ? At the fame time we must give the credit due: to multitudes who do not thus ensave the minds of their servants, but allow them full liberiy to attend the preaching of the gospel, wherever they think they are most profited,

[ocr errors]

the Jews by reafon of the wonderful hardness of their hearts, as was the keeping of concubines and the divorcing of wives at pleasure, but it is totally opposite to the whole spirit of the gofpel. It has an immediate tendency to fill the mind with pride and tyranny, and is frequently productive of almost every act of lust and cruelty which can disgrace the human fpecies. Even the moral philosopher will candidly confess, that if there be a God, every perfection he possesses must be opposed to a practice so contrary to every inoral idea which can influence the human mind. Nehem. v. 8, 9. " I said unto them, We, after our ability, have redeemed our brethren, the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will ye even sell your brethren? or swall they be fold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer. Also I said, It is not good that ye do: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God, because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies ?” Ifai. lviii. 6. Is not this the fast that I have chosen ? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the opprefid go free, and that ge break every yoke.Ezek. xxvii. 13, (This chapter is written on the destruction of Tyrus, and the causes of it). “ Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, they were thy merchants: they traded the persons of men.” Acts xvii. 24-26. “ God hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.”

I Tim. i. 9, 10. “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for finners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers, and murderers of mothers, for man-ilayers,—for men-stealers,&c. Rev. xiii. 10. “ He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity.” Rey, xviii. (On the fall of Babylon, and the causes of it) ver. 11-13

“ No man buyeth their merchandise any more: the merchandise. of gold, and filver, and saves, and souls of men.

5. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,” Gal. v. 22, 23. These are directly oppofite to fighting, quarrelling, braculing, litigiousness, revence, and railing. It is, therefore, impoflible for the holy Spirit of God to dwell in a heart which is a cage of such unclean birds—to have any connection with a soul, which indulges those tempers which are so contrary to his own holy nature. Those, therefore, who manifest such dispositions cannot be even under the convictions of the Spirit of God, and are, of consequence, unfit for any christian society. Col. iii. 12, 13. “ Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bow.' els of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longfuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any ; even as Christ forgave you, fo also do ye.”

Tit. jii, 1, 2. "Put them in mind--to be no

« PreviousContinue »