Page images

I will dwell in them, and walk in thon; and I will be their God; and they shall be my people. Wberefore come out from among

them, and be ye separate, faith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and


shall be my fons and daughters, faith the Lord Almighty.”



Of Dress.

[ocr errors]

Quell HOULD' we insist on the rules concerning

dress ? Anfrv. By all means.

This is no time to give any encouragement to fuperfluity of apparel. Therefore give no tickets to any, till they have left off fuperfluous ornaments. In order to this, 1. Let every one who has the charge of a circuit, read the thoughts upon dress, at least once a year in every large society. 2. In visiting the clases, be very mild, but very strict.

3. tilow of no exempt care: Better one fuffer than many. of C22 2 tichetato any that wear high heads, enormous bonnets, rufiles, or rings.

N O T E S.

As our one aim, in all our economy and ministerial labours, is to raise a holy people, crucified to the world, and alive to God, we cannot allow of any thing which has an immediate tendency to defeat our main design, and to strengthen and puff up the carnal mind. Few things, perhaps, have a greater tendency to this than gay apparel, which is expressly and repeatedly forbidden by the fcriptures. We endeavour to follow the Word of God; and whilft we have that on our fide, we must go on, and leave all consequences to the Lord. I Tim. ii. ?-10. “I willin like manner alo, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with fame-facedness and fobriety: not with broidered hair, or golt, or pearls, or colly array; but (which becometh women profelling godliness) with good works.” 1 Pet. iii. 3---5. “Whore adorning, let it not be that oitzeard adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel : but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet fpirit, which is in the


fight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time, the boly women also, wbo trusted in God, adorned themselves," &c. Ifai. iii. 16—24. “ Moreover, the Lord faith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched-forth necks and wanton eyes, walking, and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet : Therefore, the LORD will finite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zi

- In that day the LORD will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, the chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, the bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the head-bands, and the tablets, and the ear-rings, the rings, and nose-jewels, the changeable fuits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping-pins, the glaffes, and the fine lipen, and the hoods, and the vails. And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell, there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle, a rent; and instead of well-set hair, baldness; and inItead of a stomacher, a girding of fackcloth; and burning instead of beauty." In this last quotation we have, 1. the crimes: of luxury and wanton haughtiness described ; and, 2. the punishment denounced, with which God would pursue these crimes. There is a peculiar emphasis in referring these vices of haughtiness, luxury, wantonness, and the love of fuperfluous ornament, to the daughters of Sion, that is, to the matrons and virgins of the holy city, chosen by God the hater of luxury and vanity; a mountain and city, which those daughters' of Abraham inhabited, whom, above all others, outward adorning became not; -the: plairing of the bair, &c. but the bidden. man of the heart, modesty and humility.


Of bringing to Trial, finding Guilty, and re

proving, suspending, or excluding disorderly Perfons from Society and Church. Pri

vileges. Quest. How ball a suspealed member be brought to

trial? Answ. Before the society of which he is a member, or a select number of them, in the presence of a bishop, elder, deacon, or preacher, in the following manner; Let the accused and accuser be brought face to face :

[ocr errors]

but if this cannot be done, let the next best evidence be. procured. If the accused person be found guilty, and the crime be such as is expressly forbidden by the word of God, sufficient to exclude a person from the king, dom of grace and glory, and to make hiin a subject of wrath and hell, let the minister or preacher who has the charge of the circuit, expel him. If he evade a trial by absenting himself after sufficient notice given him, and the circumitances of the accusation be strong and presumptive, let him be elte:med as guilty, and be accordingly excluded. Witneffes from without, fhal! not be rejected.

But in cases of neglect of duties of any kind, imprudent conduct, indulging sinful tempers or words, or disobedience to the order and discipline of che churchi,

First, let private reproof be given by a preacher or leader; and if there be an acknowledgement of the fault and proper humiliation, the person may remain on trial. On a second offence, the preacher or leader may take one or two faithful friends. On a third of fence, let the case be brought before the fociety or a select number; and if there be no sign of real humiliation, the offender must be cut off.

If there be a murmur or complaint from any excluded person in any of the above-mentioned instances, that justice has not been done, he shall be allowed an appeal to the next quarterly meeting; and the majority of the minillers, travelling and local preachers, exhorters, stewards and leaders present, shall finally determine the case.

After such forms of trial and expulsion, such persons fhall have no privileges of society or of facraments in our church, without contrition, confeffion, and proper trial.

N. B. If a member of our church shall be clearly convicted of endeavouring to low diffentions in any of our societies, by inveighing against either our doctrines or discipline, such person fo offending shall be first re

proved by the senior minister or preacher of his circuit, and, if he afterwards perfist in such pernicious practicesy he shall be expelled the society.

N o T E S.

The present section requires a very full explication : not because fcripture and reason do not fully discover to us the truth on the present subject, but because many have objected to our discipline in the instance before us.

The grand point to be determined, is this: whether the final judgment of an offender in respect to both the guilt and the cenfure, should be invested in the minister, or the people. We shall therefore take a view of this part of our economy, first, in the light of scripture, and, secondly, in that of reason.

First, in the light of scripture. Here we must confine ouro selves of course to the New Testament, as living under the chriftian dispensation. 1. The first scripture we shall consider is the declaration of our Saviour in Matt. xviii. 15-17.“ Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” These words were addressed to the apostles, and through thein to all the ministers of Christ to the end of the world. This is evident from the words immediately following the quotation, and which are a continuation of the fame paragraph, and could hot belong to the private members of a church.

The firit step then which is to be taken, is to tell the offender of his fault in private without any witness. Here is the secret reproof of the minister himself. But if he will not hear and amend, the second step is, that the minister take with him two or three witnesses. Here is the reproof of the minister before witnelles. “ And if he shall neglect to hear them," shall these two er three witnesses proceed to exclude him ? No: they have no fuch authority: but “ tell it unto the church." This is the third step. Has the church then any authority to punish him? No: their whole authority lies in advising and reproving him.

“ But if," after such advice and reproof," he neglect to hear the church, let bim he UNTO THEE as an heathen man and a publican. Can any one imagine that the minister only is to treat the offender thus; and that the rest of the church are to give him the right hand of fellowhip? This cannot be. The kter is undoubtedly to exclude

kim from the communion of the church. This is the last steps Then follow immediately those words of our Lord, “ Whatfoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatfoever ye shall loose on earth, fhall be loosed in heaven: which words, as we before observed; confine the power to ministers, whose church-censures as far as they are consistent with the word of God (for we cannot suppofe the authority goes further) shall be confirmed and fupported in heaven : and the faithful ministers of God, who have been more or lefs invested with the superintendency of the church have found this promise verified. The latter words cannot be supposed to relate to an eternal exclusion from glory, for that would preclude the necessity of the day of judgment in respect to those so excommunicated. But we repeat, Here is not a word said of the church's authority either to judge or to cenfure. On the contrary, the whole authority is expressly delivered into the hands of the minister.

But we may add, that this paffage speaks of offences, which have not yet brought a public disgrace on the church of God. The church or fociety of which the offender is a member, is not even supposed to be generally acquainted with the fault till after the failure of the firt and second attempt for his reformation, Surely, if the offence be of a scandalous nature, and has already disgraced the cause of God by its public notoriety, the offender ought to be immediately removed, after clear conviction, for the honour of God and his cause: much more fo still, if the offender has been found guilty of some grofs crime. For could any one think of having communion with a murderer, adulterer, or thief, even for a moment, though the crime was not known to any but the offender and himself: and so we may observe of many other crimes.

But it may be urged, that the offence mult first be mentioned to the church, before the offender can be fcripturally excluded. “Tell it to the church,” says our Lord. And so we do. It is merely for the sake of convenience, that in large societies we tell it only to a committee or representation of the society, or do abundantly more, even make them the witnefses of the whole trial. But if such societies were to defire it, we would tell the whole unto the church at large. But still we must declare, from the plain sense of the word of God, that our Lord invests the minister with the whole authority both of judgment and censure,

2. Another fcripture worthy of confideration on this subject, is i Cor. V. 1-5.“ It is reported commonly that there is fora nication among you, and fuch fornication as is not so much as named amongst the gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourried, that he that hath done this deed, might be taken away from among you. For I verily as absent in body, but present in spirit, HAVE

« PreviousContinue »