« PreviousContinue »
many inquirers have been stumbled, how many sinners have been more and more hardened in sin, and how many churches have been all but ruined, by the bad tempers of professors. Some who bear the Christian name, some who have stood high in office and been rich in gifts, have been the walking antipodes of many graces mentioned by the apostle as necessary marks of the Christian character. (See 1 Cor. xiii. ; Rom. xii. ; Phil. ii. 1-3, &c.) Such things are often excused; but be sure that they leave deep traces of evil on the soul, the family, the Church, and the world.
None of us think as we ought how much harm one person may do in a church, The story of Achan has an important moral lesson for all corporate bodies. Oh, it is a humbling and awful thought, that a person destitute of every great quality is yet capable of doing a great mischief. A common soldier was able to throw a brand in the temple at Jerusalem, and thus burn it down. A madman could apply a match to York Minster, and in a few hours destroy the work of ages. It is something like this in spiritual things. A state of things which, under God's blessing, has been induced by the labours and prayers of many Chris. tians, may be seriously injured by the pride and self-will of some headstrong, passinoate man. Or, what is more sad still, a child of God, yielding to temptation, may do the work of Satan, and labour to pull down what he has helped to build up.
These and similar considerations should induce much watchfulness and prayer if there is outward prosperity. God only can guard and keep us from evil ; our natural tendencies are to decay and ruin. But he will not forsake the work of his own hands. He will“ keep the city" that cries for his aid. He will “ build the house" where his help is sought. His presence is the only repellant of decay, and that he will bless his praying people with. Nor should it be for. gotten that he can rebuild the waste places of Zion (Isa. lxi. 3). Churches have risen again from an apparently hopeless ruined state, and flourished more than ever. Therefore, let none despair. If conscience says to any (and if the charge be ever so true), “ You are the cause of much of this mischief; woe unto him by whom the offence cometh ; " still to such we say, Turn to Him who is ready to forgive. Give glory to him by a frank and full confession. “ Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously." Think of David, and then imitate him. Though he had given much occasion for the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, yet he obtained mercy, and the Spirit of grace indited in his heart a prayer which God grant that we all who have come so short, and have so many sins of omission and commission to mourn over, may find in our heart to pray before him, “ Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee. ... Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion; build thou the walls of Jerusalem." God answered this prayer of David, put again into his hand a tuneful harp, and used him as an instrument of blessing; and why may we not expect to be thus blessed of a gracious God! Then, if the Lord reveal to us his mercy, and again renew our strength, it may be also said, “ Behold this self-same thing, that ye sorrowed after à godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehe+ ment desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge !” When God builds up "the ruined places,” and makes a church to shine in the beauty of holiness, he will also make it strong for defence against the foe, and endow it with a power for victory, A prosperous church will possess somewhat of the love of an affectionate family, seeking each other's good, and somewhat of the zeal of a patriotic army, seeking the overthrow of the foe ; and certainly, while a church is loving and aggressive, it is the furthest removed from ruin.
Si e In conclusion, if we would be wise unto that which is good, and simple margin, harmless') concerning evil” (Rom. xvi. 19); if we would exert a blessed, and not an injurious, influence on all around us, let us diligently and prayerfully study the following infallible counsel :-“ But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” Thus acting, though weak in ourselves, and surrounded by evil influences, we shall, through the might of Divine grace, be able to “overcome evil with good,” and thus be “the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a city set upon a hill that cannot be hid.”
THE DUTIES AND PROSPECTS OF THE BAPTISTS.
BY THE REV. W. WALTERS. The Christian Church is at present, and , and social position, or our usefulness, we has been for a long time past, divided into feel that we have no cause to be ashamed. several sections. All these agree in main As to our antiquity, we are older than taining the great verities of the Gospel, but all the sects. While some trace their differ from one another in their views on origin to John Wesloy, and others to the bubordinate matters of faith, polity, and ejected Nonconformists-while some pride discipline. Their differences rosult partly themselves in having descended from the from degrees of spiritual illumination, early English Reformers, and others boast partly from mental diversities, partly from in their affinity to John Calvin or Martin circumstances of birth and training, and Luther, we trace our genealogy up through partly from moral infirmity. A great de all the centuries of the Christian era to sire is manifested by many persons to see Jesus Christ himself. Our origin is to be these sections amalgamated, and to witness found in the combined sources of his ex. all party views and party distinctions de. ample and command. stroyed. With some, this is a pure longing As to our orthodoxy, we believe in the for Christian union; with others, it is existence of three equal persons in the merely a wish to see the destruction of all Godhead—the Father, the Son, and the views and distinctions save their own. But Holy Ghost ; in the universal corruption of the time has not yet arrived for the desired human nature, and its consequent exposure amalgamation; it would neither be prac. to eternal ruin; in the necessity and suffiticable nor desirable. The Church is not | ciency of the sufferings and death of Jesus ripe for such a state ; and to force it upon Christ as an atonement for the sins of men; her in her immature condition would be to in the justification of sinners before God, exalt charity at the expense of truth. The on the sole ground of faith in Christ ; in disciples of Christ have much to learn be the necessity and efficiency of the Holy fore the prayers of their Master be an. Ghost to renew and sanctify all who beswered—“That they all may be one." | lieve; in the essential importance of a holy Till the arrival of that period, it is the duty life, and the performance of good works, as of all Christians to study diligently the evidences of the existence of faith; in the Lord's will to be true to their convictions inspiration of the Scriptures and their -to love one another for Christ's sake-to Divine authority ; in the perpetual obliga"follow after the things which make for tion of baptism and the Lord's supper ; in peace"--and to endeavour to teach one the general resurrection, and the final another “the way of God more perfectly." judgment; and in the overlasting destruc
Among existing denominations, the Bap tion of the impenitent, and the everlasting tists have a place; and whether we are happiness of the righteous. The soundness regarded in the light of our antiquity, our of these beliefs is attested by almost all orthodoxy, our numbers, our intelligence evangelical Christians throughout the world. As to our numbers, these are sufficiently , filling the world with blessing; and we are great to justify us in ranking ourselves in the van still. We were among the with the larger bodies of professing Chris earliest assertors of the rights of conscience, tians. In the various churches in this and are among the most intelligent and and other countries practising the immer fearless advocates of those rights now. sion of believers only, there is a member: Among the first to send the Gospel to ship of nearly two millions. To these heathen nations, to translate the Scriptures must be added a much larger number who | into their various languages, and to secure attend our places of Worship, and sympa for those Scriptures a wide circulation, our thise with our views ; and also the rapidly missions are at this day amongst the most increasing number who, convinced that it guccessful in the work of the world's evanis their duty to be immersed as a profession gelisation. Every movement for the politiof their faith, observe the Divine command, cal enfranchisement, the social elevation, but remain in membership with the various and the spiritual regeneration of mankind, churches to which they have hitherto be is our debtor. longed. Thus it is evident that we are I have thus rapidly sketched our history, “ not the least among the princes of principles, and position. I wish now to Juda."
place before you, more fully, our duties and As to our intelligence and social position, prospects. these may be estimated by the facts that
I. OUR DUTIES. we have about sixty colleges and theological institutions for the education of our minis. 1. It is our duty to understand our prina try; that we have upwards of seventy ciples. Among us, as among all other periodicals specially devoted to the en l bodies of Christians, there are many whose lightenment of our people, ranging from
connection with us does not result from the quarterly review to the weekly news. clear, strong conviction; but rather from paper; that from our ranks have risen education, family considerations, feeling, some of the most profound thinkers, the or some other insufficient cause. Now most learned scholars, the most popular it is highly important, especially as we writers, the most eloquent preachers, the differ so greatly in our views and practice most able theologians, the most earnest and touching baptism from all other denominasuccessful advocates of religious and civil tions, that we should distinctly understand liberty, the most able leaders of public on what our conduct rests, what it exthought and action that have adorned the presses, and what it is designed to teach. Church. The names of John Foster, John We owe this to the truth, to our Lord, to Gill, William Carey, Alexander Carson, ourselves, and to those who differ from us. John Bunyan, Robert Hall, Andrew Fuller, An intelligent grasp of our views will afford Joseph Hughes, Roger Williams, William us much inward satisfaction will fortify Knibb, Henry Havelock, and other worthies, us alike against the arguments and sneers whom time fails me to mention, will at of opponents — will stimulate us to an once occur to your memory. These men earnest advocacy and diffusion of the views would have been a crown of honour to any we hold, and will carry conviction home to denomination. They were part of our the hearts of those to whom we address strength and renown while they were with ourselves. The facilities for aiding you in us, and now that they have departed, their examining the foundation of your belief glory remains, like the golden grandeur of are ample, and within your reach. You the setting sun. These have their worthy have in your hands the word of God; and successors, whom it would be a pleasure to all that is necessary to make you intellipraise, if praises were not reserved for the gent Baptists is a careful perusal of that dead; so that there is not a movement of word. any size and influence, either political, 2. It is our duty faithfully to represent social, literary, or religious, which does not our principles. I need not remind you that count among its most able and influential we are misrepresented ; and that in several sapporters members of our body. In this ways. It is said that we make too much let us glorify the grace of God.
of baptism—that we give it undue promi. It is clear, then, that as to our general nence-and that we attach to it too much, usefulness, we come behind none of our importance. This charge comes with a bad brethren. We have led the van in all the grace from those who prefer it. Moreover, great enterprises of modern times that are we deny it altogether. I sometimes fear
that in avoiding one extreme we go to the they arrive at years of accountability are other, and make too little of baptism. At saved, be they the children of Christians, all events, we never teach the doctrine of Jews, Mohammedans, Pagans, or Infidels; baptismal regeneration-we never say that and we rest our faith on the words of Him baptism washes away sin, either original or who said, " Suffer little children, and for. actualwe 'never represent it as instru. bid them not to come unto me ; for of such mental in the implantation of the seed of is the kingdom of heaven." grace in the heart-we never talk of its We are still further charged by some placing persons in the covenant, neither do with a love of singularity and a desire to we ever call it a seal of the covenant-we differ from other Christians. Our reply never hasten to administer it to a dying is, that we have ventured to differ from no child, lest, perchance, that child should pass | one-we have introduced no change. The into eternity in an endangered condition. changes have been introduced by others. We attach no saving efficacy to the water We are Baptists because we dare not be you see in that font, and in which our anything else. Love to our Master-refriends are about to be immersed as a pro verence for truth-fidelity to conscience fession of their faith in Christ. All we loyalty to duty-all combine to make us teach concerning baptism is, that it is a | what we are. command given by our Lord, and that, in In glancing at these misrepresentations our obedience to that command, we profess to which we are subject-and they are only our faith in him-express our love to him a few of the many in circulation concerning -symbolize our death to sin and our resur us—I have endeavoured to correct them; rection to a life of holiness, and in all this and it is your duty also to embrace every render " the answer of a good conscience opportunity for their correction. See to towards God."
it that you clearly, scripturally, expound It is said that we make a person's obedi. your views; so that if any who know you enco to Christ depend upon the quantity of still misrepresent you, they shall not be water used in baptism; and hence we able to plead ignorance as an excuse. sometimes hear a good deal of unmeaning 3. It is our duty faithfully and earnestly talk about much water and little water. to advocate our principles. Some persons Those who indulge in this kind of observa appear so liberal in sentiment, and so large tion entirely misunderstand us. There is in charity, that they seem to admire everysomething far more momentous involved body's creed except that which is nomiin this matter than the quantity of water, nally their own. Some are afraid to be or the way in which that water shall be positive in the utterance of their sentiments, administered. It is a question as to whether | lest they should be called dogmatic, and or not the authority of Christ shall be are too timid even to express them, lest supreme-as to whether or not the tra they should be considered bigots. I have ditions of men are to supersede the re known Baptists almost apologize for being vealed will of God-as to whether or such, and endeavour to attribute the nó it is just, right, useful, or even calamity over which they mourn to cirseemly, that when Christ has appointed one cumstances beyond their control. I believe thing, his followers should set it aside and better things of you. Having espoused substitute another thing in its place; and our cause from conviction, justify your as to whether or not membership in the | attachment to it by your consecration to Church of Christ is spiritual, and depend- its welfare. Support its institutions, and ent on personal convictions, or ceremonial, 1 let them have your largest and most cheerand to be imposed by the choice of others. ful gifts. Yield it your personal activities,
It is said that Baptists have no love for and esteem it no small honour to be emchildren ; and some go so far as to accuse ployed in its service. Through the instruus of denying their salvation. Our answer mentality of books and tracts endeavour is that we love children as much as those to diffuse its sentiments; and by personal who baptize them, and entertain a more conversation with your friends seek to charitable opinion of their future condition convince them of the scripturalness of your than many who impose upon them this cere views. You may be charged with attemptmony. We do not believe that a little child's ing to make proselytes : & sufficient reply eternal happiness is secured by baptism, or will be that you are teaching the duties of that it can be endangered by the neglect of it. Christian discipleship. We believe that all children who die before . A great responsibility rests on those Baptists whom Divine Providence has so situated should, however, at once display placed in localities where our faith and 1 their colours : and working for themselves practice are little known. Too often such outwards, they should bring all the necespersons think it their duty to unite with ary appliances into play for spreading their churches of other denominations; and by sentiments. If two or three can unite, this means they hide the light under a they should hold meetings for worship and bushel which should display its radiant | instruction, and as often as possible secure lustre amid the surrounding darkness. | the services of some well-known minister Many circumstances may contribute to of the denomination to preach for them. such a course of conduct-a desire for Thus they should continue diligently to Christian communion-an unwillingness to | labour, and patiently to wait for enlargeinterfere with existing religious societies in ment. It was in this way that our printhe neighbourhood-a dread of taking the ciples were first planted in many of those lead and the responsibility of establishing spots where now they are most flourishing a new cause-even a love of ease, and a and fruitful; and it can only be in this reluctance to contribute the necessary funds way, humanly speaking, that they are to be for the establishment and maintenance of an planted in most of those districts where as infant church and congregation. Persons 1 yet they have not taken root.
(To be continued.)
FIRE, LIGHT, AND LOVE.
BY TIE REV. . UPTON DAVIS.
“ Our God is a coilguming firo,” God is light."--"God is love." 1. Our readiest notion of power is, that it can destroy. Though a very inade quate conception of it, it is almost universal. At first thought, the warrior, with his swift, felling stroke, seems to have more power than the cautious statesman, with his steady, accumulating policy; the sportsman stalking deer in the Highlands, than the Herefordshire farmer improving his cattle, and the keenly critical hearer, than the clever and careful speaker wbose discourse he “takes to pieces.”
The same feeling runs through the Bible, especially the historical parts. The strong man is Samson, not Moses : David the king is more honoured than David the poet. Had Solomon been a warrior we should have found his wisdom hidden beneath the glories of the battle-field. The Israelites were more deeply impressed with God's power when the fire ran along the ground and slew them, than when he rained the manna round their tents. The revolted tribes and perverse Ahab were more impressed with God's power when the fire licked up Elijah's sacrifice, and when the lightning consumed the bands of fifties, than the woman was by her unfailing cruse of oil, or Elijah himself by his bird-carried food. There is perhaps a reason for this way of apprehending power, in the fact that in construction the object grows before us ; in destruction it vanishes. In construction something comes between us and the Maker; in destruction something is removed. In the one we have the “ hidings of power;" in the other the revelation of power. If we look down into the earth and read the records of geology, we have a stronger sense of Divine power than if we gaze at the stars. Notwithstanding astronomical discourses, and the 1st chapter of Genesis, our conception of God's might is mainly derived from “ the desolations he hath wrought in the earth." There is no element so destructive as fire: it becomes the symbol of ruin, and the figure of Divine wrath. The power of the Almighty is most manifest when we read of “his fiery indignation which shall