Page images
PDF
EPUB

all the evil which takes place, in they embrace a distinct class of a fubferviency to the best good of practical duties, and have been the intelligent system ? But when usually named positive; a sepathey think of the Father of lights, rate view of them may be benefiand view him at the head of the cial. universe, and consider the innu Christianity is distinguished merable good and perfect gifts from other religions, by several inwhich he hath bestowed and is ftitutions not to be found in any daily bestowing, and the immen- other religious systems. These, fity of good which he hath promif- although often considered as not ed, or revealed it to be his pur- bearing any original relation to pose, yet to bestow or effe&t their object, will be found when when they contemplate his glori- duly considered, as being well ous character, his infinite under-adapted to the nature and ends standing, knowledge and wisdom, of the Christian religion, and to his absolute omniscience and al- render the system ftill more permighty power, his infinite justice fect. and righteousness, goodness and These institutions are the Chriftruth, grace and faithfulness--when tian ministry ; the visible church they consider this all-sufficient and with its officers and discipline ; the absolutely perfect God as sitting on Christian fabbath ; and the facrathe throne, and doing as he pleases ments of the new testament, viz. in heaven and earth, working all Baptism and the Lord's supper. things after the counsel of his will, i. The Christian ministry. for accomplishing the purposes of This office was instituted by his own infinitely wise and benev-Christ, just before his ascension olent heart, affuring us that he to glory, after he had prepared can and will do all his pleasure ; his apoftles for so important a serthey then fee folid ground and find vice. “ Go ye, said he, into all abundant source of support, com- the world, and preach the gospel fort and joy. In the view and be to every creature.”-“ Go teach lief of this God at the head of all nations, baptizing them in the the universe, and that he chang. name of the Father, of the Son, eth not, they are assured that all and of the Holy Ghoft; teachwill end well, in the greatest glo- ing them to observe all things, ry and happiness of his kingdom, whatsoever I have commanded notwithftanding all present dark you. And lo, I am with you and dismal appearances ; and that alway even unto the end of the such as trust in him are safe, and world.” These were to commit will finally triumph over every evil, the preaching of the gospel to and find complete, everlasting hap- faithful men who should be able piness in his eternal kingdom. to teach others, and they again ASTHENES. to those who should succeed

them under protection of the ReHarmony of Christianity. deemer's gracious promise just re(Concluded from p. 209.)

peated, to the end of time.

The office and work of an evanPART IV.

gelift, and that of a pastor or The Institutions of Christianity. bihop are of the fame general na

ELIGIOUS inftitutions ture. The evangelist may act as are indeed practical, but a bishop when properly called,

R

and the bishop may also do the united with one heart in the faith, work of an evangelift, when the as it is Chrift, conftitute his invisi interest of Chritianity requires ble church. Believers on earth him. The appropriate work of constitute the church militant ; an evangelift is to preach the the faints in heaven conftitute the gospel, administer baptism, gather church triumphant. believers into a Christian society, The institutions of religion, and administer to them the Lord's celebrated in the former, are desupper. The work of the bishop signed and adapted for the conprimarily respects the overfight of version of finners, and the edifiá particular church, meeting in cation of saints, till they all come one place, for divine worship and in the unity of the faith and of the ordinances.

knowledge of the Son of God, It is required that evangelists unto a perfect man, unto the mea. or missionaries be men eminent in sure of the stature of the fulness the knowledge and faith of the of Christ. In the church on earth gospel, in the Christian temper, the Chriftian discipline is to be or graces of the Spirit, and of exercised, for the recovery of such superior abilities and attain those who fall into heresy or imments in knowledge and in minis. morality; this however is not a terial gifts and accomplishments, difcipline enforced by any corpoas to be well able to teach others, ral or pecuniary punishments, but and lead the public devotional ex- is a discipline of persuasion and ercises, and whose life and manners reproof, flowing from brotherly do honor to Christianity ; and love, and the spirit of Chriftianity they must have a good report in general. In this duty and lafrom those who are without. bor the churches are to affift each

2. The visible church with its other, when duly called, as the officers and difcipline.

case may require. If all proper This holy society is instituted labor to reclaim the erring brother, by the authority of Christ. “On prove ineffectual, and he appears this rock, said he, will I build to be irreclaimable, after the bemy church, and the gates of hell coming exercise of brotherly pashall not prevail against it.” A tience and long suffering, he must visible church of Christ, meeting be separated from the communion in one place, for divine ordinances, of the church, as not being under is constituted of members, each the influence of gospel motives making a credible profession of the and arguments, and to prevent faith of the gospel, and submit- the influence of his fio to the inting to its institutions and com- jury of others. mands. All of them apparently In these churches are to be united in the faith, the spirit and placed stated bishops or paftors, practice of Christianity; and all whose office and duty have been chus diftinguished from the world, already mentioned. though belonging to many differ Deacons are officers in particent Christian congregations, or ular churches, whose official duties having different opinions and prac- lie in assisting the pastor when tices in the non-effentials of reli.needful, in services to the afflictgion, constitute the visible catho-ed, in fupplying the wants of the lic church of Christ on earth:

: needy from the collections of the And all those in heaven and earth church, and in providing for the

Lord's table and distributing the thermore, in the Christian fyftem, facramental elements.

many things are contained which 3. The Christian fabbath is a we know to be true, either intuidivine institution to be a day of tively or by deduction hort and holy rest, in thankful commemo plain ; and we clearly perceive ration of the rest of Jesus from his the connection between these, and labors, by his resurrection from the other branches of the scheme, the dead. It is to be spent in not equally obvious in themselves, the exercises of religion in private, or admitting proof by so short a in the public folemnities of divine deduction. worship, the ministrations of the From the preceding investigagospel, and the celebration of the tion, it appears that the whole gospel sacraments, baptism and system rests on a few primary the Lord's supper.

truths, either intuitively evident, 4. These facraments were in- or by short and easy deduction. stituted by Christ, to impress our Thus, if we admit our most minds by such fignificantemblems, common mental perceptions, we with a suitable sense of our dedi- know there is an important differcation to him, on the terms of ence between pleasure and pain ; the gospel ; our faith in his atpne- the first is the object of defire and ment ; our trust in his fufficien- the latter of aversion. That percy; our union to each other, cipient beings should be happy and to all his disciples; and our and that the greatest sum of haphope in his salvation.

piness should exift, is desirable, As these institutions of the rather than that a small degree of gospel are passing in review, we happiness in an individual, should cannot but reflect, how admira- take place at the expense of the bly they are adapted to their end; greater happiness of many; and how they all point to the same finally, that union to the best and iffue, and agree with each other, greatest felicity of percipient exand with Christianity in all its istence is the perfection of a raparts already considered.

tional mind ; and the opposite to Conclufion.

this, the depravity of such a mind,

These truths are so obvious as not While many inferences, which to be questioned. might be made from the preceding By this rule therefore, every differtation, are passed in silence, character and every scheme of rethe reader is requested to give his ligion and morality may be fairly serious attention to those which tried. Is it friendly to intelligent follow.

happiness on the whole, and in 1. The harmony of the Chrif- the final issue? tian religion is a good evidence of The fyftem of truth which has its truth and divinity, Agree- been stated will bear this test. Its ment in the various parts of a com- final object is the highest rational plicated system is an important felicity to the moral fyftem; the argument for the truth of the mean to effect it is the union of whole, because truth is ever con- rational minds, or general benevfistent with itself; but it is not olence. We have feen the feverso with falschood ; in a complex al parts of the Christian revelafyftem of this, inconsistencies and tion to meet and unite in this ; contradictions will abound. Fur- and all the great events in the moVol. III. No. 7.

LI

ral system ultimately rendered sub- | it; theagreement of the parts with fervient to it. The mediatorial each other and with the whole, system is the great work of God and the perfection of the whole, for its accomplishment. With

With impress the serious and contemplathis in view, we see each branch tive mind, with the fullest conof divine truth connected with vi&tion of the truth and divinity others, and all forming a perfect of the system, its adaptedness to and consistent whole, in a connec- its end, and the existence and pertion of the parts which is indif- fection of its divine author.foluble.

“ The heavens, indeed, declare his The Christian system may be glory and the firmament his hancompared to a great chain de- dy work ; day unto day uttereth scending from heaven, confifting speech, and night unto night of numerous links, all connected sheweth knowledge of God.”. with each other and with the But the Christian system exhibits whole ; or, to vary the fimilitude, his character and perfection with to a magnificent edifice, which still greater certainty and clearthough necessarily complex, is ness. How fadly debased by Atill composed of the best materi- vain philosophy, and the pride of als, and built by an accomplished science, falsely so called, is the architect. The attentive specta- mind which, with this divine fyftor, in contemplating the building, tem before it, can be blind to its is impressed with a view of the truth and beauty, and to the exexcellence of the materials, and istence and perfection of its divine with the exact construction and author. the exquisite manner in which 2. The truth and divinity of they are connected, the suitable Christianity are evident from its niefs of each part to the place it final object, and the means emfills, and to the beauty, strength ployed to obtain it. and perfection of the whole. The final object is the highest He admires the harmony and pro- perfection of the moral fyftem, in portion of the parts with each the blessed union and communion other, and with the whole. But of all holy beings. he most of all, contemplates with The adorable trinity in unity, delight, the adaptedness of the in the ever bleffed God, is the building for utility, to the object source and pattern of all union for which it was erected, especial and communion in holy intelligenly if this object be important. ces. The final design of the mediaIn viewing the edifice he will be torial system, and of all subordiled to profound admiration of the nate divine operations, is to bring builder and admire the wisdom, all holy angels and saints into the taste and forethought which pro- nearest union to God and each jected it, and feel the same con- other, in conformity to the triune viction of the ability of the archi- Deity. This is effected by a partect, as of the existence and work ticipation, adequate to the nature iranship of t!re edifice.

and capacity of cach, in the Holy Comparing great things with Ghoft, with each other, and with small, we may say, the Christian the Fatirer and the Son. system is like this building. The The scripture doctrine clearly excellenceof each part, and its suita- imports that the Holy Spirit is bleness to the place and end afligned given to all the children of Gods.

-20 abide in them forever. By this one in us." Again in a discourse they have joint participation in the on the final design of the mediasame good ; in this also, they torial work of Christ : “ That in have fellowship with the Father the dispensation of the fulness of and the Son, as has been stated. times, he might gather together

Our blessed Lord taught this in one all things in Christ, both doctrine to Nicodemus when he which are in heaven and which are faid, “ Except a man be born on earth.” All who are acquaintagain—of the Spirit-he cannot ed with the holy scriptures know see the kingdom of God.”— that they abound with passages of Again, “ If ye, being evil, know like import, and abundantly prove, how to give good gifts to your that the great end of the Chrifchildren, how much more shall tian system is to effect this happiyour heavenly Father give his fying union and communion, beHoly Spirit to those who ask tween all holy intelligent beings, him?"

through the Holy Spirit, in conFrom these and many other formity to the blesed union and {cripture declarations it appears, communion in the triune Deity: that the Holy Spirit is the great And that this is effected through summary of the good bestowed the mediatorial work of Christ, apon the redeemed, and that he plied by the agency of the Holy abides with them as a principle of Spirit, by whom all the redeemed divine life, action and enjoyment. are united in the love of God and This indwelling spirit produceth each other, and prepared for the in the heart, love to God, to most perfect and lasting felicity in Christ and to each other, and thus the kingdom of God. Thus conunites all its subjects to the king ftituting a glorious church, in dom of God, and effects in them which the divine good pleasure a joint participation of spiritual shall forever rest. good ; especially, communion That disposition of the moral with God, and each other, agree- system which ultimately effects its bly to the following apostolic dec-highest perfection, by the best laration, “ That which we have means, must be supremely good, seen and heard, declare we unto and its author must be divine. you, that ye may have fellowship But such is the disposition of it in with us ; and truly our fellowihip the mediatorial plan, and such will is with the father and with his son be its final issue. The mediatoriJesus Chrift." Of the same im- al plan must therefore be divine, port is the apostolic benediction, and the revelation containing it " The grace of our Lord Jesus must have descended from heaven. Christ, the love of God, and the 3. This subject teaches us, why communion of the Holy Ghost be a life of practical obedience to with you all.”

the divine commands, is the bestand The two following scriptural crowning evidence of the genuinepassages strongly express the ness of our religion, and that we union of all the redeemed to each shall be finally faved. other and to God, through this This is frequently mentioned joint participation of the Holy in the scriptures in this view, as Ghost": “ That they all may be that, without whichit cannot apone, as thou Father art in me and pear that we are the disciples of I in thee, that they also may be Chrift, that we live in obedience

« PreviousContinue »