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Theological Review.





To the Editor of the New Evangelical | remove the veil which hangs upon their hearts. So must it likewise seem strange, that the favoured inhabitants of Europe should have been for ages so lukewarm and indifferent towards the eternal welfare of their brethren the heathen, millions of whom have been, and still are immersed in the grossest darkness. Such unfeeling hardness of which we have been guilty, is altogether incompatible with the benevolent influence of the gospel. But though we are warranted to speak so highly in commendation of Christian exertion in supporting the hospitable institutions of the age, yet there are various utterly objectionable practices conspicu

THOSE who survey with impartiality the state of the Churches or Religious Societies existing in this Nation, at the present, must unavoidably be struck with an agreeable surprise. The general concurrence with which they cooperate in disseminating the word of Life, and the active zeal they manifest in supporting institutions for instructing the ignorant and reclaiming the vicious, discovers something unknown to former ages; and demonstrates a singular interposition of Providence. That those who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, should feel dis-ous in the proceedings of professposed to lead others to the only spring of real comfort, is quite congenial to the dictates of Godliness, and the tender feelings of humanity. To view, even superficially, the awful ruin of sin in alienating from God and exposing to endless perdition, must be sufficient to awaken the liveliest sensations of pity and compassion ined for the purpose of edificationthe breasts of all who are followers of Him who went about doing good. It is almost wonderful, that persons professing to be every man's neighbour, should have so long beheld the scattered descendants of Abraham sunk in sin and ignorance, without any attempt to


ing Christians. Their departures from the primitive order of Christ's house, which present themselves to public observation, ought not to be viewed as trivial or unworthy of regard, for they stand connected with serious impediments in the way of religious prosperity. If all the institutions of Jesus are enjoin

if they tend in their very spirit to enlarge the acquaintance of Christ's followers with heavenly and divine things, the neglect of any of them must be a matter of deep regret. One of the several imperfections to which these remarks have respect is the common mode of electing

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planted by the Apostles. There is no doubt but these Seminaries of learning have given birth to men of high eminence in literature and general knowledge, whose attain

and appointing Bishops or Elders points been destructive of that in our congregational churches. simplicity and unassuming meekHad we not discarded the obliga-ness which adorned the Churches tory nature of Papal traditions, and likewise exploded the vain pretensions of the church to decree Rites and Ceremonies, we might plead some shadow of excuse, in the instance referred to, though delu-ments have turned to great advansive and erroneous. But having adopted that substantial maxim, Scripture the only rule of faith and practice, we stand chargeable with the most palpable inconsistency.

tage in the defence of sacred truth. They have cherished genius, and snatched from oblivion intellectual endowments, which otherwise must have remained dormant and unknown. But if we compare this In the apostolic model of church with the mischiefs which have constitution, there is no one part sprung from those Seminaries in drawn with greater exactness than fostering ministerial pride, and that which regards the office and leading men off from the order of duty of Pastors. It is a matter to Christ's house, the evils of the be lamented, that after the per- latter will far outweigh the benefits spicuous rules given to Timothy and of the former. This shews that Titus, together with that solemn human institutions designed as charge to the Ephesian Elders, coercive with the holy ordinances there should still remain such an of God, however plausible they apevident departure from those weigh- pear in the eyes of carnal reason, ty precepts. That much depends are attended with exceptions which on the regular appointment of discover their origin as antiscripOverseers in the Churches must tural. That there are very unbe unquestionable, if we consider favourable consequences to the the high responsibility that con- purity of religion, connected with nects with their office. For if we the present mode of academical view them under the character of preparation of men for the Chriswatchmen, it is needful they possess tian ministry, is but too plainly vigilance and fortitude-looking demonstrated in a number of cir upon them as stewards, they ought cumstances which might easily be to manifest faithfulness and impar-pointed out. Omitting to trace tiality-regarding them as shep-the general impression it makes on herds, love and unceasing care are the minds of many, who have been necessary-considering them as brought up in humble life-leading rulers, extensive judgment and them out into almost a different protracted experience are requisite sphere, raising them to a sort of in a high degree, that they may lofty mien and self-consequence;stand patient under affronts, and waving this, I say, let us consider continue long-suffering when pain- a few concomitant evils which apful disturbances arise. pear in the state and conduct of many of our churches. To exemplify them, we must refer to actual occurrences, many of which take place within the circle of personal acquaintance. Suppose a Church destitute of a Pastor by death, or any other cause: what is the plan generally pursued? Application is made to an Academy; if they are

It is much to be feared that the institution and prevalence of Academies have been, though undesignedly, one means of leading religious Societies from the rule of God's word, in their proceedings relative to Elders or Bishops. This devisal which must be considered as merely human, has in various

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capable of raising the required re-takers of these qualifications, in muneration, 'tis well; if not, they some degree, they cannot proceed need not expect to share in the regu- without breaking the precepts of lar means of edification. They are the Lord Jesus. After the pronow become nearly dependent on cess has gone on to the mutual these institutions for their accom- giving and accepting the invitamodation with those who engage in tion, then follows frequently a the active exercises of the Church, piece of conduct, the mode of proinstead of looking out amongst cedure in which is disgraceful to themselves for one who could the Christian name. This is the speak to edification and comfort. settling a living or benefit upon In this state they continue too the ministerial visitant. This, too, frequently a long period of time is often attended with stretching without any regular order in their and pressing on both sides the proceedings as a Church, save only question-the minister to procure the attendance on public preach- more, and the church to put him ing, which too often is of a light off with less-and it is no uncomand airy, and sometimes of such a mon thing to hear of this concluphilosophical stamp, that rather sion, that if the church does not than their minds being fed with engage to advance such a sum, the precious word of life, they have they need not expect the company nothing whereon to rest but the of the object of their choice any mysterious movements of the imagi- longer. Is such conduct as this nation which leave the understand- consistent with that disinteresteding uninformed, and consequently ness of spirit which appeared in the will unimpressed, and the af- the primitive teachers of Chrisfections partaking of the same de- tianity? Is it not prohibited by gree of carnality. After the in- the apostle Peter, when he says, tervention of a considerable length "not for filthy lucre." No such of time, some one is fixed upon as tie as this was deemed needful to likely to suit them in the depart. unite pastor and people in primiment of preaching, and so of course tive days. If a Church possessed must take upon him the office of abundance, they freely contributed Ruler or Overseer. But what now to the support of those who labouris the rule of their conduct? Have ed amongst them; but if through they taken the Epistles to Timothy poverty or affliction they were inand Titus, and examined with de- capable of doing this, then those liberation, whether the proposed in whom the fear of God predoperson possesses the qualifications minated over the love of this world, indispensably required there? too willingly wrought with their hands, frequently this is altogether neg- and this was made a matter of lected. The greater part of the command by the apostle. Hence church perhaps know very little of that bright example set before the the person, but by seeing and assembled Elders at Miletus; Ye hearing him in the pulpit. Con- yourselves know that these hands trary to this, they ought collec- have ministered to my necessities, tively to be acquainted with his and to them that were with me. private demeanour, and to know I have shewed you how that so whether his temper and disposi- labouring ye ought to support the tion, answer the requisition of the weak, and to remember the words Divine Law, "not soon angry, of the Lord Jesus, how he said, not self-willed, not greedy of filthy "It is more blessed to give than lucre." Unless a Church be per- to receive." suaded that the persons they appoint to rule over them be par


Another very objectionable practice which prevails in the settling

of preachers in the churches, is the unseemlyand unscriptural dominion of the rich over the poor. In case of a vacancy in the ministry of a church, who ought to appoint one to fill that vacancy ? It is done by two or three individuals who happen to be blest with the good things of this life, so that they are enabled to contribute more liberally than their brethren. Does this warrant them to bring into the assembly whom they will, too often contrary to the mind of the poor, who are more likely to judge of persons and their doctrine than themselves?—It would be an uncouth, though a just compliment to all such men, were they told, that so far they act as near kinsmen to his Holiness the Pope. Besides this, there is another species of innovation, evidently of a more abominable nature, and productive of greater evils in magnitude, though not in number than the former. This practice, which justly deserves the severest reprehension, becomes more prevalent than formerly. The matter now alluded to, which has often been the subject of bitter lamentation, is the conduct of some churches towards others relative to their Pastors, which frequently leads to awful breaches, in the peace of those who profess to be of one heart and of one mind. When a church has appointed a person as their Elder, with this he unites his solemn engagements to become their servant in the ministry of the most holy things; and after this, who hath any right to seek by lures and worldly encitements to obtain him from them? That this is too often done, and that too under a pretence of God's glory, many have to witness with grief and anxiety. The unscriptural nature of all such attempts, is unquestionably, proved by the consequence that follows. To enumerate the evils that result herefrom is both irksome and painful to the

mind. It is a breach of the golden rule, "as ye would that others do unto you, do ye even so to them" a departure from that amiable law of the blessed Saviour, "This is my commandment that ye love one another." It sows the seeds of animosity and discord, and leads the world to entertain profane ideas of religion. It hardens the captious sceptic, and gives him an opportunity of repre senting the profession of Christ's name, as a mere jumble of priestcraft and credulity-and above all it is a direct departure from that compliance with the sacred institution of God, which is enforced by all that is attractive, and all that is solemn. No doubt it is possible for circumstances to occur which may make the exchange of Pastors both prudent and necessary. There is such diversity of talent possessed by different men, that one is filled for this scene of labour and another for that. But whenever a matter of this sort is deemed necessary, there ought always to be a mutual understanding, and if possible a mutual agree ment in the respective churches. Should this, however, be impracticable, there is no alternative but each continuing in their situation. It might seem (though it is with sorrow I express it) that the obliga tions of Eldership are now reduced to the same vague uncertainty, as was the matrimonial tie amongst the Jews, who "put away their wives for every cause." is no doubt but that many a well meaning minister is thrust away from his friends and acquaintance, to make way for another, who per haps is but the stolen servant of some declining church, which stood in the greatest need of his labour and assistance. There is moreover in too many instances a great degree of blame attaching to the conduct of ministers; for after they have in the most solemn manner pledged themselves as the

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strong; hence therefore he is incessantly seeking rest and finding

spiritual servant of a society of persons, what is there that can abrogate their high responsibility? none; and yet, unsuccessful as are

all his pursuits, his cravings are insatiable and his efforts unalterable; "hell never saith it hath enough." If then the tongue vent itself in filthy and immodest language, it is the conscience seeking to amuse itself, and forget its pain in the laughter of fools, which is as the crackling of thorns under a pot. If it boast great things, ver. 5. then it is pride magnifying itself in this world, and wishing or willing to forget another world; to put temporal things before its view, and in the dazzle of them to lose sight of eternity.-If such an unhallowed tongue pretend to pray, and bless the Lord, ver. 9. it is all hypocrisy, for a moment to ease its own pain, and perhaps the next moment the same tongue is full of cursing and bitterness, and wishes unhappiness to his neighbour. Cursing, swearing and prophane

Nothing surely, but the departure of their brethren from the rule of the New Testament in doctrine or practice; and this, to justify the secession of, must be proved to go beyond the extent of forbearance. But in opposition to this, how often does it happen that pastors leave their flock to the ravages of discord, and the tormenting contentions of faction, for few reasons known to the world, but an increase of their revenue, and an enlargement of their worldly comforts. Oh how keen the wounds that are inflicted in the house of a friend. There is great need that those who profess to be followers of the churches of God, which in Judea were in Christ Jesus-truly there is great need that they should diligently attend to the words of the Lord by the prophet; "Stand ye in the way and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the goodness indeed are more congenial to way and walk therein, and ye shall find rest to your souls." I am Sir, Yours respectfully,

Wy C1,
August 9, 1817.

J. W.

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its nature; they are the very language of hell; what the infernals are chiefly conversant with; and demonstrating that they who utter such execrations are children of wrath, children of the curse, 2 Pet. ii. 14. and that the curse forms a main part of their constitution. If fretfulness, discontent and passion be the symptoms, 'tis the fire of hell raging in the heart, wishing destruction to other men, or else saying, "This evil is of the Lord, why should I wait for Jehovah any longer?" If the heart be actuated by envy, then the tongue is used to lessen the value of another person's excellencies, or the endowments he is favoured with. malice, to speak evil of the person hated; to tell all that it knows, and more than it knows; to swell his faults and infirmities into mountains, while its own proportionably decrease, till they are scarcely visible; to misrepresent, perhaps also to invent and spread abroad


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