Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

they fell, were grieved and humbled in their wounds; but rejoiced in the healing balın of Jesus.

6. Reviving life is seen in buds of holy desire; blooming hope, in the expectation of divine favour, through the blood of the Lamb; saving faith in greater confidence, lite, love, lowliness, zeal, and purity. These fruits are brought forward and ripened by the continual agency of God the Holy Ghost, r the Lord and Giver of life.” How pleasing to the sight of Jesus, angels, and saints, is such a renewed or restored character! The world itself cannot but admire, though they hate the change,

7. These fruits are pleasant to the taste of the divine Producer of them. * I have eaten my honey-comb with my honey;" i.e. Thine outward profession and thine inward grace are pleasing to me; the production of thy farther field and thy nearer vineyard, thy wine and thy milk. Let, says Jesus, all partake of my pleasure : '“ Eat, Ő friends! drink, yea drink abundantly, O beloved *!"

8. They are profitable as well as pleasant to the bearer of them. To have our fruit to holiness, is to have it to personal happiness. “Great peace have they which keep thy law, and nothing sball offend them t." - To the poor. They have the advantage of the spiritual excrtions of the rich, in promoting the canse of religion ; and the benefit of their kindness and liberality to their temporal exigencies : “ He that giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord 1.." The Lord's creditors will suffer no loss : there is no fear of bankruptcy in Heaven. -- To mankind in general, believers are charged to maintain good works : “ these are good and profitable unto inen." Herein is grace magnified and God glorified :

". The work is of grace ;

Thine, thine be the praise,
And mine to adore thee
And tell of thy ways."

UNCONSUMED.

Song v. 1. vi. 2. vii. 12.

+ Ps. cxix. 165.

| Titus iii. 8.

CHRISTIAN UNION:
An Address delivered at the General Communion of the

MissiONARY SOCIETY.

If ever there is an unusual joy among the glorified inhabitants of the celestial world, in the expectation of the church militant being increased and extended; - if ever there is an unusual trembling in Hell, under a fear of the empire of Satan being weakened and circunscribed; it is most likely to be when the ministers and disciples of Christ draw uearer to each other

CHRISTIAN UNION.

005 in affection and friendship; and cordially unite their counsels, their prayers, and their exertions, to spread the gospel, and bring the souls of lost and perishing sinners to the knowledge and experience of the salvation which is in Christ Jesus. It is in this view, that the formation and continuance of the Missionary Society is to be estimated among the most important and auspicious events of these latter times. A multitude of Christian ministers and others, have agreed, in soine measure, to lose sight of the different names by which they are denominated, and the various modes of discipline by which their respective churches are regulated, and, with one heart and mind, apply all their talents and real to prove their love to Jesus and his gospel ; and labour to snatch those who sit in darkness and the region of the shadow of death, fiom their truly awful and calainitous state of darkness, guilt, and misery.

The enemies of Christianity have taken much praise to themselves for having weakened the influence, and retarded the progress of Christianity in the world, by the exercise of their wisdom, and the energy of their zeal. But it is not so; the greater part, if not the whole, of their boasted success has arisen froin a quite different source. We scruple not to say, it has, in a great measure, arisen out of the ill-timed and the unchristian contentions and disputes of Christians themselves :- disputes which are the fruit and offspring of our depraved passions; and which are fanned into a flame, and kept alive through the inHuence of the god of this world, whose continual aim is, 10 divide the church, that he may the more easily weaken its strength, and destroy its prosperity.

Many Christians, however, not only retain their ancient prejudices, and refuse all religious intercourse with other denoininations,—but they express theinselves in an angry tone against those who do; and scruple not to charge them with being the enemies of all discipline and good order in the church of Christ; and even, sometiines, impeach the integrity of their motives with an acrimony unworthy of those, who profess to be the disciples of the meek and lowly Jesus.

But to what part of either the Old or the New Testament can a serious reader look, without perceiving, that botla the letter and the spirit of divine revelation inculcate upon believers, that they should love one another with a pure heart, fervently; that they should be of one heart and of one mind. The charge which Joseph gave to his brethren,“ See that you fall not out by the way

is still more important, in its application, to those who are Israelites in a spiritual sense. Both the beauty and the value of this Christian unity are recommended by the Psalmist, in these words : “ Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity 1" The

+ Psalm cxxxiii. c.

Gen, xlv. 244

New Testament abounds, still more than the Old, with various and appropriate passages on this subject. Jesus Christ, who knew what was in man, and who knew what individual Chrisa tians must of necessity sacrifice to the attainment of this most desirable and essential part of religion, has repeatedly and strongly entorced this doctrine upon his disciples.

The apostles rightly understood the doctrine and the spirit of their Master, and copied hiin in earnestly pressing the doctrine of unity upon all who were called by his name, professed faith in the gospel of peace, and the hope of that glory in which the church shall finally make but one general assembly, and in which the most cordial and perfect harmony shall eternally reign. So strongly did the apostle Paul feel the necessity of Christian unity among the churches, that every epistle of his recommends it in the most affectionate manner, and by the most suitable and cogent arguments.

In his time, as in our own, the Christians were disposed to lay an undue stress upon non-essential things; to separate from, and maintain a warfare against, each other on the account of difference upon topics, on which they were bound 10 bear with, and exercise the greatest tenderness and charity toward, each other. They were inclined to break communion with each other upon such subjects as these : Meats and drinks, and the observation of days. How is the holy man aficcted by the disputes and dissentions of the early churches? fie laments over these evils; he censures all the parties concerned in them; but takes no side, espouses no party; but rather gives the most tender and healing advice : os Him that is weak in the faith receive ye; but not to doubtful disputations *.” Read the whole passage, and admire the conduct of this amiable, this liberal, this devoted servant of Christ. He had an opinion upon these disputed questions; and his authority would give weight to it, and, perhaps, even silence those of a contrary opinion. But no; he does not disclose his own thoughts upon these subjects ; he thinks them of too little importance to give a precise law concerning them : he is only grieved that Christians should make them the matter of dispute; and occupies himself chiefly in censuring and condemning the bigotry and intolerance of those, who would violate the bonds of Christian charity, dictate laws to other mens' cunsciences, and destroy the principles of Christian liberty, — by not allowing that freedom to others wbich they take for themselves.

To whatever part of ecclesiastical history I turn my eyes, I sce the sad eflects of the want of Christian unity. There I see ditferent classes of Christians, not only abusing, but persecuting one another to prison and to death, because they cannot pronounce their Siilbukith; whilst their unsanctified contentions weakened the general interests of their Master's kingdom, and iended to scalier the lambs of his little flock, the common

• Rom, xiv. 1

CHRISTIAN UNION

207 enemy of both are exulting and crying, Aha! aha! so would we have it.” On the contrary, when friendship and unity obtain among the ministers and churches of the Redeemer, tho' they are known under different names, and worship statedly in different communities, yet are they mutually helpers of each other's faith and joy; the general edification of the body of Christ is promoted; the enemies of Christ and his church are abashed and confounded, and cry, with amazement, “ See how these Christians love!” yea, when the churches thus walk in unity, they approach so much nearer to the state of the church above, where all is love, harmony, and friendship.

From the state of the heavenly world, we may draw a very natural and powerful inference in favour of unity and friendship among the ministers and churches of Christ upon earth. That immense, but united and harmonious multitude, constituted of gracious souls drawn from among all nations, and from a great variety of denominations, dwell together, and worship before the throne of God and the Lamb, without one jarring note. Yes; there Whitefield and Erskine, Toplady and Wesley, Romaine and Gill, Jonathan Edwards, and Latrobe, can all unite in one song of praise to that triune God, to whose sovereign grace and almighty influence they cheerfully own themselves indebted for their complete salvation. Allowing they are now the spirits of just men made perfect, and are freed from all the passions and prejudices with which those in the body are still exercised, and hence the cases are not altogether parallel, yet why shouid we not aim to have these dispositions which binder Christian union, suppressed and laid aside? Why should we not aspire to resemble more perfectly'whilst here, that general assembly and church of the first born, which we (whether we are Dissen, ters or Churchmen, Presbyterians or Independents, Baptists or Methodists) are destined to join, provided we be real Christians.

To recommend and enforce the lovely doctrine of Christian union, it might be urged, that the whole church of Christ is but one body; consequently all the real disciples of Christ, though of different denominations, approximate much nearer to each other than most of them are willing to allow : they are all members of Christ; they must therefore be related to each other, and must be interested in each other's safety and prosperity. But this point is more beautifully and more powerfully urged by the apostle, than by any thing I can offer. In one place he says. We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones *.” In another," For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles; whether we be bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one spirit: for the body is not one member, but many t.”

It is then manifest; that though the names by which we are called are various; though the walls which separate our parti

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

cular churches one from another, are of considerable height; though the time, the frequency, the manner of administering the communion, be diferent; yet still, if we are real Christians, we are members of Christ; we are members one of another. Surely then we may account it both our duty and our privilege to forget our little differences, and unite in one common effort to spread the gospel, and occasionally testify our love to Christ and each other at the same sacramental table.

In short, for Christians who diller from each other in many non-essential things, thus occasionally to commune together, is following the practice of the church in her best days; it is following the footsteps of many of the most wise and holy servants of our Lord; it is imitating the innumerable company before the throne, who eat of the tree of life, and who were not only gathered out of many different nations, but also from among many different denominations; and who now worship God willis put one jarring note. Berinundsey.

J.T.

ANSIVERS TO QUERIES

In our Magazine for March, page 121. 1. It is certain, many of the antients believed that Christ descended into Hell literally: either to preach deliverance to the spirits then in prison (whence arose the doctrine of Purgatory); or, at least, to publish there his triumphs over Satan, Death, and Hell. But, since the nature of the Hebrew language has been more deeply studied, it has appeared suiflicientiy evident, that by Hril, in Scripture, is often meant either the grave, or the invisible works in general. The radical idea of the original term adre, is the hidden or concealed place; and such is also the primary meaning of the Saxon term Hell, from Helan, to cover over. As to the word Soul, it is certainly not always uset for the immortal spirit ; but for ilre animal frame, whether alive or dead. So that the passage in question may be properly rendered,

Thou wilt not leave my animal frame in the grave ;

Neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption. It may be added, this article did not belorg originally to the apostle's creed ; and whien it was first inserted, the words, " was buried," were omitted. – l'or farther satisfaction, E. E. is referred to Bishop Pearson on the Creed; or to Mr. Buck's Theological Dictionary,under the word Helt.

JOD.

II. The situation of A Young Pilgrim requires peculiar delicacy and tenderness of conduct. We cannot always commend the zeal of young converts, who often hurt the cause they wish to serve, by pertness and rudeness to their parents or superiors. In general, we would say, Let young converts, who have irreligious and profane paren!s, endeavour, first, to ornament their profession by a meek and quiet spirit; which is, in the sight of God, of great price;" and insinuate instruction to them by affectionate hints and intreaties, and a holy life, rather than assume the air and tune of teachers : to put in their way some religious books or tracts, and endeavour to lead them, if possible, under the preaching of the gospel. But our correspondent may find some very useful and appropriate hints and directions on this subject, in Mr. Scott's excellent Essaysa Essay xxi,

« ZurückWeiter »