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THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY AT GETTYSBURG. Our brethren of the Lutheran church, and the pious of all Protestant denominations, will rejoice to learn, that this institution continues to receive evidences of God's favor and blessing. The number of students increases rapidly, and there is every prospect, that the Directors will soon obtain the sum requisite for a permanent fund, from which the second Professor is to be supported.
The Rev. Dr. Schmucker, well known as one of the most ardent friends of the Seminary being Agent of the Directors, obtained considerable subscriptions in Baltimore and Washington county Md. He spent a few days lately in Frederick, and among a few of the members of the Lutheran church, obtained a handsome subscription, something more than One Thousand Dollars. At the next meeting of the Directors, which will take place on the last Wednesday of this month, (September) the second Professor Rev. Dr. Hazelius will be installed. The Rev. Dr. F. D. Schaeffer of Philadelphia, Senior Rev. Minis. has been appointed, to perform the solemn exercises of installation. We have not yet understood, whether he can accept of the appointment, but the Directors do anticipate, much pleasure, in seeing and hearing this venerable Father in Christ, upon the occasionEditor.
The judicious exercise of scriptural discipline in a christian congregation, is of the utmost moment. As the observance of prudent and wholesome domestic regulations, is necessary to the peace and happiness of a family ; or, as the administration of wise and salatary laws is important to the continuance and prosperity of a state; so, the faithful execution of church-laws in relation to offending members, is indispensable to the maintainance of purity and the promotion of piety in a congregation. It appears to us to be absolutely impossible for à religious association to flourish any length of time in an eminent degree, without the enforcement of a discipline, at once mild and decisive, and based upon the principles and precepts of the Gospel. Our forefathers in the Lutheran ministry, seem to have been deeply impressed with the truth of this remark, and bence, upon their arrival in this country, they invariably introduced into their churches, what, in their own nervous language was termed : eine Kirchenzucht, and if we will give ourselves the trouble of resorting to the ecclesiastical archives of those days, we shall frequently find upon record instances of Kirchenbusze and, Vorstellungen fehlender Glieder vor der ganzen Gemeine : by which is implied : “Confession and repentance of guilt and restoration to church-communion,” and “a public admonition of a brother who had erred, in the presence of the officers of the churchcouncil or members of the congregation," agreeably to the direction of Paul to Timothy, 1 Tim. v. 20, Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. The beneficial effects resulting from this species of their ministerial fidelity, were prominently visible in the success of their labors and the prosperity of their churches.
But of late years many of our clergy and church officers have in a great measure, neglected this important part of their official duty, and the consequences are such, that we have abundant cause to mourn over the inefficiency of our well-intended exertions, and to weep on account of the numerous evils that are desolating our Zion.
Anxious to bring this interesting subject fully and fairly before our readers, with a view to attract their attention to it, and prepare the way to a more rigid observance of it in our church, we propose in this article to show
1st. The importance of congregational discipline.
Congregational discipline consists in the right execution of churchlaws, and the infliction of the penalties enjoined ; or, it means the proper treatment of offending members.
The importance of this duty may be argued;
a From the distinctness and frequency with which it is inculcated in the sacred writings.
If the opinion advanced by some writers be correct, that the degree of importance that should be attached to any christian obligation may be determined by the comparative clearness and repetition with which that obligation is laid down in God's word, then we must at once concede that the conscientious administration of discipline in a congregation is of high moment. Whether we refer to the Gospels or to the Epistles, we find the duty under consideration, insisted upon with a plainness and frequency that canmot fail to strike the attentive reader. It would he tedious to refer to all the various portions of Holy Writ in which we are commanded to admonish and endeavor to reclaim those whose walk is disorderly, and ultimately, if the employment of proper means for their recovery proves unsuccessful, to exclude them from our communion. Let a few therefore suffice : Moreover, (says our Lord) if thy brother shall tresspass against thee, go and tell him his fąult 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 shall neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." Matthew xvii, 15, 17.
Again—"Now I beseech you, brethren (says St. Paul) mark them which cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine which you have learned: and avoid them.” Rom. xvi, 17. Once more—“Now we command you” (mark the force of the Apostle's language in this passage) “now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.” 2 Thessalonians iii, 6 and 14.-vide yet farther, 1 Corinthians v, 1, 13.-Galatians v, 12.–Titus iii, 1.-Galatians vi, 1.2 Corinthians ii, 7.
These passages are so clear and unequivocal, so pointed and positive, that we deem comment unnecessary; the man, who after a serious and impartial perusal of them, can recognise in them no obligation on the part of the church to call offending members to an account, and, if they will not be saved from the error of their ways, to cut them off from the privileges of church-union, must be wilfully blind and designedly prejudiced.
If we turn our attention to the course of procedure observed by the Apostles toward unruly and unworthy members, we shall discover that they themselves practised the above rules. Witness the cases of Hymeneus, Alexander, Philetus, Simon Magus, and others.
The importance of discipline is yet farther manifest. b. From the advantages arising from it.
The beneficial effects consequent upon the mild and decided ex. ecution of scriptural church-regulations, are numerous and obvi.
It would carry us far beyond the limits we have prescribed to ourselves, to exhibit them singly and in all their bearings. We can do little more than glance at them, and shall leave our readers to carry them out into detail by their own future reflections.
We say then, that the faithful discharge of this duty will reclaim backsliders. Many, who after attaching themselves to the church of God, go astray, forgetting their vows and returning to the love of the world and its beggarly elements, will be arrested in thcir relapsed career, be brought to a sense of their guilt and danger and led back to the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls. It will detect hypocrites. That persons of this character do frequently insinuate themselves into church-communion, in despite of the vigilance of the church-officers, is a fact too well known to require proof. But it is difficult to sustain an assummed character and act a double part without detection, a watchful discipline will soon unmask those wolves in sheeps clothing, and driving them back to
their proper place, the church will be delivered from their pernicious example and deleterious influence. It will circulate a secret and salutary awe through the church. Disorderly, and refractory members will no longer find fault, condemn, and fret and rave at every new occurrence in the congregation, that meets with their disapprobation ; and then meanly threaten the faithful and suffering minister with a withdrawal from the congregation, and a stopping of the pitiful pittance he so richly earns by his laborious services. No, that recklessness of church membership, that over bearing defiance so often hurled into the face of the Council, that hightoned rebellion of ungodly members will disappear; and the secret apprehension that they may become subjects of discipline, be cut off from the most valuable privileges, and the mark of excision, the well merited stigma of excommunication, be stamped upon them, will check their clamorous and disgraceful operations, and reduce them to something like forbearance and submission. It will supply an additional incentive to watchfulness and prayer. That professors of religion generally watch and pray too little, need not be insisted on. But what motive does a congregation at large, that neglects discipline, hold out to correct this remissness ?-none at all. Professors indeed behold proofs enough of human frailty, and the most affecting evidences of a want of watchfulness and prayer, in their backsliding fellow-members, but they witness no painful consequences resulting from an exposure of the same on the part of the church. Let the proper persons, in a spirit of love rebuke an erring brother whenever there is occasion for it, and if he will not “mend his ways,” proceed to further measures, and depend upon it, thoughtlessness and security will yield and make way for watchfulness and
prayer. It will break the slumbers of many a sleeping member. Ask the unregenerate Lutheran: "Is it thy hope to be saved P”and his unhesitating reply is : “Yes, it is my hope,"—continue the examination and inquire : “What are the constituents of a wellfounded hope ?”. and here the language of Canaan will terminate, and instead of the reply : “True repentance and faith," ten to one if he do not say : “I am a Lutheran ; I was baptized and confirm. ed-I belong to Mr. _'s church and give my support to him. Thus the sheet anchor of all his eternal prospects is his being "a Lutheran,” and if this delusive prop is not struck away, by some powerful blow, he will continue to lean upon it, until at last in the hour of death it breaks from under him and lets him drop into the grave no into hell ! Go ye ministers of God and officers of the church and tell him he is no Lutheran--burst the spell that holds him bound-tear away the film that blinds his vision, let him know that his being “a Lutheran,” in the vague sense in which he uses that term, will only aggravate his guilt ;-if he will not believe you, record it in flaming letters in the “Church-book,” read it from the pulpit, and declare in the sight of God and the church, that he is "no Lutheran,"_and if he is not alarmed and awakened, and others like him, are not brought to reflection by such a process, why then, you have done your duty-but be assured, such a course
of procedure will break the deep slumbers of many a sleeping sinner! Thus we might proceed to show, how the exercise of discipline will preserve the purity of the church-be a public testimony, borne by it, against all unrighteousness &c. &c. &c! But the advantages already adverted to, are abundantly sufficient for our purpose. Once more, the importance of discipline is evident.
c. From the evils attending its neglect.
Next to an ungodly minister, we regard a lax discipline or the entire absence of all discipline, as the most awful curse that can be inflicted on a christian congregation. It has been well said by a distinguished living author : The church that neglects this duty, resembles a state in which the administration of justice is omitted, and crime is permitted to be perpetrated with impunity. That part of the design of church union, which consists in mutual watchfulness, is lost. Members may go astray, adding offence to offence, and heaping vice upon vice, and there is none, in a christian and fraternal tone to lift up the voice of warning. Young Christians just introduced into communion by, confirmation, may grow languid and careless, and instead of receiving timely admonition, and being tenderly led back to the people of God, the unpardonable dereliction of duty on the part of the Church, encourages them in their treachery and hastens their ultimate and aggravated ruin. Hypocrites are countenanced in their self-delusion, and supported in the imposition they practise upon the community. Heretics and Schismatics are patronized, profligates are urged onward, gainsayers and opponents to the truth and God's Ministers, become more overbearing and despotic, the word preached is thrown away upon captious and rebellious bearers, scoffers and infidels are encouraged, the weak staggered in their faith, religion compromised, the church corrupted, the ruin of immortal souls abetted, sinners of all descriptions hardened, ministers distressed, slandered and persecuted till their hearts are ready to rend with anguish, and the church becomes more like a callection of transgressors, than an association of pious followers of Jesus Christ We may well say, that when Epimetheus opened Pandora's box, there did not issue from it so great a multitude of evils and distempers to afflict the human race,. as are let loose upon a congregation, when scriptural discipline ceases to be exercised. It was this sin (says a modern writer) which the apostle describes in those awful words, “If any, man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.” 1 Corinthians iii, 17. The church is that temple, and to defile it, is to introduce improper members to its communion, or to tolerate them in the practice of sin. A single unpunished transgressor troubled the whole camp of Israel, and brought calamity upon a nation, nor could the favour of God rest upon the people, till Achan was discovered and destroyed. vide Josh. vii. 11, 12. Nothing can be conceived, of, more likely to grieve the Holy Spirit, or to induce him to withdraw his gracious influence from a church, than a neglect of scriptural discipline. And here we would pause, and beg our beloved brethren in Christ, to inquire whether our remissness in attending to this duty