Billeder på siden

and unlearned coming into the sanctuary would be convinced,
and constrained to acknowledge that God was present of a
truth-our churches would be bright lights in the dark and
careless world around them; and multitudes, attracted
by the manifestation of the Divine presence, would “ come,
and flow together," to build up the house, and to “shed
forth the praises of the Lord.”
I am, Sir, yours &



No. I.

Upon looking over the various subjects that have been discussed in The Orthodo. Presbyterian,we perceive there is one which we consider ourselves culpable in having too much neglected. Church-government seems to us, in the retrospect, not to have had the prominence to which its importance entitles it. We know not how to account for this oversight, unless it be that other matters were more pressed upon our attention. But now that the omission has been perceived, we purpose to make amends for it, by devoting a corner of our work to this subject every month. What we propose is, to submit a monthly paper to our readers on the general subjects of Presbyterianism, Church-government, or communion. These may be original papers, or selections from the works of others. At present we have two admirable treatises on our table, bearing on these subjects. The one is an Essay on the Office of the Ruling Elder, by Dr. Miller of America, a most satisfactory book, published in the last year, and which we could earnestly desire to see circulated among the Presbyterians of Ulster. The other is a pamphlet on the constitution, order, discipline, and fellowship of the Gospel-church, by the late Rev. A. Hall of London, originally published in 1769, and reprinted in 1795. We have been delighted with the sound and scriptural views of this pamphlet, and would account it an important circumstance if they were brought generally before the public. From these two works we intend to give our readers some lengthened extracts, judging that our work will be extensively useful by making its pages a vehicle of conveying to the public select parts of valuable books, which, from various causes, must remain inaccessible to a large portion of the public. In these extracts we shall pursue such an order as will


be likely to make the subject intelligible to all. We commence with the following remarks from Mr. Hall's pamphlet :

THE NATURE OF THE GOSPEL-CHURCH. The church is a society of believing and holy persons, whom God hath called, by the gospel, out of all mankind, to the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ.

"The following remarks may be profitable to open the sense, propriety, and emphasis of this description.

“1. The church is a society: it consists of many members, 1 Cor. xii. 12. “As the body-hath many members ; so also is Christ. Chap. x. 17. "We being many. All these members are joined together, and constitute a society, for we being many, are one body; and being a society, the church is, not without law to God, but under law to Christ, and under special obligations to serve one another in love.

“2. The church is a society of men. We confine the idea to them, in that particular light, we now. speak of it. It is true angels are our fel. low-servants ; they serve our common Lord, and are children of the same family, and partakers of the same felicity, which consists in the enjoyment of God'; hence we are said to come to an innumerable company of angels : but their relation to Christ is not of the same kind with the church's relation to him, neither does it stand on the same foundation. They are not redeemed by his blood, nor called by his gospel, nor renewed by his Spirit, nor partakers of his covenant. These are the great and peculiar privileges of the church of the first-born.

“3. The church is a society of believers; that is, of persons who have received, with an hearty assent, upon a full conviction, the word of the gospel, as a faithful report, and worthy of all acceptation. The primitive. church was a society of this kind of persons, Acts ii. 41. 'They that gladly received the word, were ' baptized, and were added to the church.' Heb, iii. 6. 'We are Christ's house, if we hold fast the confidence, and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.'

4. The church is a society of holy persons : hence called an holy nation, and a kingdom of saints. The church, which is the kingdom of Christ, is not of this world, which lieth in wickedness: they are called to be saints.

“5. The church of the living God is gathered, supported, and advanced, by his power and favour. It is God that calleth ber.

6. The church is gathered by means of the gospel. That very general invitation which God addresses unto men, by the works of nature, is not sufficient to form a church. The word of divine revelation must accomplish that glorious end. I Cor. i. 21. After that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.'

7. By the gospel men are called to the fellowship of the Son of God, in the privileges and comforts of his mediation, and to an universal submission to him in every part of his revealed character and will.

“The church is a society called out of all mankind. How great the honour! how absolutely free the favour! worthy indeed to be had in everlasting remembrance! The church is chosen, redeemed, and called out of the world; not because of their works, but because of their God who calleth them; therefore they act in character, when they are not conformed to the world; are crucified to it in point of affection, hope, and

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

dependence; look not at things that are seen, which are temporal, but at the things that are not seen, which are eternal; have their conversation in heaven, where their blessed Head is; and take all the measures of their conduct from the unerring rule of his word, receiving the law at tbe mouth of the Lord of hosts.

“ That our apprehensions of the nature of the gospel-church may be more clear and accurate, I might observe, that she is an holy-spiri. tual-independent regular--and visible society.

“The church is an holy society. She is separated from the world wbich is common and unclean: her faith is most holy: her manner and pro. ceedings should bear the same genuine marks of holiness, while she is purified in obeying the truth through the Spirit, 'Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.' Inward purity is the real, and outward holiness the seen badge and characteristic of every member: without both no man shall see the Lord; and without the last no man ought to be reputed a member of the church, whose daily duty is to name the name of Jesus, and whose daily endeavour should be to depart from all iniquity. Her walls are salvation from defiling pollutions, as well as from calamitous afflictions, and threatening dangers.

“The church is a spiritual society. She is built up an habitation of God through the Spirit: her ordinances and services are spiritual. This spirituality constitutes a grand and lasting distinction between the New Testament church, and the church-state of the Jews, whose ordinances were beggarly, and their worship carnal and shadowy. Real Christians are spiritual persons; they eat spiritual meat; they drink spiritual drink; they are blessed with spiritual blessings; they are filled with spiritual anderstanding; they are built up a spiritual house : and all the members of the church of the living God must be in appearance, what these blessed persons really are.

“The church is independent of all the wisdom, authority, and policy of any created head. The Lord is her Judge, the Lord is her King, the Lord is her Lawgiver. ' Ambition is aspiring. To curb it among the apos. tles, our blessed Lord gave them this particular and express charge : Be not ye called Rabbi ; for one is your master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren: call no man your father upon earth; for one is your Father, which is in heaven : neither be ye called master; for one is your Master, even Christ, Matth. xxiii. 8, 9, 10: The church is not composed of members which serve divers lusts and pleasures : her model is not submitted to the caprice and humours of men : the Son has made this holy nation free, and therefore they are free .indeed, and should not be the servants of men in any thing which belongs to the law of their God, any more than the servants of sin ; because, it being impossible to serve God and mammon, Christ and Belial, they cannot be the former, without being the latter also. The connection of a church with a state is accidental, rather than any way necessary to her constitution and management. Her alone dependance is on her glorious Head, and on the word of his grace, which declares his favour to her, and her duty to him,

“The church is a regular and orderly society. She is not like the chaos-rudis indigestaque moles, a rude, undigested mass; without form and void: she has a most comely form, and most exact and beautiful proportions. She is not a disorderly, confused mob; but a lawful, well-ordered society. Like the earthly Jerusalem, which was a figure of the gospel-church, she is built as a city, that is compact together; and it is

one of her laws, that all things be done decently, and in order. And finally,

The church is a visible society, as she is united to Christ, and enjoys. communion with him, in grace and glory. Her greatest beauty is indeed inward and unseen. Every member of the church of the first-born is called by the grace of God, who is pleased to reveal his Son in him ; his faith is unteigned; his holiness is real, powerful, and evangelical; his circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit, and not in the letter; and his praise is not of men, but of God. This is his true character, and his greatest honour. But how shall the world know, that they are the disciples of Christ? how shall wisdom be justified of her children? or, how shall they satisfy themselves, that by the grace of God they really are what they are? The answer is plain: ‘By their fruits ye shall know them, Matth. vii. 16. 20. The man in whom Christ is savingly revealed, consults not with flesh and blood : where faith is without dissimulation, it worketh by love: he who is begotten to a lively hope, purifieth himself: true and prevailing love to God, keepeth his commandments; a pure heart is manifested in an holy conversation : and the power is always attended with the form of godliness. These being the genuine and inseparable fruits of vital union to Jesus Christ by his blessed Spirit, and communion with him, without which we cannot distinguish Christ's sheep from the men of the world, they must shew their character, and demonstrate their connections, by those evidences, which necessarily belong to their happy state, as members of the body of Christ. Hence even the children of God are a visible church in the world, and while they are sealed in their foreheads and right-hands, all men know whose they are, and whom they serve."




SCEPTICISM says, “Where mystery begins, religion ends.” But if this be so, and if this be urged to its full and legitimate conclusion, then scepticism will land us in all the “blackness of darkness” of Atheism. For if the fact, that there are mysteries in our holy religion, be brought, as an argument against that religion; then let that argument be taken in its full extent, and it will plunge us at once into all the depths of the most appalling infidelity. It will go to annihilate that « God who sits upon the throne,” and drive Him from the moral government of the universe. For there are mysteries in providence, as well as in grace--mysteries innumerable, and mysteries inexplicable by us, in God's moral government of the world. The book of God's providence abounds with mysteries. Events are perpetually recurring, the reasons of which we cannot assign, and the effects of which we cannot see. And it would just argue the same degree of rashness

and folly in us to deny that the world was under the govern ment and moral control of a Sovereign God; because we meet with these mysterious doings in the kingdom of His providence: as is exhibited by those who deny the great truths of revealed religion; because they meet with occasional mysteries in the kingdom of God's grace. The truth is, the book of providence spreads out before us, in its mighty pages, many an event, for the purpose of exercising our faith-exhibits many a lesson, teaching us to repose with an unslaken trust on that God who rules amongst the armies of heaven and the kingdoms of earthwho does all things according to the good pleasure of his own holy will, and who does all things well. The book of providence is a sealed book. Nor will its seals be opened till that day, when, in God's light, we shall see light, shall see him as we are seen, and know him as we are known. In the meantime every mysterious dispensation of that providence as it occurs, calls to a renewed exercise of faith ; makes us, as we journey on our pilgrimage way, lean more on that staff of God's promisemo All things work together for good to them that love God--and quickens us to raise louder, as we go on, the song of Moses and the Lamb “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.” Yes, to him who believes that every event is under the control of that Almighty God, who, whilst directing the courses and the movements of worlds upon worlds, is, at the same time, not suffering a hair to fall from our head nor a sparrow to the ground without his sovereign pleasure, the book of providence becomes most deeply important; and every event unfolded there assumes a deeper interest thus viewed by him who sees the hand of God in every thing, and acknowledges every event to be but the secret working of his unseen, yet Almighty power. To these observations


mind has been led by an awfully mysterious providence which has lately occurred, and which, as it is connected with God's people, we desire to record in the pages of your periodical.

John and Brice Gilmore were the sons of poor, but honest and religious parents, whose humble dwelling was near the shore of Lough Foyle. Their chief wealth consisted in a small boat, employed in carrying shells from a neighbouring isle which were disposed of to the surrounding farmers for manure. Their work was laborious and hazardous, and the nature of it rendered it uncertain; having always to attend to the state of the tide on their going out and on their return.

« ForrigeFortsæt »