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IMPERFECTIONS OF MODERN APOSTOLIG CHURCHES.
THROUGH the instrumentality of our much esteemed brother Parmly, of New York, there has recently fallen into my hands the followinga pamphlet, titled,
"Reflections submitted for consideration, arising from the little progress made by the Apostolic Churches in the present day, with a view to lead to a discovery of the causes and Reformation."
We shall give our readers a tolerable idea of this address by presenting them the beginning and the ending of it:
"The little progress churches fashioned or professing to be fashioned on the apostolic model, the coldness which they manifest, and without the vanity arising from self-reproach, the lukewarmness which 1 feel and observe in myself and others, has frequently led to the question, 'If God was in us of a truth, would not our profiting appear unto all?' In reading a letter of the late Robert Hall, in the third volume of his works, dated August 5th, 1818, to a Mr. Greenfield, at Clifton, on the subject of fundamentals in religion, he says that 'no church has a right to demand more as a term of communion than that church deems essential to salvation.' Again he says, 'It is with God to determine what is essential to be believed in order to salvation;' and I would add, Jehovah has not committed authority to man, or any order of men, to make laws or lay down rules for the disciples of Christ as essential to salvation; but has condemned adding to, as well as taking from the word of God, on all matters relating to his kingdom.
Mr. Hall introduces the following passages as setting forth what God has been pleased to declare essential, viz.—'As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.' John iii. 14.; see 16th and 36th verses. 'He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.' I would also refer to many passages with which the scriptures abound, as well as the declaration as to Abraham, how his faith was regarded of God previous to, and independent of his attending to any rite whatever. I am aware that you, Mr.- Mr. and Mr. as well as many others whose praise is in the churches, as devoted followers, and as having given up all things for Christ, do not hold baptism as a term of salvation, and therefore not of admission to your fellowship; believing that those whom God hath accepted, the churches of God have no right to reject; so long as their walk and conversation are in accordance with that purity enjoined on believers, and that their sentiments would not mar the order of the church with which they were desirous to unite for worship. I bless God, while I esteem every ordinance of God importent, and, among others, baptism by immereion by every believer; and that in keeping of them there is great reward: yet I never make that, or any ordinance, the ground of my acknowledging any professing the faith of the gospel to be my brother in the Lord, nor refuse to worship with such, wherein we were agreed; though aware of their darkness as to many things held by them under a persuasion they were obeying God."
VOL. V.-N. S.
"Alas! alas! the contentions which prevail are not for the faith; the avowed causes of separation are not on account of the faith; the alienation among the churches is not on account of the want of faith; the not loving one another is not on account of the want of faith. Look back, I pray you, as to the causes of division, and such will not be found to have arisen for, or on account of, or for not holding the faith once delivered to the saints.
"At the head of these contentions, divisions, and dissensions, I place, 1st. The subject of baptism. 2d. Eating the supper with or without ordained elders. 3d. Exhortation. 4th. The kiss of charity. 5th. Separation unless agreed as to all views and acts of religious worship. 6th. The manner of regarding the first day of the week. 7th. The order of a church. 8th. Fasting. 9th. Wearing of gold. 10th. Eating of blood. 11th. Love feasts. 12th. The Elder's office, ordination. If I were at liberty to hazard an opinion as to the primary causes of the state of the churches, I would say that not making the faith of the gospel the sele bond of union among disciples, and the not contending for, or regarding the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit, not only in the converting and buildiug up, but its upholding of the churches, and I would add that until the purity of faith exemplified in the walk and conversation of believers comes to be the standard of discipleship, the Head of the church will not 'walk among the candlesticks,' and the churches will be left to their own wisdom; in which, alas! too many have gloried, and they will continue what they are, destitute of the mark whereby all men should know them as disciples of Christ-Love one to another.'
"I pray you to favor me with your reply at your earliest convenience; and I beg to know if you will permit me to publish your views either with or without your name. May the Holy Spirit guide you and sanctify your labors, and lead the churches to glorify the Lord and only Saviour!
Entreating your prayers, I remain your unworthy brother in hope of eternal life through the atonement.
Along with this pamphlet came the following Prospectus or Proposals:
"17th November, 1840.
"The Order of the Primitive New Testament Church, as observed by the Disciples in Judea, with Observations on Conformity to the World, and forbearance among Disciples-by an aged Disciple in New York."
The above is the title of the work now proposed for the press. The following extracts are added with a view to convey some idea of the nature and object of the writer:
"The man who fears God, who regards his authority as paramount, will alone draw his opinions from the Holy Scriptures, and alone act in accordance with the plain directions furnished in the Scriptures, and adhere thereto, though in opposition to all the learned Divines, Holy Connexions, Presbyteries, &c. &c."
"How does it comport with the scripture examples to have Lutheran disciples of Christ, Episcopalian disciples of Christ, Calvinistic dis
ciples of Christ, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, Independents, and disciples of Christ named the devout glory."
"It is with no other than sorrowful feelings I declare my conviction, that were any of the most highly esteemed ministers of religion faithfully and zealously to require in his congregation implicit obedience to all that the Lord Jesus directed his Apostles in the commission to teach, and to discontinue every act or practice ordained by the standard of the church or community to which such minister belonged, for which there is no example or authority in the New Testament, a few Lord's days would separate him and the flock who would no longer sustain him in return for his labors for their spiritual happiness. He would be sent off as a weak fanatic."
"I would again direct attention to the commission, Teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you; and, lo! I am with you,' &c. I wish again to mark the expression, 'I am with you,' and the reason why he would be with them; yes, the term is express, and marked, arising from, and depending on their teaching them to observe all things-not some things, but all things I have commanded," &c.
And the following notice:
“It will be esteemed an act of Christian kindness for all who may read the foregoing to address their ground of dissent, solely supported by the word of God-if not through the Harbinger, to forward such by post to New York, addressed to M. Lynch, Post-Office, New York. If exceeding one sheet, to be post-paid; marking on the left hand corner of the letter, Baptist. J. BUCHANAN. I leave these items with my readers for another moon. I will give my views in the next number. Another communication from the same respectable source is under consideration. A. C.
From the Christian Herald-Extra, N. H., Dec 24, 1840.
In the Millennial Harbinger of November, Mr. Alexander Campbell makes the following extraordinary statement:-"For twelve hundred years after Christ, immersion for the remission of sins was the practice of the whole Christian world-Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans. Remember I have said it, and can prove it from the most authentic records on earth." Well, this we think about caps the climax. Does Mr. Campbell suppose he shall proselyte the well informed to his superficial system of washing away sins in water baptism, by making such a presumptuous statement as the above? We have studied ecclesiastical history a little, and we do know that the most approved church history now extant will nail the above statement to the counter as base coin. Remember we have said it, and we can not only prove it from ecclesiastical history, but from the Bible. Not quite so fast, Mr. Campbell. "Contra stimulum calcas." M.
I will tell you what next:-You will find in my forthcoming work on Baptism a full exposition of the ignorance of history, both ecclesi
astic and civil, of the man who could make such a reckless declaration. He will prove from the Bible, as he says, events that transpired for twelve centuries after its close! What next? A. C.
JOSEPH C. STILES.
THE Rev. Joseph C. Stiles, a clergyman of the Presbyterian church in Kentucky, has been suspended from his ministry by the West Lexington Presbytery.
The following are the charges which were proved against him:1st. Misrepresenting the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, and holding it up in his sermons as arbitrary and tyrannical. 2d. Misrepresenting the Synod at Hopkinsville.
3d. Pursuing a course calculated to produce a schism.
4th. Declaring his determination to remain in his ecclesiastical connexion, (contrary to a previous promise,) that he might enlighten the minds of his brethren.
5th. Aiding in calling a convention of ministers not of the orthodox party.
6th. Aiding the session of Versailles church in persecuting the minority of said church.
7th. Aiding the Rev. A. M. Campbell in an attempt to draw off Greer's Creek Church from the orthodox party.
Four days were spent in the examination of witnesses in proof of the above charges. Mr. Stiles was found guilty, and executed without benefit of clergy.
This is the same Mr. Stiles, who, awhile ago, made such a terrible splutter in Kentucky against Campbellism; for which he was extolled by the whole Presbyterian church as a second Goliah of Gath.
News from the Churches.
Georgetown, Kentucky, November 14, 1810.
I have within the last two weeks labored a few days at Paris and Providence. We gained 11 at the former and 9 at the latter place. The brethren were much revived at both points; and if we should be able to avail ourselves of the impetus given to the cause much more good may be done. The winter has already commenced; but I hope the brethren will make the most vigorous efforts for the advancement of this the best of al! causes, and be animated with the sentiment of the poet
"Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead,
The Priests may try to blind the people and oppose union with all their power: but it is destined to succeed. The Saviour prayed for it-be died for it-he rose for it. The Father heard him, and the Father will hear us if we pray in faith and labor in good earnest for it?
When will you be in Kentucky? I am just informed that much good can be done at Green River by a visit there. May the Lord bless you!
J. T. JOHNSON.
I hope to pass through Kentucky next spring.-A. C,
Bowling Green, Virginia, December 19, 1840.
I rajoice that the Lord is smiling upon our poor efforts in the Old Dominion. Brother Bullard and myself held a meeting in Scottsville, Albemarle county, near my native spot, where we had labored under the evil influences of sectarianism for some years, and had been able to accomplish but little. You recollect when you were there you were not suffered to hold forth the word of life in any of the consecrated houses, called churches. I had contended fearlessly—perhaps too violently sometimes, for years, solitary and alone, for that religion which was preached by the Apostles of the Lamb; but notwithstanding I was very popular when considered orthodox, such was the opposition to you, that as soon as it was understood that I was in any sense connected with you, the people looked on me with pious horror, and I have not been able to get a good hearing until lately. Blessed be the name of the Lord, the truth has triumphed at last! Some of the most intelligent and respectable gentlemen and ladies were immersed; among them were a Presbyterian gentleman and his wife.
From Scottsville brother Bullard and myself hastened to the co operation meeting in Lunenburg. It was very poorly attended by the proclaimers. It is a pity that the brethren will not put themselves to more inconvenience to attend such meetings. They are very interesting and profitable. The next one is to be held at Paineville, Amelia county
You were acquainted with the state of things in Lunenburg. I am happy to inform you that a reconciliation was brought about between brother Shelburne and those with whom he stood at variance. After arriving at an amicable adjustment of all difficulties, after 12 o'clock on Saturday night the good old brother Shelburne rode some 10 miles from our meeting and met with us around the Lord's table by 3 o'clock in the afternoon. At night he preached at brother William Stone's, and gave us the good old gospel. May the good Lord bless the brethren in that part of the state, and make them instrumental in converting the people! Such has been the state of things in that district of country, that very few have been baptized for years, We immersed only one.
From Lunenburg we proceeded to Powhattan. The weather was bad, and we had but few persons to hear us. We immersed two.
From this place we repaired to Richmond, and though the weather was bad and but little notice of our appointments, we immersed ten persons.
The state of things requiring immediate attention in Scottsville, and being urged by the brethren and friends to return there immediately, I consented, though in feeble health, to meet the appointments in this county, and let brother Bullard return to Scottsville. From a letter received from brother Tyler, I learn that notwithstanding the deep snow and bad weather, 8 more have been immersed there: making 16 since the commencement of the late effort. The Lord has been very good to us in Caroline since I reached.Twenty have been added, and I hope more will yet obey. If we only had enough good proclaimers, and if the brethren would sustain them after they get them, the Old Dominion would soon be brought under the influence of the truth. May the Lord bless the brethren and stir them up to diligence, devotion, self-denial, and sacrifice to promote the interests of his cause! R. L. COLEMAN. Cincinnati, Ohio, December 13, 1840.
During a late visit of brother Ricketts, upwards of 20 additious were made to the congregation in this city, and four at Carthage. We number now above six hundred, andare living in peace and in love. JAMES CHALLEN. Palmyra, Ohio, December 22, 1840.
I am happy to inform you of the success of the gospel in this place. In September, 1839, there were 7 immersed; the first Lord's day in June, 1840, 1; the second Lord's day, 2; the third Lord's day, 5; the fourth Lord's day, 1; 3 in the month of July; 2 in August, and 17 in September. This meeting commenced on Friday the 11th, and continued till the Monday following. Our chief speakers were A. B. Green and A. S. Hayden. Since that time 3 were immersed, and 2 received from the Baptists. There were also 7 more immersed from churches in Palmyra. There is a congregation of Disciples in the south part of the town, and one in the north-west part. We now number in the north-west part of the town 74, of which we have received in the last 16 months 40, and prospects fair for more. We have three meetings a-week, and walk in peace and love. Bless the Lord for his good ness unto us! E. FISHER.
Bethany, Virginia, January 6, 1840.
Brother Campbell-Permit me, if you please, through the Harbinger, to say to the Evangelists travelling upon the national road through Ohio, that they will find churches at the following places, to wit:-At the house of brother Spragus, 8 miles east of Columbus, is a congregation of intelligent disciples, meeting every Lord's day under the senatorial care of brethren Collins and Needles. They number something like 50. Evange. lists would do well to call and see them.
Four miles south of Etna, a village on the national road, 20 miles east of Columbus, I constituted a congregation of 18 or 19 members, who meet at the house of brother A. C. Ford. Brother Ford is well calculated as an Elder to edify the brethren. Evangelists, would here find a copious field for labor. I never found in any community more willing ness to hear, and readiness to obey, than at this place.
VOL. V.-N. 8.