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necessity be pursued; for there is no middle course and if we loved one another with genuine Christian affection we could not be at a loss which to prefer. The New Testament speaks of an election of seven deacons, but says nothing on the mode of its being conducted. Now, considering the number of members in the church at Jerusalem, unless they were directed in their choice by inspiration, which there is no reason think they were, it is more than a thousand to one that those seven persons who were chosen were not the persons whom every individual member first proposed. What then can we suppose them to have done? They might discuss the subject till they become of one mind; or, which is much more likely, the lessor number, perceiving the general wish, and considering that their brethren had understanding as well as they, might peaceably give up their own opinions to the greater, "submitting one to another in the fear of God." But suppose a hundred of the members had said as follows:- Without reflecting on any who have been named, we think two or three other brethren more answerable to the qualifications required by the apostles than some of them; but, having said this, we are willing to acquiesce in the general voice'-Should they or would they have been excluded for this? Assuredly the exclusions of the New Testament were for very different causes !
The statements of the society in St. Martins-legrand on this subject are sophistical, self-contradictory, and blasphemous. "Nothing," say they, "is decided by the vote of the majority. In some cases indeed there are dissenting voices. The reasons of the dissent are thereupon proposed and considered. If they are scriptural, the whole church has cause to change its opinion; if not, and the person persists in his opposition to the word of God, the church is bound to reject him." But who is to judge whether the reasons of the dissentients be scriptural or not? The majority no doubt, and an opposition to their opinion is an opposition to the word of God.
Humility and love will do great things toward unanimity; but this forced unanimity is the highest refinement of spiritual tyranny. It is being compelled to believe as the church believes, and
OF THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST.
My Dear Friend,
You are aware that the admirers of Messrs. Glass and Sandeman generally value themselves on their "clear views of the gospel, and of the nature of Christ's kingdom;" and I doubt not but they have written things concerning both which deserve attention. It appears to me, however that they have done much more in detecting error, than in advancing truth; and that their writings on the kingdom of Christ relate more to what it is not, than to what it is. Taking up the sentence of our Lord, My kingdom is not of this world, they have said much, and much to purpose, against worldly establishments of religion, with their unscriptural appendages; but, after all, have they shown what the kingdom of Christ is; and does their religion taken as a whole, exemplify it in its genuine simplicity? If writing and talking about "simple truth" would do it, they would not be wanting: but it will not. Is there not as much of a worldly spirit in their religion as in that which they explode, only that it is of a different species? Nay, is there not a greater defect among them, in what relates to righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, than will often be found in what they denominate Babylon itself.
A clear view of the nature of Christ's kingdom would hardly be supposed to overlook the Apostle's account of it. The kingdom of God, he says, is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. From this statement we should expect to find the essence of it placed in things moral rather than in
things ceremonial; in things clearly revealed rather than in matters of doubtful disputation; and in things of prime importance rather than in those of but comparatively small account. We certainly should not expect to see the old error of the pharisees revived, that of tithing mint and rue to the neglect of judgment, mercy, and the love of God.
We should also expect the most eminent subjects of this kingdom would be men who, while they conscientiously attend to the positive institutions of Christ, abhor the thought of making them a substitute for sobriety, righteousness, and godliness: men who need not a special precept for every duty; but, drinking deeply into the law of love, are ready, like the father of the faithful, to obey all its dictates.
And, as the kingdom of God consists in peace, we should expect its most eminent subjects to be distinguished by that dove-like spirit which seeks the things which make for peace. They may indeed be called upon to contend for the faith, and that earnestly; but contention will not be their element: nor will their time be chiefly occupied in conversing on the errors, absurdities, and faults of others. Considering bitter zeal and strife in the heart as belonging to the wisdom that descendeth not from above, but which is earthly, sensual, and devilish, they are concerned to lay aside every thing of the kind, and to cherish the spirit of a newborn babe.
Finally The joys which they possess in having heard and believed the good news of salvation may be expected to render them dead to those of the world; so much so at least, that they will have no need to repair to the diversions of the theatre, or other carnal pastimes, in order to be happy; nor will they dream of such methods of asserting their Christian liberty, and opposing pharisaism.
Whether these marks of Christ's subjects be eminently conspicuous among the people alluded to, those who are best acquainted with them are able to determine; but so far as appears from their writings, whatever excellencies distinguish them, they do not consist in things of this nature.