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struggle, and bound in the chains of a perpetual slavery by this detestable indulgence. The enormity of the evil has given rise to various plans for arresting its progress. To decide on the intrinsic or comparative merits of these philanthropic schemes is foreign to my present object. This much, however, is obvious, that he who does nothing to promote sobriety must be wrong. None can be innocently idle in the view and amid the desolations of such a deadly plague as intemperance. All may do much individually to bring this immorality into abhorrence, and the admonitory vigilance of elders may be of incalculable value in warding it off from the precincts of the sanctuary.
Such are some of the offences which warrant and demand the faithful dealing of an elder with the offender. Much depends, however, on the mode, as well as the matter, of expostulation. One rule, which our Lord bas laid down as to the manner of proceeding in such cases, is never to be forgotten or violated. He has expressly enjoined that, where the offence is personal, and not known to the public, a private settlement of it should be attempted ; and if due acknowledgment or reparation be made by the party in the wrong to the party injured, no farther steps should be taken.* Besides observing this rule himself, an elder may have frequent occasion to inculcate the obseryance of it on others. The rule, however, applies only to private offences; and when any sin, even though
* Matt. xviii. 15.
may have been ever so secret in the first instance, becomes noised abroad, and so brings a scandal on the christian cause and church, then a personal settlement of it is no longer admissible. The vindication of the church must be as wide as its reproach. Even then, however, although an elder is not bound to communicate with the person in fault before submitting the case to the session, it can generally do no harm, and may often do much good, to speak with the individual apart, and inform him of the measures which the nature and publicity of his transgression render indispensable. Courtesies of this kind evince kind intention, and remove the pretexts which shelter impenitence. When a desire is thus manifested to save feeling in the application of discipline, it always commands respect, if not acquiescence, and seldom disturbs good understanding. Indeed, this is to state the case very feebly. Let an elder wear, in his own blameless character, an impenetrable panoply; let him not only be a just man, but a man of bene. volent worth ; let him enter on the task of censure with manifest pain to himself, and obviously from a sense of duty and a wish to impart benefit, and he wields in these attributes an impressive, an appalling power. The audacity which laughs to scorn the mace and the sceptre of earthly greatness, may quail before his scriptural and spiritual authority. I do not say that it will, in every case, subdue transgressors
into contrition—that end it can never reach without God's blessing; but this I say, that the man who despises such admonition, has few restraints left
between him and destruction, I have known those who have resisted and reviled a faithful and affectionate office-bearer in the self-denying fulfilment of his functions; but I have known none of them whose scorn of God's servant has not recoiled upon them. selves. We should pray in hope for all; but I should despair of such scorners, if I were to despair of any.
Seeing, then, that official censures are weapons so penetrating, an elder will do well to handle them with discretion, and to beware in the handling of them of allowing ought that is earthly to impair their celestial purity and strength. Many counsels might be given, but this only I shall remark—that remonstrance, to be effective, must be expeditious. A stone, in downward motion, is best arrested at the beginning of its
When it has tumbled from steep to steep, and has acquired at every stage of its descent augmented violence, a resistance, which would have stopped it entirely at the commencement of its fall, may fail at the last to qualify its speed. So is it with downward conduct. A word may reclaim after the first act, where volumes of entreaty impose no restraint on the confirmed habit. An elder, then, should not procrastinate in checking misconduct. One of the best elders I ever knew was very earnest in acting upon this principle, and he related to me an incident which had mainly impressed its importance on his mind. A highly respectable member of the congregation in which he was an office-bearer became suspected of exceeding in the use of spirits. At first the suspicion was treated as a calumny, and the
friends of the accused spoke of it with indignation, Nothing, therefore, was done in the matter—not so much as to institute any inquiry to ascertain the truth or untruth of the rumours. The suspected individual maintained, on the whole, his prior standing, and no one could be bold enough to confront him on the delicate subject. Suspicion went to rest, but from time to time revived, and always in alliance with new corroboratory indications. Still the respectable man could not be charged, however gently, with the supposition of inebriety. At length his excesses became more decided and apparent: he was seen drunk one day in the streets: the town rung with the sad news, and no more delicacy remained in subjecting him to discipline. The session took up the case, and the elder I have adverted to was appointed, along with another, to wait on Mr to converse with him on the fama affecting his reputation, and summon him to their next meeting. He received them with a mournful expression on his countenance.
When they had informed him of the occasion and design of their call, he replied to this effect-'Your visit is kind, but late. Had you come sooner, while I had a struggle with myself, you might have aided my better resolutions. But now all is over. My character is lost; my self-command is gone, and I am a ruined manfor ever and ever.' Shortly after he expired in a fit of drinking. When the elder told me these circumstances, he was much affected by the recollection of them, and said he would brave any accusation of censoriousness rather than encounter another such interview,
SECT. 6.-It is one of the greatest improvements of modern times, that so much care is bestowed on early tuition. But though this field of labour receives more attention than formerly, it is not yet adequately cultivated. The offspring of professing christians are received into the visible church by baptism, and the church is solemnly bound to use diligence that all the young thus admitted into its fellowship be suitably instructed. If no means be employed to secure this end, their admission is a mere ceremony-rather, a positive mockery; and the opponents of infant baptism find too much pretext in the conduct of its friends for holding it in derision. All the members of the church should derive benefit from their relation to it corresponding with their state and wants; and if the church neglect the young who are its acknowledged charge, assuredly the rulers of the church shall not be found guiltless.
There should be classes of children. These are commonly taught on the Sabbath evening, because the season corresponds with the exercises, and is otherwise the most convenient for pupils and teachers. Some have a prejudice against Sabbath schools. It is evident, however, that to children who would be otherwise neglected, they are invaluable, and that they ought to be maintained, were it for their sakes alone. To the offspring of religious parents they are less necessary; and did the question lie between school a and domestic instruction, a decided preference would he due to parental superintendence. But I apprehend that these means of improvement are best conjoined,