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To an attentive eye it will be apparent, that in most instances where revivals of religion take place, God, in the course of his Providence, so orders circumstances and events, as to produce a state of preparation for the outpouring of his spirit. A faithful performance of the great duty of Christian discipline is often found to precede especial displays of Divine grace. This duty, which is so unequivocally commanded in the Scriptures, and which is acknowledged in the articles of faith of all Protestant churches, is often most lamentably neglected in their practice. Cold and sleeping churches doze over this duty year after year; afraid to commence the work, lest they should be awakened out of sleep; and continue in a state of apathy and sloth, until the list of delinquencies is so numerous, as to appal the stoutest heart, and render nerveless the strongest arm. Many churches remain in this state for twenty years and upwards; and I see no reason why they should expect revivals of religion, for they are not in the way of obedience ; and it is to obedience alone that a promise is annexed. The great revival which commenced in New Haven in 1820, was preceded by a commendable energy and faithfulness in discipline in one of the congregational churches, and by an uncommon attention and activity in this duty, in the other : many rotten branches were cut off, and the church, to a good degree purified and edified,walked in the fear of the Lord. I can mention another instance, still more remarkable. In a church in this state, during the ministry of the present incumbent, a period of about twenty years, twenty-one persons have been excommunicated; and the congregation to which it is attached, has been blessed with four revivals of religion. It is believed by many excellent persons, that we should ever “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”— But what says the Scriptures ? Is it not, that the church should be “first pure, ihen peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”
When churches are called upon to labour and pray for a revival of religion, the almost universal answer among those who are cold and sleeping, is, “God is a Sovereign ;” meaning undoubtedly, that they do not heartily believe that the kingdom of God is a kingdom of means; and evincing that they gather their views of his sovereignty, from the characters exhibited by the petty sovereigns who disgrace our world. The least that can be meant, must be, that he is an arbritary sovereign; governing his subjects according to one set of views at one time, and another set at another time. Does not this idea derogate from the perfect character of the Almighty? Is it not inconsistent with his immutability ? Can we suppose that the Ruler of the world, who is the same yesterday, to day, and forever, will bless the faithful, prayerful efforts of his children at one time, and refuse to bless them at another, when accompanied by the same degree of devotion to his service, and by the same prayer of faith? That God is the King and Governor of the Universe, is a truth, which I trust no man will question, who has the use of his reason. « The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice, let the multitude of the isles be glad thereof."
It is often said by professing christians, and by ministers, when
the subject of revivals is discussed, “ that we must wait the Lord's
In my next number, I propose to consider with some minuteness, those kinds of labour which have been particularly blessed by the effusion of the Holy Spirit.
WHILE urging our young men to the delightful labours of the missionary field, the question has frequently been asked by females,
** What shall we do ?” Most gladly would we reply to so benevolent an inquiry, by pointing out, were it in our power, a thousand new and convenient methods of aiding the missionary cause. Af- . ter considerable reflection however, we can think of no plan for this purpose more desirable than the following, which has in substance been adopted in various parts of the land. The object of this communication is therefore merely to systematize and extend the present already extensive operations of female beneficence. To come then to our plan, · Let a large basket be procured and deposited in some central place in every town or neighbourhood, which may be called, for convenience sake, “ The missionary basket.” Into this let the merchant be invited to throw remnants of cloth, ribands, tape, &c. while the farmer may cast a spare fleece of wool, or loose head of flax. Each family should likewise have the privilege of depositing any spare articles of clothing, which by alteration or repairs would be adapted for the use of heathen children, at the different missionary stations. Having thus filled our basket, let those ladies who are friendly to the object, assemble at stated seasons, weekly or monthly, and under the superintendance of a board of managers, each one select those articles which she can conveniently manufacture. At the succeeding meeting let the articles which are completed be returned to the place of deposit, and let us again examine the missionary basket. Among a variety of useful and ornamental manufactures, we shall probably find ladies' and gentlemen's gloves, mittens, purses, stockings, thread, yarn, ruffles, playing balls, &c. &c. besides a large package of clothes for Indian children.
The question which next arises, is, how shall these articles be converted into money? In reply we would say, the benevolent and wealthy in every village will doubtless give the preference to the missionary basket, provided its manufactures possess equal excellence with others. Those however which remain unsold at the end of the year, can be forwarded to some missionary depository in our principal market towns, where they will probably meet with a ready sale. In addition to the methods alluded to for the supply of the missionary basket, individuals might be solicited, so far as it could be done without interfering with the support of our own industrious poor, to employ the society in the manufacture of their clothing, &c. An interest might likewise be imparted to the meetings by the communication of missionary intelligence, the perusal of well setected books, and the counsels and prayers of the ministers of religion.
Is there any one disposed to think lightly of means like these for doing good ? Let him, before he gives utterance to his sentiments, compute the amount of happiness which the rills of female benevolence have diffused over the plains of India and through our own western wilderness! Let him first go ask that youth whom the labours of a female circle support in the family of the missionaries, and who was once a poor benighted heathen, what is the difference between the darkness and wretchedness of his former state, and that hope full of immortality which is fastened on things beyond the grave? Ye mothers and daughters in Israel! the Pilgrim need not
entreat you to go forward in your “work of faith and labour of love.” He need only to remind you of your obligations to that Saviour whom your sisters in Judea delighted to minister unto of their substance, and for whom they esteemed no ointment too precious, no sacrifice too costly, no duty too arduous.
AN ANSWER TO THE QUESTION IN THE FIRST NO. OF THE
PILGRIM, ON CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP.
THE question, “How far ought christians of different denominations to extend the hand of fellowship, according to the word of God ?” is highly interesting and important to the redeemed family of Jesus. It presents to our consideration a subject which involves the proper exhibition of the glory of divine grace in the world, so far as that exhibition is connected with the church of the living God” which is “the pillar and ground of the truth.”
Two courses, we conceive, cperate to prevent a union among the followers of the Lamb, on this as well as on other subjects relating to their Master's kingdom. Ist. Prejudice in favor of systems which we have received from other sources than the word of truth. 2d. A consequent unwillingness to search that word prayerfully and dili. gently that we may know our Lord's will.
It is indeed lamentable, that the disciples of Jesus have been so much “corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ ;” and that the general body of believers are no more animated by that “ one heart and soul" which characterized and blessed the primitive church. Let us hope and pray and labor for the fulfilment of those predictions of divine truth, that relate to the holy union of the saints, for which the Son of God hath prayed and died.
In considering the question before us, it must be remembered that by the phrase, "christians of different denominations,” we understand all those persons, and those only, who appear to be born of the Spirit of God; who are “the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus ;" who dare not wilfully break.“one of the least” of Christ's commandments,and who“ declare plainly that they seek a country" beyond the joys and glories of this world. In respect to the multitude of nomina christians, who have a name to live and are dead, we have only to repeat the truth of God, “what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness ?" There can be po greater absurdity than to suppose the possibility of christian fellowship without mutual union to Christ. And in no other way perhaps has there been greater dishonor cast on the holy name of Jesus, than by the unholy alliance of his disciples with the world, in violation of the solemn command, « Come out and be ye separate."
It should also be remembered, that difference of denomination among christians, is not agreeable to the rule of the divine word, for the consequence of imperfection in that rule ; but the consequence and the proof of our imperfection. When this imperfec.
tion is removed, we shall all be one, as Christ and the Father are one.
It is believed that the word of God furnishes us with an answer to this important question, in the apostolic precepts, and in those examples of the primitive church, which it is our duty and privilege to follow.
It is manifest, that from the earliest period of the christian church believers in the truth of Christ have had different views, and conscientiously practised differently in some things. See Acts xxi. 20. Rom. xiv. 2-5. Those believers who were in error in certain things, the apostle called weak, and gave the church directions how to treat them. “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye,” &c. Rom. xiv. 1. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak,” &c. “Wherefore, receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.” Rom. xv. 1-7. Here we find a general principle or law of forbearance, to be exercised towards all those who appear to be received of the Lord, and because God hath received them. Rom. xiv. 3. It is not to be expected that every error or weakness into which believers may fall, should be specified in the word of God. It is sufficient that the marks of real christian character are plainly delineated ; and that a general rule of forbearance is given respecting errors not fundamental. In this case, as in others, we discern admirable simplicity and wisdom in the divine word.
The law of forbearance, however, like every other law of Christ's house, is of a holy nature. It will not allow us to cover sin in ourselves or others. Charity “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but in the truth.” This law is perfectly consistent with the injunction to every christian to do whatsoever Christ has commanded. It will not therefore allow us to neglect the observance of any divine precept, because our brethren (from whatever cause) will not unite with us. It is perfectly consistent with all those precepts which require our growth in grace, and in the knowledge and practice of our Lord's will, that “we may with one mind and with one mouth glorify God.” It will not allow us to unite with our christian brethren in any thing which we believe to be contrary to truth, "for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
In answering the question before us, it is important to consider the scriptural representation of the church of Christ: who are the members of it: what are its privileges ; and what is essential to our mutual participation of these privileges.
The term “church,” is used in the New Testament in a very obvious sense, as consisting of the spiritual body of Christ, or all true believers, who are called members of that one body. See Matt. xvi. 18. Eph. i. 22, 23 ; iii. 10, 21 ; v. 23, 25, 27, 29. 1 Cor. xii. 28. Col. i. 18 and 24. We read also of the church in a particular city, 1 Cor. i. 2, and house, Rom. xvi. 5, and of the churches of Asia and Galatia ; but those were only parts of the great whole, members of the one body. 1 Cor. xii. 27.
The term “ visible church” is not scriptural, but if we use it to de note all those who are visibly of that church which the New Tes