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torship presented to me which never fails or ceases to exist to me. Often withdrawn from the eye of the world, and often hidden from the eye of fellow-saints; from the eye of God and these “ principalities* and powers in heavenly places"—the saint is never withdrawn or hidden. Moreover, the former part of those that witness us, take a much more superficial view than do the latter. The world can tell my acts, and judge of them whether consistent or not with my professed principles. Saints on earth know more ; for they can tell our ways and discern much, if walking in the Spirit themselves, of what passes within. From the marvellous wisdom which Satan has ever displayed in all his temptations as recorded in the Word, we can judge assuredly that he can enter much into the present state of mind and heart of those with whom he has to do: but of this we are sure, that God's eye is upon the heart and the reins, and that “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." This is a very blessed thought; for it makes the anguish and suffering of many a poor bed-ridden saint-many a humble, unknown servant-the means of testimony of the highest kind, which, but for this, would be no testimony at all : it checks also our foolish haste in the measure of importance we might adjudge to the testimony before man as reminding that all testimony is judged of by God; and makes banishment to Patmos as important a sphere of testimony, when appointed of God, as Mars' Hill at Athens. How blessedly does the Lord's own course, and his address to Smyrna when compared with that to the other churches, prove this.
If ever there was a time when believers, gathered together in the bond of unity, and under the conduct of the Holy Spirit, owning no master but the Lord their righteousness, might rejoice in the situation in which it has pleased God to place them, it surely must be now, when all around them is to be heard the loud clamour of sectarian strife, the brawling accusations and recriminations of various religious partizans. The Church of England, having, as she supposes, surmounted her immediate difficulties and dangers, is now turning round upon her enemies, and seems fully disposed to adopt retributive measures against those who have caused her so much alarm. The Dissenters having, ever since the reform era, waged ineffectual but harassing warfare with the Establishment, and having led on various assaults to storm the citadel of prelacy, are now obliged to sound a retreat, whilst the besieged party are occasionally making sallies on the baffled enemy. There is no doubt that the clergy and the Churchmen desire exceedingly to punish the Dissenters : they have already tried their hands, and with tolerable success, in reviving the old persecutions of the ecclesiastical courts; and it is not to be doubted, that if they steadily pursue this course, they will be able, under one pretence or another, to cast many of the Dissenters into prison. The non-payment of church rates, and the duties of the churchwarden's office (which Dissenters may not refuse to accept), open a wide field for the exercise of clerical revenge ; for so little, in fact, has the boasted Reform Bill effected towards removing the old machinery of ecclesiastical oppression, that the clergy may harass as much as ever, with fine and im
patriots who five or six years ago supposed that nothing was more easy than to separate the Church from the state. The antipathy between the Dissenters and the Churchmen is now come to its full height; they could hardly hate one another worse than they do; they could scarcely speak and write more bitterly against their rival systems than at present. - The Voluntary System” and “the Compulsory System,” like fire and water, are exploding, fuming, and hissing in contact, and the neighbourhood is almost stifled with their offensive concremation. At first the argument seemed entirely on the side of the Dissenters; for the Church of England is such a rank field of secular corruptions, that it offered itself, like a wide region of nettles, for the sweeping scythe of nonconformity ; but now the clergy have dis
* That some of these are hostile is proved by Rom. viii. 38; Eph. vi. 12; Rev. xii. 7–12.
covered that there are not a few nettles and other disagreeable weeds in the lands of their enemies; and they are publishing their discoveries from time to time with striking effect. Mr. Maitland, a clergyman, has published a book entitled “The Voluntary System,” in which, by extracts taken exclusively from periodicals and other publications of the Dissenters, he has been enabled to present a most repulsive portrait of the professional antagonists of the Church. Neither do the British Magazine and the Record newspaper forget to cull the “ beauties” of dissent whereever they can find them; and these they present to the public with all the addition of triumphant hatred.
In the September number of the British Magazine we find one of these “extracts" taken from the Evangelical Magazine, from which, if we borrow some sentences, it is not, as may well be supposed, for the object of depressing dissent in order to elevate the Church of England, but simply to shew the miserable results of a Church government, which, we are persuaded, is wholly unauthorised by the word of God, which carries with it its own punishment, which is in feeling terms acknowledged as a punishment by those who blindly adhere to it, and which all the vehemence and all the
expostulations of its best friends entirely fail to remedy. The extract from the Evangelical Magazine is headed thus :
EVILS THAT NEED TO BE REMEDIED.
“Sir,—As a constant reader, and an occasional correspondent, I read, with mingled emotions of pain and pleasure, in your Magazine for May, the excellent article which it contains, on “Inconstancy of Affection towards Christian Pastors.' After perusing it, I could not help thinking that there are many members of Christian churches who cannot read its clear and affecting statements without blushing and trembling, except their hearts are harder than adamant, and their consciences steeled against all reproof. Added to the correct and forcible statements of your correspondent concerning many a pastor who for a number of years has struggled through many oppressive difficulties, and who has reduced a ponderous debt by hard and self-denying labour, it has often appeared to me an act of injustice, for which a good account cannot be given at last, when a church has suffered a few factious and hard-hearted individuals to deprive a minister of a very considerable part of his annual income, not because they pretend to bring a single charge against him affecting either his moral or his ministerial qualifications, but just because when he has done all their hard and difficult work, they begin to think that they should like a change.”
After stating how “ the young minister, full of hope, and zeal and love, enters on his new sphere of action with fair and flattering hopes;"—how “ his friendship is sought, his company courted, his discourses are eulogised;" the writer supposes that the congregation are in debt, and send him out to collect money.
“ As he is prompted to leave his home, and assume the humiliating character of a ministerial mendicant, and, doing violence to his modest feelings, with weary steps, a careworn brow, and an aching heart, to pace the streets of our commercial towns and cities to solicit alms, not for himself, but for the cause. And he expects that these efforts will tend to endear him to his Church, and the gratitude of his people will develope itself by a stronger expression of love and a closer bond of union. He fondly believes himself at home in their midst, and that he is still and likely long to be, what he at first was, the pastor of their choice. He, perhaps, ere long discovers, to his astonishment and dismay, that he has only laboured for some one who should by-and-by enter into his labours. There is gradually disclosed to him a change in the conduct of those on whose adherence and affection towards him, he relied with the most unsuspecting and confident assurance; not his enemies, but his familiar friends, guides, and acquaintance, with whom he took sweet counsel. He remains the same as when his espousals with the Church were recognised [an Episcopal, Popish, and unscriptural metaphor this]. He is the same physically, mentally, morally. He is the same man, the same minister as he was when, at their solicitation, he became their pastor. He retains the same unimpeachable character, holds the same denominational views, and proclaims the same essential truths. His hand is still as open, his heart as disposed to sympathise, his mind to study, and his tongue to preach. But how changed the treatment he is doomed to experience!
Where he once met the cordial and bland smile, he now encounters the cold forbidding frown; lips that once pronounced his praise are silent, or if they move, it is only to mutter the language of censure or condemnation ; the door that was thrown wide open for his reception is now closed, or creaks reluctantly on its hinges to allow him access; the hospitable board and the family altar, where he was hailed as an honoured guest, he is now excluded from, or only admitted by sufferance. His public discourses are now criticised and condemned by individuals whose views are most contracted, and who, whilst they profess to have an unction from on high and to know all things, even the deep things of God, are really most imperfectly versed in the rudiments of Christianity, and need again to be taught that which they cannot acquire, the first principles of the oracles of God. These profoundly wise and learned men sit in judgment on their minister, and with a dignified air and oracular tone, as ludicrous as it is preposterous, they avow their opinions and pronounce their verdict, and with an authority as commanding and a confidence as unblushing as though, inspired by extraordinary power, they were invested with a divine prerogative to become exclusive censors in the Church, from whose decisions there would be no appeal.........but as no act of coercion can exclude a minister, those who wish to be fairly rid of hinn must either tire him out or starve him out. This can, however, be seldom accomplished by a single individual. There must be a conspiracy arising from the spread of disaffection. Unhappily a small faction, even one or two persons in a Church, have sometimes the power, and that without much personal risk, to spread the views of disaffection. When it is once resolved our minister shall go, give the parties time and they will generally effect their purpose. It matters not to them, the pastor's personal attachment to the people, the pecuniary sacrifices he may incur, the difficulties he may have to encounter from the stigma which their conduct affixes to his professional character, the plans of usefulness he must relinquish unaccomplished, and the spiritual children begotten by him he must abandon-all these are throun overboard in the attempt to remove their minister from the helm.........yes; and there are those who have fallen as the victims of disaffection, and whose hearts have been broken by the unchristian conduct of their people," &c. &c. &c.
Here is a full-length portraiture of the Congregational system, drawn by a masterhand! And what shall we say of it, but that it cannot possibly be accepted as a representation of the Church of Christ ? Which, if it fails to represent, what need is there to inquire whether it be more or less of an evil than the Establishment ? They who feel solicitous to ascertain the comparative weight of evil in the two systems, may adjust the balances for the task; but to us this is quite sufficient, that Con. gregationalism, judged by the description of its own advocates, is shewn, not to be that gathering of the saints whereby “ all men may know" the true disciples of Jesus (John xiii. 35).
We have, however, a few remarks to offer on the pathetic extract before us. Where scenes like these take place, and they are painfully frequent—though they of course will vary in detail according to the variation of characters—who need hesitate to pronounce that the constituent members of these nominal churches (if indeed they be Christians even of the lowest standard) bave utterly forgotten every precept addressed to the members of the body of Christ ? And what is it that produces these dolorous tragedies ? The system itself, which is a deliberate departure from the word of God, which has substituted the government of the flesh for that of the Spirit; which has put man in the place of God, and therefore must of necessity participate in the known evils of human governments.
Consider now, for a moment, the materials offered for strife; and can we be astonished, after having considered them, that strife and evil passions should be the result? The young minister offers himself to the people as a person duly prepared by the college to undertake the manifold labours of the pastorate; they elect him; it is a matter of votes; and very often there are two parties in the election, one preferring A, and the other having a decided preference for B. A, however, is chosen by a majority of votes, and is elected into the monarchy of the church-as the kings of Poland used to be elected into their thrones-he is now, in his own opinion, THE ONE MAN of the whole body of believers in all the services of the sanctuary. He utters all their sentiments of faith and doctrine, and offers up and
their prayers, and is moreover to be the general superintendent of all the projects and efforts of the church; he not only expects a sufficient salary, but the punctual payment of respect, affection, and admiration. This is a heavy tribute, and is felt as such by the church-members; money they may give; but respect, affection, and admiration they, oftentimes, cannot give; and yet, so perplexed are their own ideas in the one-man system (a system both in inheritance and in principle, purely Popish), that in their own minds they think they ought to love, esteem, and admire “their pastor," but as they do not find any feelings in their own minds answerable to what they suppose to be their duty, they are convinced that the fault is to be traced to the pastor rather than to themselves, and that their minister ought to be such a one as could, by his commanding talents and pleasing manners, make himself their master in the pulpit, and a very agreeable companion out of it. In short, there has been, from the very beginning, no bond of Christian love between them. It has been a worldly arrangement, in which the paying parties expected to receive something of value for their payment; and, as they find themselves disappointed in their calculations, they naturally (that is, according to the habits of the natural man) cast about to make a better bargain. Hence all the miserable intrigues to “to tire or starve out" the minister ; in order to become possessed of another preacher more eloquent, or another companion more agreeable to the wealthy members of the church. It is impossible to describe these intrigues in strains too melancholy; they exhibit all the baseness of covetousness, united to all the coarseness of vulgar minds, and all the spite of low and cowardly cabal. It is perfectly true, as the writer says, that some ministers have died of broken hearts, in consequence of the unkind treatment of their people; but might not the victim of these detestable maneuvres open his eyes to his true position, and in the very depth of his miseries catch a glimpse of the light to lead him on into a fairer region? Why does not the persecuted minister, instead of clinging to the dogmas of sect, take the New Testament in hand, and search diligently to discover the pattern of Christ's church, and compare it with those traditions of Congregationalism that are dragging him down to the grave ?
Where shall he find, either by precept or by practice, amongst the records in holy writ, that the church is to have one superintendent only, and that that superintendent is in his own person to unite the office of elder, evangelist, teacher, pastor, exhorter, minister, ruler? Where can he discover his authority for the monopoly of preaching, to which he has been elected? Where are his texts enjoining the continued silence of all the brethren, pointing it out to be their duty, from year's end to year's end, to listen in dumb-show, to one salaried orator? How will he defend the unseemly, scandalous, and secular practice of electing a pastor, who“ on trial”—who is voted into office like a church-warden, and is looked on as successful candidate?”
Then again, how can he defend, how can he justify, the position he has assumed as an usurper-yea, as a grievous wolf, that does not spare the flock—in that he has swallowed up all the gifts of the Holy Ghost in the voracity of his selfishness, and taken unto himself exclusively the portion designed for all the children of God ? How, even with all the perversity of traditional blindness, cun he shut his eyes to the blaze of light which flashes from such portions of Scripture as the following ? "IS
say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think ; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith ; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching :. or he that exhorteth, on exhortation; he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy,
with cheerfulness” (Rom. xii. 3—8). “ As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any mun minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth" (1 Pet. iv. 10, 11). “Ūnto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity
captive, and gave gifts unto men. .And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Eph. iv. 7-12)
Who shall find the one-man system here ? or who, with the uttermost dexterity of perversion, shall attempt to accommodate these statements with the existing arrangements of the Congregationalists? And is it not apparent, at the first sight, that a learned ministry, and the plan of retaining one
salaried orator, is irreconcileably in opposition to the statements of Scripture ? The two ideas cannot stand together ; one must give way: either there may be the government of the Holy Spirit in the church,“ dividing unto every man severally as he will," and so producing complete liberty of ministry; or there may be a learned ministry, one man from the colleges, dripping with Greek and Latin, chosen to take the sceptre of carnal authority, and elected to extinguish the spiritual life of all the saints.
The Congregationalists have made their choice, and have rejected the spiritual government to make way for “ the wisdom of this world;" and the fruits of their choice we see in these descriptions, which they themselves furnish from time to time of their own unhappy churches.
The reader will have noticed the contemptuous aversion with which the writer in the Evangelical Magazine speaks of those church-members who presume to criticise the pulpit labours of the Dissenting ministers. He marks them with his bitter scorn, as if he was at a loss for words to express the extent of their ignorance, presumption, and baseness. And yet these same persons, who, in many cases, are such persons as he insinuates, have been the electors of the pastor, and their s opinions,"
verdict,” and votes, were by no means so odious on the day of election: might not then the electors say in reply, “Our opinion was once highly esteemed, and we gave it according to such data as were then supplied; but on further information, and on a closer acquaintance, we have changed our opinions, and now we find that the minister will not suit us”? These are the inevitable evils of the system which no energy of writing can repress, no seriousness of expostulation can avert: they will appear again and again, and though “expelled with a fork” will continually recur, never to be got rid of till human nature itself be changed. But these things are not the portion of the saints when they submit to the word of God, and seek to be ruled by the great Teacher. The evidence of the life of the Church is in the love of the Brethren; the Holy Spirit, the Evocator of the dead, calls up the natural man out of the death of nature into the life of Christ, that in Christ he
love those who are rejoicing with him in the power of the same resurrection; their joy is not in hearing talented sermons, eloquent harangues, and brilliant orations, but in living together in the bond of the Spirit, in the strength of faith, in separation from the world, in a life of sacrifice, in a walk of self-denial, and not for mortification's sake, but for love, in following the guidance, and hearkening to the teachings of the Supreme Doctor of Theology, who, from his chair in the heavens, opens the deep things of God in the hearts of believers, and seals the doctrine which he inculcates, with an indelible impression, and establishes the truths of his school with a divine unction, anointing into the priesthood those whom he teaches, and bringing his disciples with boldness into that dread place where no one but mitred and consecrated Aaron of old might tread-even into the holiest of all by the blood of Jesus. See then how believers, in consequence of these their privileges (if indeed they are allowed to enjoy them), are addressed: “ Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption ;-—let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice ; and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” Now do these injunctions come in merely in the tail of a sermon, and as a sort of lecture on Christian morals ?-No! they are part of the stream of everlasting life flowing from the fountain-head, and understood to be part of the life, and evidence of the life, of believers living together in the closest imaginable union with Christ their Lord. Turn to the chapter ; it is the 4th of Ephesians; the precepl is in the three last verses : follow the stream of the argument up to its head, and you will come to the following points in the upward course; the saints " are renewed in the Spirit of their mind, and have put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (23, 24).