Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

sons, or be taken up merely as occasion offers. It must be the business of every day; and, as far as circumstances ad. mit, of every portion of the day. Say we these things of our own self; or saith not the scripture also the same thing? “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shall talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart, and iu your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.?? Deut. vi. 6, 7. & xi. 18, 19.

Is this any thing like the miserable procedure often wito nessed in the church of God? Is it any wonder, when the ordinances of Jesus Christ are so wantonly and cruelly neglected, that children grow up shamefully ignorant of every thing, but the mere form of words in which their catechisms have been framed. Is it the church or is it the God of salvation that is guilty of unfaithfulness, when the heads of the old men are laid beneath the clod, and there are none found to occupy their room? God is unchangeable, he cannot deny himself; he has said that “though folly be bound up in the heart of a child, yet the rod of correction shall drive it far away;" he has declared that if a "child be trained up in the way that he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it.” But when parents correct with passion, instead of prayer for God's promised blessing; when they content themselves with the common meager round of instruction, or with miserable excuses for affording none at all, what can be expected but that their charge should perish, and the perdition of the child be laid to the parent's hands!

It will never be so when a reviving comes in any church of God. Every house will be a little church; every parent a teacher of righteousness; every babe will learn to lisp and to love the name of Jesus; and thus shall streams is. sue forth from every family that will in after times make glad the city of our God.

2. Another great mean of "strengthening the things which remain," is the taking proper notice of those who are past the period of childish instruction. Every one who descends from christian parents, is, by the very fact of that descent, a member of the christian church. In the ordinance of baptism that relationship is not created, but formally recognized. And, therefore, the church of Christ is in duty bound to see that every baptized adult take the yoke upon him. It is too common for young people to imagine that they have no connexion with the church of God, unless they be received into full communion. And this error has been too long sanctioned by the remissness of church courts. Hence immoralities, gross immoralities, are often found in every christian family that are suffered to pass unnoticed; and legions of them who owe their testimony to the King of Zion, are permitted to stand idly by. This must not be the case, if a people would rise from their state of decay, and trim again their expiring lamp. The exhortations the warnings--the reproofs of the Master's officers, should be prudently administered; but administered with firmness; and if every milder method failed, then there can be nothing left, but to cut them

off from their relation to the church of God. No doubt procedures of this kind would excite much animosity, and a great deal more complaint. But it is the duty of those who are entrusted with authority from Jesus Christ, to pursue the track which his wisdom has marked out, and leave the results to him. This, be it remembered, is his ordinance, and it was designed for the welfare, not the destruction, of his kingdom; and how far it is calculated to ensure beneficial effects he is the better judge. No man can tell how much interest such a procedure, once or twice attempted, would excite among the rising generation; none can calculate how highly they might be led to value privileges now not thought of; or with what fondness they would be prone to cherish them. And something like this must take place; the authority of the Redeemer must be recognized; his ordinances must be honored, if ever we expect our hearts to be gladdened with a reviving time in the midst of trouble. And this was the case in the days of the blessed reformation. A spirit of inquiry, of devotion, prevailed eminently among the young; and the happy consequences reached down for many generations.

3. The renovation of the decayed ministrations of the church is another mean of “strengthening the things which remain.” As is the ministry such will be the church, is an adage that always holds good. Individual men have sometimes been reared up among a corrupted priesthood, or a corrupted ministry, for the

inistry, for the purpose of denouncing God's judgments and hardening the hearts of men; but it never yet was found that a decayed order of teachers were set over a prosperous people; or that when the ministrations of the former were lively and faithful and instruc

Ss

tive, the church remained in a languishing condition. Od the contrary, it is a uniform rule, that when a death-like stupor crceps over the churches of Christ, it is in the body of her ministry that the evil is first discernible; and when a time of reviving comes, it is in the ministry that the glorious work commences.

It was by men fervent in spirit, indefatigable in labour, powerful in word, that the gospel was first preached with such astonishing success. It was the gradual decline of ministerial talent and preparation that marked the first steps of papal incursion. It was a cloud of most learned and brilliant and powerful witnesses, that stood up in the morning of the glorious reformation; and from that hap. py day to this, the deterioration of the ministerial character has gone before the decline of every church. And it must be so. God usually apportions means to ends. He never would prepare a powerful engine without intending adequate results; and when working in the use of means at all, he rarely, if ever, employs weak ones for the pra duction of great effects.

Would any church then, that finds herself in a state of decline, set about "strengthening the things which remain?" Let her spare no pains, let her stick at no cost, for the preparation of a ministry able "rightly to divide the word of truth.” Though she cannot seal them with the Holy Spirit; yet her God has promised to do that for her. Meanwhile it is hers to furnish such means of preparation, to afford such opportunities of bringing forward and exerting every latent spark of genius, as shall, when duly employed and owned of Zion's King, prove in his hand a most tremendous weapon against the powers of darkness, and a spring of ever-varying-ever-increasing comforts to them that hear in faith.

This was the method employed in the reformation from popery, already adverted to more than once. The ablest men were selected as instructors of the rising ministry; the most liberal provision was made that the case required for affording them every advantage; and to these newly founded seminaries, the youth flocked from all parts of christianized Europe. And this, or something like it, must be the method employed, if any church would revive her decaying interests, and display successfully a banner for the truth.

4. In the last place. Let her be careful that the efforts of her ministry do not be lost by being too widely scattered. God never made any thing to grow without appropriate cultivation; and it is vain to expect it in the church of God, more than in any other thing. The spiritual, as well as animal structure, must be made to flourish by receiving day by day its proper nourishment. And if the little that will only suffice an individual body be expended upon a considerable number; all must languish; and eventually all must die. It is a zeal without knowledge, that attempts to scatter ministerial labors. And such a misguided zeal as has produced awful havoc in the church of God. But it is not only a violation of God's constitutions; it is a direct impeachment of his wisdom. In all the order of his house, as delivered to us in the scriptures, there is not a syllable to countenance the measure; and how dare any church expect to prosper in the use of means which her Master never sanctioned?

If then she would "strengthen the things which remain," let her put a stop to the wanton lavishing of her little strength. Let her cultivate no more than she can do in compliance with the regulations of her head. Let pro

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »