« AnteriorContinuar »
glory to build up Zion. His fan is now in his hand. He is separating the wheat from the chaff. He is drawing a line of distinction between his friends and his foes. Some churches are purified and enlarged: but others become las and corrupt, and appear in awful danger of being swallowed up in the world. The Lord will execute his word : Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works ; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
We are constrained, dear brethren, to ask, “ Who shall abide the day of his coming and who shall stand, when he appeareth ? Let us apply the solemn inquiry to each of our churches. We beseech the members of each church, to feel most deeply concerned in the inquiry. Are you prepared for Christ's coming ? If you really felt that he would come, should you not find much to do? Should you not, on faithful examination, discover evils to be corrected.
Let us, first, inquire if we do not resemble the church of Laodicea. "Se then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee put of my mouth.” Such a state is peculiarly offensive to the Redeemer. His ardent love cannot endure it. It provokes him to withdraw his gracious presence, and withbold the influences of his Spirit. What then must be the condition of a church !
Are there no symptoms of our being in this state ! Do we clearly exhibit the christian character ? Cliristians are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. But this high character cannot be maintained without fervent pi. ety. What can professors do, to save the world from ruin, if they are des. titute of the power of godliness? Or how can they be a light to others, if they neither hold forth the word of life, nor abound in good works? And are there not too many professors of this description? Their lives are carefully observed. It is so manifest that they “love the world,” and “mind earthly things,” that a spectator would hardly suspect that they had professed to renounce the world, and join the Redeemer's kingdom. They seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. Does their light shine! Do men see their good works, so as to be convinced of the reality and es. cellence of experimental godliness ? No! But many are induced, by the gareless lives of professors, to think there is nothing in religion. They think that if religion were a reality, professors would make it manifest, by þeing zealous of good works.
A person may have an orthodox creed ; he may contend for the faith and regularly observe the externals of religion, and yet be a very lukewarm professor. How can it be expected that unsanctified orthodoxy will promote vital piety. The truths of the gospel must be felt on the heart. Their holy tendency must appear in the humble, heavenly, and fervent lives of professors. But is this the case in all our churches? O that it were ! Then we might hope for a revival ; that the Lord would visit us in mercy, and enlarge his Zion.
in the second place, let us inquire if there be not a great want of love and christian watchfulness among brethren. What relation is more sacred than that of brethren in Christ. They have one Father, one Redeemer, one Sanctifier. They are adopted into the same family ; they are fellow heirs with Christ, and fellow travellers to the same glorious inheritance. They have a common enemy to oppose, and similar trials to endure. Ought not such brethren to be united in the tenderest love? Being baptized by one Spirit into one body, should they not cultivate the most intimate acquaintance, and know each other's views, and exercises, and trials, and what proga ress they make in the divine life? How can christian professors be faithful, wile there is a cold reserve, and no freedom in communicating their minds to each other? Is it not often the case, that members of the same church have very little, if any, spiritual acquaintance. They are acquainted with each other's temporal concerns, but not with their spiritual. They meet; and are sociable on the common affairs of the world ; but on experimental godliness, they have nothing to say. How very far are such brethren from
complying with the apostle's direction: Exhort one another daily, while it is salled To-day ; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. This is the duty of brethren, at all times, and in all places. All need this exhortation ; for all are in danger of being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. But how many conduct, as if no such duty were enjoined!
Brethren in Christ should certainly be tender of each other's reputation. But is this always the case ?-If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him. -Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart; thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. This is a part of the great law of love. But how few regard it? How few have the love to admonisbe brother of his faults; or to restore him with a spirit of meekness? It is much more natural, and, we fear, more common, to proclaim the faults of a brother to the world, than to go and converse with him tenderly in private, But this is a very great evil. It prevents the good effects of church disci. pline. How can a church rightly discipline an offending member, when the brethren have neglected their duty in private? It is not possible. For in such a case, the process of discipline would be pursued more to gratify prejudice and ill wili,than to gain the offender and edify the body. No hap. py issue could then be expected. This would be no way to convert a broth. er and hide a multitude of sins. Let brett.ren be tender, affectionate, and faithful in private, and there will seldom be occasion for a process of disci. pline before the church. It would seem that the tender, affectionate, and repeated admonitions of brethren in private, must melt an offending brother. How could he withstand the eloquence of fervent love !-Were brethren to be thus faithful, how great would be the peace and honor of the church? How much would gainsayers be silenced, if it could be said of all our mem. bers, See how these Christians love one another ! Dear brethren, love one another with a pure heart, fervently: then you will impart light and heat to each other, and take an effectual method to promote pure religion. But if divisions and offences abound, the enemy will exult; and you will sen. sibly lose the joys of God's salvation. Separate living coals, and the fire will soon die away. Keep them together, and there will be glowing heat.
Let us, in the third place, inquire whether the members of our churches duly sanctify the Sabbath. The command is express : Remember the Sab. bath-day to keep it holy. The strict observance of this command has been found of the highest importance for the promotion of vital piety. Pure re. ligion always declines with the profanation of the Sabbath. From the manner in which this day is regarded, we may very nearly ascertain the state of religion among a people. And the sanctification of the day depends greatlyon christian professors. If they profane the day, who will sanctify it? If they set an example of idleness, or vain, worldly discourse, who will spend the day in pious discourse and the service of God? If they carry the world into the Sabbath, will not others feel warranted to do the same? If they unite with the ungodly in profaning the day, what can be done to promote true godliness?
That the Sabbath is awfully profaned, at this day, cannot be denied. And who is not accessary to this great wickedness? Who can say, that he keeps the Sabbath from polluting it? Dear brethren, must we not plead guilty ? Do we remember the Sabbath, and prepare for it, by meditation, and pray.
C, and seasonably laying aside our worldly concerns ? Does not the Sabbath often begin, while our minds are crowded with worldly thoughts, desires, and schemes ? Is not much holy time spent in things which ought to be done before, or omitted till after, the Sabbath ? Is not much of this holy day spent in unnecessary sleep, in unsuitable employments, in vain and trifing conversation? What! Can we not spend one day in seven, in a holy and heavenly manner; how then can we dwell in heaven? What claim can we have to the character of Christians, if the Sabbath be not to us a delight. If it be a weariness to spend this day in holy, heavenly employments, let us no longer call ourselves Christians. But let us consider low much we dishonor God, grieve the Holy Spirit, and wound the Redeemer's cause! Do we wish to dwell in heaven? Then we must sanctify the Sabbath. Do we wish our children to be heirs of heaven? Then we must sanctify the Sabbath. Do we wish true religion to revive and flourish! I'nen we must sanctify the Sabbaih. It is to no purpose to complain of tbe degeneracy of the times, if ue do not keep the Sabbath from poiluung it. If we neglect this duty, we should ex. pect vice and impiety to prevail. Our example has vast influence. If this influence be not salutary, it will be very pernicious. O let us sanctify the Sabbath, that we may not harden many in sın, 10 their final ruin.
In the fourth place, let us inquire whether the children of the church be not greatly neglected. The church has surely very important duties to dis. charge towards their children. These are. placed peculiarly under their care and instruction. By the church, in connexion with their believing par. ents, these children have been dedicated to God, and baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The church, as well as their respective parents, are under the most soiemn obligation to see them brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Duty is piain : and to en. gage his people in the most zealous and faithful performance of it, God thus promises : I wili pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine of spring : and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses. One shall say, I am the Lord's ; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel. How rich, how animating the pro. mise ! But do we long and pray for its fulfilment ? Are we faithful to those under our care? Does the church use their proper influence and authority over their children? Are they instructed, admonished, and restrained as the word of God requires ? Are their minds suitably impressed with their rela. tion to the Church, their baptismal consecration, and their solemn duty to subscribe with their own hands to be the Lord's? Dear brethren, is it not for a lamentation, that these things are exceedingly neglected ? What is done by our churches to train up their children in wisdoni's ways?
Here is a great cause of the present declension. Children were not thus neglected in the primitive and best days of the New England churches ; but great care was taken to train them up for God. And it appears that whenever he revived his work, by special grace, the converts were chiefly the children of his covenant people, who had devoied them to the Lord in baptism, and earnestly sought for them the renewing of the Holy Ghost.
“ The prevalent neglect, in our churches, of a duty, so great and obvi. ous, ought to excite the deep concern of all who love the welfare of Zion. Perhaps there is no obligation disregarded with less remorse, or more fatal effects, than that of bringing up youth in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Christian families are as certainly the nurseries of the church upon earth, as she is herself the nursery of the church in heaven. Nor is there a more alarming symptom of her condition, than the few, the very few, who tread in the steps of their religious parents.--We exhort the churches to think on this subject; 10 think on it with a serious, prayer ful attention, cor. respondent with its immense importance. The most plausible objections of those who deny the divine rite of infant baptism, are furnished by our criminal inattention to such, as have been solemnly dedicated to God."* ...
We would suggest another consideration. While the children of the kingdom,” are neglected, it is doubted whether any suitable exertions can be sincerely made to promote Christ's cause. Can persons neglect their own children, and yet labor, with a right spirit, for the salvation of others ? Can a man, in christian love, leave his own family to perish, and seek the salvation of strangers ? What should you think of a man, who left his own chil. dren to die with hunger, while he spent his time in procuring bread for others! You would esteem him a very unfeeling, cruel parent. If any pro.
* See an excellent address of the General Association of Connecticut, in the Panoplist for September 1808, and in the Religious Repository for November and December 1808.
dide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. This is as true in spiritual, as in temporal things. How then must God regard' those, who appear much engaged for the salvation of others, while they neglect their own children - It is true, we should love our neighbor as ourselves. But we cannot truly love our neighbor, if we have no love to our own souls : nor can we truly love his family, if we have no love to our own. And in the exercise of true love, we shall be most concerned for those, with whom, we are most nearly connected. Towards these we have peculiar duties to discharge Can we, habitualiy, omit these duties, and yet maintain a right spirit ? Can a church of Christ be rightly engaged to promote his cause, while they neglect those, peculiarly under their care? Persons may gain more popular applause by their zeal abroad and among strangers. But the sincerity of their love is testified by their conduct at home. The fruits of trile love appear in private, as well as - in public. Let us abound in this love, and we shall make zealous exertions to save our children.
"To promote greater attention to the religious education of baptized children,” we would join with the General Association of Connecticut, in recommending the following things:
" That christian parents endeavor to give their children every practicable advantage to become capable of reading the Bible, and of repeating the As. sembly's Catechism, as early as possible
" That they spend at least one hour with them every Sabbath, in prayer, catechising, and familiar instruction in the doctrines and duties of religion
" That they teach them to sanctify the Lord's day by a stated and serious attendance on public worship, reading the Scriptures, and such other exercises as are proper for holy time
" That they require them to attend public catechisings till they are four. teen years of age, and thenceforward during their minority, to attend seasons that may be appointed by their pastor for the religious instruction of youth
“ That they restrain them from going into irregular and vicious company, and places of dangerous resort, and from being abroad unseasonably, and es. pecially on the evening of the Sabbath* «That they train them up in the habitual recollection of their solemn dedication to God, of the relation which they bear to his church, and the peculiar obligations which they are under, in due time, personally and publicly, to own Christ.”
We would also suggest the propriety and vast importance of church conferences, in which, all these things should be affectionately urged both on parents and their children.
Christian parents ; can motives be wanting to excite your attention to these things ? Are not your children peculiarly dear to you !--Can any thing give you greater joy than to see them walking in the truth ?- Are they not hast. ening to eternity ?-What will be their endless state, if they die, unprepared for heaven ?-If they perish through your neglect, how can you meet them at the bar of God ?-Will not their blood be required at your hands ?-How joy. ful to dwell with them in glory?
Can ye not, dear brethren, discern the signs of the times ? Behold the rev. olutions among the nations. God's judgments are abroad in the earth. He is pouring out the vials of his wrath. He is preparing the way for the uni. versal spread of the gospel, and the glorious establishment of Messiah's kingdom. Attend to bis friendly admonition: Behold I come as a thief. Bless. ed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. In the time of awful wickedness and infatuation, the Lord is coming to destroy his foes, and redeem his chosen. Gross dark. ness shall cover his enemies; but the Lord shall arise on Zion, as her light and her glory. Survey the two kingdoms. One is filled with light, the other with darkness. Behold their opposition ; and their VOL. II. New Series.
final destiny. The conflict may be severe; but the issue will be glo. rious for the people of God. The victory will be theirs. Hence your labors of love cannot be lost. The prayers and exertions of the lowly Christian, in the most obscure situation, will tend to the final triumph of truth and ho. liness. Let no one plead the want of talents, or opportunity to promote this cause, Every one can do something. There is no one, who cannot cast in his mite. Awake ; arise ; be zealously engaged in the good work of the Lord, “ The Lord is with you, while ye be with him ; if ye seek him, he will be found of you ; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak; for your work shall be reward. ed.” “ Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.-Even so, come, Lord Jesus.-The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, Amen.”
In betalf of the General Association. JOHN H. CHURCH, Scribe. ELIHU THAYER, Moderator.
Annual Meeting of the Missionary Society in the Counties of Berkshire and Co.
lumbia. The twelfth annual meeting of the Missionary Society, in the counties of Berkshire and Columbia, was holden on the 19th of September last, at the meeting-house in Green-River, State of New York. A large number of ministers and other members of the Society convened on the occasion. At two o'clock P.M divine service began, and a sermon was delivered by the Rev. Samuel Shepard of Lenox.
The Trustees made a report of their proceedings, relative to the employ. ment of missionaries, and expenditure of monies, since their appointment, which was accepted by the Society. The following is an abstract of their Report.- Rev. Samuel Fuller, Rev. Joseph Avery, and Rev. Elisha Yale, who had received missionary appointments from a former board of Trustees, have made returns of their services. Mr. Fuller labored twelve weeks, and Mr. Avery sixteen weeks, in the western counties of the State of New York. Mr. Yale labored two weeks in the Northern parts of the State of NewYork. In the course of the last summer, Mr. Avery performed a mission of eight weeks in the destitute settlements, north of the Mohawk River. Rev. Joseph L. Mills labored four weeks in the northern parts of the county of Berkshire. Rev. William Salisbury labored six weeks, in the destitute settlements in the county of Columbia ; making in the whole forty-eight weeks of missionary service. These missionaries, in fulfilling the duties of their appointment, preached almost every day, and testified, from house to house, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. They also distributed, among the destitute many religious books belonging to the Society. The officers of the Society, elected for the present year, are the following:
Rev. David Perry, President.
Committee of Missions. Rev. David Perry, Rev. Alvan Hyde, and Rev. Samuel Shepard. The next meeting of the Society is to be holden at Spencertown, New York, on the third Tuesday of September, 1810, at one o'clock, P.M. The first preacher for the next annual meeting is Rev. Elijah Wheeler of Great-Bar. l'ington, the second Rev. John Morse of Green River. ALVAN HYDE Sec.