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yea, he required a renovation of these engagements, and they confirmed them with a solemn appeal unto his own omniscience. Hence, says a late writer of distinguished merit, "In the days of Christ's humiliation we have an example of it, (viz. of social vowing). At a certain time,. when many who profesied steadfastness in their attachment to Christ's person and ministrations had gone back,—He put a question to the twelve,"—"Will ye also go away?" Peter spake the sentiments of the whole, in a PuBlic vow,—" Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life: And we believe and are sure, That thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." This declaration hath not only the esientials of a vow, but even the very form of it. It is made not merely concerning Christ, but to him; it contains a dedication of themselves to him for time and eternityr as the Lord of eternal life; and it is attended with a solemn profestion of their faith concerning the character of Christ, on whom they believed. In short, Peter said all that can be expressed in the most prolix form of
words used in any solemn vow. We have
another example of solemn vows from the lips of the fame confessor, after Christ's resurrection. Peter had fliamefully deserted, and wickedly denied his Lord. His divine master, in order to restore him to the other disciples, whom, no doubt, he had scandalized by his conduct -y and to give the other Apostles assurance, that his commission of apostlesliip was not forfeited^ -—drew him to a solemn public vow of his love to the master whom he had lately denied ; yea, to a confirming his vow by swearing, as he had, on that occasion, denied him with Curses and Oaths. " Simeon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He faith unto him, Yea, Lord! thou knowest that I love thee," Sec. Here is both a formal public vow, and a formal public appeal to the omniscience of Christ, with regard to his sincerity in his vow. It is true, though it be a public vow it is not social: But the reason is obvious. The other apostles were not aflbeiates with him in the aist of denying his Lord: But, had they been in the fame cafe with Peter, the fame reason would have pleaded for extending the question to them all; in order to their jointly professing their love to Christ, in a social as well as a public vow*."
2 Cor. viii. j. Heb. iv. 14. and x. 23.
THE Gospel Church, constituted by Christ immediately after his resurrection, was propagated by his inspired Apostles, according to the model he shewed them by his Spirit j and particular churches were formed according to that original pattern. The Church of Macedonia, Was formed on that of Jerusalem, which last was the first particular church under the better œconomy. These societies, however, were not Moles Absq_ue Nervis; but firmly bound together by ligaments, flowing from the will of their original founder. To ascertain the truth in this matter, we may,— !• Consider the Terms on which persons were * Aaaa admitted admitted to special fellowship in these socie* ties.—II. The Solemnities they used to testify their acceptance of these terms.—III. Then enquire If these engagements, on particular occasions, were renewed by the members of the Apostolic Churches, and that with divine approbation.
FIRST, I shall attend unto the Terms on which persons were admitted into the Apostolic Churches; and, as far as we know, they were,
I. A Profession of faith in the Apostolic doctrine. How many articles were explicitly professed is not easily ascertained; yet we may easily form a judgment of them from such particular instances as are to be found in the sacred history. The first time the Church exercised this power was on the day of Pentecost j but the terms of their assent are not recorded at length. The sacred historian only observes, in the general, that young converts " received the word, and that they continued in the apostles Doctrine:" But it is probable they laid the foundation in doctrines concerning the person of Christ; faith in him; conversion to God through him; baptism with water, as the sign of internal baptism with the Holy Ghost: For the sacred historian assures us, that Peter preached on these subjects unto the people j "and ■with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation." When he Testified, he declared the extent of his creed; and left a testimony against the dreadful evils of that untoward generation: And that testimony was received by the multitude which was added to the Church. This was the basis of their communion; otherways, they could not be said to have "continued in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." Another instance is, the erection of the Church of Samaria. When the Evangelist Philip preached Christ unto them, they believed concerning the kingdom of God, and in the name of Jesus Christ; and, upon their profession of this faith to him, they were baptized by him. Though it is prefumeable, that many of them believed unto the saving of the soul; yet it is plain, that the faith mentioned cannot be confined unto this species: For Simon Magus Believed; but the sequel proved the insufficiency of his faith unto salvation. The truth is, neither the Apostles nor Evangelists, when admitting persons into the Gospel Church, acted according to their extraordinary gifts—discerning the spirits; but they acted as ordinary officers—satisfying themselves with a judgment of charity, without a judgment of certainty as to the internal state of the persons received; and this part of their conduct affords a rule of procedure in every sucAaaa 2 ceeding