« AnteriorContinuar »
who are to engage in the great controversy. The mere fact of the existence of this controversy, the fact that it is necessary again to debate those points upon which the minds of Luther, and Calvin, and Zuingle, exhausted their strength, shows us that, notwithstanding their wisdom, piety, and zeal, there was some serious defect in their manner of conducting the great controversy of their age. We must study the history of those stirring times, we must ascertain what were the errors of the Reformers, what the peculiarities of their situation, what the difficulties which encompassed them, why it was that the church, which had been delivered from the yoke of despotism by a mighty arm, and led forth into the light and liberty of the Gospel, turned back from the very borders of the land of promise, and wandered in the wilderness; why it was that she had not faith and courage to complete the work of redemption, so auspiciously begun. Surveying these things in the calm, clear light of history, and gathering wisdom from experience dearly purchased, we can conduct the reformation of our times to an issue more glorious and enduring than wa ever anticipated by the Reformers of the sixteenth century.
The last suggestion which we have to offer, and the most important, is, that ministers should cultivate a higher tone of spirituality in their lives and in their preaching. The true antagonist to formalism is spirituality-spirituality not in words and opinions, but in life and power. This great foe to the Gospel must be vanquished by the power of prayer and holy living, rather than by force of argument. True Christianity must be put in contrast with that which falsely bears its name, in the lives of its professors. The "sons of God" must be "blameless and without rebuke, shining as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life." It should be borne in mind that the errors of Romanism are deeply seated in the depraved heart of man; that they have their "origin in human nature,”* and can therefore be uprooted only in the complete renovation of the soul by the Spirit of God. Let then the evangelical ministry of our land become yet more emphatically evangelical; more evangelical not only in doctrine but in life, not only in preaching but in practice; let them exhibit to their people the necessity of eminent holiness; let them pray and labour every where for the revival of pure and undefiled religion; let them deal in faithfulness and love with the souls of men, and soon will the true church of God" arise and shine," and error, superstition, and sin will flee before her as the mists of the morning.
* See Archbishop Whately's profound treatise on this subject.
THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH AN INDEPENDENT CHAPEL
SHOULD BE BUILT.
BEING THE ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE LAYING OF THE FOUNDATION STONE OF THE NEW ZION CHAPEL, WAKEFIELD: BY THE REV. JOHN
DOUGLAS LORRAINE, PASTOR.
Ir now devolves on me to declare the purpose for which this stone has been laid. I speak in the name of the deacons and the church, the trustees and the congregation, which have been accustomed to assemble on this spot, and in whose liberality the present undertaking has originated. We mean, then, to erect here (God prospering us) an edifice to be devoted to Christian worship and edification. In the basement story, the young will be taught to read the sacred Scriptures, and made acquainted, by catechetical and verbal instruction, with the principles of Divine truth. On the Lord's day, bands of voluntary labourers will here devote their energies to the training of those who are the hope of society and of the church of Christ. The young idea will here be taught to shoot toward heaven, and the young heart to expand with love to God and to mankind.
The mind will thus early be prepared for an intelligent attendance on public worship, which, as in former years (we pray God that it may be with augmented power and success) will be conducted on this spot, but in a sanctuary of enlarged dimensions and increased adaptation. This is our intention with regard to the structure. Our tastes, not less than our means, forbid the lofty spire, the long-drawn aisles, and the chancel's elaborate decorations. These are foreign to the simplicity of worship at which we aim. A symbolical edifice receives no sanction from the New Testament, and does not appear to us to accord with the spiritual dispensation under which we live. We design no holy of holies, and we erect no altar; for the only High Priest whom we reverence, and the only Priest on the efficacy of whose sacrifice we rely, has entered in once into the holy place, having, by one offering, obtained eternal redemption for us. In the pulpit the doctrines of the cross will here be unfolded, but its form will not be represented in the outline of the building, nor employed as the mounting of its walls.
In erecting this sanctuary, we avow our faith in God, and our conviction that we are bound to render to Him the willing homage of our souls. We labour not to prove the existence of the Supreme; that would at present be a superfluous task; for it would be as rational to expect that a temple should spring up on this site, with all the conveniences we desire, without the skill and labour of man, as that the magnificent creation around us, with all its matchless adaptations, should have evolved out of matter, without the power and superintend
ence of the Divine mind. The language of an apostle contains a simple and conclusive argument, when thus applied-we do not affirm that this is its original application-" Every house is builded by some man, but he that built all things is God."
The worship of Him whose infinite skill is visible in every object on which we gaze, is the obvious duty of such of his creatures as he has fitted for the exercise, by the bestowment of mental powers. This duty is the honour of man, and the preparation by which he is to be qualified for a higher range of existence and delight. We hope, therefore, (by the will of God,) to meet here to engage in the sublime and awful, the pure, consolatory, and transporting exercises of Christian devotion. And ever may this rising sanctuary be entered with the distinct recollection of the words of incarnate Wisdom, "God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth!" May we always praise, and pray, and read, and speak, and hear with this remembrance quickening and controlling our minds!
The doctrines which will here be proclaimed will be those which, in every age of the church of God, have inspired the warmest and purest devotions of the heart. The lapsed condition of man, and his guilt as an offender against Divine holiness and love, will be declared, that haply the contrition may be produced, which makes welcome the tidings of the all-sufficient Saviour. Those who minister here will speak of EMMANUEL; and by that single term they will declare their belief of the Divine glory and the real humanity of Him whose expected advent filled the minds of patriarchs and prophets with gladness, and whose actual appearance, Divine rectitude of life, vicarious death, and subsequent triumph and glory, constituted the grand theme of the apostolical ministry. God forbid that any man should ever stand up here to glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ!
From these statements it will be seen, that it is our intention, that "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” shall be here urged, as the leading requirements of the evangelical scheme. And while an unregenerate ministry will be disclaimed, the glory of this temple will be, not the man that officiates, but the doctrine that is maintained. That will be "the doctrine of Christ," including all that pertains to his mysterious nature and his mediatorial work-free and sovereign justification by reliance on his merit-and holiness of character by the renewing power and purifying influence of his Spirit. The glory of this temple will be, not the daring vaunt of apostolical gifts-a vaunt belied by inability to perform apostolical deeds-but an humble solicitude to share in the rich grace which adorned the natures of the immediate delegates of the Son of God. The glory of this temple will be, not feeble lights, placed on a fictitious altar, shamed by the mid-day sun; but the effulgence of Divine truth, flashing conviction on the mind, and chasing away the darkness of the
understanding. The glory we desire, supremely and intensely, is the presence of God, and a multitude of souls reflecting the splendour of his moral image. These will better consecrate the place we build, than if a thousand men with mitred brows, measured it with solemn step, and muttered gravest benediction.
The ordinances of the Gospel will also here be observed. The ordinance of baptism will be administered to those who, acknowledging the Divine authority of the Christian faith, seek the initiatory rite for themselves, or for their offspring. Among those who have given themselves to the Lord, and united as his disciples in Christian fellowship, the Lord's supper will be dispensed. It will be taught, however, that neither institution is of saving efficacy. By Divine authority, we regard both ordinances as symbolical in their design; the former, as a visible announcement of the doctrine, "Ye must be born again;" the latter, as a visible avowal, that the salvation and the blessings of the Gospel are received by virtue of the sufferings and death of the Son of God. The holy importance of these ordinances will thus be advocated. It will be shown that they are a repetition, in another form, of the essential truths of the Word of God, that on these truths the minds of men may be thoroughly concentrated, and that from them alone they derive their immortal hopes. "Other foundation can no man lay may than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
And it must not be forgotten, that the sanctuary we build is to be another monument of voluntary zeal. No national fund will be diminished, neither will any national nor local tax be augmented, in the slightest degree, by what is done here. But we boast not of this. Compulsory aid we should consider it unjust to ask, and a violation of the spirit of the Gospel to receive. Besides, we gain far more than an equivalent to what we renounce. We preserve the freedom of our worship, and the liberty of our conscience and our judgment. No lord chancellor, no prime minister, no nobleman, no diocesan, no metropolitan, can send a minister to preach here whatever superstitions he may please to advance. The worshippers who may be permitted to assemble here, with the New Testament in their hands, will try every man's doctrine of what sort it is, and receive or reject his ministrations, as his tenets and manner of life show him to be qualified, or disqualified, for the office of a Christian bishop.
That we may enjoy this liberty is one of the principal reasons of our non-conformity. It is a righteous demand of the government, that those who receive the remuneration it dispenses should submit to its direction; and if it be deemed wrong, (as we maintain it is,) for religious affairs to be managed by worldly legislators, the method of shaking off such interference in our times is easy. Let the pay of the state be renounced, as it recently has been by the noble-minded men of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and the fetters are broken.
N.S. VOL. VIII.
Then pastors and people may say, "One is our master, even Christ;" "We will render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and to God the things that are God's," we will give cheerfully our allegiance and tribute to our rightful earthly sovereign, asking nothing in return but the protection of equitable laws, that with our spirits we may serve God, according to the Gospel of his Son, without let or civil disability.
But we are not only nonconformists, disapproving of the alliance of church and state, as contrary to the teaching and precedents of the New Testament, and as hindering the free and unbiased operations of both, in their separate departments, but we are also Independent, or Congregational Dissenters. We maintain, that every church is complete in itself, having a bishop, or elder, (for both terms refer to the same office,) or bishops, or elders, and deacons, whom it has chosen to rule, to teach, and to manage its affairs, according to the law of Christ, every act being open to the suffrage of the body. This we understand to have been the practice of the churches formed under apostolical inspection. And here we see the liberty of holy order, and the order of holy liberty. The sanctified judgment of each member of each church contributes to the security of the whole. If we discover error, we have no convocation of ecclesiastics to consult before we attempt its correction. If we detect disorder among a people united by Christian principle and affection, (and we have no other bonds,) we may expect that it will speedily be put down. If we obtain any new views of Divine truth from the study of the Word of God, we have no other authority to consult before we disclose them. And this liberty is found to be a check both on false doctrine and on ungodly practice. Every one is sent to the Inspired Word to search and see for himself; and with this as our creed, and this as our moral code, we have a uniformity of doctrine which has been sought in vain by demanding assent and consent to human formularies; while, at the same time, we have the most powerful motives to seek conformity to the rules of Christian rectitude, purity, and benevolence.
We are, therefore, persuaded that by our present undertaking we are preparing to bless society in its onward progress. We are building a house in which the young will be instructed; in which the worship of God will be maintained; in which the saving doctrines of the Gospel will be published; in which the ordinances of Christianity will be celebrated; and in which the principles of church government will be observed which are suited to man in the highest state of advancement he can reach in the present state. When every vestige of arbitrary power shall be banished from the church and from the world; when universal knowledge, sanctified by religion, shall have secured universal freedom, and rendered its abuse almost impossible; when the law of love shall be the law of earth, as it is of heaven; then, we believe, it will be found that the large and liberal principles