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God would shew sin, it would be desirable to find prayer answered in the confession of sin, --requesting any who were conscious of having sinned in the matter, to come forward and confess their sin. This was followed by a member standing up, who said, that he had been speaking to others, who, like himself, were convinced that they had treated their pastor harshly, for which they were very sorry ; and it was proposed, by way of making restitution, to give to their pastor a written note, certifying, in cordial terms, their approbation of his doctrine and manner of life, which, having been proposed, and signed by the deacons in the name of the church, the business was ended with exhortation, thanksgiving, and prayer. Various other instances might be mentioned to shew, that correcting the errors of churches by such means, is no new or rare thing among Independents in Scotland.
In the event of an erring church not being reclaimod by such means, and found not having Christ, but " walking after their own thoughts," it becomes the duty of the churches, whose scriptural counsel they would not receive, to “turn away from them,” as commanded in 2nd Tim. iii. 5, and to report cause in evidence to the rest of the churches, that they may do so likewise. In this way will the candlestick, refusing to repent, be “ removed out of its place," as the Lord hath spoken, -not by removing the people from their locality, but from their place among “ the golden candlesticks,” or churches, owned by Cbrist as subject to his government, by the rest of the churches refusing to hold fellowship with them till they repent. In Acts xvi. 4, 5, there is the warrant of scripture example for reporting to all the churches what relates to the interests of all. The working of this principle is essential to the orderly and confidential communion of churches.
The duties of churches to the world consist chiefly of what relates to promoting their salvation, and should originate in deep concern for them in their perishing condition—"heaviness and continual sorrow" on account of their unbelief, and intense desire to win them to Christ. But in order to gain the world to the truth, churches must themselves be separate from the world, and appear as consistent followers of Christ. There is not a more effectual device of the devil for deceive ing and destroying souls, than in professors of the gospel being so conformed to the world as to lead the world to suppose that there is no difference between themselves and the church. Such are not a blessing but a curse-not the means
of salvation but occasions of stumbling and destruction,-a “woe to the world because of their offences.” The world must be shewn by the consistency of real life, that there is cause for being turned from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God's dear Son. By what is stated in Phil. ii. 16, 1st. Thes. i. 8., and other passages, every church is required to be “holding forth the word of life," and making “ the word of the Lord to sound out from among them” to every place to which they have access, which may be done by appointing every well qualified member to preach the gospel, and others to teach Sabbath-schools and Bible-classes, while all endeavour to propagate truth by conversation, and the circulation of religious tracts ; taking a special interest in what is intended for the conversion of the posterity of the church. Dr Reid's narrative of the state of religion in Wycliffe chapel, London, shews an admirable sample of a working church ; and every church not working so for God, is under spiritual decay.
But churches should also co-operate in promoting the salvation of a lost world by supporting the Congregational Union. This plan of co-operation is both warranted and required by the example of the working of the principle of concentration of means for promoting the common good, shewn in the appointment of messengers to the churches to collect and apply their contributions for a given end (18t. Cor. xvi. 3 ; 2nd Cor. viii. 23), and by the principle of all the churches being under obligation to contribute for extending the gospel, as appears from Paul complaining of some churches having been wanting in this duty- Phil. iv. 15. This is a special branch of the fellowship by which their holy sympathies and means are concentrated in, “ striving together for the faith of the gospel," and by which, much more is done than could be effected by individual exertion. But the “ Messengers" chosen to form the Union, have nothing to do with the government of the churches, having been only appointed as a Home Missionary Society, or medium of communication in aiding poor churches, and extending the gospel ; and, as such, they should be liberally supported. There is much sin and shame in people giving only the driblets of their income to such a cause. If the Jews, on having to offer many costly sacrifices besides paying tithes, gave much more than a tenth of their income for religious pur.. poses, it follows that christians, under greater obligations, and having much more to do in being required to evangelize a lost world, al'e bound to give more abundantly of the Lord's
property committed to their trust, for doing the Lord's work ;-always remembering that what they give, should be presented as “an offering to the Lord-an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God,” Phil. iv. 18.
TAE principles expounded in the foregoing pages, have led to the churches acting upon them, being called Independent and Congregational.
They are Independent, however, only in respect of government, being so exclusively dependant on Christ, subject to him, and complete in him who is the head of all authority and power," that they are independent of all other government and power under heaven ; but dependant on each other for the advantages of fellowship, and, as loyal subjects, dependant on “ the powers that be” for the protection of their civil rights.
The designation Congregational is in reference to all the members of the congregation, or church united in fellowship, having an interest in its affairs, and admitted accordingly to do their part in the administration, by executing the laws of Christ as he hath appointed. A church may be Independent, as standing alone and free from extrinsic control, and yet not Congregational, if under the government of a Consistory, acting apart from the people, and consequently excluding them from doing their part in executing the laws of Christ.
The Independent principle, as now explained, provides for Christ holding his Supreme Headship and place to rule the church, without the intrusion of human power, civil or ecclesiastical; and the Congregational principle provided for his people holding their place and rights in affording the obedience of enlightened freemen, to Christ himself in their midst, unhindered, unfettered, and uninterrupted, by the intrusion of any power whatever standing between the Head and his body the church. The churches of the Congregational Union, are, in the sense now explained, both Indee pendent and Congregational. But the word Apostolie would be a more appropriate designation.
It is by the forementioned provisions for the body acting in union and communion with the Head Christ, subject to him and dependant on bim only, and free from all foreiga power of control, that this Apostolic plan is distinguished trom all other forms of church government, in each of which
there is some modification of political and compulsory power, which excludes Christ so far from his seat of government, and his people from free access to him, to learn and do his will in communion with himself.
It is a remarkable and interesting fact, however, that many have adopted Apostolic principles in part, who, in other respects, continue to act, to a great extent, on the plan of compulsory policy.
The scripture plan is Anti-patronage, with success in freedom from all political power of control, whether civil or ecclesiastical. But many who have cast off the yoke of laypatronage willingly submit to the veto of clerical-patronage, leaving themselves bound neither to call nor ordain a minister over them, without permission and appointment of the church court exercising this power of patronage.
It is Independency of all clerical as well as state power, yet many continue to lean on the one and to bow to it, after having abandoned the other.
It is Non-intrusion out and out, providing against the intrusion of bad people as well as bad ministers, and for the exclusion of both, when want of relation to Christ is proven. But many who hold the right of choosing their own ministers as a privilege of the first importance, take no interest whatever in forming the fellowship of the church, by taking part in receiving members, or putting away the wicked from among them.
It is the Voluntary principle in full length, extending to spiritual as well as pecuniary matters, affording full placé and provision for the exercise of the enlightened and willing mind in all things ; without which it is impossible to please or enjoy God. But there is room only for a partial and occasional exercise of this principle in its application to temporalities, when the people, convinced or not convinced, pleased or not pleased, must submit to their representatives.
It is Religious liberty in full and unfottered operation, unity combined with liberty—the liberty wherewith Christ hath made his people free from every yoke of human bondage in religion, but can neither be used nor enjoyed by those who are subject to the will of mon in things pertaining to God.
There is great inconsistency in being partly free and partly bound-partly voluntary and partly compulsory ; but this arises from people having learned in part only ; and it may be expected that those who have made some advances towards true religious liberty, in having embraced the one end
of some great principles, will soon go the full length, on finding it necessary to receive “ the whole counsel of God," in order to “ follow the Lord wholly."
For promoting this end, it will be well to take into consideration some of the great advantages resulting from act, ing on the Apostolic plan, which render it “worthy of all acceptation :”_
1. It is intended and admirably fitted for “working out" personal salvation. The doctrine of " the cross is the power of God unto salvation,” in respect of imparting and sustaining eternal life, by affording pardon, reconciliation, peace, hope, and assurance, before God. But the laws and privileges of the kingdom of Christ furnish the believer unto every good work. Paul understood it so in saying, “ Wherefore, we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear,” Heb. xii. 28. It is here shewn, that God cannot be served acceptably as he requires, but in the use of what pertains to his kingdom, and, consequently, the work of salvation will progress or be hindered in proportion as men improve or neglect these means of salvation.
2. In acting by Bible truth exclusively, there is preserva. tion from the soul-spoiling influence of “the doctrines, traditions, and precepts of men,” and scope for doing the will of Christ, and for enjoyment in doing his will, which cannot be found in any community where there is no liberty to tell an offence unto the church, or permission to the church to do as Christ hath commanded.
3. The spiritual and exclusive character of the Apostolic plan, as affording no provision and no accommodation for the carnal mind, is an antidote against the intrusion of false professors, and tends to maintain separation between the church and the world.
4. The wholesome working of the plan provides well for making manifest false professors, who have “crept in unawares," and for treating them in a way tending to undeceive and awaken them to repentance.
5. In having to take part in the administration, -watching, rebuking, receiving, and putting away,-the members of the church have means of insight into human nature, of increase of knowledge, and of consequent spiritual improvement, not to be found under other circumstances.
6. In restricting the communion to “the saved," there is full place and scope for the confidence and practice of