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ton, of Rayleigh, and the Rev. I. Jacob, of Great Wakering, took part in the mournful solemnities of the day; the address was delivered by the minister of the place. On the subsequent Lord's day, a funeral discourse was listened to by a numerous and deeply affected congregation, founded on the 15th verse of the 118th Psalm, "precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." By this solemn event has a wife been deprived of her husband, a son an only child of his father, (and who does not pray that the mantle of Elijah may fall upon Elisha ?) the church of its valued deacon, and the pastor of an experienced and wise counsellor and friend.
Let christian parents and especially christian mothers take encouragement, not only to continue instant in prayer for their beloved children, but to be faithful in giving the word of exhortation, even, 6 be ye also ready."
Reader, art thou the child of many prayers ? Hast thou a father, or mother, or both, in heaven? And are you until this hour unconverted? Reader, art thou an impenitent sinner, and living without hope in this fallen world ? Oh! hasten at once to that Saviour who says, “I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance, why will ye die ?” Reader, art thou a Christian ? then live for the Christian's Saviour and serve the Christian's God. Be his glory your aim, his presence your joy, his abode your home. Reader, art thou a formal professor ? it may be, then prepare, prepare thy God to meet; “ mark the perfect man and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace."
We have fallen on extraordinary times, when, through the spread of education, a mighty impulse has been given to the human mind, exciting a spirit of investigation and inquiry. The press, powerful for good or evil, is extensively employed in the issue of publications by which systems and institutions, regarded as permanent, are having their stability disturbed, and their truth and desirableness questioned. Truth and error, by means of the press, are making their appeal to the minds of the multitude, and are seeking to secure the suffrages of the many. The time has gone by, when the sovereign ruler assuming the right to stamp, and to give currency to the coin by which the human mind could be enriched, claimed the power of compelling the reception and belief of opinions which royalty favoured, and had taken under its patronage, visiting conscientious hesitation or refusal with proscription or death. The power of human authority in matters of faith has declined ; and another Sovereign, of higher qualifications to judge and determine the right, has been enthroned. To this power, those who once claimed to be despotic and supreme, are compelled to bow. While, then, Infidelity and Popery, Socialism and Priestcraft, alike defer to the spirit of the age, and by tracts and other publications, make their appeal to the mind of the nation, Congregational Dissenters should not be backward in asserting their principles, and putting in their claim for notice and approval. We owe it to Christ, to the church, and to the world, to make known our principles, and to urge them on the affections and conscientious attachment of those who profess to receive them.
To quote from the Address to the Correspondents and Readers of the Essex Congregational Remembrancer. “We cannot but feel the most entire conviction that our principles are those of the New Testament. From that source we have derived them. To it we exclusively and confidently appeal." Our only wish is that the sole authority of Christ, in his own church, may be universally recognised and honoured. But there is a danger arising even from the firmness of our convictions—the danger of leaving these principles to make their own way, unaided and undefended. It is true Christ will maintain his own cause, but he works by human agency.
We live in a day when principles opposite to ours are asserted with great parade of learning and authority, and defended with no little sophistry. Every effort is made by the press and other means to disseminate them. Not less convinced of the truth of our principles, than of their essential importance to the everlasting interests of men—and to the welfare of our country—to its civil and religious liberty-let us oppose, when necessary, statements that we think wrong by those that we think right; arguments which appear to us to be defective, but which may yet have an injurious influence if not met, by those which we deem irrefragable; never for. ward, nor even disposed to be assailants, but always ready to gird on our armour when attacked. Always desiring to live peaceably with all men, but always loving truth as well as charity. We are called upon to defend the principles for which our forefathers suffered; that the apostolic churches they planted may still hold forth the word of life ; and in the spirit of the gospel contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.”
We judge it to be right, that in a publication sustained by Congregational Ministers, and circulated among Congregational Churches, there should be a distinct recognition of our peculiar principles, and an occasional exposition of the several parts of our distinctive Church polity.
For a series of years Dissenters have been called to zealous and active exertions for the spread of the gospel both at home and in foreign climes. To promote the wide circulation of the book of God, the extensive distribution of tracts on the essential truths of religion, and to sustain the mission. ary cause--are objects that have engrossed their sympathies, and fully employed their energies. They felt the moral interests and destinies of the world to be pressingly dependent on their zeal, and they overlooked what they considered to be the lesser matters of discipline and church polity. Brought moreover, into occasional and pleasant intercourse with some of their Episcopal brethren, on the platforms of that noble society which includes among its members Christians of all denominations--they became scrupulously fearful of any act that might be construed into an assault upon the Established Church, lest the harmony of their occasional association should be disturbed. Our Episcopal brethren hesitated not to avow, to disseminate, and to seek to advance their peculiar and distinctive views—they claimed the right to do so most openly and without compromise, while to their Dissenting brother they seemed to deny the existence of any claim
on him, equally evident and imperative to declare, and publish what he believed to be the truth. We are persuaded that in many instances the intercourse we have alluded to, was maintained only at the expense of Dissenting principles. Within the last few years however, we have witnessed an attempt on the part of numerous members of the Establishment to disseminate by every possible means doctrines the most delusive and dangerous. Tradition has been placed by them on a level with the Bible ; Sacramental efficacy has been substituted for the atonement; Baptismal regeneration for the work of the Holy Spirit ; and the commandments of men for the doctrines of Christ : and to recommend and enforce them the learning of professors, the influence of colleges, and the authority of bishops have been employed.
Necessity is laid upon us therfore to make known our denominational views, and to shew their conformity with the law of Christ. Very many of the members of our churches are we fear but little acquainted with the principles of dissent, and therefore require information. Their connection with dissenting churches originated in their care for the truths of the gospel. Unable to find in the parish church the nourishment which their spiritual necessities required, they connected themselves with a body of Christians, among whom the gospel was faithfully preached, merely on that account, neither seeking, nor receiving much information about questions of church discipline and government. We have now fallen on times when such matters however regarded as but of secondary importance, can be no longer held in abeyance; opinions, creeds, and systems must be ex. amined and tested, and the great mass of religionists will be engaged in the work of attack or defence. Nor will it be any longer possible for professing Christians to be associated with a particular denomination, while they have no enlightened and conscientious preference for its distinctive ecclesiastical views. They will willingly receive those whom Christ has received, and desire fellowship with all who hold the Head : but their attachment to their own peculiar principles will be strong, and their attempts to diffuse them will be zealous, yet catholic; energetic, yet conciliatory.
POPULAR ERRORS IN THEOLOGY. A DEPRAVED HEART THE CHIEF SOURCE OF
ERROR. It is proposed, in several of the future numbers of the
“Congregational Remembrancer," to notice in a brief and practical manner, some of the errors, in relation to the divine nature and human duty, which are found to obstruct the entrance of truth to the mind, and to diminish its power over the heart and conscience. This subject has been selected, not from the love of controversy ; but from a deep conviction, that the class of errors referred to, are ruinous to the souls of the careless, injurious to the piety of the Christian, and the frequent cause of disorder and feebleness in the church of God. A few remarks upon the principal source of error in religious sentiment, may very properly precede a consideration of the topics which in future numbers will come under our notice.
It is not to be denied, that many and serious errors exist, that they are highly injurious, and in instances not a few, fatal to those by whom they are held. A cursory glance at this fact, is apt to induce the conviction, that error is inerely a calamity and not a sin. Because many hold different sentiments, who profess to submit to the same authority, and to derive their views from the same source, it is
is too hastily concluded that the attainment of truth is impracticable and hopeless. That such a persuasion is as groundless as it is injurious, we hope from the following remarks will sufficiently appear.
The Bible, which we take to be the great standard of religious truth and duty, is upon all points of vital importance sufficiently explicit; “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the siinple.” Psalm xix. 7. To contend that the obscurities of the Bible are such, as to place its meaning upon points of practical moment, beyond the reach of ordinary comprehension, is to reflect in the most irreverent manner upon the wisdom, equity, and goodness of its Author. To instruct, to sanctify, and to save, are the great purposes for which it has been given; and to the accomplishment of these, it is fully adequate. Instead of concluding, from the extent and varieties of error, that the Bible is a very difficult book; it would be much nearer the truth, to infer, a want of feeling congenial with its holy contents, in those by whom it is consulted. While error may arise from defective and uncertain sources of knowledge, it may also result from the want of integrity, candour, and diligence in the discovery of truth just as darkness may be induced by two causes, the absence of the sun, or defective vision. It may be in the outward object, or in the subject for whose benefit it exists. The cause of error is not in the Bible, for