[Table of Contents]
The Christian Baptist (1889)
|NO. 12.]||JULY 4, 1825.|
A Narrative of the Origin and Formation of the
Westminster or Presbyterian Confession of Faith.
IN taking a correct view of the Westminster Confession it is necessary to take a correct view of the divines that formed it; and in doing this it will be necessary to pay a due attention to their proceedings. In our last number we left them preparing an exhortation to engage all persons above eighteen years of age in England to swear to and subscribe the solemn league and covenant. Many schemes were adopted, and many equivocations and intrigues exhibited by the clergy, then called the loyalists, to avoid the oath. The Puritans now had the power on their side, and that has always given right to the clergy to do what was conducive to their dominion. Confiscations, ejectments, proscriptions, and penalties, were now the order of the day. But this was only establishing a precedent, which, in the reign of the next king, occasioned many to repent of their cruelty and intolerance; for men generally hate persecution when themselves are the objects of it. The king forbade his subjects to swear to the covenant, but some of them tauntingly exhorted him to take the covenant himself.
In pursuance of an order from the parliament the divines wrote to the Belgic, French, Helvetian, and other reformed churches. They sent them a copy of the covenant to shew how pious they were, and besought them to own them in any way they pleased, "as contemptible builders, called to repair the Lord's house in a troublesome time," and to pray for them that "they might see the pattern of this house; and that they might commend such a platform to our Zerubbabels (i. e. the members of parliament) as may be most agreeable to his word, nearest to conformity to the best reformed churches, and to establish uniformity among ourselves."
All the Episcopalian divines left the assembly before the bringing in of the covenant, except Dr. Featly, who was expelled for corresponding with archbishop Usher, and for revealing the proceedings of the assembly contrary to their rules. From the time of taking the covenant Mr. Neal dates the entire dissolution of the hierarchy, though not formally abolished by act of parliament.
January 19, 1644, the Scots army, consisting of twenty-one thousand soldiers, commanded by Gen. Leven, crossed the Tweed and entered into England. This event changed the proceedings of parliament and the assembly. The controversy about church discipline was now changed. Before the arrival of the army, a reformation of the hierarchy was only insisted upon; but now the total extirpation of it was attempted. The first step to do this effectually was to purify the universities, which were the head quarters of the hierarchical divines, and to make them puritanical fountains. The colleges were then all for the king and the hierarchy. But the Calvinists were determined to purify them. They began with Cambridge. The Puritans represented the teachers in that university, or the clergy controlling it, as "idle, ill-affected, and scandalous." The parliament, by an ordinance of January 22, gave the work of purifying this university to the Earl of Manchester, with full power to "eject" from office whom he pleased; "to sequester their estates, means, and revenues; to dispose of them as he thought fit, and to place others in their room, being first approved by the assembly of divines sitting at Westminster." He was to use the covenant as a test. On March 18, 1644, the covenant was offered to such graduates only as were supposed to be disaffected towards the parliament and divines; after which about two hundred were expelled. Mr. Neal gives the names of eleven doctors of great attainments who were displaced, and thinks that, because of their love of monarchy and hierarchy, the times required their expulsion. As the Westminster divines had the filling up of the vacancies they took special care to fill the empty chairs with good orthodox teachers and divines, and therefore filled more than half the vacancies, occasioned by the expulsion of the Doctors, out of their own  assembly. During the year 1644, fifty-five persons were examined and appointed to the vacant fellowships in this university by the makers of the confession.
"Before we notice the debates of the assembly of divines, it will be proper, says Mr. Neal, to distinguish the several parties of which it was constituted. The Episcopalians had entirely deserted it before the bringing in of the covenant, so that the establishment was left without a single advocate. All who remained were for taking down the main pillars of hierarchy before they had agreed what sort of building to erect in its room. The members of the assembly which now remained were divided as respected discipline and church government, into three parties--Presbyterians, Erastians, and Independents. The name Puritan is from this time to be discarded. It once covered them all; but now they are distinguished by their views of church discipline. The majority of the assembly at first intended only the reducing episcopacy to the standard of the first and second age. But for the sake of the Scots' alliance, they were prevailed with to lay aside the name and function of bishops, and attempt a presbyterial form; which at length they advanced into jus divinum, or a divine institution. The Erastians were for giving the keys to the civil magistrate, and denied that there was a jus divinum for any form of church government. The independents or congregational brethren, composed a third party, and made a bold stand against the high proceedings of the presbyterians, and plead the jus divinum, or the divine institution of the congregational plan. There was not an anabaptist in the assembly; but out of doors they joined with the independents on the subject of church government. They made a considerable figure at this time, and joined with the independents in contending for a toleration of all non-conformists. Lord Clarendon represents the independents as abhorring monarchy, and approving of none but a republican government; and that as to religion, their principles were contrary to all the rest of the world; that they would not endure ordinary ministers in the church; but every one among them prayed, preached, admonished and interpreted scripture without any other call than what himself drew from his supposed gifts and the approbation of his hearers. Yet, with all their ignorance, they were an overmatch for the presbyterians and Erastians in the assembly, who out voted them, but dare not debate with them, as we shall see in their debates on church discipline.
October 12, 1644, the parliament ordered the assembly "to confer and treat among themselves of such a government and discipline as may be most agreeable to God's holy word, and most apt to procure and preserve the peace of the church at home, and a near agreement with the church of Scotland, to be settled in this church, instead of the present church government, by archbishops, bishops, etc. which it is resolved to take away, and to deliver their advices touching the same to both houses of parliament with all convenient speed." The ancient order of worship and discipline in the church of England was set aside twelve months before any other form of government was appointed.
Upon the petition of the divines, the parliament passed an ordinance for the ordination of ministers, and appointed ten members of the assembly to constitute an ordaining committee; to appoint or ordain by imposition of hands all those whom they deemed qualified to be put into "the sacred ministry." This was an ordinance pro tempore. They appointed other ordaining committees in different parts of the kingdom. To these ordinances and measures the independents entered their dissent, unless the ordination was attended with the previous election of some church.
They were next engaged in making out "a directory for public worship" instead of the old liturgy. This directory passed the assembly with great unanimity, none but the independents demurring much about it. It was, however, with much difficulty introduced into the congregations throughout the kingdom, and the parliament were obliged the next summer to pass another ordinance obliging the "common prayer" to be cast out of all the churches, and the new directory to be the law of worship. Great tyranny was exercised in getting the people to worship according to the new directory. A fine of five pounds for the first offence, ten for the second, and a year's imprisonment for the third, was the penalty for only reading the common prayer in private families. "All ministers who do not observe the directory in all cases of public worship, shall forfeit forty shillings." This ordinance was issued August 23, 1645. "These," says Mr. Neal, "were the first fruits of presbyterian uniformity." The baptists, too, at this time, were written against, preached against, and some of them shut up in prison; and even one Mr. Otes, in Essex, was tried for his life for the murder of Anne Martin, because she had died a few days after she was baptized. "On the next day after the establishment of the directory, Dr. William Laud, archbishop of Canterbury, received sentence of death. He had been a prisoner in the Tower almost three years, upon sundry impeachments. His trial excited great interest and occupied much time. He had been a tyrant in church and state, and a cruel persecutor. But the Presbyterians measured to him as he had measured to others. Mrs. Macauly in her History of England, vol. iv. page 143, very correctly observes that "the parliament ought to have left this aged prelate an example of their mercy, rather than to have made him the monument of their justice." "It is plain, adds she, that he fell a sacrifice to the intolerant principles of the Presbyterians, a sect who breathed as fiery a spirit of persecution as himself." The archbishop died by the executioner in the seventy second year of his age, and the twelfth of his archepiscopacy. Such were the religious spirit and zeal of the times, and such the proceedings at Westminster while the creed of myriads was on the stocks, and the faith of the orthodox was delivering to the saints. Their debates on ordination and presbyterian government shall be noticed in our next.
Christian Union.--No I.
READER, attend to what I am about to write. I address all denominations of christians, not with a design to oppose or to defend one sect more than another, or to pull down one system and build up another; but to show the error of all and to point out an infallible remedy.
It is high time that the christians in these United States consider the occasion of their divisions and strife, and bestir themselves to their correction and removal. Disunion among christians is their disgrace and a perpetual reproach and dishonor to the Lord Jesus Christ. To attempt union among jarring sects which are established upon different foundations, without the explosion of their foundations, is altogether fruitless. They  may cozen one another a little by attempts at open communion, but it will amount to nothing valuable. They must all be built upon the same foundation before there can be a sameness of feeling and a unity of faith in the bonds of peace.
Christian union can result from nothing short of the destruction of creeds and confessions of faith, as human creeds and confessions have destroyed christian union. When ever the setting aside of creeds and confessions shall be attempted, christians will give to the world, and to angels and to themselves, proof that they do believe in the word of God.
The adjustment of a single word in the bible, according to the scriptural import and use of it, in principle and practice, will cure all errors in religion, and supply all that is wanting in uniting and making christians happy, and in giving a death-blow to scepticism and infidelity, and in converting the world. That word is faith--a word which has been perverted from its proper meaning and use in religion for more than sixteen hundred years by false philosophy and by the impious assumptions of civil authority in the establishment and regulation of religion. By these means King Messiah has been excluded from his own dominion, and human wisdom or ignorance has supplanted the wisdom that comes from above, and the church has been shorn of her glory.
What is the scripture meaning of the term "faith?" I answer that faith comprehends a system of truths, of which God is the great author, and a system of affections and conduct, of which he is the supreme object, all of which are revealed or made known by his word. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, which comes by hearing the Word of God. The objects of faith are not objects, of sense or of sight, any more than visible objects are objects of sight to a blind man. God is an object of faith, and has revealed himself by name, for no man has seen him at any time; and all that system of truths, of which he is the great subject and object, which are comprehended in the term "religion," are made known by his word. By this word the things that are seen are associated in the mind with God who is unseen, as their creator.1
The church of Christ is an assembly of believers, or of saints called out of the world and constituted by his authority. In this church the gospel is the mean and rule of faith and practice. Without faith the church cannot be formed--as without it, it is impossible to please God; and without his word there can be no faith or religion. The heathen, in their religion, have some broken traditional fragments of an original revelation.
We are dependant on the doctrinal statements and facts in the gospel for true views and correct impressions of the divine character.
The names, doctrinal statements, and facts, in the gospel, must be preserved in their order and connexion, and perceived, if we would know the truth.
In religion we cannot think any thing of ourselves, as of ourselves, but all our sufficiency is of God. The word of God is the instrumental cause of thought. We cannot think of God with out an idea of him, and we cannot have an idea of him without his word. We are taught by, and we think and speak in, the words which the Holy Spirit has taught, when we learn, or when we think or speak the truth in religion. 1 Cor. ii. 13. If we cannot think any thing true or right without the word of God in religion, when we leave that word, or change or alter the connexion in the statements, or alter the terms with their associations in it, our thoughts in religion are wrong. God's word is truth. It teaches us the actual state of things as they are in his own existence, character, and will, and the relations we and the universe sustain to him, as far as we are capable of knowing them.
Alter this word of truth by adding to or taking from it, or by changing the order of its doctrinal statements, and facts, and names, and their qualifications, and you change in the same degree, in the views, and in the feelings of the mind, the actual state of things as they exist in Jehovah and in his character, and as they exist in the relations which men and the universe sustain to him. By this alteration you convert truth into error, and you obscure, mar, or mutilate the glorious image of God as it shines in the face of Jesus, which is designed, and is the only ordained mean too, as it shines there, to renew the heart of man, and the world of men, into the image of him who created hint by the knowledge of him. You moreover form the very elements of sectarianism and sectarian hatred. God's nature is love, and his perfections form a unity. The knowledge of them produces love and unity in all those who receive a full renovating impression of them in the gospel.
What is a creed? I answer that it is a short, or a summary account of the chief articles of the christian faith compiled by men.
What is a confession of faith? I answer that it denotes a list or enumeration and declaration of the several articles of belief in a church. Such are professedly taken from the scriptures,--they are, however, not the scriptures. They have different names, and are the covenants or the constitutions of different churches, which are not found in the scriptures. Where do you find the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, or the Westminster, or the Methodist Book of Doctrine and Discipline, or a Baptist church, or a Presbyterian church, or a Methodist church, or any other church than the church of Christ, in the New Testament?
But it is asked, Are we not free to do as we please in these matters, and have we not a right to form creeds and sects? I answer in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, No! they have not a right to act thus! The assumption that they have the right, is the foundation of popery, both in the exercise of human legislation and of human authority in religion. What! shall we who cannot think, or know, or feel, or act righteously and truly in any thing relative to religion, without the names, and doctrinal statements, and facts in the gospel, change or alter them, and substitute others in their place? In this case they cannot fail adding to, or taking from the word of God. There is one lawgiver who can save the obedient and destroy the disobedient, who has forbidden, under a most awful penalty, any alteration in the words of his book. Rev. xxii. 19.
The gospel is the charter of the mutual rights of all christians. No man or set of men has a right to alter that charter. He that does so, forfeits his rights and privileges under it. He invades the prerogative and sovereignty of King Messiah, and impairs or destroys the rights of his subjects. The glory of Immanuel is essentially concerned in the unity and happiness of the members of his body. The gospel, in its  integrity, is designed to produce them and to advance his kingdom, and it must and will produce these effects when unaltered.
What! establish new names and sects in the christian religion, to the exclusion of Christ and the name Christian? Is this true? Look into the New Testament. There the church is the church of Christ, and his disciples are christians. Look out of the New Testament, and look into creeds and confessions. Here we see a Baptist church, a Methodist church, and a Presbyterian church, &c. and answerable to these, here, we see, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, &c.
The New Testament names, which all must approve of, are thrown aside to give place to sectarian names, which all are offended at, in some degree, and think invidious, except those who belong to them, and they ought to be tired of them. With these sectarian names are united sectarian feelings and affections, and sectarian sympathies and antipathies, which have taken the place of true christian feelings and affections.
But it is said, these are only names. We have seen that, in religion, names, and words, and sentences, are every thing in order to right ideas. If we alter them by adding to them or taking from them, in the original order of the revelation, we change the truth and the effects of it into error; and when this is done there is nothing to correct it by. In nature, if we give a wrong description of an object, that description can be corrected by examining the object. In religion, the objects, the facts, and the doctrines ate only known through the description--alter that, and the error is without remedy.
When we give a name and a creed to a church, other than the name of Christ, or Christian, and the New Testament, or the Gospel, that church acquires immediately in our imaginations and feelings, and in fact, a character altogether different from what the church of Christ really possesses in the light of the New Testament. The character of Christ in authority and dominion, as the one lawgiver; and the character of christians in faith, and hope, and love, are merged in the sectarian names given to the church and to the members.
In this case we see that a difference of names is more than a verbal difference. Different names and different creeds have occasioned a more persevering combat in the christian world, among christians in their ecclesiastical councils, bitter controversies, and bloody persecutions and wars, to settle what they have called the christian faith, and the order of the church, according to their names and creeds, than all the conquerors of the world have employed to make themselves masters of it. All this has arisen from entire ignorance of the use and the design of the gospel.
But it is asked, Are all christians to agree in this union? I answer, that in all the fundamental truths they must and do agree. The union requires of them that they throw away nothing that they possess but error and falsehood. They must agree, and they do agree, in the character of King Jesus, and in the authority of his statute book, agreeably to the scripture statements of both. Without these men cannot be christians, and ought to have no place in a church. Receive members into the church and discipline hem according to the gospel, and all things will be done in good order.
Every christian has a divine right to admission into the church of Christ, and to enjoy all the rights and privileges therein, wherever he may be, if he presents himself according to the gospel, unencumbered by sectarian names and creeds; and no church has a divine right to refuse him admission, or to require of him sectarian conditions in order to his admission. Two opposing divine rights is a contradiction. The love and fellowship of christians is the inheritance and happiness of every individual saint. They are his spiritual property, and in the possession and enjoyment of them the Saviour has given it to him in charge to "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made him free" He has a right, a divine right, to require of every church to relinquish its sectarian name and creed in order to his entering it. If the church refuse this, he has a right to complain to his Lord against the injury done to him, and that complaint will be sustained.
The great error among christians is in their forming their consciences in religion on the opinions of men. By reason of this, that love and zeal which ought to be felt for God and man, are transferred to a party, and are engrossed by sectarian views and principles. Hence the conscience is performing different sentences in different churches and sects at the same time, and in direct opposition to each other. There is a Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and Roman Catholic conscience, and a Christ to answer each, and thus Christ is divided. In Kentucky there is a Licking Association conscience among the Baptists, or a Particular Baptist conscience, founded by cutting up the scriptures, and taking out and stringing together a few scraps or verses torn from their connexions.
Conscience should refuse her homage to any other than God in his word. The man who submits his conscience to the unauthorized decisions of men in religion, does not in his conduct rise to the dignity of religious worship. Such a subjection is a criminal surrender of christian liberty, and a violation of the apostolic precept, "Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free." Nor can they who make it feel the true spirit on which the whole law and prophets, the gospel, Christ, and the apostles, hang; viz. "love to God and love to man."
I repeat what I formerly observed: Adjust the term faith according to the scriptural meaning of it, which is agreeable to the true philosophy of the human mind in spiritual knowledge, and you rectify all error. You extinguish the deist's and the divine's natural religion or deism, and all human inventions in religion, or forgeries and corruptions--you establish the Bible as the only instructor in religion in our schools and out of them, and you wipe out all sectarian names and creeds, and unite the whole church in one name, and establish it upon Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and the gospel, or the New Testament, as the statute book of his kingdom. This will be the commencement of millennial glory. The happiness of christians will approach to the heavenly state. Jesus will be all and in all.
In the present divided and distracted state of opinion and practice, I would say to every one, throw aside your sectarian names and human creeds as soon as practicable, and assume the name given to the disciples at Antioch--christians--and admit the name of Christ to grace your association and to be the crown of your rejoicing. Open your hearts and consciences to the light and influence of the word of God in the gospel, and be always exercised to have a conscience void of offence towards all in what you do. If that word tells you to sprinkle infants, do it; or if it tells believers to be immersed, obey Do all in the name and by  the express authority of Jesus Christ. I would not have dominion over your faith, but be a helper of your joy. Continue in the word of Christ, then shall you be his disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. In that case we will lose nothing but error, and ignorance, and sectarian bigotry, and we shall gain the knowledge of the truth and the true Christian character, and our hearts will be filled with love to God and love to man; and we will necessarily be one as certain as that Jesus lives; and the world will believe in him. John xvii. 20, 21. I have much more to write.
A Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things.
Order of Worship.
WE shall now inquire what was the ancient order of worship in the Christian church. Preparatory to this it may be expedient to consider whether there be any divinely authorized worship in the assembly of saints. As this is a theme of great importance, and of much difficulty with some, we shall bestow, some attention to it. And in the first instance we shall attempt to demonstrate from rational principles, that there is a divinely instituted worship for the assemblies of the disciples. In order to do this as convincingly as possible, and to circumscribe the arena of conjecture, we shall take but two positions, which we hope to hold as impregnable fortresses against all assault. These we shall exhibit in the form of dilemmas. The first is, either there is a divinely authorized order of Christian worship in Christian assemblies, or there is not. This every man must admit, or cease to be a man. Now to remove all ambiguity from the terms of this dilemma, we shall explicitly state that, by a Christian assembly, we mean a congregation or assembly of disciples meeting in one place for social worship. The day agreed upon by Christians for this meeting is the first day of every week. The authority that ordains this day we have already noticed in this work, and it is not now a subject of inquiry. It is also unnecessary to our present purpose, inasmuch as this day is agreed upon by all Christians, with the exception of some Sabbatarians, for whose consideration we have something to say at another time. By the phrase, "order of Christian worship," we do not mean the position of the bodies of the worshippers, nor the hour of the day in which certain things are to be done, nor whether one action shall be always performed first, another always second, and another always third, &c. &c. though in these there is an order which is comely, apposite, or congruous with the genius of the religion, and concerning which some things are said by the apostles; and, perhaps, even in some respects, these things may be determined with certainty as respects the practice of the first congregations of disciples; but that there are certain social acts of Christian worship, all of which are to be attended to in the Christian assembly, and each of which is essential to the perfection of the whole as every member of the human body is essential to the perfect man--is that which we wish to convey by the phrase, "order of Christian worship." These remarks may suffice in the mean time to prevent misapprehensions; but in the prosecution of our inquiries every ambiguity will be completely removed. We shall now repeat the first position we have taken--either there is a divinely authorized order of Christian worship in Christian assemblies, or there is not.
On the supposition that there is not, then the following absurdities are inevitable: There can be no disorder in the Christian assembly; there can be no error in the acts of social worship; there can be no innovation in the department of observances; there can be no transgression of the laws of the King. Far these reasons, viz. where there is no order established there can be no disorder, for disorder is acting contrary to established order; where there is no standard there can be no error, for error is a departure or a wandering from a standard; where there is nothing fixed there can be no innovation, for to innovate is to introduce new things amongst those already fixed and established; and where there is no law there can be no transgression, for a transgression is a leaping over or a violating of legal restraints. Those, then, who contend that there is no divinely authorized order of Christian worship in Christian assemblies, do at the same time, and must inevitably maintain, that there is no disorder, no error, no innovation, no transgression in the worship of the Christian church--no, nor ever can be. This is reducing one side of the dilemma to what may be called a perfect absurdity.
But, to make this matter evident to children as well as men, we will carry it a little farther. One society of disciples meets on the first day morning and they all dance till evening, under the pretext that this is the happiest way of expressing their joy, and when they have danced themselves down they go home. Now in this there is no disorder, error, innovation, or transgression, for there is no divinely authorized order of Christian worship. The reader will observe that we do not suppose human laws or regulations of any consequence in this matter. Men may regulate the worship they require for themselves and for one another; and in relation to those regulations there may be disorder, error, innovation, and transgression. But as none but the Lord can prescribe or regulate the worship due to himself and profitable to us; so, if he have done it, human regulations are as vain and useless as attempts to prevent the ebbing of the sea or the waxing and waning of the moon. But to proceed: Another society meets for worship, and they sing all day; another shouts all day; another runs as in a race all day; another lies prostrate on the ground all day; another reads all day; another hears one man speak all day; another sits silent all day; another waves palm branches all day; another cries in the forenoon and listens to the organ in the afternoon; and it is all equally right, lawful, orderly, and acceptable; for there is no divinely authorized order of Christian worship. We are then, on the principles of reason, constrained to abandon this side of the dilemma, and give up the hypothesis that there is no divinely authorized order of Christian worship. Now as one of the only two supposable cases must be abandoned, it follows by undeniable consequence, that there is a divinely authorized order of Christian worship in Christian assemblies.
Our second position we hope to make appear equally strong and unassailable. Having now proved that there is a divinely authorized order of Christian worship in Christian assemblies, our second dilemma is, Either this Christian worship in Christian assemblies is uniformly the same, or it is not. To clear this position of ambiguity, it will be observed that we speak of the assembling of the disciples on the day agreed  upon for the purpose of social worship, and that the same acts of religious worship are to be performed on every first day in every assembly of disciples, or they are not. If the same acts of worship, or religious ordinances, or observances, be attended to in every assembling of the saints, then their worship is uniformly the same; but if not, then it is not uniformly the same. The position we again repeat, this exposition being given, Either the christian worship in christian assemblies is uniformly the same, or it is not.
We shall follow the same method of demonstration as in the preceding dilemma. We shall take the last of the only two supposable cases and try its merits. It is not uniformly the same. Then it is different. These differences are either limited or unlimited. If they are unlimited, then it is uniformly different; and what is uniformly different has no order, standard, or rule, and thus we are led to the same absurdities which followed from supposing there was no divinely authorized order of christian worship; for a worship uniformly different is a worship without order. But supposing that those differences are limited, those limitations must be defined or pointed out somewhere. But they are not. Now differences that are no where limited or pointed out are unlimited, and consequently may be carried ad infinitum, which is to say there is no order appointed, and thus we are again encompassed with the same absurdities.
To level this to every apprehension, it may be remarked that the worship of the Jews, though divinely authorized, was not uniformly the same. The worship at the feast of Tabernacles, at Pentecost, at the Passover, and in different seasons of the year, and even of the Moon, varied from what was attended to on ordinary occasions. These varieties and differences were pointed out in their standard of worship. But no such varieties are pointed out, no such differences are ordained in any part of the standard of christian worship. Yet we find amongst the professed christians as great variety existing as amongst the Jews--though with this difference, that divine authority ordained the one, and human authority the other. The worship of a class meeting, of a camp-meeting, of a monthly concert, of an association, of a sacramental occasion, of a preparation, and of an "ordinary Sabbath," differ as much as the Jewish Passover, Pentecost, annual atonement, or daily sacrifice. Now there were in the Jewish state solid and substantial reasons for all these varieties, but in the christian state there is no reason for any variety. The changing types of the Jews religion have received their consummation, and now there exists at all times the same reasons for the same observances. There is no reason why a society of disciples should commemorate the death or resurrection of Jesus on one first day more than another. All the logic and philosophy of the age, as well as the New Testament, fails in producing one reason. He that invents or discovers it, has discovered a new principle. But we are only establishing or demonstrating on rational principles that the worship of a christian assembly is uniformly the same, and the method we have chosen is that of supposing the contrary and reducing the hypothesis to an absurdity, or a series of absurdities. In brief, the sum of our remarks on this position is, that if the worship of the christian church is not uniformly the same, then it is either occasionally or uniformly different. If uniformly different, then there is no established order, as proved in the first dilemma; and if occasionally different, there must be some reason for these varieties; but no reason exists, therefore a difference without reason is irrational and absurd. It follows then that there is a divinely authorized order of christian worship in christian assemblies, and that this worship is uniformly the same, which was to be demonstrated on principles of reason.
These positions are capable of rational demonstration on other grounds than those adopted; but this plan was preferred because it was the shortest, and, as we supposed, the most convincing.
This is only preparative or introductory to the essays which are to follow upon the ancient worship of the christian church. We are hastening through the outlines and shall fill up the interior after we have given an essay on each of the following topics. They continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine--in breaking of bread--in fellowship--in prayers--praising God. As we have paid more attention in the general to the apostles' doctrine than to the other items, our next essays will be on the breaking of bread, the fellowship, and prayers of the primitive church.
Hoping that the christian reader will bring all things to the test, and hold fast that which is good, we bid him adieu for the present.
The Third Epistle of Peter, to the Preachers and
Rulers of Congregations.--A Looking Glass
for the Clergy.
ONE of the best proofs that a prophecy is what it purports to be, is its exact fulfilment. If this rule be adopted in relation to the "Third Epistle of Peter," there can be no doubt that it was written in the true spirit of prophecy. We thought it worthy of being preserved, and have therefore given it a place in this work.
ED. C. B.
HOW the following epistle came to be overlooked by the early saints of christendom and by all the fathers, or whether it was purposely suppressed by the Council of Nice, and why it was at last destined to be found with other old manuscripts among the ruins of an ancient city by a miserable wandering Monk, are all circumstances which my limited knowledge of these subjects does not enable me to explain. I am answerable only for the accuracy of the translation from a French copy presented by the Monk himself. Neither can I prove the authenticity of the original, unless it be on the strict correspondence of the actual state of the church with the injunctions contained in the epistle, a correspondence which seems to hold with as much veracity as that which is found in the fulfilment of any prophecy with the prediction itself.
The Style and Manner of Living.
NOW you who are called and chosen to go forth to all nations and among all people, in time present and time to come, to preach the word, see you take to yourselves marks, nay, many outward marks, whereby you shall be known by men.
Be you not called as men are called; but be you called Pope, Archbishop, Archdeacon, or Divine, or Reverend, and Right Reverend, or some like holy name; so may you show forth your honor and your calling. 
And let your dwelling places be houses of splendor and edifices of cost; and let your doors be decked with plates of brass, and let your names, even your reverend titles be graven thereon; so shall it be as a sign.
Let your garments in which you minister be garments not as the garments of men, neither let them be "seamless garments woven throughout;" but let them be robes of richest silk and robes of fine linen, of curious device and of costly workmanship; and have you robes of black and robes of white, that you may change the one for the other; so shall you show forth your wisdom and humility.
Let your fare be sumptuous, not plain and frugal as the fare of the husbandman who tills the ground; but live you on the fat of the land, taking "good heed for the morrow and wherewithal you shall be fed."
And drink you of the vines of the vintage brought from afar, and wines of great price; then shall the light of your spirits be the light of your countenances, and your faces shall be bright, even as the morning sun shall your faces glow in brightness; thus shall you show forth your moderation and your temperance in all things.
Let the houses in which you preach be called churches, and let them be built in manner of great ornament without, and adorned with much cost within; with rich pillars and paints, and with fine altars and pedestals, and urns of precious stones, and cloths and velvet of scarlet, and vessels of silver.
And let there be rooms for the changing of robes, and places for the precious metals and mitres.
And let the houses be divided into seats for the congregation, and let every man know his own seat; and let the first seats in front of the altar be for the rich that pay by thousands; and the next for the poorer that pay by hundreds; and the last for those that pay by tens. And let the poor man sit behind the door.
And let the seats be garnished with cushions and crimson cloth, and with fine velvet; for if the houses of players and vain people who deal in idle sayings and shows of mockery, be rich and gorgeous, how much more so should be the houses that are dedicated to him "that is meek and lowly of spirit."
The Choosing of Ministers.
WHEN you go out to choose holy ones to be of your brethren, and to minister at the altar, choose you from among the youth, even those whose judgments are not yet ripe, and whose hearts know not yet whether they incline to God or Mammon.
But you are wise, and you shall know the inclining of their future spirits, and you shall make them incline to the good things which the church has in store for them that are called, even those that shall be called by you.
Then shall you have them taught exceeding many things. They shall not be as "ignorant fishermen," or husbandman, or men speaking one tongue, and serving God only by the knowledge of his law.
Nay, you shall make them wise in the things of your wisdom; yea, exceedingly cunning in many mysteries, even the mysteries which you teach.
Then shall they be fitted for the "laying on of hands," and when the bishop has done his office then shall they be reverend divines.
But if any man believe that he is called by God to speak to his brethren "without money and without price," though his soul be bowed to the will of the Father, and though he work all righteousness, and "speak as with the tongue of an angel"--if he be not made a divine by your rulers and by the hands of a bishop, then is he not a divine, nor shall he preach.
He that is chosen by you shall give you honor, and shall be honored by men, and honored by women; and verily he expects his reward.
The Performance of Preaching.
WHEN you go to the church to preach, go not go by the retired way where go those that would shun the crowd, but go in the highway where go the multitude, and see that you have on the robes of black, and take heed that your pace be measured well, and that your march be stately.
Then shall your "hearts be lifted up," even as the hearts of mighty men shall they be lifted up. And you shall be gazed upon by the multitude, and they shall honor you; and the men shall praise you, and the women shall glorify you, even by the women shall you be glorified.
And when you go in, go not as the ordained, prepared only with a soul to God and with a heart to men, and a spirit filled with the Holy Ghost; but go you with your pockets full of papers and full of divine words; even in your pockets shall your divinity be.
And let your sermon be full of "the enticing words of man's wisdom," and let it be beautified with just divisions, with tropes and with metaphors, and with hyperbole, and apostrophe, and with interrogation, and with acclamation, and with syllogisms, and with sophisms, and throughout let declamation be.
And take good heed to your attitudes and your gestures, knowing when to bend and when to erect, when to lift your right hand and when your left, and let your motions be graceful, even in your attitudes and in your gestures let your grace be. Thus shall you be pleasing in the eyes of the people and graceful in their sight.
Let your voice at times be smooth as the stream of the valley, and soft as the breeze that waves not the bough on its bank; and at times let it swell like the wave of the ocean, or like the whirlwind on the mountain top.
Then shall you charm the ears of your hearers and their hearts shall be softened, and their minds shall be astounded, and their souls shall incline to you; and the men shall incline to you, and likewise the women; yea, to your sayings and to your persons shall they be inclined.
And be you mindful not to offend the people; rebuke you not their sins; but when you rebuke sin, rebuke it at a distance; and let no man apply your sayings to his own case; so shall he not be offended.
If a brother shall raise up the banner of war against brother, and Christians against Christians, rebuke them not; but be some of you on the one side and some on the other; and tell the one host that God is on their side, and the other host that he is on their side; so make them bold to kill. And even among swords and lancets let your black robes be seen.
Preach you not "Peace on earth and good will to men," but preach you glory to the victor, and victory to the brave.
If any man go into a foreign land and seize upon his fellow man, and put irons on his feet and irons on his hands, and bring him across the great deep into bondage; nay, if he tear asunder the dearest ties of nature, the tenderest leagues of the human heart; if he tear the wife from the  husband, and force the struggling infant from its mother's bleeding breast, rebuke him not!
And although he sell them in foreign slavery to toil beneath the lash all their days, tell him not that his doings are of Antichrist; for lo! he is rich and gives to the church, and is esteemed pious, so shall you not offend him, lest peradventure he withdraw himself from your flock.
Teach them to believe that you have the care of their souls, and that the saving mysteries are for your explaining; and when you explain your mysteries, encompass them round about with words as with a bright veil, so bright that through it no man can see.
And lo! you shall bind the judgments of men, (and more especially of women,) as with a band of iron: and you shall make them blind in the midst of light, even as the owl is blind in the noon day sun; and behold you shall lead them captive to your reverend wills.
CHAPTER IV. The Clergy's Reward.
"IN all your gettings" get money! Now, therefore, when you go forth on your ministerial journey, go where there are silver and gold, and where each man will pay according to his measure. For verily I say you must get your reward.
Go you not forth as those that have been sent, "without two coats, without gold or silver, or brass in their purses; without scrip for their journey, or shoes, or staves;" but go you forth in the good things of this world.
And when you shall hear of a church that is vacant and has no one to preach therein, then be that a call to you, and be you mindful of the call, and take you charge of the flock thereof and of the fleece thereof, even of the golden fleece.
And when you shall have fleeced your flock, and shall know of another call, and if the flock be greater, or rather if the fleece be greater, then greater be also to you the call. Then shall you leave your old flock, and of the new flock shall you take the charge.
Those who have "freely received" let them "freely give," and let not men have your words "without money nor without price," but bargain you for hundreds and bargain for thousands, even for thousands of silver and gold shall you bargain.
And over and above the price for which you have sold your service, take you also gifts, and be you mindful to refuse none, saying, "Lo! I have enough!" but receive gifts from them that go in chariots, and from them that feed flocks, and from them that earn their morsel by the sweat of their brow.
Yea, take you gifts of all, and take them in gold and in silver, and in bread; in wine and in oil; in raiment and in fine linen.
And the more that the people give you the more will they honor you; for they shall believe that "in giving to you they are giving to the Lord;" for behold their sight shall be taken from them, and they shall be blind as bats, and "shall know not what they do."
And you shall wax richer and richer, and grow greater and greater, and you shall be lifted up in your own sight, and exalted in the eyes of the multitude; and lucre shall be no longer filthy in your sight. And verily you have your reward.
In doing these things you shall never fail. And may abundance of gold and silver and bank notes, and corn, and wool, and flax, and spirits and wine, and land be multiplied to you, both now and hereafter. Amen.
Extracts from my Sentimental Journal.--No. III.
SHORTLY after my arrival at N------ I went to the Presbyterian meeting-house. It was a tasty and magnificent edifice, and well filled with fashion and beauty. The wooden throne was superb, and in the first boxes sat and reclined the wealthy and proud on seats as soft as sofas. After a silent contemplation of the polite crowds entering and walking to their respective pews, in all the majesty of the theatre, which feasted the eyes of those already seated, and furnished texts for the first half of the week, the grave young parson commenced the public worship of God, who delights in a fine exterior, and in a proud and aspiring heart; who despises the poor cottage and the cottager, the rough meeting house, and the rude and rough frequenters of it. He sang and prayed one hour and six minutes; or rather he offered songs for the sweet singers, who expressed their piety in all the gracious flexions of symphonious voices, while the devout audience worshipped in admiring the harmony of music, and praised their God for having given such fine voices and charming music to men and women. His prayer was well pronounced, in periods such as Dr. Blair commends; and, in the true philosophy of rhetoric, he worshipped, if not in spirit and in truth, certainly in taste and elegance. His sermon was forty-five minutes long, and was all built on this clause, "Why will you die, O house of Israel!" He finished with one song and prayer twenty-seven minutes long, and then blessed the people and sent them home for one week. Next day I inquired after his stipend and found it was annually two thousand dollars, besides marriage fees and funeral sermons extra, amounting to perhaps one thousand more. Six months in the year he gave them two orations per diem, and six months one, averaging forty-five minutes each, making in all fifty-eight hours and one-half in a year, valued at thirty-four dollars per hour, or twenty-six dollars per sermon. His sermon on "why will you die, O house of Israel!" cost the congregation twenty-six dollars, except we should count something on the prayers; but as he was hired to preach, and not to pray, it is just to fix this value upon his sermons. Now if one clause of a verse cost that people twenty-six dollars, the question with me was, How much would it cost them to have the whole bible thus explained? I soon found, by the rule of three, it would require rather more than a thousand years to get once through, and cost the congregation one million three hundred thousand dollars to have it thus explained. But the misfortune was, that they must all die before they would hear it all explained, and pay all their lives for that which would never be accomplished. But they were amused once in a week for their money, and their life was only a frolic throughout, and the parson might as well have some of their money as the play-actor or the confectioner. During the evening I was entertained by contrasting the present state of the "christian congregations" with that of the first disciples, and their teachers with those who were first employed in this work. Blessed revolution! when the same sort of men, and actuated by the same motives too, now pay dollars instead of stripes for hearing preachers; when the children of those who whipped and scourged the first teachers now contribute by tens and twenties to those who call themselves the successors of those who freely received and freely gave.
Five Queries Answered.
THE following questions are from a teacher of the Christian religion in Ohio:
"1st. Was Jesus a priest while on earth?
"2d. Did he make an atonement when he died on the Roman cross?
"3d. Did he appease the wrath of himself according to the common preaching of the clergy?
"4th. Did humanity die and divinity leave the Son of God?"
"5th. What kind of a body will the ungodly rise with in the resurrection?
"My design is to understand the scriptures and act accordingly, not fearing the frowns of the clergy nor the power of the Sectarians."
"April 18, 1824."
To the first question the scriptures answer, No. The life of the victim was taken without the tabernacle, according to the types of Israel, and the priest officiated in the holy place in offering or presenting the sacrifice and in interceding. The Messiah's life was taken on earth; and in heaven, the true holy place, he officiates as priest. He could not be a priest on earth according to the law; but having suffered without the gate, he entered into heaven itself, and there officiates as our great High Priest, consecrated by an oath, a Priest upon his throne after the order of Melchisedec.
To the second question the scriptures respond, and inform us that he died for our sins, or was delivered up for our offences, and has by his death atoned or reconciled us to God. The phrase "atonement of Christ" is unscriptural. We have, by him, received the reconciliation. It is rather our atonement by means of his death. God has reconciled or atoned us to himself by the death of his Son. His death upon the cross is, then, the means or cause of our atonement.
To the third question the record gives no answer. It is an absurdity growing out of the dogmas of the schools. It was the love of God and his lovely character that required the death of his Son. The death of Jesus is the highest proof in the universe of God's philanthropy.
To the fourth question the scriptures do not respond. It has arisen from the dissecting knife of theological anatomists. It is the northern extreme of frigid Calvinism. The immense ice mountains of those regions have prevented their most expert captains from finding a passage to those latitudes which would confirm their theory of sphere within sphere. They are as skilful to separate and treat of humanity and divinity in the Son of God, as is Colonel Symmes in forming this globe into so many hollow spheres, each having its own properties and inhabitants.
To your fifth question the new testament deigns no reply. It is kind enough to inform us of the bodies of the saints at the resurrection, and thus sets before us an object of hope the most engaging, purifying and ennobling, that is conceivable, and leaves the bodies of the wicked in impenetrable darkness and awful gloom; and it might be as impious and as absurd for us to attempt to draw an image of that which has no model and which is designedly as far from human view as those chains of darkness which bind fallen angels unto the judgment of the great day.
Things not revealed belong to the Lord, and those revealed belong to us and our race in all ages. And happy are they who believe and obey what God has revealed, and who labor to stand approved before him at his coming.
SEVERAL baptist congregations in the western part of Pennsylvania, and in the state of Ohio, have voted the Philadelphia Confession of Faith out of doors, as not worthy of a place among them. They are determined on being free to be guided by that old fashioned book that exhibits the faith once delivered to the saints, in the order and connexion best adapted to mankind, as appeared to the founder of the religion.
AT a meeting of sundry teachers of the Christian religion and brethren from different sections of the country, held in Warren, Trumbull county, Ohio, on the last day of May and first of June, at which the editor was present, the greater part of two days was occupied in discussing the ancient order of things. A great desire was expressed by most of those present to see the ancient order of things restored; and the discussion was free, candid, and general. Many topics were introduced subservient to the grand topic of investigation; and from the zeal and harmony that was apparent in this investigation, it is to be hoped that those congregations of disciples who have begun in the spirit will not end in the flesh, but that the ancient order of things will soon be exhibited in the practice of the disciples meeting on the first day of the week.
|[ED. C. B. |
END OF VOLUME II. 
[Table of Contents]
The Christian Baptist (1889)