Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

words of Paul-"This know also, that in the last (or latter] days perilous times shall come; for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy; without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of them that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of Godliness, but denying the power of it.” Is not this the very image of modern Christendom? Can any man of spiritual, of even intellectual perspicacity, doubt or deny it?——! And are not the vast majority of professors “ever learning, and yet unable to come to the knowledge," much less to the acknowledgment of the truth !-!

And have not we, who advocate the necessity of a reformation of Christian manners, and a reformation of the Christian institutions, as delivered to us by the holy apostles—I say, have we not only been, but are we not even now, at this present hour, being withstood by many a Jannes and Jambres! reprobate concerning the faith; by which term the apostle only meant undiscerning, or of “no judgment in the faith.” See the marginal reading in our best Bibles.

And what remedy is proposed ? Sound doctrine! But what is sound doctrine? Does it indicate the Philosophy of Christianity ? or what is called a sound theory of Christianity? This has been adopted, more or less, by every form of Christianity. It may be called Calvinism, or Arminianism, or Methodism, or Presbyterianism, or Congregationalism, or Episcopalianism. Still, each and every one of these is a theory of Christian doctrine, or of ecclesiastico-political economy. So taught not the apostles. They taught one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one body, one Spirit, one hope, and one God and Father of all. They do not propose any formulæ of opinions, or theory, or polity, as a foundation, or bond of union or co-operation. They proposed facts to be believed, precepts to be obeyed, and promises to be hoped for. They developed the person, the character, the mis. sion, the sacrifice of Christ; his resurrection from the dead, his ascension into heaven, his coronation, and his second coming, as Judge of the living and the dead. This was their basis of church union, cominunion, and co-operation.

Their positive ordinances were three-Christian baptism, the Lord's day, and the Lord's supper. They baptized into the faith, into Christ, into remission of sins, into the Holy Spirit, or into the name of the Father, into the name of the Son, and into the name of the Holy Spirit. They never immersed any one in the name of the Father, or in the name of the Holy Spirit. They did, indeed, administer this ordinance in the name, by the authority of the Lord Jesus, immediately after his coronation in heaven, as Lord of all, was announced

to them. These are stereotyped facts, which no man, with any show of reason or Divine authority, can deny, opon a grammatical version of the Holy Scriptures.

These are facts, incontrovertible upon a fair grammatical translation of the original language, admitted by every competent scholar or interpreter, in Greek, Roman, or English Christendom.

As error and heresy often change both their ground of attack and of defense, the wants of every age demand the clear exposition of these radical and most comprehensive statements.

But these are only elements of the apostles' doctrine, and by no means the whole of it. They are, indeed, but the elements, or first principles of the Christian dispensation and of the Christian Scriptures. But so long as our contemporaries deny or mystify them, it is our duty to contend earnestly for these elements, or first principles, of the Christian faith and dispensation. So long as ignorant or partizan men mystify or pervert them, it is the duty of all the watchmen on the walls of Zion to guard and defend these grand elements of the Christian faith, and to develop them in all their primitive value and sig. nificance.

But besides these, there are the grand topics of the age, in reference to the present condition of the church of Christ and its destiny, demanding a full investigation under all the new forms and movements of religious excitement and enterprise.

The coming events of apocalyptic vision are pressing pon our attention, and have strong claiins upon our grave consideration. Whatever is taught in the Oracles of God respecting the present or future condition of the Christian profession, demands our most grave and serious consideration. The signs of the times are ominous, and coming events cast their shadow before them, indicating to us the necessity of preparing for them. But for this purpose it is indispensable that we understand our own times, and their position on the chart of prophetic developments.

Our own duties in reference to our special mission and enterprise, as a matter not merely of course, but of solemn responsibility, have paramount claims upon our attention and upon our efforts. We are a peculiar people, and occupy stand-points and positions different from that of any community shackled by human prescription or the decrees of partizan synods and councils.

A, C,

True religion shows itself in every part of our conduct: it is like the sap of a living tree, which penetrates the most distant boughs.

SERIES IV., VOL. FI.

CHRISTIAN EQUALITY. It is yet, I believe, a mooted topic in Natural Philosophy, whether motion or rest be the natural state of a body. Be this as it may, one thing is well ascertained-that some bodies, while at rest, are more useful than when in motion, and vice versa.

The question, or rather the topic, now under consideration, is one that has long been agitated, and we presume will continue to be, till some obstacle is thrown in the way, or till it shall have found its level. To do the subject justice, in the judgment of all concerned, we will speak of equality in general terms, and then come to that kind of equality that should obtain amongst Christians.

The term equality, means the quality of being equal. There is, for example, a mathematical equality, as when we say the angles of a square are equal. Two lines that are equal to a third, are equal to one another. Again: arithmetically, one-half and five-tenths are of equal value. In Natural Philosopby we say, that two bodies, of equal weight, falling from an equal height, reach the earth in an equal space of time. In all these, each has its respective equality.

We say, also, that two men, of equal bodily strength, can lift an equal weight; but in intellectual power, they are unequal. Two youths, of equal age, have equal advantages for the acquisition of knowledge, but they make unequal progress, and in usefulness are unequal through life. Men equally benevolent, but of unequal means, lose equality in ability of doing good. Politicians of equal knowledge, but of unequal eloquence, are unequal in power with the people. Mechanics of equal skill in the same profession, but unequal in habits of temperance and industry, are unequal in usefulness and respect. The pin-pointer and the farmer are equal in integrity of character, but unequal in value to the community. In professional value they stand not upon equality, though in character worthy of equal respect. But as most men respect money more than men of integrity without money, they esteem the man of wealth more than the poor man of equal probity. This is a grievous evil under the sun, but so it is, and so it will be.

But in what respects are men naturally on an equality ?
1. They have a common humanity.
2. They are all alike helpless in infancy.
3. They are all alike in need of food and air.

Besides this natural equality amongst men, there is also a conventional, or political equality, established in different communities of men, called governments. Some coinmunities grant to all its mem

bers equally a self-disposing power, limited only by what would injure, in any way, its members. Each has an equal right to safety, security, and free agency, as necessary for the peace of the community and to give character to the actions of its citizens. These rights are protected by law to every obedient and loyal member to the compast. This we call conventional, or political equality, and is based upon that natural equality mentioned above.

But there are also natural and political inequalities in the condition of men, alike important to the well being of society.

Men, women and children, relatively considered, are in several respects unequal naturally, viz: in taste, in objects of pursuit, in vigor of body and intellect, in power of self-government. Again: men themselves are unequal in all these respects. So, likewise, are women and children. Here we have the reason of that inequality we perceive in their condition of life. Here, also, is the ground-work of that moral inequality as to duties and responsibilities, styled, conjugal, parental, and filial. To these we may add the relation of master and servant, and their relative duties and responsibilities.

In conventional society, called the state, we have that inequality of power and influence that has given to the more gifted citizen elevated position. Superior intellectual abilities necessarily elevate the possessor of them above the generality of citizens who want these abilities. Hence the inequalities of position and influence, and of official distinction and honor founded thereon. The common citizen confesses this superiority by his suffrage for men thus gifted for high and responsible places, in whose hands alone he feels it safe to trust the interests of his country. And fortunate it is for any government, whose citizens generally have sufficient intelligence to select men of elevated moral and intellectual abilities to guide the ship of state.

With these premises before us, we shall now take a view of a community differing, in many of its features, from those already considered, and in which we may properly look for a more perfect equality of condition than can obtain in any other community. The Christian church or kingdom of Christ, justly claims an equality for its memhers or citizens that no other community, under one head, can claim for its subjects. They are all professedly equally the children of God, the disciples of Christ, and members of his mystical body. As such they are equally heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. They have equal claims to His regard. The petition of faith is equally heard by the Great Father of all. There is no respect of persons with Him.

These being some of the differential attributes of the kingdom of Christ, it was truly said by its great Founder, “My kingdom is not

of this world.” But it is in this world, and its subjects are found living under the governments of this world, as well as under the government of the Lord Messiah. Wherever found, the subjects of Christ, though a peculiar people, are also the citizen-subjects of the governments of earth. As such they are addressed by those prime ministers whose prerogative it was to dispense his laws to his subjects. Our glorious King himself, while officiating on earth as the great Prophet of his people, set the example, as well as taught the duty, of submission to huinan governments-—"Render to Cesar the things that are Cesar's." So taught, also, that high functionary of our King, the Apostle Pau—Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.” “The powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God." And he enjoins it, therefore, as a duty, to “honor the king." Their loyalty to Christ made them loyal to Cesar.

Now, as then, we find Christians in the various relations, conditions, and avocations of life, occupying also high official positions in the various departments of the governments under which iney live. And in this respect the same inequalities of condition obtain now as formerly amongst His people. This, indeed, has always been the case since the days of Joseph, Moses and Daniel, who have taught us by their approved example, how we are to honor the powers that be.

But we have said that there is a more perfect equality amongst Christians than can obtain in any wor!dly community. But where shall we behold it? Not in our relations, and stations, and callings, as we hold them under Cesar, or any human government; for here every one is to abide in the calling wherein he has been called, and is to render faithful service to Him who has called him therein.

How humble or exalted soever the position or calling may be which the Christian holds in society, he is not to be ashamed or proud of it, but is to be faithful in the duties thereof, knowing that the service is not rendered to men, but to Christ, from whom he expects the reward.

Nor will the brother of low degree or of humble station, refuse to honor his brother of high official place, as one of God's ministers in the government under which they live; for in so doing he would not only dishonor the authority that clothed him therewith, but in dishonoring Cesar, he would also dishonor his King, who is King of kings and Lord of lords, and who has commanded his people to obey the civil magistrate as his minister.

But all these distinctions are lost in the Christian church, when assembled on the Lord's day, in the Lord's house. This is the only spot

« ZurückWeiter »