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DISCIPLINE-No. XIII. We promised, in our last number, to offer a few ideas upon the course to be pursued towards one who has been excluded from the congregation, and the circumstances under which it is proper to restore him to communion.
The object of excommunication is two-fold. It is designed to act both upon the offender and the church generally. Upon the former, it is to work reformation; on the latter, to awaken watchfulness and a reverential fear. Thus Paul commands, saying, With certain characters, whom he designates, we must not keep company, that they may be ashamed; and certain others, we must rebuke publicly that the rest may be afraid. The offender, however, is not to be treated as an enemy, but admonished as a brother: (2 Thess. jii. 15.) Still we are not to associate with him—no, not even to eat with such a person: (1 Cor. v. 12.) Nothing can be more explicit than this authoritative teaching of Paul. It is perspicuous and unqualified; and, it is needless to add, absolutely essential to the full efficacy of discipline; therefore it is benevolent, though severe.
It is a part of discipline.
The arm of the church is weak without it, and men will run riot in sin, even to the very jaws of hell, though under the sentence of excommunication, pursuaded by the fratricidal sympathy of their former brethren, that they are as good as ever, and no way spotted with the leprosy, though the priest has pronounced them unclean.
It is the practical part of discipline. The sentence of excommunication is merely declarative. It states a fact, but it is not the fact; it announces a decision, but it is, in no sense, the execution of the decision. There must be a practical withdrawal of that intercourse which was before warranted' and justified by the fraternal relation of Christians; and this, not merely in the religious acts of public worship, but in the ordinary respects of social life. If not, excommunication is nothing more than a name; yea, it is a mocke. ry, or else hypocrisy.
Naines may be arbitrary-generally are so, having no respect to the qualities of things. Thus the Pope is called Pius, though the very Man of Sin; and so a person may be called "excommunicated;” and yet enjoy the full fellowship of the brethren in every thing. but the Lord's supper. This is but too often so, and who can deny that it makes discipline a mere name? Moreover, what is it but a mockery
-a false show, having the SERIES III. - VOL. VI.
form of discipline without its power, honoring with our lips the statutes of the King, and rendering them worse than nugatory by our actions. Truly sin thus dealt with,
‘is, as the air, invulnerable;.
And our vain blows malicious mockery." But let us not deceive ourselves. “God is not mocked," neither has he condescended to legislate iu vain. If, in these matters, we will persist in gratifying the flesh and walk by the promptings of our own feelings, we must suffer the consequences, and of the flesh reap corruption. It is also hypocrisy, because it pretends to be, what it really is
To cry, Peace! Peace! when there is no peace, is not a whit worse than to cry, “Excommunicated,” when there is practically full association and fellowship in every thing but one single institution, which, after all, was never designed, as it is too often mar e to be, a test of fellowship. To say that a thing shall be done is not to do it; and for the whole congregation to stand up and decree that a member shall be excommunicated, because the duty is clearly enjoined in the scriptures and cannot be evaded, and afterwards continue towards him all their former fellowship and brotherly intercourse, even though done in the greatest charity, what is it but the leaven of the Pharisees! Let us beware of such action, for it is not only repudiating the wisdom of the Spirit and contemning a law of Christ, but it is luring into strong delusion a fellowcreature, that he may believe a lie concerning himself, make his peace with sin, and die, a victim to the complimentary weakness of a human charity. The charity which cometh down from above speaketh on this wise:-If thy right hand ensnare thee, cut it off and throw it away: it is better to lose one of our members than that your whole body be cast into hell. A Christian under the power of sin is gangrenescent: Discipline is the cautery and the knife, and she spares not the flesh, that the patient may not perish. Painful, indeed, it may be; but what objection is that, when we hear the Master say, He that loves his father, or mother, or brother, or sister, more than me, is not worthy of me! Can we suffer unto bonds and imprisonment-yea; unto death, and yet have not the nerve to execute the discipline decreed for the honor and profit of the whole body of Christ! Ah! our human affections do sometimes prove too strong for our allegiance to Christ!" There is a law in our members warring against the law of Christ and leading us from the path of duty. It is the law of our carnal affections, reigning with an empire stronger than that of Christ. We sometimes see it in
the conduct of Christians towards their personal friends, when they are suffering under the discipline of the church; but more strikingly. in cases of blood or other connexions. When put to this test, how
Look at yon zealous disciplinarian; how loyally he ever stands by the law of Christ! He has seen the church in many a conflict with the follies of men, and when unruly spirits have resisted the authority of the elders and threatened the church with schism, none have gone before him in sustaining the discipline. Even although there may have been some error or imprudence in its administration, still he has honored authority and exhorted members to submit themselves to those who were placed in authority over them. “Perfect impartially” has been his motto; and under it, as a banner, he has brought to the trial offenders of all classes and conditions. None can suspect his willingness to sacrifice every earthly feeling to the honor and vindication of the church. But trials of a different nature come. His sons are as the sons of Eli, and the hand of discipline is upon them. Like Sesburim, they have waxed fat and kicked; they have forsaken Christ who bought them and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation: and where now stands the impartial disciplinarian! Does he remember what God said to EliWherefore honorest thou thy sons above me? Them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Does he now feel that the honor of Christ calls him to the test, and is he willing to sacrifice for Him his human affections? Alas for our poor nature? How few, how very few, can stand in this trial! Yet it is as true now as the day the Saviour uttered it. Unless a man can and does forsake all for Christ, when he requires it, he is not worthy of him. 0! that brethren would consider the consequences of such inconsistency and realize the truth of God's decreeThey that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Yes, the brethren must look at such, and lament that the fine gold has become dim, and the world will behold him and cry, Ichabod! Ichabod!
Let us pause upon the conclusion: Excommunication, to be real and effectual, that is scriptural, must not only be in the public worship, but in the daily social intercourse and relations of life, and without respect to any of those earthly and carnal affections that war against the authority of Christ and lead us from the path of duty. This our law requires, and the best interests both of the unfortunate offender and the church demand. A different course must surely prove injurious, encourage the offender in his sin, and bring upon both a condemnation like to that of Eli and his house.
W. K. P.
MORAL SOCIETIES, SONS OF TEMPERANCE, &c. &c.
In the opinion of our original correspondents, pro and con, the propriety of Christians joining moral societies having secrets and a religious ritual, has been fully discussed on our pages. Our first contributors have ceased. We have had nothing from brother Williams, one of our most able and well informed correspondents, on the subject, since our last response to his essays.. Some new writers have sent us some new letters on the subject for and against our views. There is nothing new in them worthy of our attention or that of our readers. There seems to be a very general conviction that, however useful some of these institutions may have been, or are, as worldly institutions for worldly men, Christians have no business with them as aids, or anxiliaries, or as means of their holiness, happiness, or usefulness. Nay, indeed, the conviction grows deeper that Christians dishonor rather than honor the church and its Founder by accepting of membership in any one of the three fraternities. But should any one desire to see how much more can be said in defence of Christians becoming members of such societies, of doitig good, and how much violence may be offered to common sense, to holy writ, and matters of fact in pleading their claims on the Christian church, I must refer him to a series of essays commenced by a Mr. Joseph R. Naylor, of Wellsburg, the first of which has appeared in the “Gospel Proclamation" for January, 1844. I wish this quondam brother could find his way back to the church before he commences to reform it. For so long as he abandons the church for the sake of the Sons of Temperance, I' presume he can. neither enjoy Christianity nor recommend it to any one.. A. C..
NEWS FROM THE CHURCHES:.
St.John, October 23, 1848. I have recently immersed six young persons into the faith of the gospel, who have become members of the congregation of the Lord in this city, If I could obtain two or three true fellow-laborers, with whom I could cooperate in preaching and teaching in this region, I thivk much good might be done; but as it is, my attention is so much divided by iny numerous labors, that but little can be effected. I have been hoping, laboring, toiling, and praying that we might raise up some efficient laborers among us for some time; but nothing yet has been fully developed; so we plod along very slowly, hoping and praying that some of your western heralds may catch the missionary spirit and look towards the rising sun for a field of labor, and for many to arise and call them blessed.
W. \V. EATON,
Daviess County, Mo., October 30, 1848. The additions in this county for the last year have been over 80 to the Grindstone Church.
Boon county, Mo., November 2, 1848. I left Hanuibal yesterday morning and reached home to-day to dinner, having travelled eighty miles in a day and a half. I labored in that city four days with brother Henderson, and when I left 35 additions had been obtained, 11 of which were had the last meeting I attended, (Wednesday night.) It was truly a rejoicing time and a giorious triumph of truth. Several made confession at the water, one of whom was a Methodist lady, and were straightway immersed in, (not Jordan,) but the Mississippi river. Brother Henderson remained to continue the meeting, and I shall expect to hear many of other additions before its close. Brother Allen Wright has immersed 8 in Howard since the State Meeting, two of whom were Methodists. Brother Gaines also informed me that he had 8 additions in Lexington since his return from the State Meeting.
T. M. ALLEN. Lunenburg county, Va., November 3, 1848. Last week a protracted meeting closed at Cool Spring, attended by brother Bullard, with the assistance of brother Shelburne; during which meeting 7 made the good confession and were baptized; and two others, who had been previously baptized, joined the church. Praised be the Lord for the manifestations of his mercy to our fellow-men!
On the last Lord's day a protracted meeting commenced at Liberty, and continued till Wednesday evening, attended by brethren Bullard and Shelburne, and I was with them. During this meeting 8 made the good confession and were baptized-one during our co-operation in August lastmaking 9 immersed into our glorious Lord this year, and 4 who had been baptized some years before, united with the church. The additions to Liberty are 11; the others will unite with some other church near their location. During these two meetings and the co-operation meeting, 21 have come out on the Lord's side. The brethren seemed to be generally refreshed, and we do sincerely pray the Lord that they may persevere in the race to make their calling and election sure.
Our Baptist friends about Liberty appeared to be much interested, and we do sincerely hope that their iufluence may be ere long given to the old gospel.
White Oak, Texas, November 10, 1848. The congregations here as yet are not properly organized for the want of proper materials; yet I think the cause of truth is onward. Many who oppose us are fond of your writings, and the preachers often quote you without placing to your credit. I will name for your satisfaction some of the names of the most prominent proclaimers of the ancient gospel in this north-eastern division of Texas, (viz.) Wm. Stirman, John M.Closkey, Greeu Weaver, E. D. Moore, Gibson, and two brothers Wilmouths, zealous and talented brethren, besides several others more recently engaged in the great and glorious work.
M. W. MATTHEWS.
Forest Shade, Mo., November 18, 1848. During the year just passing there have been added to the churches where I have preached, some ninety-three «r four persons, mostly in the morning of life; yet among them were some that were near three score years old. Our beloved J. T. Hudson was frequently with me as a fellowlaborer. May the good Lord be praised for all his goodness to the children of men!
A, H. F. PAYNE.