Abbildungen der Seite

20—22) and our actual observation confirms the awful fact. But shall it be always so ? Shall God bruise Satan under our feet ? shall he renew the souls of his people after his own image in righteousness and true holiness ? Shall our mortal bodies which have crumbled into dust be raised immortal, incorruptible, and glorious ? And shall the earth alone be given up as the reward of Satan's conquests ? No, blessed be God, the work of redemption is perfect, the victory over Satan is complete, “ THERE SHALL BE NO MORE CURSE.” (Rev. xxii. 3.) “The earnest expectation of the creature (or creation) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God, for creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Rom. viii. 19, 21. “We look for a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness," and this at the manifestation of the sons of God-at the redemption of their bodies (ver. 23) ; at the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began;" (Acts iii. 21) and these are the times of our Lord's appearing.

Jastly, I would remark, that this glorious period is the antitype of the weekly Sabbath. When the Lord had finished all the works of creation, he rested on the seventh day," and God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it ; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Gen. iii. 2, 3. And since its first observance in paradise, the church of God has continued to consecrate to the peculiar service of the most High one day in seven, as a day of spiritual rest, as the Sabbath of the Lord, holy and honorable, and will continue to do so until its great antitype is revealed, even the millennial day of glory. The number seven is very frequently used in Scripture, and is applied to various subjects which are referred to in the book of God. I conceive that it is among other matters used in reference to the subject before us, and that not only every seventh day was to be kept holy, and every seventh year, and every fiftieth year (or that which followed seven Sabbaths of years) but that also the seventh millennary, which is emphatically called the day of the Lord,” (1 Thess. v. 2, &c.; 2 Pet. iii

. 10) was consecrated to bis peculiar service, and it was to resenble, more than any of the other Sabbathis which preceded it, that which was originally observed in paradise. The present age is, I conceive, divided into seven millennaries, or periods of one thousand years; six of these are in their character to resemble the six work ing days of the week, and the seventh will be the Sabbath ; accordingly the apostle, in his epistle to the Hebrews, speaks of this glorious rest, as that which had been promised to their fathers--that of of which the royal Psalmist wrote--that of which the possession of the land of Canaan under Joshua was but a figure, and concludes by asserting that “there remaineth therefore a rest (margin“ keep. ing of a Sabbath”-original Saßbariuos) for the people of God.” Heb. iv. 3–9. One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, and of these nearly six have passed into eternity and the week is drawing to a close : the last will be the Sabbattical day of rest, in which the believing people of God will live and reign with Christ a thousand years upon the earth, all their enemies having been subdued, and they being made kings and priests unto God even the Father.

To conclude, I would bey of you seriously to weigh the arguments and Scriptural references which I have adduced, and do not, on any account, allow your zeal for a system, or prejudices in favor of former opinions, to weigh with you in deciding upon the important doctrines here maintained. “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” Let the truth of God be our guide and our standard, although at the expense of rejecting every human system ; and let us look to Him for illumination and assistance in the investigation of every Scripture doctrine, assured that whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, and that ali Scripture is profitable.

Many important practical inferences might be drawn from the foregoing statements, but I refrain, feeling that I have already trespassed much too long upon the patience of your readers, and occupied too large a portion of your pages; suffice it to say that if they are strictly in accordance with the word of Godmás I trust and am persuaded they are the more we dwell upon them, and the more clearly they are perceived by us, the more likely are we to have our faith and practice in strict accordance with the divine will; and “now I say unto you” adopting the prudent counsel of Gamaliel, "refrain from these men and let them alone, for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought, but if it be of God ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." Acts v. 38, 39.

J. K.




Mr. EXAMINER—As I have often known you to devote a part of your space to articles intended to explain portions of the service of the Established Church, and have sometimes contributed such articles, I have conceived a hope that the following thoughts connected with some portions of her public formularies, might be admitted to the publicity of your pages ; in order that should some of my opinions be wrong, some of your better informed corresponpents might set me right, and that if, on the contrary, I should be correct, some of your readers may receive a new and useful idea.

I have often heard portions of the formularies of the Church called Popish, and have been grieved sometimes by what I considered the injustice of such an attack—sometimes by what I thought a cold and insufficient defence. I do not believe that any parts of our service merit such a reproach, and will endeavour to point out my reasons.

First, I was led to consider it highly improbable, from the characters and circumstances of the men who composed or selected them. It seems to me that the Church of Rome, by carrying human authority beyond all just bounds, has, in some degree, driven Protestants into an opposite extreme of rejecting it altogether. I shall take an example to explain what I mean the better. In the [5th chapter of Acts, at the 26th verse, we read these words :“Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is a testinjony, borne by the church at Jerusalem to Judas and Silas, in order to give them weight and authority before the church at Antioch, to whom they were sent to bear oral witness against a particular error.

It seems to me that our reformed divines stand in a very similar relation towards us, and that it is an ungracious thing to charge men, of some of whom it may be said, that they laid down their lives for the name of our Lord, with leaving to us, for whose sakes in some sort, they gladly suffered such things, the bitter legacy of Popery, and that too mixed up with writings which they had hoped should rather help to build us up in our most holy faith.

I fear also that such a charge as this reflects somewhat upon him that holdeth the stars in his right hand. It was not, as we profess to think, to remove our candlestick out of its place, that he was pleased to send them, nor should we even indirectly charge him that doeth all things well, with sending instruments so little fitted for their work, as to build his church witb one hand, and pull it down with the other. It was not thus his servants of old built the walls of Jerusalem ; with one hand they built, with the other they held their weapons ready against the enemies of the faith ; and such, I rather think, were our Reformers.

But some may say, facts, facts. It was not likely, or according to the analogy of God's dealings, to send his people such doubtful help in time of great need; it is written, “ as thy day, thy strength ;" but in our case the rule is reversed, those who bore the burden and heat of the day, were little better than half.enlightened Papists; we who sit comparatively under our vine and figtree, can look down with pity on their ignorance.

Let us, however, examine closely what are called the facts, before we venture to take such credit to ourselves, or to pour such contempt upon them. We will take that formulary which I have heard most objected to, the Absolution for the Sick. I would first observe that the Book of Common Prayer contains three forms of Absolution, one in continual use morning and evening, one in occasional use, at the time of communion, and one which it is discretionary with the minister, or rather with the sick person, to use or to omit. Of these three forms, one only, the one in constant use, defines the power of absolving which is claimed_" to declare and pronounce to his people being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins. Now, if the minister claims a higher power in the sick chamber than he does in the reading desk, it is very inconsistent, especially as the form of absolution which is supposed to

our ears.

[ocr errors]

“ If we

[ocr errors]

exalt ministerial authority above measure, is only heard, as we may say, once in a nian's life, if at all; but the form which describes and limits the minister's power is continually sounding in

I can discover nothing of the genius of Popery in such an arrangement as this.

On a further consideration of the subject, I was led to suspect, that those who object to the absolution of the church service mistake the meaning of these offices. The words used are precise,

to declare and pronounce to his people.” As it is to the Lord's people that forgiveness is limited, let us ask for a moment what forgiveness do they need ? It is, as I conceive, that for which our Lord instructs his disciples to pray in these words, “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses.”. This seems to be the meaning of the church, as she has prefixed the form of absolution as a preface to the Lord's Prayer. She has also prefixed to her morning and evening service, a number of texts, bearing on the same doctrine. “ To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him, neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws which he hath set before us.” “ O Lord correct me, but with judgment, not in thine anger.” “I will arise and go to my father.” “ Enter not into judgment with thy servant, o Lord." say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” “ He is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins.” We may observe that the Established Church acknowledges none as her members, but those whom she considers also living members of Christ. “The visible church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men.” Want of attention to this circumstance seems a chief cause of the objections usually made to some of her formularies. All her children are spoken of as being regenerate at their baptism; all her dead are spoken of as having died in the Lord. It does not appear to me that she could consistently with her principle use different language. I cannot conceive of any service that would suit the burial of an unbeliever, and at the same time acknowledge him as a member of any church. The service is not prayer for the dead, but aims at the instruction of the living hearers in this great truth, that “blessed are the dead which die in the Lord;" as the service used at baptism testifies another important truth, “Except a man is born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

If it be true that the services of the church apply strictly only to believers, it seems to follow that forgiveness of sins mentioned in her forms of absolution, does not so much mean the general proclamation of pardon to all who believe the Gospel, as the particular promises and encouragements which a Christian needs under a sense of his continual infirmities and short comings. I know there are some who teach that a believer need not have any such, as he need not have such infirmities, but this is not the doctrine of the church. “We ought at all times humbly to acknowledge our sins before God.” There is another doctrine closely connected with this, frequently recognized in the church service, that the sins of believers may hin.




der their prayers, incur the displeasure of God, and bring down punishments in this life. Against these things some of the public prayers are directed in the way of deprecation ; “ let us beseech him to grant us true repentance, that those things may please him which we do at this present, and that the rest of our life hereafter


pure and holy.” This seems enlarging on a clause in the Lord's prayer, which immediately follows, "forgive us our trespasses, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” This language of deprecation is frequently recurring. “Lord have mercy upon

“Save thy people”— Bless thine inheritance”-“make clean our hearts within us”-"take not thy Holy Spirit from us." Again in the Litany, "have mercy upon us miserable offenders”. thy people, and be 'not angry with us for ever”-“Forgive us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances”-“ Deal not with us after our sins”-“Helpus and deliver us, for thy Name's sake" —“belp us and deliver us, for thine honour.” There is a mixture of confidence in the promises of God, and distrust of ourselves, well expressed throughout the church service, which reminds me of a saying of St. Paul, “We are the circumcision, who worship God in spirit, rejoice in the Lord Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

It seems more natural, modest, and pious, to conclude that a few young men, however estimable, might be mistaken in some difficult points of divinity, than that a long succession of pious, learned, and experienced divines, eminently acquainted with the sacred Scriptures, who had not only read, marked, and learned, but also inwardly digested them, should be left in gross darkness on some material points of doctrine, or that their solemn addresses to God, on most interesting occasions, should be deeply mingled with error. I have not been able to discover that the extempore effusions of pious persons exceed in spirituality the well-considered services of the church, and I think I have observed them sometimes fall short of the latter in sobriety and dignity of expression, and sometimes to approach to needless repetition.

I wish for a moment to glance at some usages of the primitive churches connected with this subject, the rather as some Christians plead what they conceive to have been the usage of the first Christians, as one excuse for their leaving our communion.

I find St. Paul writing to the Corinthians, in his 2d Epistle, ii. 10 : “To whom ye forgive any thing, I also.”. This seems to show forgiveness exercised by a primitive church, with apostolic sanction. In his lst Epistle, xi. 30, I read, “ For this cause many are weak and sickly among you." Here is sickness connected with abuse of a church ordinance ; in the next verse we find, “if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged,” &c. here is remission of sickness, connected with repentance, and amendment. St. James also says in a well-known passage, “ Is any among you sick, let him call for the elders of the church,” &c. " the prayer of faith shall save the sick, (that is from his sickness) and the Lord shall raise him up, and if he have committed sins, (which have caused his sickness) they shall be forgiven him."


« ZurückWeiter »