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ed pastor of our times, “ which never allows an evil course of life to exercise any influence on sacramental communion, which exercises no discipline at all, and neither will nor can do so, is not, although she may contain in her many living members of Christ, to be regarded in the light of a church, but only a congregation fortuitously

collected for the preaching and reading of the word of God.”

IV. And who can and will deny, my brethren, that we ourselves are now in such a case! Among us not a word is ever heard of church discipline; and when we consider the mournful condition of the church in our days, we may well exclaim with the prophet, “ How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people ? How is she become as a widow? She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary?" But, perhaps some one may ask, whether there is indeed reason among us to exercise, or even to desire, a church discipline ? Such persons we would refer to the reprobate lives of so many who call themselves Christians, and rather live as heathens. He who does not wilfully shut his eyes, must see how matters are proceeding in Christendom; for “ the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” Do, then, Christians who lead so reprobate a life belong to the kingdom of God? Do they not sin grievously against the Christian fellowship, and can it be rightly allowed to a Christian church to suffer in the midst of her, and acknowledge as members, drunkards, adulterers, thieves, perjured, vicious and open sinners? But some one may ask, are not such sinners punished by our Christian magistracy? We grant that gross outbreaks of wickedness are subject to the punishment of Christian rulers,—but yet they are so only when they are such as to disturb civil order and tranquillity. Thieves are punished, but who punishes

drunkards, desecrators of the Sabbath, slanderers, blasphemers, adulterers? Is not open lasciviousness permitted? Are not taxes taken from those who encourage it, or who even themselves give up their bodies to disgrace ? And who punishes those, who do not indeed live in gross sin, but yet who give the greatest offence by their lives ; for there are many sinners, whose sins cannot be brought under the jurisdiction of the rulers. And yet the church must suffer them in her bosom, without having any pledge of their penitence, and cannot hinder their appearing as sponsors, coming to the altar, and professing in the holy sacrament a faith which in their lives they deny? Certainly, according to our rubric, all such must be warned from the holy sacrament, as continue in their misdeeds, lead a sinful and impenitent life, and give offence and cause of stumbling to others ;” and many are excluded by name from partaking of it, “all idolaters, blasphemers, despisers of God, and transgressors, all who belong to sects and heresies, who weaken the communion of the church, all perjured men, rebels against their parents and those in authority over them, all who seek to excite factions and civil disorders, all murderers, all given to anger, adulterers, whoremongers, thieves, robbers, covetous, drunkards, and lascivious men.” But where is the church that can give a due impressiveness to such a dehortation, and effect such an exclusion, as long as they have no sufficient pledge of genuine repentance and change of heart?

Certainly the times have so altered, that one might think there was no more need of a church discipline practised in this manner, for even if unworthy members were excluded from becoming partakers in the sacramental profession of faith, it would be a matter quite indifferent to them. They have, indeed, for a long time excluded themselves, they have of their own accord excommunicated themselves, and would only laugh at and ridicule the man who forbad their attendance at the Lord's Supper as a punishment. This is connected with the indifference that prevails towards church, ser

mon, the word of God, and his sacraments, and is a
result of the deficient regulations of the church, of
the entirely lost church discipline, and the laxity of
the community themselves, who now never dream of
asking whether a man is an honour to them or not
by his life, who seem to have entirely lost the con-
sciousness of their dignity, of their rights and duties
as a Christian church. Thus, in fact, we no longer
have a church among us, but only individual buildings,
in which Christians fortuitously assemble for the hear-
ing of the divine word, or for other church ordinances.
That this a melancholy and mournful circumstance, no
one can deny. But let us hope that it is a state that
will pass away, and that, by God's help, it will become
better! If alĩ the signs of the times are not deceptive,
we may confidently commit ourselves to this hope. The
necessities by which we are surrounded, are experienced
almost by all who have a genuine regard to the church
and the spiritual health of her members. But the Lord
will hear the aspirations, the sighs and prayers of his
faithful disciples in His own good time, and of His
mercy will grant unto His church what will be profit-
able for it. His counsels are, indeed, wonderful, but
he brings everything to a glorious consummation. In the
mean time let us but make the beginning ourselves, and
strive earnestly to make matters better, to grow in
knowledge of the truth, in faith, and a godly life, to
show ourselves worthy and genuine members of the
church, who find all their pleasure and delight in faith-
fully acknowledging the Lord with their lips and in
their lives; and if individuals earnestly strive after this,
we shall become better as a whole, and those churches
will more and more arise of which the apostle says,
“That Christ hath loved it, and given himself for it; that
he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of
water by the word, that he might present it to himself
a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any
such thing; but that it should be holy and without
blemish." Amen.

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SERMON XIX.

THE PUBLIC AND CIVIL LIFE OF THE EARLY CHRISTIANS.

THE grace

of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all, now and for ever. Amen.

66 Let

every

soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the

power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works but to the evil. Wilt thou, then, not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same ; for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain ; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For, for this cause pay ye

tribute also ; for they are God's ministers attending continually upon this very thing. Render, therefore, to all their dues ; tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law."

You will have perceived, my brethren, by this introduction, what end I propose to myself in this day's discourse. As we have, up to this time, presented to ourselves the Christian and ecclesiastical life of the dis ciples of the Lord in the earliest centuries, we will now glance at their public and civil life, and try to become

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acquainted with their relation to the state, and the words which we have just quoted from St Paul, place in our hands a standard by which to judge of this relation. They teach us to reverence in the authority which the higher powers have over us a power ordained by God, to which Christians are bound humbly and willingly to submit themselves, against which no one can or dare raise himself without sin, and with impunity, whose ordinances and laws ought to be respected, and held sacred by all, so long as nothing is contained in them which is at variance with the law of God himself. As St Paul requires in this case unconditional obedience as the sacred duty of subjects, so also does the apostle Peter demand the same, when he writes, “ Submit yourselves unto every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; whether it be to the king as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well.” And though Peter calls that an ordinance of man,

which Paul calls an ordinance of God, yet the two apostles by no means contradict each other, for Paul refers especially to the source of all authority, and rightly deduces all power from God, by saying, “ The powers that be are ordained of God.” Peter, on the other hand, only alludes to the outward manifestation, and speaks of the relations and regulations which exist among men, and under this aspect he is right in calling the powers that be an ordinance of man, in as far as the relation between rulers and subjects is one that subsists upon earth among us men, according to God's will.

Inspired by the spirit of the gospel, the first Christians exhibited, in their relation to the state, the most conscientious obedience. They were the best and most faithful subjects, even there, where no human eye observed them ; even there, where others obeyed only from fear and compulsion. But the same spirit of the gospel which taught them out of love to God and to their neighbours, to submit themselves to all human ordinances, even when they were a grievous burden to them, that same spirit taught them to hearken to God more

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