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FIDELITY TO CONSCIENCE.
Deep, decided spirituality, with I was conversing yesterday with thankfulness we witness it, is taking a friend who entertains an uncom
the place of cold and soulless indif.. mon respect for the Sabbath.
This is a very strongly fills the office of steward to a rich marked circumstance in almost every man in this neighbourhood.
church. Covetousness and sectarian
One Sabbath evening, not long after he partisanship are tottering more and entered on that office, his master and
And sinners—even "gospel he had just returned from church, hardened,” sinners, are yielding to when his master began to talk about the power of God.' I have recently some worldly concerns of a rather heard of some remarkable instances perplexing character, with which his of this kind. I wish I could repeat mind was exercised at the time. the account of one of these instances, “ To-morrow, sir," was my friend's
as related in one of the “fellowship blunt, laconic reply. Well, but I meetings,” a few days ago. have nobody else that I can talk to
One of the brethren, who has reabout it,” said the master.
To- cently joined one of the churches in morrow, sir, if you please, the
this neighbourhood, stood up, and steward' replied again. The master with a heart manifestly full of deep once more endeavoured to introduce and thrilling emotion, spoke to the the subject ; but his steward meekly, following effect. He was at one time yet firmly, answered, “at
a member of a religious society (and hour
any by night or by day, I will attend
a local preacher), and for a season
he ran well, But the leaven of you, sir; I will come along in the morning, as early as you choose ;
worldliness was prevalent among his but to-night, sir, I must be excused, brethren, and his mind, instead of if you please.” The master yielded, being edified, by connection with and though my friend has been in them, was pained and wounded. his employment ever since, and He “stumbled,” he hearkened to though this occurred several years ed thus with himself,—“ If it be
temptation, and he fell. He reasonago, he has never once attempted to introduce worldly conversation on
right for others to strive and toil for the Sabbath day.
wealth, is it not so for me? I'll not be singular, I'll seek it too.
I'll have it !” But the course he had INTELLIGENCE.
shaped out was one that his conJan. 31st, 1841. science disapproved, and he saw that DEAR BROTHER,
he must either cease his profession of The hand of the Lord is day by religion or act the hypocrite. What day more visibly exerted amongst was to be done ? Again he paused, the teeming population of the West but again the spectacle of a cold and Riding. We have held, or have in- money-grasping church caused him vitations to hold, meetings, or to de- to stumble, and he said, “Let it cost liver lectures, in upwards of thirty me what it will, I'll have it !” He towns and villages, within its limits. gave up his profession, and then his
Our Christian Brethren are now brethren remonstrated. meeting regularly in at least twenty- plied, “ means not. It is no use five towns. And in at least ten talking. All are grasping after mamothers we have either already accept- mon, and I'll have it too! I've flung ed invitations to lectures, &c., or the bridle on the horse's neck, and are about to do so, without delay, -go where he will—he shall not be The following places are among ei- checked.” He did so, but he found ther the former or the latter of these no rest, his soul was like the troubled two classes :-Leeds, Bramley, Arm- sea. Butstill he went astray. At last, ley, Pudsey, Low Town, Farsley, however, a lecture was to be deBradford, Horton, Holme Lane, Shelf, livered by W. T., and he went to Ambler Thorne, Halifax, and about hear it. The thoroughgoing doctrine six contiguous villages, Brighouse, reached his conscience, and his heart. High Town, Little Town, Heck- He saw and felt the force of truth mondwicke, Dewsbury, Batley, Hud- once more. He was convinced the dersfield, and about eight other lecturer was a messenger of God. places near to it, and Sheffield. He felt inclined to cast away his
But he re
idols, and once more to worship God. Riding, reminds me of a thar. Cold, But then it was suggested to him, icy, frozen-hearted worldlings, both “count the cost,” and he began to in the church and out of it, begin to count. The sum, per annum, to be speak of returning warmth and spisacrificed, he saw almost as soon as ritual life. Prejudices, grown strong he commenced his calculation, would during half a century's contact with be serious; he dared not pursue it inconsistent, hypocritical profession, further, and once more he staggered. are being melted down. And men But the preacher came once more of all creeds and all persuasions, on also, and he could not stay away. seeing the whole truth enforced withHe was irresistibly attracted to the out respect of persons, exclaim, very dart that already had so deeply “Christianity is not to blame !" wounded him. The truth was great. I have recently visited our brethHe said, “Well, this is the Gospel. ren in Sheffield. They now are about There is something in religion after sixty in number. They have a quiet, all.” He relinquished his idolatrous lightsome, and convenient room for
He had now ceased to wor- worship. Christians of other denomiship Mammon, he had joined the nations come and worship with them. church of God, and his soul had There are many labourers for Christ entered into rest. Exclamations of among them, and they increase thanksgiving, and many tears of joy weekly. I preached there on the followed this simple, unaffected tale morning and evening of the Sabbath, of our Redeemer's mercy. Several Jan. 23rd. In the evening the room other deeply interesting cases of re- was much crowded with persons of storation to the fold of the Saviour almost all persuasions. In the afterwere related at the same meeting. noon, we held a Love-feast, and the
At Pudsey, the church increases testimonies uttered called forth a weekly. In almost all the meetings continuous shower of joyous grateful I have attended lately, the power of tears. I found that the very same genuine godliness is once more work, quickening, reanimating process was
The members in all proceeding there, which I have preplaces almost unanimously say, bet- viously said is taking place in other ter days are coming. One hoary places. On the next four evenings, headed Christian, in one place, thank- viz. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, ed God he had been spared to witness and Thursday, I gave a course of the dawn of them.
Another, ap- lectures there. The first was on the parently a “ Mother in Israel," "a Hindrance to Religion. The second Wesleyan, exclaimed, “I am re. and third on the Wealth Question. minded of the days of Bramwell.” And the fourth on the Liberty and And a third said, that after being a Unity of the Church of Christ. Dishardened wanderer from the fold for cussions took place after each lecture, many years, he had once more been which, from all I could learn, resultattracted back again, but he found ed uniformly in the firmer establishthe piety of the brethren so deep, ment of the truths I had maintained. and their zeal so burning, that he Many seemed quite astonished to must altogether alter, or be forced to find long-neglected passages of Scripfly. In short, Evangelical Reform ture developing remedies for evils is already producing those delightful which had previously appeared to fruits which I have all along antici- them irremoveable. Many say, “the
And every passing week Bible is a new book now! Christiaffords increasing evidence that only anity is a new religion now!
We the iniquities of God's people have have hitherto been in the dark !” diminished the omnipotent energy Great is the Truth, and all-sufficient and influence of true religion. It is the Word of Inspiration. I am, does appear to me, that NOTHING can Dear Brother, very affectionately, withstand its progress in the world,
yours, if the whole be practised by those who already are professors. The
Thos. Smith, work that is going on in the West
THE RIGHT OF PRIVATE JUDGMENT
Obj. 3. Ought not a man quietly a member of the Jewish church to the to withdraw from a church when he last; and it was in the act of purifinds that he cannot agree in opinion fying himself in the temple accordwith the majority of his brethren ? ing to the directions of the Jewish And if he refuses to do so, is it not law, that he was apprehended and he, rather than his brethren, that given into custody. And it cannot interferes with the right of private be wrong to imitate the example of judgment ?
the Saviour and the Apostle Paul. Ans. I have often heard this 2. To leave a church with which asserted, but I have never yet heard we are connected because we canany thing more than assertion on the not agree on all points with our subject. My reasons for disapprov- brethren, is to oppose the will of ing of such a plan are these.
Christ. He commands his followers 1. It is directly contrary to the to be of one heart and of one course pursued by the Saviour. He soul; and he prayed both for his was a Jew according to the flesh, disciples that then were, and for all and, of course, a member of the Jews who should afterwards believe on him ish church. That church was ex- through their word, that they all ceedingly corrupt at the time of his might be one in him, that the world appearance on earth. The rulers of might believe that the Father had that church had long taught for com- sent him. But if every difference mandments the traditions of men, of opinion is to be made the ground and on all these and many other sub- of separation among the followers of jects he differed from the rulers, and Christ how is his prayer to be answerthe greater portion of the members ed ? how are his designs to be accomof the Jewish church as widely as plished ? possible. Many parts of the Jewish 3. To separate from our Christian institution that were divinely ordain- brethren as soon as we find that we ed, he came to supersede; and his cannot agree with them on all points, object was to establish a dispensation is to take the most effectual way to as much superior to the Jewish prevent the church from ever arriveconomy, as noon-day is superior to ing at perfection, The church is the early dawn. But did he leave composed of individuals, each of the Jewish church? Did he forsake whom is liable to fall into error and its ordinances and cease to assemble sin, and one great object for which with its members in the synagogues the church is instituted is, that the and in the temple ? No; he remain- members of it may correct one ed amongst his brethren. He taught another's views, and thus contribute in the synagogue, preached in the tem- to the growth and maturity of the ple, and observed all the solemn whole. But how can this be done fasts established in the Jewish ritual. on the plan proposed in the objecHe did not forsake its members in tion? A certain member of a cerorder to convert them. No, he op- tain church is persuaded that on posed their errors, he reproved their some points his brethren are in error. sins, he called them to repentance, What is he to do in this case? Is and by unfolding to them the truthis he to leave his brethren, as he supof his own spiritual dispensation, poses, under the influence of mishe sought to transform the Jewish taken views? How, then, are their into the Christian church, Paul errors to be rectified? Or if he be and the other Apostles of Christ pur- in error himself, how is he to be resued exactly the same course. Not- claimed, if he renounces the fellowwithstanding the differences between ship of those whose views on the them both in sentiment and practice, point in question are correct? Or differences as wide as the distinc- suppose that, in the course of time, tion between degenerate Judaism, a number of unscriptural usages and perfect Christianity,--he remained creep into the church, and almost
universally prevail. Some few of mony to every thing that he believes the members are led to see and to to be important truth. lament the wide-spread evil that Obj. 4. But is there no difference exists in the church. But how is it between a voluntary church and the to be remedied, if, as soon as ever churches of Christ? May not the they discover its existence, they terms of communion be stricter in forsake the church itself? Is it not the one than in the other? May not plain that on this plan error must a man be excluded from a voluntary go unrectified, and abuses untouched church without being excluded for ever? Had Luther acted on this from the church of Christ? plan, the Reformation from Popery Ans. 1. That a voluntary church would never have taken place. may do this, we have abundant and Had Wesley adopted this course, he melancholy proof; but whether it would never have succeeded in giv. be right for a voluntary church to do ing such an impulse to the cause of this, is another question. 2. If it truth and holiness as he did. In be right for one voluntary church to fact, on this principle, reformation expel a good man for differing in and improvement are impossible ; if sentiment from his brethren, then it a community be imperfect, it must is right for another to do the same, be imperfect still !
and if it be right for two, then it is 4. How it can interfere with right for all ; and so the man may the right of private judgment, at length be excluded from all the man who differs on
visible churches of the Redeemer, points from his brethren, quietly A man agrees in some particulars to remain in his place, and meekly with the Calvinists, and in some and kindly to bear testimony to with the Methodists. The Methowhat he regards as truth, I confess dists reject him because he agrees on I cannot see. If he attempted to some points with the Calvinists, and curtail the liberties of his brethren; the Calvinists reject him because he if he sought to obtain a majority in agrees on some points with the Mefavour of his sentiments, and through thodists. He applies to the Baptists; the influence of that majority make but in some respects he differs from his sentiments the authoritative them, and they cannot receive him. standard to others; then he would He next turns to the Friends or unquestionably interfere with the Quakers, but he does not agree in all right of private judgment. But points with them, and by them he as long as he only claims the is rejected also. And thus he may liberty to hold his sentiments in proceed, trying all the denominations peace, or peaceably to lay them that are in existence, and while they before his brethren for their con- all admit that he is a good man, and sideration, to be received or re- ought not to be excluded from the jected by them as they may see church of Christ, they all by turns best, when this is all the liberty he reject him from their communion, uses, and when he freely concedes to and thus they do in fact wholly others the liberty he claims for him- exclude him from the visible church self, how can his conduct be any of the Redeemer. 3. Each denomiinterference with the right of private nation desires, and some expect, the judgment?
arrival of the day, when there shall These are my reasons for thinking be but one denomination in the the objection to be without force; world ; that denomination, of course, and until I see some equally conclu- to be their own. Now suppose that sive reasons advanced in support of day arrived, would it be right then the objection, I must continue to to expel from that denomination a believe that it is the duty of every man who could not properly be exman to remain in the religious com- cluded from the church of Christ? munity to which he is attached; The question manifestly contains its kindly, yet firmly avoiding every
And can that be right thing that he believes his Maker now, which would then be so obviously has prohibited, and doing everything wrong? 4. The terms of communion that he believes his Maker has en- in a voluntary church may be strictjoined, and peaceably bearing testi- er than in the church of Christ;
that is, a connexion, a sect, or
leaves his personal christianity unparticular church, may require some- destroyed, is so plain that one might thing as a condition of membership be disposed to wonder how any one that Christ does not require : but could believe the contrary. But as what then? As a certain writer there are many who do dispute the observes, if any, connexion, or sect, truth of this proposition, I will lay requires any thing as a condition of before the reader a few of my reasons membership that Christ has not re- for believing it. quired, it must be either something 1. To exclude a Christian from the good, and that is as much as to say communion of his fellow-christians, that Christ does not require every is in direct opposition to the comthing that is good; or something mand of Christ. By the mouth of bad, and that no church or connexion his Apostle Paul, he says, “Whereought to require : or something in- fore receive ye one another, as Christ different, and things indifferent also received us to the glory of God.” ought never to be made terms of Romans xv. 7. Who are they that communion. 5. There is a differ- Christ receives? Those who believe ence between a voluntary church and in him and obey his commands. the church of Christ. Just such a Does he receive all such, whatever difference as there is between a pro- their differences of sentiment may be vince and a kingdom, or between a on minor points? Yes, undoubtedly. part and the whole. A voluntary And are we to receive one another as church is a number of Christians in Christ has received us ? How, then, any particular place, voluntarily as- can we reject any that Christ resembling together for Divine wor- ceives, without setting ourselves in ship and religious fellowship; the flat opposition to Christ's authority? church of Christ is the whole body 2. To reject from our communion of the faithful, comprising all those any of Christ's disciples, is to violate voluntary churches assembling in the new commandment that Christ particular places, throughout the gave to his followers. How freworld, 6. There may be a wider quently is this command repeated, difference than this between a vo- and in what solemn, affecting terms ? luntary church and the church of Obedience to it is even represented Christ. A voluntary church may as the great test of regeneration. be an assembly of men united toge- “ We know that we have passed from ther to make laws of their own, ad- death unto life, because we love the mitting those who obey these laws, brethren." 1 John iii. 14. And and rejecting all who decline to do how much love do we manifest to so, whether they obey Christ's laws the brethren, when we expel them or not. But just as far as a volun- from our fellowship, and refuse them tary church places itself in a position a share in the privileges that we enlike this, it forfeits its title to the joy? We love them, but we avoid character of a Christian church. Just their company! We love them, but so far it usurps Christ's prerogative, we refuse to have our names associand places itself in opposition tó ated with theirs ! And that not on Christ's authority, and frustrates the account of any wickedness in their very end for which Christ came into character, or immorality in their the world.
sentiments, for then they would Obj. 5. And would
receive cease to be brethren ; but we dismen of different persuasions into one claim all fellowship, and avoid all church? Would you admit Calvin- intercourse with them, because they ists and Arminians, Baptists and hold opinions different from ours ? Quakers, all into one church? Is this obedience to the Saviour's
Ans. 1. I would never ask a man solemn command, THAT WE whether he was a Calvinist or an LOVE THE BRETHREN? Arminian, a Baptist or a Quaker ; 3. If it be right to reject any sinmy one simple question would be, cere Christians from communion with • Is he a Christian?" 2. That all us, one half of the New Testament is Christians should be admitted into utterly unintelligible. Christians the Christian church, and that no are represented as branches in Christ, man should be excluded from a who is the true and living vine. Christian church for any thing that And must it not deface the beauty,