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The Church Member's Manual of Eccle- | to apply to every case as it arises, the
siastical Principles, Doctrine, and Disci- principles and directions given respectpline : presenting a Systematic View of ing it by the only infallible authority. the Structure, Polity, Doctrines, and
Participating as we do in these views, Practices of Christian Churches, as taught we are yet prepared to receive with rein the Scriptures. By William CROWELL. spect the suggestions of experience, and With an Introductory Essay by Henry J.
the illustrations of scriptural instruction
which Ripley, D.D., Professor of Sacred Rhetoric been diligent students of the inspired
are inclined to offer who have
any and Pastoral Duties in the Newton directory. We are not at all surprised Theological Institution. Boston, (U.S.): that Ganga Narayan Sil, a late assistant Gould, Kendall, and Lincoln. 12mo. of our brethren at Calcutta in the work
of training the native churches among The Scriptural Doctrine of the Church the Hindoos, should have made the re
sketched by J. Wenger. Calcutta : 12mo. quest which issued in the preparation pp. xi., 247.
of Mr. Wenger's treatise ; or that a
company of earnest candidates for the THERE is not in our denomination ministry at the Newton Theological any standard work on the subject dis- Institution should have expressed the cussed in these volumes. “So far as I wish for a treatise on church order and know,” says the author of one of them, discipline, for the use of young ministers “this is the first attempt to exhibit the and church members, which gave rise to Baptist Church Polity in systematic Mr. Crowell's publication. An amiable order.” This supposition is not quite diffidence and a desire to be taught the correct: the attempt has been made way of the Lord more perfectly prompted both in the last and in the present gene- the suggestion, it is probable, in both ration ; but the productions of the cases ; though it is quite conceivable esteemed ministers who have under that some of those who would be most taken the task have not given their forward to desire the same thing among brethren great_satisfaction, or become ourselves might be influenced by an very popular. The opinion prevails very indolent love of thinking by proxy, and
generally among baptists, that the church studying the scriptures by proxy, com• polity instituted by Christ is exceedingly bined with a craving for some rules more
simple, and may be drawn easily from definite than God has seen fit to furnish. the inspired pages. They cherish the If we thought that there was any prohabit of appealing on all such subjects, bability that works of this kind would in a direct manner, to the New Testa- become very popular and influential in ment itself. They maintain that our the churches, we should invite a serious Lord has not left with his church any inquiry whether the advantages they legislative authority, but that all that would yield would not be counterbaeither individuals or bodies of Christians lanced by attendant disadvantages. The have to do in his service is, to execute habit of appealing to scripture on all such laws and conform themselves to such subjects is of inestimable value: such precedents as they find in the holy the habit of appealing to a human rule scriptures. Many of them go further, is adapted to engender formality and and believe that where general regula- heartlessness. In the perplexing cases tions are not laid down by Christ or his that arise under the ever-varying phases apostles, general regulations cannot be of human affairs, we should not have so made advantageously; that where uni- much confidence in decisions made in formity is not clearly deducible from accordance with the most judiciously the sacred book, uniformity is not de- contrived code of regulations that uninsirable ; that what is not prescribed by spired teachers could furnish, as in those inspiration ought not to be prescribed at of a prayerful, affectionate, earnestall, but that it should be left to the dis- minded people, who feeling their need cretion of the churches, which are bound of heavenly teaching and invoking the
guidance of the divine Spirit, should from whose views on some points we proceed to apply New Testament prin- feel bound to express our dissent, writes ciples according to the wisdom given to on these fundamental principles adthem. Still, we admit that systematic mirably. There may be one or two sentreatises like those before us, used with timents in the following summary in discretion, may yield valuable assistance which our readers will not coincide, but in the investigation of some points con- they will all acknowledge that it indinected with Christian faith and practice. cates the hand of a master.
The claims of these works derived from their parentage are strong. Mr. “ First, then, the system of church order emCrowell is a man of enlightened mind braced by baptists, differs from all national or and respectable learning, and, being state religious establishments, as they exist in editor of one of the leading baptist Italy, Germany, Denmark, and England; and periodicals in the United States, he has generally throughout Europe and the East; in opportunities for extensive observation maintaining that churches should not be incorof what passes in the churches. His porated with the state, that civil magistrates manuscript was submitted before it have no right to control religious opinions, rites, went to the printer to Professors Ripley or forms of worship; and that the pecuniary and Sears, to Dr. Sharp of Boston, and expenses of churches should be sustained by to Dr. Baron Stow, the last of whom voluntary contribution, not by compulsory also read the proof sheets as they passed taxation. through the press. The performance
“ Second, it differs from all systems of ecclemay be taken therefore as expressive of siastical catholicism, papal, episcopal
, and presopinions which have the general con- byterial; in maintaining that the only organized currence of some of the most eminent church is an assembly of baptized believers, baptist ministers of Massachusetts. who meet in one place for worship, for adminisMr. Wenger is a native of Berne in tering ordinances, and the trial of offenders. Switzerland, who, having received the It allows of the existence of no such body as a love of the truth about fourteen years universal, national, or provincial church, nor ago, was brought to perceive first the of any form of extensive aggregation or conevils of the ecclesiastical establishment
centration of church power. to which he belonged, and then their connexion with pædobaptism; and after
“Third, it differs from papacy, and from wards visiting this country, was led to every form of prelacy, whether ancient like the devote himself to the work of Christ Oriental ; more recent as the English; or among the heathen at Calcutta, where modern like the Wesleyan, by the principle, he diligently labours in the transla- that all church officers are selected and chosen tion of the scriptures and in other useful by the Christian people, that ministers are all occupations, as an agent of the Baptist of equal rank, and that they have no official Missionary Society. Having groped his authority except in the particular church which
elects them to office. way out of the darkness of an erroneous system, and been necessitated to study
“Fourth, it is distinguished from these closely the doctrine of scripture in re- systems by the principle that all church power ference to ecclesiastical polity, without is in the church as a body, not in its ministers ; having much acquaintance with the that it comes to each church directly from the practical working of English baptist Lord Jesus Christ by virtue of the union of its churches, he brings to the investigation members in the church relation, and is not an independence and freedom from bias transmitted by succession from any previously which add to the value of his conclu- existing body; and that it is the right and the sions.
duty of each church to interpret and apply the In reference to the great principles laws of Christ for itself to its own members, which distinguish our churches from and to them only. those of the episcopalians, the presby
“ Fifth, by the principle that churches are terians, and other pædobaptists, Mr. strictly executive, and not legislative bodies ; Crowell and Mr. Wenger agree perfectly, that they have no right to adopt any terms of and in illustrating and defending these membership except those laid down in the they show great ability. Page after scriptures, nor to change the form or the sub page we have read with much pleasure, jects of church ordinances. rejoicing in the effect they are adapted
“Sixth, it differs from all these systems in to produce on candid inquirers who do maintaining that no person can be born into a not belong to our body. Mr. Crowell, Christian church, nor be made a member by
VOL. X-FOURTH SERIES.
any act of parents in infancy, but that to the fulfilment of certain duties, it must also become a member in any church must be a possess the right to fulfil those duties. personal, voluntary act on the part of each "6. That as it is bound to hear the voice of individual; that the new birth, or personal Christ only, it is not at liberty to acknowledge piety, is the qualification for membership; and the authority of any uninspired man or body of hat the whole assembled church is the divinely men. For they will either speak according to appointed organ of expressing Christ's will in the will of Christ, or not. In the latter case the reception of members into a visible church. their voice ought not to be heard at all ; and in
Seventhly, it differs from all pædobaptist the former case it is not their voice, but that systems, papal, episcopal, Lutheran, Moravian, of Christ that ought to be obeyed. But the presbyterian, methodist, and congregational, in important question, what is and what is not in admitting no persons except professed and accordance with the will of Christ, must be credible believers to either of the ordinances of settled by each church for itself. the church, of which baptism, in the scriptural “7. That any man or body of men assuming meaning of the term, is always to precede authority over a church in matters of doctrine admission to the Lord's table ; by distinguishing or practice, or discipline, and expecting that between spiritual and natural or political rela- such authority shall be obeyed on other grounds tionships; by recognizing no church relation to than that of acknowledged accordance with the the children of believers any more than of bible, thereby insults either the church, as unfit others till they give evidence of piety, and at to judge or to act independently; or else the their own desire are baptized into the fellowship bible, as being incomplete or obscure. The of the church.”—Pp. 115, 116.
assumption of such authority is the essence of
popery.”—Pp. 149, 150. All these opinions, if we mistake not, are in accordance with those held by Respecting the connexion between Mr. Wenger. Respecting the indepen- baptism and reception into a church, dence of the churches he writes fully, Mr. Wenger writes thus :defining that independence as its right
“ The connexion is this: No unbaptized person to ascertain for itself what are its duties,
can be received into a church; but not every peraccording to the will of Christ, and to exercise all the power required for the
son that is baptized is thereby received into a
local church. discharge of those duties.
“ The question, who is, and who is not an .“ To enter more into detail, the independence unbaptized person, must be settled by every of a church consists in its acting upon the church, according to its own rules. The exfollowing principles :
ample of the Ethiopian eunuch shows that "1. That every church is responsible to Christ, baptism is not necessarily equivalent with reand to him alone, for its conduct, and that no ception into a local church. Baptism may be church can be exempted from this responsibility character of an evangelist (and every pastor is
administered by every one who sustains the by transferring it to a proxy. «2. That the bible contains all the instruc- the candidate's reception into a local church.
in one sense also an evangelist) irrespectively of tions which God has given to man respecting This reception is the prerogative of the church, all matters of faith and practice, and that these instructions include all the duties which devolve and no church is bound to receive all persons
that have been baptized, but only those respecto upon churches, "3. That these instructions are sufficiently ing whom it is satisfied that they are fit cha
racters. plain to be ascertained and acted upon by every
“ In baptist churches, the baptism of a canchurch for itself, so that there is no occasion for the interference of other churches or of didate and his reception into a church, are, in
the great majority of cases, closely connected persons without the church, « 4. That such interference is altogether un
with each other; just as was the case in the necessary in a church which is scripturally con- churches formed by the apostles.”—P. 168. stituted, because it consists of persons who are Mr. Crowell also maintains the indetaught of God, who have received the spirit of pendence of the churches explicitly, Christ, who shall hereafter take a part in teaching that “as each church is directly judging the world and the fallen angels, and and separately accountable to the Lord who therefore are fully competent, especially in Jesus for the correctness with which it their united capacity, to ascertain the revealed interprets, and the spirit and manner in will of Christ.
which it executes his laws, it must re“5. That as every church is responsible for ceive them directly from him ; that is,
from the scriptures as understood by it-, home, as this,—The American baptists self;"—that the independence of the do not understand religious liberty. churches should be scrupulously respect. They have no notion of the right of ed and vigilantly guarded, as the bulwark private judgment. Their associations of religious liberty and doctrinal purity;" control their churches, and their church—that “all interference with the terms es control their members, in ways that of church fellowship by conventions, impede the progress of truth, and intereither of ministers or laymen, is un- fere with the free discharge of duties scriptural and dangerous ; "—that "it arising from our responsibility to the has been supposed that an aggregation One Master. Such have been our of churches by their representatives in thoughts ; and now we find Mr. Crowell an association, consociation, synod, con- laying down the principle formally, that ference, presbytery, convention, or gene- every church is “the authoritative interral assembly, has more power than a preter of the laws of Christ for its own single church ;" but that "instead of this members." “ The system of church such an assembly has no church power at government taught in the New Testaall;"—that "no such body has any right ment, and exemplified, substantially, in to receive a single member to, or expel the practice of baptist churches,” he one from, any church, nor to dictate in declares, “inasmuch as it makes each the least degree in respect to the doctrine, church its own and its only authoritative discipline, or fellowship of any church.” interpreter of Christ's laws, readily adWe have been the more gratified with mits some variety in ecclesiastical practhese statements, by reason of a previous tice.” He does not merely say, speaking persuasion that in America associations of the churches, " Each one is at liberty did practically interfere with the inde- to interpret the laws of Christ for itself, pendence of the churches in a far greater and to govern itself according to that degree than in England. The impression interpretation,” but, “ Each church is left on our minds by the perusal of the the only authoritative interpreter of the proceedings of some transatlantic asso- laws of Christ for its own members.” ciations is indeed so strong, that even “Every church member enters into a now we are apprehensive that Mr. sacred and special covenant with all Crowell and his coadjutors are to be re- the members of the church to which he garded as men in advance of their con- unites himself. He adopts its creed, nexions, and that he is expressing in this assents to its practices, submits himself case the convictions of only the more to its watch and discipline,” &c. Now enlightened portion of the American this authoritative interpretation seems baptist churches.
to us to be a most dangerous prerogaMr. Crowell
, however, entertains some tive to be entrusted to any fallible comopinions that seem to us to be not only munity, whether large or small, and inconsistent with his own argument just one to which no community of Christians quoted, but perfectly unscriptural, and can establish any claim. The argument practically oppressive. Ilis views of for the independence of churches seems
church authority,” appear to us to be to us to be applicable to the case of congenial with those which are deemed individuals. Mr. Crowell says,
As orthodox at Rome ; and in these we fear each church :" we say likewise, that he is orthodox among his own each” disciple" is directly and separatebrethren. If we are mistaken in any ly accountable to the Lord Jesus for degree we shall be glad to be corrected the correctness with which ” he “inter
- delighted to find that what we have prets, and the spirit and manner in often grieved over in reference to the which” he observes “his laws,” he land which has so much to attract and must receive them directly from him; interest our affections, is but a fancy, that is, from the scriptures as undernot a fact. When the thought has oc- stood by” himself. Chillingworth says curred to us of the possibility of being rightly,“ He that would usurp an absocompelled like so many others to seek a lute lordship and tyranny over any peorefuge from persecution here in some of ple, need not put himself to the trouble the northern states of America-to the and difficulty of abrogating and disansouthern we could not go for other nulling the laws made to maintain the reasons-no consideration has made us common liberty ; for he may frustrate so unwilling to contemplate for our their intent, and compass his own design selves and our children an American as well, if he can get the power and au
thority to interpret them as he pleases, scarcely guess the way to set about it. and add to them what he pleases, and to have his interpretations and additions « When it is proposed to form a church, the stand for laws; if he can rule his peo- persons wishing to unite, first seek, by earnest ple by his laws, and his laws by his prayer, for divine guidance, then ask the advice lawyers. So the church of Rome, to of their pastors, or of ministers and judicious establish her tyranny over men's con- brethren in the neighbouring churches, if there sciences, needed not either to abolish or are any, after which, if such appear plainly to corrupt the holy scriptures, the pillars be the will of God, they proceed to draw up and supporters of Christian liberty ; articles of faith and covenant, with rules for (which in regard of the numerous mul- their mutual government and practice as a titude of copies dispersed through all church of Christ. They then forward letters places, translated into almost all lan- missive' to such neighbouring churches as they guages, guarded with all solicitous care choose, inviting their assistance, through their and industry, had been an impossible pastors and delegates, in forming the new attempt ;) but the more expedite way, church. and therefore more likely to be success “The pastors and delegates meet them at the ful, was to gain the opinion and esteem time and place appointed, organize an ecclesiasof the public and authorized interpreter tical council, and then proceed to inquire into of them, and the authority of adding to all the circumstances connected with the origin them what doctrine she pleased under of the enterprise, and examine the certificates the title of traditions or definitions."
of church standing, of those who propose to Where an “authoritative interpreter” | unite in forming the new church, and of disenters, “ definitions” will speedily fol- mission from the churches to which they relow. Accordingly, Mr. Crowell insists spectively belong. If there are persons who upon the duty of a church to do what have been baptized, but are not members of any no church is exhorted to do in the apos- church, who wish to unite with them, they tolical epistles, and what he can scarcely should not be received till after the church is himself think that any church did formed, nor should the names of absent persons while primitive simplicity lasted-the
be included. The council then examine their duty of forming a creed for its members. articles of faith and covenant, and if all is “It is likewise the duty of every tian church to decide for itself what satisfactory, they express, by vote, their readidoctrines the scriptures contain ; and
ness to publicly recognize this company of having done so, these doctrines form its disciples, as a regular church of Christ. A list creed. “As to written confessions of all their names, including none except those of faith for baptist churches, each who are present, is then called by the Moderachurch adopts one for itself.”
tor of the council, and as they stand up toge“They contain the leading doctrines of ther he asks them, in the presence of the the church in the form of distinct pro- bishops and elders of the churches, if they positions, to be placed in the hands of heartily believe and desire to maintain the all the members and candidates for bap- doctrines of the gospel, and voluntarily assume tism." “ These doctrines, the the covenant which unites them in the church members of the church, individually relation, and to maintain the worship, ordiand collectively, agree to maintain and nances, and discipline of the house of God, promote among themselves, in their watch over, admonish, and reprove each other, families, and in the world." 'All this is according to the precepts of Christ. When done to prevent troubles and promote they have thus publicly signified their united, unity and peace; and from similar deliberate assent, the formative union and conviews of expediency, many practices are stituting act is completed by which they beadopted which would certainly render come a true church of Christ. The church it necessary for the apostles Paul and and council then unite in prayer to God, that Peter, were they to visit their brethren the act may be ratified in heaven, and that the in America, to procure a Church Mem- presence of Christ their only head may be with ber's Manual, or something of the kind, them. if they desired to avoid collision with “The usual public exercises at the recognition existing arrangements. The formation of a church are, 1. The proceedings of the of a church which, we believe, was in council are read by the clerk. 2. Invocation their days a very simple thing, is in the of the Divine presence and blessing on the apnew world so operose an affair that proaching services. 3. Reading suitable paswithout special directions they would sages of scripture. 4. Introductory prayer.