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vation; and those who believed and made profession of the faith were collected into societies, and these were called "CHURCHES:" they were composed only of such persons as appeared to be "of the truth," or to believe the testimony concerning Jesus Christ, the TRUE GOD AND ETERNAL LIFE. They had officers ordained in them, who are addressed under the titles of bishops or elders, and deacons. Hence we read of "the churches in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comforts of the Holy Spirit, and being edified and multiplied,” Acts ix. 31.
Now, forasmuch as that the religion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was delivered to the world at once, in its most perfect form, by his ambassadors, the holy Apostles, who were inspired, or divinely instructed, to reveal his will, and set up his kingdom in the world by the formation of churches, organised according to his own direction, we may be sure that wherever his kingdom makes its appearance in any age or country under heaven, we shall find it distinguished by the very same characteristic features, the same constituent principles, which marked the churches planted by the Apostles of Christ. For instance, we shall find churches composed of men and women called out of the world by the ministry of the gospel, professing the faith of Jesus Christ, as the Son of God and only Saviour of lost sinners, baptised on a personal profession of that faith, and discovering a readiness of mind to obey all the revealed will of God, so far as they are instructed into it. As "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God," we may reasonably expect to find them studious of the holy oracles, the writings of the Evangelists and Apostles more especially, in order to ascertain from them what is "that good and acceptable and perfect will of their Lord and Saviour in all things," carefully tracing out the footsteps of Christ's flock in its way to Zion, and on all occasions maintaining a godly jealousy, lest, by the subtilty of Satan and the pride of their own hearts, which is ever prone to lead them astray by suggestions of what is fit and proper in the religion of Christ, instead of adhering implicitly to the written word, the law and the testimony; they should pervert their way before the Lord, and be seduced into the paths of the destroyer.
There is a divine simplicity pervading every part of the system of Christianity, as laid down in the New Testament, which is little accordant with the proud heart of fallen man. And we may see, from what the Apostle said to the Corinthians, 2nd Epistle, xi. 1-3, how great was that godly jealousy which he exercised over the churches, lest their minds should be corrupted from it. If we once lose sight of this simplicity, and begin to mingle our own inventions, or those of the rabbis of the age, with the precepts of Christ and his Apostles, and this with the view of improving his religion, or the appearance of his kingdom, we may, no doubt, obtain a name and a fame in the professing world, but we shall find in the end that our religion has been all a dream!
From these few miscellaneous observations, the readers of this journal may possibly infer what the views of the editor are upon the subject under consideration; viz. the kingdom of Christ, as it makes its appearance in this world. If it was HIS design that any essential alteration should take place in it, we might expect to find some intimation thereof given in the apostolic writings. We do, indeed, find in those divine records, a clear prediction that "in the latter times some would depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits." That there would come an apostacy, or "falling away, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who should oppose and exalt himself against all that is called God, or that is worshipped sitting in the temple or church of God, and showing himself as God." But we are also taught, in that same prophecy, and other parts of the inspired writings, that the days of this WICKED ONE were numbered, and that after a continuance of one thousand two hundred and threescore years, "the Lord should consume him with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy him with the brightness of his coming," 1 Tim. iv. 1; 2 Thess. ii. 3, 8. Our lot is cast in an age when we are privileged to see the first part of this prophecy fulfilled-we can trace in the annals of the church the rise and reign of this wicked power; and, blessed be God, we have lived to see his consumption almost accomplished.
Moreover, a period of the Church is likewise spoken of, in the book of Revelation, xi. 15, when, on the sounding of
the seventh angel, it should be said, "The kingdoms of this world are become our Lord's and his Christ's, and he shall reign for ever and ever." But there is not the least prediction importing that the kingdom of God and his Christ should become a worldly kingdom, or kingdom of this world!" It is very certain that the clergy, in the days of Constantine the Great (A. D. 315), used all their power and influence, by forming an unnatural alliance betwixt the church and the state, to bring about that consummation. But when a form of godliness was drawn over the nations, whereby they became nominally Christian, they were in no other sense the kingdom of Christ than they were before. So far from it, indeed, it is a certain fact, that then Christianity was more grievously corrupted than it previously was; and, indeed, it could never have had such an extensive influence over the nations, if it had not been greatly changed and exquisitely adapted to gratify the prevailing lusts of the human heart.
The sacred writings of the New Testament are the only standard by which we are to form our judgment of Christianity, since the ascension of Jesus Christ and the decease of his Apostles. We have seen what his religion, or rather his kingdom, was, in its original establishment; and as it then appeared in its perfection, incapable of the least improvement from man, wherever we meet with it in our day, we must expect to find something approximating to the primitive pattern; we shall find a company of redeemed sinners, " walking by the same rule and minding the same thing." All the true churches of Christ must have one and the same hope of their calling-one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, loving one another for the truth's sake, which is the centre of their common joy, and the bond of their union, Eph. iv. And though Antichrist, during his reign, " scattered the power of the holy people," defaced the primitive church order and worship, and trode the holy city under foot; yet, in proportion as men get emancipated from his tyrannical rule, it will manifest itself by their separating themselves to the law of their God and Saviour, and in all the affairs of Christ's house, shaking themselves loose from the doctrines and traditions of men, and taking the apostolic churches for their
pattern and guide. They will hear the voice of the good Shepherd in his word, calling upon them to "stand in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls," Jer. vi. 16.
Much has been said and written of late upon the subject of a revival of religion, particularly in the United States and Canada; and the fondest anticipations of the religious part of the community on this side the Atlantic have been called into exercise by the accounts which have reached them, from time to time, of what has been doing in that distant quarter. Volume after volume has been issued from the British press to gratify the public, and substantiate by evidence the cheering fact. The editor of this journal, in common with his countrymen, has eagerly searched those volumes, in the anxious hope of finding the various accounts of these revivals realised, or at least of finding in them something that should correspond with the first appearance of the Redeemer's kingdom in the days of the Apostles; but, with deep regret, he declares his unfeigned disappointment. This subject, however, cannot conveniently be entered upon in this place: if the Lord permit, it shall be taken up in the second number of the Millennial Harbinger, when their real amount shall become the subject of investigation. In the mean time, he is desirous of communicating to the religious public in this country a little information, which he hopes is not altogether devoid of interest, that has recently come across his path, in reference to the actual state of the Christian profession, in that extensive quarter of the globe-the vast continent of North America.
About fifteen years ago, a pamphlet of about one hundred closely printed pages, in 12mo., was put into the editor's hands, of which the following is the title :
The first part of an Epistolary Correspondence between Christian Churches in America and Europe. Published by the Church at New York (meeting in Hubert-street, corner of St. John's-lane). New York: Printed by Clayton and Kingsland, 1820.
This pamphlet comprises a short preface, stating the grounds and reasons of its publication-and this is followed by a circular letter from the church in New York to various churches in England, Scotland, and Ireland, of the same faith and order as themselves-with letters in reply, from about twenty churches on this side the Atlantic, besides a few in America.
The preface to this pamphlet takes notice of " a reformation in the Christian profession, which seems to have had no parallel since the days of the Apostles;" but it could have been wished that the origin of this "reformation" had been more clearly and distinctly traced than is done in those pages! However that be, the following extract may tend to give the reader some idea of the distinctive character of the reformation alluded to. After sketching his opinion of the prevailing sects which abound in what is called the religious world, both in Europe and America, the writer thus proceeds :
"It may be observed, that all these sects acknowledge the authority of a certain order of men, usually denominated the clergy; or else some other description of leaders essentially the same. If submission to these exalted characters has not been grounded upon their supposed inspiration, it has been secured by an assumed sanctity of appearance, by official dignity, and by laws and traditions claiming the veneration of the people. Hence the reverence and obedience due to God alone, have been transferred to certain of his creatures, who have received these marks of worship as if due. These characters have long claimed the exclusive right of interpreting the Holy Scriptures, which, for ages, they had withheld from the people; and the like exclusive right of ministering in the worship of God, for which they are supposed to become qualified by a course of