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of parties, and the cause of their rise and continuance. The green
and orange ribbon, as well as the blue stocking, have been as useful and as honourable to those that have worn them, as those opinions were to their
possessors, which have been the shibboleths of religious parties.
Human systems, whether of philosophy or of religion, are proper subjects of reformation; but Christianity cannot be reformed. Every attempt to reform Christianity is like an attempt to create a new sun, or to change the revolutions of the heavenly bodies-unprofitable and vain. In a word, we have had reformations enough. The very name has become as offensive as the term “ Revolution” in France.
A RESTORATION of the ancient order of things is all that is necessary to the happiness and usefulness of Christians. No attempt “ to reform the doctrine, discipline, and government of the Church” (a phrase too long in use), can promise a better result than those which have been attempted and languished unto death. We are glad to see, in the above extract, that the thing proposed, is to bring the Christianity and the Church of the present day up to the standard of the New Testament. This is in substance, though in other terms, what we contend for. To bring the societies of Christians up to the New Testament, is just to bring the disciples, individually and collectively, to walk in the faith, and in the commandments of the Lord and Saviour, as presented in that blessed volume ; and this is to restore the ancient order of things. Celebrated as the era of Reformation is, we doubt not but that the era of Restoration will as far transcend it in importance and fame, through the long and blissful Millennium, as the New Testament transcends in simplicity, beauty, excellency, and majesty, the dogmas and notions of the creed of Westminster and the canons of the Assembly's Digest. Just in so far as the ancient order of things, or the religion of the New Testament, is restored, just so far has the Millennium commenced, and so far has its blessings been enjoyed. For, to the end of time, we shall have no other revelation of the Spirit, no other New Testament, no other Saviour, and no other religion than we now have, when we understand, believe, and practise the doctrine of Christ delivered unto us by his Apostles.
HOW IS THE GOSPEL TO SPREAD THROUGH
THE WORLD ?
(From the Christian Baptist, Vol. I.] The New Testament is the only source of information on this topic. It teaches us that the association, called the Church of Jesus Christ is, in propria forma, the only institution of God left on earth to illuminate and reform the world. That is, to speak in the most definitive and intelligible manner, a society of men and women, having in their hands the oracles of God; believing in their hearts the Gospel of Jesus Christ; confessing the truth of Christ with their lips; exhibiting in their lives the morality of the Gospel, and walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blamelessly, in the sight of all men. When spiritual men, i.e. men having spiritual gifts, or, as now termed, miraculous gifts, were withdrawn, this institution was left on earth, as the grand scheme of Heaven to enlighten and reform the world. An organised society of this kind, modelled after the plan taught in the New Testament, is the consummation of the manifold wisdom of God to exhibit to the world the civilising, the moralising, the saving light which renovates the human heart, which elevates human character, and which prostrates in the dust all the boasted expedients of ancient and modern times. The Church of the living God is therefore styled the pillar and ground of the truth; or, as Macknight more correctly renders it, the pillar and support of the truth.
The Christian religion is a social religion, and cannot be exhibited to the full conviction of the world only when it appears in this social character. An individual or two, in a Pagan land, may talk about the Christian religion, and may exhibit its morality as far as respects mankind in general, but it is impossible to give a clear, a satisfactory, a convincing exhibition of it in any other way than by exhibiting a Church, not on paper, but in actual existence and operation, as divinely appointed. The ambassadors of Christ, or his missionaries to the world, were commissioned to go unto all nations in quest of materials to build this pillar of truth, this house of the living God; and then to
place and cement these materials in such a way as to bear the inscription of the blessed Gospel, and to exhibit it in such conspicuous and legible characters as to be known and read of all men. This work the Apostles accomplished in having made of twain one new man, i. e. of Jew and Gentile one new institution, or associated body, the Church; and having placed this in all nations; in the most conspicuous and elevated situations; in the most populous countries, the most commercial states, and in the most renowned cities, they were taken to Heaven, and left the Church, by its doctrine and example, to Christianise the world. All that has been necessary ever since was to hold fast the Apostles' doctrine and commandments. If this had been faithfully done, there would have been no need, at this moment, to talk of converting the Heathen. But it has happened, by the woful departure of ambitious and ignorant men from the ancient simplicity of the new religion, that the same awful crime is justly preferred against the people called Christians, that was, by an Apostle, charged upon the Jews, viz. “ The Christian name has been, through your crimes, blasphemed among the Heathen.” Yes, indeed, so blasphemed, so disgraced, so vilified, that amongst those Pagans that have heard of it, the term Christian denotes every thing that is hateful and impious. If the channel of the vast Atlantic were filled with tears of the deepest contrition, they would not suffice to wash the “ Christian nations” from the odium and turpitude of crime with which they have debased themselves, so as to appear worthy of the approbation of the Pagans that know them best. Nothing can be done worthy of admiration by the Christians of this age, with any reference to the conversion of the Pagan nations, until the Christians separate themselves from all the worldly combinations in which they are swallowed up, until they come out from amongst them that have a form of godliness, but deny the power of it; until they cast out all the selfish, money-lovers, boasters, proud, blasphemers, drunkards, covenant breakers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, without natural affection, slanderers, incontinent, fierce, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up, and lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; until they form themselves into societies independent of hireling priests and ecclesiastical courts, modelled after the forum, the parliament, or national conventions; until they cast to the moles and to the bats the Platonic speculations, the Pythagorean dreams and Jewish fables they have written in their creeds; until they return to the ancient model delineated in the New Testament; and until they keep the ordinances as delivered unto them by the Apostles. Then suppose a Christian Church wer to be placed on the confines of a Heathen land, as some of them must inevitably be, the darkness of Paganism will serve, as a shade in the picture, to exhibit the lustre of Christianity. Then the Heathen around them will see their humility ; their heavenly-mindedness, their hatred of garments spotted with the flesh, their purity, their chastity, their temperance, their sobriety, their brotherly love; they will observe the order of their worship, and will fall down in their assemblies, as Paul affirms, and declare that God is in them of a truth. Then will be verified anew the words of the Saviour—“If ye love one another all men will know that you are the disciples of the Saviour of the world." They will say to one another, and proclaim to their countrymen on every occasion, " These Christians are peaceful, benevolent, humane, forgetful and forgiving of injuries; they hate war, oppression, theft, falsehood, detraction ; they are always talking of the hope of a glorious resurrection from the dead, and are looking for the coming of him whom they call their Lord. In their assemblies there is order, peace, love, and harmony. Their chief guide is not distinguished by his dress, as our priests, nor does he, like them, live upon the sweat and sacrifices of the people. He works with his own hands as those who meet with him in their assembly. They repay the curses of wicked Pagans with blessings, and their benevolence is not confined to themselves. They are as benevolent to all our people as to themselves—come, see if their religion is not better than ours-better than all others.” When the Christian Church assumes such a character there will be no need of missionaries. She will shine forth in the doctrine and in the practice of her members, as the sun in the firmament, and the brightness of her radiance will cheer the region and shadow of death.
If, in the present day, and amongst all those who talk so much of a missionary spirit, there could be found such a society, though it were composed of but twenty, willing to emigrate to some Heathen land, where they would support themselves like the natives, wear the same garb, adopt the country as their own, and profess nothing like a missionary project; should such a society sit down and hold forth in word and deed the saving truth, not deriding the gods nor the religion of the natives, but allowing their own works and example to speak for their religion, and practising as above hinted, we are persuaded that, in process of time, a more solid foundation for the conversion of the natives would be laid, and more actual success resulting, than from all the missionaries employed for twenty-five years. Such a course would have some warrant from Scripture, but the present has proved itself to be all human.
We have thought the above remarks were due to the great interest manifested by many in those kind of exertions. We know many of the well disposed are engaged in these projects; nay, it is not long since we ourselves were enthusiastic in the missionary spirit. Let the reader remember our motto—let him “prove all things, and hold fast that which is good."
ORIGIN OF THE CHRISTIAN CLERGY, SPLENDID MEETING HOUSES, AND FIXED SALARIES, EXHIBITED FROM ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY.*
Mosheim, vol. i. p. 74._" Another circumstance that irritated the Romans against the Christians, was the simplicity of their worship, which resembled in nothing the sacred rites of
The Christians had neither sacrifices, nor temples, nor images, nor oracles, nor sacerdotal
* N.B. In our remarks upon the" Christian Clergy," we never include the Elders or Deacons of a Christian Assembly, or those in the New Testament called the overseers and servants of the Christian Church. These we consider as very different characters, and shall distinguish them in some future number.