« AnteriorContinuar »
metanoia and metanoein by amendment and to amend one's self, as if a man must first become better before he can believe the gospel j whereas the plain sense of scripture is, that a change of mind must precede faith, and that unless the sinner will let God's Spirit work in him, it is impossible for him to be gathered into the fold of Christ. (Mark i. 15, Lukexiii. 34.) Not till a man has arrived at the life of faith, and found forgiveness of his sins, and begun to love the Lord, can any real amendment be thought of. The tree must be made good before it can bring forth good fruit. But why need I enlarge on the matter? The Brethren's Church has preserved its doctrine pure and uncorrupted on this important point. Meanwhile it is attracting more and more attention with us. Luther's Postils, which have a large circulation, tend powerfully to confirm this truth.
Our high-church clergy are very wroth; especially the more exclusive portion of them, who hold that Christians have no right to meet for conversation on religious subjects in parties of more than three together, for so they interpret Matth xviii. 20. They are, therefore, sworn enemies to all Christian societies, and it is easy to see how fatal such principles must be to all Christian life. For they allow of no meetings for edification, which the minister does not hold himself. The opposite of all this is naturally maintained by the evangelicals. They form themselves more and more into regular societies in the church throughout the whole land. They even begin, as in our own district, to call themselves free churches, and are thinking of building meeting-houses, because the State forbids them to hold their meetings in the church. Such meetinghouses are to be built this summer in Stockholm, Carlsham, and here also. It is not, however, the intention to secede from the church. But an opportunity will thus be given for hearing traveling preachers and home missionaries, who at present are all laymen. In order to meet the expenses of these missionaries, societies have been formed in various places, which also distribute tracts amongst the poor, and have meetings for edification. It must be acknowledged with gratitude, that our king allows free course to these efforts; and he will find, if he is not already aware of it, that his most loyal subjects are to be met with among these sincere Christians. They desire only that church dicipline and church government may be administered according to the spirit of the gospel. But, on the other hand, our bishops, chapters, and dignified clergy in many parts of the land, appear to be very indignant at these movements. I have just heard that a respectable farmer, the churchwarden of an adjoining parish, has been summoned to appear before the cathedral chapter at Lund, in order to receive a fatherly admonition and warning, for allowing Oscar Ahnfelt to hold a Bible exposition in his house to a small company of hearers. Happily the chapter possesses no judicial power. Before any body can be punished on account of a conventicle, the permission or order of the supreme court of justice must be obtained, which has not been done in this case.
I must not forget to mention in conclusion, as evidencing the sentiments of evangelical Christians in this country, that a Swedish branch of the Evangelical Alliance was last year organized at the Conference in Helsingborg. Its principles meet with increasing acceptance. People begin to recognize brethren in Christ in other Protestant churches, if only there be agreement in the twelve fundamental points laid down as the condition of membership by the Alliance. How delightful is the thought, that we have brethren in Christ amongst the Reformed church. What a powerful impulse is thus given to combined activity in the distribution of Bibles, and in foreign and home missions. How irresistible the opposition to Popery, when all evangelical Protestants acknowledge each other as members of the same Christ, and have love one to another. For though genuine members of Christ are to be found amongst Roman Catholics, this is no testimony in favor of Popery, but only shows the free grace of God in Christ Jesus. If a church constitution is antisocial, if it threatens all dissentients with death and damnation, all true Christians must endeavor to extirpate it.
Excuse the defects of this letter. I shall be thankful to receive advice from my more experienced brethren, and commend myself and the cause which I am favored to serve, to the faithful intercessions of the Conference. The Lord strengthen all who love him in sincerity.
The intelligence of a steady progress of Christian life in Sweden filled the Conference with joy. But at the same time, there appeared to it, from the above communications, to be some danger lest this growing life should assume a character of opposition to the existing church-constitution, and thus lead to division and separatism. And though the present constitution would appear to be too restricted for free action, it is more according to the mind of Christ, and more conducive to the real welfare of individual souls and of the whole church, to work as far as possible within these bounds, and wait with patience till the Lord himself shall remove them, than to commence an organized attack upon them, especially as the real evil of the church does not lie in its defective constitution.
It was likewise regretted that gifted laymen had no opportunity opened for them in the church of holding discourses. Useful talents were thus lost to the church, which, when employed elsewhere, might easily lead to a secession from it.
b. Letter from Pastor Hilbentz, of Johnsdoif, near Stolbery, in Saxon-Switzerland, May \2th, 1853.
Dear brethren,—Where the Lord sends his servants, they must go. My removal from Sohland hither, to a place unknown to me before, even by name, is confirmed to me by a year's experience, as his appointment. My people are simple and docile, and the church, pleasantly situated on a hill, is attended by willing hearers, strangers as well as parishioners, hungry for the Gospel. Our missionary meetings, being something new, are especially attractive, and the prayer-meetings which I hold every fortnight in the poor-house, are well frequented. The baneful effects of sin and unbelief are not, however, wanting here. Some members of the flock had long given up attendance at church; and several were living in unlawful connections, who have now been married. The superintendence intrusted to the provincial court at Chemnitz is a powerful support to church and school, the Inspector being fovorably disposed to the Gospel. My brethren in the neighborhood are faithful men, and our monthly conferences are a great refreshment to ■me. We propose assembling together on the day of your meeting, at my parsonage, and shall remember you in our intercessions at the throne of grace. The mountain-district of Saxony is by no means a spiritual desert. There are not a few here, as well as in Lusatia, who preach the Gospel uprightly and experimentally; and, both among ministers aud people, I have met with brethren not a few, who cleave to Jesus, though they do not express themselves exactly as you do.
As regards my relation to yourselves, dear brethren, and to your Conference, of which I have been a member ever since I left the university in 1819, I must confess that I miss these meetings greatly, and would give much to be able to join you on this occasion. My spirit is stirred with the recollectiou, and takes its flight to Lusatia, wandering from the abode of one dear brother to another, with whom I was and still am, of one heart and soul, and yearns after the brotherly fellowship with them, and with Herrnhut, whioh I formerly enjoyed. I revisit the banks of the Spree, where my former church stands, and the homes of my beloved parishioners. How can I ever forget the blessings which the Lord bestowed on me and mine during my 31 years residence at Sohland? —with what long-suffering he bore with me, and heard my prayers, and carried me through many a difficulty. My intercessions daily ascend to the Lord, who, I am firmly persuaded, heareth prayer, in behalf of that dear flock; and I thank him that he has given me a successor (here who preaches £he Gospel, and implore him to grant hini an increasing measure of the gifts of his Holy Spirit.
I fool the peace of his gracious nearness in my daily course, and rejoice in his leading. Hereafter 1 shall praise and thank him eternally, when permitted to join the church above, not as a teacher then, but as a scholar, and that only by his infinite grace. For I have nothing to bring before him but his blood and merit alone.— "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity!"
The Conference expressed their pleasure in the affectionate remembrance of this dear brother, and their good wishes for his usefulness in his present station. His successor in Sohland, Pastor Hertz, who was prevented from being present by official engage-ments, sent a cordial salutation to the Conference.
2. Letter from the Rev. Dr. Steinkopff, of London,
Honored friends and brethren in the Lord,—I scarcely thought last year, that I should once more be permitted to appear in your circle by a brotherly epistle. The severe illness with which my heavenly Father was pleased to visit me, immediately after the jubilee of my entrance on my office in December, 1851, left such a weakness behind, that I almost gave up the hope of ever resuming my official duties. But the Lord, to whom is given all power in heaven and in earth, heard my prayers and those of many of my fellowchristians in England and Germany, so that, strengthened by him in body, soul, and spirit, I could open my mouth joyfully, once more to publish the inestimable Gospel, whose tranquilizing and consoling power I have experienced in so many illnesses, and under so many sufferings. At the beginning of the present year, I was again frequently confined to the house. Still I was enabled through God's mercy to attend, on the 7th of March, the fifty years' Jubilee celebration of the British and Foreign Bible Society, in the same hall where, in 1804, I had been favored to take part in the commencement of this blessed institution. This favor was the more striking to my mind, as amongst all present I was the only one, who had witnessed the first weak beginnings of a Society which now embraces the world. From that grain of mustard seed, a tree has now sprung up, under whose shady and beautiful boughs, myriads have found rest, comfort, and refreshment, in their earthly pilgrimage. My connection with it and the thousands of its members in all ranks, belonging to different nations and communions, has opened to me many a spring of the purest joy. To be permitted to labor for the spread of his word, for the glorification of his dear Son, and the salvation of immortal souls, is honour, happiness and blessing. I do not repent of having spent my time and pains for this work of God. My only sorrow and shame is, that I have not carried on his Work more Faithfully, more simply, more uprightly, and more zealously, with a sincere regard to the Savior's glory. (To ^ continued.)
(From "Periodical Recounts.")
The Artnual Reports from this* ancient and interesting field of labor, which have recently come to hand, represent it as being still in a somewhat critical state. The obstacles, which national, ecclesiastical, or commercial jealousy has of late years interposed in the way of its progress and extension, continue to exist, and have rendered it increasingly difficult for the missionaries, to minister, as they could wish, to the spiritual wants of the flocks intrusted to their charge, Or to add to their number by the admission into the fold of Greenlanders desirous of Christian instruction. These difficulties are chiefly experienced at the two southern settlements of LicMenau and Frederkksthal, in the neighborhood of which the greatest number of ignorant heathen are to be met with. It is truly distressing, to read of the large proportion of the members of these congregations, who are required to live scattered along the coast, at a greater or less distance from their instructors and from the means of grace, and too many of whom give evidence of spiritual declehsibn, not the less hurtful because it is easily explainable. It is, meanwhile, satisfactory to learn, that the missionaries do what they can to supply the religious wants of these poor people, and to make them partakers of the ordinances of the House of God. This is chiefly effected by periodical visits paid to the dwellers at the outstations, of which the letter's of the Bfn. Ulbricht, of New Hermhiit, andKoegel, ofLichtenaii, afford interesting examples. That the blessing of the Lord is not withholden fr 6m these ministrations, however abundant, is sufficiently manifest. At the same time, it is impossible for our fellow-servants to close their eyes to the fact, that the work in Which they are engaged is, generally speaking, in a languid state, and that there is great need of "a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord." That this may be speedily and effectually vouchsafed, should be the subject of our united and fervent prayer. The raising up of a number of really active, zealous, and well instructed assistants, to serve as Evangelists and buildors-up of their countrymen, would be one of the most important benefits that could be conferred on the missions. These are alike wanted in the north and in the south —men possessed of the gift of utterance and the knowledge of