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rich the present report. But your Committee will content themselves with relating only one instance, which has lately occurred in New England, and which, it is believed, has not been published.
As a respectable Physician, who had long been an avowed infidel, was reading the Tract entitled The praying Negro, he was led to reflect that be possessed a very different temper from this pious person. When he was injured he was disposed to seek revenge; but this pious person, when injured, found relief in prayer to God. This produced a conviction of his sinfulness, guilt, and danger. He saw no hope of salvation by his own works; but felt himself a lost sinner. What then could he do, but look to that Savior, whom he had so long rejected, as not worthy his regard. By faith in him, he obtained peace and comfort. He then collected his deistical books at home, and those which he had lent to his neighbors, and committed them to the flames. He found the Bible infinitely better. Recollecting one night that one of these books was lent to his Minister, he knew not how to sleep till it was burned; but as the night was dark and stormy, he concluded to wait till morning. Then neither the severity of the storm, nor the infirmities of his age prevented the execution of his purpose. When he asked for the book, the Minister was fearful that he might still doubt the truth and inspiration of the Scriptures, and so wish to read this book again. This had been his favorite author. But no sooner was it returned, than with much emphasis, he said, “In the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and these witnesses, I now solemnly renounce all the errors contained in this book." He then cast it into the fire.—He since warns with much affection and faithfulness, those whom he had before led astray, and intreats them to renounce their errors and embrace the Savior. His exertions are not in vain. Christians are animated, and sinners alarmed.
Does a single Tract produce such effects? and who is willing to be inactive? Who can withhold his aid?
Aluch remains to be done. This is another motive to liberal exertion. The work is still in its commencement; but little of its blessed fruits is yet seen. Still it is seed time; and the full harvest is yet to come. But the field is large; and with due cultivation, it promises a very rich harvest. “He that soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully.
Lift up your eyes and behold the prospect before you. See the thousands and millions that need to be enlightened and turned to the Lord. Let their condition a waken your compassion, and rouse you to action. Never relax, but rather increase your exertions, until the whole land is filled with Divine knowledge, and righteousness, and peace.
JEDIDIAH MORSE, Chairman of the Exec. Com. of the New Eng. Tract Society.
ANNUAL MEETING OF THE A. B. C. F. M. ACCORDING to appointment, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions held their tenth annual meeting in Boston on Wednesday, September 15. The annual sermon was delivered at the Old South Church on the 16th, by the Rev. Dr. Lyman. Many subjects of a highly interesting nature occupied the attention of the Board, of which a more particular account will be given hereafter.
Dieu, on his return from a journey for the restoration of his health, at the house of the Rev. Dr. Chaplin in Groton, on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 11, after an illness of a few days, the Rev. JOSHUA HUNTINGTON, pastor of the Old South Church, Boston, in the 34th year of his age, and 12th of his ministry. The body was renioved the same day from Groton to his late dwelling house, whence it was entombed on Monday with every mark of deep and unaffected sorrow. The Rev. Mr. Dwight preached the Funeral Sermon. A further notice of this excellent man may be expected hereafter.
'At Amherst, N. H. Sept. 27th, while on a visit to his friends, the Rev. LEVI HARTSHORN, pastor of the first Church in Gloucester, in the 30th year of his age, and the fourth of his ministry.
For the Panoplist. DOES THIE SCRIPTURE PRESCRIBE THE EXACT AND EXCLUSIVE
FORM OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT?
Tue inquiry is, what does the New Testament teach respecting church government? Christ says to Peter, (Mat. xvi, 19,)“I will give anto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.” This was not an actual commission; but a promise of one, which was soon to be granted. Just before bis ascension to heaven, he fulfilled the promise. He came to the eleven, and said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth: go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.” In this commission, Peter had no preeminence above his fellow apostles. Christ had before charged them all, “Be not ye called Rabbi, for one is your master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren.” By this commission they were entrusted with the keys of the church. Authority was given them to teach all things whatsoever he bad commanded.
Thus the apostles became the legal successors of Christ, But this privilege was not given to them exclusively. They could not execute the whole of the commission. Nor could their ministry continue to the end of the world. They must therefore have successors. This, though implied in their commission, is not definitely prescribed. The only duties mentioned are teaching and baptism.—Shall every other object be neglected? Shall the church be scattered on the mountains, and left to the mercy of every assailant? Shall the precious plants of Zion be left to wither and die, having none to water them? If not, who shall occupy the places of the apostles, when death shall arrest them? The answer is easy. Christ did not intend to prescribe every particular duty. He gave bis immediate successors the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and discretion to use them. His previous instruction was to be their general guide; the good of the church their ruling motive. . When converts were multiplied, the number of teachers was increased. To make a division of labor, and more fully to dispense the bread of life, elders were ordained in every city. But no intimae tion is given, that these elders were in office inferior to the apostless VOL. XV.
though their duties were more definite. To diminish the avocations vi those who preached the Gospel, deacons were appointed to take the oversigt of secular concerns.-Paul says to the Ephesians, When lie ascended up on bigli, le gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Neither the peculiar duty of these vtlicers, the mode of their introduction, nor the term of their continuance, is mentioned. To the Corinthians, (xii, 28,) Paul says, “God hath set some in the churclı
, first, apusiles; secondly prophets; thirdly teachers; after that miracles; then gilts of healing, belps, governments, diversities of tongues.” Some of these offices and girls have not existed in any church, since the days of the apostles. Must we then conclude the church has ceased to exisi? No; uot
from this circumstance; for Christ never intended those oflices should continue, after they ceased to be necessary.--The Scripture no where prescribes the number of otlices necessary in the church, nor the exclusive duties of any. Paul, writing to l'imothy and to Titus, makes no distinction between bishops and elders; but requires the same qualifications for each, Peter and John, who were primitive disciples, call themselves elders. It is therefore certain, the Scripture makes no exclusive prescriptions with regard to officers in the church.
On the subject of church discipline, a passage in the xviii of Matthew, is the most explicit of any in the New Testament. That appears to be of universal obligation.-(verse 15.) "If thy brother shall trespass against thce, go and tell him bis fault between thee and him alune, if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” This verse is free from every obscurity. It cannot be misunderstood. “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established." This is also plain. The witnesses were to aid in the attempt to reclaim the offender.-—"And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church.” The word rendered church, is indefinite. If we consider the state of Christians, both at the time this precept was givell, and for some time after the ascension of Christ, we shall find it affords no ground of arguinent for any precise form of church government. The church was not then gathered into any permanent form. But suppose it had existed in the form of an independent church In every such church, those, who assemble at any regular meeting, act for the whole; and are considered as authorised to transact all business. The object of this precept appears to have been to promote harmony and uprightness in the church. The execution of the precept requires the exercise of wisdom. If this wisdom is exercised by ihe:cburch individually, in a body, or by its agents, is not the object accomplished? Will any say, every individual of the church must speak, before the offender can hear the churclı? The scripture affords no such précept, nor is an example found in any church of God.
The passage, 1 Cor. 5th, is nearly parallel with the one just considered. It exbibits no new principle; prescribes no form of church government.
From the Scripture already considered, an obvious conclusion arises, viz. the church is one body, but the members are numerous,
and their offices different. Love to God and love to men are the only fundamental laws. With these is connected the precept, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” All attempts to establish the exclusive rights of churches, bishops, and ellers, have yielded only bitter fruit. The Scripture presents before us one object. Zion is to be built up. The means are various.
For the Panoplist.
ON CONFESSION OF SIN.
Wloy should the pardoned sinner continue to confess his sin, and ask forgiveness?
A wise parent withholds his favor from a beloved, child who has offended him, until that child asks his forgiveness. And this is not only perfectly consistent with the tenderest parental affection, but is one of the highest proofs of such affection. Now, it is far more reasonable that we should ask forgiveness of our Heavenly Father, inasmuch as he infinitely surpasses in excellence and benignity any earthly parent. Besides, the divine direction on this subject is, "Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find." To neglect, then, to ask the forgiveness of our sios, is to add to their number, by disobeying the command of God.
Our Savior taught his disciples to pray, "Forgive us our sins." There was nothing peculiar in their circumstances, or characters, to limit this instruction to them. Surely, they were not sinners above all men.” This direction, how to pray, is equally applicable to Christians in every period of the world. And not until our Savior's instructions have lost their eflicacy, can the pardoned sinner cease to ask forgiveness.
The example of ancient saints, sheds abundant light on this subject; a light, too, which must put to the blush many, who are held in high estimation for their piety, or the elevated station which they fill in the church of Christ. Daniel prayed, “O Lord, the great and terrible God, we have sinned and committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do." That the Prophet included liimself in these confessions and supplications, there cannot be the least doubt; for he adds, “wbiles I was speaking and praying and confessing my sin, and the sins of my people, the man Gabriel, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me.”
David prayed, “Have mercy upon me, O God.-Blot out my transgressions.-Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.-I acknowledge my transgression, and my sin is ever before me.-Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.-Purge me with byssop.-—Blot out all my iniquities.” This is the prayer of one who was eminent for his piety, and who often had sweet communion with his God. Again, “Remember not the sin of my youth, nor my transgressions." Here we have the example of David, for confessing not only our daily transgressions, but the sins of our past life. The Psalmist passed his early days in circumstances of great simplicity
and yet, after his elevation to the throne of Israel, he prays, “Remember not the sin of my youth.”
I might reason from the nature of the case. The Christian, while lie continues in this world, is sanctified only.in part. Consequently, he continues to sin. Now the Gospel, notwithstanding its infinite fulness, does not free bim from the obligations of the divine law, nor transform bis sins into Christian graces. Far from it. But his obligations of gratitude to his Savior, his enlightened testimony to the excellence of the divine law, although its requisitions extend to the thoughts and affections of his heart, and his sweet experience, that the duties of religion are not irksome, but pleasant, all conspire to give his sins peculiar aggravation in the sight of God. To confess his sins, then, is to confess what is matter of fact, what is according to truth; and not to confess them, is to set himself in opposition to truth, and must sooner or later, draw down upon bis hrad the displeasure of Him, who is of “purer eyes than to look on iniquity.”
It may, perhaps, be urged in reply, that the Christian is sometimes favored with the Spirit of al option, whereby” he can “cry Abba, Father;" and that perfect love" which “casteth out fear,” and, therefore, he has no need of confóssing his sins. But so far from feeling at such times, that this objection is well founded, he will find himself disposed to make the humblest confession, because, contrasted with the divine purity, he will appear cxceeding sinful.”
Should it be further urged, that in the circumstances to which I have aliuded, he will not feel any need of confessing his sins, I ask, does it follow, there is none? Has he ceased to sin? If not, no relig. ious enjoyment, however great, can, in the least degree, diminish his obligations to confess his sins. Religious enjoyment an excuse for sin! Then Heaven itself may be full of sin!
The instruction of our Savior, the example of ancient saints, and the nature of the case, afford their united testimony, that the pardoned sinner, must continue, as long as he lives, to confess his sins and ask forgiveness.
For the Panoplist. ON THE PROPAGATION OF CHRISTIANITY IN INDIA.
JFhat are the principal obstacles to the prevalence of Christianity in the East Indies?
Among the chief obstacles, which may be termed peculiar, we notice,
First, the fact, that civilization in India, bas, for a long time, been in a retrograde niotion. When a people begin to emerge from barbarism, and to make innovations in their laws and customs, the enligh. tened missionary may exert an important influence in improving their condition and character; but when, from the pride of ancient superiority, they disdain to be instructed, and at the same time, without a single effort to save themselves, are fast sinking to the lowest degradation, mental and moral,—they afford no stamina on which to operate. Who does not find it far less difficult, to remove those obstacles which oppose the stream in its course, than to oppose the stream itself, or give the resistless torrent a new and opposite direction?