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as elders or bishops. These titles are most appropriate to settled, and stationary ministers of the churches, Thus we find most plenary and abundant evidence, from the inspired Apostles, that among the ministers of Christ, and officers of his church, no different grades of office are to be found. All the ministering servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, stand on a level with one another, No one, more than another, is to be called Rabbi. And the followers of Christ are expressly forbidden to call any man Rabbi. So far was the blessed Saviour from tolerating dignities and powers, among the officers of his church, that when the question was proposed, “Who should be greatest in the kingdom of heaven o’” He immediately called a little believing child, as small a child, perhaps, as was capable of expressing faith in him, This child he produced as a sample of those who should he most distinguished in his kingdom. The idea was, that humility and meekness, and a renunciation of all worldly power and dignity, should constitute the highest dignity and honor in his kingdom. “ He that exalteth himself shall be abased ; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” * So far are the ministers of Christ from having the government and control, one of another, in any case; that they have no government and control of the church, nor of an individual member of the church. They are utterly forbidden to “Lord it over God’s heritage.” They have no power to admit, nor to reject members, nor to interfere at all, any farther than to serve as moderators, in the discipline, and other transactions of the church, All this has been substantially proved ; and how astonishing it is, that in the face of all this light, the officers of the church, from age to age, have been loaded with honors and dignities s and armed with next to omnipotent power How surprising, that even a Scott, can in any measure, countenance the British Hierarchy | But the best of men have their imperfections. The only other office in the church, is that of Deacons. The word, Deacon, as well as the word, Minister, signi.
fles a servant. The duty of a deacon is, not only to
Lord's day, and in every society.
These are some of the leading thoughts, respecting the church of Christ, organized according to the gospel plan ; with its officers, and their several duties. That Christ has thus instituted his church, is evident from the
practice of the apostles and elders, and their great success, under the noted commission of their Lord ; “Go,
teach all nations, baptizing them, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Under this colnmission, they soon established churches all over Judea, and throughout the vast empire of Rome. These churches were owned and blessed of Christ, and were edified together in love, under the influences of the Holy Spirit.
The next thing that claims our attention is, what are the proper qualifications for admission as members of the church P From scripture and reason, it clearly appears, that the most important, and necessary qualification for membership in the christian church, is real christianity; real and unfeigned faith in Jesus Christ. This is neces. sary to salvation; and without this, it is impossible to lease God. . But the object of uniting with the church is nothing short of salvation. . It is to cultivate the christian graces, and to cherish that faith which is “the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” To unite consistently with the church of Christ, we must be able, in some good measure, to satisfy ourselves, and to satisfy the church, that we are real christians, having, in a spiritual sense, passed from death unto life. While absolute assurance is hardly to be expected, we must proceed on other ground; the ground of a prevailing and comfortable hope. To prove this point, we observe, that faith in Christ is necessary to the Christian baptism. The eunuch being anxious to receive the Christian baptism, Philip said to him, “If thou be: lievest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” On the day of Pentecost, “ o that gladly received the word were baptized.” Gladly receiving the word, was receiving it by faith. “With the heart man believeth unto right. eousness;” and then follows the Christian profession, * With the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” No one can, on bible ground, receive the Christian haptism, without a credible profession of the Christian faith, But baptism is an indispensable condition of membership in the visible church. The consequence is, that the Christian faith is a necessary qualification for admission as a member of the visible church. * * This principle is necessary to Christian fellowship. “For, what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness P and what communion hath light with dark: ness P What part hath he that believeth with an infidel.” To the church it is said, “Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” How can all this be * if unbelievers may be admitted as members of the church. Would they constitute a holy temple P In another place, the Apostle gives to ministers, and those who are employed as builders of the church, a solemn charge, respecting the materials,
with which they build this sacred temple. The founda
tion is Christ. Other foundation can no man lay. Now if any man build on this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest.” The materials which every builder has added to the temple will appear, of what sort they are. Let every man, therefore, take heed how he builds on such a foundation as Christ. “If any man defile the temple of God,” which is the church of Christ; “ him shall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy.” Thus it appears, that the essential qualification for membership in the church, is real religion. With precious materials must the spiritual house be built; and if, on trial, any of the materials prove corrupt; they must be rejected. But notwithstanding all the care and strictness of the builders of the church; hypocrites will sometimes gain
admission. Christians must wait and labor till the Millenium, before it can be said, that “there is no more the
Canaanite in the house of the Lord.”....AMEN.
No part of the system of divine truth is more instructive, interesting, and important, than the sealing ordinances of Christ. They are full of gospel instruction. While they are peculiarly expressive of the native pollution and depravity of man; and of his condemned state, under the covenant of works; they are a seal of a new covenant relation to Christ, and of his precious promises to all true believers. In short, the whole plan of salvation by grace is most significantly expressed, by the two special and perpetual ordinances of Christ.— And the first, in order, which now claims our attention, is the ordinance of Baptism. Ever since the days of Moses, if not before, baptisms, or what are called divers washings, have been adminis. tered in the church of God. These divers washings, under the law of Moses, have been no human inventions; but have been practised according to divine institution;
all of which were expressive of the native o of .
the human heart, and of sanctification by the Holy Spirit. All the ancient washings and sprinklings, whether of water or of blood, conveyed, typically, some important instruction, relative to the more clear dispensation of the gospel, after the coming and work of the glorious Redeemer. A sense of sin, and of the pollution of the heart, and of the need of spiritual cleansing, or purification, was impressed on the minds of God’s ancient people, by their ceremonial washings, and sprinklings. So that, generally speaking, the same kind of instruction has been derived from the application of water, in the various ages of the world; and under, the various dispensations of divine grace. Corresponding with all other washings, was the baptism of John. It was the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. It was designed to teach the people, that they were altogether polluted with sin, and, in their natural state, stood in perishing need of the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. The baptism of John did indeed imply the prosession of repentance; for John required of all who came to his baptism, a new heart, and a new life“Bring forth, therefore, fruits, meet for repentance.” Ancient ordinances, in general, were typical, and expressive of the same things which are expressed by present ordinances. For, in profession and practice: the church of God has been essentially the same, in all ages; religion and salvation have been the same: and, beyond a doubt, the ordinances have been of the same general import? The Passover, for instance, while it commemorated the deliverance of God’s people from