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"The churches ought to be very cautious of tempting students to leave the schools of the prophets, before the term of education bas been completed. This is an age of activity, more than of study, and therefore a young man should be well instructed, for he is sure to meet with many interruptions to self-improvement, when he becomes a pastor. An inefficient minister is the cause of many disturbances; and that inefficiency, where it does exist, is to be often traced up to a contracted term of education.' pp. 189, 190.
We were pleased to observe in this book what we have often noticed in the productions of other Pedobaptist writers, when the subject of baptism was not in their minds; namely, a very distinct recognition of principles which if thoroughly applied to religious sentiments and practices would inevitably put an end to the sprinkling of infants and others as a religious ordinance.
'It is not enough to plead the authority of example, or of mere feeling, as a reason for any religious service. These are insufficient pilots on the troubled ocean of theological opinion, where opposing currents, stormy winds, and concealed rocks, endanger the safety of the voyager to eternity. Our compass is the word of God, reason must be the steersman at the helm to guide the vessel by the direction of the needle; and that mariner is accountable for the consequences who is too ignorant or too indolent to examine his course.' p. 22.
In dissuading from the practice of occasionally administering the Lord's supper in private houses for the sake of sick persons,' Mr James remarks, "There is not a single instance of any company of Christians, whose meetings were merely occasional, and who were not united for the purpose of stated fellowship as a church in a particular place, observing the ordinance of the Lord's supper. And as we have no scriptural example, so we have no precept for such things, not so much as a hint that they may be done. Should ministers, therefore, without the shadow of scriptural authority, consent to them ?'
(As a precedent, the practice is dangerous: for if the Scripture mode of observing the Lord's supper be departed from in one way, it may in another. If ministers depart from the regulations of the New Testament for the advantage of the sick, may they not be led on to do it in other cases, till even the purposes of faction shall be promoted by the practice ?' p. 187.
As an illustration of this last remark, one can scarcely help remembering, that the baptism (so called) of sick persons who could not be removed from their beds, held an important place in the gradual corruption of this institution.
Would that the principles enforced in the preceding extracts could have full operation! But so long as leaders in the church are disposed to search for the will of God respecting baptism “in some other way' than in “the law and the testimony” respecting baptism, and so long as they persuade themselves and others that it is quite immaterial what a Christian believes and practises respecting it, so long we fear that baptism, unembarrassed though it be as presented in the Bible, will continue “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence.”
We are glad that this book which bids fair to obtain an extensive circulation does not consider any thing as immaterial, which is exhibited in the Bible for the belief or the observance of Christians. 'It is admitted,' says Mr James, 'that, as in the human frame, so in the system of divine truth, there are parts of greater and parts of less importance; and the man who would put the principles of church government upon a level with the doctrine of the atonement, and represent a belief in the former as no less essential to salvation than a reliance upon the latter, betrays a lamentable ignorance of both. Still, however, although the hand is of less consequence to vitality than the head or the heart, is it of no value ? Will any one be reckless of his members, because he can lose then and yet live? So because church government is of less moment to spiritual and eternal life than faith in Christ, will any one abandon it as a vain and profitless subject ? Whatever God has made the subject of revealed truth, should be guarded on that account from being considered as too frivolous to deserve our attention.' pp. 13, 14.
‘Away with that morbid insensibility which exclaims, “It is of no consequence to what church or denomination a man belongs, provided he be a Christian.” Such a spirit is a conspiracy against the throne of truth, and is the first step towards a complete abandonment of the importance of right sentiments. Admitting that error is to be measured by a graduated scale, who will undertake to fix upon the point where harmless mistakes end and mischievous ones begin ? Every thing relating to religion is of consequence. In the temple of truth not only the foundation is to be valued and defended, but every point and every pinnacle.' p. 22.
To Mr James' statement respecting the officers in the Christian church, we cannot wholly assent. On page 18th he says, as indeed is commonly said, that bishop, elder, and pastor, are only different terms for the same office.' That the bishops, or pastors, were also called elders, we doubt not; but that the term elder necessarily indicated a bishop or pastor, we question. The term elder was, probably, a general term equivalent to our word officer ; and thus it could be applied to a pastor, or to a deacon; and the elders of a church included the pastor or pastors and the deacons. That the term is applied to pastors is evident; that the deacons are also included in this appellation, appears from 1 Timothy v. 17. “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.” Here a manifest distinction is made between the elders; they all rule, or govern, but some of them ‘labor in the word and doctrine,' or teaching, These latter are the preachers; the other elders are the deacons. The preceding context favors this view of the passage ; for the support of indigent widows is treated of, an object which came under the management of the deacons.
We know that a different exposition is sometimes given of this passage; and that the distinction between the elders is made to rest upon the word 'labor;' thus distinguishing the more diligent,
laborious pastors from those who did not so entirely devote themselves to their work. To this interpretation Mr James inclines : see the note on page 55th, which note we would respectfully suggest it may be well to omit in the future editions of the work. We should hardly suppose an apostle would recommend as worthy of double honor a minister of Christ who was known to be deficient in his duties.
Mr Choules deserves the thanks of the churches for his labor in preparing this American edition. We trust the work will be widely circulated. Its influence must be salutary
The Story of Aleck, or Pitcairn's Island; being a true Account of
a very singular and interesting Colony. 18mo. pp. 54. Amherst, Mass. J. S. & C. Adams. 1829.
This is, indeed, a remarkably interesting little narrative. It is well adapted to enlarge the views of the young, to awaken the thinking powers, and to leave on the mind a salutary impression. It is actual history; and we are assured that the author is not aware of having added the slightest embellishment to reality.' And yet the story is of such a nature, and it is told in so happy a manner, that many a group of little prattlers will have their attention fixed, and many a youthful eye will sparkle with curiosity and delight. All, of whatever age, who read it, will feel a gratifying consciousness of having increased their knowledge; and in the striking facts brought to view, all will have matter for useful reflection. The work,' says the preface, is designed for the use of children, and is commended to all who wish to promote in them a love of reading; especially to any, who think it best for youth to seek amusement and instruction, not in the airy regions of fiction, but in the rich field of historic truth.'
We join heartily in the commendation. For we have long been of opinion that if proper subjects for true history were selected, and if proper talents were employed, and proper pains were taken to render it attracting, the specious arguments for fictitious histories and religious novels would lose their power. We hope that the Author, who, we understand, is a distinguished classical scholar, as well as a gentleman of piety and of taste, will be encouraged to lay before the public additional demonstrations of the attractiveness which may be given to real history.
Pitcairn's Island, our readers will recollect, is one of the verdant spots that adorn the Pacific ocean. But we do not wish to make any abridgment of the story. The whole can be purchased for a few cents; and in any family, it would be a valuable addition to the children's library. About the middle of the thirty first page, there is a statement in which, perhaps, we ought not to acquiesce without some little qualification; we mean, in respect to the alleged becomingness of the ceremonies at baptisms. What thuse ceremonies were, we are not particularly informied; nor is it important to know. It is important, however, to remem
ber that, strickly speaking, no ceremony can be becoming which displaces, and in effect, makes void what our Saviour has commanded.
The benevolence which breathes throughout this historical tract, is happily poured forth at the close in asking, 'Who will not pray that all who are born on the surf beaten island, may become newborn heirs to the home of the saints ?—That the children of Aleck, and his children's children down to the latest generation, may ascend from their dwelling amidst the roarings and tossings of the mighty deep, to find a surer and a sweeter rest in the broad, peaceful ocean of a Creator's glory and a Redeemer's love ?'
The following lines have been communicated for the Magazine by one of the most accomplished literary ladies of our country, one of those ‘honorable women' whom the grace of God has taught not only to diffuse a benign influence around them in their families, and throughout an extensive circle in this country, but also to reach forth the hand of Christian kindness to the daughters of Greece, and to pray for the benighted and needy wherever sin has made its desolations.
The communication was accompanied by a note addressed to Mr Knowles, the insertion of which may be beneficial to some who have not seen the work that is mentioned.
• Rev. Sir,
•May a stranger be permitted to express to you the deep satisfaction with which she has perused the Life of Mrs Judson, written by yourself, and her conviction that its clearness of arrangement, judgment in selection, and felicity of style, contribute greatly in aiding the impression which a character of such energy, disinterestedness, and sublime piety, is calculated to make on every reflecting mind. With sincere wishes that the cause to which her best years were devoted, may continue to become more interesting to Christians,
I remain yours, Sir, with high respect,
ON READING THE MEMOIR OF MRS JUDSON.
I saw her on the strand.-Beside her smild
And so she turn'd
Again I look'.-It was a foreign shore.
On twilight's lap. A gorgeous palace caught
See that form
There was another scene, drawn by his hand
Dark Burman faces are around her bed,
He comes! He comes !
Ah! what heathen lip,
'Twas bitterness to think that bird-like voice,
Which binds its sever'd links, to break no more.
L. H. S.