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ing the friends of the Lord Je- sincerity or comfort can he prua
fess the religion of Christ ?
A second thing necessary to church membership is, that a per
son should understand the nature Messrs. Editors,
of covenanting with God, and with In looking over your Magazine his people. He should know that for December, I perceived that God, in the riches of his goodone of your subscribers wishes for ness through the Redeemer, proinformation upon a subject, which poses to enter into covenant with he thinks important. If you all those who properly enter into should judge the following com- covenant with him, and to be unmunication will be of use to der engagement to them respecta him, or to the public, you are at ing their souls and salvation. He liberty to insert it in any of the should be acquainted with what subsequent numbers of your work. God enrages to perform, and with
In order to bring the subject, what those who enter into coveand what I have to offer, respect- nant with him and with his proing it, under one view, I will quote fessing people, lay themselves unthe words of your subscriber.
der obligations to do. And he " There are many persons with- should, not only, have informain the circle of my acquaintance, tion concerning what is implied who hope they are pious, but still and required in the covenant, but neglect to make a public profes- be willing to enter into it, and to sion of religion, from fear, that be under special obligations to be they have not the necessary quali- and to do what it requires. fications for church membership. A third qualification is a wilIf you or some of your corres- lingness to submit to the regular pondents will state, what these discipline of Christ in his church. qualifications are, and some of the No one that is unwilling to subevidences by which we may know mit to the order of Christ's house, whether we posses them, you will is qualified to enter it. Nor confer a favor upon an interested is he who is unwilling to be acsubscriber."
C. tive and faithful and to stand in In order to be qualified for mem- his lot in watching over the membership in the christian church, it bers, and in reproving and exhortis necessary that a person should ing them, as occasion may require, know the principal doctrines and and in maintaining the order and duties of the gospel, and be set- discipline of the church. If a pertled in his belief of their truth and son esteem the church of Christ, importance. For, if he be igno- and is willing to be in subjection rant of them, or wavering in his to it, and to use his influence and faith concerning them, with what exertions for its order and purity
he is, in these respects, qualified sequence, whether he possess the for membership
other qualifications, in some good I mention, as a fourth qualifica- measure. tion, a disposition to unite with First, by consciousness. True the church in supporting the wor religion has its beginning and seat ship and ordinances of God. It is in the heart. As unrenewed men incumbent on a church to see that are entirely sinful, so any holy these are maintained among them, affections and exercises are evifor the honor and glory of God, dence of being renewed in the for their mutual instruction and spirit and temper of the mind.benefit, and for the instruction and Let those who feel interested in. salvation of others. These are quire, whether they are conscious among the purposes for which a of having experienced any essenchurch is instituted. All who iial change in their feelings, and would unite with it, should be whether they have any holy exwilling to aid in promoting them. ercises and affections. Right or
Further. True religion, or a holy affections are supreme love real change of heart is an indis- to God, a desire that his honor pensable qualification. Let his and glory may be promoted, and other qualifications be what they to know and to do his commandmay, no one should unite with the ments and unreserved submission church who is not a subject of re- to his will. Those, who possess newing grace, and of consequence, them, hate sin and are humbled of repentance and faith in Christ. for it before God. The controHe must be more than a nominal, versy, which they bave had with he must be a real christian The him, is given up, and they have church was not designed to em- been reconciled to his character body saints and sinners, but saints and to his moral and providential only. No others can honestly and government.
If this should be and cordially enter into covenant thought not clear and distinctive, with God, and with one another. and that there is danger of being No others are the real friends of deceived, let the inquirer ask, in Christ. No others renounce the what his affections are centred, world, and take God to be their whether in God, or the world : God and portion, and accept of what he feels to be his portion salvation by the Redeemer. No and chief good: in what he de. others do, in truth, give up them- lights the most: or what is the selves to God, to be his in life, most pleasing to his heart. If he in death, and forever.
cannot determine whether his mo. To pass to the consideration of tives be right, let him consider the other part of the subject : a what are the highest objects of person may know, whether he be his affections and joys. a christian in reality, and of con- In the next place, a person may
know something by his conduct is measurably in favor of his beconcerning the reality of bis re. ing a true christiain, he is qualiligion. This
may furnish evi- fied for membership in the church dence to himself as well as to oth- of Christ. To be free from all
A good man, out of the doubts is, by no means, indispengood treasure of his heart, will sable to a union with the church. bring forth good things. The The want of a well-grounded hope outward life will manifest some- is but the want of assurance, is not thing of the principles that exist a disqualification. Persons who and reign within. The nature of believe that they have been rethe tree is ascertained by its fruit. newed may be kept from making a Men do not gather grapes of thorns profession of religion, through fear nor figs of thistles. If a person that they shall not be able to live delight in and regularly perform as they ought to do, if they should christian duties and is disposed make a profession. This is to neg. and resolved to continue in the per- lect a present important duty unformance of them, the evidence of der the apprehension, that they the reality of his religion, is in may fail in porforming some future his favor. But if he habitually duties. There may be something neglect plain moral and religious of pride in this fear. Here is duties and live in known and al- certainly a distrust of the promises lowed neglect of them, he ought and power of Christ. Others, who to consider his piety, at best, as have hope, may think themselves very questionable. The reality too deficient in religion to be unitof his faith does not appear from ed with the church and therefore, his works.
they delay, that they may grow If, then, a person has a knowl- in grace and become more preedge of the leading doctrines and pared for such a union. If facts duties of the gospel and is con- could be known, it would probably scious of believing and loving them; appear, that nothing was if he understand what is implied gained by a delay for this purpose. in covenanting with God and his Besides, will the christian be likepeople and be willing to enter in- ly to grow more in holiness out of to a covenant engagement with the church than in it? By the them and then to lay himself un- neglect of the means of divine apder special obligations to leada du- pointments than by the observance tifu and holy life; if he be willing of them. It is grace, and not the to submit to the regular discipline degree of grace that is required. of the church and to assist in main- Delay for the purpose mentioned, taining it and the ordinances and partakes more of the spirit of selfinstitutions of Christ į and if he be righteousness and self-dependance, conscious of having these and the than of real humility, faith and obeather marks of piety; and his life dience. Those, who contemplate
a union with the visible followers convinced of the opposition of my of Christ, should ask themselves, heart to God, and of the great as in the presence and fear of God, danger I was in, of perishing as whether they have reason to be- his enemy. At length, I perceivlieve, that they are the subjects of ed a change in my affections and renewing grace, and have accept- views in respect to God, his law ed of salvation on the terms of the and government. I saw that he gospel; whether they esteem the was right and I was wrong and church of Christ and desire its criminal. I justified him and conprivileges ; whether it is in obe- demned myself. I felt willing to dience to Christ, that they wish be and do as he should order to come to the holy ordinance of concerning me. A peace and joy the supper; whether they can ensued to which I had been an entruly and cordially give up them- tire stranger. In looking into the selves and their all to God and bible, I found, that I had the feelto his service, and take him for ings to which the promises of par. their portion, and can willingly don and salvation are made. I lay themselves under the bonds of began 10 hope and have continthe covenant to him and to his ued to do so. Although I ofien people, to live as the grace of God sink, as into the dust, before God, teaches. If they can answer these on account of my sins; yet I enquestions in the affirmative, they joy myself beyond comparison betneed not hesitate about their qual- ter than I ever did before. I pray ifications for church membership. in my family and religiously edu
D. cate my children. I am consci
entious in attending public worship and ordinances, and in ob
serving the sabbath and in doing A QUESTION.
what appears to be my duty. My Messrs. Editors,
hope of heaven rests on the atoneI do not wish to bring my diffi- ment of Christ and on the promculties very often, either before ises made to the renewed in heart. you, or the public; but I have Had I no evidence of repentance some acquaintances, about whom towards God and of faith in our I wish to ask your opinion. But Lord Jesus Christ, I should be before I tell you about them, it without hope. I see not but I will be proper to tell you who I have as much peace of mind as am. I am a plain bible man, dis- any around me. I have heard no posed to believe what it says and complaint of my being di-honest to do what it requires. To be in my dealings, or neglectful in the short: some years sioce, I was performance of the civil and sobrought to a deep sense of my sin- cial duties of life. But some of my falness and guilt, and was clearly acquaintances tell me that my ex
perience and performance of re- then, to suppose that their conligious duty are unnecessary, and cern for the honor and glory of that my belief is tradition and God leads them to so much zeal wholly false. They labor abun- and activity? They do not, as dantly with me, and urge me to I can sce, manifest such concern renounce my creed and to em- in any other way. I again ask, brace theirs, which, in the main, what I ought to think of the mois this; that every body is going tives of these men ? What is their to heaven, let them feel and live object ? Now, I could well enough as they may. So far as I can learn, hear them pity and vilify every I am not the only one, but that denomination but their own; I very many others are urged and could bear being troubled often pressed to believe as they do.- with their books and zealous conNow the questions which I wish versation, if I could see good reayou, or some of your correspond. sons for believing that they had ents to answer are these : What any better end in view, than the shall I think of these men ? What propagation of their sentiments is their motive ? If they are cer- and the increase of their number. tain that all are going to heaven, If you, or some of those who write why should they have so much for your Magazine, and who can concern about what they believe? see farther into men and things They manisest no more
than I can, would
the than others about what people do. questions I have proposed you Any one may do what he pleases, will gratify
BIBLICUS. if he will only believe with them. Do they think that I, or others would be any better members of
****** society, if we should adopt their THE GOSPEL OF GOD GLORIOUS. creed? Do they think, that we The word gospel, properly sig. should be any more honest, or nifies good news.
In this sense, any more moral in any respect ? the heavenly hosts understood the Do they suppose that I and others gospel, when they celebrated the would feel more happy, if we be- birth of the glorious Redeemer.lieved as they do? Is it then their “ The angel said unto the shepgreat benevolence towards me, herds, Fear not; for, behold, I that disposes them to be so un- bring you glad tidings of great wearied in their endeavors to de- joy, which shall be to all people. stroy my faith and to force upon For unto you is born this day, in me their own? Do they think the city of David, a Savior, who that their opinions are more hon. is Christ the Lord. And suddenorable to God and therefore, they ly there was with the angel a mulare disposed to take all ways and titude of the heavenly host praistimes to inculcate them ? Am I ing God and saying, Glory to God