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cty megi Tpheres, act out of character, and contribute greatly
by citie toward the productioe or promotion of schism in the church church of Christ.
churd As you would not chuse that church officers actice, it make encroachments upon your privileges,-be exas far as horted to guard against usurping to yourselves any 2, may r part of that province, which Jesus Christ hath ren
dered peculiar to them. 1980e The beautiful order of each member, in the naFERENCE tural body, is not more necessary for the various of cartie purposes of life; than your keeping by your own theit bis spheres, in the body ecclesiastic, is for the purposes
of edification. -werly cry Though you have no right to teach, --no right
erefore to rule in the church; you should not peevishly un-wheta dervalue the place you fill, as if your spheres of
action were chimeras in themselves, and of no im. al. Mord portance to the church at all. For, in the lanprecision guage of the apostle, “ If the foot shall say, because trerek s I am not the hand, I am not of the body;-Is it, og bored ft therefore, not of the body! And if the ear
u shall say, because I am not the eye, I am not of re bind. -s the body ;---Is it, therefore, not of the body?” puncia y Cor. xii. 15, 16. .
and If, according to our former reasoning, you were all My rey to act in the teaching and ruling capacities, -. then, brand you could no more be a church constituted according
to the doctrine of the New Testament; than a nummed bi ber of hands or feet, cars or eyes, joined together,
op be without other members, could constitute a proper sexo human body. The former would be equally mon.
strous in the moral, as the latter would be in the na- for af tural world. For, “ if the whole body were an eye, Give “ where were the hearing? If the whole body were
fiica “ hearing, where were the smelling ?” verf. 17. Tandle But if you should imagine, that it is competent mielist for you, as church.members, to bring the decisi.
ons of your superiors under your own review, as the dernier refort ;--the wildest anarchy, the most abfolute confusion behoved to follow; and you could cut no better figure, in your church capacity, than a human body would cut, with it's various members totally inverted.
But, my dear friends, when the principle, from whence such notions proceed, is traced to it's original; it will probably appear to be nothing else than a love of power,--the very crime with which others are fometimes so illiberally charged.
Where, for inftance, men,- uncalled, unqualified, and without authority, take upon them to teach and govern in the church:; do they not difcover an averfiou at the thought of being taught and governed !-where they allow themselves to see nothing but blemishes in the adminiftration of o. thers ; does it not insinuate an apprehcasion, that they themselves could fill such places of trust with greater honour and advantage ? —And, where their not being acknowleged, in particular decisions, Itimulates prejudices against them ; does it not display the haughty idea they entertain of their own wif. dom and importance ? .
Let none, therefore, deliberately Iteer upon the very rocks, against which, it is alledged, regular office-bearers in the church usually dalh. Though they should, in reality, or in your apprehenfion only, fall into one extreme, by an abuse of power; fee, that you do not slide into another, by thinking that no executive power is lodged in particular cfficers at all.
Rather, my brethren, be exhorted, to mark the propriety, expediency, and necessity of a scriptural fubjection to your lawful fuperiors in the Lord. and though you should find yourselves obliged to decline the jurisdiction of one church, from an ap
prehension that Christ's laws are not executed in her;
If the brethren, as men, have a natural right to judgé, with whom they would entrust the care of their health and estates ;--and if they may lawfully chufe and employ, accordingly, for themselves :--with what propriety can they, as Chriftians, be rob. bed of the more interesting privilege of judging and chufing, in concerns of a spiritual nature ?
"}f disgust, diffenfion, or even rebellion itfelf, might necessarily-flow from men's having their natúral privileges wrested our of their hands ;-Can approbation, unanimity, and obedience be expected, if their Christian privileges should be wantonly extorted from them.
Such oppression may, indeed, be sometimes warranted by particular laws; but, if those laws were made only to keep oppressors in countenance, (especially if previous and approved Itatutes are thereby,
abrogated, or rendered useless).. so far from prevents ing, would they not rather stimulate the breach !
Or, for argument's sake, though oppressive mea. sures were supported by ancient, as well as modern, civil as well as ecclesiastic laws ; if they were juNified by no part of that pattern shewn in the scrip tures, could remonstrance, and feceflian, on the part of the disciples, be thought, in the least surprizing?
And, to whatever cause prejudice may usually ascribe it, when church decrees have not the same effect upon Christians now, that the decrees of the apostles and elders had upon the multitude at Antioch ;-Is it not more than probable, That they have not seemed good to the Holy Ghost ?
But, if they thould, in fact, be contrary to the “more sure word of prophecy", -however good they might seem to men of every order, could it be reasonably imagined, that the multitude of belicvers would have freedom to acquiefce in them ?Upon one supposition only," That Christiags “ might warraptably hearken unto men, rather " than to God.”
These being the principles from whence lawful, or even laudible dissentions might be accounted for, the constituent members of this Provincial Synod will bear with me, while at your own command, I now “ stir up your pure minds, by way of remem“ brance."
That, to deprive all of every apology for dissenfion, Tou would attend to the expediency, as well as juflice, of securing the disciples, under your inspeça tion, in the whole rights transferred to them by Jesus Chrif.
T'hough church officers of other communions fhould hold their people in the most fovereign con, tempt; (by lording over their consciences,-count
ing them equally unfit, to judge what doctrines they should receive, as illiterate patients, what medicines they should apply,—and reckoning it no more competent for them, to chuse their own pa. stors, than it is for children, to pitch upon pedagogues for themselves :) without pretending, at farther length, to determine the boundaries of their privileges, let our people have unceasing proofs of the most tender concern for their peace and edification. · Though we give them leave to distinguish, ac: cording to the scriptures and our own standards, between truth and error; though we permit them to judge what ministerial gifts are most adapted to their capacities ; though we hear such remonstrances as are founded upon just claims of right; and though we grant such 'redress of grievances as is competent for us, and consistent with our cha. racter and duty; do we any more, than " be6 come all things to all men "".
Let the clergy of other churches be determined, if they will, in their decisions, by the wisdom of this world, the opinions and commandments of men ; -.-by attachment to party, love of politics, desire of gain, or uniformity of conduct, without regard to divine authority at all ;- but, let us--regardless of every other consideration, of every lower motive, ... let us make conscience of squaring all our decisions by “ the law and the testimony."
While their statutes are founded upon-" Thus 6 saith the wisdom of human legislatures ;-Thus " saith the councils of the fathers ;-Thus faith: “ the Pope, or the People;”- let us glory in founding ours upon - THUS SAITH THE 66 LORD."
Nay, to whatever discoveries other ecclesiastics may pretend,.-- until we lee, from our bibles,..that