« ZurückWeiter »
gers ; then, in the views, for the reasons mention.
However extensive the authority our Lord hath given his servants, in managing his affairs upfon earth; is 'not the lordship, over the consciencés of his people, reserved in his own hand ? - Christians are, indeed, bound to obey those who have the rule over them; bur, that such obedience may flow from the faith of a divine authority, and not stand in the wisdoin of men, they are to obey them on. ily “in the Lord,” | Thefl. v. 12. i'e. to obcy, because they fee a scriptural warrant in tcrposed in fupport of the obedience church officers call fur.
More particularly, mens Itretching the laws of Jesus Christ, in matters of discipline and government, bchoved to trouble and oppress his members. It is, for instance, an express statute of Christianity, that every church member, who, being in the fault, refuseth to acknowlege his error, and reform his way, shall be, to the church, “as a heathen “ man and a publican,” Matth. xviii. 17. But then, it is no less a law of the kingdom, that such a delinquent, professing and evidencing repentance, Mall be restored in the spirit of meekness, Gal vi. 1. not only restored, but comforted also, left he be swallowed up of over much forrow, 2 Cor. ii. 7. Should, however, those, bearing office, rob church members of that privilege, granted to them by their adorable Head; or make their enjoyment of it depend upon conditions of human device, would they not be chargeable with the opprelion exploded and condemned by the New Testament?
If an unwarrantable stretching of Christ's own laws might be opprefsive and troublesome to his members; church officers, claiming obedience to Jaws wholly their own, would render themselves much more so.-By the former, men are only wise above what is written ; by the latter, they are wise in opposition to the written word: the one misinterprets our Lord's statutes; the other contributes toward the destruction of them.
Our Lord has provided that proper discipline be exercised upon heretics and immoral persons. As to heretics, Christians and churches are not to receive them, or bid them God speed, 2 John 10. they are to avoid them, Rom. xvi. 17. and, if no. thing less can serve the ends of edification, they are, after a first and second admonition, to reject them, Tic. iii, 10.-With regard again to immo
ral perfons, the law of the Redeemer's kingdom is most particular and explicit; “I have written un" to you, (said Paul to the Corinthians) not to " keep company, if any man, that is called a bro" ther, be a fornicator, or covetous, or an ido" later, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortion" er, with such an one no not to eat," i Cor. v. 11.-But, if men, bearing office in the church, should take it upon them to inflict such censures, where neither heresy, upon Bible principles at least, nor immorality, are lo much as alleged; then, those, most orthodox in their principles, and examplary in their lives, might suffer unjustly; and the society, to which they belong, suffer, through their punishment. .
According as rulers and governors, in any church, give way to a management of this sort, we may expect to see the artillery of discipline pointed against the most holy and useful members, or even officebearers; and so far rewards and applauses, profusely, poured upon men of a different, opposite, character and deportment. Nor can thefe views be separated; for the same laws, which are replete with distress to the former, must be pregnant with encouragement to the latter.-Of such despotic and arbitrary measures the Roman catholic churches afford so many awful proofs, that the propriety of fuppofing oppressions of this kind will bear no difpute. In the history of these churches, would it be a difficult talk to find sentences of deposition àgainst ministers, of excommunication against ChriItians, and of delivering over to the secular arm, against both, founded on no better ground than their 'refusing to be, fay, or do, what, according 'to their best judgment, was forbidden by Jesus Chrilt?-Under such administrations the Wick
liffs, Husses, and Jeroms, must fall *; while the Wolseys, Beatons, and Gardiners, will rise t. .
As church officers are entrusted, by the living Head, with the sword of discipline; so also with the charter of his people's external privileges, which they are bound faithfully to dispense: but, in the exercise of their government, if they should withhold, from Christ's members, any of those gospel immunities ; usurping to themselves, or Jetting go to others, what they ought to secure them in the possession of; could such administra
tion * John WICKLIFF, an Englishman, professor of divinity at Oxford, was prosecuted for his principles of the Reformation, first in the year 1377, before the archbishop of Canterbury. Gregory XI, afterwards ordered the English clergy to summon him to Rome. In consequence of this order he was tried by the prelates in a council held at Lambeth, and injoined to filence.--In May 1382, his principles were condemned in a council called at London by the archbishop of Canterbury. They obtained an edi& from Richard II.; in consequence whereof many Wickliffites were imprisoned: but Wickliff's death in December 1384, pre. vented their prosecuting him any further. • John Huss of Husnitz, and JEROM of Prague, his
difciple, were both condemned and burnt for adopting and preaching Wickliff's doctrines; the former anno 1415, and the latter anno 1416. See Dupin's church hilt, vol. III, p. 308, etc.
+ THOMAS WOLSEY, first bishop of Lincoln, then at York, and last of all promoted by the pope to a cardinal's hat, in the reign of Henry VIII.
David BEATON, archbishop of St. Andrews, under the same reign, likewise a cardinal.
STEPHEN GARDINER, bishop of Winchester, under the same reign, · All bigotted enemies to the reformation, and persecutors of the Reformers. See Rapin, Smollet, etc. their histories of England.
tion bear, would it deserve, a gentler name than tyranny and oppreffion? Or, would all the artifice and sophiftry they were masters of be able to free them from the apostle's charge, as troublers of the church? --True Christians, by that divine charter, have a right to the ministry of the word, and to the feals of the new covenant ; neither of these can be denied them, but in open violation of Immanu. el's authority ; to explain them therefore away, or refuse to dispense them, in whole or in part, as it dishonours the Head, so it robs and spulzies his members --Now, who that have surveyed the seat of the beast, where both the use of the scrip. tures, in general, and the eucharistical cup, in particular, are withheld from the laity, can fail to see, that such robbery and oppression may be committed ? and would to God, it could be said with truth, that in all the churches called Reformed, no degree of Protestant Popery had place! . 4. Office-bearers may trouble the church by un: tenderness in their lives and conversations. Their instructions, as servants of Christ, expressly bear, that they should be grave, prudent, blameless, of good report, and, in every respect; ensamples to our Lord's fiock : this is so much the case, that neglects or commissions, which might bear an apolo. gy in others, are inexcusable in them; and, what would make private Christians shining and emi: ment, is scarce more than what must necessarily enter into the very constitution of their character.
Where chwch officers act in character, they teach, reprove, convince and comfort men, by their lives, as well as by their labours in the gol. pel; and copying out what they fay, in what they do, office bearers bid vastly fair to effect the ends of their ministry amongst saints, to recommend the Christian scheme to finners : but, if they preach