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We now proceed to state some of the thus to avow his Master; and is often thrones established by God in the Zion most helpful to those that are present. He loves.
One consideration is worth special 1. In the exercise of this holy dis- attention. The proportion of those crimination, each church, from time who join our churches, and afterwards to time, has to pronounce its judgment lapse and are lost to a religious proupon the religion of those who would fession, is believed to be far smaller connect themselves with her.
than among other denominations. God son is requested to give an account of sanctions the right use of this throne his call by graco. His utterances may of judgment. be broken; his thoughts may be con- 2. Each church has authority to adfused; but with the mouth“ confession judicate on matters of dispute between is made"—not to a priest, not to a her members (Matt. xviii.15-17) This, pastor, but to the church, when con- perhaps, is often forgotten; and, from vened to pronounce authoritatively as its rare occurrence, has become a more to the collective judgment of its mem- formal thing than was intended by thọ bers.
great Lawgiver in Zion. As originally This “throne of judgment" is of instituted it provides for the settlement vital moment to the well-being of a of disputes among gracious persons by church; and the admission of a mem- the Lord's people themselves. The ber to whose godliness the slightest judgment of the church is to be authoexception could be taken, is most re- ritative and final; and he that will not prehensible. Such had more than once own it, altogether forfeits all claims to occurred in the church at Corinth. consideration as a Christian. " He To this the apostle refers in words of is as an heathen man and a publican." bitter and burning reproof.
" Some" He is to be regarded as a graceless of you enrolled members “have not evil-doer, and the saints must withthe saying "knowledge of God. I draw from him as such. On this speak this to your shame. Would that ground partially-for another reason no churches in the present day deserved is stated—no Christian must appeal to a like reproof.
the secular authorities against an ofMuch, from time to time, is said fending brother till the judgment of against this practice. It is believed the church has been pronounced and by some to deter people from joining ignored (1 Cor. vi. 1, 8.) For brother the church—though who and where to go to law with brother is a scandal these people are, is rarely, if ever, that should be unknown. stated. On the whole, however, not 3. A church is authorised to call to to mention its scriptural authority, account any of her members whose walk the rule works well. It relieves indi- is contrary to the gospel. It is bound viduals of a most solemn responsibility. by all that is sacred to fsummon such It acts as a public introduction of the before the assembled members, and to brother to the fellowship he seeks to adjudicate on the case as circumjoin. It is of great benefit to him stances may require. This authority
The writer does not believe it to be scrip- no member has a right to evade. He tural to insist on any particular method of ad- accepts it with his membership, and mitting members into a church. His conten- must abide by whatever decision may tion simply is, that the right of admission is
be arrived at. To resign connection vested—not in the pastor or the messengers, but in the church itself; and that such reception is
with a church in order to avoid a & church act. Whether persons make a statc
pending investigation, is a serious misment: reply to questions: sit silent while a letter demeanour, and should never deter previously addressed by themto the pastor is read, the rest from the fulfilment of the duty and publicly assent to it: or authenticate the
indicated by the word of God. pastor's account of the Lord's dealings with
A church has power to censure one their souls, is, to our thinking, immaterial. Every member, of course, in all cases, retains
of its body who walks unworthily; his right to put any question through the pastor. and if this censure be disregarded, to
excommunicate him, or formally to cut him off from the privileges which he enjoyed as one of the brotherhood. In this position he is to abide until he has acknowledged his fault, and proved the sincerity of his repentance. The church has then the power to adjudge him a restored wanderer, and to re-admit him to the fellowship of the assembly.
We have the solemn conviction that this branch of our subject demands fuller consideration than it commonly receives. An excommunicated Christian is “ delivered over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” His spiritual welfare may, indeed, engage the solicitude of the church, and prayer should be offered for his restoration. If, however, wasting sickness is sent by the Lord to emphasise the displeasure of the church, no prayer is to be offered for his physical relief while his soul remains in hardness and impenitence.* These, though biblical ideas, are not often advanced; but it is hard to say why they should be kept in abeyance. The New Testament is a book for all time; and we have no warrant for believing that the Lord will manage the affairs of His house (1 Tim. iii. 15) in the present day otherwise than in the apostolic age.
4. In the churches " are set thrones of judgment” in relation to error. Attention is seldom accorded to the closing words of the Epistle of James,
Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him, let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” Difficulties, indeed, encompass the passage ; but two
* It will be seen that the writer's view of the latter passage (1 John v. 16) differs from that which is ordinarily accepted. It is, however, submitted that the “life” referred to is not spiritual, but physical life, which will, under some circumstances, be granted to an apparently dying man in answer to prayer. This conceded, it will follow that the antithetical term “ death " must also be understood in a physical sense, as stated above.
things are clear,--that he that errs from the truth sins in this respect, and that efforts should be made to convert him. How strikingly this contrasts with the modern ideas—that error is harmless, and that men who err from the truth should be greeted with compliments for their frankness and originality. The Bible, however, never speaks with tolerance of error; and to the church is entrusted the duty of expressing the mind of God on the doctrinal untruths which are flaunted from time to time before the public.
Against these, indeed, some voices are upraised. Religious writers, too often anonymous, refute them. Unions and Associations repudiate them. Preachers inveigh against them. The Members of Bible classes express their opinions of their unsoundness. But the churches, as such, are mute. Rarely, if ever, is error brought to the test of the judgment of a church. How well might it be if, occasionally, our church meetings were utilised for this purpose; if a paper were read by the pastor to his people, on some assailed doctrine or neglected truth; if opportunity were given for the free expression of opinion; and the vote of the church on the question discussed were taken and recorded. What new impetus this might give to the growth of spiritual intelligence; and with what weight and dignity it might invest our church life.
Be this as it may, a church is bound to take cognizance of error when held by her members—to repudiate the sentiment, and to deal with the erring brother as his case requires. Neglect here is the fertile cause of much mischief. May due consideration be accorded to a subject so important.
5. In an important sense the Lord's table is a “throne of judgment.” The holy supper is an expression of spiritual fellowship; a mutual acknowledgment of approval on the part of all that partake of the sacred feast. It is with the church's approving consent that each takes his place; and the occasional guest, who seeks the privilege of transient communion, is ad
mitted on the understanding that he is, in all essential respects, what the church deems a Christian should be, as the Lord's mind is revealed in His word.
Thus, at the Lord's table, judgment is silently but very powerfully pronounced—not only on the spiritual life of those that are present, but on their loyalty to their Lord: not only on their Christianity, but on their conduct; not only on their saintship. but also on the soundness of their creed, and the rectitude of their walk. Christian neglects the ordinance of baptism-or, if being baptized, he remains unconnected with a church-if he has been withdrawn from for any cause, or has suffered his membership to lapse- we are bound to adjudge him unfaithful to his Lord, and must express this judgment by declining to break bread with him. If he denies the eternal Three-in-One-does not acknowledge the complete person of the Lord, or repudiates the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit-we may respect him morally, but, with the Bible before us, we must refuse to join with him in the ordinance which expresses the fullest and most cordial spiritual communion. Such, we contend, is one of the uses of the Lord's Supper. It is not simply a solemn act of worship. It is not merley a rite which, with the blessing of the good Spirit, may endear the Lord to us, and minister to our joy. It is an expression of fraternal approval on the part of each guest of the character and conduct of his brethren—a "throne of judgment” in the church of God.
6. In the churches " are set thrones of judgment," as to the competency of brethren who feel called to preach the gospel.
A careful perusal of the few passages which are likely to throw light on this branch of the subject, will, we think, make this fact obvious. Paul
to cite but one-was the spiritual father of Timotheus, and desired that his son in the faith should consort with him in thework of God. Not through the apostle's sole authority, however, did
the young evangelist commence his cares. Himself, indeed, laid his hands on Timotheus (2 Tim. i. 6); but others, at the same time and for the same purpose, joined in the solemn service (1 Tim. iv. 14.) The church was appealed to, and her officers acted in her name. Thus should it still be. Who so competent to give an opinion respecting a young man's gifts as his pastor and fellow-members ? In byegone years this was invariably insisted on in the dissenting churches of England. Now it has got to be uncommon-but it is hard to say why. The result is, however, sad, as might be shown in many ways; but space forbids.
7. And lastly, is not the PULPIT a throne of judgment? This embodies, as we judge, Watts' view of the meaning of our passage, “ He hears our praises and complaints;
And while His awful voice
We tremble and rejoice.” The verse is, indeed, slightly obscure; but we suppose him to refer to the discriminating character of the gospel when faithfully preached. From the pulpit the true doctrines of the Word are declared, and the false denounced. Here the saved sinner is described and comforted : the skindeep professor exposed and warned; and the lost sinner faithfully shown his position and peril under the thrice holy law of God. The thought, like others that have preceded it, admits of wide enlargement; but we forbear.
Would to God that our churches might again become things of power, as in our fathers' days, for Christ's sake.
FROM SAINT TO SAINT.
January, 1838. To Eliza Dale, Ipswich.
MY DEAREST AND MUCH ESTEEMED SISTER IN OUR BLESSED LORD, Once more has He whom I feel at this time indeed to be a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother indulged
His ungrateful child with an opportunity of telling you of His faithfulness. He has said, if darkness endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning; and I trust I do feel and see, as it were, the beams of the blessed sun gradually melting my poor heart, and bringing me like a child again to its parent, to own its follies and to ask forgiveness. What a kind friend we have got! but how often do we forget Him, although we cannot draw a single breath unless He gives us power. What poor things we are, and yet how rich ! this world is ours and worlds to come; earth is our lodge and heaven our home. What a strange thing it seems, my dear girl, that we should always look for our lodging to be comfortable ; surely one would think the thought of home would seem to make amends for all. Alas! we forget we are only travellers; we stop upon the road to gaze at this, to linger after that, until our poor minds seem quite bewildered. Our indulgent Father jogs our memories, as it were, by thwarting our designs, and then where can we flee but to Him? Surely there is no other friend would bear with us like our heavenly Friend. I want to love Him more and serve Him better, to have my whole affections centre in Him. I want no other object to attract my attention. I think I can say He is to to me the altogether lovely; and shall I doubt such a Friend, the Bridegroom of my soul ? Can I, for one moment, think that He will allow any hurt to
come to His bride; surely not; for He has said, he that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of His eye. My soul, then, may safely confide in Him at ali times, for He ever lives; and even when the hour of death arrives, He will be with me, and safely land me on that blessed shure, where I shall enjoy uninterrupted communion with Him throughout the countless ages of eternity
O, my dear girl, let the thought of this make us think less of the wilderness fare. What, though we are tossed here and there, we shall not suffer shipwreck, because our
Lord is on board and has the ruling of it all, and the last waye will come and waft us safe home. I know not where my lot is cast, but he knows; no doubt but it is where I shall best and safest abide; I wish not to go anywhere but where my Father pleases; I wish not to choose myself, because I know not what would be best for me. Therefore, I have laid it before One that cannot err; One that is able and willing to help in every time of need. My Father's eye is upon me, and when the appointed moment arrives He will show me the place I am destined to : His will, not mine, be done.
My earnest prayer is that I may never be left to bring a disgrace upon
I think sometimes, should I go to London, I might, perhaps, be exposed to many temptations, and my wicked heart fall in with them--the thought of such things seems too much for meto be left to backslide from my Lord; what a wound would that be to my soul! I know not what rough seas I have yet to sail over, O my Father; can I distrust Him, and be still afraid to leave myself in His hands who has upheld me to the present moment ? What base ingratitude! What unbelieving hearts we have, after all the love that has been manifested towards us! May you, my dear girl, ever be enabled to commit your way unto Him, to lean upon His all-powerful arm when the enemy presses hard ; when circumstances are trying, and you know not what way to take, then to be enabled by faith to lean upon our beloved Lord. The sweetness of that none can enter into but those who have been indulged with such a favour; the world knows nothing of it, the hypocrite has no such favour shown him. Who, then, can it be but those that are one with Him, that are united in bonds that even death itself cannot dissolve. Why should we, then, degrade ourselves as we sometimes do, as if we had no bank to go to; we have one that will never fail, an endless store treasured up in our beloved Friend, our blessed Jesus. It seems an endless task to tell of half
His beauties; you can better into them than I can pretend to describe them. I was reading, last evening, an account of dear Mrs. Nunn's death ; truly my much-esteemed pastor needs our prayers :
he shall have mine, feeble as they are, and I trust he will
We may sympathise with him and pray for him, but he alone has to feel the wound. I think the more about it when I remember he has to be tried for us, that he may have a word of comfort when we may be placed in like circumstances. May the blessed Lord take his case under His special 1itice, and let Him enjoy as much of His presence as he can possibly bear.
Now, my dear Sister, may the Lord bless you with every new covenant blessing is the prayer of Your affectionate sister in Christ,
THE CHURCH IN FRANCE. A GLIMPSE OF ITS HISTORY FROM
1685 TO 1775. of The Universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, tuat have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of Him tliat filleth all in all."- Westminster Assembly's Confession of Faith, 1647, A.D.
“These pilgrims set very light by all their wares; they cared not so much as to look upon them; and if they called upon them to buy, they would put their fingers in their cars, and cry, • Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity,' and look upwards, signifying that their trade and traffic was in heaven."— Pilgrim's Progress.
• Maintaining their faith in the noble way of persecution, and serving God in the fire, whereas we honour Him in the sunshine.”-Sir Thomas Browne.
The history of the struggles of our forefathers for civil and religious liberty is familiar to most readers, and the names of Wycliffe, Cranmer, Latimer, and the other heroes of our Reformation are household words; but comparatively little is known of the terrible persecutions of those who, in foreign lands, earnestly desired to worship God " in spirit and in truth.” Persecutions which for ferocity and malignity far exceeded those in our
own country; for here, under God's blessing, the innate love of freedom which has always characterised Englishmen has, with other causes, prevented the full development of the anti-christian power of the Papacy.
The valleys of Piedmont and Ďauphiny possess an enduring interest in the noble record of the sufferings of the Vaudois Church-the Waldenses being those
who inhabited the “ Vaux" or valleys—which for nearly seven hundred years bore the fierce onslaught of Papal persecutors, and whose sufferings are commemorated by Milton in his noble sonnet: Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughter'd saints, whose
bonez Lie scatter'd on the Alpine mountains cold.”
We turn however to France, which has in modern times, beyond any European country, been the scene of tremendous conyulsions, that have shaken society to its very centre, and which now affords a saddening spectacle of Atheism on the one side, and superstition on the other, the French Protestant Church being now honeycombed with Rationalism.
“Ye are the salt of the earth." France has during past centuries lost those good men who were its salt, preserving it from destruction, and its present sad condition as to matters of religion is undoubtedly in the main the result of the butchery and forced emigration of all who were best and worthiest there.
The loss of France was, however, the gain of Protestant countries, especially of England; for, from the emigration of French refugees in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, after the massacre of St. Bartholomew, onwards to the middle of the eighteenth century, dates the establishment of many of our manufactures, the greater portion of the emigrants being the best traders and artisans. The number who came to England may be inferred from the fact that there were not fewer than thirty-five French Protestant churches in London at the beginning of the last century, besides churches and settlements at Canterbury, Norwich, Bristol, and many other towns. The