« ElőzőTovább »
of consanguity is not to be disregarded or disruptured. The reciprocal obligations of parent and child, for instance, remain unimpaired, though the one remain a sinner while the other becomes a saint. Even where the connection arises on voluntary compact, and one of the parties subsequently becomes a Christian, the continuance of the relation and of its duties is so far from being forbidden, that it is even enjoined, although under the Mosaic law such ties were sundered. The difference between the two dispensations in this matter is explained by the fact, that the former was partly national, and had for its object the preservation of religious truth rather than its diffusion, which last is the characteristic aim of the gospel; and this appears in the reason adduced by the apostle: "For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife ?"-1 Cor. 7: 16.
5. Civil connection with wicked governments is not forbidden. Subjection to rulers is permitted and directed by the precept of Paul, in Rom. 13: 1, "Let every soul be subject to the powers that be." It is also sanctioned by the example of Christ. state of mind and a course of conduct consistent with this relation is urged by Jeremiah, upon the captive Jews in Babylon, that metropolis of vice and oppression: "Seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray unto the Lord for it; for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace."―Jer. 29: 7.—Respect to magistrates is also enjoined by Paul and Peter. Honor the king," is the phrase used by the latter-meaning any supreme magistrate. Paul, when on trial before Festus, calls him "most noble," even when rudely interrupted by him; and although the character of Festus was certainly no ways remarkable for virtue.
Tribute also is to be paid, though the government be unjust; though it be a supporter of idolatry, and oppressive in its rule; as was that of the Romans over the Jews; yet Christ paid his tax to Cæsar. It is allowed to hold office under a wicked government. Joseph held office under the despot of Egypt. Daniel did likewise under the kings of Babylon and Persia, and while so doing was greeted by the angel with the title "well-beloved," and a miracle was wrought for his deliverance from the lions, when cast into their den. When Sergius Paulus was converted, we do not learn that he resigned his office, nor that any such thing was ever expected from a convert.
6. Not all ecclesiastical connection with wrong-doers is forbidden. Where there is room for honest intention on either side, such connection may be continued indefinitely, as may be seen in Paul's decision on certain controverted points in Rom. 14. Where a church-member is clearly in the wrong, it is necessary to wait until appropriate efforts for reclaiming the offender have
while they see that some connection is clearly allowe
Thus professors of religion, instead of present
1. All and every kind of intercourse wi. cluded; for we are commanded to rebuke, intercourse. Besides, we are exhorted t as we have opportunity.
2. All friendly intercourse with ever hibited. Our Saviour sat at meat wit'. Pharisees; and Paul instructs Christ selves when invited to a feast by a 5 10, expressly says, that they e grossly wicked men who are unbelie go out of the world." It may be I of the ascetic is treated by the ap the question.
3. All business intercourse is 25, permission, and even advice. the shambles, that eat, asking 1 and that too, when the buyin well be thought to encourag were accustomed to sell in sacrificed to idols, and thus e and reward for their idol ser 4. The discharge of the family relation is not includ
of. An Case of an ar ambi
while he ...as well as the decision heart.
re in a minor. are not guilty ng doers, so 3 2, 3, our and Pharisees you observe, s for they say ondemned; but de their time, in Moses' seat, regh not orthoen the preachers
his disciples: Now they could uess they had re
the character of Sat it may be asked
ty continuing, Trst, in connection swer to this question
ds. By Him who ad. Yet saith He, - have not defiled rain white, for they nection with a corhow could any have
had not defiled their at they are not warn
think it proves too Sut does not the Scrip
lial?" Yes; and main in the synaThe inconsistency must acquiesce in it, . But there are two repancy. 1. This is a n of grace, an economy i to exist and enjoy many ortunity of receiving the ing to their allegiance and he co-workers with Him, not v, but also with reference to therefore, so far as is lawful, -men, and not to repel them. ity is power, and consequently najority, which a minority cannot
xpressly commanded to "come out nd, wherever it is uttered in the intimating that there will be a parshall "come out." In the Old Testae understood literally; and the time ied the Jews forth from Babylon. But e same Prophet who predicts this event, Countrymen to pray for the peace of that they shall leave only at the end of seventy ne language is used in the Apocalypse, it ovidential call, such as summoned Luther the English non-conformists from under a
Such a call is clear enough when a man connection without perpetrating some wrong, or diging some error to be truth, or some wickedHe who commends the minority in the dead is will, at the proper time, call his people out of eds not to be said that though a church may be e errors or even gross corruptions, we are not warIt reason lightly to write its epitaph as "dead," or to as Babylon.'
seen that there are some things which are not to be I as the fellowship forbidden, let us inquire in what it
lainly includes the direct commission of sin.
It occurs in the support of others in the commission of 2. when we employ them or supply them with the means for iniquitous purpose, and that whether we desire its commisfor its own sake, or for the sake of something else in which
been faithfully tried, and have not met with the desired result. Where even the church at large may be persuaded that an individual member has not the spirit of Christ, but yet his general conduct may be such, that no overt act can be proved against him. To exclude a member in such a case would be to hazard the good name of all, for every one is liable to misconstruction. Besides, our Saviour insists on every word being established; and for this end it is necessary not only that the witnesses be credible, but that the charge be based on facts capable of proof. An adherence to this rule may often seem vexatious in the case of an individual concerning whose character a series of peculiar ambiguous actions may present an accumulative evidence which will leave but little room for a rational hope in his favor, while he manages after all to keep on the right side of church as well as state law; but it will be best to leave the matter to the decision of the all-seeing Judge, who trieth the reins and the heart.
Where the friends of the right, in a given case, are in a minority, and therefore powerless as to direct action, they are not guilty in retaining their ecclesiastical connection with wrong doers, so long as they maintain their testimony. In Matt. 23 2, 3, our Saviour thus advises his disciples: "The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say and do not." The character of these teachers is condemned; but as his disciples could not displace them, let them bide their time, attend on their synagogue ministry, for they sit in Moses' seat, i. e., teach his doctrines, and so are orthodox, though not orthoprax; and let the hearers practice the duties which the preachers neglect. In John's gospel, 16: 2, Jesus forewarns his disciples: They shall put you out of the synagogues." Now they could not have been expelled from the synagogues unless they had remained in them. It is needless to expatiate on the character of the Jews who constituted these synagogues. But it may be asked whether there is any instance of a righteous minority continuing, without reproach, and with the sanction of Christ, in connection with a corrupt Christian church? For an answer to this question we may refer to the case of the church at Sardis. By Him who hath the seven stars it is denounced as "dead." Yet saith He, "thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy." If all those who remain in connection with a corrupt church are necessarily contaminated, how could any have remained in the dead church of Sardis "who had not defiled their garments?" It is worthy of remark too, that they are not warned to come out of the corrupt connection.
This case is so extreme, that some may think it proves too much. Yet there it is, Scripture and fact. But does not the Scrip
ture ask, "What concord hath Christ with Belial?" Yes; and the same Scripture advises the disciples to remain in the synagogues, and approves the minority of Sardis. The inconsistency then is only apparent, and not real; and we must acquiesce in it, though we should be unable to explain it. But there are two principles which reconcile the seeming discrepancy. 1. This is a state of remedial probation, a dispensation of grace, an economy of mercy, in which sinners are permitted to exist and enjoy many blessings that they may have an opportunity of receiving the overtures of Divine grace, and of returning to their allegiance and God requires that His children shall be co-workers with Him, not only in regard to the object in view, but also with reference to the mode of action. It is our duty, therefore, so far as is lawful, to preserve access to our fellow-men, and not to repel them. Again, the measure of responsibility is power, and consequently a duty may be incumbent on a majority, which a minority cannot and therefore need not perform.
But are not God's people expressly commanded to "come out of Babylon?" This command, wherever it is uttered in the Bible, is given prophetically, intimating that there will be a particular juncture when Israel shall "come out." In the Old Testament prophecies it is to be understood literally; and the time came when Providence called the Jews forth from Babylon. But be it remembered that the same Prophet who predicts this event, also exhorts his captive countrymen to pray for the peace of that very city, and tells them they shall leave only at the end of seventy years. Where the same language is used in the Apocalypse, it plainly refers to a Providential call, such as summoned Luther from the Papacy, or the English non-conformists from under a tyrannical prelacy. Such a call is clear enough when a man cannot retain his connection without perpetrating some wrong, or formally acknowledging some error to be truth, or some wickedness to be right. He who commends the minority in the dead church of Sardis will, at the proper time, call his people out of Babylon. It needs not to be said that though a church may be marred by some errors or even gross corruptions, we are not warranted for that reason lightly to write its epitaph as "dead," or to denounce it as "Babylon."
Having seen that there are some things which are not to be understood as the fellowship forbidden, let us inquire in what it does consist.
1. It plainly includes the direct commission of sin.
2. It occurs in the support of others in the commission of wrong, when we employ them or supply them with the means for some iniquitous purpose, and that whether we desire its commission for its own sake, or for the sake of something else in which