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tament describes ; viz. the spiritual body of Christ, or true believers, or particular bodies of such, we use it in a proper and scriptural sense. We find no authority in the word of God for using the term church, or visible church, in reference to any particular denomination of saints to the exclusion of others. To be a visible christian, and to be a member of Christ's visible church, are, according to the New Testament, synonymous terms.
The privileges to be enjoyed by this spiritual community, are communion, so far as they have opportunity, in the faith of Christ, the love of God, the hope of eternal life, and in all the coinmandments and ordinances of the Lord's house.
For believers in Jesus to unite in these privileges, it is necessary that an agreement of mind should exist, in regard to the particular things in which they unite, for " how can two walk together except they are agreed po' But it is not necessary that they should be of one mind in all the commandments of their Redeemer before they can unite in any. If two persons are going a journey, and are not agreed respecting part of the road, they may nevertheless travel together as often as they meet, and so far as they are agreed respecting the way. Although perfect union in the truth and ordinances of Christ is desirable, and we ought never to be satisfied until it is attained ; yet, so far as we have attained, we are to walk by the same rule, and mind the same thing. Phill. ii. 16. It is evident that christians in the primitive churches, who disagreed in some things, united in those things in which they were of one mind.
If the word of God declared that he who errs in any particular · ordinance, is not a member of Christ's visible church, this would be decisive. And, indeed, if the Scriptures do not declare this, but declare that he who errs in any particular ordinance, cannot unite in another particular ordinance; e. g. if it is declared that no unbaptised person shall be fellowshipped at the Lord's supper, or in the public prayers and praises of the church, we must act accordingly: but we have no authority for making exceptions to the general rule of receiving all whom Chithath received, to the general privileges of his house, if the word of God has not made any.
Some of our christian brethren, we conceive, have acted partially on the principle that we ought to refuse believers church fellowship, if they hold an error which the primitive church did not, or if they do not observe a command which that church practised. But is such a principle to be found in the “only rule of faith and practice " It is indeed our duty and privilege to be “ followers of the churches” which were in Judea ; and to be “followers of God;" and to be a perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect." But so far from finding the above principle in the divine word, we find one laid down for our rule of action, which is directly opposed to it.The church at Rome was expressly required, and urged by the inost affecting consideration, to receive the weak or erring brethren. Rom. xv. 1-7 : and to receive them, not because their errors were small compared with the errors not fundamental ; but because God and Chris. had received them. Rom. xiv. 3 ; xv. 1-7.
Let any church act impartially on the above principle, and follow
* out in all its legitimate consequences, and they will soon be conwinced that it is erroneous ; for they would not have one spiritual stone left upon another. The principle requires, not only that I refuse church fellowship to my christian brother, who in my view errs on the subject of baptism or in any other particular thing ; but that I refuse church fellowship to my brother who agrees with me in baptism, &c. if he in my view holds any sentiment, or practices any thing which the primitive church did not ; or if he does not believe any sentiment, or neglects to practice any thing which that chureh did. The principle also requires that I refuse him fellowship in one ordinance of public worship as much as in another. If it is correct to say, I cannot unite with my unbaptised, or otherwise erroneous brother, at the Lord's table, because the primitive church never united in this ordinance with such ; it is equally correct to say, I cannot unite with him in public prayer and praise, because the primitive church never united in these ordinances with such. Let us solemnly consider, dear brethren, whether we have not adopted this principle, only so far as it supports our established systems, and then abandoned it.
Some christians are deterred from uniting with their brethren at the Lord's table, by the supposition, that if they should do so, they should be giving fellowship to their errors. But it should be remembered, that our union at the supper of the Lord, is not an expression of perfect fellowship, but a profession of our union in the great and precious truth which that ordinance exhibits ; viz. the death of the Son of God as the foundation of our hope for eternal life. A truth which all real christians believe. Our union at the Lord's table no more necessarily implies that we fellowship each others views of baptism, the external order of the church, &c. than our union in prayer and praise. Those christians who are agreed on the subject of baptism, or on the external order of the church generally, are disagreed in some particulars, but they do not suppose that they fellowship each other's errors when they unite in the breaking of bread in commemoration of their Saviour's love. Indeed, if this supposition is just, we must unite no more in this holy and delightful ordinance until we are perfect.
As the word of God so plainly exhibits the precious truth, that all true believers compose the church of Christ on earth, is it not arbitrary, and assuming the prerogative of Jesus, who is sole legislator in his kingdom, for us to make a distinction which we cannot find in the Scriptures, between those things, in which real christians differ, and determine which of these are, and which are not essential to membership in the visible church of Christ? Is it not severing the “ONE BODY" of the Son of God, and rejecting those “poor in spirit,” and “persecuted for righteousness sake," who are expressly declared to be of his kingdom?
To the question before us then, we respectfully submit to the candid consideration of our dear brethren in Christ the following answer:
Christians of different denominations ought to extend the hand of fellowship, so far as they have opportunity, by exprezsing their unity of faith and hope and love in all the ordinances of divine worship in which they are agreed : in the practice of all the reciprocal duties of brotherly love which the word of the Lord enjoins : and in constant exertions to advance the holy kingdom of their God and Saviour, so far as they agree in the means which are to be used for the promotion of this important object.
O, may the blessed Spirit of truth prepare us for that state where we shall be “made perfect in one.” "Till then, dearly beloved in the Lord, let us forbear one another, and love and receive one another, as Christ also hath received us to the glory of God." Amen.
FOR THE PILGRIM.
CHIARACTERISTICS OF A MISER.
IT was a summer evening, and I was walking slowly down the valley of — , reflecting on the glorious scenes with which I was surrounded. At length I came to a niche in the rocks, where I sat down: moonlight threw a soft and mellow lustre over the face of nature: not a breath disturbed the deep tranquillity: the mountain lifted its hoary head towards heaven; the valley covered with orchards looked like the lap of nature; while far as the eye could reach to the south, the ocean, spreading its silvery surface to the moon, glittered “like a molten looking-glass.” A solemn silence reigned over the mountain, the valley, and the water, and each impressively declared, “Thou art God--there is none beside thee.” In this high:ly favoured land of religion and science we can view the wonderful works of creation, and look from nature up to nature's God. But on how many millions of the race of Adam do these bright luminaries shine, only to witness their abominable idolatry! But blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he is raising up and sending forth men, to preach his truth to these poor heathen: 'We have reason to hope that the time is not far distant, when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea. What a field is open for the successful labours of christians! and yet, how cold and languid a great many are! Swallowed up in this world, they seem to forget there is a world to come; and they labour, and lay up treasure on earth as if it would never fade. O that I had one of those stupid worldly minled men here with me, who, calling Christ master, serve Mammon! The thought had scarce passed my heart, when I saw my old neighbor X. approaching me.' This, thought I, is the very man whom I wish to see. He has been a professor for forty years or more, and has property to the amount of twenty thousand dollars, and never yave ten dollars for
any charitable purpose in his life. He no sooner recognized me than he began to address me as follows :
X. I wonder what you are doing here! Idling away your time: The diligent band maketh rich, as Solomon says. Åh, that Solomon knew something! For my part I don't know what this wicked world is coming to: one half of the people can't pay their just debts, and yet they are sending their children to be educated, and spending their time in running around to try to get people to give away their money, to pay lazy fellows for going into the western states, to christianize the Indians, as they say, but to get clear of work, I say. They don't get any thing of me, however : I can hardly procure a living for myself
, and he that don't provide for his own house is worse than an infidel, the bible says. I've read the bible. Pray, how do you expect to get a living ? Your old grandfather didn't spend his time gazing at the stars, nor I don't mine. I am up every morning by day light, and work as long as I can see; and then do errands, and such things, in the evening. I scarcely ever go to bed till nearly midnight. I have been out now settling some accounts with my neighbors.
P. But don't you attend any of the evening meetings.
X. I don't approve of these night meetings. Young folks and old ones too had better be at home. The sabbath is enough to go to meeting. 'Tis the day God made; and I always go to meeting, read, and pray on the sabbath; and I believe that is sufficient. If God had wanted more time he would have told us of it: we are commanded to labour six days, and I am astonished to see people violate the commandments as they do. Why, just let a man attend all the meetings that are appointed now-a-days, and he'll do nothing else. 'Twould be impossible for a man to make money, if he should do it. A number of young men who have just set up business in the world are gadding about
every night, and going sometimes twenty miles to instruct other folks, if they knew more than any body else, and as if there were not ministers enough to preach now; and while they are absent, good bargains are slipping through their fingers : they had better inind their own business ; a rolling stone gathers no moss, as Solomon says; they'll run through soon and come upon the town, as likely as not. I got a hint last night about one of these night meeting folks that owed me some money, and I went straight to him and told him he must pay me,-he complained that he had been sick, and that his wife was sick, and money was scarce; but I told him I must be paid, or have security ; so, after a good deal of difficulty, I got a mortgage of his homestead, and five per cent. added to the sum total, as a compensation for waiting so long. I tell you, if a man don't look out for himself now-a-days, he'll lose all his property. I heard half an hour ago of a man that owes me between three and four dollars that is likely to fail; he lives about seven miles from me, and I am now going to see if I can't get my pay.
P. Would you go as far to see the man if he was sick, to administer consolation to his soul, or warn him of his danger, or assist him to money if he was poor ?
X. No; for it would be the duty of the minister to do the one, and the selectmen to do the other. I have no idea of men's going out of their latitude and trying to act, or do more than their duty requires. Let each man in the world take care of one, and all will be provided for. Charity begins at home, Solomon says, and the Apostles words agree with him perfectly, “ each one for himself, and God
for us all.” I wish to know if you would have me, old and decrepid as I am, go running round the parish after every vagabond that comes along, to see if he wont take a little of my money, or see if he wont condescend to make my house his home a few months or so, while I have to delve and starve myself almost to death to get a living.
P. What would the world come to, if all men were of your opinion ? would the heathen ever hear the word of God? would the glad tidings of great joy spread far and wide ? would the poor have the gospel preached to them ?
X. I paid my priest tax as regularly as any body while I belonged to the society, but our minister grew so extravagant that I could not in conscience help to support him in it, and so signed off. As for sending the gospel to the heathen, let the ministers without purse or scrip, trusting in the Lord, as they did in old times. Besides, how do I know but the man is a rogue, and will run away with my money, and then 'twill be entirely lost; whereas, if I keep it myself, I can do good with it any time.
P. Are you prepared to meet God with such an excuse ? Have you satisfied all the demands which His word and your own conscience have made, or can make on you? You cannot go to meeting, but you can go seven miles in the evening to save a little money. How will this look in a dying hour? You profess to be a christian, and the world look on and see your life, and they make inferences very much to the disadvantage of religion. The cause of Jesus is wounded in the house of its pretended friends. Did you ever reflect what it was to be a christian? Moses says, it is not a vain thing to serve the Lord, it is for your life. Did you ever exhort a sinner to repent? Does your life witness before the world, that there is a better good than this world affords ? Are you not rather a blot? Is not your conversation vain, filled with jesting and folly, such as becometh not the gospel ? Have you not behaved like a tyrant in a number of instances, and oppressed the poor because they owed you ?-Ah! friend X, if God was to make inquisition for blood, I am afraid that you might view the affair in a different light. Does your closet bear witness to the tears you shed over your own coldness and stupidity ; over the forlorn situation of poor sinners ; over the situation of Zion generally? In fine, what evidence have the world, or yourself, that you are a christian ?
X. Pray what right have you to catechise me? I've been a professor thirty or forty years, and at no one time has it been so that I could not lend money, (on good security ;) and I don't owe a man in the world. But for you to tell me—why I knew your grandfather, an honest man he was too ; I wish his grandchildren were more like him. The old man would groan to see his property given away to heathens, and to this society and that, and to pamper no body knows who.
P. I cannot contain my feelings on this occasion; when I look on the one hand and see thousands who have more of this world than heart can wish ; when I see them hoarding up treasure on earth like dust, and wallowing in luxury; and when, on the other hand,