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of God by keeping His commandments, met for purposes of mutual edification.
We find that our Saviour cautioned His disciples not to cast their "pearls before swine, lest,” said He, “they trample them under their feet;” (Matt. vii. 6 ;) and it appears the Holy Spirit impressed the same caution on the mind of His servant David, long before the Saviour's coming in the flesh. The easy admission of unawakened and worldly-minded persons to church-fellowship, is a souldestroying evil. It thwarts the Redeemer's purpose that His people should be " a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people ;” showing forth the praises of Him who "called them out of darkness into His inarvellous light.” It leads to unequal marriages and unholy partnerships ; soothes the formalist in his formality ; provides the hypocrite with a cloak to cover his hypocrisy; grieves the truly pious, and prevents God from crowning His ordiDances with His presence and blessing, as He would otherwise do. A ehurch without discipline is like a vineyard without a hedge : "all they which pass by do pluck her ; the boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.” Church privileges which may be enjoyed by those who have no claim to church-membership, will not long be prized by members themselves. Christian fellowship is based upon mutual esteem ; and since a conviction of each other's sincerity is essential to a free expression of individual experience, the admission of unspiritual persons to the social gatherings of believers is to be deprecated, as tending to destroy confidence. By such parties, that simplicity which lends a charm to the relation of Christian experience, will be regarded with ridicule ; and in proportion as the experience related is deep, it will be deemed unintelligible,-perhaps be attributed to pride, enthusiasm, or hypocrisy. In Wesley's estimation, discipline was a means of grace; wherever it was enforced, he looked for a revival of the work of God, and where it was laxly administered, he anticipated decline.
No community is wholly pure; but every Scriptural means ought to be employed to prevent the temple of God from being made “a house of merchandise," or "a den of thieves.” The ministers who sanction, or silently connive at, indiscriminate communion, betray their trust, and are sure to meet with rebuke in the day of their Lord's coming. Whether we consider the discipline practised in the primitive church, the spiritual character of the meetings in question the design of Christianity in the earth, or the blindness and enmity of the carnal mind, we are convinced that as a rule, none but converted persons, or such as evidence their desire of salvation, by * ceasing to do evil," and "learning to do well," ought to be admitted to assemblies for the relation of Christian experience. Such persons alone can relish, or understand, or rightly improve statements
relating to the Christian warfare, and the work of the Spirit on the hearts of believers. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God : for they are foolishness unto him : neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. ii. 14.) Whilst, therefore, we ought to seize every opportunity of warning sinners, and such as are at ease in Zion, and should do our utmost to bring them under the word, and induce them to yield themselves to God, let us, on no account, introduce them to Lovefeasts and Society-classes, until they feel sin a burden, and inquire what they must do to be saved ?
“Men of worldly, low design,
Till they sink in their own eyes,
Lay their honours at Thy feet.
Fix a mighty gulf between :
Prized and loved by God alone.”
“FEAR GOD: HONOUR THE KING :
A WORD ON LOYALTY. The readers of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine do not require an array of texts to teach them that it is their duty to “fear God and honour the king;” and that it is also the duty of Christian minister3 to put their flocks in mind" to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.” We are, however, surrounded by multitudes who have not so clear a perception of religious duty; and occasions frequently occur for us to put them, also, in mind.
When kings and princes were all heathens, and when magistrates all over the Roman empire were required to do their utmost for the extirpation of Christianity, there could be no stricter test of sincerity than that of requiring the followers of Christ to love, honour, and obey their most cruel enemies. Yet such was the requirement. One example suffices for illustration. It is not certainly known when St. Paul wrote his first Epistle to Timothy. The year 65 is in the margin of our English Bible, and it may have been written in that year, or so late as 68; but, perhaps, we may rightly assign to it the date of 67. At this very time the first great persecution of the Christians was raging fiercely, led on and enforced with all the power of Nero. It was in the summer of the year 64 that he set Rome on fire, then falsely accused the Christians of having done it, and had many of them torn to pieces by wild beasts, or burnt alive, or otherwise horribly put to death. In 66 he made war upon the Jews in Syria, and attacked Jerusalem; and in the year 70 Titus razed the city to the ground. It Fas at some time within this calamitous period that the Apostle wrote to Timothy, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. ii. 1-4.)
Certainly Christians were not then leading “a quiet and peaceable life." In every corner of the empire they were hunted down, and killed, as public enemies who ought not to be suffered to live. No man in our day is capable of conceiving the accumulations of horrors which overwhelmed the infant Christendom. A lawless despotism wantonly inflicted cruelty and injustice in their wildest and most exaggerated forms; and the nearer its victims were to the centres of administrative power, the more hopeless was their condition. Peace could only be realized when the confessor could escape society, and be alone with God. Life hung in doubt every moment. Nothing could be accounted safe. The Christian's goods were to be spoiled; his reputation was already gone; he was pursued with inexorable vengeance. All men in authority were waging a battle without pity on those who bore the name of Christ; resolved, as they thought, that they would extirpate all faith in our Saviour, and blot out His very name from the earth.
Could we now see another Nero revelling in the slaughter of our fellow-Christians, we should, no doubt, wish an end to a reign so hateful; but, when in full sight of the tyrant, and himself likely to be soon among his victims, the holy Apostle exhorted that Nero and his agents should be made the subjects of every Christian's
prayer. While brethren were yet reading his exhortation, his own head was severed by the sword.
So long as the fiery trial continued, the patience of the church endured. Oppressive and sanguinary rulers heard indeed the remonstrances of the sufferers, but they heard of no insults offered to their dignity; for the confessors honoured the "power” that was "of God,” even while the potentate acted as if he were prompted by the very spirit of that Evil One whose kingdom Christ came to overthrow; and the history of that age of martyrdoms abounds with evidence in proof of their loyalty no less than their patience. The venerable Polycarp, disciple of St. John, and Martyr, exhorted the Philippians to "pray for kings, and powers, and princes, even for those who persecuted and hated them; and for the enemies of the cross of Christ, that in all things it might be made evident that they were perfect in Him."* Justin, philosopher and Martyr, while he did not scruple to plead with the Emperor Antoninus that certain proceedings against the Christians were those of hangmen
• Polycarp., Epist. ad Philippenses, xii. Versio antiqua.
rather than of princes, * allowed himself no unreasonable liberty of speech and could say to Diognetus, " They (the Christians] are in the flesh, but they do not walk according to the flesh; they dwell on the earth, but are citizens of heaven; they render obedience to the laws that are enacted, and in their own lives they overcome the laws.”+ Irenæus argues at length to prove from Holy Scripture that good kings and bad are equally under the sovereign control of God, who is as much the Ruler of princes as He is the Creator of men; and that, surrendering our cause to the justice of the King of kings, we should obey these earthly rulers. I
The refusal of Christians to participate in pagan festivities, and to swear " by the fortune of Cæsar,” or to bid him long life in the name of Jupiter, exposed them to suspicion of disaffection to the Emperor; and again and again Tertullian defends his brethren from such a charge.
They speak evil of us,” he says, “ in respect to the majesty of the Emperor, but never have Christians been found among the followers of an Albinus, a Niger, or a Cassius,”—notorious conspirators, or enemies of the Cæsar ;-"but such have been the very persons who now turn out to be his enemies, who have all along sworn by the genius of the Emperor, who have offered victims for his safety, and who have often condemned the Christians. But the Christian is the enemy of none, much less of the Emperor, whom he knows to be appointed by his God, whom he is bound to love, and revere, and honour, and whose welfare he must ever promote, with that of all the Roman empire. We, there. fore, honour him so far as is lawsul for us, and good for him, regarding him as a man to be honoured next after God, and, whatever he may be, by God appointed, and having none but God superior to himself. This is what Cæsar should desire. For thus he is held to be greater than all men, while yet he is less than God: nay, he is greater than his own gods, for of them he disposes as he will. Therefore, we offer sacrifices for his health, offering them to Him who is both his God and ours; but we offer sacrifice in the way that God commands, which is prayer, and nothing more nor less. For God, Creator of the universe, needs not the smell of incense, nor the sight of blood that any man may shed.” And the most ancient ecclesiastical Constitutions that are extant, ordained subjection to be rendered to all kings and princes in things pleasing to God, as to His ministers, and punishers of the wicked. They enjoined the payment of all due respect, tax, tribute, honour, support, service, according to God's command./l
Here we must stop. The grandeur of submission to secular antho. rity irrespective of secular considerations, in pure obedience to the command of God, and under that influence of godliness which penetrated the hearts of men, and wbich guided their conduct in every relation of life, gradually wore away. It is a painfully suggestive truth that, after the obtrusive patronage of the church by Constantine, a different spirit possessed even the most eminent Christian teachers. We turn
• Just. Mart., Apologia, i., 12.
+ Id., ad Diognet., vi.
|| Const. Apost., lib, iv., cap. 13.
to the discourses of some of them on the Scripture quoted at the com. mencement of this article, and find, for example, that Athanasius, who sat in the Council of Nicæa, with Constantine on his throne, and the imperial guardsmen standing near, quotes it incidentally, but in relation to another topic, and on the main point is silent. Jerome also quotes in like manner, and is silent in like manner. Augustine enjoins prayer for kings and others in power, but so insists on the secondary motive, the desire of peace and quietness, as to slight, if he does not forget, the higher obligation. Chrysostom, a stern courtier, almost seems to make such prayer an act of policy, rather than an expression of holy obedience and love. So passed the fourth century of our history; and, after that, pure loyalty faded quite away in the higher places of the church, and the world was quickly scandalized by conflicts of the two powers, of the world and of the church, until men forgot that loyalty to law and authority, wherever the authority is vested, and by whomsoever the laws are administered, is a religious duty. The exam. ple and the precepts of our Lord and His inspired servants seem to have been overlooked, but they remain unchanged, and we who are happily free fron the bondage of Popery, which is essentially disloyal,-we who have rejected erery lower standard, and who take every uninspired teaching barely on its own merits,-are thrown back upon the imperishable standard of the Word of God.
If the magistrate, whether sovereign or subordinate, was the minister of God in the age of the Herods and of Nero, when the New Testament was written, he cannot now be less authorized or less responsible than then. If God was above the magistrate in the days of Nero, and if the Lord Jesus was “ King of kings, and Lord of lords,” when John the Divine was an exile for His name's sake, in the isle of Patmos, under the tyranny of Domitian, He is not less the “only Ruler of princes” at the present moment. If He has relinquished the Sove. reignty of nations, and left it either to kings, or presidents, or citizens to govern without Him, then mankind have no known sufficient code of civil duty, and must fight out their difficulties with kings and parliaments as best they may. The world, at this rate, may renounce all anciently recognised relations; legislators, magistrates, and people, if God has ceased to reign, may snatch such weapons as they can find, and openly or secretly,--for in the desperate warfare any weapon might then be accounted lawful - by force or craft may struggle in the general con. fusion for ascendency. If earth is made like Tartarus, then are poli. tical parties, like Ixions, left to toil with selfish projects, until, worn out with their sufferings, the world shall cry to Heaven again for help.
Heedless, therefore, of the clamour of political parties, and remembering that their legitimate antagonism is an acknowledged benefit in a free country like our own, and that no country can be free until political partisans have liberty of debate and action, yet within limits which, though not prescribed by statute, are safely marked by mutual discretion,-we maintain that force and craft are ever to be resisted by the power constitutionally appointed. While the dominion of law is tbus upheld by responsible authorities, Christian people should make it matter of conscience to be governed by the letter and spirit of God's