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ON THE WANT OF RELIGIOUS JOY IN PROFESSORS.
opposition of the unbelieving world— they who are born after the flesh, persecuted those who are born after the Spirit. Hence, without are fightings, within are fears. Sometimes they are pressed above measure out of strength, insomuch as to despaireven of life. But, says Paul, "God who comforteth them that are cast down, comforteth us in all our tribulation; that we may be able to comfort them who are in any trouble with the comfort wherewith we are comforted of God." They are called to sufferings and death itself for Christ's sake; they give up all their earthly hopes, leaving all they held dear in this world for the kingdom of God's sake. But as their sufferings abounded for Christ, their consolations abounded by Christ— so that they gloried in tribulation; knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost given unto us; and this was the comfort which Jesus had promised them. How did the consolations of religion abound and overflow in the hearts of Paul and Silas, when their feet were fast in the stocks at Philippi 1 They sang praises to God in the prison. Thus we say their faith, their love and obedience, together withi their afflictions, all contributed to ijxcrease their joy and consolation in the Lord.
Now with regard to the second part of the question, we may observe, that as the Christian doctrine began to spread, false teachers arose to draw away disciples after them; bringing in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them. And in process of time, the churches got corrupted from the simplicity there is in Christ—indeed, the mystery of iniquity began to work in the apostolic age, as we find both from the Epistle to the Galatians, and those to the Thessalonians; and much mischief was done by those Judaizing teachers, who wished to graft the ceremonies of Moses on the institutions of Jesus Christ, and then set up another Gospel; which indeed was not another, but a mere human system tending to subvert their souls. And in the time of the latter days of the apostle John, we find several churches had been corrupted by errors. And each succeeding age diminished the number of the faithful followers of the Lamb; iniquity aboundVOL. X.
ed, and the love of many waxed cold; and history informs us, that a long period of darkness, delusion, and sin, reigned through the greater part of the world. And the few witnesses for Christ, who kept the ordinances as they were delivered by Christ and his apostles, were obliged to hide themselves in unfrequented places to save their lives. All the rest had nothing but the name of Christianity, consequently were wholly destitute of the joy and consolation I have been considering. And though there has been a great reformation effected within the last five hundred years, from the time of Wicklifte and others, yet much error has been retained, both in doctrine, and discipline, and practice. The doctrines of grace have been corrupted to the purposes of licentiousness on the one hand, or have been denied in order to establish free-will and human merit pn the other. Justification has been represented as the effect of a mixture of grace and works, instead of being entirely and alone by the righteousness of Christ received by faith; even the righteousness of God, which is unto all, and upon all them that believe. The primitive order and discipline has in a great measure been laid aside, and human tradition set up in its room. The ordinances themselves have been changed or greatly corrupted; and conformity to the world has taken place of that self-denial, that was so exemplary in the first Christians; in a word, the form of godliness has superceded the power of it, and men are satisfied with a round of duties, while heart religion droops and languishes.
If these things are so, need we wonder at the want of that christian consolation, which is now so rare? As the first believers experienced this joy while they adhered to the rules which Christ had given them, so we have no ground to expect this consolation in a similar measure, except we are found abiding in the doctrine of Christ, and walking in his ways, after the pattern of the first Christians.
The causes then of'this declension of joy, may be traced to our departure from the simple Gospel order. Nor can we justly argue that the primitive believers had any superior advantages to us as the reason of their joy; for while we allow they had the apostolic ministry among them, and the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, we have the full
revelation of God, including the whole history of the first churches, and all the epistles, which contain all that is needful to be known in order to salvation and Gospel worship. We have many exceeding great and precious promises— we have too the promised and sealing Spirit, under whose influence, and in the belief of whose truth, we may even now rejoice in hope of the glory of God. How then is the evil complained of to be remedied? Doubtless by a return to first principles, and to primitive practice. See Rev. ii. 5. "Remember therefore from whence thou hast fallen, and repent and do the first works." Here we have an account of a church which departed from the rule of Christ, though not wholly, yet were they in a dead state, and hence they were required to do the first works as necessary to revival. And although in the present day there is a great profession of religion; and extraordinary efforts are made to spread the Gospel at home and abroad, yet it is to be feared there is very little disposition to return to the primitive doctrine or discipline. There is great profession of faith in Christ, while but little of the fruits of faith appear. There is a profession of love to him, and but little attention to his commands. Where are the men to be found who will be willing to follow Chris.t fully? How few there are who keep the ordinances as they were delivered! Nearly all seek thfeir own, not the things that are Jesus Christ's. How are the ordinances changed from those tests of obedience and self-denial, into mere will worship; so that neither faith, nor love, nor any other christian grace, are considered necessary in order to partake of them. No reproach attends those who observe them, and consequently there is no cross to be taken up. The offence of the cross is nearly ceased with all, except those few who yet retain the primitive rite of baptism; they indeed continue to be despised, even by those who call themselves Christians; not that they are without defects; but then they are the only people that bear about them the marks of primitive discipline.
Now, if we return to the purity of the first churches, or if we set them before us as the only pattern in faith and practice, and walk as they walked, we may expect to have a greater measure of consolation. Many complain of the want of spiritual enjoyments, who when
urged to duties of which they live in the neglect, reply," these are not necessary to salvation, or to Christianity: I want to feel more of the Spirit's influence, and to be baptized in his grace, and to feed on the fulness of Christ." Let such know, that while they live in a disregard of those things, which the grace they have already received, and the word of God requires of them, and which their consciences approve as right, they ought not to be surprised at their leanness, and want of spiritual delights. If members of churches can on slight occasions keep away from meeting their brethren for prayer and christian exhortation, they are in a fair way to lose all relish for these enjoyments they profess to desire. Let me then press it upon my fellow professors, to attend more punctually and conscientiously to the private and public duties of religion, to exhort one another daily, lest we be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. I am aware that the deep rooted predilection for old established human customs; the forcelof education and example, together with the natural reluctance there is in men to acknowledge their errors, or even to know them, are fearful obstacles to a full return to primitive Christianity. But notwithstanding this, we are encouraged to expect a time when tins happy change will be effected—wncn they shall be all taught of God, and see eye to eye. When Christ will thoroughly purge his floor; bum up the chaff, wood, hay and stubble, which has kept his disciples in a long mist and darkness, and tended to alienate them from each other. The Lord hasten it in his own time. I am, Sir,
Your obedient humble Servant,
MR. ARCHIBALD M'LEAN TO MR.
I have been away from home since the beginning of December last, visiting the brethren in different places, and particularly those at Dundee, who are now set in order with elders and deacons, and have a very promising appearance. Upon my return I received your two letters, the first of Feb. 3, the last by our brdther Thomas Smith. 1 am happy that the Treatise on the 139
LETTER FROM MR. M'LEAN.—SABBATH.
Commission is approved of by you, and am much obliged to you for the pains you are at in disposing of it; but it is too much to remit any money till you have received it. You have already sent £1. lis. 6d. of which I acknowledge the receipt. I have no view to make a single farthing of private gain by it, but only to clear the expense of paper and print. If this can be effected, it may induce me, if the Lord will, to venture another volume into the world, composed of a number of miscellaneous pieces, upon subjects which I look upon as of considerable importance, and which I have lying beside me in manuscript. But this will depend upon the reception which the public give to the present publication.
The account which our brother gives of your present situation gave us all pleasure, and exceeds what we expected. He thinks your people docile and willing fo be instructed in primitive Christianity, and was much satisfied in private conversations with several of them. I hope you have now the Lord's supper every first day of the week, as he informs us it was agreed upon before he left you. It requires courage, zeal, judgment, patience, and perseverance in a teacher to introduce and maintain the scriptural order and union among disciples; and nothing can support him under the various discouragements and oppositions he may meet with, but a firm conviction of the truth and importance of the cause he has espoused; such as makes him willing to stand or fall with it, and abide by all its consequences. From the accounts brought by our brother, I feel myself more nearly interested in you than ever; and am not without some thought (if the Lord will) of paying you a visit next summer, but cannot fix the precise time.
I have perused the Reply to Dan Taylor on Singing, and have not time to make remarks upon it at present; but find it to be a piece of vain jangling and impotent carping, at a very plain commanded duty and branch of divine worJhip. I know not what Mr. Taylor has advanced upon the duty of irregenerate persons to sing without grace in their hearts; perhaps he has spoken injudiciously upon the point. But when his antagonist bids him prove that the words sung, sang, or sing, are in the original of Mat. xxvi. 30. Acts xvi. 25. Heb. ii. l'i. James v. 13. it is ridiculous;
for no man will affirm that these words are Greek, but only the plain sense of the Greek words in English. But should we prove that the original bears that sense, this will not satisfy; he has another question to put, viz. "Does the word sing always mean to pronounce musically, by modulating the voice, and proportioning the sounds of the syllables to one another, in such a manner as may be harmonious and pleasant to the hearer?" Such a question, I think, deserves no reply, nor such disputers any answer.
I have also read Mr. Robinson's piece on free communion, but think it a very flimsy vague performance, serving to throw every thing loose, and establish a toleration as to errors of faith, and irregularities in practice, which he endeavours to found upon Rom. xiv. and has the confidence to assert, that the inspired apostle affirms, "that there is no moral turpitude in mental errors, and that the toleration of them is perfectly consistent with the safety of the church, the purity of the faith, and the order of divine worship."
But I am obliged to break off, praying that the Lord may preserve you and your people from the loose and sceptical principles, which are so much gaining ground at this day, and am, Dear Sir, Your's most affectionately,
A RCIIIBA LD M'LSA N.
Edinburgh, March 12,1787.
'Tis Sabhalh—season bless'd. of liushM repose!
To toil and want a cordial and a balm,
Baptism the Scriptural and Indispensable Qualification for communion at the Lord's table: or Considerations designed to expose the erroneous practice of departing from the original constitution of the Christian Church, by forming Open Communion Baptist Churches, especially in those neighbourhoods where evangelical Congregational Churches already exist. Including animadversions on the Preface of the Rev. Robert Hall's Reply to the Rev. Joseph Kinghorn's Work on " Baptism a 'Term of Communion." By Joseph Ivimey. Offor, Newgate-st. pp. 105.
The above ample title fairly informs the reader what he is to expect.' The Preface intimates, that the publication of this work arose from a circumstance in the immediate circle of the author's acquaintance. This indeed is frequently the occasion of a book being written. There is a secret history to every public transaction. But the point to which we would direct the reader's attention in our observations, is not the occasion of the pamphlet, but the subject which it discusses. It is clear that there is a manner of reasoning and of^acting adopted by many excellent men^that is fraught with pernicious consequences. We give them full credit for not designing to do evil; but this does not prevent the natural tendency, either of their principles or conduct. In some cases we fear they are symptomatic of a spirit of laxity, which will lead to carelessness in the most important things; not so much a mistake in reasoning, as a tendency to adopt a mode of thinking and acting indifferent and latitudinarian; moving gradually their encampment nearer and nearer the men of the world, till at length the boundary will be crossed, and the parties which once appeared distinct will be blended together in one society.
This change may not be completed in the lifetime of an individual; but there is an inheritance of sentiments and maxims as well as property, and those who enter into the plans of their predecessors do not always stop where they stopt; they often carry their principles to their full extent. Hence it
follows, that if the principles arc gourf, their tendency is displayed by new instances and various illustrations, lill they become established; but if the contrary, the proof soon, is rendered visible that they are not what they were supposed to be. Perhaps those ik first rendered them popular may begone off the stage; but still the tendency ol the principles themselves goes forwanl to its proper issue.
These observations in our opinion apply forcibly to the subject which Mr. Ivimey has taken up in the work before us. We give to many who plead for mixed communion full credit for their intentions. We doubt not they thini it right that persons who are unbapW should be admitted to communionind that they bound their admission bjtte consideration that the parties are p'w persons; and though the law of Christ is somewhat stretched, yet that he intended it should, at least in extreme cases, give way so far as to include tie characters described. But it is with astonishment that we see them sotlind to the tendency of their own mode ol reasoning. The unavoidable consequent is, that the church has no business^ baptism in any shape whatever! Itisn| vain to say, baptism ought to be requiw as a general rule, but we ought nott» insist upon it as essential to communion in every case; for then the question arises—have you got a dispensing Jot'^ In spite'of all Mr. Hall's violence" this subject, it comes to this enquiry; and the manner in which the patrons of mixed communion argue, shews itTheir reply is, in reality—Yes, tee hex' dispensing power, and it is contained» the 14th chapter of the Epistle to tM Romans. Here then, it lies on them to shew, that the apostle's advice to receive those to their affectionate attention,* were already members of the church both by their profession and their baptism, is the same thing with receiving tbosi into the church who have never been baptized at all! But if so, how can i be acknowledged that baptism is of permanent obligation? If it be binding» all, it is on account of its being require* as an expression of a visible profession 141
REVIEW OF IVIMEY ON COMMUNION.
of subjection to Christ; but if this is not needful, if tiie whole depends on the opinion of the party who asks for idmission without it, it is Rot binding: fur no law intended to be operative was ever enacted with this sanction, you ought to obey it, but if you do not think that necessary, you can be admitted to every advantage you desire without it! In such a state of things, if the body of religious professors should think baptism commanded, it would be attended to; but if not, the principle that it should be regarded as one of the positive commands of Christ would be given up, and then it might with complete consistency be insisted upon—that baptism should never be mentioned at the church meetings—thatnoenquiry should be made on the subject—that it should be left altogether with the party himself as a private concern — that the church has nothing to do with it—because baptism is not a term ofcommunion! Such is the natural, proper issue of the arguments of the day in favour of mixed communion; and we hold it up in this distinct point of view, that our readers may see it, and ask themselves the question, whether they wish to see our "lurches reduced to this situation. should any one reply, there is no fear °'such an issue; we answer, there is nothing in the principle of mixed communion to prevent it; and in case the parties of wtiich a mixt church is cornPosed are nearly balanced, nothing to fender it improbable, if any circumstance should arise, that should make the anti-baptist party desirous of throwing baptism into the shade: and what could 'be Baptists reply? They had acknowledged that baptism was not a term of communion, they therefore could not consistently bring it forward in any prominent manner; and if the minister was sufficiently a baptist to protest against this extent of the principle, he would be considered as actingan illiberal Part, and this scheme of liberality and charity would end in contention.
We are aware it will be said, that is 'he view taken by bigotted Baptists, but n°t applicable beyond a very narrow circle. This, however, is far more than ** think correct. For the principle of mi*ed communion does not concern baptists only; it concerns all who admit ">e permanency of baptism in any mode, and administered to any class of subjects, and strikes at the constitution of every
religious body in the world, the Society of Friends only excepted. If baptism in any way was intended to be a permanent injunction, nothing is clearer than that it is the duty of those who profess their faith in Christ to be baptized persons. But, say the patrons of mixed communion, whatever is their duty, it is not our duty to make their obedience to his command a term of communion. In plain terms, we are not bound to follow the plan the Saviour laid down, nor the examples by which it is illustrated, Let such a principle be admitted, and it will ultimately ruin any church that adopts it. It is by no means a contest concerning one rite, or one opinion; for by reasoning of the same kind all the extravagancies of Popery were introduced and defended.
Mr. Ivimey in the course of his pamphlet addresses those young ministers who are favourable to mixed communion, and urges them, very properly, to consider their situation and responsibility. They cannot have had the advantages of extensive observation, but there are many things they might anticipate, which others have found true. They might easily discern, that should they adopt the plan of mixed communion, it would neutralize their efforts; that if their design succeeded, and they were surrounded by paedobaptists, it would fetter them in stating their opinions, with freedom; it would lay them open to the constant temptation of holding back what they thought truth, and not of bringing it forward when they ought. Or if, determined not to be restrained, they should speak all their mind, they would be told they were as bad as strict Baptists.' Thus they would have to bear the blame cast on those they oppose, without enjoying their consistency. They must e.xpect that the subject will often occasion discussion, and frequently be followed by dissension; that it is not at all likely the plan should much increase their numbers, still less that it should promote their peace; that there is no reason to suppose their utility, or the bestowment of the blessing of the Lord, depends on their practically passing over one of his ordinances; and if they should be secretly excited by the hope of popularity and worldly advantage, we would entreat them to consider how they can justify themselves before God, if motives of this kind operate in their minds, and lead them