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up the authority of the church above that of the Bible? and consequently subvert the fundamental principle of Protestantism, and forbid all future progress by the church? If Luther had acted as we are now advised, the Reformation of Europe must have been indefinitely postponed.
But after all, what is the general usage of Christendom on “the admission of members, the celebration of the communion, and the business of church-meetings?" Is Christendom presently so united on these points that any one can tell what is her general usage, or is warranted to hold up the Scotch Independents to public censure as the only, or most violent violaters of general usage? If Mr Baxter can find out what is the general usage of Christendom on the points specified by himself
, it is more than I can do; and further I despair of there ever being any general usage on them till Christendom goes back to the New Testament as a whole, and not merely to the hillsides of Galilee, in order to learn there what her usages should be.
Besides our guilt, however, in respect of the practices above referred to, it seems also that as a denomination we are more quarrelsome than our neighbours. “Presbyteries tend to some extent (how very cautious and kind when referring to another denomination, perhaps on the principle that ' Distance lends enchantment to the view ') to prevent that unseemly wrangling and squabbling which,—and (says he to his Dundee friends) you do not require to go far for examples—have reflected discredit on our Scotch Congregationalism." Now, surely Mr Baxter does not read the reports of Presbytery meetings, for in my judgment, the history of Congregationalism, even in the neighbourhood of Dundee, does not afford, to say the least, greater specimens of “unseemly wrangling and squabbling" than have frequently been manifested in presbyteries, both in that and other districts in Scotland.
The only good thing Mr Baxter notes about us is, “We Congregationalists have no written creed." So in one respect at least we are right in not giving place to the general usage of Christendom-though by the way it is not altogether true that we have no written creed, albeit we demand no signature of one. But as almost suspecting it is otherwise he adds, “Let there be no unwritten one in our minds foreign to those lovely precepts which were given to man on the hillsides of Galilee,” which hillsides, be it observed, however, are surely not, after all, the only locality to which we require to go in order to acquire in our minds the full creed of Christianity. The Preacher on the hillsides of Galilee led His disciples thence to Calvary, and there, as also at His empty sepulchre, taught them some not less important truths, and also through themendowed with the Spirit to lead them into all truth-afterwards taught His church a little, bearing more directly on the admission of members, the celebration of the communion, and the business of church-meetings.”
The conclusion, on the whole, to which Mr Baxter's thoughts on
“The relation of Congregationalism to the existing ecclesiastical condition of Scotland” points, as far as I can divine from his speech is, that Congregationalism in this part of her majesty's dominions is a mistake; and the most wise and graceful thing we can do is to quit the country. “ My desire is, says he, that we as a denomination should fully recognise the fact that Scotland is Presbyterian.” Have our eyes, then, at best been only half open to that fact hitherto ? Our fathers, when Scotland was, at least, fully as presbyterian as now, in the face of that fact originated Congregational Churches in the land. Why? By, according to Mr Baxter, "assuming, perhaps rightly, that the Independent churches were more like the earlier models than others.” So far well, he again, however, says, “The longer I live and meditate upon these things, the less consequence do I attach to differences with regard to church government."
What value then does he attach to “the earlier models” of inspired Apostles? Having already thrown the veil of a perhaps over them, he now seems to say that the models may be disregarded as models, and waves them out of court altogether as evidence; for only then can
“ The New Testament says very little about it,” i.e. the form or government of the church. We fear this trite saying is often a foregone conclusion by which the labour of full investigation is precluded. A diligent investigator will find more in the New Testament on the subject than some suppose. The real question, however, ought not to be how much does the New Testament say upon it, but does it say anything. Granting it says only a little, it is surely something to be most in accordance with that little. Instead of the practice of Scotland or even the usage of Christendom undervaluing or setting aside that little, it, little as it
may be, ought rather not only to modify but mould the usage of both. The teaching, however, by which, as it appears to me, we are favoured in Mr Baxter's speech is
The practice of Modern Christendom. Given, Ecclesiastically. The practice of Scotch Presbyterianism.
The “ Earlier Models” of the Apostles, which are we to follow ? Why, the second by all means while you are in Scotland!
We make only one further quotation : “Notwithstanding the name, the practice of the Presbyterian bodies in Scotland not connected with the state, is in many essential particulars—such as the choice and election of a minister, and the management of finance—to say the least of it, very like Congregationalism." Would it not therefore, have been more correct for Mr Baxter to have said, I would have you fully recognise the fact that Scotland is presbyterian only in name; in practice she has already come more than half-way over to you? Unconsciously she has admitted that Congregationalism is, after all, not such a bad thing in the land. Perhaps he would even allow that its existence in Scotland has helped to make Presbyterianism what it now is; and we humbly think it has farther liberalising work yet to do in the country. It has not only helped to liberalise the government of the presbyterian churches, it has also in no small measure aided in liberalising their theology; and if it only keeps to its first principles and the doing faithfully of its first works, it has, we believe, an even greater and much-needed reformatory work before it, that of purifying and elevating the character of church-membership. This is delicate ground; it is time, however, that some one, fearless of the charge of inquisitorialness, etc., should speak out on that subject, and this, should no abler pen do so, we may return to on another occasion.
TO CHURCHES WITHOUT PASTORS.
DEAR BRETHREN, —You are placed in trying circumstances, and be assured that you have the sympathy of all who truly value the pastoral office; and who believe in its intimate relation to the spread of the gospel. The strength and genuineness of your attachment to the Lord Jesus, as well as the measure in which you have been benefited by your church fellowship, are being tested in a peculiar manner, while the world is looking on, carefully noting the spirit you manifest and the course you pursue.
At such a time, it is not unusual for persons of superficial piety, who care more for a previous pastor than for our distinctive church principles, or for the cause of God in general, to withdraw; while others, who shrink from this step, drift into loose and irregular habits, and on Sabbath frequently stray to other folds. This naturally occasions remark and discourages those who abide faithful. Then, should the pulpit continue vacant for a length of time, talking and opinionative brethren sometimes come to the front and make themselves injuriously felt in committee or church meetings. Probably discussions arise and parties are formed, especially when candidates are brought forward ; the general work of the church suffers, if some branches of it indeed are not brought to a stand still. Should an invitation be given to the man of your choice, it may be that he declines it, and a period of uncertainty and doubt ensues. Pulpit supplies may vary in their quality and acceptability, and, though good in the main, they fail to excite the interest or bear the fruit which the utterances of the well known and beloved pastor usually secure.
Such, brethren, is the state of things which you may have to face, or which, to some extent, you may be now passing through. Suffer, therefore, the word of exhortation.
First of all, have faith in God. He who walks amidst the golden candlesticks has, for wise and gracious ends, removed one of His under shepherds. And He has done this partly for His servant's higher good
and partly for your own. Your disappointment and anxiety, together with all that has grown or may yet grow out of the special circumstances in which you are placed, are before Him. He thinks upon you, and ardently desires your progress and welfare. He seeks to fit you for greater usefulness and prosperity. Submit then to His will. Wait upon Him and confide in Him. Commit the direction and control of that which so deeply concerns your highest interests into His hands, in the full assurance that He will interpose, and He will.
Secondly, abound in prayer. Nothing will more certainly preserve you from the various evils incident to your position, promote harmony, and bring from above the wisdom that is profitable to direct. Sooner or later, and sooner rather than later, the believing supplications of a church in a matter so vital to the ends of its existence, will be answered by the settlement among you of a pastor who will meet your views, and whom the Lord will bless.
Thirdly, be diligent in work. Now that the leader and counsellor has gone, the temptation with many is either to neglect work altogether, or to perform it less zealously. Resist the temptation ! Your own spiritual needs remain ; the world's wants are pressing ; the Lord is looking
Be faithful—“As to the Lord, and not to men !” The deacons or committee of supply have a grave responsibility. Till a pastor is appointed, they should obtain the best available preaching, and not accept the services of those about whom they know little if anything. In most cases, timely application to the Hall, or to some minister of standing and experience, would prevent the mischief which sometimes arises from this cause.
You should set your face against the candidate system. Not every one who aspires to be the pastor of this or that church, or who succeeds in getting an introduction to one or two of its. leaders, is fitted for the position, or ought to be admitted into its pulpit. The greatest discrimination and care therefore are necessary. Much evil has resulted from hearing what is called a leet of candidates. For one thing, a man can hardly divest himself of the notion that he is competing with others, and that according to the way in which he acquits himself will he win or lose ; and being thus under the influence, more or less, of an unwholesome excitement, he commonly preaches either under or above his average, so that the people have not the means of fairly judging of his qualifications. Then, preachers are often kept in painful suspense as to the result of their candidature, with the impression that their character, talents, and history are freely criticised by those who are comparative strangers; and in many cases, hopes are excited only to be disappointed. The churches too over which they preside—should they happen to be pastors -often come to know that they have been looking after another sphere of labour ; whispering begins, and the relation between pastor and people is disturbed if not relaxed. On the other hand, two or more preachers succeed, it may be, in making such an impression on corresponding sections of a church that strife and debate are engendered, which seriously complicate the settlement of a suitable pastor, and, in some instances, endanger the very existence of the church.
In view of all the dangers to which you are exposed, I earnestly advise the mode of making private inquiry at those ministers or laymen in your neighbourhood, who are best known for their wisdom ảnd sympathy, and who are likely to know the men who would suit you, or at least to give you substantial help in finding them out. Supposing that in this way you hear of one or more, invite one to preach, and, if possible, decide finally on his claims before you hear another, or at any rate before you hear number three. Action like this has occurred both in the north and south, and the results have been in every respect satisfactory. Be not caught with glitter; seek for pure gold. Merge private opinion and personal feeling in considerations of the general good. Keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Be patient, but do not procrastinate. Have confidence in your office-bearers, specially in those whom you have entrusted with this business; they will not be above receiving kindly hints, but you will do wisely to fall in with their plans and not obstruct or complain. And may the great Head of the Church very soon send you men after His own heart, who will feed you with knowledge, and be the means of rendering you increasingly useful in extending His kingdom !
THE MONUMENTAL LANGUAGE AND
LITERATURE OF ASSYRIA.
BY REV. A. F. SIMPSON, A.M., DALKEITH. Among those who have achieved for themselves a lasting name in this field of discovery, Sir H. Rawlinson holds a distinguished place. When an officer in the Indian army, he was attached to the English legation in Persia, and he took the opportunity of studying the ancient inscriptions of the country which he prosecuted with rare perseverance and zeal. His chief work was the decipherment and translation of the famous Behistun inscription. There are several inscriptions on this remarkable rock; but the principal one is that which was executed at the command of Darius. It narrates the genealogy of Darius and other personal matters, enumerating the provinces of his empire, and notable events of the first part of his reign. Its value in relation to the subject before us, consists in the circumstance, that it is written in what were the three principal languages of the empire in the time of Darius, Persian, Median, and Assyrian, all in the cuneiform character, each easily distinguished from the rest, but only differing, to such an extent,