« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
tone of great earnestness and faithfulness, while they appear to us to be deficient, generally, in the communication of instruction ; but the former are so much bent on giving information, that they lose the fervid and earnest tone in which the sinner needs to be addressed. As a whole, the volume before us is highly creditable to the several writers whose productions it contains, as well as to the Churches with which they are connected ; and we can heartily recommend it to our readers for private or family reading. The writers are the Rev. Messrs, W. Cairns, Belfast; J. Carlile, Dublin ; J. Morgan, Belfast ; J. B. M'Crea, Dublin
; J. Paul, Carrickfergus; Dr. Hanna, Belfast ; W. H. Cooper, Dublin ; J. Rankin, Monaghan ; J. Rogers, Glascar; D. Stuart, Dublin ; A. Hardcastle,' Waterford ; Dr. Bryce, Belfast ; Dr. Urwick, Dublin.
Essays on God's Covenant and Church ;--the Nature and Design of
Circumcision, Baptism, $c. By John MUNRO, Knockando., G.
GALLIE, Glasgow. 1836. p.p. 219. The prominent design of this volume is to advocate the doctrine of Bap. tism, as understood and practised by the great majority of the Protestant Churches. And the manner in which the subject is treated, is properly suggested in the title. The author endeavours to present his readers, in the first place, with correct views of the Covenant which God has formed with bis Church; and here he is very sound and successful ; showing that the people of God have ever been under the same Covenant, however dif. ferently administered in the times of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the Apostles. The Church, he next shows, has ever been substantially the same, under all its external forms and changes; and these two great principles being settled, be has his readers prepared to enter into just views with him, of those signs or seals of the Covenant appended to it at different times, as circumcision at one time, and Baptism at another. On these grounds, the whole question in debate, as far as regards the administration of baptism to infants, he most properly reduces to a single question, Has the merciful Saviour shut out the infant seed of his people, from the place they formerly had in his Church on earth ?”and the amount of his argument is, in the end, reduced to the following strong and comprehensive summary :
“We have thus endeavoured to demonstrate, that since Jesus once constituted the infant seed of his people members of his visible family on earth, and appointed them the sign of initiation, the grand, and, in fact, the only question to be decided is,--Did he cast them out, when he came to confirm the promises made to the fathers ? Nothing short of his ex. plicit command can warrant their exclusion ;-but, instead of any such command, we have seen that, in all the Bible, there is not one text, example, or institute, which affords the smallest countenance to those who shut out the infants. Nor is this all :-we have found all the evidence that could have been reasonably desired or expected, that it is the will of Christ that the children should be as aforetime. The ancient prophets foretold that it should be so. When the Saviour appeared, he blessed the infants, and pronounced them members of his kingdom. . He instructed bis disciples to receive them as such, in his name, because they belonged to him, &c. The commission he gave to his Apostles includes the little ones, as it is a commission to preach the Gospel which was aforetime preached to Abraham, namely, ' In thy seed shall all FAMILIES of the earth be blessed.' Hence we have found that, in executing this com. mission, the Apostle announced the glad tidings to parents, whether Jews or Gentiles, that the PROMISE was unto them, and their children ; and that, agreeably to the ancient order in the Church of God, when the head of a family, whether male or female, believed, the head and the children were instantly baptized ; and, finally, we have found the children thus set apart for God, called holy, and enjoying a place in the Churches planted by the Apostles.”
Throughout the volume there is indication of much original thinking, and a strong understanding. We were disappointed to find so sensible a writer misapprehending and misstating the doctrine of religious estab. lishments, as well as putting an unfair interpretation on a passage from the Westminster Confession of Faith. It would not be difficult to shew that his own sound principles of reasoning, on former dispensations and the Old Testament Scriptures, are altogether at variance with the Volun. tary principle, as held by many in these times.
Advice to Young Women going to Service. Third Edition. G. GALLIE,
Glasgow. 1836. p.p. 38.
This is a short, comprehensive, plain, sound, and practical tract, exceedingly suitable for the class of persons to whom it is addressed. Teachers in Sabbath-Schools would find it to be just such an address as they should put into the hands of the elder girls; and mistresses might, with much advantage, circulate it among their servants. It is incomparably more valuable than the more fanciful tracts, that may, at first, sight appear more attractive,
Ninth Report, by the Directors of the Asylum for the Blind. Glas.
It is well to circulate such a document as the Report before us, because it is well calculated to awaken and stimulate exertion on behalf of the blind,--to instruct the benevolent, who are interested for this helpless class of our fellow-creatures, how to conduct their labours,--and to hold out encouragement to perseverance, by a view of the good effected in such Institutions. It appears there are not less than 30,000 blind persons, to wbom the English language is known. Surely these demand the sympathy of the religious public; and the efforts of some distinguished individu. als, on their behalf, ought to be much encouraged. It is gratifying to know, that the Belfast Asylum bids fair to prosper, under the direction of a highly intelligent and excellent teacher, whom Providence has raised up, when the former worthy and indefatigable instructor was called to a more extensive field of usefwness,
In devoting a portion of our pages to the discussion of the subject just announced, we almost seem to ourselves (whatever may be the opinion of our readers,) to undertake a work of supererogation. The general principle involved, has, in our opinion, long since been most triumphantly established. In that portion of the Church to which we belong, it has, of late, been recognised and acted upon; and its adoption has already done much to establish uniformity of sentiment, on all the grand and fundamental doctrines of the faith. Inasmuch, however, as there may be still a few who demur to the enforcement of a test of faith, and as an adjourned meeting of the Synod of Ulster has been appointed, at which, among other business, to reconsider the doubts and difficulties of the dissentients, it may not be unseasonable to
pages with the consideration of the question, premising, at the same time, that we have no new argument to offer, but shall confine ourselves to a selection from those which have been repeatedly employed upon the subject, and by which the necessity of creeds and confessions has, in our opinion, been unanswerably established, and set at rest. The division which we mean to prosecute is two-fold ; in the former part of which, we shall state our views in affirmation of the question, in a series of propositions : and, in the second place, shall obviate such difficulties as have suggested themselves against the adoption of creeds and confessions. In prosecution of this order, we would state
1. That the Church, in virtue of the relation in which she stands to Christ her Head, and to the world lying in wickedness, is required to make confession of the Truth. What is the duty of an individual believer, is the duty of the Church. Every believer in Christ is bound, not by constraint, but will. ingly to proclaim the grounds of his attachment to the Saviour and his cause.
“He cannot but speak of the things which he has seen and heard,” His understanding has been enlightened, and his heart enlarged he has became acquainted with bimself, and with the character of God, he has felt the powerful influence of the love of Christ, and has been attracted to the cross as the centre of all his hopes and sensibilities, and it were utter violence to the principles of his new natureza that he should continue silent, or unmoved by the calls of duty and affection to his Master, and to bis fellow-meno Now, the same obligations which prompt believers individually to confess Christ, must act with increasing force, when they agree to exercise the social principle, in matters of religion. Unión in the Church, as in the ordinary affairs of life, is strength; and there especially is exemplified the truth and value of the aphorism," two are better than ones and a three-fold cord is? not easily broken." Accordingly, the Church is described, metaphorically, (Mat. v. 14, 15,) as a city set on a bill, that cannot be bid, compared to a light, which must not be concealed, but set in a candlestick, that all around may be en lightened by it: to a pillar of truth, (1 Tim. ii. 15,) in which figure, after the manner of the ancients," who inscribed their laws on pillars in public places, we are led to contemplate her standing testimony lifted in a public manner, for the benefit of all the world. In these, and other metaphorical allusions, the principle of a social confession is clearly recognised as an essential element in the character and constitution of every true Church of Clirist.
161 youth is volt es II. Every particular Church must have its own peculiari and distinguishing principles. The Bible is, indeed, thoroes ligion of all true Protestants; but all are not agreed-as to its contents, or even as to the measure and kind of inspiration under which it was written for our learning. In the present state of imperfection, all do not see the same things, all do not believer the same; yet each has a perfect right to declare bis sentiments, and induce others to embrace them. The right belongs to individuals, and, if so, to communities. Those views, which v. to any number of professing Christians may seem-important and well established, they may lawfully, and with the striptesto propriety, agree to maintain and propagate, to the discouragão ing and rejection of all others that may seem to interfere with them. The importance of their principles they conceive 13 sufficientground for separation from all others; and the groundab of separation, therefore, constitute their creed. This creed, accordingly, must regulate their whole intercourse. It is their's bond of union, which, if broken, their colleotive strength is disas sipated, and co-operation is at an end. In receiving ministereo
and day members, they require a profession of adherence to their peculiar principles; and they refuse admission to any who may withhold assent, on who may profess another faith. Thus, whether avowed or noty, all religious communities have views and sentiments peculiar to themselves, to whose defence and maintenance they stand committed, to one another, and to other denominations.c. Some societies may abjure all creeds and confessions, but this very abjuration of theirs is an important article in their confession. silIl. Every Church is bound, by a variety of considerations, to assert its own principles. It is a duty which it owes to itself.o An individual member) no matter with what care he has studied the views of the community to which he belongs, may be mistaken... Onel may misapprehend another ; much more may be misapprehend an entire community. They cannot commit toebim to expound their sentiments, in cases where they are called in question. He can only state, at best, what be believes them to believe zjand he may either intentionally, or unintentionally, ascribe sentiments to them, which they disbelieves tan Besides, all human societies may change: they may recede altogether from the old, and adopt new principles. Some individual of talent or attainments, may bring in doetrines which the rest abhor. If they have no creed, they meet him under disadvantage, for he appeals to the Bible as solemnly as they: if they have a creed, they can at once detect his de parture from it, and act accordingly. Every such society, again, owes a confession of its principles to the world. It is not to be supposed that its members can have no regard to the good opinion of others, or that they are careless of adopting such measures as may disseminate their peculiar views. To understand the peculiar benefits aceruing from a connexion with any society, all i men should have plain and easy access to its principles. Such a testimony is also due to other reli. gious denominations. It is needful, to prevent misrepresentation,roto
remove prejudices and aspersions from such as may beopposeddandito obviate mistakes and difficulties in the minds of mucho animay be favourable. As every Church, then, values itagood name, and
its rightful position, as compared or contrasted with other Churches, to the same extent ought it to desire a plain and a published testimony.
V. Every Church is bound to a Confession, from a regard to the orthodoxy of its own members and office-bearers. No one applying for admissiou to membership in the Church, can justly complain of injury. in being excluded, so long as his views are