Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Zion."

be the case when the form of godliness and moral proprieties are observed, as they appear to have been in the church of Laodicea. How much more, when, along with the worldliness, apathy, and spiritual paralysis or lukewarmness, which characterised that church, fatal errors, gross immoralities, and habitual neglect of public ordinances, are tolerated ? Is not the family in which there is no discipline a type of hell, rather than of heaven? Is not the army in which there is no discipline, and military oaths are broken with impunity, and every one does what is right in his own eyes, a self-destroying mass,-a curse to the nation that supports it,--and far more dangerous to its friends than to its foes? And, is not the church whose members are generally conformed to this world, and violate the laws of Christ with impunity, a worldly society--a synagogue of Satan--and not entitled to the name of a Christian church ?

We find that when the first Christian churches were formed, they consisted of persons who repented and believed the Gospel, and were adınitted to communion by baptism, with the profession of faith and confession of sins,--that the Lord added daily to the church such as were saved—that the churches had rest and were edified, and, walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comforts of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied; and that in addressing Christian churches Paul designates them saints and faithful in Christ Jesus, because the majority of them,the staple and substance of the church, consisted of such persons, and the rest sustained a credible profession of Christianity.

Purity of communion appears to be necessary from the institutions Christ has given to his church. The church is a spiritual community, which has a constitution and institutions of its own, prescribed by the authority, wisdom, and love of its glorious Head. “ Yet,” says God, “ have I set my king on my holy hill of

“ My kingdom,” says Christ, “is not of this world.” As the state has its institutions, laws, and magistrates to administer them, the church has its ordinances and office-bearers to dispense them. In the words of the “Westminster Confession:"_" To these officers the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed, by virtue whereof they have power to remit and to retain sins; to shut that kingdom against the impenitent, both by word and censures, and to open it unto penitent sinners, both by the ministry of the Gospel and by absolution from censures, as occasion may require.”

All Christians are enjoined to be subject to the higher powers in civil government, but the government Christ has instituted in his church is distinct from, and not subordinated to, civil governments. A man's civil privileges, therefore, should not be affected by his admission to the church, nor his exclusion from it; nor should his worldly condition affect his relation to the church, which would not have been described as a kingdom—the kingdom of Christ, and not of this world, if it were not independent, spiritual, and the most excellent of all kingdoms. Nor since Christ has given all the instructions and laws necessary to the support and government and

tension of the church, independently civil or ecclesiastical legislation, (for even the power of the church is only judicial and ministerial, not legislative), can the laws of Christ be superseded by human enactments, as in the state support of the gospel ministry, and state interference with church fellowship, without impiety, and the greatest damage to the church ?

In confirmation of these remarks, need I refer to the office of ruling elders appointed for the spiritual government of the church, and to promote its purity, peace, and education? or to the charge given to ministers to preach the word, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine ? or to the qualifications of ecclesiastical office-bearers, as detailed in the epistles to Timothy and Titus? or to the qualifications of church members, including faith and repentance at least in a credible profession, and therefore accompanied by a conversation becoming the Gospel ? or to the directions of Scripture with respect to admonition, rebuke, and exclusion from the church, if the offender continue impenitent; and his restoration in the spirit of meekness, if he bring forth fruits meet for repentance? Does not the apostle say to the Corinthians regarding a scandalous offender Put

away from among yourselves that wicked person? Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump; for a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."

CG

Does he not say to an evangelist, “ Them that sin, rebuke before all, that others may fear; an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject.” Does not Christ declare in Matthew-If an offender will not hear thee, when visiting him alone, nor afterwards with one or two more," tell it to the church; and if he will not hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican?” Does He not also say, at least in reference to the sacraments,“ Give not that which is holy to dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine ? ” Dr Owen, in his Catechism on the worship of God, specifies the following evils as requiring church censure :-Moral evil against the light of nature and the moral law; offences against that mutual love which is the bond of perfectness ; false doctrine ; blasphemies : and desertion, or total causeless relinquishment of the society or communion of the church,- for such are self-condemned, having broken and renounced the covenant that they made at their entrance into the communion of the church.* The laws of Christ should be administered in the spirit of the Gospel, with faithfulness and decision, yet with brotherly kindness and charity. Much can be done, and much ought to be done by the members of the church in private, with love to Christ and their brethren, to prevent evil, to reclaim offenders, and to comfort those who are cast down under a sense of their sins, by directing them to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.

Purity of communion appears to be necessary to secure the object for which the church is constituted. Why are churches formed ? Why are those who, through grace, have repented, and believed the Gospel, baptised and added to the church ? Why did the apostles plant churches and ordain elders in every city which contained a few believers ? Undoubtedly for mutual edification—that they might enjoy the benefit of mutual instruction, encouragement, comfort of love, and admonition, in private intercourse, and in their social meetings, by the preaching of the Gospel, and other Divine ordinances, administered by those whom the Redeemer has given “ for the perfecting of the saints ; for the work of the ministry ; for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Another object of the church is the preservation of the truths and laws of Christ ; for to the church is committed the oracles of God, and she is called the pillar and ground of the truth. The extension of the Gospel and kingdom of Christ is another object for which believers are associated in churches. Why does Christ say, The seven golden candlesticks are the seven churches ? Is it not because they give light to the world ? Finally, the great object for which the church is formed and preserved in the world, is the glory of Christ. “Ye are my witnesses,” says Jehovah to his ancient people, “that I am God;" and Christian churches, by doing all things whatsoever they do in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in being epistles of Christ known and read of all men, show forth his praise or glorify Him.

It is not difficult to perceive, that purity of communion is necessary to realise these objects. Does not the toleration of an open scandalous offender in churchfellowship involve the whole church in the guilt of his offence? Are not all her members, and especially her office-bearers, in such a case partakers of other men's sins? Besides, instead of edification, is not the church corrupted by admitting into or retaining in its communion such a character; since, as the apostle says, in words already quoted,“ A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump ?! Instead of greater efficiency in supporting the Gospel, and extending the kingdom of Christ, is not the zeal of the church damped, and are not her energies relaxed, by the example, worldly spirit, and maxims of such unworthy members, who, though professedly of the church, are really of the world, and in conspiracy with it against the cause of the Redeemer? Is not God dishonoured by the toleration of such persons in the communion of the church, since they bear false witness against God, in so far as they violate his truth and laws ? and does not the church, by suffering them to enter or remain in her fellowship, virtually and tacitly sanction their false testimony, which strengthens the prejudices of the ungodly world, and give them great occasion to blaspheme, instead of repenting and fleeing to Jesus from wrath to come? “Many walk,” says the apostle, “ of whom I have

* Dr Owen's Catechism.

told you often, and now tell you, even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who inind earthly things.” (Phil. iii. 18, 19.) On the contrary, with what satisfaction does he speak of those who maintain Christian order and steadfastness : For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the Spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ." (Col. ii. 5.)

I shall reserve to another communication some concluding remarks on this vitally important subject.

PRESBYTER.

The Gleaner.

THE COVENANTERS AND THEIR

PERSECUTORS.

The military apostle of this persecution was Sir J. Turner, who, savage by nature, and

usually half drunk, swept like a whirlwind The solemn league and covenant, late the over Nithsdale and Galloway, at the head of pride and glory of the presbyterians, was his "lambs' (as in bitter irony they were burnt by the common hangman, and those termed), dragging people to church, devourministers who had refused to submit to the ing the substance of families, binding prisonconditions by which alone their benefices ers with iron chains, applying thumbscrews could be retained, were replaced by others. and instruments of torture, and carrying ruin These successors were men who had little sym- and desolation in his train. "Sabbath was pathy with vital religion ; they were, by their the day on which these extravagances were very position, parasites, and they were fre- very often committed. The soldiers sat drinkquently ignorant, and often grossly immoral. ing and revelling in the nearest alehouse Ùnder such a ministry, the churches, which until public worship drew to a close. The now echoed weekly to the notes of passive last psalm was the signal of attack: they salobedience and non-resistance, became almost lied from their cups, surrounded the churchdeserted. At the same time, the civil offices yard, and placed sentinels at the doors. The were filled by libertines, or by avaricious men, people were made to pass out one by one, who availed themselves of every advantage and interrogated whether they belonged to for their own aggrandisement. The general that congregation ? If they answered in the assembly was dissolved; presbyteries were for- negative, they were fined upon the spot: gebidden; field-preachings was prohibited, as nerally, all the money they had was taken an act of sedition and contempt of the royal from them. Those who had none, or too litauthority, exposing the offender to death and tle, were plundered of their coats, hoods, confiscation of property; whilst absentees plaids, and Bibles ; and the soldiers, laden from their parish churches were liable to the with their sacrilegious spoils, returned from severest penalties. The deprived ministers the house of God as from the field of battle, were banished to a distance of six miles from or the pillage of a stormed city. In churches any city or cathedral church, and three from where a presbyterian officiated, they were not any borough. At this period, also, was estab- to be obstructed by doors or decency, but lished a high commission court, where, with- would rudely interrupt the divine service, out accusation, evidence, or defence, fines entering in armed parties, wounding, and and imprisonment were extensively inflicted. haling multitudes from devotion to imprisonGentlemen and ladies of rank attending field- ment. After all this insolence and barbarity, preachings were proscribed, prohibited from to secure themselves from danger, they comconversing with their nearest friends, or from pelled the people to declare, by certificate, receiving the necessaries of life. These per- that they had been kindly dealt with, and secuting laws were put into execution in a bind themselves to make no complaints.” manner which renders it difficult to deter- • They suffered extremities that tongue canmine whether ferocity or cupidity were the not describe, and which heart can scarcely most conspicnous. When Lauderdale receiv- conceive of, from the dismal circumstances of ed fines for attending conventicles, he said hunger, nakedness, and the severity of the cli

Now, gentlemen, you know the price of a mate; lying in damp caves, ard in hollow clefts conventicle, and shame fall them that tires of the naked rocks; without shelter, covering, first.' And when a soldier, pursuing his se- fire, or food ; none durst harbour, entertain, vere exactions, was asked by his victim why relieve, or speak to them, on pain of death. he was so treated, he replied, “Because ye Many, for venturing to receive them, were have gear, and I maun ha' a share o't.' A forced to fly, and several put to death for no deputation waited on Lauderdale, to petition other offence ; fathers were persecuted for for liberty. This put,' says Burnet, Duke supplying their children,

and children for Lauderdale in such a frenzy, that at the nourishing their parents ; husbands for harcouncil table he made bare his arms above bouring their wives, and wives for cherishing his elbows, and swore by Jehovah that he their own husbands. The ties and obligawould make them enter into these bonds.' tions of the laws of nature were no defence

[ocr errors]

but it was made death to perform natural banishment, he savagely told him that he duties; and many suffered death for acts of was not too old to hang- he would hang piety and charity, in cases where human na- well enough. He was a ferocious ruffian, ture could not bear the thoughts of suffering worse, in some respects, if that were possible, it.' Such of them as escaped execution than Claverhouse himself. were transported, or rather sold as slaves, to But the man who was suspected of being people desolate and barbarous colonies ; the the real instigator of these unmanly outrages price of a wbig was fixed at L.5, and some- was James Sharpe. We have said that he retimes they were given away in presents by ceived the archiepiscopal see of St Andrews their judges. Many were 'indicted, tried, as the price of his treachery. He was a feland executed on the same day, and interces- low-student at St Andrews with Guthrie, sions on their behalf met with the reply, that of whom we have spoken, and who wrote “ they should have no time to prepare for upon him the following distich, which marks heaven, for hell was too good for them.” the early character of the man:Drums were ordered to be beat at the execu- • If thou, Sharpe, die the common death of men, tion, to drown the dying words of the mar- I'll burn my bill and throw away my pen.' tyrs ; and the least expression of sympathy in He was charged, when young, with murthe crowd, exposed the individual to be dering his own infant, and burying its dead dragged to the scaffold.'

body beneath the hearth-stone. As, howA general convulsion followed. Mad

ever, he avowed his repentance for the act, it dened by the repetition of such outrages, did not prevent his becoming, afterwards, many of the people rose against Turner, and minister of Craill. He had been, on more over-estimating, as excited popular assemblies than one occasion, chosen by the assembly of are apt to do, their real power, marched in a the Church of Scotland as its confidential body to Edinburgh. They were met at the agent. But when the restoration took place, Pentland Hills by General Dalzell, and were the part he took was characterised by the routed in great confusion. But they were not most treacherous duplicity. It was he who yet subdued.

persuaded the Presbyterians that there was The ablest of hands bas drawn the por- no need to make terms with the king, and trait-far too favourable- of one of the men who asserted that the rumoured intention of most distinguished as a royalist in suppressing Charles to set up prelacy was a 'malicious lie.' these insurrections, whose name first appears It was, however, most probable that tbe restorat the battle of the Pentland Hills-Grahame ation of prelacy took place at his suggestion. of Claverhouse. Brave, imperious, unswerv- When he had received the archbishoprio ing, he was cruel, implacable, and fearfully of St Andrews and the primacy of Scotland, revengeful. His commanding and handsome he became an unrelenting persecutor of his person might have been justly admired, had former friends, continually stimulating the there not been a Medea-like ferocity discern- privy-council to fresh acts of severity, and ible in that bold forehead-on those widely- even exceeding those remorseless inquisitors separated eyes, and on that curled lip, which in his love of cruelty and thirst for blood. he had in common with others of his class- He encouraged the clergy to supply him with as, for instance, with the modern Murat. informations, and proceeded against the acThe most terrible superstitions attached them- cused with the most incredible rigour. The selves to his name. It was the age in which consequences were such as might have been men believed much-often too much ; and almost foreseen, in a day when religion often Claver’se, as he was called, was supposed to took a form of passionate enthusiasm, and be closely in league with the author of all evil. loved to array itself in the habiliments of an There are some who still believe that, at the ancient and semi-civilised antiquity. Stung battle of Killiecrankie, in which he fell, to madness by the inquisitorial injuries fighting for the lost cause of James II., no inflicted by the archbishop, and justifying bullet of lead would take effect on him, and their savage proceedings by Jewish prethat he was killed by a silver button, shot at cedent, nine men conspired to way-lay and him by his own servant.

murder the spy of Sharpe- --one Carmichael. Dalzell, associated with him in these cruel Among these associates was Hackston of campaigns, was not less notorious. His por- Rathillet, his brother-in-law, Burley of Kintrait is characterised by a head of unusual loch, or Balfour, and Robert Hamilton. As size, which he had sworn never to shave after they searched for the informer on Magus Moor, the death of Charles I. He had first learned near St Andrews, they were informed of the war in Muscovy, where he was charged with vicinity of the archbishop himself. The priroasting men alive. His cruelties were enor- mate was in his carriage, with his daughter mous. He struck one prisoner before the by his side. Perceiving their approach, he privy-council with the pommel of his sword urged his attendants to put the horses to

on the face, till the blood sprung.' He im- their utmost speed. It was in vain. One of prisoned another poor victim, who suffered a the pursuers, better mounted than the rest, man, pursued by his soldiers, to run through cut the traces of the horses and wounded the her house, in the thieves' Hole at Kilmarnock, postilion, and the whole party was soon upon among toads and other venomous creatures, the spot. Then Burley, exclaiming, “Judas, as the relator tells us, where her shrieks be taken !' fired a pistol into the carriage, were heard at a distance, but none durst help from so short a distance, as to set the archber.' When one of his victims pleaded his bishop's lawn sleeves on fire. He was then age as a reason why he should not suffer dragged out of his carriage, whilst the rest of

6

the party fired their pistols at him in a volley. its terrors to the disadvantage of the religious Imagining they had completed the dreadful men of that day, and by none more forcibly deed, they were riding off, when one of them than by the late Sir Walter Scott. It was a overheard the lady saying to the postilion that deed which, under any circumstances of agher father was not yet dead. On this Burley gravation, Christianity'scorns even to palliate. returned, and kicking off the prelate's hat with But, because Balfour and his party were his foot, cleft his skull with his sabre.

bloody assassins, it does not follow that Far be it from us, whatever the provoca- the Archbishop of St Andrew's was a saint. tion, to justify such a deed of cold blooded as- -Miall's Footsteps of our Forefathers. sassination. It has been often exhibited in

Notices of New Publications.

THE HIDING-PLACE; or, the Sinner found ous and earnest enforcement, of the distin

in Christ. By the Rev. John MʻFar- guishing truths of Christianity, cast into a LANE, LL.D., Glasgow. 1853.

form adapted to popular impression. To London; James Nisbet & Co., 21, Berners Street. this class the present work of Dr M‘FarThere are few recent publications of the

lane belongs. same class which have commanded such ex

The general nature of the work is inditensive popularity as those of Dr MʻFarlane.

cated by the title. After quoting the lanHis ingenious and eloquent work on the guage of the apostle, " there is therefore “Mountains of the Bible” has gone through in Christ Jesus," the author continues

:

now no condemnation to them which are more than one edition in this country, besides being reprinted in America ; and that

** This phrase in Christ Jesus' is very, embeautiful and touching tribute to a sister's phatic and comprehensive. You have in it memory, in his volume which bears so ap

all that Christ did for us, and all that we propriately the title of “The Night Lamp,”

must do with Him. Contemplating Him as fitted to shed a softened and soothing thus as the “all in all' of our salvation, we light over the chamber darkened by afflic

address Him in the beautiful language of tion or the gathering “shadow of death,"

the Psalmist, Thou art my hiding-place.is already, it seems, in its fifth thousand. The course followed in illustrating this Considering the success which has thus at- general idea is thus stated in the preface: tended his former works, to venture so soon

* The plan of the following work is deterbefore the public again, if it had its encour

mined by the order of those new covenant agements, was not without its dangers.

titles given to our Lord in the Old TestaThe present volume, however, with all the

ment which have the prefix Jehovah. It is freshness and vigour and genial glow of its exceedingly interesting to find that, by the predecessors, bears the marks of still more proper arrangement of such titles, we have careful preparation. With as much of the

the entire scheme of the Gospel in a system, lively, and ornate, and ardent, there is

so that the serious student can obtain from more of condensed thought, of solid mat

their study clear and connected ideas of ter-more of" the apples of gold” without

the will of God in Christ' concerning his any short-coming in the “pictures of sil

conversion, pardon, purity, peace, and prosver;" and we have no doubt that it will pects." not only sustain, but extend, the already

After an “ Introduction,” giving a rapid well-earned reputation and usefulness of sketch of “the principles of the doctrine its author. The work is of a kind loudly of Christ,” the work opens with a chapter called for by the peculiar circumstances

on the import of the name Jehovah, and its of the times.

With the present widely- application to the Saviour. Then follows diffused taste and demand for books has

a chapter entitled Jehovah-Jesus : the arisen a numerous and most important Lord our God,” founded on Exodus xx. 2. order of readers, whom the more elaborate

The strain of the chapter may be gathered and ponderous works of a religious charac

from the following quotation. After deter never reach, whilst our lighter religious scribing the effects of sin in alienating the publications have too generally been char

sinner from God, and filling him with acterised by a mere sickly sentimentalism, thoughts of distrust and dread towards which could furnish no availing counterac

Him, the chapter proceeds :tive to the semi-sceptical tone of our gene- " What can pacify such an accusing conral literature, and minister little to the

science as this? It is evident that nothing nourishment of a manly piety. What is whatever can do so but a reply from that wanted is a class of works abounding in sin-avenging Deity, assuring the sinner of his the clear and broad statement, and vigor- continued friendship, and of his purpose to

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »