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hour, in many a sequestered spot; and throughout popish Europe a silent movement is going on, which by-and-by will spring up marvellously ; so that when the storm shall come and strike all Europe, there will be found still a blessed multitude, called out of mystic Babylon, mainly through means of the Bible Society.”
The jubilee of a Christian society, one speaker observed, is unlike that of the ancient Jews---cancelling old debts ; it rather renews and doubles these. In this spirit the Society resolved to perpetuate the memory of its fiftieth anniversary, by originating new and wider efforts for promoting Bible circulation. The following was the resolution adopted on this head :
“ That this meeting approve of the measures and plans of the committee for the celebration of the year of jubilee, including the institution of a jubilee fund, to be appropriated to the following purposes, namely-l. The adoption, as far as practicable, of an extensive and efficient system of colportage throughout Great Britain, in the year of jubilee ; the supply of emigrants, together with special grants of Bibles and Testaments to prisons, schools, missions, and other charitable and benevolent institutions in this country. 2. Special grants to Ireland, in such ways as may hereafter be determined upon. 3. Special efforts in India, Australia, and other British colonies, by agencies, grants, or otherwise. 4. Special grants to China, and such other parts of the world as may appear open to special operations. 5. The establishment of a special and separate fund, from the annual produce of which pecuniary aid may be granted, at the discretion of the committee, to persons in the employ of the Society, including the colporteurs abroad; and to their widows and children, when in circumstances to require such aid."
In connection with the jubilee services, a sermon was preached on Wednesday, 9th March, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in St Paul's, London,-the mayor and corporation of the city attending, with many of the nobility, dignitaries of the church, and other persons distinguished by their high social position. This is understood to have been the first time the cause of the Bible Society, or any other benevolent cause not exclusively churchish, has been pled from the pulpit of the metropolitan cathedral; and the discourse preached, which made honourable mention of the names of the dissenting missionaries Carey, Marshman, and Ward, was in harmony with this advance in liberal Christian sentiment. Such a discourse, in such circumstances, from the Primate of all England, an emphatic protest against the encroachments of Popery, and will, no doubt, be felt as such by the party who have for some years back been looking on, with wistful eye, at the flourishing realm of England, anticipating its return to the dominion of Rome. The sum collected at Exeter Hall and St Paul's together, on occasion of these services, will amount, it is said, to ten or twelve thousand pounds.
We take leave, in connection with the jubilee, to commend most heartily this noble Institution to the prayers and liberality of our readers. It has served well the cause of Christian enlightenment, Christian union, and Protestant truth. It is a bulwark, or rather an extended line of fortifications against Rome, for “the Bible, and the Bible only is the religion of Protestants.”
Printed by Thomas MURRAY, of 2 Arniston Place, and WILLIAM GIBB, of 12 Queen
Street, at the Printing Office of MURRAY and GIBB, North-East Thistle Street Lane, and Published by WILLIAM OLIPHANT, of 21 Buccleuch Place, at his Shop, 7 South Bridge, Edinburgh, on the 25th of March 1853.
UNITED PRESBYTERIAN MAGAZINE,
FOR MAY, 1853.
LETTERS TO CHURCH MEMBERS.
LETTER III.—The Duty of the Church Member to the Church. DEAR BRETHREN,–Our associations with our fellow-men, as well as the precepts of God's word, show us that relative and public duty devolves upon
There is no human being, however obscure, but influences, for good or for evil, whether he intends it or not, those with whom he comes into contact. Aware of this influence, we should seek to regulate it so that it may prove beneficial in the highest degree possible. The MASTER makes the right performance of these public duties a prominent subject of his injunctions to us,- as much so, indeed, as he makes any other department of Christian conduct.
In speaking of this topic, your duty to the church naturally claims attention in the first place. You are bound to it by ties, which, while not dissociating you from the rest of your fellow-men, unite you to those who are with you
in Christ Jesus in an additional relationship-one very close and endearing. You are children of the one family of God, members of the one body of Christ. As part of the community of the faithful, its interests must be dear to your heart, dearer than those of any
other community with which you may be connected.
“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the root of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy."
That which is primarily demanded of you in your connection with the church is a deportment consistent with your profession,-a walk “ worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” This is due to yourselves, that you may manifest your sincerity, and show to your fellow-Christians, and to the world, that your Christian vows were undertaken with all honesty of purpose. That man is chargeable with hypocrisy who publicly avouches himself to be the Lord's, and yet lives to the world. To such, however, we do not address ourselves : they bave neither part nor lot with us; but we entreat you, brethren, beware of any approach to such conduct. Conformity to the world, we have already noticed, is a prevailing evil among pro
VOL. VII. NO. V.
fessing Christians,—an evil which greatly mars the beauty of Christianity, keeps the church's piety in a languid state, and weakens the influence which the church should and might have upon the world. Brethren, be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds. Act a manly part. In every thing show your attachment to Jesus ; in every thing act out your character as Christians, being at no time, and in nothing, ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Keep yourselves unspotted from the world. This is the path of comfort and of safety. But you owe it also to those with whom you are associated, that you preserve this consistency of conduct. The character of any association is formed of the character of those who compose it, and in a connection so close and lasting as that of the church, the character of each member peculiarly affects that of his associates. · Your reputation is the property of the church, and anything that deteriorates from that property is a sin against the church. “ Ye as lively stones are built up a spiritual house;" but if, among these stones, there be found one here and there deformed by flaws, then is the beauty of the building marred, and its stability endangered. It is most manifest, brethren, that if even occasionally, and very unfrequently, we descend from the high standard of righteousness and holiness to the which we are called, we bring a reproach, not on ourselves only, but also upon the church, and even on that holy name by which we are called. Let us, then, never forget our character as a “holy priesthood,” consecrated “ to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ;" and let each, as a representative of the church, exhibiting the character of the church before the world, “live soberly, righteously, and godly."
This consistency of conduct is necessary to our usefulness. As professing Christians, we shall do little good either in the church or in the world, unless we so act as to give all confidence in our sincerity; and we can so act only by our being in all things what we profess to be. We must be Christians in the family and in the world, as well as in the church; under law to Christ in all our relations, and in all our actions. We may display both talent and energy-we may speak with the tongues of men and of angels; but if our fellow-men doubt our sincerity, all will be displayed in vain. They will not hearken to the voice of our charming, charm we ever so wisely. Our character must give us influence, or we shall never attain to it. As we have seen in the former letter, the great secret of the success of those who have been honoured to do great things for God was their own godliness; in other words, their sincerity. For such influence as they possessed and exercised for the good of souls, we shall long in vain if we are found mixing the characters of the Christian and of the worldling. The world is exceedingly quick in detecting anything like inconsistency; and though endeavouring to seduce us under its influence, will visit us with its distrust and contempt in return for our complacency in yielding. If you would desire to be useful, walk circumspectly, manifesting ever a straightforward, manly, consistent conduct.
Take a deep interest in all the affairs of the church, especially in the matters of the congregation with which you may be connected. Next to your personal and family affairs, these should engage your attention most deeply. Too frequently the concerns of a congregation are left to the officebearers, as if they were the church, and as if the members in general had no further concern in them than to occupy their pews on Sabbath, and dole out their contribution on the call being made. Like the audience of a lecture-room, many wait only to receive entertainment or instruction, and leave all other matters to the persons in charge. Brethren, these things
ought not so to be. All the offices in the church, all the agency of word and ordinance, exist but for the benefit of the church; and the selection to these offices, and the maintenance and the arrangement of that agency rest entirely with the church. These are matters with which the world has nothing to do, and with which no one member of the church has more to do than another. Great injury is inflicted on those portions of the church which permit themselves to be defrauded of their rights, and allow the control of their church matters to be assumed by the high and the powerful, who have frequently no other connection with them. This is truly a giving to Cæsar the things which are God's. See that ye defraud not yourselves. Cherish the deepest interest in the affairs of the church, and diligently and wisely take your part in them. The church which has all her members thus acting is built up of " lively stones,” and not of inanimate inert blocks.
This deep interest is claimed not only for the affairs of the church in its corporate capacity, but also for the welfare of the members individually. “ By one Spirit are we all baptised into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member but many; and whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it ; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” Thus does the Holy Spirit instruct us of the closeness of that union which binds us with all who are associated with us in the profession of the faith, of the necessary dependence of one upon another, and of that lively sympathy which should exist between those thus united. One with Christ, we are one with all who are Christ's. Hence the exhortation, “ Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” In the world there exist various ranks and grades, which are kept apart by the conventional usages of society, so that those who approach the extremes of the scale, understand little of each other's mode of life, and therefore little mutual sympathy exists. In the church of God there is no place for these. Here all meet as children of the one family around the table which the Father provides for them, and, of whatever rank or lineage, sit there on an equality. At least this is what should be ; but it is to be lamented that the usages of the world not unfrequently find a place in the church, and the same distinctions to a certain extent, in many cases, prevail in both. A proof this of that which we stated formerly, that the church is too much commingled with the world. Do we not frequently see the rich man commanding influence in the church, by his wealth, as he does in the world ; and the wealthy keeping themselves completely dissociated from their poor brethren, and daring to flaunt their temporal rank in the presence of the great God ? This deference to wealth and rank enters into the very constitution of those sections of the church which have given up their own rights, and the rights of the great Head, into the hands of the mighty of this world. Alas! that this should be so; that the church, instead of being transformed from the world, should be transformed from the model of Christ, and cast in the mould of the political institutions of human device. But not in these only do we see this evil, it is apt to prevail everywhere, and in a certain degree very generally manifests itself. In this point of view, it is questionable whether the splendid temples sometimes erected in our cities, as houses of worship, are not an evil. In their gorgeous architecture and costly fittings, they display the power of wealth, and seem to say to the poor man,
" there is no place for you here."
We may notice, in passing, that the largeness of the congregations of popular ministers, in some of our chief towns, is, we humbly think, productive of this evil; that the sympathy which should exist between the members individually, and the interest they should take in each others wellbeing, are apt to be impaired. Not only are congregations frequently so large, that it is impossible for the minister, task his ability as he may, to get that attention paid to the members individually that he should give to them; but the members are frequently in a great measure strangers to each other. Their numbers preclude acquaintanceship and intercourse, and therefore necessarily weaken the mutual interest which should exist.
Cherish this mutual interest; it is lovely and comforting. Receive those to your heart whom Christ has received; and let nothing which affects your fellow-Christians be indifferent to you. One of the purposes for which God has united us to each other in the fellowship of the church surely is, that we should be helpful to each other, bearing one another's burdens when the time of trial comes to each in turn, “looking not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” If the ties of consanguinity give us a claim on the interest of those to whom they unite us in them, the ties of the new birth should give us a like claim. And we much need to support each other. Children of God, we are separted from the world, and our disconformity to it cannot fail to provoke its opposition in one form or other. Let us seek strength in union, encouraging the faint-hearted, comforting the feeble-minded, supporting the weak, and receiving, in our time of weakness, that support we need. Thus journeying on in company to the better land, we shall bear each other onward amid all the toils and dangers of the way, cheering each other under all discouragements, alternately receiving and administering the sympathy and assistance required, and the more closely knit each other by common dangers and difficulties; and, above all, by this mutual ministry. And thus, too, shall we be training for heaven, in cultivating, by constant exercise, the cardinal grace of love, becoming more and more assimilated to him whose name we bear, more and more fitted for the perfect society of the church above
“Where tongues shall cease and prophets fail,
And every gift but love." Give all diligence, brethren, that the congregations with which you are connected be healthy and vigorous, blessed in enjoying the influences of the Spirit, and blessed in their influence on the world. To produce this result various means are very generally, and should be universally, employed. There, for example, is the weekly prayer meeting of the congregation, or of the district. We need not urge the propriety and necessity of prayer. We speak not to those who consider the hours of the Sabbath a sufficient time to be devoted to religion ; and who, if they are careful not to let their business intrude upon the day of sacred rest, are perhaps as careful not to permit the concerns of religion to intrude upon the days of business. Such have no part with us, whatever place they may occupy in the church. But those who acknowledge the duty of attending on this week-day means of grace, are not always careful to allow themselves time to discharge it. Are not the calls of the world frequently permitted to furnish an apology for absence, and to usurp the precious hour which should be given to intercourse with heaven? If we so act, we deprive ourselves of much good, for a diligent attendance on the prayer meeting is fitted to be of great personal benefit. It gives us a short breathing-time in the midst of the weekly hurry of the world, when, in communion with our fellow-Christians, we revive the influ