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svints in Curthage that they have to do : and this they would acknowledge, that they do earnestly desire to see the children of God, scattered through these modern churches, withdrawing from them, returning in the fear of the Lord, not to tiquity” merely, but to the principles of God's holy word, and leaving those productions of the self-will of man to themselves.

This writer, however, having on the part of the congregational Churches, pleaded guilty of a “deviation from antiquity,” proceeds to offer a vindication of this; not by an appeal to Scripture, shewing that the necessity for such a departure had been foreseen, and provision made for it; but by a numerical calculation exhibiting all the freezing coldness without any of the certainty, of a sum in arithmetic, the data being mere conjectures and suppositions; for example, suppose that the Church at Antioch had twenty presbyters; perhaps at the same time there were at least 10,000 members.” What is then assumed to have been established by this conjectural calculation, is, that as there was, of old, an average of but one teacher to two or three hundred souls, the modern Churches are not comparatively deficient in this respect.* And yet he seems to think that, were it practicable, it might be desirable to increase the number of teachers; but that it is not so. And why? The only reason given is, not that additional teachers could not be supplied ; the Colleges would I suppose, furnish any required number of them. Not because of want of gifts; scholastic divinity and rhetoric would be a sufficient substitute for these. But that “adequate pecuniary support for the increased number is unattainable ;” and that “hence, the new teachers would be only luy-elders, capable of giving but a fraction of their time to the immediate service of the ministry.'

Now, several questions are naturally suggested to the mind by the above observations; as, for example, does the writer really suppose that such a subject as this, is to be settled like a system of poor laws, or any other question of political economy, by an arithmetical calculation? Does he indeed suppose that a distribution of teachers, at the rate of one to each congregation of 200, or 300 souls, is in any wise analogous or equivalent to the ministration of their various gifts by twenty or more members, to any one congregation however large ? Does he imagine that it is only to the deficiency in the number of their teachers that we object, and not to the very principle of their ministry, as confounding all gifts, names, and ministrations, and running counter to every declaration of Scripture on the subject ? Does he think, for example, that, if six evangelists were allotted to one congregation, six pastors to another, and six teachers to a third, this increase of numbers would set all right? Or does he believe, contrary to Scripture, which says some, evangelists, and some pastors and teachers;" and again “there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. .“ For to one is given by the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit, &c." and again, “but all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit dividing to each one (ěkaotu) severally us lle will.. Does he, I say, believe that, notwithstanding all this, the teachers in modern Churches have, euch necessarily all needful gifts? If so, they are evidently not the distributive gifts of the Spirit, divided to each according to His will, but the artificial gifts of the College, alike dealt forth, all to each, according to its will. I

* Even a

“ natural man" would regard this argument as an insult to his common sense. It is, indeed, difficult to suppose that the writer is not trifling. Would he venture to apply this principle to common schools ? No. Besides the palpable fallacy of it, the cultivation of mere intellect is considered by modern Dissenters far too important a thing to be thus trified with. In his admission (p. 571) of the disadvantage of the limitation of ministry in a congregation to a single teacher, the only reason given is “ the contraction of intellectwhich it engenders in the hearers. After all, is this calculation designed to show that what he has styled degeneracy is not degeneracy at all ?

+ The real meaning of exclusive and of open ministry, and the difference between them is, I believe, generally little understood. It might not be the will of the Lord for a number of years to raise up in a Christian church more than one individual qualified to minister in the word. If, however, there was an open door left meanwhile for any upon whom it might please the Lord to bestow ability to minister his gift for the common profit, this would not be exclusive ministry. But if, in another church, the ministry of the word were extended even to ten or twenty members, and then arbitrarily limited to that number, this would be that exclusive ministry which the Scripture calls schism (1 Cor. xii.).

If this be the case, we may also say, there need be no objection at all as regards the

Again, I would ask, what does this writer mean by lay elders ?" or, is there such a title to be found in Scripture? Is it because a person “apt to teach” is obliged to devote a portion of his time to secular labour, being desirous not to be “chargeable" to any, and not being provided with “ adequate pecuniary support,” (that is sufficient to enable one to live like a gentleman, and to give all his time, if he pleuse, to the ministry of the word, and to prayer), that he should be so styled? Was Paul for this reason a lay Apostle ? for he "wrought with labour and travail night and day, that he might not be chargeable" to the Thessalonians. Does this writer soberly think that every teacher was an elder at all, lay, or otherwise? Why is it assumed that none are to be found qualified by God for such ministry, who, having means of support themselves, that is, “ food and raiment,” which was enough for an apostle, need not be burdensome to others ? Why is it that so few, if any, of this class are to be found amongst “modern churches ? Is it not because “ the ministry,” as it is called, is a profession,* that is, a way to obtain an income by those who have none, and a means of increasing the income of those who have ; and who, if they understood the calling of Saints, and felt as they ought the love of Christ, would deem it their high and happy privilege to serve him for nought; yea, to spend and be spent in His service ? And lastly, I would ask, are there any persons qualified by the Holy Spirit, forced, for the reasons above noticed, to refrain from ministry? If so, is not this to quench His gifts (1 Thes. v. 19, 20), and rob the Church of what belongs to it of right? Is it even reasonable to refuse a portion of the time of such because they cannot give it all ? and would they act upon this principle in any matter affecting their temporal interest ? Would they refuse a portion of any man's gold or silver because he could not give it all ?

How different is the perfect and beautiful order of God, as to ministry, from that which human wisdom and policy have established. The divine order being the distribution of varied gifts to the members, respectively, for the profit of all (élç Tò ovupépov) according to the sovereign will of the Spirit (1 Cor. xii. 7, 11 ; Eph. iv. 11, 16 ; Col. ii. 19). The human order being a machinery of colleges and scholastic study and discipline, to make teachers according to the will of man ; each of whom is at once supposed to possess every gift, though having in reality perhaps only some single gift, perhaps no gift, from God; and is then sent forth to minister exclusively to some large body of professing disciples, as pastor, teacher, exhorter, evangelist

, &c.; one member usurping the functions of all, —“ the eye saying to the hand, I have no need of thee.” Again, the divine order being that the simple possession of a gift makes the possessor, at once, a debtor to the Lord, and to the Church to use it (1 Pet. iv. 10; Ro. xii. 4–8; 1 Cor. xii. 4—25).' The human order being that there must be, first, a prescribed course of study; secondly, a call to some congregation ; thirdly, “ adequate pecuniary support ;" and lastly, the ordination of man; or else the qualified person must remain inactive, and his gifts dormant.

The writer then proceeds to account for the greater number of teachers, in the early churches, by asserting that “the attraction of cohesion” [a new name for Christian love) was greater amongst disciples then, than it is now; and that “if all the Congregationalists in London, Birmingham, or Bristol, were to cohere, as in ancient days, they might have as fine a show of Presbyters as had Rome,

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number of teachers ; so far, at least, as mere teaching is concerned ; for a single individual having all gifts, if sufficient to minister to twenty souls, would be equally so to minister to the greatest number by whom he could make himself heard. There is here, also, through. out, the assumption, that teachers, as soon as appointed to minister, are, ipso facto, placed above the necessity of being either exhorted or taught, though often needing it more than many of their hearers. The whole system of ministry in modern churches involves this notion; and hence, while their teacher is, ex officio, the best instructed and most holy person in the congregation : he is often, in fact, inferior in both respects to many of his hearers ; but none may presume to teach the teacher, or to exhort the exhorter.

* The following passage appeared in the Congregational Magazine for April :-" They (men of the world) know the affinity that subsists between the sciences ; and when they find a man ill furnished upon other topics [i. e. science and literary attainments—see the context] they will not be disposed to give him credit for any great supremacy of wisdom in his own profession!" I quote the above from the Inquirer for May: it is the language of the reviewer of Dr. Leifchild's “ Counsels to a Young Minister."


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andria. How much more so, if all the professors of religion of every cluss and sect, were so united into a single Church.” That is, if all the Pharisees, the covetous, &c., for they are almost all professors (many of them very serious ton)of religion in some class or sect, were to be assembled together and called a Church!

Their deficiency in this principle of cohesion, is then admitted to be their “ sin;" and next, this sin is defended (p. 573); and then we are told that though the Scripture precedents be against them, there having been many elders at Ephesus, yet that

experience having shewn us the mischief of those powerful organisations” to which this "attraction of cohesion " gave rise, we are “not to desire to imitate so closely the earliest churches in a matter which turned out so hurtful to them;" or, at least, not to “grieve very much if exactly that state of things is now unattainable.” That is, we are not to desire that, or to grieve very much for the lack of it, which it is our sin not to have !

This writer then notices " the most common cause which leads churches to divide into two, rather than cohere and grow in one," namely, “the preference of preachers.” This state of things he admits to be bad, painful, humbling ;" but says that it cannot be “fought against by pressing all the churches into one.' It is true he

says, that it is only by blending all the Dissenters* of each city into one Church, that he can imitate the ancients, " and cease to go on in the one-man system ;" but this cannot be effected suddenly, though“ it ought,” he says, to be aimed at." In other words, those powerful organisations which experience has shewn to be so mischievous, and which we had been told were too hurtful” to be desired, should, nevertheless, “be aimed at !”

Thus far we have, in this paper, seen aggravated evil coolly confessed, and as coolly vindicated. The writer now proceeds to introduce his notice of the “Plymouth Brethren,” by declaring that their's are the only churches against which he “ dare throw a stone;" and this, because, by their “ claim of universal, exclusive dominion, they carry schism and implacable war on their front.” This is indeed a grave charge; but except remonstrance against a state of things admitted to be a thorough departure from “the apostolic model,” “a degenerate condition," " bad, painful, and humbling,” except this, I say, amounts to a claim of " universal, exclusive dominion,” and except separation from systems justly entitled sects by their advocate, amounts to the guilt of schism, they may with great confidence, and a good conscience, plead guiltless in this matter. And if this their remonstrance be almost universal in its aspect, it is accounted for by our opposer when he says, that this bad and degenerate state of things is the case,“ not of congregationalism, but of Protestantism."

This writer professes that “ he has watched, with deep and anxious interest, the rise and progress of the views of this body of Christians” (p. 574), and, that in so doing, he “ saw so much to admire in the spirit of the men, so many points of neglected truth prominent in their minds, that it was long before he gave up the hope that they would exhibit to England a pattern of a more excellent way than she had yet seen.'


appears also (see p. 581), that he is “most fully convinced, that a very large proportion of them are not only amiable and respectable as individuals, but devotedly pious, and anxious to do that of which they talk so much—to be subject to the Spirit in all things.” He has discovered, too, that“ they voluntarily spend their energies or fortunes in the cause of Christ and their opinions.”. Now, if this be indeed so (and it is the testimony of one who, if he will not permit them to regard him as their enemy, see p. 581, is certainly not their friend), we may venture to say that these Christians have already, in some small degree, succeeded in shewing to England, “ a more excellent way,” and that the disappointment of their eulogist and accuser is, at least in some measure, groundless.

The cause, however, of his disappointment and complaint is," not any error in bare opinions; errors equally great,” he says, “ he may himself hold unawares; and many of their opinions appear to him to involve vuluuble truth.No. “It is the exclusive dogmatic spirit, the scornful supercilious tone,f the absolute refusal to

* This assumes that all dissenters, and none but dissenters, are saints, if, indeed, which is more than doubtful, he understands by a church” any thing more than a congregation of men, whether believers or not.

+ This is one of those charges which are easily preferred ; but which, from their very co-operate, on neutral ground,* the zeal for proselyting persons, not to Christ, but to a new system, &c., the carelessness what spiritual tiest they burst, while pressing their theories ; the false principles of reasoning and judgment set up for idolatry; their contempt of all who contest their modes of thinking; their unwise scoffs against learning and education ; their opposition to every effort to educate men's minds, of benefit their civil condition :" these are the things which have convinced him “that they are likely to be chiefly signal as firebrands in the Christian world, and supporters of all political oppression.

After this ebullition of feeling, which is indeed a sort of synopsis of all that follows, the writer, who is determined that the " Brethren" shall have a creed, and a long and authoritative one, too, proceeds to set forth a great number of doctrinal propositions as the articles of their belief; and these he represents as being peremptorily enforced upon the consciences of disciples by a body of Christians, one of whose principal grounds of separation from modern ecclesiastical systems, is actually the imposition of such burdens by the latter upon the people of God, and their requiring from them, as terms of communion, what God has not required !

The source from which this writer pretends to have chiefly drawn materials to enable him thus to “consolidate their tenets,” is a periodical entitled the Christiun Witness

, a publication which avowedly gives insertion to papers containing opposite opinions upon many points, and upon the cover of each number of which is printed the following extract from the Preface : “ It is our anxious wish that this publica

nature, it is impossible to answer. Besides, every one forms his own idea of what dogmatism is, and indeed I suppose there never yet has been a faithful witness against evil, who has not been accounted dogmatic by those whose consciences have been disturbed, and their self-complacency interrupted, by such testimony. I cannot accuse this writer of dogmatism; his principles appear too lax and unsettled for that; and besides, as regards himself and his associates, he only stands upon the defensive. But it has seldom fallen to my lot to peruse a production so replete with sarcasm and ill-concealed scorn, as that which I am now noticing.

* That is, ground which would involve a violation of principle, a sanction of evil, and defilement of conscience.

+ This is the oft-reiterated charge, repeated again and again, without the least regard to facts, or, at least, inquiry into them. I admit that these Christians are not anxious to preach the gospel to saints, or, in other words, to beseech those who are already “reconciled to God” to be reconciled. But to the world—" the Christian world” (if this writer please) and to the poor, without money and without price, is the gospel preached by these Chris. tians, not only in their own places of Worship, but often in the open air, and in hired rooms, so mean and homely, as not to shame the nakedness and poverty of the ragged poor ; though they might, indeed, offend the delicacy of many a modern well-remunerated evangelist. I believe also that many a poor soul, delivered from the double bondage of fear and sin, can testify that it has not been preached by them in vain. In this, however, as in all things, they are full ready humbly to acknowledge how short they come.

If the things insisted upon be not the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, then those who press them upon the consciences of believers are not only responsible for the disruption of any godly ties which may be the result of their testimony, but for what is far worse, the propagation of error. But this must first be shewn from the scriptures of truth (an authority no where appealed to by this writer) before guilt can be fastened upon any. If, however, the things insisted upon be the commandments of the Lord, then I know of no tie which should not give place to obedience. I believe many of those whose supposed unfeeling carelessness is here denounced, can testify that they have often paused, and felt well disposed, had not a sense of duty urged them on, to refrain altogether from testimony in many cases, from a tender sense of the trials into which it might, if effectual, lead those who should be influenced by it; trials, too, which they had willingly encountered themselves.

It is not, however, I would add, every religious tie that is necessarily spiritual. That word of the Lord,“ teaching them to observe all things,” &c., has been the cause of breaking many a religious, but never a really spiritual tie; for the tie that would resist it could not be spiritual. Suppose, for example, this writer's anticipations had been realised, and that these Christians had shewn to England “a more excellent way," would it not have either broken many a tie which he would call spiritual, or have involved him and others in the guilt of disobedience? For surely “the more excellent way,” as soon as known, should be followed. One would suppose, from this complaint, that dissenters were very tender in this respect, and very careless about proselytizing; but is it so ?

tion should not be considered as the depository of particular views or as representing particular persons. The truth of God and holiness, we trust to be enabled to preserve untainted by that which may appear in it, and, these secured, to receive all communications which may administer to the conscience of the Church of God.” *

To assume, therefore, that every opinion contained in every paper in this periodical, is held by those Christians as a body, or, indeed by any one of them, except the particular writer, and to set it forth as one of the articles of their faith, is manifestly unwarrantable. Were I thus to select statements and opinions from the accredited organs of the Dissenters; were I, for example, to pick out the following view of Christian ministry from the Congregational Magazine, namely, “ From these considerations we may clearly see the importance of eminent holiness in the ministers of the sanctuary, whose office it is to speak to the people in the name of God, and to address God in behalf of the people. The one-half of their duty consists in intercession, and the other in the proclamation of the truth as it is in Jesus: " +-were I, (I repeat) to take this definition of priesthovd, worthy as it is of Oxford, or of Rome, and to charge it upon congregationalists as a body, how quickly would the cry of want of Christian candour and charity be raised by this writer and his associates ?

In these observations I have supposed the opinions imputed to “ the Brethren' to be actually contained in this publication in question, and substantiated by quotations from it. But it is quite otherwise ; for there is not, throughout this writer's attack, a reference to a single passage in that periodical, nor a single quotation either from it or from certain other publications, the titles of which are placed in threatening attitude at the head of his paper, as though preparing us for a review of them.

Thus much for the moral character of this production. We have already, in this writer's observations upon Churches, seen what value is to be set upon his sentiments, we here see the value of his statements. But this is not all: for I shall be able to shew, by actual quotations from the publications of this body of Christians, both those, the titles of which are put forward by our accuser, and others, that they hold views the very reverse of what are here imputed to them.

I shall now proceed to notice, as they occur, some of the numerous articles of doctrine which this writer thus gratuitously imputes to the “ Plymouth Brethren.” I have, for convenience, numbered them, and find that they amount to fifty; amongst which, strange to say, there is not one relating to the grounds of a sinner's hope toward God, nor to any of the essentials of Christian truth. I suppose, therefore, that on these heads he has nothing to lay to the charge of "the Brethren;" for he surely evinces no disposition to spare them if he had. The first article is as follows:

Article 1. (p. 575). “ Their fundamental tenet is the same as the Quakers, viz.; that the energies of the Holy Spirit are still given to the Church, in so emphatic and peculiar a mode, as to make all Church arrangements for edification unlawful.”

* To the above I would add the following extract from the same preface :-“But while this is preserved (i. e. the foundations of truth), for which we do feel responsible to God, the particular light which may be afforded in each paper, and the soundness of the views or judgment contained in it, must rest on the responsibility of the particular writer."

+ This statement appeared in the April number of the above-mentioned periodical, according to the Inquirer for May, from which I quote.

I “Discipleship,” by Percy Hall; Schismatic Tendency of Sectional Membership ;" “The Memorial of the Brethren in Christ.” He neither quotes these nor any one of their tracts.

$ This omission is evidently the result of inability to substantiate by extracts from this periodical, notwithstanding its free and open character, a single statement contained in his paper, except as to views in which any saint should glory. But this writer is well aware that those who are prepared to give ear to such charges, will neither spend their money in purchasing, nor their time in reading, a work of five octavo volumes, and some odd numbers besides, to verify his statements; and that those whom he thus accuses will hardly undertake to reperuse those volumes in order to refute his charges.

T I know not what is here intended by the expression “in so emphatic and peculiar a mode.” The question is, Are there any gifts from God for edification now at all ? and are they variously distributed, according to the will of the Spirit ? If there be such gifts, who may presume by any human arrangement to hinder their exercise ? If there be no such

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