Page images


thousand of that sort. So one who gives himself to the heart and life culture of religion, will do more for the good of himself and the world, than a thousand who only exercise their intellect upon its theology, its history, its ritual, its mysteries.

The aim of this work, then, is not to feed the Intellect so much as the Heart; not to foster the secondary at the sacrifice of the primary; that, without which all intellect in religion is as

a beautiful marble statue to a living man; or, an exquisite painting of a landscape to one of living verdure and fruitfulness, under the active operation of the laws of nature, and the diligent cultivation of the owner.

It is, therefore, asked that this work be looked at from that point of view.

From the unavoidable shades of similarity in the Experiences of Christians, it may be found that some passages of Scripture have been repeated in quotation.

It has been the one aim of the Author to make this such a work as would fill the want which Leaders have felt for many years.

Whether it will reach his aim, each one that uses it will be the best judge. He has done what he could.

For reasons unnecessary to state, it may be well to say that this work is not a compilation. Where other authors have been quoted, acknowledgment, as far as it could be, is given. In other respects, the work is original in the sense that that word can be applied to any work.

The Author has derived no small amount of pleasure in writing this book in the midst of arduous public labours and heavy family afflictions; which have contributed their share of assistance to his heart, if not to his hand; but the greatest pleasure after all will be to know that the work fulfils the end for which it has been written,

It is hoped that while the numerous and worthy body of under-shepherds, for whom this work is chiefly

written, will derive help from it, there are others also who will find in it 'pastures green and waters of quietness,' for their weary and thirsty souls.

A few of the Author's thoughts under Jesus Only' have appeared before in print, as have three or four of the pieces under · The Leader.'

The essay on Church Membership is written in a conversational form, as affording the best facilities for expressing the Author's views upon the subject.

The Chapters are fewer in number than were named in the Prospectus, for the reason that some of them are longer than were intended.

The work as now published is committed to Him for His blessing, Whose help has been continually invoked as it has progressed in the Author's hand from first to last.

J. B.


March, 1881.


[ocr errors]

UR Minister is nearly always dwelling on the subject of hearers

becoming members of the church,' said Mr. Shenstone, a regular attendant upon his ministry, and in moral character equal to many who were actual members in his church.

He is,' answered Mr. Bond, to whom the words were addressed, and who in character was as morally consistent as Mr. Shenstone: • and to tell you the truth I don't care for so much of it. It is the Gospel that will save us and not the church.'

• I think,' said Shenstone, "if we are regular hearers in his congregation and supporters of his ministry, and consistent livers before our families and the world, it is as much as can be required of us, and in fact what the better should we be if we were members of the church ?'

Just so,' observed Mr. Bond, emphatically, concurring in the statement.

Mr. Cox, who was present in the company when the above words were spoken, a godly, earnest, and intelligent member of a Christian church in the town, here observed :

'I do not attend your place of worship and hear your minister, so I cannot give an opinion as to whether he dwells too much, or in too unwelcome a manner upon the subject of joining the church; but this I am prepared to say on general grounds, that membership in the church of Christ is of very great importance, and well deserves your serious consideration. I am happy to be able to say that I have been a member now for thirty or forty years, and I hope when my membership ceases on earth it will be renewed in the “church of the first born in heaven.” Of course, both of you believe that there is a church of Christ on earth and such a thing as membership within it.'

“Certainly,' answered Mr. Bond, 'we believe in both : but I do not know, of course, the meaning you attach to your phrases—"a church of Christ,” and “membership within it.”. If you mean the body or number of all who believe in Christ as the Head, then I am bound to recognize that as part of my creed; and I doubt not Mr. Shenstone is with me in this.'

'I am,' said Mr. Shenstone quickly.

• That is what I mean,' said Mr. Cox. * At the same time I did not say all I believe. There is not only this universal church of Christ; but there is what may be called the Sectional church of Christ, of which I think it is necessary, as a Christian, to be a member.'

'It seems to me,' said Mr. Shenstone, if I believe in Christ and live according to my belief, that is all the membership of the church which is necessary, and all else is human and only prudential and expedient, which may or may not be attended to according to one's own judgment and conscience.'

* Besides that,' observed Mr. Bond, your Sections, as you call them, are so many, and the terms of membership are so different, that one may be confounded which to choose. Now the Church of Christ is one, and terms of membership simple, and if one has membership in His church, on His terms, I think he may be satisfied and let all the rest go.'

'It is very true,' answered Mr. Cox, “the Sections of the Human manifestations of the Church of Christ are many, and the terms of membership differ in most of them; but, I do not see how these nullify your obligation to be a member in one of them, or confound you in choosing which to join.'

'I fail to see any obligation to be a member of any of your Sectional churches at all,' said Shenstone, and therefore there is no obligation to nullify. If I believe in Christ, and live as a Christian, as I have said, I belong to His universal church, and that is enough.'

'So I think,' added Bond.

'Besides,' continued Shenstone, 'if I am a member of the universal church of Christ, I do not see how you can exclude me from a Sectional, providing your sectional belongs to the universal.'

Here Shenstone and Bond looked at each other, and then both at Cox, as though they had gained a signal triumph in logic. But Cox, nothing daunted, said :

'I observe your apparent satisfaction at the conclusion to which you have come : but you know, there are always two sides to a subject, and always two parties to a discussion. You have stated your side, i will now state mine. In order to do so, I shall use a similitude. I shall take Humanity and Christianity on the one hand, and the Sectional Churches and the various Nationalities of men on the other. If you are a believer in Christ, and a liver in Christ, you belong to Christianity or to the Universal Church of Christ, as you belong to Humanity by being born and living as a human creature. Now suppose you were to stand forth and say, “We are not Englishmen; nor in fact, do we belong to any of your Nationalities of earth, which are mere human and earthly orders or provisions; nor do we think it necessary; if we are men, and belong to Humanity, what more can be required ?"

You see in what a position you would place yourselves before others. One asks, where were you born ? you answer In Humanity. Another asks you to what nation you belong? you answer to none; we belong to Humanity. “Humanity," is the response, "where is that? What is that? I don't see it: I don't know it. I have heard of it before ; but it is a most indefinite, nondescript sort of a thing."

* Thus you become in one way abstracted, and in another confounded ; abstracted in that you belong to no Nation, and confounded in that you belong to Humanity. You allow no one Nation to claim you as a citizen ; and Humanity absorbs you as a drop in the ocean. So that you belong nowhere in particular, but everywhere in general. I leave you to make the application at your leisure.'

But you forget the last point I mentioned, Mr Cox,' observed Shenstone.

" What was that ?

* This; if I am a member of the Universal Church of Christ, I am necessarily a member of one of its Sectional Divisions, although I may not comply with its human conditions of membership : as when one is born into Humanity, he must necessarily be born in some one Division of its Races, Peoples, or Nations.'

'I am not at all puzzled by your conclusion,' said Mr. Cox, “you bring yourself into a dilemma rather than me. If you believe in Christ, and thereby claim a place in a Sectional Church, because you belong to the Universal, how is it that you do not acknowledge your connection with that particular Sectional Church in the same way that you acknowledge your connection with that nation or people of Humanity in which you have been born? If you have been born in England, you are not, I suppose, ashamed of the English language, customs, and institutions ; nor would you be ashamed, I suppose, of similar things in France, Germany, Russia, or in any other Divisional part of Humanity, if you had been born in one of them?'

• But there is no choice in respect to my union with some Nation or People,' said Mr. Bond.

Nor is there in respect to your union with some Sectional Church, according to your own reasoning a moment ago.'

'Yes, but you say I cannot be a member of a Sectional Church without complying with certain conditions. For instance, one Church says I must be baptized by immersion, or I cannot belong to it. Another says I must be Confirmed and receive the Lord's Supper, or I cannot be a member of it: another says I must meet in Class, or I cannot be a member of it. And thus, the Churches have their own peculiar conditions, to which one must conform before membership therein can be allowed.'

"You are quite correct, Mr. Bond,' answered Mr. Cox; "and in these the churches are analogous to the Nations. Can you be a citizen of England, France, or America, without conforming to its laws, customs, and institutions? Can you occupy any of England's offices, without conforming to the conditions of England's citizenship?'

“Yes, but I can believe in Christ, and live a Christian life, without being a member of a Sectional Church,' said Shenstane.

"That is not denied : so you may live as a man without living in England, France, &c. You might find a territory somewhere on the face of the earth in which you may live isolated from nationalities, civilization, and societies; but what life would it be? Who choses to live

« EelmineJätka »