Page images

moon. A child born at the rising and the thing signified; making or setting of the sun, will have the one uniformly consequent a more or less favorable pros- upon the other. Should this conpect of a long life. To those' nexion fail but once, it must who entertain such opinions, or overthrow the supposition of its others resembling them, I will existing at all; or else another address a single observation. sign must be required in order Would you regard your God to show us when the first one is half as scrupulously as you do to be taken as denoting nothing. the lifeless matter which He has But what renders such a denot. created; and adhere to His pre- ing of events very dubious, when cepts, and the dictates of well in- we cast our eyes upon the histo. formed reason, with half the per- ry of Divine providence, is, that tinacity with which you cling to an eclipse necessarily extends your prejudices, you would live to a large portion of the globe; much more happy and success- and rarely has it happened since ful in the world, and pursue a

the earth was first peopled, that conduct much better becoming every part of so large a portion the character of those who have has been free from public cahad a Christian education.

lamities, for any considerable Many people who, perhaps, length of time. Hence it does not may be free from the imputation easilyappear how an eclipse of the of any of the foregoing idola. sun can be taken for a sure sign trous notions concerning the of public calamities, when those sun, are still of opinion that its calamities almost continually ex. eclipses are ominous of disasters ist, in some part of the world at to that quarter of the world least, where the eclipse is perwhere they take place. But I ceived; and that, whether there know of nothing in Scripture, or are eclipses, or not. Further, in the history of the world, to more, let it be remembered, that warrant such an opinion. For eclipses necessarily result from aught that appears, national ca

the established laws of the planlamities as certainly foretell e- etary revolutions.

Whenever clipses of the sun, as those e. they take place, it is in exact clipses do national calamities. conformity with those laws, beOne thing however is certain; is ing perfectly regular, and at dethese eclipses do denote any termined intervals; insomuch, such disasters, it is because God that instead of viewing an ehas established them for signs clipse of the sun as miraculous of those events; not because they and portentous, we ought to con-, naturally, and of themselves, de sider its failure a miracle and note them. But if God has so prodigy, astonishing in kind and established them, he must have degree. By the aid of astrogiven some indication of the nomical science, eclipses may fact, either by revelation, or by be calculated with the utmost so ordering in his providence precision, for any length of time, that there should be an unvary- past, or future. If they are sure ing connexion between the sign, prognostics of future events, then

those events may be predicted, crucifixion of our Savior; which by the help of astronomy, with obscuration, as astronomers in. as much certainty a thousand form us, could not have happenyears beforehand, as they can at ed by the intervention of the the time when the eclipse hap

moon between the sun and the pens. But should an astronomer earth, the regular cause of solar thus undertake to turn prophet, eclipses. But if we undertake there would be, I think, but one to make prodigies out of natural opinion concerning the propriety appearances, and such as are and usefulness of his labors. the necessary result of those Scripture, I have already ob- laws by which the Almighty is served, gives no warrant, that is, pleased to govern his material to my knowledge, for any belief creation, we alike transcend the in such prognostications; and if bounds of reason and Christian none is derived from Scripture, discretion. Were eclipses rethe general course of Divine garded simply as displays of the providence, nor from reason, it Divine power and majesty, no is difficult to determine where remarks would have been need. else to look for one. My apology ed. But would we look for signs for these remarks, which to ma.

of the divine displeasure 10ny may appear entirely super- wards a nation, we can see them, fluous, is derived from the well with unfailing certainty, in naknown fact, that many very wor

tional sins, and depravity of mor. thy men, and Christians, entertain als. These inform us, far more the opinion that eclipses of the emphatically than eclipses, when sun are unquestionable tokens of God has a controversy with us, the Divine displeasure, and that and is about to inflict upon us they ought to be so regarded by the rod of his anger. As for all good people. This opinion, those who regard eclipses of the or something very like it, was in sun as portending calamities in. the course of the last winter, ad. dependently of any known com. vanced by a very able member mission froin Him who made the on the floor of Congress. Cer- sun, and appointed all the laws tainly, then, so far as the fore. to which it is subject; they can. going remarks are just and per- not escape the charge of idola. tinent, they are not useless; for try, however it may be blended it is a matter of consequence with other correct apprehensions that right opinions should be en. of the Divine providence. Such tertained on this subject.

a mixture of real and false reIt is by no means the inten- ligion, but ill accords with the tion of the writer to advance the holy jealousy with which the idea, that there are no possible Most High maintains his truth. circumstances under which a It is like the mongrei worship solar eclipse could be considered of the Samaritans, a religion alas portentous. A preternaiural lowed of indeed by man, but un. eclipse ought, no doubt, to be authorized by Heaven. considered as of this character,

ACLETUS. Such was the preternalural obscuration of the sun's light at the (To be continued.)

For the Panoplist.

The writer of this communi.

cation is not insensible of the •x ECCLESIASTICAL TRIBUNALI.

power of prejudice, particularly The subject of ecclesiastical govern. of the prejudices of education.

ment is demanding and receiving He was born and educated in very considerable attention from the Massachusetts, was early admitCongregational clergy in Massa- ted to a Congregational church, chusetts. That the result of this and is now a minister of the conattention may be the promotion of correct principles and Christian gregational order. To this order practice, every good man desires; he acknowledges himself attachand that such will be the result ed. He would undoubtedly be many good men confidently antici. loath to admit objections against pate. It is necessary on this sub. ject, as well as on most others, that it, and willing to see it fairly de. all the arguments on both sides

fended. Not that he supposes, should be clearly stated, and dis. that we have adopted the only passionately considered. The fol. scriptural mode of church Vo lowing communication, in answer

ernment. Few of any denoninato the paper on the want of ecclesias- tion are at the present day so tical tribunals in our number for bigoted and arrogant, as to make July, is therefore admitted. Though such pretensions. Without doubt we are perfectly willing and de. sirous that every argument on this many things relating to the subject should be presented to the church are left to the discretion public, we deem it proper to give of Christians, and may with pronotice, in order to prevent the dis- priety be varied according to cirappointment of our correspondents, that we cannot permit more than a

cumstances. It neither surprises moderate portion of our pages to be

nor offends me, that in a nation occupied with this discussion, like England, where there are without excluding other subjects such established differences and equally important.


gradations of rank in the civil I have always understood it to should exist in the church. And

government, something similar be a principle with the editors of it seems to harinonize with our the Panoplist to admit into their republican constitution and feel. pages inquiries and discussions, ings, that every minister should when conducted with seriousness be a bishop. Nor can either and candor, though they may not

mode be shown to be in direct accord with what has been be.

violation of Scripture, or subverfore published. With respect sive of the order or destructive to the form of government, which of the prosperity of the Church. was first established, and which God has poured out his Spirit still prevails, in the churches of both in England and America; Massachusetts, may not the fol

and neither denomination has lowing observations justly claim

been without rich tokens of his the aitention of the religious favor. The same remarks may public, in connexion with what be extended to Presbyterian and appeared in the Panoplist for

Consociated churches. Whilst July, on the want' of ecclesiasticel trbiunals? They are offered we enjoy that mode, which from

education, convenience, or confor publication.

vietion, we prefer, we ought Vol. V. New Serics.


cheerfully to accord the same derstood, in this commonwealth. liberty to others.

Accordingly a minister has nevThese remarks are not de- er, to my knowledge, until very signed to produce indifference on lately, been ordained over a this subject; so far as the Scrip- chuich, without first being jointures are plain and explicit, we ed as a member to that particular are bound to implicit conformity. church. And where is the imBut where any thing is left to our propriety of a minister's being discretion, some weight may, in amenable to the church with a prudential and religious view, which he is connected? Have not be allowed to education, habit, they the best opportunity to judge and attachment.

both of his conduct, and of his When a constitution, either of principles; and to watch over him church or state is established, we

in the Lord? I never until withought not lightly to admit objec. in two years even dreamed, that tions against it. Trying experi. my church was not competent, if ments on such a subject, is nei. there should be occasion, to exther proper nor safe. I admit, communicate me. It is true that that when important evils exist, a minister, who should think we ought not to shut our eyes himself to be excommunicated against them. When an ade without just cause, would have a quate remedy can be clearly right to a council, provided any pointed out, and shown to be ap- members of the church in reguplicable, without considerable in- lar standing would apply for it, convenience, ļo the case in ques. But what could such a council tion, it ought to be adopted. do? Could they force him back But it is a precept founded in into the bosom of the church? sound prudence not to make im- No. The influence of churches portant changes in our situation, over each other is merely an inwithout strong, very strong rea.

fuence of opinion and advice. sons to believe we can improve They might give to the church it. This precept applies with such advice, as they thought increased force to public bodies. proper; but if the church should

The great difficulty contcm- not see reason to adopt it, the plated in the communication to council could only express their wliich I refer, is the want of a cisapprobation of the church's

ower to discipline ministers. I conduct, and receive the inhave always supposed, that they, jured member to their uwn comlike private Christians, are sub. munion, and recommend him to ject to the discipline of the such other churches as might churches with which they are see fit to employ or receive him. connected. No other body is The same remedy is in the power constituted or pointed out in the of any private Christian, as well New Testament for this purpose.

as of a minister. If thy brother ofend against thee,

Let this course of discipline be tell it to the church. The precept kept in view, and many of Oneis general. No exception is made sinus' difficultics will at once in favor of ministers. In this vanish. A minister may be tried sense it was understood by our and excommunicated by his fathers, and is now generally un- church without a council. I

churches generally wave this persons have both a natural and right, and seek the advice of a moral power to destroy that, council, it is from modesty, and which they cannot create. The respect for the ministerial char. civil government of this comacter, not for want of power. monwealth may take away the Should a church be fully convin- life of a criminal, which they ced of the necessity of excom. could never bestow. If the crim. municating its pastor, it might inal happen to be a minister, is with perfect propriety proceed government obliged to wait for to take that melancholy step. If him to be deposed, before they the case were indubitably clear, order him to execution? there would be no call for a coun- Let us apply this analogy. cil. If a minister be thus ex. Though the ministerial and communicated, his ministerial Christian character are distinct, character of course falls to the the former supposes the latter. ground. If he be innocent, the No council or presbytery would burden of proof lies on himself. undertake to ordain a man to the An equal division in a council pastoral office, who was not a called on the occasion cannot visible Christian in regular standsave him. He must obtain a re- ing. Of the Christian character sult positively in his favor. If every church is a competent the council approve the sentence judge. If this be forfeited by a of the church, he stanús con- minister, and declared to be so demned, not by the act of the by the church to which he becouncil, but of the church. Or, longs, his ministerial character, if the church choose to take ad- a fortiori, falls to the ground, as vice before they pronounce sen- it would be destroyed by his extence, still the sentence is their ecution. act, and not that of the council. There appears to me, therea

Against this system, which I fore, to be no need of such a tribelieve to be generally received, bunal as Onesimus has proposed, no Scripture authority can be excepting cases be found, in produced And our Lord has which the ministerial character given a general direction to dis- is implicated, without affecting cipline brethren, without making the person's right to a Christian any exceptions. And what are standing. Such cases are hardly the arguments against the rea- supposable. sonableness of this system? I There are without doubt inknow of only one; and perhaps conveniences attending the conthat might as well be called an gregational method of disciplinassertion, as an argument. “To ing ministers; but not greater, constitute in office, und remove than exist with respect to the from office, are acts belonging to discipline of lay brethren. Our the same power. That authority churches are, to say the least, as only which invests can divest. deficient in the latter, as in the The creating is the annihilating former. Might not an adequate power. Where is the analogy remedy for the whole evil be either in nature or religion, that found in a spirit of increasing supports this principle? Many piety and watchfulness for the

« EelmineJätka »