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the bishop of Jerusalem--and most likely their president on that account-issues the necessary decree for the government of the torn and distracted churches of the Gentiles.
One other case is confidently appealed to in support of the right of the private members of churches to give an independent suffrage in the administration of Christian discipline : it is that of the incestuous member of the church at Corinth. The first part of this case is largely referred to in Ist Cor. v., 1 to the end of the chapter; and the second in 2nd Cor. ii., 1-11. This person being expelled from the communion of the church, and also, on his repentance, restored to it again, the sinple question for consideration is whether these took place by the pastoral authority of the Apostle, or by the independent vote of the members constituting the society. We have no account that this church exercised any judgment in the case of this delinquent, but they rather connived at his guilt. The cause is entirely adjudged by the Apostle himself; and it is exclusively on his authority, and by his direction and indeed, command that he is “ put away.” “Fur I, verily,” says the Apostle, “as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged”-or, as the margin reads, “determined-already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath done this deed; In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one upto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” “ Therefore," he says, “ put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” The Apostle does not direct this people to call a church meeting to come to a fair and impartial decision on the suba ject, by a show of hands, and then to separate the guilty person from their communion ; No; he tells them he had “judged already;"' and all that was left to them was the execution of the sentence. It is very clear from internal evidence that they acted on the authority of the Apostle, and the guilty man was expelled.
Repenting of his sin, this poor man was restored to his forfeited fellowship with the church. The only remaining question is whether he was restored by the ministerial authority of St. Paul, or by the free and independent suffrages of the people ? Evidently by the direction and instruction of the Apostle. It should seem that they were disposed to treat the penitent with some degree of harshness; and hence the Apostle tells them "Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many,”-settling by this the amount and termination of his punishment. He then directs them to “ forgive him,” to “ comfort him," to “ confirm their love towards him;" that he was ready to “ forgive the sin for their sakes, in the person of Jesus Christ ;" and he tells them he had written to them on this subject-probably referring to his former as well as his present communication that he might have a “proof whether they were obedient in all things." The language of St. Paul is much more soft and gentle in his directions on the subject of the restoration of the penitent than in the expulsion of the profligate ; but this last expression demonstrates that he required the church to do both as an act of obedience to his pastoral and Apostolical authority ; and did not direct them to exert what is now considered an inherent right and power possessed by all the private members of the church, either in their own persons or by their delegates, viz.-an independent suffrage in the government of the societies and the adipinistration of its discipline.
Having carefully and, we are certain, candidly examined the most considerable passages which those who are favourable to the democratic scheme of exorch government judge most essential to their argnment, without one iota of proof that they are so, we now feel ourselves free to offer positive evidence that the administration of discipline was committed into the hands of the pastors of the church by the Apostles, down to the period when the inspired narrative is closed.
The names employed to designate the sacred office are all descriptive of authority. ETIOHOTOS,-Bishop-Parkhurst describes, “ An overseer, an inspector; one who hath the inspection and oversight-a superintendent." TlgEOCUTECO5 - Presbyter or Elder Amongst the Jews, an elder of the people, or elder of the synagogue, as an alderman amongst ourselves, was an officer of authority. Stillingfieet, and many other writers have shown that the term as applied to the ministerial office, was borrowed from the Jews, and had the same signification as amongst them. Hence, bishop and elder, are indiscriminately used in the sacred writings, in reference to the same person. IIoljnu - Pastor - is a term used of God: “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want ;' of Christ : “I aon the good shepherd, the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep ;" of political rulers, or kings : “Cyrus-he is my shepherd, and sball perform my pleasure ;" so of ministers : " He gave some--pastors and teachers." The phrase is taken from the well known practice of the shepherd tending, guard. ing, watching over, and leading his flock, in the wilderness. Amongst other terms en). ployed, in describing the ministerial office, is that of Kußegnosis-rendered “governments." There has been much difference of opinion on the question, whetber this was a distinct office, or a quality and attribute of the functions of the ministry in general ;but none respecting the meaning of the word. We find in the same enumeration of gifts—“ miracles, gifts of bealing, prophets, teachers, diversities of tongues ;' now it is well known that none possessed these so fully as the Apostles and other ministers ; consequently, they are, in these cases, descriptive of endowments, several of which were enjoyed by the same individual. In like manner, “ governie ments" is not, we conceive, a distinct and separate order of office, but the quality of an office already existing. The term itself is highly important and expressive. It refers to the pilot managing or steering a ship; he had the care of the ship and government of the seamen therein, and sat at the stern to steer ; all things were managed according to his directions." On the whole, tbe fair inference from the signification of these names to erery person desirous to know the truth, is, that the office of the ministry is one of spiritual superintendence and a thority.
The instructions of the Apostles to the inferior officers of the church, relative to the discharge of their duties and the appointment of other persons, go to prove that the administration of discipline was in the hands of these officers. St. Paul's address to the Elders of Ephesus is to the point :- "Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” The reason assigned is most affecting; and is, alas ! applicable to other times, places, and men :-"For I know this, that after my departing shall grievons wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also, of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away lisciples after them." How descriptive-to the letter-is this statement of the evils existing amongst us at this day! But we must wave this ; it is with the Apostle's address to the officers of the Ephesian church that we have now to do. He states that “the Holy Ghost," and not the votes of the church, had made them overseers ; and then the term by which they are designated, “overseers," is itself expressive of pastoral superintendence, care, and authority. They were "to take heed to all the flock," and also to feed the church of God, which he had purchased with his own blood." Here tben we have not the remotest reference to the independent suffrages of this church. Had this been the form of government, the whole case might have been differently stated. The Apostle, one would think, would either have sent for the church, visited them, or if he chose only to have seen the Elders, he would have instructed them to use these pastoral functions in such manner as to secure the independent rigbts of the people; to be careful to take their votes on questions of discipline; and to administer the rules of the society in conformity with the judgment of the multitude, freely expressed. Nothing of this occurs, and these " overseers” are held responsible for the security of the flock.
In a similar style, St. Peter addresses himself to the Elders of the church :-" The Elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an Elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker of the glory which shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but ensamples to the flock." Here again, the elders are instructed to "feed and take the oversight of the Aluck." They are directed to do it “ willingly," not for "filthy lucre, or to lord it over God's heritage;" but still they are to do it : that is, they are to do a lawful thing in a lawful manner. As this word, “ feed," occurs very often in connec-' tion with this subject of spiritual orersight, it may be worth remarking, that it means to lead and govern, as well as to supply nutriinent to the flock. In this sense, it is em. ployed in reference to Christ. And thou, Bethiehem, in the land of Juda, art not the jeast among the princes of Juda : for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule (IIosuavệi) my people Israel.” As the term is used in reference to the inferior pastors of the church, it must include this meaning, subject to such limitations as must always attach to the rank they hold in the Christian economy.
Respecting the mode of appointing officers, and the powers conferred, by this ap, pointment, Dr. Hill strikingly observes, in his Lectures
« Accordingly the qualifications of those who were to be made Bishops, and Elders, and Deacons are mentioned, not in Epistles to the churches; but in Epistles to Timothy and Titus, who are directed to the proper method of trying such as might be admitted to take part with them in overseeing the church of God. Tbe judgment of the qualifications is vested in those, who, having been themselves, found qualified, may be supposed capable of trying others; their act, following upon their approbation, is the solemn investiture of those whom they have found worthy; and they are the instruments by which Jesus Christ conveys to that order of men, which he meant to continue in his church till the end of the world, the authority implied in the exercise of their office." • In conformity with these views, we find these two eminent evangelists were di:ected to appoint persons to the office of the ministry. After having largely described the oua. lifications of a bishop, and also of a deacon, in 1st Timothy iii 1-13, he adds, “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly. But if I tarry long. that thou mayest know how thon oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." These directions did not refer to bis private walk as a Christian, but how he might act in the regulation
of the churchi, as regarded its officers. In 2nd Timothy, ii. 2, he says, “ And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." To Titus, we have similar instructions, chap i. 5-“For this cause left 1 thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain Elders in every city, as I bad appointed thee."
The appointment to the ministerial office being thus evidently not from the church, but from the Lord, by the ordination of the Evangelists and Elders, on evidence given of their qualification ; the next question is-whether they are beld responsible for the administration of the entire system of Christianity, or whether an exception is made on the subject of discipline? Ample instruction and adınonition is given on the subject of their spirit, example, and doctrinal fidelity; but do we find any directions respecting their accountability to their divine master for the faithful adminisiration of his laws. They are held responsible ; and, indeed, the passages on this subject are truly awful and appal, ling. "They watch for your souls,” says St. Paul, “as they that must give an ac. count." This is best elucidated in the several Epistles to the Angels of the seven Asia tic churches. These messages froin our Lord, no doubt, are intended for the reproof and amendment of the churches themselves ; but they are made to their several pastors, and what is unusual--the singular number is used in them all. The church is addressed in the person of its“ Angel," and be seems to be taken as the representative of the society. All the charges of corrupt doctrine and antinomian practice are denounced on him first, and then through him, upon the respective churches ; so that, while they are the subjects of rebuke in the second and remoter degree, he is so in the first instance, and is made to meet the frowns and anger of the injured Savionr. “To the Angel of the church of Epbesus,"-" I have somewhat against thee,"_" Thou hast left thy first lové, "-" Remember from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do thy first works ; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place except thou repent,"_"To the Angel of the church of the Laodicenns write :- thore art neither cold nor lot~so, then, because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spne thee out of my mouth." This is the style of these Epistles, and it clearly shows that these “ Angels" had fallen with the people, and were made the special subjects of rebuke; and were held responsible in a high degree for the corrupt state of the churches, and must give an account. "I charge thee," says St. Paul io Timothy, “therefore, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdoin. Preach the word, be instant in season and out of season ; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doce trine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine ; but after their own hearts shall they keep to themselves teachers having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
In accordance with these sentiments, the people are commanded"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief." Innumerable passages speak the same language, but the limits of our little publication forbid us to proceed. This subject is by no means exhausted, and we are quite aware that there is another side of the question. That there is a right and a wrong way of administering the discipline of the church, and that its officers are bound to adhere to the rules and principles of the New Testament; that they have no right to “ Jord it over God's heritage "-to exercise“ dominion over the failli of" the people to infringe on their just and scriptural riglits, or in any way to prevent their full enjoyment of all the privileges of the Christian fellowship-to make that fellowship irksome and uneasy, or any thing, indeed, but a rich blessing ; in a word-the order of the church ought to be so maintained as to secure the full enjoyment of Christian blessings to all its members, and also to encourage and develope their virtues and gifts for usefulness in any department to which God may call them. Hence wisdom, gentleness, impartiality, long-suffering, and the tenderness of love, in the highest degree, must be requisite in those who are called to the onerous and difficult task of superintending Christian societies. No church officer can have the right to exercise discipline in an arbitrary manner. His commission obliges him to observe the rules of that spiritual kingdom in which Christ has been pleased to call him to office. These views are not at all inconsis. tent with our previous remarks; and we are as much prepared to support the rights of the people against the aggressions of tyranny, as we are to vindicate those of the pastoral office against the claims and pretensions of a novel democracy. We are persuaded, that the only way of preserving the purity and liberty of the church, is, for all parties to keep in that position in which the laws of the institution place them, abstaining from the invasion of each others immunities, and also cherishing a frank, generous, and affectionate spirit.
We imagine, our argument from the scriptures, shows that there is no foundation in the laws of Christ, and the practices of the primitive cburch, for the assumptions of the Manchester meeting of Delegates—which, stripped of the verbiage in which its leading principle is couched, and reduced to the form of a simple proposition, is neither more nor less, than, that the administration of the chorch is not a subjcct of scriptural appointment, but is the free and independent right of the people in their associated capa, city. That they originate its offices, fill them, interfere with and control the whole economy, and consequently so modify the Christian institution as to make it altogether a system of freemasonry. This assumption we totally deny, and hope we have proved that the governinent of the church is provided for by its Head.
While we utterly reprobate and denounce a spirit of division, so entirely inconsis. tent with the principles and maxims of Christianity, we would inculcate upon all with whom we have influence, the duty of studying with that attention which the importance of the subject demands, the great topic of Christian unity, in perfect harmony with diversity. He who understands this, will not only pray for, but endeavour to keep, the peace of Jerusalem. It is possible for Christian societies to be joined together in the same mind and the same judgment, or it would not have been enjoined upon them by divine authority; at the same time, it is probable, they may not all see eye to eye, in things which are minor and non-essential On subjects which do not affect the constitution, harmony, and prosperity of a Christian community, diversity of sentiment may and ought to be allowed ; and in no society of Christians is such a latitude of sentiment permitted, as in the Wesleyan connexion. But we are more and more convinced that schism has its origin, not so much in the head as in the heart. The intolerant spiritual pride, the “ineffable hypocrisy," and the debasing selfishness which have marked the track of the “Central Association,” wherever they have made inroads on the peaceful churches of our Zion, have been followed by those divisive and withering influences on the welfare of our societies, which are equally revolting to common sense, natural liberty, and Christian charity. Individuals are to be found, in close connexion with our body who do not fully and implicitly approve of every usage found in the connexion with which they are united; these, however, to their honour be it spoken, have never been associated with those who are the first to sound the alarm of war. -They have found it much better in lesser matters, if they have faith to have it to themselves before God and to exercise forbearance and self-denial, rather than, for the sake of some trifling difference, to endeavour to originate a new party, or remain destitute of the blessings, and violate the obligations of social Christianity.
Happy would it have been for many, if, prior to the breaking out of those unprincipled dissensions, which have recently disturbed the peace of certain societies, had the members diligently and calmly endeavoured to understand those leading principles on which the Wesleyan constitution is based. They would not then have suffered by being driven with the wind of discord, or tossed by the waves of religious agitation. They would have been able to have given an answer to every one that asked them, respecting the why and wherefore of the Methodist economy, they would not have been at the mercy of every stammerer in ecclesiastical,; and, especially, in Wesleyan polity, who fancied he had a gift to tinker the old, or to frame a new constitution for the connexioq; but like men grounded and settled, they would not only have been able to speak with the enemy in the gate, but maye put to silence the ignorance of foolish factious and discontented men. Beneficial results are already arising out of this controversy, the youth of the body are directing their attention to the principles of the constitution, and a spirit of inquiry has gone abroad, which we bail as the dawn of a far more glorious day than olden Methodism ever saw, and which will not fail to render the connexion still more efficient, as an instrument in the hand of providence in the evangelization of the world. Add to this, our youth in the ranks of the ministry, have not been unconcerned spectators of the struggle; they have responded to the call of duty, and have buckled on the armour; they have displayed an indefatigable promptitude in hastening to their respective scenes of conflict, and quitting themselves as men anxious for the welfare of the ark of God, and the safety of the flock of Christ, they have manifested a spirit worthy those able and undaunted veterans in the church, whose sons in the ministry they are. The aspect of the rising generation of Methodists both lay and clerical augurs sufficiently for us, of the healthy and vigorous condition of the parent; and while the children are ready on all occasions to honor and esteem their fathers, whose hoary locks proclaim the lengthened years “ in which they have borne the burden and heat of the day,” those fathers we know will not be ashamed of their children.
On indisputable authority, we are warranted in stating, that inattention to the principles of the Wesleyan constitution, and a want of an acquaintance with the relation which each class of officers bears to the other, have led to the propagation of an opinion, which is at once in direct opposition to the existing laws of Methodism, and
calculated to diffuse a spirit of discontent and insubordination and radical democracy, pot only to the injury, but to the utter destruction of peace and order in any society, whether civil or religious. Hence it has been said, that in the late proceedings in the Liverpool North and South circuits, the preachers have most lamentably exceeded the bounds of the law, in their eagerness to expel individuals from the church of God, by removing them from the society without a majority of the leaders' meeting consenting to such removal. In justification of this charge against the preachers, the dissentients have referred to a collection of rules, * published in the year 1800, in which the word “majority” is found; they say, in “ explanation of the usage then prevalent in taking the sense of a leaders' meeting on the expulsion of a member or officer” of the society. It is sufficient for us to state, that this edition” of the rules is altogether unauthorised in the body; in fact, no code of Methodistic law at present in existence, is authentic, but the Minutes of the Conference, as published annually; and to these docu.
shall we refer as authoritative and binding. We say then, that inattention to the principles of the Wesleyan constitution, and want of acquaintance with the relative position of the various office-bearers in the body, have led most decidedly to the adoption of the idea just mentioned. We are told, as if ex cathedra, that leaders are, bona fide, the pastors of the Methodist society; if this principle be conceded, and it is the office of a leader to govern and rule the church, then, we must acknowledge, they have a right, in common with the preacher, to fix the punishment due to an offender. This, however, we must unequivocally deny; and in a future number, shall not fail fully and deliberately to bring this topic before our readers. The question now before us, is this: have the preachers gone beyond law in the expulsions which have recently taken place ? In order duly to investigate this point, we ask, what are the powers which are constitutionally possessed by the leaders' meet, ings, respecting the admission or expulsion of members from the society? We answer as follow:
“(1.)-The leaders' meeting shall have a right to declare any person on trial improper to be received into the society; and after such declaration, the superintendent shall not admit such person into the society.
"(2.)-No person shall be expelled from the society for immorality, till such immorality be proved at a leaders' meeting."-Minutes of Conference, vol. 1, p. 375.
From this we learn that the expulsion of members is by no means made the act of a majority in the leaders' meetings. If the above law could by any rule of propriety be so interpreted, it must inevitably follow that the superintendent is not only stripped of an important part of his pastoral authority, but also of all responsibility in regard to the acts of this majority." But in direct opposition to this we read, page 377, of the sáme document, that “the members of our societies are delivered from every apprehension of clandestine expulsions, as that superintendent would be bold indeed who would act with partiality or injustice, in the presence of the whole meeting of the leaders. Such a superintendent, we trust, we have not among us; and if such there ever should be, we should be ready to do all possible justice to our injured brethren." This extract sufficiently proves that the lat does not contemplate an interpretation which makes the expulsion of members the act ande deed of a majority ; the responsibility of the punishment rests upon the superintendent. 16,
A leaders' meeting is not a legislative assembly; this is the character of the Conference, and which so far from being surrendered by the concessions of 1797-was explicitly recognised and confirmed by the delegates then gathered together, and instead of this recognition from being surreptitiously introduced by a ruse de guerre of the preachers, it was actually drawn up by the delegates themselves, and adopted almost verbatim et literatim by the Conference. The public avowal of the Conference as the supreme authority of the connexion emanated from the lay delegates, and this authority the Conference will not-dare not surrender. The leaders' meeting was also constituted by the concessions of 1797 so far a judicial assembly by making the leaders the judges of the guilt or innocence of the parties accused; more than this the delegates of 1797 did not desire. They saw that constituting the leaders' meeting a legis. lative assembly, all fixed rules as standing authority would, in effect and operation, be abrogated, and the connexion be thrown to the mercy of mutable majorities. Law
* The Association has said much respecting a certain document published at the book-room in 1800, which they denominate “an edition of the rules of society;" on examination, this pamphlet is found to be nothing more than a gratuitous exposition of Methodistic law, destitute of a name and published by no authority. We regret that the lesson the Association was taught in the Courts of Chancery-when an attempt was made to foist upon both the Lord and Vice-Chancellor an un-official copy of miscellaneous extracts from the Minutes of Conference, in the place of the proper and authorised “Form of discipline esta. blished among the preachers and people in the Methodist societies," but which was rejected by both thos. legal authorities---did not lead them to refrain from the attempt of practising an imposition, equally cross, on the Methodist societies. When will the Association learn common honesty ?-ED..