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till ye go thence; and whosoever shall not receive you, shake off the dust of your feet. Be ye therefore, wise as serpents, but harmless as doves. Beware of men, but when they shall deliver you up, take no thought how, or what you shall speak. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another."
Again, Matthew xxiii. 1, 2, 3, "Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
"Saying, The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
"All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” Verse 9, "Call no man your father upon earth, for one is your Father which is in heaven."
Verse 10, "Neither be ye called master, for one is your Master even Christ."
Again, In Luke xii. 22, 29, 33, "Take no thought for your life what ye shall eat, neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
"And seek not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither ye of doubtful mind.
"Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth."
To those who hear his voice the Saviour says, Matthew v. 16, 33, 34, 37, 39, 40, 41, 42, 44, 48, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
"Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths.
"But I say unto you, Swear not at all: neither by heaven; for it is God's throne, &c.
"But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
"But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
"And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
"Give to him that asketh thee; and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away,
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
Again, In the sixth of this gospel, 3, 4, 6, 7, 16, 17, 18, 19, 25, 31, 34:
"But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth;
"That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.
"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and, when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
"But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
"Moreover, when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward. "But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
"That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. "Therefore, I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment ?
"Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
"Take therefore, no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
Again, In the seventh chapter, 6, 21, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."
And John xiv. 15, "If ye love me, keep my commandments.". And xv. 14, "Ye are my friends, if ye do wHATSOEVER I Command you."
These are a few of the plainest and most positive precepts, given by our Saviour to his disciples. Mark xiii. 37, " And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch." It is not the spirit of these precepts, that hath set aside the letter or the literal observance thereof. I am persuaded, if professing Christians were to prove themselves disciples of our Lord, by thus doing whatsoever the Saviour commands them, it would give a grand opportunity for the exercise of those "fervent charities," of which you speak.
Assuredly, these precepts are as obligatory upon all the disciples of our Lord, as any injunctions relative to ordinances or church discipline. Can you, my venerable friend, conceive why reformers in every age of the world, since the promulgation of the gospel, have been so much more attentive to ordinances, to forms, and to ceremonies, and this for the express purpose of proving their obedience, than to the abundantly more weighty precepts enjoined by our divine Master? Yes, you know the reason why they are subject to ordinances; for the same reason, that certain persons made shrines. Acts xix. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28.
But you will urge, the abuse of an institution should not oblige us to lay aside the use thereof; very true, and I am persuaded it never will. For example; the abuse of water, bread, and wine, will not prevent the disciples of Jesus Christ from making such use of those elements, as his word and spirit directs. Our Saviour took bread and blessed it, and giving it to his disciples, told them it was his body, and directed them to eat it. He also took the wine, and told them it was his blood, commanding them to drink it, and they all drank of it, Matthew xxvi. 26, 27. Mark xiv. 22, 23. And Luke xxii. 19, 20. This bread, and this wine, the disciples were directed to eat and drink, in remembrance of their, of the world's Saviour. It does not appear, that our Saviour gave any directions with respect to time, place, or manner. But after he had ascended up into heaven, numbers who professed faith in him and his salvation, meeting together in one place, Acts ii. 1, and 1 Corinthians xi. 20, brake bread, but not in one place only; they brake bread from house to house, eating their meat with gladness and and singleness of heart. Acts ii. 46. And 1 Corinthians xi. 25, "This do ye, as oft as ye eat and drink, in remembrance of me."
As you are acquainted with my ideas of the symbolic bread and wine, it will not be necessary that I should enlarge on this particular part of our subject, and I have only to observe, that as there are no figures of our salvation, and the salvation of the world, which more clearly teaches the grace of the gospel than the bread and wine, so there are no figures of which true believers are more fond. Acting up to their character, they never neglect to make that use of them, which their divine Master required; and they faithfully adopt the sentiments of the Apostle Paul, who, writing to the Corinthians, affirms, That as oft as they eat bread, and drink wine, they do shew forth the Lord's death until he come. But if I never dare to eat bread, and drink wine as a devotional act, but when in a particular company, and a particular place, as I am not thus stimulated or thus restrained by a command of God, I am certainly walking after the imaginations of my own heart.
I am exhorted by the spirit of God, to do all things to the glory of God, 1 Corinthians x. 31: "Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
As I am not commanded never to eat bread, nor drink wine, except in a church and at certain seasons, broken by a person who represents our Saviour, and handed by him to certain persons who personate his first disciples, and by those to the multitude. I say, as none of these forms wear the stamp of divine authority, I am not bound by them. As, however, I shall always behold the bread and wine with devout gratitude, I can have no objection to communicate with such who may unite with me, in discerning the body of our Lord; and as I said, I shall always, while under the influence of religious impressions, view the bread and wine with pious thankfulness. I shall not venerate those figures the less, for receiving them in communing with associating Christians, with those who are not ambitious of exhibiting a show of will, worship, and humility, who behold the head of every man, holding fast the profession of their faith without wavering. The true believer is eager to profess his Lord and Master before men, and living by faith on the Son of God, he will consider him as the one thing needful, the better part which can never be taken from him. He hath always the answer of a good conscience, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Is he opposed by the world, the flesh, or the devil; do they seek to intimidate him by threats, still he is not terrified; he will fight the good fight of faith, 1 Timothy
vi, 12, he will lay hold on eternal life whereunto he is also called ; having professed a good profession before many witnesses. The Christian weapon is the sword of the spirit, which sword, is the word of God, the word which alone abideth forever. The Christian, the true Christian disdaineth any other weapon.
I am far, however, from censuring those who are subject to the use, even of the ordinances appointed by men. I only think there is no christianity in such obedience. We are obedient to the divine commands, no farther than we walk by the Christian rule; but I know no society in this world who walk by the rule Christ has laid down, or even in the steps of as many as were true believers among the primitive Christians. There are, I believe, numbers who are established in the belief of the same divine truth, and, believing in their hearts, that God raised the Lord Jesus from the dead, they shall be saved. Romans x. 9.
However, I should be glad to see a society of Christians continuing steadfast in the apostolic doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayers; and wherever the first Christians acted consistent with the spirit and letter of our great Master's directions, I should be glad to see their example followed; but no further. In Acts iv. 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, we have a glorious view of the first Christians. They are described as filled with the Holy Ghost; the multitude of believers were of one heart, and one mind, neither said any that ought of the things which he possessed were his own, but they had all things in common, neither were there any among them that lacked; for as many as were possessors of lands or houses, sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostle's feet: and distribution was made unto every man, according as he had need. This did very well, where every one was filled with the Holy Ghost, and were consequently, all of one soul. In such a church as this, I should be glad to see deacons chosen, because in such a church as this it would not be difficult to find them. Where all were filled with the Holy Ghost, it was easy to find seven men of good, of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost, and of wisdom. In such a church, I should rejoice to witness the laying on of hands. There we find the Holy Ghost was really given by the imposition of hands, and that it was not in word only, is manifested by its effect upon Simon, who being of a mercenary disposition, would have purchased this gift, for the purpose of making merchandise thereof. When Paul laid his