« PreviousContinue »
1. The early christians repudiated party names. Only the sects and beretics took their names from their founders.
2. Catholicity was the standard of orthodoxy in the interpretation of Scripture.
3. Christians were then, as now, misrepresented on all sides, and had to suffer for their religion.
4. There is a difference between the children of the church, regenerated by holy baptism, and those unbaptized; and it ought to be now, as then, a difference clearly defined and acted upon.
3. All baptized persons were communicants. 6. The communion was celebrated at every act of public worship.
7. Unauthorized laymen were not allowed to take upon themselves the performance of sacred functions.
It will be readily seen that we have lost much of the primitive discipline, and have yet much to do before we can be said truly to emulate the high devotion of the ancient church ; but if all who have given themselves to it will set about the reformation of their own religious practice, striving to rise to the holiness of the saints, and the spirit of the martyrs, they will have taken the first and most effective step towards primitive purity and simplicity.
THE FORCE OF PREJUDICE.
"Whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth
up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him."-St. John.
It was a warm afternoon in July; the sun was fast sinking behind the western bills; the labourers were returning from the fields; and all nature, refreshed by the evening breeze, seemed to unite with the birds, in their vesper song of praise to Him, who has graciously promised, that "seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night, shall not
Twilight was fading away, and the deeper shades of night came creeping on, when the arrival of a stranger interrupted the train of reflections into which the stillness had involuntarily
A female, dressed in the plainest garb, and apparently advanced in life, was slowly wending her way along the lane which led to the porch where I was sitting. After introducing herself, and accepting the rites of hospitality proffered her, the old lady gave the following account of her life, which the writer believes to be
“I was born,” she said, “ in the town of
in Connecticut. My mother died soon after I grew up, leaving my father the entire management of the family. My brothers, one by one, emigrated to the west, and my father determined to follow them. By the advice of friends, I married Mr.
who had long resided in the neighbourhood, and with whom I passed several years very happily. But at length, pecuniary embarrassments overtook us; my husband was taken sick, and the skill of the physician, and the kind attention of friends, were of no avail. He survived but a few days, and I was left a helpless widow without any means of support.
"My only resource was to work for my daily bread, and accordingly I spent my time in spinning for those persons in the neighbourhood who were willing to hire me for this purpose.
“In consideration of my helpless condition, many gave me employment, and I was enabled to live very comfortably.
“ Previous to my husband's death, I had joined the Presbyterian Society in our town, whose religious services I continued regularly to attend. About this time, an Episcopal church was established in the neighbourhood, and I had a great desire to gratify my curiosity, by witnessing their mode of worship, which I had been taught to regard as the height of formality.
“My friends, understanding my wishes, besought me not to throw myself into the way of temptation, but to avoid all intercourse with the Episcopalians, whom they declared to be no better than Romanists, and whose ways were sure to lead to destruction.
“ I was at first awed by these declarations, and thought it my duty to obey. At length I could restrain myself no longer, but determined, like Nicodemus of old, to go by night. I accordingly went to the Episcopal church. The congregation had already assembled. The clergyman was accustomed to deliver an even. ing lecture during the week, and this happened to be on one of these occasions. Instead of dull forms and heartless ceremonies, which I had expected to hear, I found the people audibly uniting in the Lord's Prayer, publicly confessing their faith, in the Apostles' Creed, reverently hearkening to God's holy word, fervently responding at the conclusion of each petition for deliverance from danger, guidance through life, and consolation in death ; and when the prayers were ended, all standing up to sing to the praise and glory of God, one of the Psalms of David. The clergyman delivered an excellent sermon, on the nature of Baptism, and that sacred ordinance assumed a reality and importance to my mind, that it had never done before. I returned home delighted with what I bad witnessed, but was afraid to tell my friends where I had been. The next week I attended again, and was still more confirmed in my former opinions.
“I thought now that I would give any thing in the world if I could converse for a short time with the Episcopal clergyman.
“An opportunity was at length afforded me, and every doubt which I had hitherto cherished, was removed by this interview.
“Besides the beautiful and solemn services, which at first had attracted my attention, I now found many other things to admire.
“Here was a Church, tracing its origin back to Apostolic days, and using the same “ form of sound words, in celebrating the praises and invoking the blessings of God, which Saints, and Martyrs, and Confessors, hundreds of years ago, had left as a rich legacy to their children. Instead of being Romish in her tendencies and practices, she disclaims all allegiance to the Pope, and acknowledges no Supreme Head but Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd and Bishop of Souls,' who laid in Zion a precious corner stone,' and upon the foundation of Apostles and Prophets, reared a 'glorious Church.'
" The divinely appointed Ministry—the duly administered, Sacraments--and the ancient and Scriptural Liturgy, are the chief points which attached me to the Episcopal Church, and induced me to connect myself with it.
“Soon after I had taken this step, my friends heard of the course which I had been pursuing, and they were greatly incensed against me. Finding it impossible to terrify me, as for merly, they deprived me of the opportunity of earning my bread, as I had previously done.
“I was now at a loss what to do. I could obtain no more assistance here, and after mature deliberation, determined to seek aid from my brother, who lived in Western New York. I accordingly set off on foot, with only one shilling in my pocket, to accomplish a journey, which, under the best of circumstances, would prove fatiguing to one, unaccustomed to travelling like myself. Several clergymen of the Church, to whom I told my story, administered to my necessities, and gave me commendatory letters to others of their brethren. In this way my daily wants were supplied, and after walking many a weary mile, I reached my brother's house. He was a good substantial farmer, who lived entirely within himself, and knew very little about what was going on in the world.
“As he only expected to hear from his relatives when they were in distress, he took it as a matter of course, that we were all doing well ; anii was not a little surprised when I made myself known to him.
“He however gave me a hearty welcome, and seemed deeply distressed at my condition. ,
" The next day, as I was conversing with my brother, he happened to ask me something about the Presbyterian church in
I gave him the information he desired, and frankly confessed the change which had taken place in my own religious belief.
“As soon as he heard that I had connected myself with the Episcopal Church, he seemed greatly enraged, and ordered me to leave the house immediately. I took my bundle and went without delay.
My brother offered me no assistance, although at the time he turned me out, he knew that I had only one cent in the world! May God forgive him, as I do!” said the poor woman, with deep emotion; and for a moment she was unable to go on with her story. At length recovering her selfpossession, she proceeded“My heart sunk within me, and I knew not what course to pur
“I knew that my father resided in the State of Ohio, and knowing no other quarter from which to look for aid, I resolved to proceed thither on foot. I am uncertain whether he will receive me or not; but I 'go forth in the strength of the Lord God.' The Bible tells me, the ‘Lord will provide for those who trust in Him, and hitherto, that promise has not failed."
After resting herself for a day or two, the old lady again commenced her journey.
It would be foreign to our purpose, to follow her through all the details of this, and we hasten to the sequel of our story. The month of August was wearing away, before the wanderer reached her destination.
While yet at a distance from her father's house, she accidently heard that age and infirmities had compelled him to give up his own establishment and live with his son, who cultivated an adjoining farm. These were all the particulars she could gather, in regard to the condition of her friends.
It was now eventide, and our traveller with a mind distracted by more conflicting thoughts, quickened her pace as she drew nearer and nearer to the object of her search. At length she reached the farm-yard gate, and with cautious step, approached
the house. A trembling seized her weary frame; her heart beat violently; and she feared, she knew not what. She paused & moment, and heard a voice within the house, which sounded strangely to her ears. It was the voice of supplication and prayer. The words were familiar, and falling on her knees, the old lady united with her friends in worshipping God, in the language which the Church has taught her children to use.
A missionary in his journey, had stopped for the night at the farm, and by request of his host, was conducting Evening Service, and about to administer the Holy Sacrament of Baptism to the younger members of the household.
We are forced to draw a veil over the affecting scene, which followed the recognition of father and child, and freely confess ourselves unable to do it justice. Suffice it to say, that the old man and his son, like the daughter, (whose history we have attempted to give,) became attached to the Church, and now that the family were ntially united once more, they continued to serve God faithfully here, and hoped to dwell with Him in glory hereafter!
One word of application, and we have done. Instead of suffering prejudice to get the better of the judgment, and blunt the common feelings of our nature, how much more becoming a Christian would it be, to examine the grounds of his brother's belief, before pronouncing sentence against him!
God forbid that we should sit in judgment upon others. We may however be allowed to lay down a rule, by which we endeavour to regulate our own conduct. Wben a person of another pursuasion, candidly states the “reason for the hope that is in him,” we listen with patience, and if convinced, are willing to allow that we are wrong. If his arguments prove inconclusive we are more firmly established in what we conscientiously believe to be the “Faith once delivered to the Saints."
“ ALMOST CHRISTIANS." Men who divide their little portion of time between religion and pleasures, between God and God's enemy, think that God is to rule but in His certain period of time, and that our life is the stage for passion and folly, and the day of death for the work of our life. But as to God both the day and night are alike, so are the first and the last of our days; all are His due; and He will account severely with us for the follies of the first and the evil of the last. The evils and the pains are great which are reserved for those who defer their restitution to God's favour till death. And therefore it was well said, that it is not the happy death but the happy life that makes a man blest.-Bishop TAYLOR.