Page images
PDF
EPUB

full propriety, in the requests found- ly cherish a union of feeling and ed on the implication of them? If sentiment as far as was practicable the congregation is not expected to in this imperfect state, but that they join, what shall they do with them- should evince to the world, likeselves, while the minister is confes. wise, their oneness. But however sing and praying aloud by bim- important such a union in affection, self?

interest, and exertion, may be I would not have these remarks among the followers of Christ in so applied as to exclude all impli- general, it must appear pre-emincation of the preacher's need of ently so among those whom Cbrist assistance, or all prayer for his di- commissions to preach his gospel rection. I wish only to put it to and to feed the flock of God. the good sense and piety of those One reason why Christians are who are called to the responsible to cherish this mutual affection is, and difficult office of guiding our that the reality and excellence of desires, and framing our petitions, religion may be witnessed by the and uttering them in our stead be people of the world. Now this arfore the Majesty of heaven, wheth- gument acquires strength proporer all that is necessary and useful tionably as the members of Christ's may not be attained without danger church are elevated, and become of the frequent improprieties, and conspicuous by their station in the the occasional scandals, that now

church. Ministers occupy an emdisturb the devotions of Christian inence which not only enables them assemblies.

E. K. to take an extended and minute sur

vey of their flock, but enables, also,

their flock to view them, and not IMPORTANCE OF UNION AMONG MIN

their flock only, but the world. If ministers, therefore, maintain this

Christian unity among themselves, The Saviour and his apostles en- the evidence of it must have a more deavor to inculcate the importance extensive and benign influence of unity of spirit among all those upon others, than the same union who constitute the household of could have among those who hold faith. In the prayer of our Sav- less conspicuous stations in the iour, John xvii., we have this peti church. It would have the addition, That they all may be one, and tional tendency of destroying the in the Epistle to the Eph. iv. 3., too prevalent opinion even among the following injunction-Endeav- churches, that particular churches oring to keep the unity of the spirit are not component parts of the in the bond of peace. He then pro- same church ; for when they saw ceeds to explain the reason for this ministers, watching over particular injunction. There is one body and churches, exercising the same unione spirit, even as ye are called in ty of spirit for one another, which one hope of your calling ; one Lord, the most faithful and affectionate in one faith, one baptism ; one God the same branch of the church gen. and Father of all, who is above all, eral, exercise for each other, they and through all, and in you all. All would be induced to consider the that was Christian among believers cause of Christ one, and the spirit proceeded from the same source, one. Local interests would not be partook of the same nature, held a regarded as the boundary of Chriscommunity of interest, and tended tian unity, nor particular churches to the same end. It was very de- be looked upon as insulated bodies, sirable, therefore, that all who were in no sense one, except as they bethus united in spirit, should not on- come so by mutual consent.

ISTERS.

How ne

Churches, which do not see their Another reason for Christian ministers thus united in Christian unity is, that the church of Christ affection, do sooner, if we mistake may combine her influence and not, result in this conclusion, than efforts against the common enemy. their ministers are aware.

The spirit of the world is opposed Another reason for the injunc. to the true church of Christ, and it tion upon Christians to maintain always will be. And it has always the unity of the spirit in the bond of been an object of prime importance peace, is the mutual benefit of be with the world to divide Christians lievers. It is too often witnessed in their affections and exertions, in churches, that where the unity and when they have succeeded in of the spirit is impaired among the this, they have always realized a members, their graces languish, temporary advantage. their enjoyment in divine things be- cessary, then, is it for Christians to comes feeble, and their prayers for maintain the unity of the spirit in each other are hindered Jeal- order to promote the interests of ousies and animosities succeed, Zion in the world? Divided, they and the ways of Zion mourn. But are overcoine and carried into capwhen mutual affection is cherished, tivity; united, they are invariably they grow in grace, they are mutual successful. Ministers are interesthelps, they are happy, and their ed in an eminent degree in these profiting appears unto all. No less truths.

If it is a grand object with important in this respect is Chris- the enemy to lead captive the tian unity among ministers. By church, it is of no less importance their peculiar office, they seem to be in their view, to assail, divide, and as intimately connected with each subdue her ministers. The first, other in the church general, as the last, and the greatest efforts members of particular churches are, are made to this end. And if minand this connexion is solemnly re- isters are alienated from one anoth cognised on the day of their con- er in their affections, and do not secration to the sacred office. And strive to act in concert and to such is their mutual dependency support each other in the general that a neglect among them to cul- cause, the church suffers as the tivate a oneness of spirit is even consequence. more prejudicial to their spiritual If union among ministers be so improvement, than a similar neg. blessed to themselves, and so detrilect among private members. So mental to the adversaries of the numerous and momentous are their church, we see the propriety of duties, and, so often are they in- considering what means ought to volved in doubt respecting duty, be used by them to promote it. that they need the counsel of en- The principle of Christian unity lightened and experienced triends, results from love to God. It those who are elevated above the never exists where love to God narrow principle of selfishness, does not exist, and it can never be ambition, or prejudice, and who wholly absent where love to God can give advice with a genuine, does exist, and, in general, it rises fraternal affection, and a supreme or falls as love to God flourishes or regard to the glory of Christ. declines in the soul. The direct They need the prayers of those course, then, for ministers to purwho can best understand their pe- sue in order to cherish and perpet culiar circumstances. And where uate Christian unity among themshall the ministers of Christ find selves is to maintain a fervent love those counsellors, and from whom for God, to feel their obligations receive those prayers, unless they to Christ, and to contemplate the are found among their brethren? importance of his cause in this

world. Were they to do this, and that they should ever indulge is to consider how much depended on free reflections, or dark insinuations, their union as saints and ministers; upon the character and conduct of were they to contemplate the bles- those, of whom they can have, sedness of their union in heaven, perhaps, but an imperfect knowl. and how soon they will be forever edge, as it respects their peculiar one in the services and praises of circumstances and motives, and heaven, they would, most assuredly, against whom they can advance no feel the influence of Christian af- weightier objection, than that they fection here, and never would this conscientiously deviate from them heaven-born principle suffer less in the mode of communicating reliworthy passions to rise and weaken gious instruction, or in the manner the bond of their union. It seems

of their regulating their social inhighly important, also, that they tercourse with the world. We say should feel bound to pray for each such a course is to be lamented, other, for their personal growth in because it tends to impair the congrace, and their success in the min. fidence, which ministers ought to istry. Were they to feel more their possess in each other, and to alien: mutual dependence, they would, ate their affections; and should undoubtedly, love more. Mutual this spirit of criticism extend to all dependence between parents and the internal regulations of their children tends to increase mutual brethren in their respective parishlove. It is the same, in a greater es, not suffering even their gestures or less degree, with all connexions to escape censure, it would naturaland associations in life. This is a ly, and perhaps unavoidably, render wise regulation in the kingdom of the Christian tie but feebly operanature, and is doubtless so in the tive. Such a consequence must be kingdom of grace. And in this viewed with deep regret by all who state of imperfection with the be- hold Zion's interests paramount to liever, ministers ought to cherish a all other considerations. spirit of forgiveness toward each If ministers would by all means other, as well as toward all men, keep the unity of the spirit among when occasional differences arise, themselves, they ought to be peculor when remarks are made concern- iarly watchful against attempting ing each other in the hurry of innovations upon the established thought, or business, which neither usage of their brethren in their prudence nor brotherly love would respective parishes, when they are dictate. This spirit of forgiveness on exchanges, or are otherwise ministers inculcate upon their flocks, called within the acknowledged juand they realize how difficult it is risdiction of their brethren, and for any church to dwell together in against affording their advice upon unity, and not exercise it ; but it is ex parte evidence to the disaffected no less necessary for ministers to of the flocks over which their brethdo the same, one towards another, ren are placed. It is well known in order to secure among them the that great evils have originated from unity of the spirit. But it is vastly this source. Not only churches important that ministers should not have been rent by it, but neighdepend so much upon obtaining the bouring watchmen, have had their forgiveness of their brethren for in- affections cooled towards each othjuries sustained, as upon giving no er, and they have ever after walked occasion for the exercise of it. It as though jealous of each other's is lamentable that they should ever motives and influence. It is natural be unsparing of the feelings and for disaffected members in a church good influence of their brethren ; to endeavour to strengthen them

selves by making an impression fa- EXPOSITION OF 1 CORINTHIANS XV. vourable to their cause on the minds

29. of the clergy in their vicinity. They Else what shall they do who are baptized resort to them in apparent concern for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? to know what is duty under such why are they then baptised for the dead?

1 Corinthians xv. 29. and such circumstances. They wish to be told where the evil ex- MANY explanations have been ists. Ministers thus addressed, given of this passage of Scripture. may say no more perhaps than that Spanhemnius, in his celebrated dis“ if this is the true statement of putation on the subject, which was facts, there must be wrong in the originally written in Latin, and an church or minister,” not intending English translation of which was by any means to forestall judgment published in the year of Christ one in the case, or to give advantage in thousand six hundred and eighty a party. But advantage is made of five, recited fifteen different expoit by the disaffected they return sitions of the text, from as many and report the saying without any commentators, who had gone beof its qualifying terms; many are

fore him. These commentators he induced by this to co-operate with divided into three classes. them; the opposition is strength

The first class contained all, who ened, and the pastor and church adopted the opinion, that the Greek are often too much inclined to at- verb βαπτιζεσθαι, which occurs in the tribute this advice to a criminal text, is there used to signify sacraofficiousness, or want of love in the mental baptism. brother minister, and their Chris. The second embraced all who tian union is impaired.

That these contended that it is used to denote evils may never rise, ministers ablution, cleansing, or common ought to be watchful on such occa- washing. sions, and not wittingly or unwit

And the third included all who tingly, become the instruments of supposed it to mean baptism of promoting dissensions in churches, blood, afflictions, the cross, martyror cooling the affections of the dom. brethren.

He enrolled himself in the first We not only perceive, then, that class, and expressed his own opinChristian unity among ministers is ion in the following words. “Those of the first importance to the cause dead persons, on whose account of Christ, and to themselves, but some may be said to have been that it can be maintained only by baptized, to wit, many martyrs, and cherishing the supreme love of other saints deceased, who receivGod, by mutual prayer for eached with a courageous, constant, and other, by exercising an expansive cheerful mind, all kinds of punishbenevolence towards our fellow ment, yea death itself, whether men, and by avoiding all those violent, by persecution, or natural, things which we would not have by sickness, in hope of a blesothers do to us, things which tend sed resurrection. Which fortitude to weaken and destroy the tie, and constancy of mind in these by which grace has united the dead,who so died in the Lord, while hearts of believers for the most ex- many beheld with their eyes, and alted purposes. Let us, then, en

resolved in their minds, observing deavor to keep the unity of the no such thing in the Gentiles, they spirit in the bond of peace.

were thereby induced to embrace N. N. the faith of Christ, and desired to be

baptized."

Some of this class have supposed for baptism immediately after the that by those, who were “ baptized martyrdom of their brethren, or at for the dead,” were intended all their funerals; as if fresh soldiers who have been baptized in the should enlist and press forward to name of Christ since his death. the assault to supply the places of

Others bave believed that they those who had fallen in battle. Thus are intended, who are now dead, they professed their faith in Christ, and who, while living, were bap- and ventured the rage of their en. tized in the name of Christ.

emies, at the very time when others Others again have believed that had been put to death for the gospel. the apostle had reference only to But what advantage could they prothe resurrection of Christ ; and that pose to themselves from such a conthe text was introduced to show duct, if there were no resurrection! the absurdity of those who are bap- Or what wisdom could there be in tized in the name of Christ, and yet so doing? For in their case, Chrisdeny his resurrection. If Christ tianity itself would lose the great has never been raised from the evidence of its truth : even the imdead, why should we be baptized in mortality of the soul might be called his name? Hammond believed in question ; believers were yet in that it intended the profession of their sins ; and they, who had died futh concerning the resurrection as martyrs, had lost their souls as or the dead, which was required of well as their lives. persons at their baptisms, which Mr Locke, when speaking of the represented, as he thought, the bu- text, said, “What this baptizing for rial and resurrection of Christ. the dead was, I confess I know not,

Brza supposed that the apostle but it seems, by the following verses, intended the washing of dead bod. to be something wherein they ex. ies, among the Jews and Christians posed themselves to the dangers of before they were buried, which he death." thought was a profession that they Dr. James Macknight, who was expected to be raised from the

one of the ablest commentators of dead.

the last century, considered the text Haweis gave the following para- as very elliptical; and having supphrase of the text, “ Else what plied the ellipsis with the words sing shall they do, who are baptized ? avaoTAJEWS, he thus translated the If there be no resurrection, how whole passage. “ Otherwise wbat absurd and strange would it be to shall they do, who are baptized for take up the Christian profession, the resurrection of the dead, if the when, if they had nothing in pros- dead rise not at all ? and why are pect after death, and here stood they baptized for the resurrection of exposed to every misery, and the the dead ?" Having also adopted danger of daily martyrdom, they the sentiment that the baptism to would seem merely baptized for the which the text alludes, was a bap. dead, and to be, of all men, most tism of sufferings, and not of water, miserable, if the dead rise not at he gave of the text the following all. Why are they then baptized paraphrase. “ Otherwise, what for the dead? Who, with such a shall they do to repair their loss, prospect, would ever be prevailed who are immersed in sufferings for on to embrace Christianity?" testifying the resurrection of the

Sir Richard Ellis, and Dr. Dod- dead, if the dead rise not at all? And dridge, and Mr.Scott, supposed that what inducement can they have to “the apostle refers to the case of suffer death for believing the resthose, who presented themselves urrection of the dead ?" To this

« PreviousContinue »