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Therefore, it is very presuming for any to take upon them the sole right of speaking and judging too, or to impose that upon an auditory, or church, which they are not edified with, nor believe to proceed from the right spring; for the word preached doth not profit unless it be mixed with faith in those that hear it. I know no way, (says he,) to evade the force and weight of what is above observed, unless it be supposed the auditory in general are so void of spiritual understanding as not to be capable of judging; which would discover great uncharitableness, and savour too much of arrogance. I am fully persuaded that if ministry doth not reach the divine witness in the hearts of the hearers, and cause them to assent thereunto, in some measure, it will never profit them. The right ministers have a witness to the truth of their ministry in the minds even of the rebellious; how much more so then, in those of the honesthearted? The danger which there is reason to apprehend from the low, languid, unskilful state of many in our society, hath induced me, (and feeling my mind in a degree warned thereunto,) to write the more closely concerning the nature and pernicious consequences of a false ministry; being fully persuaded, that the more formal and superficial we as a people become, the more abundant danger there is of such a ministry rising, and finding encouragement to grow and prevail; for the lifeless, for mal professors, had rather have almost any kind of ministry, than all silence. And on the other hand, a right ministry can, not have a free course, nor be exalted, where there is nothing but worldly spirits, clothed with a form of religion. But true ministers must be like the holy prophet Ezekiel: 'And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover, for they are a rebellious house.'* And the prudent shall keep silence, in
Having made some remarks upon the false, as well as the forward and unskilful ministry, which, though plain and close, I hope will administer no hurt or discouragement to any truly concerned in this important work; they may, if duly
observed, be lessons of caution and instruction to those for whom they are intended, and I hope also a strength to the painfully exercised, under the causes of uneasiness given by unskil ful intruders into the work, whether through weakness or wilfulness, that they may not be slack in their endeavours to regulate the same by plain dealing; yet with true judgment, love, and tenderness, all justly applied where they severally be long. Their task may sometimes be heavy and discouraging, as it is hard to turn those who have taken a wrong course and imagine themselves right, when it is really otherwise; for those have been observed to be the most positive of any of their pretended sight and sense: yet let the weight of the sense of truth, which is strongest of all, be laid upon them from time to time, that the church may not suffer hurt and loss, by the omission of its sensible members, which cannot fail of weakening and hindering the growth of such members also, in an individual capacity."
Page 69,* under the head of Discipline, he says, "None have a right to apprehend such a self-sufficiency as to be independent of other members." A little after, speaking of the church, he says, "It likewise appears that every member entered as such by his or her voluntary consent, is strictly bound to keep and maintain the established rules of that body, the breach of which not only renders him or her guilty in God's sight, but also accountable to the body. It also behoves this body, immediately upon the transgression of its rules and orders, to exert itself in dealing with transgressors, and to administer sound judgment, in order to restore them, or on failure of success in that, to disown, or refuse to have unity with such, and to let the world know they are not of their body."
Thus much from these worthies, showing the real principles of our society in these things. Now if the church ought to disown such as persist in the breach of its established rules and good orders; and if to impose unsavoury offerings, contrary to the advice of the brethren, and the proper officers and judges in the church, be a breach of good order, then none need hesi
* $86, American edit. ann 1780.
tate about what the church ought to do, in case any do so impose.
There is one passage of scripture rests still on my mind. Matthew v. 23, 24: "If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." Now, if remembering that a single brother hath aught against one, be sufficient in the opinion of our great Lord and law-giver to stop an offering, how much more so the united voice of many brethren? especially those elders whose office in the church authorises them, under divine assistance, to order and judge in such cases. And how will any answer the breach of this, to him who was pleased to pronounce this solemn prohibition:"Leave there thy gift, &c."
Thus have I performed what lay upon my mind; the success I leave with him who knows the sincerity of my intentions, and wishing the welfare of Jerusalem, and prosperity of the church, I rest a friend to the honest-hearted labourers in the vineyard. JOB SCOTT.
Smithfield, 12th month 8th, 1778.
P. S. It is with me to say, that there is an exercised remnant of true mourners, with whom neither Luciferian nor lukewarm spirits have much sympathy or fellowship; but Israel's Shepherd is with them and will support them, as they are faithful, and no weapon formed against them shall prosper; but every tongue that riseth in opposition against them, shall they condemn for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. Amen.