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principle; nor to exert the pestilent prerogative of abetting the cause of error by arresting the progress of enquiry after truth.
Unless we accede to this proposition the rock is swept away from under our feet. The doctrine of Reformation is the worst of heresies; and every attempt to enforce it a profligate insurrection against human peace.?
Dr. Mason describes himself as having been long under the impression that the restrictive principle was erroneous; and with manly ingenuousness he expresses his apprehension that he may be found to have lent himself to mere party passions, when 'he ought to have immolated them on the altar of love to Jesus 6. Christ, in expressions of love which he was compelled to deny S even to those who bore the image of Christ.' An instance is related in a note, of a young woman thus repelled, and the painful emotions which the sight of her 'grief awakened in Dr. M.'s breast, are strongly expressed.
• How did his heart smite him! He went home exclaiming to himself—“ Can this be right? Is it possible that such is the law of the Redeemer's House ?”;
Part the First is occupied with a clear and forcible statement of the Scripture doctrine, deduced from this first and undeniable principle-The Church of God is one. Without collecting a large number of texts which might tend rather to encumber his argument than to elucidate its distinctness, Dr. Mason takes his stand at once upon the ground assumed by St. Paul in the 12th chapter of the 1st Corinthians, and argues from it directly to his point. His exposition of the Apostle's illustration from the constitution of the human body, is as follows :
• 1st. That the multitude of its members does not destroy its unity, nor their solution to it as a whole-ull the members of that one body being MANY, are one body.' v. 12.
• 2. That their union with the body is the foundation of all the value, beauty, and excellence of the members in their respective places.' v. 15-24.
3. That the efficiency of the members consists in their mutual cooperation as parts of a common whole—that there should be no SCHISM in the body.' v. 25.
• 4. That from their union with the body, there results, by a divine constitution, a communion of interests, a sympathy of feeling, and a reciprocation of benefits--that the members should have the same care one for another; and whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.' v. 25, 26.
« The use of this similitude Paul declares to be an illustration of the unity of the Church, and of the intimate communion of believers. Now are ye the body of Christ, and members in particular.'
• It is true that the Apostle turns bis argument directly against the contentions in the Corinthian Church about the superiority, or inferiority, of public offices and spiritual gifts. And God hath set some in the church ; first Apostles, secondarily Prophets, &c. v. 28-30. But it is also true that the principles of his argument are general, are equally applicable to every thing which tends to cherish among Christians a party feeling, at the expense of weakening the sense of their union, or of interrupting their communion as members of the body of Christ, and were intended to be so applied; for they are part of the Apostle's remonstrance against the schismatic spirit which had split up the Church of Corinth into a number of factions.... scandalous, however, as their schisms were, they had not proceeded to separation, nor did they dream of breaking communion. Moreover, the Apostle has himself extended his argument to matters which, without affecting the substance of our faith, hope, or duty, do yet produce great diversity of opinion and habit; and has shewn that they ought not to infringe upon Christian union ; nor, conse. quently, upon the expression of it in Christian communion. Finally, the Apostle opposes the spirit of ecclesiastical faction to the spirit of Christian love. This heavenly grace he exalts above prophecies, tongues, knowledge, the faith of miracles, the most magni. ficent alms, the very zeal of martyrdom! Now this love, the only cure for the gangrene of
party strife-the most characteristic feature of Christ's image in a renewed man,--the most precious fruit of his grace; and yet the fruit which the bulk of his professed followers seem to think themselves under hardly any obligations to cultivatethis love is declared to originate in the love of God shed abroad in the heart; and to be drawn out toward the brethren precisely on this account, that they are the children of God.'
From the various reasonings on this point, Dr. M. infers, 1st. That the Body of Christ is one. 2. That as by the constitution of the natural body, the various members form one complete whole, and as such sympathize with each other; so, by the Divine constitution of Christ's spiritual body, the different meinbers are united with each other in inseparable • union and com
munion.' 3. That.' the members of this body of Christ have a common and unalienable interest in all the provision which
God bas made for its nutriment, growth, and consolation.' And, therefore, 4. That they are under a common and sacred obligation not to withhold from each other the privileges of their union to Christ, and the synubols of their mutual fraternity. The Dr. then proceeds to strengthen his conclusion by the consideration of the common tenure by which all Christian • churches and people hold their Christian privileges;' i e. by grant from the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, he inquires by what authority any body of Christians presume to invalidate a universal right.
• The sacramental table is spread. I approach and ask for a seat. You say, “ No." « Do you dispute my Christian character and
standing?" " Not in the least.” " Why then am I refused ?"? 6. You do not belong to our church.” Your church! what do you mean by your church? Is it any thing more than a branch of Christ's church? Whose table is this? Is it the Lord's table, or yours? If yours, and not his, I have done. But if it is the Lord's, where did you acquire the power of shutting out from its mercies any one of his people? I claim my seat under my master's grant. Shew me your warrant for interfering with it.'"
This is a general view of Dr. Mason's statement of the Scripture Doctrine, and he reduces it to these two results.'
• 1. That they who have a right to sacramental communion any where, have a right to it every where.'
*2. That no qualification for such communion may, by the law of Christ, be exacted from any individual, other than visible Christianity.'
Part the Second, entitled 'F'acts,' is more complicated and extended; but it is quite impossible for us to devote sufficient, space for a complete view of its interesting but various contents. It displays considerable acquaintance with the stores of ecclesiastical antiquity, and is wholly free from affectation or parade. While it is made perfectly intelligible to the common reader, it appeals also to the man of learning and investigation. We shall endeavour to give a general idea of its scope, but for a full detail of its facts and reasonings we must refer our readers to the original,
Dr. Mason distributes his illustrative parts into three classes. 1. Those which are derived from the Apostolic times. 2. Those which refer to the Primitive Church immediately succeeding. 3. Those dependent on the History of the Reformation. The illustrations thus obtained he considers as decisive in favour of · Catholic,' as opposed to sectional communion. Under the first of these heads he investigates the circumstances connected with the reception of the first converts after the full
introduction of the New Testament economy' – the case of • the Ethiopian Eunuch'- the history of Saul of Tarsus'5 the case of Cornelius'. - the history of the reference from s Antioch, and of the proceedings thereon by the Synod of Je16 rusalem.'
The second class of facts, leads him into a wider range of inquiry, in which he expatiates with a perfect knowledge of his subject. In this section the writer pursues his discussion under three heads, and inquires, 1. In what the Primitive
Church viewed her Unity as consisting. 2. By what it was 5 liable to be broken, and 3. How it was to be maintained.' Her Unity he represents as consisting in her common faith
her common institutions -- and brotherly love. There is
great energy in his language in reference to the latter priaciple.
With all her imperfections,' he remarks, on this point; with all the wranglings and schisms which sprung up in her bosom, the primitive church, as a whole, presented a family picture which should make us blush; and would make us blush, if we had not, by inveterate habits of collision, and by the artifice of bestowing hallowed names upon unhallowed things, rid ourselves, in a great degree, of Christian shame. That which was the exception among the elders,' seems to be the rule among the moderns. Their concord was the rule, their disagreements the exception; our concord is the exception, our disagreements the rule. "We should feel it to be a cruel satire, were any one to say of us, as the Pagans did of the early believers, “ Behold, how these Christians love one another?'
The second point of inquiry- By what the Primitive • Church considered her unity as liable to be broken'—the Dr. considers first, after the good old way, negatively,' and then, positively. It was not liable to violation, .by a difference in
rites und customs in worship - nor by imperfections in
moral discipline--nor by diversities in the form of govern• ment — nor by dissonant views on subordinate points of « doctrine.'
We could willingly extract the glowing and eloquent description of the different conduct of St. Paul when mere customs or when substantial principles were subjects of inquiry, but we find ourselves necessitated to pass on to an admirable passage on the moral description of the church,
• Christ has himself informed us that the complete prevention or cure of abuses and scandals, is beyond their (the governors of the church's) reach that tares will be so mingled with the wheat as to render their separation, by human hands, impracticable without the hazard of rooting up the wheat also--and that while in the wise performance of their duty, they are to do the best which their circumstances permit, they niust wait for the entire purgation of the Church till the second coming of the Son of Man, who shall then send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them who do iniquity. Nevertheless, there have not been wanting in the Church of God, attempts to effect what his word pronounces to be impossible. Zeal without knowledge—the generous but untrained ardour of juvenile reformers, who can be taught by experience alone that “old Adam is too hard for young “ Melancthon,”--the well meant but visionary projects of recluse devotion estranged from real life, and from the world, even the Christian world, as it actually exists--and, not unfrequently, that pragmatical officiousness which proclaims with Jehu, “ Come and o see my zeal for the Lord !" and offers piles of incense on the altar of its own vanity, for every shred which it strews on the altar of God all these things have set men at work to find or to
erect an immaculate church. The success of the experiment has been worthy of its wit. But though it always has failed, and will for ever fail, of accomplishing its professed aim; it never has failed, and never will fail, of producing one deplorable consequence. It engenders and nourishes a morbid humour, an unhappy fastidiousness, which make the religious temperament extremely irritable; fill the mind with disgust and the mouth with complaint; and finally break up, or forbid, Christian fellowship under the pretence of superior purity; but in very deed, for faults, if not trivial in themselves, yet too often trivial in comparison with the faults of the complainers.
It is not, however, to be inferred from this reproof of the sourness and affectation which have been the injurious peculiarities of so many sectarians, and especially of many among those whom we imagine Dr. Mason to have here more closely in view, the conscientious but stern and rigorous separatists from the Scottish Kirk, that he is in any degree an advocate for relaxation of discipline or depravation of moral sentiment. His language upon these points, is uniformly that of the moral teacher, and the firm maintainer of ecclesiastical order.
Under his third negation, Dr. M. for a moment quits his defensive position and attacks Episcopalianism. On this subject he is admirable and unanswerable, and we regret exceedingly our inability to give free scope to his arguments and references. Having ascertained what the primitive church did not view as
inconsistent with her visible unity,' he goes on to examine the opposite and affirmative side, and to shew that her unity was only violated by schisms within her bosom-by the renun
ciation of fundamental truth—and by withdrawing from her communion.'
In bis third inquiry into the means by which the unity of the church was preserved and proclaimed,' he concludes that it was thus maintained,
"1. By an inflexible adherence to the great truths of the Gospel as summed
in her creed.'.... 2. • By her members' conformity to the customs and usages of any particular church which they might happen to visit.':...3.. By respecting and supporting discipline wheresoever and by whomsoever, within her pale, inflicted.....4. By holding ministerial and Christian communion with all true churches, as opportunity offered.'
Under this head, the Dr. brings forth a quotation from the • Constitutions' commonly called Apostolic,' which we think makes rather against him. In the event of a stranger making application to any church for admission to a participation in its privileges, the deacon is directed to ascertain not only that he is sound in the faith, but also that he is one of