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telligence, formed and fashioned the public mind and manners, given a tone to every age, is not to be allowed with any hope of impunity at the bar of public opinion, unless those youngsters possessed gifts so supernatural or extraordinary as to overshadow all the acquirements of the
age in which they lived. But when these same young declaimers are manifestly ignorant of the very genius of their own mother tongue, of history, geography, and the whole art of criticism, such efforts not only create general dissatisfaction, but disgust, and subject them to the indignation rather than to the approbation of all persons of discernment.
Young men, whether in years or in experience in any calling, can never hope to be useful unless they wear the proper costume of their age, diffidence and modesty. They must conciliate rather than denounce; they must speak reverentially when they speak of long established opinions and their authors. If they presume to censure,
it must be without the air or semblance of a censorious spirit: they must show all respect for men reputed wise, and for those who admire them; and even in the clearest matters, it will be better for them to inquire of their audience whether such opinions are not incompatible or erroneous, rather than to assert that they are.
I am bold to say that no man of good sense, no sensible young man at least, will hazard so much for himself as to call the religious instructers in any country either blockheads or asses, no matter how worthy they might be of such :!cs of honor. And last of all, we must observe that nothing is more inconsistent with the apostolic doctrine and manner. "Render to all their dues," is not more just in political than in the moral and social relations. Had Paul appeared in Corinth, Ephesus, or Athens, as some now appear in all socie. ties; in the same haughty, selfconceited, and dictatorial style; flinging censures and denunciations in the face of every person, there would have been found no Dionysius, Damaris, Crispus, or Sosthenes, in his train; none of the thousands of the pious and devout Jews and Greeks which he won over to the obedience of the faith.
But to attend more in order to the call and qualifications of the preachers of whom you speak, and of the intercommunion of churches. Please observe, that while we contend that every citizen has a right to be heard, as well as to hear, in the christian community; and that every ono who, in his intercourse with society, finds an unbeliever, has a right and command to preach to him the gospel, and to baptize him if he ask it of him; yet we have no idea that every disciple is to become a public preacher, baptizer, teacher, critic, commentator, at his own volition, option, or solicitation, by virtue of his discipleship; or to act in any public capacity in any society, or as its agent or functionary abroad, except by special designation and appointment of the community or communities in which or for which he acts. It is not, indeed, of the wisdom which comes from above, nor of even human prudence, to countenance every one who wishes to be heard in the church or in society, or to employ all the members of the community, either at one time or in rotation, to preach, teach, or exhort.
It is folly, and not wisdom. It is the very opposite of prudence and discretion. We know of no society, however, guilty of such an outrage on reason and religion.
We have, indeed, met with some very eager spirits, who, as you say, run wholly unsent and uncalled. But the better way, after remonstrance fails, is to let them alone. They will soon find their level in society; and what they will not learn from the lips of experience, they will be forced to learn with pain and mortification from the suffrage of society at large.
There ever has been, and while this dispensation lasts there ever will be, private and public stations in society. Whatever belongs to the whole community, belongs to the individuals who compose it; and no individual can have more than belongs to the whole. No individual can claim more than belongs to all private members, for it is the suffrage of the community which always makes public men. The offices have their origin in the nature and circumstances of society; but those who fill them are the choice of the whole society. So the Apos. tles always taught and practised, and so does every society amongst civilized men.
These comets of which you speak belong not to our system; they may, however, purify our atmosphere, and teach us useful lessons which we would not so soon have learned without their aid. But our system is not a system of comets, or wandering stars, though one or two may now and then appear amidst the regular planets as omens of what may be expected should we depart from the ancient order of things.
All who act for our societies, either within them or abroad, have the suffrage of the society. This is our fixed and well defined rule, as a part of the ancient order of things. No man is his own messenger, or institutes his own mission, with the consent of the admirers of the Apostles' doctrine. The churches choose their presidents, deacons, and all their public functionaries; and if any one, two, or three of the congregations, unite in sending forth a brother upon any mission, they give him a letter of recommendation as such. The following is a copy of one lately furnished a brother sent out by the churches in this vicinity: To all the saints and faithful brethren in Christ Jesus our Lord to
whom this letter shall be presented: favor, mercy and peace be multiplied.
Be it known to you, that the christian congregations of Wellsburg, Bethany, and Hollidays Cove, with other congregations in Brooke county, Virginia, reposing full confidence in the christian character of Henry Brown, and esteeming him possessed of such gifts as qualify him to be a useful laborer in the word, have requested him to devote himself to the work of the Lord as a proclaimer of the gospel in our vicinities to all who may be disposed to hear him: and as such we recommend him to the countenance and support of all our brethren wherever he may labor; being persuaded that he will con
tinue to be useful, and that he will so walk as to have the confidence
ROBERT RICHARDSON, Wellsburg;
A. CAMPBELL, Bethany,
Such a document is, in most cases, necessary, and is in accordance with the saying of the Apostle Paul, “Do we (Apostles) like others, need letters of commendation to you, or letters of recommendation from you?” Even in the age of spiritual gifts, while the preaching of the cross was not in high esteem, or a very eligible calling, because of the dangers attendant on this service, it was deemed expedient and necessary, to prevent imposition, for most persons employed by the churches to be furnished with such recommendations.
But the work of criticism and comment on the words of the mes. sage, is a work distinct from that of an evangelist. To proclaim the word, and to comment on the word, are as distinct as to preach and teach Jesus Christ. But it must not be understood that commenting upon the message is teaching Jesus Christ. The work of explanation or interpretation may be the work of a teacher when he speaks to those who cannot understand the language, whether he preaches or teaches. But it is a literary work, wholly a literary work. It differs not, whether the text be divine or human. It is the same work, subject to the same laws, and to be performed by the same art, whether Luke, Josephus, Philo, or Tacitus be the text. Hence, as there are many more preachers needed than critics or commentators,
there are many more fitted for the former work than the latter.
Indeed, there are but few who can with much credit to themselves and satisfaction to the people, perform the work of an interpreter. Many may preach Jesus Christ to sinners; many may teach the disciples all the things he has commanded, but few can either translate the original language, or comment on the translation of another; and just as few can perform the ordinary work of commenting on the scriptures much to the edification of those who can read the book as well as themselves.
Nothing is more offensive to correct taste, to good common sense; nothing more disgusting to all persons of discrimination, than to see an illiterate person assume a literary work. Hence, those preachers who delight in comments and criticisms; who are censuring the interpretations of others, and constantly "explaining scripture," obtain the least credit among the people, and render themselves rather the derision than the admiration of all literary characters.
Concerning the intercommunity of churches, the principle is allegiance to the same Lord, under the same constitution and laws. The difficulty which you institute, I presume, was designed rather to show the evil tendency of the error which you oppose than to solicit aid in removing a real difficulty out of your own way. You know that every
congregation, like every individual, must stand or fall in the estimation of all others, upon its own character. It is not upon who formed or convened them, or upon who converted them, that they are to be estimated; but, upon the proofs which they afford of their attachment to the king, his constitution and laws.
But, you will say, is our communion with them to be suspended till we see how they get along, and is it not to begin upon the intelligence and general reputation of him that converted them? And to do full justice to the case you make out, I should make such a specification as the following: Suppose A B, the person to whom you allude, was a brother in whose intelligence and prudence we had not much confidence, very zealous, however, and somewhat conceited withal, should send himself off some few miles from our village, preach the gospel, and gather a church in his own way; can we immediately fellowship such a society! Not, I think, upon the intelligence
and prudence of him who associated them; (though it may not be once in a lifetime that such a case may occur, for such men are not very likely to plant churches) but upon our own acquaintance with them.
To prevent all this, and many such difficulties, it is only necessary that the brethren discountenance all departures from the ancient order of things. Every one who assumes, upon his own responsibility, to act in a public character, must be regarded as a weak and erring brother, unless he should give proof that he is a factionist, anarchist, or disorganizer. A due regard to such scriptures as the following will direct the churches in the right way: 1 Cor. xvi. 3. Brethren, says Paul, when I come to see you,
ap prove by your letters, I will send them to carry your liberality to Je. rusalem. 2 Cor. iii. 1. Do we begin again to commend ourselves ?-! or, Must we show our letters of recommendation as other preachers? “You are our epistle, (of commendation) written on our hearts, and read of all men."
Apollos, famous for his eloquence and ability in the scriptures, found it necessary to carry, and the disciples found it necessary to give him, letters of recommendation to the brethren whom they desired to receive him. “When he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren WROTE, exhorting the disciples to receive him."
Let our brethren go and do likewise! and if any of them have not attended to such matters in proper time, let them remember that this is one part of the ancient order of things which they have overlooked. The Greeks, the Romans, the Jews, as well as the first christians, furnished their agents with letters. Thus we find Paul carried letters to Damascus, to "the brethren,” of the Jews, touching his errand. But why add a word, as if any one hesitated bere! Every person not universally known or signalized by some special gift like the Apostles, or extraordinary ministers of ancient time, finds it is as expedient and necessary as it is scriptural to be furnished with such evidence, when he undertakes any business for the christian community. In accordance with your views on this subject, I remain,
NEW VERSION DEFENDED,
ΕΚΚΛΗΣΙΑ, MR, JENNINGS, in order to prejudice his readers, as he did his Presbyterian hearers, against the New Version, and myself as its publisher, declaims most vehemently on the injustice done the Pres. byterian church in my ranking Dr. Doddridge with two Doctors of the Church of Scotland, in the first edition of that work. On the title page, Campbell, Macknight, and Doddridge, are called “Doctors of the Church of Scotland." "Before the second edition of that work was completed, I ascertained that Dr. Doddridge was in England classified with the Congregationalists, and not with the Presbyterians, and accordingly noticed the fact in said edition. Now, as Mr. Jen. nings had seen the second edition, and used it during our interview in Nashville, he could not be ignorant (indeed he acknowledges) that we had made such a statement, and consequently he had no just ground for censure on that account.
Seeing the works of Dr. Doddridge in almost all the libraries of Presbyterian preachers; hearing him always quoted with approbation from the pulpits of Presbyterians, though I knew him to be an Englishman, I did not at the time of making out the title for the first edition recollect, if I did before know, that he belonged to the Congrational side of the Westminster Creed, rather than the Presbyterian; but as the Presbyterian and Congregational adherents of the Westminster Creed sit in one and the same General Assembly in America, I do not yet consider that any injustice was done Mr. Jennings church by regarding Dr. Doddridge as a teacher of the Church of Scotland. But in a question of fact as to the sectarian standing of Dr. Doddridge, it is admitted and published in the very book which Mr Jennings used, that he was ranked amongst Congregationalists.
But the real cause of all this outcry is very obvious: Mr. Jennings was a Presbyterian, and violently opposed to rendering the word ekklesia congregation, as Dr. Doddridge had done. He contended for a church representative, and Doddridge for an assembly of professed christians meeting in one place, as filling up the meaning of the word ekklesia. Judging of others from his own rules of action, he supposed, or wished others to suppose, that we willingly concealed the fact for the sake of havir.g the testimony of Dr. Doddridge against the Presbyterians. This would be censurable, indeed. But no man of candor can, from any thing found in the new version, admit it; for Dr. Campbell's translation and rule, so far as we thought necessary, are given in vindication of the translation. And although all Dr. Campbell has written on this word is not quoted, all that he has said is substantially given. And the very reason which Dr. C. gave for retaining the word church in Matth. xvi. 18, affirms the very thing for YOL, III.