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Answ. 1. Let us be deeply convinced of the absolute neceflity of it.
2. Pray earnestly for, and speak freely to each other. 3. When we meet, let us never part without prayer. 4. Take great care not to despise each other's gifts. 5. Never speak lightly of each other. 6. Let us defend each other's character in
every thing, so far as is consistent with truth.
7. Labour, in honour, each to prefer the other before himself.
N. B. We recommend a serious perufal of The Causes, Evils, and Cures of Heart and Church Divisions.
N o T E S.
We have already in our notes on the 4th and sth sections, enlarged on the great consequence of our union to the preservation and extension of the gracious work of God, in which we are engaged. We have also given a collection of most pointed scriptures against division and contention in our notes on the 22d article of religion, to which we particularly refer the reader. And we must also very strongly recommend all our ministers and preachers to read with the greatest attention the book which is noticed in this section, intitled The Causes, Evils, and Cures of Heart and Church Divisions. We could write a volume on this weighty subject. Let us preserve our union, and with the Prince of Peace at our head, we shall bear down the opposition of all our spiritual and temporal enemies. We shall imperceptibly gain ground on every hand, and be ourselves from time to time afton. ished at the progress of the work of God. Love, when proper. ly directed by united hearts and united endeavours, is the strongest thing in the universe. But we must conclude this subject, and only leave upon your minds some additional suitable paffagas of THE WORD of God.
Pf. cxxxiii. 5. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! See the whole Psalm. Rom. xii. 15. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another. Ver. 18. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Rom. xii. 4, 5. As we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office; so we, being many, are one body in Cbriff, and every one members one of another. I Cor. xi. 12–14. As the body is ore, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so alfo is Chrift.
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit, for the body is not one member, but many Ver. 25–27. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members fould 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. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 2 Cor. xiii. 11. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Eph. ii
. 20-22. [Ye) are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone: in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. iy. 3–6. Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptisin, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Phil. ii. I, 2. If there be, therefore, any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that y be like-minded, having the same love, being of ore -accord, of one mind.
Of the Method by which immoral travelling
Ministers or. Preachers Mall be brought to trial, found guilty, and reproved or suspend
ed in the Intervals of the Conferences. Queft. 1.
deacon, or preacher, is under the report of being guilty of Some crime, expressly forbid. den in the word of God, as an unchristian practice sufficient to exclude a person from the kingdom of grace and glory, and to make him a subject of wrath and hell?
Answ. Let the presiding elder, in the absence of a bishop, call as many ministers as he shall think fit, at
* For the trial of a bishop, see sedion IV.
least three, and if possible bring the accused and accuser face to face. If the person be clearly convicted, he shall be fufpended from all official services in the church, till the ensuing yearly conference; at which his cafe shall be fully considered and determined. But if the accused be a presiding elder, the preachers must call in the prefiving elder of the neighbouring district, who is required to attend, and prelide at the trial.
If the accused and accuser cannot be brought face to face, but the supposed delinquent fees from trial, it shall be received as a presumptive proof of guilt; and out of the mouth of two or three witnesses he shall be condemned. Nevertheless, even in that case, the yearly conference shall re-confider the whole matter and determine.
Queft. 2. What shall be done in cases of improper tempers, words, or actions ?
Answ. The person so offending Mall be reprehended by his senior in office. Should a second transgression take place, one, two or three ministers or preachers are to be taken as witnesses. If he be not then cured, he shall be tried at the next yearly conference, and, if found guilty and impenitent, shall be expelled from the connection, and his name fo returned in the minutes of the conference.
Quest. 3. What shall be done with those ministers or preachers, who hold and preach doctrines which are contrary to our articles of religion ?
Anfrv. Let the same process be observed as in cases of grofs immorality: but if the minister or preacher fo offending do folemnly engage, neither to preach nor defend such erroneous doctrines in public or in private, he shall be borne with, till his case be laid before the next yearly conference, which shall determine the matter.
Provided nevertheless, that in all the above-mentioned cases of trial and conviction, an appeal to the ensuing general conference fhall be allowed.
N O T E S.
'The fedtion now under consideration is of very great mo
Let us take a view of it under the three heads into which it divides itself.
1. The answer to the first question serves to remove every reasonable objection to the fufpending power of the presiding elder. See section the 5th of this chapter. The trial of a miniIter or preacher for gross immorality shall be in the presence of at least three ministers. These ministers have, of course, full liberty to speak their fentiments either in favour or disfavour of the person accused. 'This must always serve as a strong check on the presiding elder, respecting the abuse of his power. An act of tyranny would be so opposed by the ministers present, and so represented afterwards in favour of the oppressed, that the presiding elder who would venture upon an arbitrary step, would find himfelf dreadfully embarrassed. Besides, those ministers could lay the whole affair before the general conference, if near at hand; or before the ensuing yearly conference; or, as soon as possible, before a bishop: in which cases, the injured person might have complete redress, and the presiding elder cenfured or punished according to his deferts: and those ministers could give all possible information, having been present at the whole of the trial.
The passage in St. Matthew, ch. xviii. 15--17. “ If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between tree and him alone,”. &c. has nothing to do with the prisent subject. We are now speaking of gross immoralities committed by preachers of the gospel. This does not concern the isspass of a private person, but the gross offence of a minister against the church of God. Undoubtedly, a minister fo offending should not be suffered to remain in his office till the next yearly conference, as many souls might be ruined thereby in the interval. There is certainly as much mercy due to the people as to the minister; and in the present instance more, as he is but one, and they are many: and he is invested with his office, not for their destruction, but for their edific.ution. See 2 Cor. x. 8. and xiii. 10. But scarcely any thing can be more destructive to the cause of God than the immoral life of a minister. Such an Achan in the camp must, more or less, bring down a curse upon the cause. Sam. ii. 27-29.
“ There came a man of God unto Eli, and faid unto him, Thus faith the Lord, -Wherefore kick ye at niy facrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honoures the fons above ine,” &c. Več. 12. “Now the fons of Eli were fons of Belial; they knew not the Lord.” iii. 11-14. “ The Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingie. In that day I will perform against Eli all things
which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him, that I will judge his house for ever, for the iniquity which he knorveth ; because his fons made themselves vile, and be reftrained them not," &c. See that whole history. Matt. vii. 22, 23. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophetied in thy name ? and in thy name have cast out devils ? and in thy nanie done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Rom. ii. 3: “ Thinkest thou this, o man, that judgest them which do fuch things, and doeft the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God. 1 Tim. v. 19. “ Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.".
2. The mode of process directed in the answer to the second question, is nearly according to our Lord's directions, concerning the offences of the private members of a church, in Matt. xviii. 15--17. “ If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he fall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” Ist. The preacher is to be reproved by his senior in office. On a second offence, the minister reprehendsing in to take with him one, two, or three witnesses: and if still incurable, the offender is to be brought before that part of the church, to which he is particularly responsible, namely, the yearly conference. He is not to be tried by the members of his circuit or district, for they are the complainants—the persons supposed to be aggrieved, - but by his elders and equals. There is, however, a considerable difference between the persons concerned, in the directions given by our Lord in the portion of Scripture quoted above, and those who are adverted to in the present sedion.
That fcripture evidently refers to the private members of a church ; and the minister bimself, after private reproof and public reprehension, first before two or three witnesses, and then before the church, is to exclude the person, if impeni
But of this we shall treat largely, when we come to confider the 8th section of the ad chapter. Improper tempers, mani. feited in the conversation or conduct of a minister of the gospel, may be productive of more evil, than all his public labours can pofsibly compensate. But at the same time, he may not be so criminal, but that he may be borne with for a time, in hope of reformation.
N. B. The reason hy the expression one, two, or three wity neles is mentioned in the section under this head, is, because