« PreviousContinue »
be deliberately occupied in framing a confession. to inculcate the very system of pains and penalties against which he thus inveighs?
"So far as we can see, then, the language of the Confession, in regard to the civil magistrate, is consistent with Scripture and with liberty, although not with those refinements of the nineteenth century, which would exclude the civil magistrate from any connexion with the promotion of the best interests of men. The Apostle describes him as the minister of God for good? Those who oppose the sentiments of the Confession, on this subject, we believe, oppose the Word of God. It tells us that all things are Christ's, but they would tell us that governments are not. It tells us, as matters of our joyful expectation, that kings shall be 'nursing-fathers to the Church, and queens their nursing mothers;'-they tell us that this is a promise that would be exceedingly dangerous were it accomplished, and whose fulfilment they do not promote, but rather retard. They would have the magistrates to treat with equal favour or disregard error and truth, and scarcely relish, nay would pronounce uncharitable, the sentiment expressed by Owen, when he preached before the Parliament, in 1652: Know, (said he,) that error and falsehood have no right or title either from God or men, unto any privilege, protection, advantage, liberty, or any good thing you are entrusted with. To dispose that unto a lie, which is the right of, and due to truth, is to deal treacherously with him by whom ye are employed.' Shall the cry be raised among any, (says another), but such as have a mind that Christ should be crucified; that the man who shall pass a sentence in favour of Christ, from the judgment-seat, is not Cæsar's friend, nor a friend to the natural rights and liberties of mankind ?"
SUBJECTS OF A COURSE OF LECTURES DELIVERED ON THE SABBATH Evenings, in the PRESBYTERIAN MEETING HOUSE, CARRICKFERGUS.-Introductory Lecture,-Rev. J. Seaton Reid, D. D., Carrickfergus. Scripture and Reason,
-Rev. S. Davison, Professor of Biblical Criticism in the Belfast College. Deity of Christ,-Rev. John Dill, M. A., Carnmoney. Deity of Christ continued,-Rev. J. Stuart, Broadisland. Personality and Deity of the Holy Ghost,Rev. Henry J. Dobbin, Hillsborough. The Trinity,-Rev. John Carmichael, Drumkeerin, Cavan. Original Sin,- Rev. Henry W. Molyneaux, Larne. The Divine Decrees, - Rev. John Paul, D. D., Carrickfergus. The Atonement,—Rev. H. Cooke, D. D., LL. D., Belfast. Justification by Faith, -Rev. S. Hanna, D.D., Professor of Divinity in the Belfast College. Sanctification,-Rev. G. Bellis, Belfast. Eternity of Future Happiness and Misery,-Rev. J. Barnett, Moneymore. Practical Influence of the Truth,-Rev. Jas. Morgan, Belfast. Concluding Lecture,-Rev. J. Seaton Reid, D. D., Carrickfergus.
MAY MEETINGS IN DUBLIN.
NEARLY 350 clergymen met at the breakfast of the Church Missionary Society, and subsequently retired to the round room of the Rotundo, to receive the address of the Rev. C. Bridges. After prayer, by the Rev. P. Roe, the address which we subjoin was listened to with breathless attention:
MY BELOVED FATHERS AND BRETHREN,-"I am with you in weakness and fear, and in much trembling." I cannot but feel that I am standing before men, at whose feet I should be glad to sit, and I can only thank you, dear brethren, for the sympathy of your prayers. I have longed to see you, not as though I could impart to you any spiritual gift, but hoping and trusting that we may be comforted together, by our mutual faith and love. And now that we have come together, by the will of God, I trust that we shall, with each other, be refreshed. We know that we have looked on you, as a Church, with sympathy and fellowship, as suffering that which we can well understand; we have seen you consecrated to the service of God, with the especial marks of God's election, tried in the furnace of affliction, with an especial mark of fatherly love, (for whom he loveth he chasteneth,) and we see that we can come to you, not to sympathize with your troubles, but to join in your songs of praise, for surely you are ready to say, that " through fire, and through water, but thou hast brought us out into a wealthy place." Bear with me, while I bring before you one practical recollection of the Lord's dispensation with The Refiner purifies the sons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering of righteousness; and, there fore, we look to you to set before us, and the Churches of God, the same holy moulding of the furnace, the same holy standard of the special power of the grace of God with you; so that we ourselves may be instructed, and encouraged, and established, by what we see, and know, and hear from you.
Now, I would bring this to bear on the grand primary part of our work, and that is, the exalting of our dear Saviour in our ministry. This, you know, dear friends, is the object for which we are to live,-to set up Christ, and nothing else, before our people; Christ, his blood and righteousness, the ground of our hope; Christ, his quickening Spirit, the prin ciple of life in our souls; Christ, the way, the truth, and the life; Christ, the refuge and consolation, the present, eternal salvation of his people. Ah, dear friends, when we look at the hopes of a fallen world, when we know that they are centred in Him, it is this that fixes our purpose, to "know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified;" it is this that gives us our text, that furnishes the materials of our sermons, that brings out the commanding truths of the Gospel, that exhibits the Gospel before the Church in a more vivid apprehension of glory in the person and work of our Saviour. I would just beg to set before you, simply, two points of moment in this matter, and that is, that our ministration in Christ should be a continually advancing ministration, and that it should be an entire ministration. Now, you know, my friends, that the whole sum and substance of the Gospel is one single sentence," Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," and yet, who is there of us that does not know that there is in that one sentence the infinite and eternal love of God, the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of that love which passeth knowledge; and, therefore, if we should be satisfied that our people should remain children for ever, why, then, we may be content with giving them the mere elementary truths of this matter; but if we really are ministers of Christ, we shall be going unto perfection, in the exercise of our work, not laying again the foundation so as to stop there, but to be going on as ministers, as well as Christians, forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forth, in the path of the truth of God, to the things that are before. We are to "speak the wisdom of God in a mystery" to them that are perfect; we are, therefore, not to be satisfied with leading men to Christ, but we are to be building them up in their most holy faith we are not to be satisfied with leading them to receive Christ Jesus the Lord, but also to walk in every ordinance, and be built up in him, and stablished in the faith. This, my dear friends, I feel to be a matter of very primary moment; and it must lead us from Sabbath to Sabbath, and from year to year, to advance from the general statements of the matter, into a minute, and explicit, and de
tailed, and enlarged exposition, not to set out merely the person of Christ, but, as we find in the book of Canticles, every feature of his person,-and as we find in the Epistle to the Hebrews, all his divine mediatorial offices connected with his person. Now, I really feel, while speaking, convicted and humbled before God; I often would have committed the ministrations of the last few years, though I believe they are accurate in their character, to the flames, if I did not feel that it was useful to myself to preserve such an humbling memory of scanty knowledge; if I did not feel that it might be important, by these means, to mark my continual progress in thought and experience, and if I did not think that I might make a valuable use of them in some future time, in filling them up with richer moulding, and the result of a more deep and experimental teaching. But, be that as it may, the real responsibility belonging to us is, not to preach merely, but to fulfil the Word of God, that is, to make full proof of our ministry, to be going on in a course of expansion and enlargement, as the Apostle mentions so very beautifully in that text which was for our consideration yesterday, "that we may present,"-not that we may bring our people as children, but "that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.". Now, might I just mark another point while on this subject, the great importance of being complete in our ministrations. You know the Gospel consists of three parts, suited to the complex character of man. There is doctrine for the head, experience for the heart, and practice for the life and conversation. Now, then, take one of these things separately, and what a poor, starving, ineffective ministration it is ? What are doctrines without experience, but mere abstract theories or notions? What are doctrines without practice, but Antinomian ungodliness? So, again, take experience,-what is experience without doctrine? Why, it is the mere religion of feeling,-the religion of delusion,-a religion that is merely foisted by excitement, instead of connected with principle,a mere ignis fatuus, instead of the light of life, merely inducing confidence in the flesh, instead of rejoicing in Christ Jesus. And so, again, what would be experience without practice? Why, it would be a self-deluding religion, while the man would be the wretched victim of the delusions of his own heart. And so, in regard to the other point;-what would practice be without doctrine, but the body without the spirit, which is dead;-and so, without experience, what would practice be, but mere external formality, without any of the
peace or joy of believing in Christ? So that this, I think, will bring the matter to a very simple point, that we should direct and connect every feeling of the heart, and every obligation of the life, with an entire dependence on Christ, a continual comprehension of him; rejoicing, with joy unspeakable and full of glory, that all our springs are in him. And, then, I will just mention this in another point of view. As far as my own experience and observation have gone, I have uniformly marked the irritability of unstable profession to be connected with partial views of Scripture, a sort of favouritism in Scripture; sometimes it is the parts of Scripture which relate to general doctrines, sometimes to particular doctrines; sometimes it is the prophetical parts of Scripture, some of those parts that act more on the imagination, than on the direct principles of conscience and conduct; but, whatever it be, if it be partial, it is ineffectual; no matter which is the favourite part, we can never gain a stable profession, except we see the whole Christ, and the whole revelation of God: and I think, too, it bears this important responsibility with it. We know we beget our children in the Gospel; but we do more,- -we educate our children in the Gospel,-and we must expect our children to bear the marks of our education, whether it be a wise and sound education, or whether it be a defective or eccentric education; so that, for instance, under the latter circumstance, we are sure to see in our people some imperfect development of Christian character, or some spiritu al deformity in Christian profession. Now, I think, my dear friends, you must see, from this, that it is no light matter to preach the Gospel of Christ; we find that it exercised the mind of the great Apostle, "in all wisdom," he says, "to preach Christ, warning every man, and teaching every man. We find, also, that it exercised all his energy, as well as his wisdom, as he says, "whereunto I also labour, working together for the faith of the Gospel, according to his might, which worketh in me mightily." Now, I cannot but hope, my brethren, that our minds are deeply impressed with the grand moment of this matter; that it does command the best feelings, and warmest glow of our hearts. But it calls for more than this,-it calls for diligent responsibility, for the employment of all our talents, for the consecration of all the powers of man, for the redemption and improvement of time, and every thing that belongs to man, to be consecrated to the ministry of the Gospel. I cannot but say, therefore, that those who feel little preparation necessary for this grand and