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their attention to the constitution of the Church as WARDLAW AND DAVIDSON ON ECCLESI.
visible, or in other words, to the aspect of the Church ASTICAL POLITY.*
as it presents itself to us in actual existence and practical operation. There can be no doubt, what
ever their theory of the Church might be, that when In redeeming our pledge to treat the works of Drs they proceeded to reduce that theory to practice, they Wardlaw and Davidson as text-books on the subject recognised as members of the Church all who made & of Ecclesiastical Polity, we come, in the next place credible profession of Christianity. And in the to what Dr Wardlaw has called The materials of a course of their controversy with the Independents, Church of Christ. On this subject which, in reality, lies who went to the opposite extreme from the Romish at the root of all the differences between us and our Church, our divines were led to propound their views Congregational friends, we beg to make a few remarks, with more caution, guarding themselves both on the before resuming our examination of the volumes be- right hand and on the left. The following, therefore, fore us.
is the definition of the Church in our Confession: On no subject has so much controversy been raised “ The catholic, or universal Church, which is inthan on the proper idea or constitution of the Chris- visible, consists of the whole number of the elect tian Church. The Romish idea of the Church is that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, identical with that of a civil corporation. The grand under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, error of the Church of Rome lies in her confining the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. the term Church to mean neither more nor less than The visible Church, which is also catholic or univerthe visible society known as the Church of Rome. sal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation as She allows no distinction to be made between the before under the law), consists of all those throughchurch, as visible or invisible. She identifies Chris- out the world that profess the true religion, together tianity with Catholicism. To be in outward connec- with their children; and is the kingdom of the Lord tion with the church in subjection to the Pope, is Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of sufficient, in her eyes, to constitute a person a mem- which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation." ber of the Church of Christ; just as an Englishman The terms cisible and invisible, as applied to the is, in virtue of his subjection to Queen Victoria, a Church, are no doubt very convenient for distinguishmember of the British commonwealth. Viewed as ing its different aspects—so much so, that even Dr a mere worldly community, the Roman Church ex- Wardlaw, forgetting himself on one occasion, has, in hibits the most perfect organization. But as a spiri- spite of all his protestations against it, lapsed into tual society-as church-her system is radically the use of the obnoxious distinction. “True it is," defective. It is entirely destitute of the spiritual says he, “that a man may belong to the visible element. “My kingdom,” said the Saviour, "is not Church, who does not belong to the spiritual.”— of this world.” Spiritual in its origin, its Head is (P. 48.) And yet there is reason to suspect that these spiritual, and its members, essentially considered, very terms, so useful in conducting the controversy, are spiritual men. The Romish definition of the have tended in some measure to confuse it. They Church, restricted to the visible element, is devoid of are apt to suggest the idea, that we speak of two the essential quality, which distinguishes the Charch distinct societies—the one visible, and the other of Christ from all other associations. It is as if one invisible; whereas the Church of God is one and the should profess to give a definition of man, and omit same society, though it may be viewed by us either all recognition of the living spirit.
in its visible or its invisible aspect-or rather, as we Our Reformed divines, in their zeal to combat this would prefer expressing it, in its aspect towards God, unscriptural notion of the Church, were led to place and its aspect towards man. In fact, the question, great weight on the spiritual element. Sometimes What is the Church of Christ ? is identical with the we might suppose they discarded the visible alto- question, What is the Christian ! for the Church is gether. They contended that the elect only are the just Christians in their social capacity, Christians true members of the Church, that they only are the assembled together. Now, in replying to the latter called (as the word ecclesia denotes) out of the world question, we require to take two things into consiinto communion with God; and that the reprobate, deration-first, The essential character of a true though they may profess to comply with the call, still Christian in the sight of God-and secondly, The remain in the assembly of the wicked. They argued external features by which he may be known and that there can be, properly speaking, no dead mem- distinguished in the sight of men.
Were we probers in the living body of Christ; that the Church is posing to describe the true Christian, the genuine his holy spouse—the sheep that hear his voice; that child of God, we must begin, not with the outward though the goats may be in the fold, they are not of signs, which may be known and read of all men, but the fold, or of the society of the sheep; that, in short, with the inward, the seals of the Spirit in the heart, the Church is a living temple, built up of living which can be known and read only by God. We stonega spiritual house. It is easy to see that in must describe him, as he is portrayed in Scripture, these definitions, the divines of the Reformation renewed in the spirit of his mind-inspired with the were naturally induced to take up high ground, in love of God, and fashioned in his likeness. We opposition to the carnal and debasing theory of the would then proceed to speak of “the fruits of rightRomish doctors. And viewed as a doctrinal exhibi. eousness," as developed in a holy life; for these, tion of the Church, their definition was unquestion. though visible, are essential to complete the portrait ably the true one. At the same time, they were not of a true Christian, who must not only be inwardly led at first so much as they were afterwards, to turn but outwardly conformed to the image of God. Still, • Congregational Independency in Contradistinction to Bpisco.
however, while thus describing, “what manner of pacy and Presbyterianism: the Church Polity of the New Testa persons we ought to be in all holy conversation ment. By Ralph Wardlaw, D.D. Glasgow, 1848. The Bcclesiastical Polity of the New Testament, Valolded, &c.
godliness," with the view of aiding the person in selfBy Samuel Davidson, LL.D. London 1918.:
examination, in order to discover his state before
God, we would carefully avoid pronouncing upon | ciation of individuals, organized according to certain these outward evidences as indubitable signs of con. rules, and distinguished by certain outward badges. version, and would seriously warn the person himself An Englishman is an Englishman in virtue of his against regarding them in this light. We would connexion with the English nation, irrespective aldeem it our duty to remind him that all these outward together of internal qualifications. The Church of marks may be found where the inward grace is Christ is a complex idea; for, along with outward &wanting, and that there is great danger of self- organization, which it has in common with other delusion, by substituting the one for the other. We societies, it involves the spiritual element. And this would apply to him the language of Paul, that “he is element, unlike other societies, is that which forins Dot a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that cir- the distinguishing characteristic of the Church, as of cuincision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a the Christian, in the sight of God, and which sepaJew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of rates them from a world lying in wickedness. “ Ye the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose are not of the world,” says Christ, even as I am praise is not of man but of God.”
not of the world.” All this, be it observed, is merely doctrinal exhibi- But it must be very obvious that the Church, tion of Christian character. We are not sitting in viewed in this light, is the object, not of sensible, judgment on the man; we are only teaching him to but of spiritual vision-the object of faith, not of sit in judgment on himself. We are holding up to sight. It is true, that the holiness of the Christian him the glass of God's Word, that he may there con- is visible, and may be seen; but it is equally true template himself, and see “ what manner of man" he that it may be counterfeited. Every feature of the is. "If, however, we are to sit in judgment on the renewed man, every gesture, and tone, and look, so to individual-in other words, to judge whether he should speak, by which he is distinguished, may be assumed be regarded and treated as a Christian by men-it is by the hypocrite, and may impose on the most clearplain that we must follow a course precisely the sighted discerner of spirits that ever sat in the chair reverse of that already described. Here it would be of spiritual judgment. The outward form and coatvain to speak of the inward and invisible attributes ing of the Christian being thus so easily assumed, it of the Christian. On these no man may presume to follows that visible holiness is valuable only as the sit in judgment, without invading the province of fruit and indication of the invisible grace of the Him who claims it as his inalienable prerogative, to Holy Spirit in the heart. But as this can be dissearch the heart. “Man looketh on the outward ap- cerned and determined only by the great Searcher pearance; but the Lord looketh on the heart." Nor of hearts, the true Church of Christ, viewed as in will it do to say, we merely look at the outward ap- the sight of God-the living body, of which the pearances, and from these we form our judgment Saviour is the head-must be, in this point of view, of the heart. Still this is pretending to judge the to us invisible. The characteristics that distinguish heart; and, call it a judgment of charity, or what you it are given in Scripture; but, we repeat, this is merely will, to propose the state of the heart, in the sight of a doctrinal exhibition. The doctrine should be preached God, as the point to be ascertained by our investiga- -and it is preached as faithfully among us as among tions, amounts to a virtual usurpation of the place the Independents; it should be most surely believed and office of the Omnipotent, as presumptuous in and seriously applied by every hearer of the gospel conception as it is impossible in execution.
to himself-and it is believed and applied by our Here, however, lies the very hinge of the whole people as well as by the Independents. But still controversy; and though at the point of divergence, this is the Church, not as visible that is, not as where we begin to vary from our opponents, the actually seen in any outward organization on earthvariation may appear minute at first sight, and de- but as seen in the doctrine of Scripture. mand a little exercise of patience in our readers to But if the question is, Where is the Church viewed trace it, we hope to make it as palpable in its origin as visible, or what should be admitted to constitute as it afterwards becomes in its results. Let us ap- the materials of the Church, viewed as in the sight of ply, then, what we have said of the individual Chris- men? it is plain that the process by which we arrive tian to the Christian Church. If we are asked, at our conclusion must just be reversed. We must What is the true Church in the estimation or in the begin with the outward and visible, and by this eyes of God? we must reply, that it is a congrega- means aim at the inward and invisible. The contion of true believers, of spiritual men, knit together stitution of the Church as invisible, is the work of by the bonds of Christian love, and joined to the God; the organization of the Church as visible, must Lord Jesus, by a living faith through the Spirit. be the work of man. And God's method of judgHere all the characteristics of a holy society would ing differs from ours as far as heaven from earth. admit of being applied, including the outward quality “ His thoughts and ways are as far above ours as of a holy, life. For we do not form the full idea of the heaven is higher than the earth.” He looks ime, a Church, any more than of a Christian, even in the mediately to the heart, and, from its spiritual state, sight of God, unless we include both the visible and judges of the language of the lips and the life. We the invisible element. And in this particular, per- not being capable of looking into the heart, can only haps, the terms visible and invisible do not fully judge from that language in other words, from the bring out the distinction. The true Church, as seen profession and the practice. We profess ourselves. by God, and as described by him in his Word, is, in unable to see any other media, equally sure and suitpoint of fact, both visible and invisible. But there able, by which we can ascertain the materials of a is another sense in which these terms admit of being Christian Church. And here, again, we must hold employed with the utmost propriety. The visible that, in judging by these marks, or rather by these element of outward holiness is merely the outward rules, our object is not to ascertain the fact of the type or manifestation of the spiritual. The Church person's conversion, but merely to judge of the agreeof Christ differs from all other associations of men. ableness of his character, in profession and in practice, Civil society is a simple idea, being merely an asso. with the laws which Christ has laid down in his
Word for the administration of his kingdom. Let us on my character in the sight of God. The apostle
Dr Wardlaw admits that" a profession may be him-eat of that bread and drink of that cup.” But
the ground of a sinner's acceptance before God, by But we advance a step farther in our argument. substituting, in place of the merits of Christ, and the It is admitted, on all hands, that Christian character gospel invitation in which these merits are tendered ought to form the condition of admission to the pri- to our faith, an inward persuasion of our conversion, vileges of the Christian Church. But we maintain and of our personal interest in the Saviour. Personal that our Independent friends have entirely altered qualifications are no doubt necessary to constitute my this condition. With them it is not the profession fitness for approaching the table of the Lord ; that is, of Christian character that entitles a man to Church faith in the sight of God, and a credible profession of fellowship; but a persuasion, first in the mouth of the faith in the sight of man; but these do not constiapplicant, and next in the mind of the pastor who tute my title or warrant to make that approach. A receives him, that he is truly possessed of Christian court dress is requisite, as a fitting attire, to attend a character in the sight of God. Now, this is a com- royal levee; it does not constitute our ticket of admisplete involution of the matter. My fitness to ap- sion. So it is not my meetness, but Christ's mediaproach the table of the Lord consists in my possess- tion, not my conversion, but his gracious call, that ing the qualifications of a converted man-not in my forms my warrant to go to that feast. It would be being assured that I possess these qualifications-far superfluous to show how much the Independent less in any assurance that may be given me to that scheme of fellowship tends to invert this order. Ineffect by another man, pretending to sit in judgment | stead of turning the eye of faith to Christ, it turns it
inward on our own feelings, frames, and experiences, | root of our holy religion, by aiming at its caricature, and inevitably leads the person to look to these as the Independent Doctor first insists that these re entitling him to the children's bread. Nor is it ne- negades are the only fair representatives of Presbycessary to show how incompatible this is with the re- tery, and next proceeds to refute them. His mode corded experience of the saints. Paul does not say, of disposing of Scripture is equally unhappy. ReI know that I have believed, or, I know when I be ferring to the account given us of the first Church lieved; but, “I know whom I have believed.” Even formed by the apostles at Jerusalem, he would when expressing sentiments which afford evidence of actually have us to infer, not only that the whole their conversion, they have not said, in so many multitude then converted to the profession of Chris words, that they were assured that they were con- tianity were “ saved” persons, but that the apostles, verted men. Had our Lord put the question : "Si- in admitting three thousand persons in one day into mon, son of Jonas, art thou converted ?" can we sup- the fellowship of theChurch, had time to institute such pose that, in the bitterness of his grief, he would investigations as to convince them that every soul have answered in the affirmative! Ah, no! But as among them was a genuine convert! The arguments the question referred merely to one of the marks of drawn from the epistles being addressed to saints, conversion—“Lovest thou me ??—Peter replied, and and from the language in which the apostles address we may verily believe, without thinking of his con- the brethren, have been so often answered, that it version, certainly without perking up his face with a would be vain to advert to them. The admission self-satisfied smile, as being sure of it, but in the na- of Judas to the last Supper, is got quit of, first, by tural burst of feeling at being suspected of the con- denying he was there, which does not matter very trary-“ Lord, thou knowest all things; thou know much, seeing he was in the company of the apostles all est that I love thee." And this satisfied our Lord. along; secondly, by a quirk, namely, that our arguOur Independent friends, on the contrary, will be ment proves too much if he was there, inasmuch satisfied with nothing short of a full, true, and par- as the inference would be that we must retain in ticular account of our conversion. Their language full fellowship with the Church of Christ, Judases, among themselves and to the world, is not a profes knowing them to be such;" and, lastly, by making a sion of faith in Christianity, but a profession of their mystery of it, beyond our imitation. Dr. Wardlaw faith in their being Christians. It amounts to an does not seem to be aware, that the example of Christ everlasting iteration of their own saintship--a per- in permitting one whom He, being omniscient, knew petual conjugation of the verb--I am converted, thou to be a traitor, to the fellowship of his disciples, is art converted, he is converted, we are all converted, adduced by us merely as a proof that even the &c. &c. And, after all, in what respects, pray, do omniscient Head of the Church admitted to his they differ from other professing Christians ? communion, not on the internal principle of grace,
Dr Wardlaw, in attempting to meet the ordinary known only to himself, but on the outward evidence arguments for the Presbyterian method of admission of profession and appearance, known and cognoscible to the Church, has advanced no new answers; but by man. This is surely common sense; and yet the be has distinguished himself by his gratuitous as. Doctor, proud of his fancied conquest, smiles most sumptions, and his groundless imputations. As a contemptuously in the face of any who would use specimen of the coolness with which he assumes for the argument, and who would yet refuse admission granted the point in dispute, we may take the fol- to whom we know to be traitors! lowing at the very commencement: “ We have But the most extraordinary specimen of the seen that a Church, according to the New Testament, Doctor's exegetical ingenuity, is reserved for the is a Congregation." (We thought that the Indepen- parables representing the kingdom of heaven, or the dents had distinguished between a Church and a Church, to which we are wont to refer, We beg Congregation--the former being the select few who merely to notice the sad havoc which he has made of professed conversion, the latter including the pro the parable of the tares. (P. 108.) “This parable," miscuous hearers who were not yet convinced of the says he, with supercilious coolness, “is rather & fact.) " It seems very naturally and immediately favourite resort of those who do not find their conto follow, that a Christian Church should be a consciences bound by the principles of strict or pure gregation of Christians." (P. 86.) Very naturally in communion.” Well, what does he make of it! Why, deed; but what do you mean by Christians? If the field, says he, is not the Church at all, but the professors of the Christian religion, walking in the world. The tares are “not hypocrites,” but “known ways of Christ, we are agreed: if genuine believers, and visible children of the wicked one.” this is taking the whole question for granted. As a ment would“ prove too much," as it would be specimen of his unjust and unfair imputations to his subversive of all discipline, even the Presbyterian. opponents, it is quite sufficient to say, that through- And, in fine, the parable is “a lesson against perout he reasons on the assumption that we plead for secution-a lesson against the use of carnal wea“impure communion”--that we hold that Christians pons in His spiritual kingdom." So it would are to be unequally yoked with unbelievers; “ that is, appear the field is “the spiritual kingdom"_the such as make it manifest that this is their charac- Church, after all, and not the world. It would ter!” (P. 97.) Can anything be more preposterous occupy more time than we can afford, to point out than such an imputation? Dr. Wardlaw must know all the fallacies involved in this interpretation. Every that those who follow such a monstrous practice, are one acquainted with Biblical interpretation is aware condemned by Presbyterians as strongly as by him- that our Lord had generally one design, one great self, as acting contrary to the laws and spirit of maxim to teach in his parables, and that many of the Presbytery; but he finds it more easy and conve- incidental parts, necessary to complete the picture, nient to deal with the worst class of Presbyterians were never intended to bear distinct meanings of a than with the Presbyterian argument. Nay, as Vol- spiritual kind. Violating this plain rule, Dr Wardlaw taire insisted on identifying Catholicism with Chris- has seized on some of the mere adjuncts of the tianity, that he might reach a deadlier blow at the allegory, and thereby attempted to involve us in a
The argenumber of incongruities--a method of evading the of Carlyle, is leading the forlorn hope against the plain meaning of Scripture which we hesitate not to power which is impregnable, because it is divine. say might be employed with equal success in perver. But this is not the only phase in which to view ting the most important truths and lessons which it the doings for God's truth on the one hand, and conveys. That by the field, which is called “the against it on the other. At different epochs, new world,” we are to understand, not the world of the modes of attack have been adopted, and new peans ungodly, but the present state of the Church of raised over the alleged defeat of Christianity. Science Christ in this world “his field "-is obvious, not only has been deemed the invincible antagonist of revelafrom the introduction,“ The kingdom of heaven is tion; and infidels have hoped, that from a source so likened,” &c., but from the interpretation, “ The reputable, they were sure to become victorious. angels shall gather out of his kingdom all things that when Galileo demonstrated the earth's motion and offend,” &c. And if our readers wish to see the dif- the sun's stability, ignorant priests anathematized, ference between interpretations conducted in the and as ignorant philosophers triumphed, each to their spirit of common sense and straight-forward honesty, ultimate disgrace. Then Astronomy was paraded, as and in that of what we are constrained to call a sure to demolish the Christian citadel. The Hindu peddling, carping criticism, we beg them just to take system startled thousands, till at last even the Edintheir Bibles, with Matthew Henry's Commentary, burgh Review gave that colossal imposture its quietus. and compare the following remarks with those of The astonishing fact proved by Sir W. Herschel, Dr Wardlaw :-“ The world here is the visible that certain Nebulæ are distant from our earth Church, scattered all the world over, not confined to far more than eleven trillions seven hundred and one nation.
Note, it is not possible for any man sixty-five billions, or above 114 millions of milinfallibly to distinguish between tares and wheat, lions of millions, of miles, seemed to annihilate our but he may be mistaken; and therefore such is the earth, and sweep away the importance which we wisdom and grace of Christ, that he will rather per- attach to it. Light, travelling at the rate of 192,000 mit the tares than any way endanger the wheat. It miles in a second, would require about 1,900,000 is certain, scandalous offenders are to be censured, years to arrive at our globe from those nebulæ, and and we are to withdraw from them; those who are all that seemed to reduce us to an insignificance that openly the children of the wicked one are not to be is too well represented by a speck. Then the Various admitted to special ordinances; yet it is possible there Readings of the New Testament gave rise to new may be a discipline either so mistaken in its rules, or alarm among believers--new hopes among infidels. 80 over nice in the application of them, as may prove Even a writer so judicious as Dr Owen became invexatious to many that are truly godly and conscien- temperate on the subject, and pled for a preservation tious."
of the Sacred Text, which implied a continued
miracle. When Griesbach announced his 152,000 (To be continued).
cariæ lectiones—and others nearly doubled that number-Infidelity stood a-tiptoe, and believers hung down the head like a bulrush; but both were affected
in vain, for the text of the New Testament is SCRIPTURE AND GEOLOGY-ARE THEY
more pure, and its doctrines are more clearly estabEVER DISCORDANT ?
lished, than before these variations, were knowo.
Further, the antiquities of Egypt were more recently It is instructive to notice the various aspects which supposed to be subversive of some parts of the ScripInfidelity has assumed in different ages of the Church. tures; and we have heard a traveller fresh from that Christianity, like a rock in the ocean, lashed by ten land announce that fact with a satisfaction which he thousand waves, but immoveable amid them all, has scarcely attempted to conceal. Again, however, the stood the shock of innumerable assailants; and yet it friends of revelation have met this new assailant, and is only truth to say that it is stronger now than in the wrung from it not disaster, but new confirmations or days of its Founder-stronger, we mean, by prophetic elucidations of the truth. Thus it will ever be. fulfilments, and multitudinous confirmations in his- The Word of God is invulnerable. Like himself, it tory, science, and the development of society. The endureth for ever. We may tremble-it is secure; first of these hostile agencies was the Jewish nation. and sooner or later, on every point it will vindicate Well-nigh to a man, they tried to crush the infant the assertion, that Jehovah's Word and his works Christianity. Then different forms of philosophy, are coócordant, as proceeding from the same almighty Platonism for some time, and Aristotelianism for original.;*, *pr more-reinforced by gross corruptions, attempted to But perhaps the most vaunted of all these modern achieve what Judaism had failed to accomplish; and antagonists to revelation is the science of Geology. then heresy, in countless forms, aimed at the same Its stupendous announcements, second only to those result. Popery, gradually accumulating its masses of astronomy, have appeared to conflict so completely of error, till they swelled into a congeries that would with the Mosaic account of the creation, that the have crushed any system not divine, long laboured timid have trembled, the bold have become fierce in in the same cause. Then the infidels of the seven- defence of what they deemed the truth, and the inteenth century arose and plied their vocation; and fidel has confidently hoped that what has heretofore in more modern times, as at the first French Revo- | been attempted in vain is at last to be accomplished lution, popular violence attempted to overthrow by geology. A charge of Atheism has been hurled what had baffled everything else—a nation voted at scientific men who prosecute that study; and they Atheism truth, and Christianity a lie. In our own have retorted with a charge of priestly bigotry and day, again, Socialism, and gross, unblushing Mate intolerance. “Geology has superseded Genesis,” is rialism, have attempted wha their predecessors the vaunt of some; and ignorance has quaked, while could not achieve; while Pantheism, in the minds of dogmatism became violent at the new taunt of Intisuch empirics as Emerson, and we fear we must add delity.