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prompt his tongue to the utterance of sucb a blasphemy, yet may his wanton and unthinking heart say within itself, “ God seeth not, neither is there knowledge in the Most High.” Even the faith of those who are, in general, the least disposed to doubt upon this subject, will sometimes shrink before the chilling and pernicious thought, that it is altogether in vain that they have cleansed their hearts, and washed their hands in innocency. As a corrective, therefore, to this practical forgetfulness and unbelief, the holy Scriptures, which are designed, not merely to reveal to us such truths as otherwise could never have been known, but also to stir up our minds, by way of remembrance, on the subject of those truths with which we are acquainted, add to the argument arising from the abstract consideration of the subject, the confirmation of their positive testimony. At almost every turn, we are met with “ line upon line, and precept upon precept," in illustration of this subject; and occasions of all kinds are taken hold of, for the purpose of renewing and enforcing on our minds the impression of the truth, that “ verily there is a reward for the righteous, and verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth,”
3. A third proof, evincing a divine Providence, is found in certain miraculous attestations, which have occasionally marked its interposition. I have observed already, that it is the fate of moral truth, much more than of any other kind of truth, to be neglected and forgotten : and I may now remark, that the God of truth seems to have made special provision against that disadvantage, by taking care that those principles of moral truth which are the most important shall have the advantage of being attested by evidence adapted to the taste of inquirers and objectors of all classes. Thus it is with respect to the important doctrine of a divine Providence. Some persons are willing to receive nothing as the truth, on any subject of religion or morality, which they are not able to infer, by rational deduction, from principles already admitted to be valid and unquestionable. And to inquirers of this class, presuming only on their acknowledgment of an absolutely perfect God, we might content ourselves with simply holding up the character and attributes of the God whom they acknowledge, being confident that, in the contemplation of his character and attributes, they cannot but admit the doctrine for which we are contending. Others, with more simplicity, but with much greater wisdom, profess themselves unwilling to admit any thing as the truth, concerning God, unless it be supported by the positive testimony of divine revelation. And such inquirers we have briefly, and yet, as we trust, sufficiently reminded, that on the subject now before us, they will find in holy Scripture the evidence which they desire. But there are inquirers, or I would rather call them, objectors, of another class, and of a much more obstinate and unmanageable character,-persons who do not yield implicit credit to the authority of the inspired writers, either on this subject or on any other, and on whom is lost entirely the advantage of the argument which may be drawn from the divine nature and perfections; because, professing to
have serious doubts as to the fact of the divine existence, they must necessarily, in conformity with that profession, be doubtful, also, as to the fact of a superintending and controlling Providence. To persons of this class, who are neither willing to “ hear Moses and the Prophets,” nor yet the voice of their own conscience, we are enabled to point out numerous occasions, on which God has come forth from the hidingplace, in which he usually dwells and carries on his operatiozs, and has shown himself, as it is stated in my text, by tokens which could not but be seen, and which could not be mistaken. In dealing with such persons, I would purposely abstain from urging those marks of an eternal power and Godhead, by which the heavens and the earth are ever telling to each other the glory of that God whose handiwork they are. The fool, who says there is no God, has no ears to listen to the mystic and lofty converse, in which “ day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge” on this subject. He has no heart to understand even instruction so plain and simple as that which is delivered by the brute beasts, and by the flower of the field. But we will show him the desolating food, coming on the world of the ungodly, whilst Noah and his family, being warned of God, are directed to the means of their exeinption from the general destruction. We will point to the cities of the plain, turned into ashes by fire and brimstone, which the Lord rained upon them out of heaven, whilst righteous Lot is escorted, by angelic attendants, to a place of safety. We will exhibit to him the long roll of those mighty acts and wonders which are displayed in the history of the Israelitish people. We will bid him contemplate the strange deliverance of Daniel, and his three countrymen, from the power of savage beasts, and from the rage of the devouring flame. We will show him how nature herself, the imaginary deity whom infidels pretend to worship, has, in many instances, forgotten her own laws, and been arrested, or even turned backwards, in her course : and we will challenge him to show us how these stupendous anomalies are to be accounted for, unless upon the supposition, that in these instances there was the interposition of a Power superior to any thing that has ever been understood by the term “nature," an interposition such as must necessarily lead us to admit the Providence for which we are contending. Or, if we fail to bring bim to conviction by such means,-if it be altogether to no purpose, in his case, that God has spoken in the flood, and in the flame, in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath ; if all miracles and signs, however unaccountable, upon the supposition of merely secondary causes, must go for nothing against the scepticism which, without any positive reason in support of it, he is bent upon indulging, we can but mourn over a stupidity so monstrous, and fear lest he who is the subject of it should be judicially "given over to strong delusion, to believe a lie.”
(To be concluded in our next.)
THE WESLEYAN METHODIST. (No. LXVI.)
THE PASTORAL OFFICE. To the Editor of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine. Methodism is, in some important commissioned to feed the flock with respects, dissimilar from all other wholesome doctrine; and, 2. lle is religious systeins. Not formed at empowered to govern or regulate it once, according to any preconceived by salutary discipline. plan, but arising gradually out of The original Gospel commission circumstances, it received from conveys this two-fold authority. the circumstances which called it The great Ilead of the church has forth a character of peculiarity. enjoined his Apostles and their sucNo form of church government, cessors in the ministry, 1. To however, has been framed with “preach the Gospel to every creastricter regard to those great New ture;” “ to teach all nations." Testament principles which are es. (Matt. xxviii. 19, 20; Mark xvi. 15.) sential to the constitution of a Chris. In this age of liberal opinions, when tian church. It has undergone con. the rights of the people are so loud. siderable modifications since its ly urged, it may not be improper to Founder was received to his re. remark, that, in the performance of ward; but whether the alterations this important part of their duty, the of 1795, or 1797, or those adopted Ministers of the Gospel themselves, by the late Conference, are regard. and not the people, are to judge in ed, it will be seen that nothing which their own consciences what is the is vital has been affected by these wholesome doctrine with which they changes. Methodism, in its essential are to feed the flock committed to and scriptural character, still re- their care. This is apparent from the mains the same. It is not intended consideration, that it is not a system on the present occasion to examine of human opinions, but the revealthe Wesleyan polity with regard to ed doctrine of Christ, which Chris. all the important principles of the tian Ministers have to preach :-that New Testament; but rather to limit Christ has not given the commission the inquiry to one topic. No prin- for preaching this doctrine to his ciple is of higher moment in the Ministers and the church conjointly, formation of a Christian church, but to his Ministers alone, and on than the authority of the pastoral them has he imposed exclusively the office. Of such importauce is this obligation to preach it pure and unprinciple, that it may be applied as a adulterated, according to the best of criterion by which to test any eccle- their understanding ; under which siastical system. A religious society undivided responsibility they could will answer, or fall short of attain not be placed, were they bound to ing, the ends wbich a Christian preach such doctrines only as the church is designed to accomplish, in people judged to be true:-and surthe proportion in which the pastoral ther, that Christ is the immediate authority is disregarded, or provin instructer of the Ministers of the sion is made for its due exercise. Gospel. The people are not to tell
A brief examination of the pasto. them what to preach, but “ you," ral office itself will naturally precede says Christ unto his ininistering the inquiry respecting the provision servants, “ you are to teach them which Methodism makes for its due to observe all things whatsoever I maintenance, and the scriptural ex. have commanded you.' And, that ercise of its authority. The powers you may not mistake my will, in which Jesus Christ has connected order that your prayersul study of with this important office are two. my word may be crowned with suc. fold :-1. The Christian Pastor is cess, -'lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,' the enlargement of its borders, iinenlightening your minds, and lead. plies that worldly business, and secuing you into all truth; qualifying lar concerns, do not leave to the mass you for all your important duties; of Christians sufficient leisure for and following your labours with my the study of the mysteries of our sanction and blessing."
divine religion ; and that a necessity The conclusion derived from the therefore exists for an order of men charge and promise of Christ to those to be separated from the world, with whom he calls to the work of the mithe view that they may apply their nistry, is confirmed by other general minds, without distraction, to the views of the subject. It is to be borne study of the doctrines and precepts in mind, that the Apostles had first to of the Gospel, and may thus be quacreate the church, before they could lified to teach the great body of their feed it; and it may be asked, If they fellow-Christians, and build then up were not to judge what was Chris. in their most holy faith. tian doctrine, where were the people Once more: had not the Ministers who could decide for them, when as of the Gospel authority to judge for yet the Christian church had to be themselves, as to the doctrines which called into existence by their instru. Christ has commissioned them to mentality? A similar inquiry might preach, what would become of “the be made in regard of those devoted truth as it is in Jesus,” in times such Missionaries, who, in the spirit of as the Apostle predicts? “ For the the original commission, are going time will come when they will not to distant parts of the world for the endure sound doctrine ; 'but after purpose of evangelizing heathen na- their own lusts shall they heap to tions. In the prosecution of their themselves teachers, having itching hallowed and benevolent object, ears; and they shall turn away they plunge into a moral solitude, their ears from the truth, and shall where, in the first instance, no one be turned unto fables." (2 Timothy is found who knows the true God, iv. 3, 4.) The only remedy left in or has heard of Jesus Christ. In such a state of things is that which such circumstances, how could they is suggested in the advice given by even commence their lahours, ex- the Apostle to his youthful disciple in cept on the principle, that the Min the following verse :-“ But watch isters of Christ are empowered to thou in all things, endure afflictions, judge, independent of the people, do the work of an evangelist, make of the doctrines which are to be full proof of thy ministry." Yes ; preached?
then must the true Ministers of Again : if the relation of the Chris Christ watch against temptation, lest tian ministry to churches already they also be carried away with the gathered out of the world is regard. stream; they must patiently endure ed, it may be argued that the ap- all the afflictive persecutions which pointment of such an institution, as a their fidelity will not fail to provoke ; principal means of their instruction and they must make full proof of and edification, is evidence that the the healthful and corrective characchurches themselves are not con- ter of their ministry, by a constant stituted the ultimate judges of exhibition of true Christian doctrine, doctrine. Were it the case, that and a faithful application of it to all pious people possessed such a the consciences and hearts of their knowledge of the mind of God, as deluded hearers. Or, to express the would qualify them for this high same meaning in the language emoffice, it would be difficult to show ployed by the Apostle in the second of what real use the Christian minis. verse, then especially must the faithtry is to the church. In such a state ful Ministers of Christ “ preach the of things, churches, when once word, be instant in season, out of seaformed, might be safely left to them. son; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all selves. The very appointment of a long-suffering and doctrine." standing ministry, for the instruc- The right of Christian Ministers tion of the church itself, as well as to be the judges of the doctrines which they are called to preach, is not become the subjects of baptism; perfectly compatible with the right but many instances occur in which of the people to judge of what they the Apostles, and their coadjutors hear. The people have the Scrip in the ministry, acted in this matter tures put into their hands, which on their own sole authority. What they are under solemn obligations to previous consultation of the church read and study for themselves; and was there on the day of Pentecost, should their Pastor introduce doc- when three thousand persons were trines which, after careful examina. baptized ? What church did the tion, and prayer to God for instruc- Apostle Paul consult before he baption and guidance, they conscien- tized the Philippian gaoler and his tiously believe to be contrary to his family? or Philip, when he baptized word, they have then not only a pri- the eunuch? or Peter, previously to vilege to use, but a weighty duty to the baptism of Cornelius and his perform. If the church to which friends? This latter case deserves they belong is one of a connexion of especial consideration. Had Jesus churches, which union appears to the Christ made it imperative on his Methodists to have the especial sanc. Ministers to administer baptism tion of the New Testament, it re- only with the advice and consent of mains for them to appeal from their the church; had he given to the own Pastor to his fellow-Pastors ; church a voice on the question reand if, on such application, they fail specting the admission of persons to obtain redress, it will then be jus- within its pale; the case of Cornelius tifiable for them to follow the dic. was above all others that in which tates of conscience, and place them- it might have been expected that selves under the guidance of other the Apostle would have delayed to Pastors.
act, until he should receive the sancBut, 2. Christ has empowered the tion and authority of the church. Ministers of the Gospel to govern Up to that time, all the Christian or regulate the church by salutary churches had been gathered out of discipline. He has committed to the Jewish church; and none save them the keys of the church. As converts from among God's anthey are to "go” and “teach all cient people had been received nations," so likewise are they to within their pale. The baptism of “baptize them in the name of the Cornelius and his friends was thereFather, and of the Son, and of the fore the commencement of a new Holy Ghost." (Matt. xxviii. 19.) era in Christianity. It was the Baptism is the appointed mode throwing open of the church, with of receiving persons into the Chris. all its privileges and ordinances, to tian church, and admitting them the Gentile race; and from that peto a participation of its privileges; riod, the converted Gentiles were and the same persons who are com. seen taking their standing on the missioned by Jesus Christ to preach saine equal ground with those who bis Gospel throughout the world, are had previously held the Jewish faith. to receive into the church, by baptism, As the Apostle proceeded to effect all whom they judge to be sufficiently this great change in the constitution instructed and prepared by their min of the church, without waiting for nistry. That the rite of baptism is the direction of the church, and to be administered by tbe Christian without any regard for the lingering Pastor, and not by the people, is too prejudices of its members against obvious to admit of controversy; the Gentiles ; it cannot be concluded and little less room exists for doubt otherwise, than that Jesus Christ respecting the freedom of the Pastor has not empowered the church to in its administration. No proof can interfere with his Ministers in their be produced from the New Testa. use of the keys, for the purpose of ment, of the first Preachers of the authoritatively directing who shall Gospel having consulted the church, be admitted to the ordinance of bapor of the church having given direc- tism. tions, as to who should or should The right of the Christian Pastor,