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The Scriptural Duties Of Churches: In Relation To Slaveholde...

The Scriptural Duties Of Churches: In Relation To Slaveholde... image
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The next pomt to be reraarked is the solicitude of thefirst nropagators of the gospel forthepurity of thechurche?, by the exercise of christian dicipline. "I have written unto you," said Pau), addressing the Corrinthians, "not to keep company, ifanyman ihat is called a brother be a fomicator, orcovetous, oran idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extotfioner; with 8iich an one, no not to eai.:' Tiraothy is directed to "turn away" from those who, though"havingthe form ofgodliness deny the power thereol'.'? The defection of the churches of Galatia is ascribed to the leaven of improper persons retuined in communion, 'and I would," saya the apostle, "they were even cut off which trouble you."ïï "Now we commund you brethren, in the narae of the Lord Jesus Christ, thatye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walkelh disorderly. - For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busy bodies." The church is compared to a building, and they are solemnly warned, who tnight be successors of the apostols in their ministerialbors, in what raanner they should rear the edifice. The danger they incur to themselves, as well ás the moral destruction of the edifice, by the admission of improper members s pointed out, in order to enforce purity of communion; and he then denounces an awful judgement against those who knowingly admit worthless materials, fit only for the fire : "If any man defile (rather destroy,) the temple of God, hirn shall God destroy." - All the addresses to the several Astatic churches, in the Apocalypse, evince the vigilance which the great Head of the church requires to be exercised, for the preservation of the purity ofhis church. The anxiety in question was doubtless stimulated by the twofold consideralions that the character of christianity itself, and therefore one of the great moral evidences of its truth, was implicated in the COnduct of its professors, bolh as individúala and as a body ; and the sirength of those un.happy prejudices which many of the first converts brought with them from heathenism, in favor of practices which from earliest infancy they had been taught to regard as venial, although denounced by christianity as gross crimes. Owing to this adhesión to the corruption of the world, many gross evils 'were found in some of the primitive churches; but, let the advocates for tolerating a worldl} church or a communion wuh menaddieted to detected sins, reraember, thcirexis tence was condemned, and theirextermination was required.In determining upon the course which a christian church ought to pursue in ihe exerc8e of discipline whh respect to sins, notspecified by name in theaposiolic writings, regard must be had to moral analogy and the general principies of Christianity. It would be too mnch to expect that every sin, or even every gross sin of which human nature is capable, should be distincily pointed out; and absurd to maintain that the omission of it in the enumeration of crime would justify a church in overlooking it, In judging of what may be the ground of excommunication, it is proper to observe the character of thoae sins which are particularized and condemned; and also to compare them with others which may not be named. - It may, and in iact does happen, that there exists iniquities unmentioned in the sacred records, as base in nature, and as injurious in practice, as most of any of those which are described, and even of far greater malignity than several that are comprehended in apostolical denunciations. It may and does also happen,that sins not named, virtually include = within themselvea severa!, as inevitable comcomitnnts or consequence9, which are so specified and condemned. Persons walking disorderly, who are busy b odies, are to be withdrawn trom, as well as ihe proud,the highminded.lhe unthankful,lhose who are disobedient to parents, and others who are classed with the covelous, with blasphemers and traitors. The railer is, too, united wtth the drunkard and extortioncr. This shows the extensive appIL catión of the principies ofehristinn inorality; which are siill more plainly and stri- kingly illustraled in the discourse of our Lord on the moant. No one could think of arguing that should a professing christian be guilty, for example, of engaging in a duel or frequencing a theatre, he is not liablo to the discipline of the church, because neither the one nor the olher are by name interdicted; although duelling is, in fact,sul)6tantial murder, and attendants on theatres must be held as "lovers of pleasure.' It may be that neither eating men nor enslaving men are enumerated among the sins which deuiand exclusión, yet in what light its cannibalism to be viewed, and in what liffht is the latterpractico to be regarded, whichis not only vioious, and the pu rent of the crimes, bui expressly marked out as one of tha distiuguishing characterislics of the apástate church? Yes, the joy ofthe uaiverse - of heaven and the holy apostles and prophets s invoited over the destruction of that city whose merchandise includcd slave--, ur ather the bodies andsouls of men .t It is evident that there are some sins n the apostolic enumenition oí' a morepriate and limited range of influencc, less trocioua and less notorious than others ot particularly specified. If the furmerare to subject their perjetrators to the se verelies ot' church discipline, the latter a fortioii, demand a similar Can their be any pretence ft rejecting the busy body or the railcr, and cherishing the oppressor of the bodiesand souls of men? One of the direct objecls of Christianis ty is to free us Irom the vices of the world ; it cannot therefore, be supposed to tolérate any thing immoral, lf slavery be sinful, as has been shown, the manner in which itshould bc dealt wiih,nvolves this question, whether ils cxislence in the church can be allowed to sus-pend or supersede the application of christian principies directly to a case of moráis? Christian principies are, in fací, the law of Christ, written in his word or in the heart; but !av ia pusitive, and iidmits of no invasión or compromiso. Ic Looks vviih a stern aspeel on every sin, and utters a sentence of condemnatiou aguinst it. If sin is allowed lo continue in the christian church it is in violation of the law, and therefore in defiance of ' Christ1 s authority. Too many suffer their judgement to be perverted by their sympathies, and plead that, notwithstanding conduct which, though inveted with plausible excuses, cannot be defended, persons may be excel lent christians; but the question for us in carrying out the evangelical economy, is not what any man may be in his heart, in the judgement of God,or in our own charitable opinión, hut what the law of Christ dema ntJs - what christian principies require in regard to a profession of religión. In the administration of the laws of Christ's Iviiigdorn, we have lo du Sulely with profession; we can háfe to do with nothing else, since the searchiog of hearts I isnotour prerogatii'e. We have no right to trust any man as a christian till he obey thelaw ofChrist;or,whileknowingly viola ting ils principies, he perseveres in that violation. It may be alledged that many slaveholding christians do not know or do not think that slavery is such a violation. To ihia wo roply, jirsi, thutthe case ofsuch ignorance is extremeiy rare, if it can exist; tbr, in reulity, it is not frorn an igno ranee of the general principie, but from the false notion ihat, owing t.) the cin:umstances, the evil cannot be ïbandoncd: - secondly, that the stouiest slaveholding professor is not prepared tu maintain that his practice is doing toothers as he would they should do u.ito him, and consequent ly he does in fact trample upon the authority of his divine master, and his persistence s rebellion. Whotlier a man, however amiable, virtuous, and good in other respöc!s, who is a rebel aiainst Christ'd authorily, is eligible at the same time to a seat at Chrisfs tabU-, letall thoie soiicitous for the puriiy and welfare of the christian community determine, t Rev. 13.Tim. Ui. 5. tf Gal. v, 22. 2Tbes.iii. 6, 11. Comp. ! Cor, iü. 7-17.