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The Parish Meeting.
163 of the other first lesson, Genesis xviii. is as obvious ; it records, the appearauce of the great Jehovah to Abraham, in company with two other persons, which, it is supposed, was designed to shew him the Trinity of persons. But this sacred mystery is no where so plainly manifested, as in the second lesson for the morning, Matthew iii. which at one and the same time, relates the baptism of the Son, the voice of the Father, and the descent of the Holy Ghost ; and these, though they are, as appears from this chapter, three distinct persons in number, yet the second lesson in the evening, 1 John v. shews, that they are but one in essence,
The Epistle and Gospel are the same, as, in antient services, were assigned for the octave of Whit-Sunday. The Gospel seems suited to the season, as being the last day of the more solemn time of baptism ; neither the Epistle or Gospel is improper to the day, as Trinity Sunday; for in both are mentioned the three persons of the Trinity; and that remarkable hymn of the Angels in heaven mentioned in the portion of scripture chosen for the Epistle, has of itself seemed to many to be a sufficient manifestation of three persons, and but one God. The collect is plainly adapted to this day, as it is Trinity Sunday.
nanimously made choice of Mr. Steady for their Chairman, and Mr. Faithful for their Clerk - The meeting being properly organized—the Chairman made declaration, that the meeting was open according to warning.-Upon which Mr. Itching-Ear, arose and very respectfully addressing the Chair, Said, that, if he understood the business of the meeting, it was to hire preaching. He would therefore, more, that a committee be appointed, to hire tuenty good old steady Clergymen, to preach for them by rotation--For his part he was weary, of hearing continually the same Preacher.—Mr. Curiosity next arose,--and had only time to second the motion made by Mr. Itching-Ear-before Mr. Norelty arose--and observed,--that the motion was highly agreeable to him, that he considered it to be a very dull business, to go to public worship, and hear nothing new.--For his part, he had rather be attending a little to his own domestic affairs on Sunday, such as salting his caitle, examining his fences, and putting up the rails that had fallen olt during the week-Than to go constantly to hear the same preacher, let him preach ever so well.-For his part, the sole object for which he ever attended Church, was to hear Preaching ; and if he did dot hear something new, he considered his tune, as spent in yain; because he had not been edified, by the Novelty of Preaching ;. and he believed, that, if the motion made by Mr. Itching-Ear, was carried into effect, they should be so happy as to hear something new evey Sunday for a long time; he was therefore very anxious to have the motion tried.
Mr. Popularity, arose and said, Mr. Chairman, I perfectly agree to the motion inade by Mir. Itching-Ear ; seconded by Mr. Curiosity, and espoused by Mr. Novelty. I wish however, Mr. Chairman, to make this amendment to the motion, That a commitee be appointed to hire twenty good old popular Preachers : By a popular Preacher, I mean one, who has a smooth, clear, soft, loud, heavy and thundering voice, together with an animated theatrical delivery:
I do not care much what a preacher says, if he preaches in this manner. To finish my idea of a popular preacher; Vivould bave him cioathed in the most superb manner, let him say what he will, and do what he may, if he is not clad in the most fashionable biode, I shall never be edified by his preaching. For my part, I ain weary of hearing a minister in home-spun dress, Preaching up, that a Christian faith, a divine temper of mind, and Evangelic
The Parish Meeting al obedience, together, with sincere repentance, are absolutely necessary y make us Christians. These doctrines are as old as Christianity itself
. I fully agree with Mr. Novelty, whenever I go to public worship, I want to have something new, and I wish to have it told with a good grace. I am anxious for the ainendment.
Mr. Close-Fist, very devoutly arose, and said, I fully agree to the amendment; those gentlemen who have spoken upon the subject, have delivered ex: actly my sentiments and feelings in the matter ; but, I fear, we shall be obliged to pay too dear for preaching ; they will ask as much as they think they can possibly obtain; they in general area set of artful inen, their whole object is to tine their oren pockets : I love to hear good popular preaching, as well as any man living, and would wish to hear a new preacher every Sunday as long as I live; but I would not give all I am worth to gratify my ears ; therefore I think it to be a matter of the utmost importance to appoint a committee (if the motion is carried) who are men of judgment, art, wit, craft and economy ; such men as will not be liable to be imposed upon by the artful insinuations of ministers ; I wish therefore, Mr. Chairman, that the sense of the house might be taken, upon the subject ; the vote was called for, and declared to be in favour of the motion by a very great majority : upon which Messrs. Steady, ItchiogEar, Novelty, Popularity and Close-Fist, were appointed a committee to carry the resolution into effect. The Chairman then called upon the house, to know whether there was any further business for the meeting to transact; if not, it would be proper to disolve it.
After a long pause, Mr. Serious, whose head was silvered over with age, with a very venerable but cheerful countenance, arose, and respectfully addressing the Chair, said, I do not rise, sir, to find fault with the resolution wlich has been passed, but to correct, if possible, the ideas of those gentlemen who have spoken upon the subject; they appear to have good honest hearts but very erroneous heads. They seem never to have had, or to have lost, all true ideas of the Church of Christ, of the ministerial office, and of public worshipThe Church of Christ, is the whole society of those who are incorporated by baptism, administered by those who are commissioned by Him as the Supreme head of the Church, and distributed under lawful governors, into particular Churches, holding communion with each other in all the essentials of faith, worship and discipline : His ministers are dignified with an especial commis. sion from Him; they are stewards of the misteries of God, to whom He has committed the word of reconciliation ; they are ambassadors froin Him, authorized to negociate and transact all the outward administrations of the corenant of grace. Upon which account their office is sacred, and all contempt shewn to them, is an affront to their Master, whose character they bear; and therefore, on account of the bighi dignity, and absolute necessity of the ministerial office, to the very existence of the Church, they are entitled to a liberal support from the people, according to the blessing of God upon their substance, and that not grudgingly, or of necessity, but cheerfully, as a debt due to God, who is the bountiful giver of every good gift, in whose name, and by whose authority they'act. But the idea that the ministerial office consists altogether in preaching, and that, it may be bought and sold by the people's hire?ng preaching, appears to ne, to smell rank of simony, and to imply that the gifts and graces of God's holy spirit may be bought and sold, and that our Heavenly Father may be bribed to bestow his spiritual blessings upon us.
We learn from the Bible, (a book, which all who profess and call themselves Chrisțians, believe to contain the word of truth) that God, at sundry times, and in di. rers munners, in times past, hath spoken to the fathers by tře Prophets; and at last sent his own son into the world, and spake in him : and that he instituted the Church ofthe Jews and the Christian dispensation ; in the former, Aar zon, Priests and Lerites, in the latter Bishops, Priests and Deacons. But in ihat book we find mention nowhere made of bireing priests, under any divine sanctior. We read indeed of some of the priests teaching for hire; but those were characters of whom it is said, they preuch deceits und the people love to fure it so. None but irregular priests would submit to be hired*; witness tue young Levite (Judyes xviii. v. 4) who hired himself not by the Sunday, but for a certain time, to gentleman of Mount-Ephraim ; mark the conduct of this hireling priest, how he joined with a legion of the tribe of Dan-to rob bis mas
The Parish Meeting.
165 ter, and carry off all his gods :-learn from thence what' confidence is to be placed in mercenary or hireling priests, True it is that the priests of Baal and Diana were hired, but I hope that you would not rank Christian priests with those. By my abhorance of the plan of hireing priests I have naturally been led into this digression ; but to return,
The worship which is due from us to God, consists, in confessing and imploring the forgiveness of our sins, and requesting Him for such blessings as we stand in need of, with humble, penitent and obedient hearts. And when the holy seriptures are read in the Church, we should attend to them, as a voice from Heaven, as a revelation from the God of truth, as the grand charter of all we hope for; and the rule of faith, and manners, to direct us in the true path to eternal happiness. In our prayers and praises, with grateful hearts and united voices we thank God, for all his favors, both spiritual and temporal, which he has conferred upon us, and devoutly implore the continuation of them throagh the merits of Christ. And when we sit down to hear the sermon, we should bearken to it, as delivered by God's Minister, as a means of promoting and cultivating in us the practice of all moral and evangelical duties. This is the doctrine which the Holy Scriptures teach us, concerning the Church of God, His ministers, and the worship that is due unto him from all Christians. But, Mr. Itching-Lar, says, he is weary of hearing constantly the same minister preuch, and therefore, he wants to multiply preachers.
Mr. Novelty considers it, a very dull business, to go to the house of God, and hear nothing new, and that, he had rather attend to some small donestic affairs, on Sunday, than to go constantly' to hear the same minister, let biin preach ever so well, and that, the only reason why he ever attended Church, was, to hear preaching, and if he did not hear something new, he considered his time as lost.
Mr. Popularity appears to possess the same sentiments, but wishes to have the preachers clad in soft raiment, to preach in a more pompous and ostentatious manner;
and to lay aside the old hackneyed doctrine of fuith, repentance and gospel obedience. He does not care what he hears, if it is only told with a good grace :~And to put on the cap-sheaf, Mr. Close-Fist arises, confesses that those gentlemen have spoken his sentiments and feelings to the full. But, only he does not wish to injure his purse, to gratify his ears. Mr. Chairman, is it possible that these can be the deliberate sentiments, of those who have been initiated into the Church of Christ by the sacrament of baptism, and have been taught their catechisin. I am sensible, that this is the road, in which no small part of mankind, at the present day, are travelling, as they pretend, to the regions of eternal glory. But, Mr. Chairman, we must not expect that our ears alone will carry us to Heaven, we must not expect to ride to endless happiness upon the back of a new popular preacher, or lo be wafted to the regions of eternal bliss, by the blast of pulpit' eloquence. This a plan of obtainiing saivation, to which the holy scriptures give no encouragement, it is not enibraced within the whole compass of divine revelation.
The Bible is the only rule to direct us how we are to obtain endless happiness; that teaches us what we are to believe, and what we are to do. Noah manifested his taith and obedience by building the Ark, to save himself and family from the waters of the deluge; Abraham, by leaving his native country and offering up his son Isaac ; Moses and the children of Israel, by attending to every ceremony of the Passover, that they might not perish, with the first-born in Egypt; David by building an Altar at the thresting-toor of Araunah, to stop the pestilential sword of the Lord ; Naaman by washing seven times in the waters of Jordan to cleanse his leprosy, and the widow of Zarepta, by delivering up her last morsel of meul and 9l, to sustain the Prophet of God, that they might not fail, during a famine of three years and six months.
in that part of the Bible called the New-Testament, (let Mr. Popularity say what he will about it) a Christian faith, a divine temper of mind, and a sincere repentance together with evangelical obedience are required of
The first comprehends what we are to believe, the second what we are to be, and the last what we are to do. Now, the first siep in the Chris. tian religion, is to believe, that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah pointed out by the Prophets ; this belief is founded upon the evidence for it, contained in the holy scriptures: we must talię a view of the prophecies in the
A Succinct History of Baptism. Old Testament concerning the Messiah; compare the fulfilment of them in the New; and see if Christ came with all those characters mentioned by the an. cient prophets. In this case our faith will be built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. (Eph. ii. 10.)
Mr, Chairman, In order to obtain eternal happiness we must be initiated into the body or Church of Christ, by the sacrament of baptism; this is the way and means by which we are admitted into covenant with God, and are translated from a state of nature into a state of grace, and are thereby, under the most solemo obligation to walk in newness of life. But in order to support this new or spiritual life, we must receive the sacramental body and blood of Christ. By the worthy partaking of which, we obtain the pardon of our sins, fresh supplies of the Holy Spirit, to enable us to do our duty, and a principle of immortal lite, to our bodies as well as to our souls. We must also regularly appear before God in his bouse, in that place where he has told us his honour dwelleth, and where he will meet us and bless us, with penitent hearts confess our sins, devoutly implore the forgiveness of them, heartily thank him for the numberless favours and privileges he is constantly besto wing upon us ; -- with humble resignation to his divine will, ask the continuation of them; and with attentive ininds and obedient wills hear what he says to us in his holy word. These things being done upon evangelical principles, render us through the merits of our blessed Redeemer meet to be partakers of the inheritance with the saints in light; and when we are thus qualified for happiness, Christ will intercede for us, in right of his own merits, that we may be put in possession of that degree of happiness which our gospel obedience has fiited us to enjoy. This is the way which infinite wisdom directs us to pursue, that we may finally arrive at the regions of endless glory. These are the means I have made use of from my youth up, with a stedfast faith in the promises of God, through the merits of Christ, and with a sincere desire to walk in the way of God's commandments.
I am this day four score years old, I am nov standing, as it were, with one foot in this world, and the other in the next :--by the use of these means I have been supported through all the changing scenes, all the trials and providential dispensations that have befallen me in my long journey of life ; ---I can now look back wards upon my past life, with complacency, and forwards into the other world, without dismay. Take, I beseech you, for once, an old man's ad: vice; give over, I pray you, all your whimsical notions of obtaining eternal fclicity, only by hearing nerv und popular preaching, and sincerely and de voutly make use of all the means of grace wliich our blessed Saviour has instituted in his Church, under any lazuful minister whom God in his Providence shall place over you; always remembering that holiness of office, is superior to every other consideration. If you do these things with a peaceable and sincere ipind, you have the assurance of God himself, that they will finally Jead you to those rivers of pleasure which dow at his right hand, and where you shall participate in heavenly joys, for ever and ever.
A SUCCINCT HISTORY OF BAPTISM. CHAP. 5.-Of the Baptism of Adults-Concluded from page 155. NOME learned men are of the opinion, that the Council of Nice condemned excommunicate such as carried ons after baptism. This charge, however, je grounded on a mistake. The words of the canon are these ; –“ If any, who at first, by the grace of God, made confession of their faith, and-cast away the military girdle, do' afterwards return to their vonit again, so as to give money for a place in the army, let them be ten years among the prostrators after they have been three years among the hearers :” which passage the generality of interpreters take to refer to the times of Licinius the persecutor, (about the year of our Lord 312) who obliged all the Christian soldiers by an edict, to be cashiered, unless they sacrificed to the gods. Upon which, many threw away their girdies, and quitted the military life. But afterwards some of their
Jones's first Letter to a Predestinarian
167 teturned to it, performing the conditions, and giving money to regain their posts. And against such was the Canon intended. Albaspinæus thinks it resa pected such penitents as had vowed to renounce all secular business, but who returned, and took civil offices, which, in the imperial law, and the canons of the Church, are sometimes called militia palatina ; and there are some others of this opinion. However, it is agreed upon among all, that the council of Nice did not prohibit the military life; except only in some special cases, where, it might happen to be unlawful in particular circumstances.--For Constantine himself, allowed the soldiers who were cashiered by Licinius, to return to their employment again. And the first Council of Arles excommunicated all such as threw away their arms in time of peace, on pretence that they were Christians; which is a convincing proof that soldiers were not obliged to renounce the military life at their Baptism : but all that was required of them, was, that when a soldier came to be baptized, he should be taught to do violence to no man, to accuse no one falsely, and to be content with his wages; and if he con sented to these things, he was to be received; and that this was the standing rule of the Church.
As for concubinage, which, in the common acceptation is of an harshet sound, as the Jews and Patriarchs of old did, so the ancient Christians also made a distinction; and among them there was one sort of concubines permitted, as differing nothing from a wife, save only that she was not married with all the solemnities that the other was. And this sort of concubines the ancient Canons received both to Baptism and the Communion. ?
The difference between a Concubine and a Wife, was only this: The Wife was married publicly; with great solemnity, instruments of dowery, and other ceremonies, which the civil and canon law required. But the Concubine was married privately, and without any of these solemnities. They agreed, however, in these three things:-1. That they were persons unmarried before. 2. That they obliged themselves to their husbands to live chaste, and be joined to no other. 3. That they would continue faithful in this state all their days. Now, this sort of Concubines, being married, were not-reputed guilty of fornication, and therefore they were admitted to Baptism, without any further ob·ligation, in case the husband was an heathen: if otherwise, the Constitutions made a little difference ; for if he had a Concubine, he was obliged to dismiss her, and marry a lawful wife, if his concubine was a slave ; and if she were'a -free womani, he must make her a lawful wife; otherwise he was to be cast out of the Church
The decrees of Pope Leo (made A. D. 444) are to the same purpose By “them, Christians were obliged to dismiss their Concubines, if they were slaves, unless "they would enfranchise them, lawfully endow them, and take theny in · public marriage, as the law required. And in this respect, these Decrees seen te differ froin that of the Council of Toledo, which allows a Concubine 'to cohabit in private wedlock, without any ecclesiastical censure. St. Augustine, in his treatise de Fide, says, that a Concubine of this sort may be admitted to Baptism; the matter being such as the Scripture hath no where positively condemned, but rather left for the Church to decide, according to the best skill she is invested with for determining such difficult questions.
We may add one remark more upon this head ; namely, that the Marionites would admit no married persons to their Baptism ;-but they must be either Virgins or Widows, Batchelors or divorced persons; which Tertullian informs us, proceeded from their abhorrence of the married. state, which was common to them with many other ancient heretics, though we do not find the denial of Baptisin ascribed to any
(To be continued.]
JONES'S FIRST LETTER TO A PREDESTINARIAN.
MY GOOD BROTHER,
are assured of your own salvation, and look with pity on us poor, unlearned Christians, who are left behind, and dare not think so highly of ourselves as you do. We take the whole word of God, as the-rule of our faith and obedi