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THE METHODIST PREACHER;
DOCTRINAL AND PRACTICAL SUBJECTS.
BISHOP HEDDING, DR. FISK, DR. BANGS, DR. DURBIN,
AND OTHER MINISTERS OF THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
"the Bible, the Bible, sir," said Chillingwonh, "is the religion of protestants." This is a most important truth, beautifully and forcibly expressed, and worthy to be reiterated from every pulpit in Christendom.
The fifth article of religion in the discipline of the M. E. Church, reads as follows: "The Holy Scriptures contain all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation."
This acknowledges the Bible alone as the authoritative standard in doctrine, experience, discipline, and practice. The Popish and semiPopish notion, that the Bible is not sufficient, taken alone, is discarded as unworthy a place in a Christian creed, and a virtual denial of the authority of Revelation. Tradition, however important as a porlion of church history, has neither a co-ordinate or subordinate authority, in anything essential in the doctrine and government of the Church.
What may have been said by Fathers, Popes, or Councils, is of very little consequence, unless confirmed by Holy Scripture, notwithstanding their self-claimed infallibility. The Bible is more ancient than fathers, more wise than councils, and more infallible than Popes. It is the exact and perfect standard of truth; the unerring wisdom of God. Our religious views and practices are neither true nor useful, unless moulded and directed by its divine teachings, and moral power. The theology ot' Wesley, and of those who have rallied under the standard which he raised, and have taken their place in the great family of protestant denominations, has ever been distinguished for its pure Scriptural character. "To the law and the testimony," has ever been their motto. "If any man speak not according to these, it is because there is no light in him." Luther was educated according to the regimen of the Catholic Church, but he never would have been moved to action as a reformer, without access to the Scriptures. Wesley received his training in the university of Oxford, according to the most approved plan of manufacturing ministers for the establishment. He would have been an eminent man, if he had never become a Master in Israel. He would most likely have been distinguished for his scholastic attainments, philosophic wisdom, and classical taste in any event; but it was the Bible that made him what he was as a minister. This made the doctrines and facts of Christianity appear to him, other than mere speculations—it transformed them into living and momentous realities—moulded his opinions, changed his heart, filled him with the constraining love of Christ, and inspired him with a useful, commendable, and holy enthusiasm—an element of character, essential to the success of those who seek the good of their race, by waging war with the stupendous evils which degrade and oppress humanity. "I am," says he, "a spirit come from God, and returning to God; just hovering over the gulf; till a few moments hence, I am no more seen! I drop into an unchangeable eternity. I want to know one thing,—the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end he came down from heaven. He hath written it down in a book! O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be 'homo unius libri.'"
It is the appropriate business of the ambassador of Christ to persuade men to be reconciled to God. This is done by announcing the Gospel, explaining the terms of salvation, and displaying the motives God has revealed to awaken concern and enforce attention to the subject. And he is the best minister who executes his commission with the greatest success. The reputation of the ambassador or diplomatist is not deter, mined by acquaintance with court etiquette, education, or philosophy, but by the success with which he maintains the honor, and secures the interests of his government in his negotiations with foreign nations. And so, it is not rare intellectual endowments, ripe scholarship, or profound philosophy that makes the minister of Jesus Christ: these sanctified and properly applied, are of incalculable advantage to the general purposes of the ministry; but without the divine call, and constraining love of Christ, his character as a minister is radically defective. He lacks the spirit of Christ—has no sympathy with him in his mission and work, and hence cannot successfully negotiate the matchless interests pending between earth and heaven.
The ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church have as high an appreciation of sound learning as any other body of men, though were their claims tested by their actual attainments, in letters and scholastic divinity, they might as a general thing be obliged to yield the palm to others. Yet the disparity, if any exists, is much less than it was, and is constantly diminishing. The Church is rapidly increasing, and perfecting her facilities for imparting a systematic and thorough education: particularly is she now displaying a commendable zeal that her ministry may possess intellectually, morally, and practically, every qualification deemed essential to success. A large class of them possess these advantages already, and the time is very near, when as a whole, they will rank as high in all these respects, as those of any other denomination of Christendom. They do not, however, stake their character and reputation as ministers on their learning, and would not, were it much greater than it is. They would rather be found crying out with Paul, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and 1 unto the world."
The worldly and time-serving, have been scarcely less puzzled to account for the remarkable success of Methodist ministers, than the Philis