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" Bult upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being
the chief corner-stone."
BY THE REV. JOHN ALDIS, JUN.
" Epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you.”—2 Cor. iii. 1.
No thoughtful Christian can glance over the pages of a Church Register without much and varied emotion. Amid such records as-“ Fell asleep in Jesus," " Her end was peace," &c., which show that in these cases the mission of the church has proved a glorious success, and which call forth devout thankfulness, there are also entries of another character, which awaken painful feelings, and may well call for “great searchings of heart.” is you turn the pages over you may often meet with such sentences as these -"* Excluded for non-attendance," “ Erased for non-attendance," " Left the Leighbourhood,” &c., and one fears lest the church has here bestowed labour ik vain. And besides these cases, it is to be feared that an appreciable perentage of the names on the roll, might fittingly receive some such addition, Whilst most of us are believers in the final perseverance of the saints, stern facts compel us to acknowledge how terribly common backsliding and apostacy are. And whilst fresh conversions should be earnestly desired, we are thus reminded of the great applicability to us of the Lord's words ddressed to the Church at Sardis, “Strengthen the things which remain Fat are ready to die, for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” No doubt many who have been removed from the church in consequence
the neglect of public ordinances, may be found scarce a stone's throw from the place of worship. And such cases may well act as a warning to le pastors, and deacons, and members of our churches, to endeavour to check in their fellow Christians, the first beginnings of the common, Dangerous, nay, even fatal practice, of gradually neglecting public worship, aving up first the prayer-meeting, then the Lord's Supper, next the second service on the Lord's day, then even the one service, and then follows a course of carelessness, the issues of which God only knows.
But the object of this paper is to call attention to a inatter, which even
the limited experience of the writer has convinced him, is a most fruitia source of backsliding. It is in brief the neglect of dismission.
The calls of business and other circumstances occasion the frequent removals of members of our churches, and, spiritually, such removals ałe often very disastrous. Something like the following is, alas ! too commonly the case. One who has been an exemplary member of a church goes ! reside at a distance, and after a time seeks out the Baptist chapel. He misses the dear familiar pews, and tunes, and faces, and preacher's voice; and we cannot wonder that he does not enjoy the worship as when at home, He goes a few times, however; and as probably no one in the congregation gives him a friendly word (alas ! that such should be the case), he becomes sadder than before. When the new month arrives he debates with himsi whether he shall go to the Lord's Supper. But no—he will wait a month and see. Month after month rolls by, and each time the desire is fainter, and the disinclination more strong. Gradually a coldness steals over his heart, and darkness clouds his mind. He feels unfit for membership; he gives sometimes to the Independents, sometimes to the Wesleyans, sometimes to Church, oftener- nowhere. He is lost to the denomination, lost as to Christian usefulness, and the most that we can hope is, that at the last he may be saved, yet “so as by fire. Among those whose piety to begin with is very feeble, plainly the danger is all the greater.
No doubt under such circumstances, the more excellent and intelligent Christians will at once seek an introduction to the church in their new neighbourhood, and commune with them at the Lord's table. But such will often remain for months, and even for years, without obtaining a dismissal of membership, from which cause many evils often result. Not being members of the church, they do not feel at home or settled ; their wisdom cannot be secured in the business of the church; they will, to an extent stand aloof from the working organisations, and thus suffer in usefulness and in happiness too.
Now a valuable remedy for such evils might be found in the prompt use of dismissions, whereby many inight be saved from backsliding : many min be made far more useful and happy. When our members go to reside at distance, let them, if necessary, carry with them letters of introduction to the neighbouring church or churches. Let them lose no time in determining where their spiritual home shall be, and then, without delay, let them on tain a transfer of their membership.
It is true that dismissions are often granted ; but the common fault is that a long time is all wed to elapse first. And if they have not taken, house on a seven years' lease, or if there be any human probability that they will leave the neighbourhood in a year or two, the members of our churches usually prefer to retain their names on a book, perhaps a hundrel miles distant. But how much better to be united with the church where the are resident even for a year or two; and then, should the pillar of fire and of cloud move, let another letter of commendation follow them ; should I return to the place whence they came out, let the membership be restored to the old home. No evils surely would result from such a plan ; whilst great
benefits would accrue. An objection will probably be made on the score of the pain attendant on thus suddenly cutting off old and endeared ties. But
rely we ought not to have such a feline attachment to places as to forego a plan which would be manifestly beneficial; and to refuse a new home, **Iing, love-sick for the old one. Besides, the pain need not be so great as it sometimes is. And we are thus reminded of the importance of what so Imany of us are yearning for now-less isolation, more union, and closer asKrition among our churches. Why should the transfer of a Christian's wambership so utterly cut him off from fellowship with the church of his first love, as to occasion pain? Why, when he visits the place of his
tual birth, should he be esteemed a stranger ? Why should he not be Tarmitted to attend all the meetings of the church during his stay, and thus led to feel
“ No more a stranger or a guest,
But like a child at home' ?
Such a notion may be opposed to rigid modern Congregationalism, but it is suzely in harmony with the Congregationalism of the New Testament. Who would for a moment imagine that a brother baptized at Ephesus, but since paident at Colosse, would be excluded from the meetings of his mother drarch, during a visit to Ephesus, with the cold rebuff, “You are not now e member here, but at Colosse" } The Lord grant unto our churches more of the unity of the Spirit,” and more brotherly love, “which is the girdle of tection"!
No doubt there are cases in which, owing to the distance of the new place 'sade from any eligible church, a transfer of membership cannot be of 19. Had we the piety of our fathers, in whose eyes a distance of ten or
ten miles appeared no sufficient excuse for absence from united worship, o cases would be extremely rare. But as now-a-days the loadstone of ** Sanctuary will not attract our hearts of steel more than a mile or so, ...r excuse may be made in many instances for retaining membership at a
iace. In such cases let there be a periodical interchange of letters letren the church and the absentee, that the mutual interest and profit -s be to an extent sustained. And let those who are thus situated avail curselves of what opportunities their circumstances will allow, for i'istian fellowship and worship.
If subject of dismissions is very important, and belongs especially to * Plumbers of our churches. The pastors of the churches where travellers *** to reside, may sometimes feel a delicacy in pressing their dismission, lest y should appear to wish to rob other churches. The pastors of the churches *Bize they come, if they write or speak of the matter, sometimes meet
ply, “ Are you tired of us, that you wish to get rid of our names ?”. in are suspected of ill-will, when really their motive is the welfare of
sticep. Members of the churches, arise, for this matter belongeth unto "0; we also will be with you ; let it be done with speed.
nyuld these lines meet the eye of one who is worshipping with a sich far away from that where his name is enrolled, the writer would
earnestly entreat such a one (unless under exceptional circumstances, t be judged of by each man's conscience), to obtain the transfer of h membership, and to obtain it without needless delay ; believing that sue a course would conduce to his own spiritual happiness and prosperity, a well as to his usefulness in the cause of Christ.
Or should any one read this paper, formerly a happy member of : church, but now written off as an absentee ; and who, severed from hi first spiritual home, has gradually neglected the Lord's Supper and pabli worship, and in consequence has grown worldly, cold, and dark, cryin in bitterness of soul, “Oh, that I were as in months past, as in the day when God preserved me, when His candle shined upon my head !"-ib writer would urge such a one, as he values his spiritual health, to betak himself again to those ordinances which formerly ministered food to hi soul,—to apply without delay for membership in a Christian church ; o should he still stand as a member elsewhere, to seek dismission to thi church which may be nearest his dwelling, or from other consideration most eligible as his home.
THE WAY OF TRANSGRESSORS.
BY THE REV. T. R. STEVENSON.
“The way of transgressors is hard.”—Prov. xiii, 15.
THE Book of Proverbs is a morali In addition to these assertions, exe armoury. It contains weapons where made in view of special forms of en with to assail every sin and folly. Do there are also more general ones, why you want a weapon against ignorance ? are so far-reaching as to embrace * That the soul be without knowledge species of wrong-doing. They come is not good.” Do you seek a warning hend every offence against God at against idleness? “Go to the ant, man. The verse before us is of the thou sluggard ; consider her ways, and order. Such being the case, a care be wise." Do you desire a reproof of consideration of it will be of value intemperance ? “ Wine is a mocker, each of us. “The way of transgrese strong drink is raging, and whosoever is hard” in three respects : is deceived thereby is not wise.” Do I. Hard to get in. you need a condemnation of pride ? II. Hard to keep in. « Pride goeth before destruction, and III. Hard to get out of. a haughty spirit before a fall.” Do I. It is hard to get in. There you ask a rebuke of falsehood? “Lying
of falsehood? "Lying / good as well as evil tendencies lips are abomination unto the Lord.” human nature. Unhappily, the la Do you wish for an exposure of decep | are the more numerous, and usual tion? “A hypocrite with his mouth the more mighty. Albeit the former & destroyeth his neighbour." Do you | ist, and at times assert, with great er require a restraint upon lascivious phasis, their existence. Were it ? ness ? “Her house is the way to
so, surely “the High and Lofty One hell, going down to the chambers of would never compare Himself, death."
man. “Like as a father pitieth
Lidren, so the Lord pitieth them that the soul in the place of that miserable Far Him." “As one whom his mother man, and virtue in the place of that ynforteth will I comfort you." woful woman, and then the tragedy
There is a Friend that sticketh teaches a great moral fact. Before we anser than a brother." The fact that first murder a virtue, or kill a grace, God makes our affections and our re- | there is many a struggle ; and it is stionships the medium by which we done, at last, in desperation. To use say come, to some extent, to know an humbler illustration. You have Funn, is an evidence that something of sometimes seen a horse galloped up to Ta titide and something of nobility is a fence which his rider meant him to
a leit in His creatures. We are told leap. But when he came close upon tuat “the ancients in their wise peren- | it he suddenly wheeled round and repually significant way, figured nature | treated. The attempt was made again,
saf, their sacred all, or Pan, as a | but with the same result. It was repatentous commingling of two dis- peated, perhaps, but with no better -ords; as musical, humane, oracular issue. Not until the whip was used a the upper part, yet ending below in unmercifully, and the spurs were The cloven hairy feet of a goat."
pressed fast and far into the panting This will help us to see how “the flanks of the poor beast, did it clear the Tip of transgressors is hard” to get hedge. Nor is it otherwise with the into. It is difficult, because we have soul. Not at the first inducement to defy, overcome, and crush down does it leap the divine boundaries; it these good tendencies in our nature shrinks back; it protests against it ; Ecore we can go astray. Like so | temptation must use its whip and spurs Luas barriers, they must be assailed before it bounds over. End destroyed, ere we take the road Yes; the way of transgressors is
ruin. Perhaps there is not a hard to get into. Take a common and igre powerful illustration of this than familiar case. A young man, who has Le afforded by our great national had a godly education, leaves home * Othello, stung to the quick by for a situation in a city or large town. ucasy, resolves to murder his wife, As a matter of course, he attends a E mudemona. But how “hard” he | place of worship. This is observed by Id "the way of transgressors !” his fellow-assistants, and is made the
w he shrinks from the deadly pur subject of ironical remark. Ridicule, wyse he has formed! He goes into in no measured terms, assails him.
: chamber and finds her asleep. As He is accused of cant; he is called a a hears her gentle breathing; as he Methodist ; he is saluted as “the holds her alabaster breast heaving Saint." They use various inducewetly to and fro; as he gazes at the ments to persuade him to abandon the rely form he has so often embraced ; sanctuary, in order to frequent other * he kisses her for the last time; as and widely different localities with * thinks of the dreary, dreary future them. They do all that they can to #fore him; as he looks at the lamp gain his company on the river, in the
her side, remembering how easily, pleasure-gardens, or at the tavern, on 19 put it out, he can relight it, the day of rest. But he will not hear Chereas the lamp of her life, once ex of such a thing. Week after week Aguished, can never be rekindled, they renew their efforts, but in vain.
recoils from the dreadful plan he Spend Sunday in amusement ? His and made. The better part of his mother's prayers seem to cry, no; his stare rises in mutiny against the father's parting counsels cry, no; his 2. design; and it requires the hasty, Bible, laid carefully by a maternal saddened concentration of all the de hand in his box before he left her, rmination of which he is possessed cries, no; his own conscience cries,
the deed. That is a parable. Put I no. All these moral forces are against