Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Dutch Church cast it out; the Scotch Church cast it out; the English Puritans cast it out; and the Church of England came very nigh casting it out. At its first planting, the American Evangelical Church refused to adopt it. What do we now behold ? Its use by nearly all the leading churches of Protestantism, in opposition to the Scriptures and the venerable precedents which have just been recited. What a change! What a blazing sign in the sky of the Protestant Church! What is to stop the tendency? The beginning is the mother of the end. What end? The full orchestra of Rome.

So with the liturgy. Not commanded by the apostles, the Evangelical Protestant Church has long discarded it. What now? It is beginning stealthily to creep in under the guise of a permissive liturgy. If adopted it will acquire the force of prescription; and what then? Why, the Holy Ghost will vacate His office, and give way to Archbishop Cranmer and the committees of evangelical churches, who will teach us “what things to pray for as we ought, and make intercessions for us with groanings that cannot be uttered !”

So also with the ornamenting and decoration of church buildings; something new to evangelical Protestantism. Did you, whose heads are just beginning to be sprinkled with grey, know anything of it when your mothers led you by the hand to the simple worship of their God? At first, as if conscious that it was an intruder, it came with a modest bouquet; then with many of them; then, behold! banks of flowers and plants cover pulpit and platform, and festoons and branches bedeck the walls. The first step was taken unchallenged, then the second; why not the third, and on, on, to the paintings, the statues, and all the gorgeous paraphernalia of Rome?

But I must close. Signs have been pointed out in the spheres of doctrine, government, discipline, and worship, which indicate the progress of a great defection in the Protestant Church, and the approach of those tempestuous changes which will herald the rising of the Millennial star. I am getting to be more and more “lonesome;" my voice is very feeble and cannot be heard far against the storm; but humbly standing in my narrow, provincial lot, I lift up a 'warning against the growing defection, and call attention to the dark cloud of judgments that is flashing with lightning and growling with wrath. I have said that the temporal power of the Pope is broken, but that there may be a tremendous effort made to restore it. There are reported to be 200,000,000 of adherents to the Papacy. How will a degenerate Protestantism meet its massed onset? Say, shall we throw over the generous pail of gospel milk filled at the reformation, and return to suck the dugs of the woman drunk with Protestant blood ?

O thou remnant, weak and small, faithful to Jesus, His truth and His cause, what will become of thee? Trust in that covenant love which has never forsaken God's true people in the past, and will not forsake them in the future. Almighty arms are around thee, and will keep thee by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

FAMILY RELIGION

Col. iii. 18-21: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger lest they be discouraged."

Eph. vi. 4: “Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Acts ii. 39: "For the promise is unto you and to your children."

Jer. x. 25: Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name.

The subject assigned for treatment on this occasion is Family Religion. In considering it I shall, first and by way of introduction, briefly contemplate the family in its relations, of difference and similarity, to other social organisms, and, secondly, more fully set forth its special and practical aspects as a separate religious institute.

I. There are, in the present order of things, three great social institutes, the Family, the State, and the Church; in the present order of things, for in a different conceivable constitution of human affairs, into

NOTE.—This is really a discussion. The Charleston Presbytery, realizing the decline of family religion, and desiring to check the falling away in our Christian homes, appointed Dr. Girardeau to preach a sermon on the subject. As a result of this appointment the following carefully prepared sermon was preached in the First Presbyterian Church, Charleston, at the Spring meeting of the Presbytery in 1885.

which sin would not have entered as a factor, it may at least be doubted whether the same sharp and unavoidable distinctions would have obtained as now exist between the state and the church. Had the human race, as represented in its first progenitor and subjected to its probation in him, stood in innocence during the specified time of trial and been confirmed in holiness and happiness, its families, as they would have been multiplied, would probably have naturally passed into the condition of one great social organism. This might not have been a mere aggregate of families as units, but assumed the form of an organized institute of government. But it may be a question whether it would have been either logically or really divisible into the state and the church. The necessity for civil and political government arising out of the conflict of individual interests would not have existed, for as, according to the supposition, there would have been no sin, there could have been no conflict to be prevented or adjusted. It might have been requisite to affix to individual and municipal interests certain metes and bounds, but the great principles of truth, justice, and benevolence would have pervaded and regulated society and, 'as a consequence, these limitations would have been spontaneously respected, and no clash of contending claims could have emerged. It is certain that the penal element of retributive government would have been entirely absent; the sword never could have been as now the symbol and badge of rule, for there could have been no violation of law, and, therefore, no room for punishment. Crime would have been unknown.

These suppositions are rendered the more likely by what we know from revelation of heaven. It is the city of God, a polity of the redeemed, in which the

distinctions of civil and ecclesiastical, of disciplinary and retributive government are impossible. There God's state is his church, his church his state. We may fairly infer that as without sin the world would have been like heaven, the distinctions would have been wanting which at present actually obtain. Now, redemption proceeds upon the pre-supposition of sin. It recognizes the disjunction between the two institutes effected by man's rebellion; but at the same time it proposes for its ultimate end to heal the unnatural schism, so far as God's redeemed subjects are concerned, and restore our fallen and disrupted nature to its original and normal idea; and, moreover, to confer upon it the peculiar benefits resulting from its union with Christ the eternal and archetypal Son, and so to confirm it in a closer and tenderer union with God Himself. The church, as composed of God's children, is destined to be one perfect, undivided family.

But taking human society as it is, as conditioned and modified by sin, we find it existing in three organic institutes which are distinct from each other. The State is in its origin natural, and although it is capable of being influenced, ought to be influenced, and in the Millennial period will be influenced by spiritual sanctions, yet it is designed in this world to operate in the natural sphere and to be conversant with the political and civil relations of men. The family is also in its origin natural, is susceptible under the moulding power of grace of becoming spiritual, but from the nature of the case, must ever in this world move in the natural sphere and be concerned about natural relations. The church is in its origin supernatural and spiritual, ought in its character to be spiritual, and is designed to operate in the spiritual sphere. It is composed, in

« AnteriorContinuar »