« PreviousContinue »
every age since, by all well regulated Churches. And this is analogous to all good practice in civil affairs. But the sisters of the Church may be consulted, and ought to be treated with all due kindness, and have a right to know the proceedings of the Church, and it is very desirable, that they should be satisfied with all that is done.(l)
Q. 16. Ought the majority to govern in all cases?
A. They ought. Unanimity, however, is always very desirable.
Q. 17. How ought the minority to conduct in reference to the decisions of the Church?
A. While they dissent they should do it with love, meekness, and a disposition to acquiesce. This behavior may prevent many evils.
Q. 18. Ought the Church to judge of the qualifications of those who offer themselves for membership, and to admit, or reject, as they may think proper!
A. Móst certainly. Christ has given them this right, and has made this their duty. They are to act as his vicegerents on earth.
Q. 19. Ought persons, before admittance to the Church, to be examined in respect to their doctrinal views and religious experience!
A. They ought, most evidently, to be examined by the Church as a body, or the Officers of the Church, or a Committee appointed for this purpose.
The doors of the Church are thus to be kept, and no one is to enter who is unable and unwilling to give a reason for the hope that is in him. The weak in faith should be received in charity (1)
(k) 1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35. Let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded 10 be under obedience, as saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.—1 Tim. ii. 11, 12. Let the women learn in si. lence with all subjection; but I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
(1) 1 Pet. iii. 15. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.-Rom. xiv. 1. Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful dispu. tations.
Q. 20. What is the duty of Church-members towards each other?
They are to watch over one another for good, and, when occasion requires, they are to reprove, rebuke, and admonish. No corporal punishment, whatever, is to be inflicted in any case of mal-conduct; the punishment of the Church is wholly of another nature.(m)
Q. 21. For what are Church-members subject to discipline!
A. For immoralities in practice, and heresy in doctrine(n)
Q. 22. Has Christ given any particular rule of proceeding in Church discipline!
A. He has, in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew.(o)
Q. 23. Does this rule relate to all cases of discipline!
A. It relates specially to private offences, but may with propriety be observed in all cases. The spirit of this rule may be preserved in the exercise of discipline by a Committee from the Church, in the first and second steps.
Q. 24. May bffenders, if they reform, be restored to Church rights and privileges!
A. They may and ought, upon making suitable confession.(P)
(m) 1 Tim. v. 20. Them that sin, rebuke before all, that others also may fear.-Gal. vi. 1. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; con• sidering thyself lest thou also be tempted.
(n) i Cor. v. 11. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covet. ous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.-Tit. iii. 10. A man that is an heretic, aster the first and second admonition, reject.
(0) Matt. xviii. 15–17. Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if be will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church; but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a pub. lican.
(p) 2 Cor. ji. 6, 7, 8. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such an one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow: Wherefore I beseech you, that ye would confirm your love towards him.
Q. 25. Of what nature ought confession to be?
A. It ought to relate wholly to the case of censure, and to be full, explicit, and public. (9)
Q. 26. What is meant by excommunication?
A. The cutting off from all Church rights and privileges. This should be viewed as a very solemn act by the Church which performs it, and by the person who is excommunicated.(r)
Q. 27. Is it proper for Church-members to keep company, or to eat with an excommunicated person?
A. It is in the ordinary affairs and occurrences of life; but not in the way of intimate friendship, or religious fellowship, or unnecessary social intercourse. Excommunication, in its effects, does not extend to the natural, domestic, or civil relations of life. Q. 28.
Is it justifiable for a person, against whom an offence has been committed by a member of the Church, to absent himself from communion, till satisfaction is made by the offending person?
A. Certainly not. It is warranted by no Scripture, and can never be approved. Communion is with the Church, as a body, and not with individuals.
Q. 29. What ought the offender to do?
A. He ought to go to the person he has offended, and confess his fault, and declare his repentance, and ask forgiveness.(S)
Q. 30. What is the duty of the person offended towards the offender upon his repentance!
A. He is to forgive the offender, if he appears sincere in his repentance, and to treat him as though he had not offended.(0)
(9) 1 Tim. v. 20.
Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also
(r) 1 Cor. v. 4, 5. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 1 Tim. i. 20. Of whom is Hymeneus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
(s) James v. 16. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.
(1) Matt. xviii. 21, 22. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven uimes; but, Until seventy times seven
Q. 31. What is the design of Church discipline?
A. It is the reclaiming of offenders, delivering the Church from reproach, and inspiring others with the fear of offence; or it is the comfort, edification, and prosperity of the Church as a body, and of the individuals disciplined in particular.(u)
Q. 1. What is meant by the Millennium?
A. A time in which the Church of God in this world will be in a state of far greater prosperity and happiness than it ever yet has enjoyed, and in which all the families, kindreds, and nations of the earth shall be blessed in Christ. Q. 2.
What is the evidence that there will be such a time?
A. The full and explicit predictions of it contained in the word of God.(a)
(u) 1 Cor. v. 5. To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
(a) Rev. xx. 2, 3. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set his seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled; and after that he must be loosed a little season.—Ps. ii. 8. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.Ps. Ixxii. 8–11. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents, the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gists; yea, all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him.-Is. ji. 2. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the bills; and all nations shall flow unto it.—Mal. i. 11. For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering; for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord.—Dan. ii. 34, 35. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet
What will be some of the principal characteristics of the Millennium?
A. 1. There will be great outpourings of the Holy Spirit; 2. Large increase of divine light and knowledge, and a consequent removal of intellectual darkness and delusion; 3. Universal love, friendship, peace, and harmony; 4. Great agreement respecting the doctrines, duties, institutions, and practices of religion; 5. Great temperance, enjoyment, and happiness; 6. The earth will yield bountifully and be replenished with people, who will voluntarily submit to the rules of the Gospel; and, 7. There will be a conversion of all nations, if not of all individuals, unto the truth and the salvation of Christ.(b)
that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them; and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.- Rev. xi. 15. And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.
(b) Is. xliv. 3, 4, 5. For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thy offspring; and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water-courses.
One shall say,
am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob, and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.— Jer. xxxi. 34. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall know me from the least of them unto the greatest of ihem, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.-Is. xxv. 7. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.—Is. xxx. 26. Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven fold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.- Is. ii. 4. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any inore.--Is. xi. 6-9. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the failing together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth