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'standing rule that no person is to be convicted, and censured in the church, except by the testimony of two or three credible witnesses to the same overt act; and at the same time with this passage in view, against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses; we have two remarks by way of solution. One is that the ministers of the gospel who preached clearly the humbling and offensive doctrines of christianity, and faithfully told sinners their danger, were peculiarly exposed to the enmity of the wicked. So it has been in every age of the christian church. We are and have been, a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men. The ministers of Christ, in the first ages of christianity, stood in the front rank of those who were to meet opposition. They were condemned as having “turned the world upside down.” Many of them were put to death; and those who escaped the gibbet were reproached, reviled, and had all manner of evil said of them. This course of persecution has followed them even down to the age in which we live. In view of this, Paul might conclude attempts would be made to condemn and consign them to infamy, on less weight of evidence than was required by the established rule. He, therefore, expressly enjoined it on Timothy not to depart from the well known, and long established rule, even in the case of an elder—to see to it that such be allowed to enjoy the same privileges as private christians. He doubtless alluded, and Timothy so understood him, to the rule that had been given to the people of God nearly fifteen hundred years before the commencement of the christian era, and after so long use was recognized and confirmed by Christ and his apostles. Another remark I think is in point. It may be confidently affirmed, that this does not relate, specially, to the testimony by which the charge against an elder is to be supported; but to the ground on which it is to be recei
ved for investigation and trial. His character and standing in the church are so important, that no accusation against him shall be received for trial and adjudication, till two or three witmesses have attested to the the truth of the accusation or charge. In this opinion I am supported by the venerable Poole. He says, Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. “That is, not to proceed to any judicial inquiry upon it. This was a law concerning all elders or younger persons, especially in capital causes; but the apostle willeth this to be more especially observed as to officers in the church, whose faithful discharge of their trust usually more exposeth them to people's querulous tongues.” The opinion of the pious and learned Mr. Scott, is to the same purose. He observes on the words, “The character of an elder, or pastor, was of great importance; it would therefore, be improper, not only to condemn him, but even to receive an accusation against him, except it was attested by two or three credible witmesses. Many might be disposed to revile those faithful ministers, whose doctrine and reproofs had offended them; and indeed, the grand enmity of “the accuser of the brethren,” and of all his servants would be excited against them. It was, therefore, highly reasonable, that no accusation, tending to bring the conduct of an elder to a public investigation, and thus to endanger his character, should be regarded, if supported only by one solitary testimony, which his denial of the crime would at least counterballance.” It seems, on the whole, that the opinion of Farel rests chiefly, or solely, on the supposed exception to the general law of evidence, Deut. xxii. 25–27; for he says, “I have, if I do not mistake, shewn one exception, to the general rule, and this will answer in the room of a thousand, to prove that the decision of A. D. is not correct.” It must “answer in the room of a thousand.” It must, Mr. Editor,
In discoursing from these words it is proposed to illustrate I. The meaning of the term world; and II. What is affirmed concerning it in the word of God. The term world is used to designate those who have not experienced that change of heart,by which men become, in a spiritual sense, christians. This is manifest from the context, “we know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not :” and in the text it is added “and we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness”—that is, we (Christians) are born of God, but the world is not. Whatever therefore may be intended by the term regeneration, the world, in the scriptural sense of the term,denotes the unregenerate. But the term regenerate is used to designate those who are christians not nominally by birth in a christian land, or ostensibly by an outward profession, but spiritually by the renewing operation of the Spirit upon their hearts. This truth and the meaning of the term world, will be made manifest by a consideration of the following passages, John 1. 10, “He was in the world and the world knew him not:” but christians know Christ, for “This is life eternal to know Jesus Christ. John xvii. 3. The world then who knew him not,
represents all those who do not be. lieve on him. John Xvii. 6. “I have manifested thy name unto the men that thou gavest me out of the world.” v. 9. “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me.” v. 16. “They are not of the world even as I am not of the world.”
In these passages the term world is employed to describe the entire community of men, who are not in heart christians. John iii. 16. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotton son.” v. 17. “God sent not his son to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved.” The world, in these passages, means all men assinful for whom Christ died, that they might become holy and be saved. John xiv. 22. “Lord how is it, that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us and not unto the world.” The world here is contrasted with the community of christians, and descibes those to whom God does not manifest himself, with the complacency which he bestows upon his people. John xv. 19. “His ye were of the world the world would love his own, but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world therefore the world hateth you.” Here again the term world intends the community which is not christian but which is opposed to the church of Christ. John xvii. 25. “O righteous Father the world hath not known thee, but these have known that thou hast sent me.” Here, the world is still characterised by its ignorance of God, in distinction from christians. 1 John iv. 4, 5. “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world, they are of the world, therefore speak they of the world and the world heareth them.” The apostle is describing in this passage the advantages which teachers of false doctrine, possess over those who preach the truth. They are not christians, they preach doctrines palatable to those who themselves are not christians, and are therefore heard with pleasure.
II. What is affirmed concerning the world.
1. It is declared in the text that “the whole world lieth in wickedness.” The meaning is, that no change for the better has been accomplished by the atonement, or by the spirit of God, or by men themselves, antecedently to that change by which they become regenerate; and that they lie like men on the field of battle “dead in trespasses and sins.” The world has experienced no spiritual resurrection, the whole world remains in character unchanged.
2. The world is described as not receiving the Spirit. John xiv. 16. 17. “And I will pray the Father and he shall give you another comforter that he may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive.” The word cannot here, is synonymous with will not ; it intends that the world will not yield to the guidance of the Spirit, either as His will is revealed, or as it is indicated by his secret strivings. The meaning is explained Acts vii. 51. “Ye stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost, as your fathers did so do ye.” This is the charge preferred against the unbelievers of a nation at two different periods, and expresses the conduct of all unbelievers in every age. This is decided by the consideration that the Spirit strives primarily to persuade men to repent and believe, and that he is not received but is resisted until they perform these evangelical duties. As the world then are those among men who do not obey the gospel, they are those who do not receive the Spirit.
3. The world is described as not kuowing God, John xvii. 25. “Oh righteous Father the world hath not known thee.” This is affirmed of those who possess the speculative knowledge which a revelation affords, and declares of course that the world is without that experimental knowledge of God, which consists in love to Him. It is equivalent to the declaration Oh righteous father the world do not love thee! Ofcourse it implies that they render, as far as the heart is concerned, no obedience to the law of
God, for “love is the fulfilling of the law;” and since all evangelical obedience is an act of holy love of which they are destitute, that they render no real obedience to the gospel. Spiritual knowledge consists in love. The world do not know or love; and of course do not render that obedience of which love is a constituent and essential part. 4. It is declared of the world that it is at enmity with God. 2. Cor. v. 19. God in Christ is said to be reconciling the world to himself (i.e.) reconciling men who belong to that alienated community called the world. Hence the preaching of the gospel is denominated the ministry of reconciliation, and ministers of Christ his embassadors, as if God did entreat and pray men in Christ’s stead to be re
conciled to God James iv. 4. “Know ye not that the friendship of the world
is enmity with God, whosoever therefore will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God.” The enmity of the world is so bitter against God, that exclusive alliance with it is treason against Jehovah.
5. The world is described as being opposed to Jesus Christ and his redeemed people John xv. 18, 19. “If the world hate you ye know that it hated me before it hated you, If ye were of the world the world would love his own, but because ye are not of the world therefore the world hateth you.” It is declared, you perceive, in this passage, in pointed language, that the world hate Jesus Christ, and hate his people. “I have given them thy word and the world hath hated them.” I. John iii, 18, “Marvel not my brethren if the world hate you.” It is on account of this alienation of the world from God and Christ and his people, that christians are exhorted Rom. xi, 2, “Be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds.” It is in reference to this enmity of the world to God, that Satan is represented as the God of this world, blinding the minds of them that believe not and ruling in the hearts of the children of disobedience.
The scriptural account of the world then is, that it lieth in wickedness, is at enmity with God, hates the Lord Jesus Christ, hates his people, and receives not his Spirit, but resists always the Holy Ghost. Upon this statement concerning the character of the world we remark: 1. That it is in vain to deny it. The bible does denominate unrenewed men in distinction from christians, the world, declares that the world lies in wickednss, hates Christ and his people, and receives not the Spirit. He who has dictated these declarations on the sacred page, is the searcher of hearts. To deny them is to reject the testimony of the bible. Equally fruitless is the attempt to explain away the meaning of this sacred testimony. So long as language is to be understood according to its grammatical import and the great laws of interpretation prevail, the embodied testimony of the Bible will declare the entire mass of unrenewed men to be the world, dead in sin and enemies to God, however the declaration may awaken our fears or provoke our pride. 2. It is equally vain through disgust or prejudices, to withdraw our attention from the subject. So strong is the aversion of many to this humbling account of human nature, that they will hear nothing patiently upon the subject. They are resolved not to believe concerning themselves and others, that they are so far gone from all goodness, and so entirely under the dominion of sin, and therefore when the evidence is exhibited they turn away the ear from hearing instruction. But of what avail is this so long as the scriptures declare that unrenewed men belong to “the world.” Will a man’s refusing to believe upon competent testimony, that the poison of asps is circulating in his veins alter the fact or avert the catastrophe; Will the refusing to believe the approach of an enemy, stay his course or avert destruction ? Will stopping the ear at
the cry of fire extinguish the devouring element and save those who refuse to take warning and flee? Refusing to believe that the world lieth in wickedness, does not alter the fact, and will not avert the calamities of the second death. On the contrary, prejudice and incredulity aggravate the doom which they render inevitable. “Because I called and ye refused, I stretched out my hand and no man regarded, I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh.” 3. Equally unwise is the employment of urging objections against these plain declarations of the word of God, such as; “If men are dead in sin how can they be free agents?” “if they are sinners by nature how can they be to blame?” “if the world be at enmity against God why are they not sensible of that enmity?” “or how can we account for it that so much reverence should be manifested to God and so much obedience to his revealed will ; and how is it possible that in those who are so sinful there should be so much integrity of character, so much benevolent action, and so much that is amiable, af. sectionate and refined?” Is it intended by such objections to insinuate that God has not declared the world to be at enmity with him P Read again the testimony. The whole world lieth in wickedness. The carnal mind is enmity against God. The friendship of the world is enmity with God. God in Christ reconciling the world to himself. We pray you in Christ's stead be ye reconciled to God. If the world hate you ye know that it hated me before it hated you. The holy Spirit whom the world cannot receive. Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost. Is it then by such objections intended to insinuate, that these declarations of the bible are not true? This is infidelity. Our inability to reconcile the declarations of God with appearances, may prove our ignorance, but cannot invalidate the divine testimony. Has God said the whole world lieth in wickedness, and
is opposed to Him, his Son, his Spirit and his people, then it is so, let appearances be what they may. 4. If the world is opposed to God and Christ, to his people and the holy spirit, it follows that mankind before regeneration, are without moral excellence and are entirely depraved. In what can that moral excellence consist which includes in it no love to God, no obedience to his law, no love to Christ and no obedience to his gospel, no complacency in the holy spirit and no acquiescence of heart in his influence, no love to the people and kingdom of Christ, but a hostility denominated hatred In what corner of a heart under the dominion of such enmity to the great Lawgiver of the universe, to every cardinal point of his government and to all his loyal subjects, can moral excellence reside? And what can that moral excellence be which is consistent with opposition to the moral excellence of God, to the law of God and Jesus Christ and the holy Spirit and the people of God? To all these the world oppose a heart of enmity. But set aside the moral excellence of God, and that contained in his laws and holy subjects, and what moral excellence remains in the universe, for the world to love? What is that moral excellence which the world love while they are opposed to God? What is that truth which they love, while they are enemies to the God of truth? What is that justice which they admire, while they are enemies to the holy and Just one? What is that mercy which they love, while they despise and reject the God of mercy, in his Son? What is the benevolence in which they feel complacency while the benevolence of God guided in its operations by infinite wisdom, is in all its great legislative expressions, hated and opposed ? Can the light of the sun be hated in its fountain and all its great emanations experienced on earth,and yet the same light in some few and scattered rays shining in darkness, be loved? The
eye that is so construed as to hate the light, hates it wherever it is seen. And such is the heart of man in its moral alienation from God. The heart that turns away in aversion from the moral excellence of God, has no love to moral excellence in any being. Improvement.
Are any of you who read or hear this discourse unrenewed in the scriptural sense of that term P Has no work of the Spirit been experienced 2 No change produced in your affectious towards God and Christ? Allow me then to remind you that you belong to the world, and are dead in sin. Your hearts have not been changed by the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ, or the universal offer of pardon and eternal life upon condition of repentance towards God and faith in the Redeemer. That nominal christianity which exempts you from being called heathen, has not made you christians in deed; nor has civilization or science or refinement produced that moral change, without which no man shall see the Lord. Your social affections are not holiness, and your natural sensibilities contain no evidence of your reconciliation to God. Your speculative knowledge is the knowledge of those who know their Lord's will and do it not. Your diligence and honesty though useful to men do not change the character of your heart in the sight of God. Your tears, your resolutions, and your prayers are alike the offspring of a heart unholy and unreconciled to God, a heart in which bibles and sabbaths and sermons have produced no saving change. And now can you witness unalarmed this record of your guilt? Could I unroll to your view the evidence of treason against man, as abundant and unequivocal as that which on the inspired page declares you rebels against God, would you contemplate the record unmoved, and because it was an unwelcome disclosure, would you disbelieve or in anger turn away your thoughts from the subject P My dear friends as God is true you are dead in sin-yon