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CONGREGATIONAL MAGAZIN E.
A LETTER FROM THE MINISTERS
COMPOSING THE CONGREGATIONAL BOARD IN LONDON,
TO THE CHURCHES OF THE CONGREGATIONAL DENOMINATION WITH
WHICH THEY ARE SEVERALLY CONNECTED; And to other Churches of the same Faith and Order in London and the Country,
with their Pastors and Deacons.
*.* Having obtained from the Congregational Board permission to insert the follow
ing valuable and interesting document in our work; we give it that prominence to which it is in every way entitled, and trust that its appearance in this form will enable many to peruse it before the day appointed for Humiliation and Prayer, wbo may not be able to procure it before that service as a distinct publication. The Biographical Review of the Life of Laud is deferred till our next.-Editors.
Dear BrethrEN IN CHRIST as the representatives of an eccleJesus-With all humility and siastical body, we are, nevertheaffection, as “ fellow-workers” in less, solicitous to lay before you the great cause of the Redeemer, our convictions on some points, we beg leave respectfully to ad- which appear to be intimately dress you; assuring you of our connected with the welfare of our thanksgivings to God on your be- churches generally, and the inhalf, and our fervent prayers, that terests of the Redeemer's kingdom " grace, mercy, and peace, may in the world. This we do with be abundantly multiplied upon fraternal affection and confidence; you,"
assured that you will attribute our From the local circumstances in communication to no motives, but which, by Divine Providence, we to such as spring from a sincere are placed, as residents in the desire to promote the greater effmetropolis of our country, we are ciency of those principles which called to sustain a peculiar rela- unite us to each other, in the tion to the general interests of faith and fellowship of the Gosthe Congregational Denomination; pel. and we feel honoured in being. The appeals and inquiries which able to render any service to our we are anxious to suggest for your brethren, in reference to those consideration, proceed not on any secular concerns which may be principles or from any feelings connected with the prosperity and allied to that morbid despondency, extension of our churches. Meet- which would lead us to overlook ing as ministers only, in our per or depreciate the reasons for desonal capacity, and neither assum- vout congratulation which some ing, nor desiring to be coasidered, aspects of the present state of (he N. S. No. 52. VOL. XII.
Christian church exhibit. The attachment tu the principles of increase of evangelical ministers our ecclesiastical polity, when we in the national establishment; the find them productive of such great numerous societies formed for the results. At the same time we diffusion of the Gospel at home should remember that their true and abroad; the prevalence of value arises from their accordance more just and enlightened views with the principles and precedents of religious liberty in every de- of Apostolic Churches, and their partment of society; and the fa- subserviency to the preservation cility secured for all practicable and extension of " the truth as it exertions for the spread of Chris- is in Jesus!" tianity around us, are facts to We are, therefore, dear brethren, which we advert with grateful anxious to deepen the conviction, satisfaction. At the same time that all institutions in religion are the churches of our own order important, in proportion to their have multiplied in every part of connexion with the promotion of our country; and of late years, evangelical truth, and the influboth in the metropolis, and in ence of vital godliness. Let this many of our larger towns, have connexion be forgotten, and the exhibited cheering indications of most eager contention for the exprosperity. Notwithstanding ma. ternal observances of a church, nifold reasons for humiliation, we will generate only a barren and rejoice that God “ has not left us unproductive formality. The truth without witness" of his loving and holiness of the Gospel are kindness.
inseparable ; and the Divine Spirit We have, moreover, special renders the one the immediate reason for satisfaction, when we cause of the other. It is in proreflect on the service which has portion as we “abide in Christ been rendered to the cause of that our fruit will remain, and truth and holiness, by the Inde. our Father in heaven will be pendent churches of this country: glorified." nor can we conceal our recogni. It is possible that a nominal tion of the value of those princi. orthodoxy may be maintained, ples which, under the divine while there is a most inadequate blessing, have tended to secure sense of the value of spiritual relithese practical results. It would gion. Amidst the general probe only the natural effect of their fession of evangelical truth, and operation, if the comprehensive systematic exertions for its diffuand scriptural liberality which sion, the very working of the they juspire, and by which we moral machinery, which is enare prepared for co-operation with ployed for the purpose, inay inall the friends of the Redeemer, duce both mental and spiritual without compromise or hesitation, dissipation, and divert the mind should lead those who profess from what is personal and expethem never to forget their legiti- rimental in the great concerns of mate importance. But we can religion ! On this account we are not conceal our regret that the most solicituus that the state of temptations in modern times to a things in our churches, and amongst spirit of latitudinarian indifference, the families and individuals comhave induced too many to hold prising them, should undergo the them lightly, or easily abandon most faithful investigation. Is them. It surely becomes us to there not reason to apprehend that inaintain a firun and enlightened while there are, we trust, wany
exceptions of an encouraging na- sonal, experimental, and practical ture, vital and practical godliness godliness ?-18 it not owing to is not in that flourishing condition these causes that domestic religion amongst us, which is to be so is neglected the power of A ardently desired? Is not the line public profession is withered and of demarcation between the church ineffective-conversions are so and the world, in many instances, seldom witnessed in the families either disregarded or almost inu- of such as are called Christiansperceptible? Is there not a con- and few, comparatively, are“ turn. formity to the maxims, and man- ed from darkness to light, and ners, and spirit of the world, the power of Satan to God?" which destroys what is charac. Dearly beloved brethren, "suffer teristic of pure Christianity? Is the word of exhortation.” We not domestic religion awfully ne- apply to ourselves as Ministers of glected? Are there not those Christ, the topics of inquiry we calling themselves the disciples of address to you. Let us examine Jesus, and publicly appearing as ourselves. Let us be faithful to the supporters of his cause, who our avowed principles and our have no altar to God in their acknowledged obligations. We be household, and who indulge in lieve that the Gospel is the power habits and associations which tend of God to salvation; that the to destroy all impression of the faithful preaching of the Gospel value and importance of divine is the appointed instrument for things, and thus effectually coun. the conversion of men ; that the teraet in the family all that is agency of the Holy Spirit is es. heard in the sanctuary? Is it be sential to its success; that the cause there is not adequate in. exertion and the experience of struction and impressiveness in that agency are connected with the ministry of the Gospel ? Is it prayer; that all efforts without because the obligations and prin prayer are unavailing; and that ciples and appeals of that Gospel God has connected the accomare not made with the directness, plishment of his own purposes and urgency, and fidelity, which and promises as much with the they demand ? Is it because the fervoir of persevering prayer, as application of truth is not marked with any other order of means by that discrimination and force established by divine authority which the message of truth and for the regeneration and the hapholiness requires ? If so, let us piness of the world. Then, fearbe humbled before God and la. ful and tremendous is our responment it! But may we not trace sibility as the professed disciples these evils to other causes? Is it of the Redeemer, if we are not not because, amongst many pro. acting and living under the habifessors of religion, there is no tual impression of these convichallowed flame of spiritual feeling tions. Then, while all the efforts burning on the altar of the heart, of Christian zeal should not only in the sacred recesses of solitude, continue but increase it is the where only God and the offerer energy, the fervour, the constancy, are present-no habits of self-in the comparative omnipotence of spection, meditation, and prayer- prayer, that should prove the do fervent wrestling with the Most sincerity of our profession, and High for spiritual blessings and demonstrate the power of our no devotional study of the Sacred principles. Then, whatever affects Volume for the promotion of per. the state of personal, domestic,