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they not have enjoyed the advantages of a Sabbath school, the pastor will enter upon his work with the pleasant stimulus of a cheering hope, that the seed he is about casting upon well prepared soil, will, under the genial influences of the divine Spirit, germinate, and in due time produce the precious fruits of righteousness.* In the case of such, however, as are brought up in ignorance and in sin, there is far less hope. In their case, the seeds of sin, lodged in our fallen nature, have already germinated, and in a measure produced even at an early age, the noxious weeds of sin and unrighteousness. These foul weeds are to be removed, and the soil of the heart prepared for the precious seed of divine truth. Such need to be instructed in the simplest elements of the gospel. They may be compared to rough, unhewn blocks, just taken out of the
quarry; and, it is hardly to be expected, that the sacred sculptor should be able, by the most skillful use of the gospel chisel, to produce in a few months, a beautiful, symmetrical, and life-like figure. Still, all things are possible with God, and by the effectual influences of his Holy Spirit, accompanying the simple exhibition, and persevering inculcation of divine truth, the darkness of spiritual ignorance will gradually be dissipated, the heart be melted into penitence, and Christ, the hope of glory, be formed in the soul. At all events, there cannot be a more favorable opportunity desired by the faithful pastor for instructing the young in the doctrines of religion, than the catechetical class. Here the ignorant and uninstructed, may be encouraged to commit to memory the Catechism and portions of the sacred Scriptures; and here all, whatever may have been their previous opportunities, can be clearly and fully in
“My first and greatest success,” says Mr. Baxter, "was upon the youth; and so it was that when God had touched the hearts of the young with the love of goodness and delightful obedience to the truth ; in various instances their friends, their fathers
, and their grandfathers, who had grown old in an ignorant and worldly state, did many of them fall into a liking and loving of piety, induced by their love to their children, who now appeared so much wiser and better, and more dutiful to them.” So sensible was Dr. Doddridge of the importance of this work, that he resolved at his entrance into the ministry, "I will often make it my humble prayer that God would teach me to speak to children in such a manner as may make early impressions of religion upon their hearts."
structed in the doctrines and precepts of the blessed Gospel. In this capacity, the pastor can with propriety, be especially free and familiar in imparting instruction. And he possesses every opportunity of being close, direct, and personal, in his instructions. The catechumens on their part will understand and feel, that what is said, is said to them and for them. Hence, the truth spoken and earnestly applied and enforced, will be the more likely to make upon their minds a deep and permanent impression. If, accordingly, pastoral catechising is properly and faithfully conducted, and if connected with earnest, believing prayer, the most happy results may be confidently anticipated. And should such results not always appear immediately, they will, in many instances, be realized at a future period. And the form of piety produced, under the faithful prosecution of the catechetical system, is eminently normal, and evangelical. As we have seen, this system is designed to bear upon the human soul, already in early childhood, at the very dawn of moral accountability. The aliment to be imparted, is the "pure milk of the word;" and throughout the entire process, nothing is to be presented and inculcated but the pure, unadulterated doctrines of the blessed Gospel. Such wholesome instruction is to be accompanied by earnest and believing prayer, and a living exemplification of the doctrines taught. This system as now defined, excludes all error, it discards all human devices and appliances in the sphere of religion. It relies solely upon God's truth and grace in Christ Jesus. It stands equally removed from dead formality, and wild, senseless fanaticism. The piety produced by this system is intelligent, deep, and living,—not unnatural, wild, fitful, and periodical. Its internal fruits are humility, love, faith, purity, joy, and peace; and its outward manifestations are, all the fruits of a living faith, a cheerful and constant obedience to all the commandments of God. This system contemplates the renewal of our nature, which is totally depraved, into the image of God. It proposes a living union with Christ, the second Adam ; such an ingrafting into Christ, that the renewed believer becomes a member of his mystical body, and animated by his Spirit and life. A living, active piety, accordingly, is the legitimate product of this system. Its soul is supreme love to God, and equal love to man.
If then the Church of Christ would assume her true and proper position, if she would stand forth in her peerless majesty and glory,—she must “lay fast hold of instruction.” In no other way can she accomplish her mission. Lebanon, Pa.
F. W. K.
ART. IV.-ZWINGLI AT BERN.
The selections from the works of the great Swiss Reformer, which appeared in two earlier numbers of the Review, gave our readers some idea of his character as a Commentator. We now propose to furnish a specimen of his power and skill as a controversialist. For this purpose portions of the famous Disputation of Bern have been selected. This choice has been determined by the simple fact, that the discussions upon that occasion seem to have been conducted more systematically than most others, and so can more readily and fairly be presented in separate parts, without violating their integrity. And, moreover, the particular themes handled in the debate are more definitely and comprehensively stated, and are likely to have more interest just at this time, than those discussed in the Disputations of Zurich, Marburg, or Baden.
After Zurich none of the Cantons of the Swiss Confederacy, seem to have been more deeply agitated by the Great Awakening of the memorable era of the Reformation, than the Canton of Bern. In vain was the influx of the “pernicious and soul destroying heresies," as the doctrines of grace were styled by the adherents of Rome, resisted. The breath of heaven, which was disturbing and purifying the waters, was too potent, and the mountain waves, rising high above the stagnant pools of death in which so many had perished, were too mighty to be withstood. In spite of priestly tears, and archepiscopal deprecations, the waves rolled on, washing and cleansing as they went,-possibly carrying away in their resistless course, some things harmless in themselves, and susceptible of good and pious use, but which could still be yielded without regret, seeing they had become so inseparably intertwined, by cunning Popish spindlers, with what was wrong and ruinous. In the storms and earthquakes which occur in the natural world, our minds are readily reconciled to the devastations and even deaths which track their terrible course, by the consideration of the physical benefits which they secure. Why should we be more reluctant to judge as rationally of the more memorable and effective moral movements which have at times upheaved existing social institutions, and reformed or improved them? The advocates of Popery are ever ready to defend their system against the charge of errors, whose existence even they have not the hardihood to deny, by averring, “errare est humanum.” Why should the friends of evangelical Protestantism be denied the privilege of the same reply, when defending their system, or rather the mighty world movement which led to the resuscitation of their religious system, against the charge of far less criminal and bloody blunders, than have from time to time been committed and exulted in by Rome ?
Whoever might hesitate to answer such queries, the pious and earnest Bernese would not. They felt and said indeed that a storm was approaching. There was a rustling in the tops of the Mulberry trees which they could not misinterpret. And there were other signs and omens too which gave solemn intimation that the storm might be frightfully severe. But they knew a storm was needed. The quietness of spiritual death had reigned too long already. So with faith and courage to sustain their hearts, they were willing to let the storm come on. With God to guide it, it could do no harm. With God to govern it, would it not do much good ? Accordingly, the proper authorities, in solemn council assembled, resolve to afford a fair public opportunity to all concerned and interested, to debate upon the merits of the “new doctrines" preached by the Reformer of Zurich and his first followers, so that those denouncing them might enjoy a full opportunity of exhibiting the ground of opposition, and in like manner those maintaining them show why they preferred them to the then prevailing doctrines of the Romish Church. After due consideration, and the necessary preliminary arrangements, the first Sunday after Circumcision, 1528, was fixed upon as the day for the opening of the Disputation. Notices of the
appointment and earnest invitations to attend the meeting were sent out in all directions. The four Bishops of Constance, Basle, Lausanne, and Valois, were respectfully entreated to be present, and to bring their Doctors with them. The Bishops, Priests, and Laity of all the confederated Cantons were also notified, and requested to bring the most learned of both parties along. The Zurichers were especially urged to attend, as being best acquainted with the points at issue, and among the rest Zwingli was by no means to be forgotten. All were assured that their persons should not only be sacredly safe, but comfortably and gratuitously provided for during the continuance of the Discussion. And they were furthermore assured that no attempt should be made to obligate any of the confederates who might come, by the decisions adopted, excepting so far as they voluntarily offered to yield to such obligation. One important condition, however, was to be observed by all the Disputants, viz : that no other authorities would be admitted in defence of a dogma advanced, but only the authority of the sacred Scriptures. The testimony of the Fathers and councils might be cited as collateral or circumstantial testimony, but 'not as authoritative proof, by either party.
At length the appointed 17th of January, 1528, arrived, the most important in the history of Bern. For several days before, delegates had been pouring in from all directions, and it was evident that the hearts and minds of all were deeply and intensely interested in the great object of the convocation. The Bishops, with many other friends of Rome, had indeed