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TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.
always be matter of humiliation to him, because he will always impute them to himself. A pastor, a priest, who does not, with tears and supplications, bewail the sins of his people, cannot call himself their mediator with God.
It is the greatest comfort of a good pastor, to feel himself obliged to use nothing but good advice, and the mild part only of his authority ; but when that will not do, he must "use sharpness ;" but still, with this view, that it be for their edification, not for their destruction.
It seldom happens that great men, whether clergy or laity, reform their lives, because they seldom meet with persons of courage to oppose them, or to tell them of their faults. A Bishop who is not restrained by any earthly engagements, will not spare any man whose conduct is prejudicial to the faith.
Gal. v. 12. “I would they were even cut off which trouble you.” To wish shame, or some temporal evil, for the salvation of our neighbour's soul, is not contrary to charity. It seems, matters were come to a great height of evil, when St. Paul was forced to wish that to be done, which he did not, in prudence, think fit to do.
Ecclus. viii. 5. “Reproach not a man that turneth from sin, but remember that we are all worthy of punishment."
2 Thess. iii. 6. “ Now we command you,” (and the same authority subsists still in the governors of the Church,) " in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly,” &c. Nothing is there which the faithful ought more carefully to avoid, than disorderly livers,—nothing which pastors ought more earnestly to warn their flocks of.
May I ever observe the rules of an holy and charitable severity.
2 Thess. iii. 14. “And if any man obey not our word, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed ; yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish bim as a brother.” Excommunication is only for the contumacious,not to insult, but to cure.
1 Tim. v. 19. “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.” A pastor ought not lightly to be exposed to the revenge of those, whom it is probable he has, or shall have, occasion to reprove.
1 Tim. y. 20. “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” That is, who sin grievously and are convinced before two or three witnesses-let such be censured, before, or by the consent of, all the congregation.
2 Tim. ii. 25. “In meekness instructing," (reproving)“ those that oppose themselves,--if God peradventure will give them repentance," &c. When we consider that repentance is the gift of God—that the wiles of the devil are many, and corruption of nature very strong, we shall compassionate instead of insulting a șinner. We shall adore the mercy of God towards ourselves, and hope for it for others. We shall fear for ourselves, and pray for them. They may recover, and be saved. We may fall, and be lost for ever.
When men will not take care of their own salvation, the Church owes this care to her children, to hinder them as much as possible from ruining others.
If excommunication is perpetual, it is caused by the obstinacy of the offender, not by the laws of Christ, or His Church, which only deprives wicked men of the benefit of communion for a time, to bring them to a sense of their duty. Church discipline is for the honour of God, for the safety of religion, the good of sinners, and for the public weal--that Christians may not run headlong to ruin without being made sensible of their danger,—that others may see, and fear, and not go on presumptuously in their evil ways,—that the house of God may not become a den of thieves, -and that judgments may not be poured down upon the whole community. Josh. xxii. 20. Did not Achan commit a trespass, and wrath fell on all the congregation ?
The most effectual way of answering these ends is, to exercise a strict impartial discipline. First, to withhold from Christians the benefit of the Holy Sacrament, till they behave themselves so as to be worthy of so great a blessing. And, secondly, if they continue obstinate, (all proper methods being used to reclaim them,) to excommunicate them ; and to oblige all sober Christjans not to hold familiar conversation with them. But first of all, Christians should be made sensible of what blessings they are deprived, when they are debarred the communion,-even the greatest on earth ; without which they can have no hopes of salvation, but must perish eternally, John vi. 53.
He that understands and believes this, will submit to any
TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.
hardships, rather than incur, rather than continue under, a sentence so full of terror; and a sentence passed by one commissioned by God; and bound, at the peril of his soul, to pass it, it being the greatest indignity to Christ and the divine ordinance, to prostitute the body and blood of Christ, to notorious evil livers. God has therefore lodged a power in the pastors of His Church, to repel all such ; and it is a mercy even to them to be hindered from increasing their guilt and their damnation.
Nor can any prince, governor, nor human law, hinder a Christian Bishop from exercising this power, because he is under an obligation to the King of kings and Lord of lords to do his duty in this respect.
Nor must it be pretended, that the punishment which Christian Magistrates inflict may supersede this discipline. Those punishments only affect the body, and keep the outward man in order. These are designed to purify the soul, and to save that from destruction. Excommunication, as St. Paul tells us, (1 Cor. v. 5.) is " for the destruction of the flesh, that the soul may be saved ;" that is, to mortify the corruption of nature, lust, pride, intemperance, &c.; this being the only way to save the soul of the sinner, and to bring him to reason, that is, to repentance.
For upon a sinner's repentance, (unless where he has incurred the sentence more than once,) the Church is ready to receive him into her bosom, with open arms. But then by repentance must be understood, not a bare change of mind ; not an acknowledge ment of the sin and scandal; not a serious behaviour for a few days ;--all which may soon wear off; but, a course of public penance, a long trial of sincerity, such as may satisfy a man's self, and all sober Christians, that the sinner is a true penitent; that he has forsaken all his evil ways, evil company, evil habits ; that he is grown habitually serious, devout and religious,-and that by fasting and prayer, he has, in some good measure, got the mastery of his corrupt nature, and has begun a repentance not to be repented of.
For want of this care and method, many Christians are ruined eternally. They sin and repent, and sin again, and think all is safe, because they have repented, as they think, and are pardoned.
There are people who are in the same sad case with those that stand excommunicated, though no sentence has passed upon them, namely, such as live in a contempt of the public worship
of God. They cannot properly be turned out of the Church, who never come into it, but they keep themselves out of the ark, and consequently must perish.
Excommunication, in the primitive times, was pronounced in the congregation to which the offender belonged. After which, they gave notice to all other Churches ; namely, let no temple of God be open to him, let none converse with him,' &c.
2 Sam. xii. 13, 14. “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said, the Lord also hath put away thy sin, thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child that is born unto thee shall surely die.” The divine justice punisheth every sin, either in this world or in the next. A sinner's willingness to undergo any punishment which shall be appointed by the minister of God, in order to make proof of, and to establish his repentance, is a sure sign that God has not withdrawn his grace, notwithstanding his sin.
(To be continued.)
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TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.
HOLY DAYS OBSERVED IN THE ENGLISH CHURCH.
The Holy days observed by the Church of England are of two kinds :-Festivals, or days of joy; and Fasts, or days of sorrow.
The Festivals are:
The Nativity of our LORD, commonly called Christmas-day; on which we celebrate that great event, the birth, as man, of the everlasting and ALMIGHTY Son of God. (Dec. 25.)
The CircumCISION of Christ. On this day we are taught to remember with joy the transaction which may be called the first act of our Lord's obedience to the law for our sakes; the beginning of that unspotted career of purity and duty, which He mercifully submitted to accomplish for the redemption of sinful man. (Jan. 1.)
THE EPIPHANY, the manifestation, or making known of the new-born Saviour to the Gentiles. The first individuals, from the nations who till then had walked in darkness, who bent the knee before Him, were the Wise Men of the East ; when led by a miraculous star, they brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh, as their offerings to Bethlehem. And this event we, in an island which has since, by God's mercy, also caught the bright rays of Christian truth, cannot too joyfully or too thankfully commemorate. (Jan. 6.)
The Presentation of Christ in the temple, commonly called the Purification of St. Mary the Virgin. The event commemorated on this day is the fulfilment of prophecy (Malachi iii. 1.) by our Lord's appearance in the Temple, whither He was brought that His mother might comply with the rite of purification, en