Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Religious Education for the Young

the Presbyterian Magazine
February, 1858.
edited by Rev. C. Van Rensselaer, D.D.
Published in Philadelphia by Joseph M. Wilson, p86.

From Household Thoughts: “Religious Education for the Young.”

“...The true idea of religious education may be stated in general terms as consisting in the proper cultivation and improvement of our moral powers; yet not independent of intellectual culture, but in connection with it. While the mental faculties are developed and improved by science and literature, the understanding and conscience must be enlightened with regard to our relations and duties to God, as our Creator, moral Governor, and Redeemer; and also with regard to our personal and social duties, such as sobriety, integrity, justice, and benevolence. And, inasmuch as all systems of religion are not entitled to equal credit, the true idea of religious education requires a careful discrimination between the genuine and the spurious, the divine and human, the true and false.

In religious education properly conducted, science becomes the handmaid of religion, by employing scientific facts and principles in vindicating and illustrating the claims of Christianity. Such an education is, therefore, not only compatible with a thorough literary course, but is greatly aided by such a course. It might easily be shown that (other things being equal) the most thorough and ripe scholars in secular learning, have been those who, while prosecuting their researches, devoted a portion of time daily to the study of the Bible; and further, that their attention to God’s word facilitated their progress in science and philosophy.

But though the true idea of religious education does not exclude or diminish literary or scientific attainments, its special object requires us, in opposition to Deistical sentiments, to hold and teach the divine origin of the Holy Scriptures; to explain the glorious mystery of redemption, which it is the grand object of the Scriptures to reveal; and to inculcate and to enforce those moral principles and precepts which constitute the essence and glory of practical Christianity.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Presbyterian Magazine: Individuality in the Church (Part 1)

The Presbyterian Magazine
January, 1850
Miscellaneous Articles.

Individuality in the Church

It was a custom of the Apostles to send their Christian salutations to individual believers in the churches to which their epistles were written, but in no other epistle is it done so largely as in that to the Church at Rome.

In the last chapter there are not fewer than twenty-eight persons mentioned by name, besides two families, the heads of which are named, and other little circles of friends, called “the Church that is in their house,” or, “the brethren which are with them,” or “all the saints which are with them.” Of the number distinctly designated, seventeen or eighteen were men and ten were women.

The epithets, or descriptive expressions, applied to many of the individuals, are not without interest, as well as meaning. One is called “out sister, who is a servant of the Church ... a succourer of many and of myself also.” Others are named “my helpers in Christ Jesus,” “my work-fellow,” “well-beloved,” “beloved in the Lord,” “approved in Christ,” “in Christ before me,” “who bestowed much labour on us,” “my fellow-prisoners,” “who labour in the Lord,” “salute Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.”

It is further to be noticed that other Christians joined the Apostle in these particular messages. Eight persons, including the amanuensis, are named as taking the opportunity of sending their Christian greeting; most probably from their residence in Corinth to their friends in Rome.
The object of these apostolic messages was principally that of friendly remembrance of Christians, whom Paul had found to be distinguished by their piety and zeal in the little Church at Rome, who had given him their assistance in promoting his Gospel errand, or who were remembered from some other interesting association with his evangelical visits. Some of them had been ready to lay down their own necks to protect the Apostle from persecutors. Some were, in his mind, as “the first fruits of Achaia;” and one purpose was to commend to their attention a member of the Cenchrean Church, then about to go among them, probably the bearer of this introduction, on some concern of religious benevolence.

The chapter into which these paragraphs are thrown, furnishes traits of the early Church that may suggest some useful patterns for the imitation of our own day.
  1. One of these traits is the social fellowship of these primitive believers. They were duly organized churches with their officers, ordinances, and discipline; they had ministers of apostolic dugnity to serve them, and to be over them in the Lord. But the community was more than that of a corporate body, or an ecclesiastical estate, or a hierarchy. The mode of address used by this Apostle is more like that of an absent member of a family writing home, than that of a dignitary issuing an authoritative document. Yet it was more than an ordinary domestic letter he had been dictating. It was as a postscript to one of the most important theological and church papers ever transmitted through the instrumentality of man, that these holy greetings were inserted. But when the doctrines had been fully recorded, when the messages of the Holy Ghost had been first reduced to manuscript, with what honest simplicity does the pen of the writer set forth, in the incidental forms of the last page of a letter, the brotherly intimacy and affection that subsisted between himself and his correspondents. He calls them by name. He knows their families. He does not forget what individual members of the Church had done, nor their several characteristics.

    This very mention of names shows that these disciples were on terms of intimate fellowship among themselves; otherwise, they could not comply with the writer’s request to communicate his messages one to another. And they were not only the twenty-eight individuals named that were thus known as one circle or class out of the whole Church; but such expressions are used as show the mutual acquaintance and fellowship to have been as wide as “all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints.” Naming five persons, he adds, “and the brethren that are with them.” Naming five others, he adds, “and all the saints who are with them.” “Salute one another,” he says again. Paul himself must have felt this interest in them individually, and when he says, “without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers” (Rom. i), it is most probable that he prayed not only distinctly for the Church at Rome, as he did also for that at Corinth, and that at Galatia (1 Cor. I, Gal. i), and for others (Eph. I, Phil, i, Col. I, 1 Thess i, 2 Thess. i), but that he prayed for them by name as individuals. The frequent messages and references to particular persons indicate this specific knowledge and regard on the part of the Apostle. He would not only say “greet them that love us in the faith,” “grace be with you all,” “salute every saint in Christ Jesus,” but, as John did, “greet the friends by name.” It is likely, therefore, that he prayed for them by name, and the more so, as he so often wrote “pray for me.” He remembered that Marcus was sister’s son to Barnabas; that Andronicus and Junias were converts before himself; that he had baptized Crispus and Gaius, and the household of Stephanas. In Rome, he remmeber that Euodias and Syntyche, of Philippi, were not of the same mind in the Lord. He did not forget that Onesiphorus visited him in prison; he prescribed for the ailments of Timothy; he provided for the personal comforts of Zenas and Apollos on their journey; he exerted himself for the slave Onesimus. He knew that the churches felt an interest in him personally, and could refer to such as Tychicus “that ye may know my affairs and who I do.” He thought that the Church of Philippi would be pleased to hear that Epaphroditus was recovering from illness, and he was glad at the arrival of Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus. What fervent fellowship must have prevailed in the Church.

  2. Another fact is evident from this chapter, and others like it; it was common to see active co-operation in the whole body of believers.

    To be continued...

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Christian's Daily Walk: In the Company of Others (part 3)

Henry Scudder, The Christian’s Daily Walk in holy Security and Peace. Phila, Presbyterian Board, nd. Pages 109-115. [barely edited by SML]

Chapter 8: Of Company in General. Rules Concerning It. Part 3

Fourthly, your conversations amongst all must be loving: you should be kind and courteous towards all men, Tit. iii.2. Do good to all, according as you have ability and opportunity, Give offence willingly to none, I Cor,x.32. Do wrong to no man, 1, either in his name, life, chastity, or estate, or in any thing that is his; but be ready to forgive wrongs done to you, Col.iii.13, and to take wrong, rather than to revenge, or unchristianly to seek your own vindication. As you have calling and opportunity, do good to the souls of your neighbors; exhort and encourage unto well-doing, 1 Thess.v.14. If they show not themselves to be dogs and swine, Matt.vii.6; that is, obstinate scorners of good men, and contemnors of the pearl of good counsel, you must, so far as God gives you any interest in them, admonish and inform them with the spirit of meekness and wisdom, Lev.xix.17. With this cloak of love you should cover and cure a multitude of your companions; infirmities and offences, 1 Peter iv.8. In all your behavior towards him, seek not so much to please yourself as your companion, in that which is good to his edification, Rom.xv.2.
  1. Speak evil of no man, Tit.iii.2; nor yet speak the evil you know of any man, except in these or the like cases.

    (1) When you are thereunto lawfully called by authority.
    (2) When it is those whom it concerns, to reform and reclaim him of whom you speak, and you do it to that end, 1 Cor.i.11.
    (3) When it is to prevent certain damage to the soul of estate of your neighbor, Acts xxiii.16, which would ensue, if it were not by you thus discovered.
    (4) When the concealment of his evil may make you guilty and accessory.
    (5) When some particular remarkable judgment of God is upon a notorious sinner for his sin, then, to the end that God may be acknowledged in his judgments, and that others may be warned, or brought to repent of the same or like sin, you may speak of the evils of another, Psa.lii.6,7. But this is not to speak evil, so long as you do it not in envy and malice to his person, nor with aggravation of the fault more than is cause, nor yet to the judging of him as concerning his final estate.

  2. When you shall hear any in your company speak evil of your neighbor, by slandering, whispering, or tale-bearing, whereby he detracts from his good name; you must not only stop your ears at such reports, but must set your speech and countenance against him, like a north wind against rain, Prov.xxv.23.

  3. When you hear another well reported of, let it not be grievous to you, as if it detracted from your credit; but rejoice at it, inasmuch as God has enabled him to be good, and to do good; all which makes for the advancement of the common cause of religious, wherein you are interested; envy him not therefore his due praise.

  4. Detract not from any man’s credit, either by open backbiting, Psa.xv.3, or by secret whispering, Prov.xvi.28, or by any cunning means of casting evil aspersions, whether by way of pitying him, or otherwise: as, He is good or does well in such and such things; but, &tc. This but mars all.

  5. And, in a word, in all speeches to men, and communications with them, your speech must be gracious, Col.iv.6, that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace, not vice, to the hearers. If must not be profane, nor any way corrupt, Eph.iv.29, as defiled with oaths, curses, or profane jests; it must not be flattering, Job xvii.5, nor yet detracting; not better, not railing, censorious, or injurious to any man, Eph.iv.31. It must not be wanton, lascivious, and filthy, Eph.v.3,4. Col.iii.8. It must not be false, Col.iii.9; no, nor yet foolish, idle, and fruitless; for all evil communication does corrupt good manners, I Cor.xv.33. And we must answer for every idle word which we speak, Matt.xii.36. Besides, a man may easily be discerned of what country he is, whether of heaven, or of the earth, by his language; his speech will betray him.

  6. There is no wisdom, or power here below, can teach and enable you to do all, or any of the aforementioned duties. This wisdom and power must be had from above, James iii.13-18. Wherefore, if you would in all companies carry yourself worthy the gospel of Christ:

    First, Be sure that the law of God, and the power of grace be in your heart, else the law of grace and kindness cannot be in your life and speech, Psa.xxxvi.30,31. Prov.xxxi.26. You must be endued, therefore, with a spirit of holiness, humility, love, gentleness, long-suffering, meekness, and wisdom; else you can never converse with all men as you ought to do. For such as the heart is, such the conversation will be. Out of the evil heart come evil thoughts and actions, Matt.xv.19; but a good man, out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and according to the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, Matt.xii.34-35. A man must have the heart of the wise, before the tongue can be taught to speak wisely, Prov.xvi.23.

    Secondly, you must resolve beforehand, as David did, to take heed to your ways, that you sin not with your tongue; and that you will keep your mouth as with a bridle, Psa.xxxix.1. Before your speech and actions, be well advised; weigh and ponder in balance of reason, all your actions and words, before you vent them.

    Thirdly, let no passion of joy, grief, fear, anger, &tc. get the head, and exceed their limits. For wise and good men, as well as bad, when they have been in any of these passions, have spoken unadvisedly with their lips, Job iii.3,23. Psa.cvi.32,33. Mark ix.5,6. Jonah iv.8,9. Mark vi. 22,23. And experience will teach you, that your tongue never runs before your wit so soon, as when you are over-afraid, over-grieved, over-angry, or over-joyed.

    Fourthly, you must be much in prayer to God, before you come into company, that you may be able to order your conversation aright; let your heart also be lifted up often to God when you are in company, that he would set a watch before your mouth, and keep the door of your lips, and that your heart may not incline to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity, Psa. cxli. 3,4; and that he would open your lips, that your mouth may show forth his praise, Psa. li. 15; and that you may speak as you ought to speak, knowing how to answer every man, Col.iv.6; for the tongue is such an unruly evil, that no man, but God only, can tame and govern it, James iii.8.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Christian's Daily Walk: In the Company of Others (part 2)

Henry Scudder, The Christian’s Daily Walk in holy Security and Peace. Phila, Presbyterian Board, nd. Pages 109-115. [barely edited by SML]

Chapter 8: Of Company in General. Rules Concerning It. Part 2.

Thirdly, You must be wise and discreet in your carriage towards all, and that in divers particulars.
  1. Be not too open, nor too reserved; not over suspicious, 1 Cor. Xiii.7, nor over credulous, John ii.24. Jer. xl.14-16. For the simple believes every word, but the prudent looks well to his going, Prov. xiv.15.
  2. Apply yourself to the several conditions and dispositions of men in all indifferent things, so far as you may, without sin against God, or offence to your brother, becoming all things to all men, 1 Cor. ix. 19-23; suiting yourself to them in such a manner, that if it be possible, you may live in peace with them, Rom. xii.18, and may gain some interest in them, to do them good.
    But far be it from you to do as many, who under this pretence, are for all companies; seeming religious with those that are religious; but profane and licentious with those that are profane and licentious; for this is carnal policy, and damnable hypocrisy, and not true wisdom.
  3. Intermeddle not with other men’s business, I Thess. iv.11, but upon due and necessary occasion.
  4. Know when to speak, and when to be silent, I Tim. v.13. How excellent is a word spoken in season! Eccles. iii.7. As either speech or silence will make for the glory of God, and for the cause of religion, and good one of another, so speak, and so hold your peace, Prov. xv.23, xxv, 11.
  5. Be not hasty to speak, Prov. xxix.11, nor be much in speaking, Prov. xvii. 27, Eccl. x.14, but only when just cause shall require; for as it is shame and folly to a man to answer a matter before he hears it, Prov.xviii.13, so is it for any to speak before his time and turn, Job xxxii.4-6. Likewise consider, that in the multitude of words there wants not sin; but he that refrains his lips is wise, Prov.x.19.
  6. Be sparing to speak of yourself or actions, to your own praise, except in case of necessary apology, 2 Cor xii.11, and defense of God’s cause maintained by you, and in the clearing of your wronged innocency, or needful manifestation of God’s power and grace in you; but then it must be with all modesty, giving the praise unto God, Phil. iv.12, 13. Neither must you cunningly hunt for praise, by debasing or excusing yourself and actions, that you may give occasion to draw forth commendations of yourself from others. Thus seeking of applause, argues pride and folly. But do praiseworthy actions, seeking therein the praise of God, that God may be glorified in you, then you shall have praise of God, Rom. ii.29, whatever you have of man. However, follow Solomon’s rule: Let another praise thee, not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips, Prov. xxvii. 2.
  7. As you must be wise in your carriage towards others, so you must be wise for yourself; which is to make a good use to yourself of all things that occur in company. Let the good you see, be matter of joy, and thankfulness to God, and improved for your own imitation, Rom. xii.9. Let the evil you see, be matter of grief and humiliation, and a warning to you, lest you commit the like, since you are made of the same mould that others are, and are liable to the same temptations. If men report good of you to your face, repress these speeches as soon and as wisely as you can, giving the praise of all things to God, Gen. xli. 15,16, Acts xi. 23; knowing this is be a temptation and a snare, Prov. xxvii. 14, and a means to breed self-love, pride, and vain-glory in you. If this good report be true, bless God that he has enabled you to deserve it, and study by virtuous living to continue it. If this good report be false, endeavor to make it good by being hereafter answerable to the report.
  8. If men report evil of you to your face, be not so much inquisitive who raised it, or how to confute them, or clear your reputation amongst men; as to make a good use of it to your own heart before God.

    For you must know, this evil report does not rise without God’s providence, 2 Sam. xvi.11. If the report be true, then see God’s good providence; it is that you may see your error and failings, that you may repent. If the report be false, yet consider, if you have not run into the appearance and occasions of those evils. Then say, though this report be false, yet it comes justly upon me, because I did not shun the occasions and appearances. This should humble you, and cause you to be more circumspect in your ways. But if neither the thing reported be true, nor you have given occasion for it, yet see God’s wise and good providence; not only in discovering the folly and malice of evil men, who raise and take up an evil report against you without cause; but in giving you warning to look to yourself, lest you deserve thus to be spoken of. And how do you know, but that you should have fallen into the same, or the like evil, if by these reports you had not been forewarned? Make use therefore of the railings and revilings of an enemy, 2 Sam. xvi.10-12; though he be a bad judge, yet he may be a good remembrancer; for you shall hear from him those things, of which flatterers will not, and friends, being blinded, or over indulgent through love, do never admonish you.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Christian's Daily Walk: In the Company of Others (part 1)

Henry Scudder, The Christian’s Daily Walk in holy Security and Peace. Phila, Presbyterian Board, nd. Pages 109-115. [barely edited by SML]

Of Company in General. Rules Concerning It.

When you are in company, of whatever sort, you must amongst them walk with God.

Directions relating to this are of two sorts:
  • First, showing how you should behave towards all:
  • Secondly, how you should behave towards good or bad company.
First, in whatsoever company you are, your conversation in word and deed must be such, as may procure
  1. Glory to God, Matt, v.16
  2. Credit to religion, 1 Tim. vi.1.
  3. All mutual, lawful, content, help, and true benefit to each other, Gen. ii.18.
For these are the ends, first, of society, secondly, of the variety of the good gifts that God has given unto men to do good with, 1 Cor. xii. 7-25.

To attain these ends, your conversation must be, 1. Holy; 2. Humble; 3. Wise; 4. Loving.

First, It must be holy, 1 Peter i.15; you must, as much as in you is, prevent all evil speech and behavior, which might else break forth, being careful to break it off, if it be already begun in your company. Suffer not the name and religion of God, nor yet your brother’s name to be traduced, or evil spoken of; but in due place and manner vindicate each. Be diligent to watch, and improve all fit opportunities of introducing pious and useful conversations; even whatsoever may tend to the practice and increase of godliness and honesty.

Secondly, Your conversation must be humble. You must give all due respect to all men, according to their several places and gifts; reverencing your betters, submitting to all in authority over you, 1 Peter ii.17, Eph. v.21; esteeming others as better than yourselves, in honour preferring them before you, Phil ii.3; condescending unto, and behaving respectfully towards, those of meaner rank, Rom. Xii.16.

...Part 2.