of Church Discipline
THE Philadelphia Baptist Association, met at Philadelphia October 5th, 1795, judging our former Treatise of Church Discipline to be materially defective, appointed the writer to revise the same, or write a new one against the next association.
At their next meeting, in 1796, he had before them the reasons why it was not done, which were approved of, and he was requested to prepare it against their next session.
Being met at Lower Dublin, October 3rd, 1797, it was read to them, and they appointed a committee of one person from each church to revise it.
The said committee met at Philadelphia, on Wednesday the 13th of December following, and after making some alterations, chiefly verbal, it was agreed it should be printed for the use of the churches.
It will be understood, the writer availed himself of all the help he could derive from such writers on the subject as he had by him, or could find; and he hopes it will appear, he has bestowed some pains to render the work serviceable, both as to comprehensiveness of matter and plainness of manner, so far as the requisite brevity would admit.
He thinks it unnecessary to add any thing farther, save that he would beg leave to impress on the minds of the brethren the following particulars.
First; That they should be careful in the admission of members. Let there be pretty clear evidence of a work of grace. Slackness, or inattention here, has been the bane of the church, in all ages.
Secondly; Let there be most unremitting attention to maintain strict discipline. The glory of the church, the credit of religion, and the prosperity of Zion, depend, in a high degree, on the circumspect walk of its professors, and the vigilant zeal of all, especially of the officers, for support of order and gospel discipline.
Thirdly; That the professors of religion should walk together in love and Christian union is of material consideration. Behold how good, says the psalmist, and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity. "See how these Christians love one another," was the observation of the Heathens, respecting the Christians of the first age. What a pity, that the members of the same family, and even children of the same heavenly Father, and who is also the God of peace, should disagree and wrangle like the sons of darkness.
Fourthly; Be very diligent and circumspect in the discharge of the various duties you owe to God, to yourselves, to one another, and to those of the world. Let all have occasion to observe, that you have been with Jesus, and learned of him. Walk worthy, says the apostle, of the vocation wherewith you are called.
I will only add; That you be particularly careful, to maintain and preserve temper, coolness, and impartiality, in your meetings of business. To be rigid, obstinate, partial, passionate, and overbearing, in administering the concerns of the house of God: how unlike the followers of the meek and lowly Jesus! how unworthy of office under their divine Master.
Now, that the knowledge of God may cover the earth, and his saving power prevail among all nations; and that the churches of Christ may shine in purity of doctrine, strictness of discipline, and in the beauty of holiness, is the unfeigned and fervent prayer of, your?s in all gospel service.
Dec. 26, 1797
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