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pentance, and promote his reformation." And this meaning of the passage is implied in the last clause-that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord: for the of fender's dying in impenitence, or in a state of alienation from the communion of the apostles, could in no sense have conduced to his salvation.
Thus we find that the most severe censures of the church were directed to edification, and not to destruction. And when, as in the present case, they had produced their salutary effect-when the offender had brought forth fruits of sincere repentancewith what parental tenderness does the apostle receive him again into communion! Sufficient, says he, to such a one is this pu nishment, which was inflicted of many so that, contrariwise, ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest, perhaps, such a one should be swallowed up with too much sorrow: wherefore I beseech you, that ye would confirm your love towards him. (2 Cor. ii. 6-8.)
Such was the great law of discipline. It consisted in the power of censure and ab、 solution: its end was edification; and its
sanction, the essential unity of the visible church. It was committed by Christ himself to his apostles, and by them delivered to those ministers who lawfully and officially succeeded them in their sacred charge.
Thus St. Paul instructs Titus the bishop of the Cretians-These things speak and exhort, and rebuke with all authority; let no man despise, thee. (Tit. ii. 15.) And again-A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject. (Tit. iii. 10.) By rejecting we must understand the removing of him out of the communion and fellowship of the church.
And as this law of discipline is a law of the Lord, so it has, in its motive, its nature, and its effect, an exact conformity with his providential methods of dealing with hist people. Hence we may consider St. Paul as describing both the one and the other, in the epistle to the Hebrews.-Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children-My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, neither faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.⠀⠀ If
endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons for what son is there whom the father chasteneth not?--Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh, which chastened us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they, verily, for a few days chastened us, as it seemed meet to them ; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now, no chastening, for the present, seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward, it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (Heb. xii. 5-11.)
Though this passage, in its primary acceptation, refer to the general sufferings to which, by the providence of God, the church should be exposed, yet it takes in the true nction of the chastisement of discipline-the salutary end it is calculated to produce and the duty of submitting to it with patience and humility. It is the paternal correction of an offending child inflicted in love; and, however grievous for the present, designed and calculated to effect his reformaion and improvement. It is a power which
the Lord has given to edification, not to de
Notwithstanding, therefore, the lawful exercise of this power has sometimes been miscalled persecution, it is a thing, in its nature and object, totally distinct from it.
Persecution is the fruit, not of love, but of wrath and misguided zeal: its professed view is to promote the cause of religion; but it acts under the influence of the angry passions, and, therefore, aims rather at the punishment of the offender than at the removal of the offence. And this disposition can originate only in an ignorance of the true spirit of religion, both natural and revealed.
Wherefore, our Lord declares to his disciples-They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN THE FATHER NOR ME. (John, xvi. 2, 3.)
Such was the temper with which the apostles James and John contemplated the apostate and inhospitable Samaritans, when they said to Jesus-Lord, wilt thou that we
command fire to come down from heaven and consume them? (Luke, ix. 54.)
They aimed not at reformation, but punishment. And so agreeable to their irritated passions were the thoughts of revenge, that they would not commit the chastisement of their adversaries to the power and justice of Christ, though he was present amongst them, but desired to take the work into their own hands. The words are not Wilt thou punish? but-Wilt thou that we command fire ?-Wilt thou gratify us with a power, and commission, to destroy?
This was a feeling so diametrically opposite to the true Christian temper, that it merited a sharp reproof:-Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of: for the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them-the dispensation, which I am now come to publish, is for the salvation of the obedient, and not for the temporal pu'nishment of the disobedient. The same lesson he inculcates upon another occasion: -If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not-I condemn him not to present punishment:-for I came not to