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may live! And ever and anon it seemed to me that gleams of consciousness flitted across his face; but at last, after much weeping and crying to the wind, the signs of animation came no more; and the beautiful form, beautiful even in its deathliness, wasted away to the mere skeleton, and the skeleton crumbled back again to the dry bones; and I knew by the look on the faces of the mourners, as they turned away, that there was no hope.
Whereat I could no longer endure the sad sights that I saw in that valley, but immediately sank down in a deep swoon.
And as I lay there in that swoon, like one who hath a dream within a dream, I beheld one like unto the Son of Man, coming in the clouds of heaven and with the glory of his Father and the holy angels.
And all around me I heard the hurried tramp, as of a mighty host marshalling to victory.
And I listened, and knew that it was that Wind, which before I had heard softly breathing here and there, as at random, but which was now sweeping like a hurricane throughout the valley.
And the slain all arose, rank upon rank, in their order and beauty, and stood up on their feet, an exceeding great army.
And they had white robes, and crowns upon their heads, and palms in their hands.
And there were loud trumpetings in the heavens; and they moved upward to meet their Leader in the air; and the bright cherubic legions parted before them, and surrounded and followed them with shoutings and everlasting joy upon their heads, in through the gates of the heavenly city.
And, with that sweet vision still cheering me, I awoke and wept
And yet it was not all a dream.
Here, in the very midst of us, is that prophesying upon the slain, as the great gospel-trumpet sounds through this valley of desolation, proclaiming life eternal to the masses of perishing immortals that crowd around us in utter deadness and prostration of spirit.
Here, through the foolishness of that preaching, do we behold the worn faculties, and wasted feelings, and dissipated impressions, strangely collected and concentrated with a semblance of spiritual activity, until the whole assembly are wrought into something like a consciousness of their moral proportions; and, as the work of conviction proceeds, here, alas, do we discover the same fatal lack of vital godliness, amid fair shows of outward morality and piety, making the whole sanctuary-spectacle but like that ugly sorcery in the vision, an assemblage of dead souls, whom the god of this world hath so bewitched, that, “though they have eyes to see, yet they see not; and ears to hear, yet they hear not; neither is there any life in them.”
And here, too, in answer to the cry of yearning spirits, comes that heavenly Breeze to blow upon the slain, passing secretly from soul to soul with his life-giving influence, until they who were dead in trespasses and sins are quickened together with Christ, and made to sit together with him in heavenly places.
And those strange sights presented by the living mingling with the dead and ministering unto them; that vision of the beautiful and the noble, with seraphic faces over them, and praying hearts breaking around them, while yet wrought up into a momentary consciousness of immortality, then threatened with terrible relapse into a second death, for which we have no name; alas ! no dream is all this, but only the sad, the fearful reality.
C. W. S.
ADOPTED AT THE LATE MEETING OF TRANSYLVANIA PRESBYTERY, AND ORDERED
TO BE PUBLISHED AS PART OF THE MINUTES OF THAT MEETING.
YOUR Committee find on page 65 of the Church Records, referred to them for review, the following statement in explanation of the grounds on which a person was received without baptism to full communion in the Church:
“That the person was already a member of the Reform or Campbellite Church, known to most of the Session as a lady of intelligence and exemplary piety, who was willing and desirous to be examined touching her faith and profession, but was satisfied with the baptism which she had received when she joined the Reform Church, whereupon she was received without other or further baptism.”
To this record of the action of the Session, and also to the action itself in this case, your Committee recommend that the Presbytery take exception, for the following reasons :
First, as to the grounds of the action. This record of the high personal qualifications and the self-satisfaction of the party admitted without other baptism to the full communion of the Church, if it have any significancy at all, assumes the truth of either one of these three propositions :
Either, 1st. That intelligence and piety, with satisfaction of conscience in remaining unbaptized, are all that is absolutely essential as prerequisites to coming to the Lord's Table; or,
2d. That as intelligence and piety are essential to adult baptism, so conversely, the existence of these, together with satisfaction of conscience in the subject, is presumptive proof that a baptism otherwise invalid is to be held as valid in such special cases ; or,
* The Report on this subject, unanimously adopted by the Presbytery of Transyl. vania, and published by their order in this number of our paper (Presbyterian Hereld], is understood to be from the pen of Rev. Dr. Robinson, now of this city. It will be read with interest by all who feel any desire to investigate that subject. The churches are constantly called to act upon it, and it is well to have it discussed. Several hundred copies in tract form will be published.--Editor of Presbyterian Herald.
3d. That baptism by a member of the Reform or Campbellite body is of so peculiar a nature as to require only intelligence and piety and satisfaction of conscience, in the party receiving it, in order to make its validity complete.
Now, as to the first proposition, it is directly in the face of the almost unanimous judgment of evangelical Christians, that baptism, as well as intelligence and piety, is an indispensable condition precedent to coming to the Lord's Table.
As to the second proposition, it is equally in contradiction to the nearly unanimous judgment of the evangelical Church, that the validity of sacraments, as administered in any case, is to be determined, not by the personal character of the recipient of them, but from the official standing of the administrator thereof, as duly appointed minister of a true Church of Christ. “No Church, no sacrainents,” has become an axiom.
As to the third proposition, if what has just been stated be true, then manifestly the intelligence and piety of the recipient of the ordinance of baptism can in no way avail to give validity to an administration of the ordinance otherwise invaliil. Nor in any case is the question of the validity of a baptism to be decided upon the judgment of the applicant for admission to the Church, but only upon the judgment of the Church Court, to whom the application is made.
Independent, therefore, of any issue as to the final action of the Session in this case, in the judgment of your Committee the recorded grounds of the action seem to involve principles to which exception may justly be taken.
We proceed next to consider the act of the Session in receiving such an applicant to full communion without other or further baptism. This action is in effect a formal recognition by a Court of this Church of the validity of the ordinance of baptism as administered by the body known as the Reform or Campbellite Church. It involves, therefore, a question of the gravest importance to our Church, especially that part of it within whose bounds this peculiar modern sect has obtained position and influence.
In an age in which the evangelical Church of Christ, though holding the same essential truths, of “one Body and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all," is yet found existing in several sections and under distinct organizations, and is surrounded also by various un-evangelical and anti-evangelical sects, no question can arise of greater importance than that of the “ signs of the Church,” and on what credentials a body calling itself Christian shall be recognized as a part of the true visible Church of Christ. And when in the providence of God this question meets us as a Presbytery in the ordinary course of business, we should prove unfaithful to our duty, as a Court of Jesus Christ, if we shrank from a candid expression of our judgment upon it. In the opinion of your Committee, the Church Session in this case, misled by wrong views of what Christian courtesy and charity required of them, gave an erroneous judgment.
According to the Scriptures, as interpreted by our standards, (see Confession of Faith, chap. 28; Larger Catechism, question 165; Form of Government, chap. 7; Directory for Worship, chaps. 7 & 9), among the fundamental ideas of the nature of baptism, are these :
1. That it is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, a seal of the righteousness of faith, and a sign of cleansing by the blood of Christ and the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit, established for the solemn admission of the party baptized into his visible Church.
2. To be administered to such adult persons as give satisfaction with respect to their knowledge and piety on public profession of their faith:
3. And to be administered, not by any private person, but only by a minister of Jesus Christ lawfully called to be a steward of the mysteries of God.
To admit the validity of baptism in any case is, therefore, to acknowledge the body into which the baptism introduces the party as a true Church of Christ, holding baptism to be a seal of the righteousness of faith and a sign of cleansing by the blood of Christ and the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit; and to acknowledge also the person administering the baptism to be a minister of Christ lawfully called to administer ordinances.
Now, this being the teaching of Scripture as interpreted by our standards—that no Court of the Presbyterian Church should recognize the body of people called the Reform or Campbellite Church, as a part of the true Church visible, and its baptism a valid baptism, is manifest, for the following reasons :
1. The presumption is very strong against recognizing any body of people who fail or refuse to make known to the Christian world, by the commonly received method, in some authoritative form, the substance of their testimony for the truth of the Gospel, and the principles by which they are governed in teaching the word of God and in administering the order and ordinances of Christ's house. So far from admitting that such failure to proclaim their faith and Church order, and consequently our ignorance of the doctrines and order of the body, should operate to restrain us from any utterance against the validity of Church ordinances as administered in such a body; on the contrary, for this very reason, as the General Assembly of our Church has declared, in reference to the validity of baptism by a Unitarian (Digest, p. 76), we should presume the ordinance invalid. Certainly no body of people have a right to complain if, through their own failure, either from neglect or from persistent refusal, to give the Christian world due notice, in some recognized official form, who they are, and by what authority they do these things, other Christian bodies decline to recognize the validity of ordinances which they have no means of verifying by the word of God. The vessel that sails the seas, refusing to show the flag, is presumed to be piratical.
2. To this negative presumption is to be added the consideration that, so far as the evangelical Churches of Christ have the means of judging of the spirit of this body, thus refusing to declare in some recognized official form its principles, there is nothing to allay the suspicion arising from the cause just stated.
Wbile connected with that body are doubtless to be found many pious and excellent characters, yet these individual cases can in no way affect the argument, touching the character of the body considered as a Church of Christ. For so also there are, beyond doubt, pious and excellent persons connected with the apostate Church of Rome; and beyond doubt also there are many pious and excellent persons not connected at all with the visible Church of Christ. The fact that such individual cases of piety occur in the body is not, therefore, a proof that the body is a true Church. If then we look to the general spirit and policy of this body of people, as it presents itself in its public teachings and acts, it must be admitted on all hands that it has no particular claim upon the Christian charity and courtesy of the evangelical Churches of Christ--whose baptism this body utterly repudiates—and whose very existence as true Reformed Churches it denounces with a zeal hardly surpassed by the great Roman apostasy itself. The very titles assumed by this body are most significant in this respect. They call themselves the Christian Church, as assuming all other Churches to be unchristian or anti-christian. They style themselves the Disciples, implying a like exclusive claim. They style their Church, as among other Protestant sects, the Reformed Church, as though no other Protestant body were truly a Reformed Church. And that these titles are really thus significant is manifest from the spirit of the great portion of the public teaching current within the body. Not only is this teaching to the effect of an implied denial of the validity of the ordinances of all other bodies claiming to be Christian, but under the disguise of denouncing sectarianism, this antisectarian sect seems to regard it as its special mission continually to denounce directly or to insinuate indirectly the general corruption, dishonesty and unfaithfulness of the entire Evangelical Church of any
and every name. 3. If now, in the third place, we come to inquire into the question of doctrinal teaching—that which is, by general consent, the special mark or sign whereby to discern a true Church, --so far as it is possible to gather, the current teaching of a body without an authoritative symbol — there is nothing to weaken but much to strengthen the foregoing presumption. So far as your Committee