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in the provisions for doctrine, discipline, and worship, of that particular branch of the Church in which he enjoys his membership.
For the restraint of his conduct within that limit, in all his relations as a private member of the Church-in other words, for the application of the rule to his private conduct—his private judgment, that is, his understanding enlightened and quickened by his conscience, is the administrative or executive authority. As he will answer to God, he must satisfy that, from the first enquiry, What is the particular rule of doctrine, discipline or worship, concerned in the particular case in question ? up to the last, What is the will of God in its primal fount and highest form ? If his private judgment should dissent from the particular rule under which he lives, he would have most cogent reason for doubting his own sincerity, vigilance or fidelity to himself—most urgent motive for renewing his examination and appealing from his own decision. But once settled, that decision would be imperative. Were it to rebel against his rule, he must do it, with all the fearful risks. To the Searcher of hearts he must commit himself. There is nought else for him.
But this is true of private conduct only. The individual conscience governs only the individual. The moment the line of his individuality is outpassed, another jurisdiction holds. The rule under which he lives must be applied by an authority commensurate with that rule, in every thing concerning others together with himself. The effect of his words and actions upon others comes under the cognizance of the society of which they and
he form part, and the rule of that society must govern him, with reference to their interests and the relations between them and him, as fellow-members. The rule in theory becomes discipline in practice, and settles for the individual what, if it concerned him alone, must be settled by his conscience only. The alternative then becomes obedience or punishment; submission or separation from the society. He still has the alternative of perilling all upon his private judgment: but it is no longer before God alone. It now affects his position here, as well as his hopes hereafter. His risk is double; censure or expulsion in the present, and if at last he be not found to be able to stand before his Master, condemnation in the future judgment.
Discipline, thus taking hold of the Christian in all relations, affects him most directly and notably in those of a public, official nature.
A society must have officers. The Church has them, and under conditions which are necessary, because they are involved in the very notion of office. Office implies trust; and trust, responsibility; and responsibility, a guiding rule commensurate with the trust. To the same extent, limitations of individual liberty result. What the man might do, the officer may not. What the individual might eschew, the officer may not decline. His office imposes duty which must be discharged: it brings on him new degrees of accountability, which must be provided for. For duty, he is a light in a candlestick, which must be burning: for example, he is a city set on a hill, which cannot be hid. The conduct
of the man must be regulated, and therefore his liberty limited and restricted, by the nature and duties of the office he is allowed to bear. Does he serve? His service must be of that kind, and to those persons, pointed out by the tenor of his appointment. As a man,
may think other service needful, and its extension to others than those for whom he ministers expedient. As an officer, he has no right to think so; still less, to act upon his private views. He has a service. Faithfulness to the society in which he is an officer consists as much in not going beyond his office, as in not falling short. For if the foot took the office of the hand, or the smelling of the taste, were not the body injured as much as by lamoness or defective smell !— Does he rule? His rule must be not by his own judgment and for ends of his own selection ; but by the law and for the ends of the society in which he rules. He has no rule beside that law and those ends. In and for then it is that his
power rule exists. They are its essence and necessary limits, As a man, he may think those limits narrow, and see ends beyond those set him when his office was assigned him. As a ruler, he can know nothing of such ends; he has no right to look beyond his limits.
Does he teach? The regulation of his action by the nature of his office becomes still more important: for teaching in a society is the life of all its action, on which service and government both depend, lle is a teacher, not for himself, of his own opinion ; but for a society, and the doctrine of that society. Ile in to teach, not what he believes, because it is what he believes, but what the
society teaches. He is the society, for teaching. The society teaches by him. His teaching is its teaching: therefore it must be its teaching, and nothing else. There must be no admixture (or as little as human frailty and fallibility will allow) of his own in what he teaches. Such admixture would be treachery to his office, falsehood to his trust.
If, as an individual, he should find his belief varying for the norm of the society in which he is an officer, he can no longer continue to bear office. He must regain his liberty by laying down the office which is its restriction. His bearing office depends on his private conscience: but while he bears it, not his conscience, but his office, is the limit of his liberty. As a man, he cannot teach what he does not believe. In office, he must teach the belief of the society in which he is an officer. If it is not his belief, his conscience must be obeyed: but its dictate is, not that he shall violate his office, but that he shall lay it down. He must escape the limits imposed by office, by falling back upon his larger liberty as a private individual. While he remains an officer, the society of which he is the voice, controls its own voice. Its rule of teaching is his law. He teaches what that rule directs, and nothing else.
The Church of Christ teaches, and can teach, nothing
but what it finds in the Holy Scriptures,—the fixed, unalterable deposit of all revealed truth, of which it has been made the witness and keeper, with which it is sent into the world, to proclaim, expound and enforce its contents. But the Church teaches Scriptural truth not
in the letter only. It is the spirit that giveth life, as well in the new law as in the old; and to enable its members to find and enjoy the spirit in the letter, has from the first been a principal office of the Church. The sense and force of Scripture, it has always been the province of the Church to keep before the minds of believers; and in order to that, to indoctrinate them in its meaning, and in the first principles and essential outlines of its doctrine. “The doctrine" to which Timothy was to “take heed ;” “THE faith once delivered to the saints,” for which S. Jude requires us to “contend.” “The doctrine according to godliness,” to which, “if any man consent not, and teach otherwise,” the man of God is to “withdraw himself from such;"—is the doctrine and faith of the Church, established in it by the Apostles, and kept in it, by the watchful care of its Divine Head in fulfilment of His promise, from their day until now. In “the form of doctrine" which was “ delivered” to those in Rome of whom St. Paul testified that they obeyed it from the heart—“the form of sound words” which Timothy “heard of the Apostle, and was charged to “ hold fast”—the members of the Church have, from the beginning, received a notion of revealed truth as a whole, and of its great constituent items, at the outset of their membership, as the object and law of their belief. Starting from the point attained in the Creed, as expounded and illustrated in the catechetical teaching by which, every where and at all times, the Church has labored to put its members in full possession of the substance of its creed, they are led onward, in their progress toward