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period it appeared like a record of the deliberations of a selfgoverning community, after which it resembled more the personal notes of the ruler of a Church. On the first page, dated February 1825, we find the question to be answered by every candidate for admission : “Are you convinced, from the Word of God, that you ought to separate yourself unreservedly from the Church of the multitude ; and are you really doing it? ....
“He held excommunication to be nothing more than a matter of external discipline, and to be no exclusion from the spiritual body. Admission to the Lord's Supper, moreover, and admission to the Church, he kept carefully distinct. Hence he prevailed upon his people to resolve (in 1827) that young people should not become members of the Church but on their written application, and after they had been communicants a whole year. The fact is, that refusals of admission were determined by reasons in no way affecting Christian character. For example, in 1825 the Church decided not to receive a husband or a wife, whose partner in either case remained a member of another congregation; and, in 1826, any applicants whose affairs were in confusion or who had not paid their debts. Remissness in Sabbath observance was also a plea of exclusion. We may observe that this discipline was by no means due to the pastor alone ; on the contrary, his influence was often exerted to moderate the extreme rigour which some of the brethren were disposed to exhibit (as for example, on the Sunday question).
“To these details we may add, that the community nominated the deacons, who had to present a report, signed by the minister and themselves. It also voted the regulation of admission or exclusion; to it were addressed all letters from other Churches, or from private individuals. It sent out evangelists, and nominated a committee of home missions, and finally set apart for observance special fasts and festivals." (pp. 136—139.)
As Malan's congregation increased in numbers and influence, the Church of the Bourg de Four became increasingly anxious that there should be a fusion between the two bodies. Conceiving that there could be no union without external conformity, its pastors published an exposé in October, 1825, addressed to all the Churches of Christ. Assuming the identity of the visible with the spiritual Church, they claimed that all the Churches should be brought unto one general fold; and as all congregational distinctions must in consequence terminate, so also they contended that there ought to be no speciality in the pastoral charge; that “as no sheep could submit himself to one under-shepherd exclusively, so, on the other hand, all faithful shepherds should hold themselves, in a measure, responsible to give spiritual nurture to all sheep in the spiritual
Hitherto there had been brotherly union between the two Churches, each retaining its own congregational distinctiveness, and the members of the Pré l'Evêque had frequently com
ground wit be disregarded external organiday
municated in the Bourg de Four. The new declaration, however, rendered the continuance of this practice impossible, unless, indeed, the members of Malan's congregation were prepared to surrender their distinctiveness of position, and withdraw themselves from the special care of their own pastor. It was in reference to this difficulty that Malan wrote and printed his essay on “ Unity in Diversity.”
True unity is based on “one faith.” Churches, in points of external discipline and organisation, may be dissimilar; yet, if holding the faith in its distinctive features, they possess the essential elements of union, and as portions of the “Visible Church, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly administered,” are in a position to love one another. If an external conformity be insisted upon as essential, then the ground of intercommunion is changed, and eventually unity of faith will be disregarded and set aside as unnecessary, if only there be an identity in external organisation; and thus it is that we find people at the present day clamouring for the reunion of the separated fragments of the Church Catholic, by which is understood Episcopal Churches exclusively, although many of them have erred from the faith, and one of them in particular, the Roman, has placed itself in direct antagonism to the truth of God. The only effectual way of counteracting this tendency is to promote union amongst those Churches which hold the truth, although in outward form and organisation they be diverse from each other.
The essence of Christianity is wrapped up in the sentence, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” This was the answer given to an immortal soul awakened to a sense of its danger and anxious to escape from it. But let that brief formula be evolved, and it will be found comprehensive of all that man needs to know and believe in order to the saving of his soul. Christ is the centre, and in Him resides the force of union—"That in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ”— and in the apprehension of Him, as the stay and refuge of the soul, they who had been alienated alike from God and from each other, are reconciled to God, and brought into affinity with each other, so that when they meet they can love as brethren. In the heartfelt recognition of this great central principle lies the capability of union.
But union is not amalgamation. There may be distinct orbits, yet one centre, and the luminous bodies which describe those orbits, although not in contact, are in mutual relations. They beneficially affect each other, and they all combine to form one grand system which is to the glory of God. To insist on external conformity as essential to union, is to deprive Vol. 68.–No. 382.
Christ of His central position, and transfer is to externals. The force of union must reside ttere, from whence vital infiaences being derived are distribated throcgboas the frame. Eph. ir. 15, 16.) It would be stracge to assert that the vital infiaences are derived, not from the head, bat from the skin; and esternal conformity is nothing more. Churches which adopt such a principle assert external conformity to be more important than unity of faith. Their attention is of Decessity chietiy directed to that which they consider to be most important, and those great spiritual principles which have their place within the sool, and which constitate the very life-blood of a Church, are undervaloed. Preparations are thus made for their decline, the gradual extinction of spiritual life; and Charches become like icebergs, vast conglomerations of heterogeneoas particles, held together, not by a vital force, but by the negation of it.
Some insist on external conformity as essential to union. Others require not this, but identity of opinion. It is not enough that the great distinctive traths of the Gospel are believed and professed-more than this is required. There are certain peculiarities of view, certain shibboleths and eccentricities, which have been set up as the insignia of the section ;-these must be zealously received and contended for, otherwise with such as decline to do so there can be no union.
Thus the catholic platform is narrowed, and so reduced in its dimensions that only a favoured few find room to stand upon it. This is schism. No man, no Church, has a right to add to those terms of communion which the Lord himself laid down; to do so is to sever spiritual persons from each other, and break up the body of Christ into endless subdivisions.
In declining, therefore, to identify himself with the views of the Church of the Bourg de Four, Malan acted rightly; for in doing so he would have surrendered the one only principle, which renders union and communion amongst the Churches of God possible and practicable while they continue to exist under diverse external modifications, and this will be until the Lord come. Churches may be like families. Ordinarily they live and act separately; on special occasions, they can unite and act together : “but if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be pot consumed one of another."
Malan declined to amalgamate his congregation with the Church of the Bourg de Four. To have done so, under the circumstances already stated, he considered would have been the dereliction of a great principle. As might be expected, his refusal exposed him to much that was painful. He was said to be actuated by a sectarian and schismatical spirit, and not only his public ministry but his private character were assailed.
Malan, however, never wavered from this view of “union in diversity.” It came out strongly on his visit to Scotland in 1843.
“While confining himself strictly to testifying his sympathy with the true and faithful, without distinction of sect, he disappointed the hopes of those of his friends who had calculated on seeing him take part openly with the Free Church, the rise of which had produced so great a sensation.” (pp. 406, 407.)
In a pamphlet which he published, entitled, "A Visit to Scot: land,” while expressing “.... the gratitude with which the brethren in Geneva had been filled on hearing of what the Lord had just done for his Church in Scotland, and their admiration at seeing so many ministers of the Saviour resolving unanimously to part with so much of what the world values, rather than permit the invasion of what they esteemed the rights of the Lord Jesus,-after adding that, as far as he was concerned, it had been his wish to convey to the Free Church, first by letter and then in person, a testimony of sympathy and respect from his little congregation,-he returns thanks to God that a great number of true servants of Christ had, nevertheless, held it to be their duty to remain in the Establishment, and so maintain in it both the preaching of the truth and those institutions which are in harmony with the Gospel and the glory of Jesus Christ.” (p. 407.)
Adjuring his brethren of the Free Church to “keep strict watch over purity of doctrine,” he proceeds to say :
6. My visit to your country,' he says, in conclusion, 'short though it has been, has been full of solace to my own soul. I have enjoyed the society of many ministers of Christ belonging to both Established and Free Churches. I have actually discovered that there is no division in Christ, and that it is the same Spirit who is the Teacher and Comforter of all the servants of the same Saviour. If here and there I have witnessed passing exhibitions of a tendency to judge, I have nevertheless observed uniformly the triumph of charity over mere personal satisfaction, and the rights of Christ taking precedence over those of any Church or any special discipline.'” (p. 408.)
Thus he sought out those who were walking in the truth, and no difference as to Church government or forms of worship deterred him from a full and hearty recognition of them as brethren. On the other hand, he was most jealous of compromising in aught that purity of doctrine, in which was to be found the very life of the soul, and it was this sensitiveness which prevented him from uniting himself and his congregation with the Free Church set up in 1849 in Geneva, by the fusion of the two non-conforming bodies, the Oratory and the Pelişserie, originally the Church of the Bourg de Four.“ A letter addressed to one of his children explains the motives by which he was actuated :
“GENEVA, Feb. 24th, 1849. “You ask me for the motives which have hitherto prevented me from adhering to the plan of the new Church, and I know no other than the fear I have lest, by joining this fusion, I should seem to sanction what I consider error. Here is my entire judgment in the matter.
“It has been customary to distinguish, in the truths of the Gospel, between those indispensable to salvation, and therefore described as essential, and those which scarcely appear to have a direct bearing upon it, and which are therefore called secondary. But, among these, I think that a minister of the Gospel, charged with guarding the deposit, and even with teaching the observance of the least commandments,' (Tim. vi. 20, Matt. v. 10,) cannot draw an absolute line, and say of sach or such a point, that it ought to be waived, seeing that this point is precisely one which, some time or other, he may have to contend for with the utmost vigour. Therefore, if I feel my heart overflowing with toleration for those of my brethren, Baptists or Chiliasts, or whatever else they may be, and if I can join in prayer and holy communion with them, this by no means involves acquiescence in their errors. Such being my conviction, I can easily contract a union with different Churches of believers, and so maintain with them hearty and active relations through mutual faith in the Saviour, and mutual love. But a fusion I could not form ; in other words, a confusion, if I saw in them the errors I have pointed out, or some other doctrine which might appear to me to be opposed to the divine truth and government. I should be afraid, in thus fusing the ministry of the unadulterated word with error, on the one hand, of being faithless to my trust as a minister; on the other, of furnishing a support, a seeming sanction, to that error.'” (pp. 412, 413.)
There was a difference of view as regarded infant baptism. In 1823," this question was started in the Church of the Bourg de Four, by English influence." Malan was at first won over to the anti-pædobaptistic view, so much so that he determined to be baptized again.
“However, on his arrival at Sécheron, at Mr. Drummond's, under whose auspices the ceremony was to take place, he passed in review the various passages of Scripture with which the doctrine is generally supported. Suddenly he was struck with the Apostle's language to his converted brethren, 'Your children are holy.' He immediately left the room, sought retirement, and re-opened the whole question in private.
“The result of his study was a volume of two hundred pages, published in 1824: ‘God ordains that children in the Church of Christ should be Consecrated to Him by the Seal of Baptism.'” (p. 192.)
Now the denial of infant baptism does not impinge upon the