ultimate consequence, as in the case of the Jesuits, will be the enslavement of the subordinate members. Such autocracy does not find congenial soil in America, hence the rebellion of Mr. and Mrs. Ballington Booth.

A. Proof that the government of the church is democratic or congregational. (a) From the duty of the whole church to preserve unity in its action.

<451216> Romans 12:16 ? ?Be of the same mind one toward another?; <460110>1 Corinthians 1:10 ? ?Now I beseech you...that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment?; <471311>2 Corinthians 13:11 ? ?be of the same mind?; <490403>Ephesians 4:3 ? ?giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?; <500127>Philippians 1:27 ? ?that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel?; <600308>1 Peter 3:8 ? ?be ye all likeminded.?

These exhortations to unity are not mere counsels to passive submission, such as might be given under a hierarchy or to the members of a society of Jesuits. They are counsels to cooperation and to harmonious judgment. Each member, while forming his own opinions under the guidance of the Spirit, is to remember that the other members have the Spirit also and that a final conclusion as to the will of God is to be reached only through comparison of views. The exhortation to unity is therefore an exhortation to be open-minded, docile, ready to subject our opinions to discussion, to welcome new light with regard to them and to give up any opinion when we find it to be in the wrong. The church is, in general, to secure unanimity by moral suasion only though, in case of willful and perverse opposition to its decisions, it may be necessary to secure unity by excluding an obstructive member for schism.

A quiet and peaceful unity is the result of the Holy Spirit?s work in the hearts of Christians. New Testament church government proceeds upon the supposition that Christ dwells in all believers. Baptist polity is the best possible polity for good people. Christ has made no provision for an unregenerate church membership or for satanic possession of Christians. It is best that a church, in which Christ does not dwell, should by dissension reveal its weakness and fall to pieces. Any outward organization that conceals inward disintegration and compels a merely formal union after the Holy Spirit has departed, is a hindrance instead of a help to true religion.

<- Previous Table of Contents Next ->

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment