« EdellinenJatka »
and the latter to be celebrated by Christian churches as a token of faith in the Saviour, and of brotherly love.
XIX. They beliere that Christ will finally come to judge the whole human race according to their works; that the bodies of the dead will be raised again; and that as the Supreme Judge, he will divide the righteous from the wicked, will receive the righteous into 'life everlasting, but send away the wicked into 'everlasting punishment.'
XX. They believe that Jesus Christ directed his followers to live together in Christian fellowship, and to maintain the communion of saints; and that, for this purpose, they are jointly to observe all divine ordinances, and maintain that church order and discipline which is either expressly enjoined by inspired institution, or sanctioned by the undoubted example of the apostles and of apostolic churches.
PRINCIPLES OF CHURCH ORDER AND DISCIPLINE. I. The Congregational Churches hold it to be the will of Christ that true believers should voluntarily assemble together to observe religious ordinances, to promote mutual edification and holiness, to perpetuate and propagate the gospel in the world, and to advance the glory and worship of God, through Jesus Christ; and that each society of believers, having these objects in view in its formation, is properly a Christian Church.
II. They believe that the New Testament contains, either in the form of express statute, or in the example and practice of apostles and apostolic churches, all the articles of faith necessary to be believed, and all the principles of order and discipline requisite for constituting and governing Christian societies; and that human traditions, fathers and councils, canons and creeds, possess no authority over the faith and practice of Christians.
III. They acknowledge Christ as the only Head of the Church, and the officers of each church under him, as ordained to administer his laws impartially to all; and their only appeal, in all questions touching their religious faith and practice is to the Sacred Scriptures.
IV. They believe that the New Testament authorizes every Christian church to elect its own officers, to manage all its own affairs, and to stand independent of, and irresponsible to, all authority, saving that only of the supreme and divine Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ.
V. They believe that the only officers placed by the apostles over individual churches are the bishops or pastors and the deacons; the number of these being dependent upon the numbers of the Church; and that to these, as the officers of the Church, is committed respectively the administration of its spiritual and temporal concerns-subject, however, to the approbation of the Church.
VI. They believe that no persons should be received as members of Christian churches but such as make a credible profession of Christianity, are living according to its precepts, and attest a willingness to be subject to its discipline; and that none should be excluded from the fellowship of the church but such as deny the faith of Christ, violate his laws, or refuse to submit themselves to the discipline which the Word of God enforces.
VII. The power of admission into any Christian church, and rejection from it, they believe to be vested in the church itself, and to be exercised only through the medium of its own officers.
VIII. They believe that Christian churches should statedly meet for the celebration of public worship, for the observance of the Lord's Supper, and for the sanctification of the first day of the week.
IX. They believe that the power of a Christian church is purely spiritual, and should in no way be corrupted by union with temporal or civil power.
X. They believe that it is the duty of Christian churches to hold communion with each other, to entertain an enlarged affection for each other, as members of the same body, and to co-operate for the promotion of the Christian cause; but that no church, nor union of churches, has any right or power to interfere with the faith or discipline of any other church, further than to separate from such as, in faith or practice, depart from the gospel of Christ.
XI. They believe that it is the privilege and duty of every church to call forth such of its members as may appear to be qualified by the Holy Spirit to sustain the office of the ministry; and that Christian churches unitedly ought to consider the maintenance of the Christian ministry in an adequate degree of learning as one of their especial cares; that the cause of the gospel may be both honorably sustained and constantly promoted.
XII. They believe that church officers, whether bishops or deacons, should be chosen by the free voice of the church; but that their dedication to the duties of their office should take place with special prayer, and by solemn designation, to which most of the churches add the imposition of hands by those already in office.
XIII. They believe that the fellowship of every Christian church should be so liberal as to admit to communion in the Lord's Supper all whose faith and godliness are, on the whole, undoubted, though conscientiously differing in points of minor importance; and that this ontward sign of fraternity in Christ should be co-extensive with the fraternity itself, though without involving any compliances which conscience would deem to be sinful.
DECLARATION OF FAITH OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CONGREGA
TIONAL CHURCHES, HELD AT Boston, Mass., JUNE 14–24, 1865. [This Declaration was adopted at Plymouth, Massachusetts, on the spot where the first meeting. house of the ‘Pilgrim Fathers' stood. The text is taken from the Debates and Proceedings of the National Council of Congregational Churches (Boston, 1866), pp. 401–403, as compared with the Congregational Manual on Ecclesiastical Polity, published by the Congregational Board, Boston, 1872, pp. 76-80.)
Standing by the rock where the Pilgrims set foot upon these shores, upon the spot where they worshiped God, and among the graves of the early generations, we, Elders and Messengers of the Congregational churches of the United States in National Council assembled-like them acknowledging no rule of faith but the Word of God-do now declare our adherence to the faith and order of the apostolic and primitive churches held by our fathers, and substantially as embodied in the confessions and platforms which our Synods of 1648 and 1680 set forth or reaffirmed. We declare that the experience of the nearly two and a half centuries which have elapsed since the memorable day when our sires founded here a Christian Commonwealth, with all the development of new forms of error since their times, has only deepened our contidence in the faith and polity of those fathers. We bless God for the inheritance of these doctrines. We invoke the help of the
Divine Redeemer, that, through the presence of the promised Comforter, he will enable us to transmit them in purity to our children.
In the times that are before us as a nation, times at once of duty and of danger, we rest all our hope in the gospel of the Son of God. It was the grand peculiarity of our Puritan fathers that they held this gospel, not merely as the ground of their personal salvation, but as declaring the worth of man by the incarnation and sacrifice of the Son of God, and therefore applied its principles to elevate society, to regnlate education, to civilize humanity, to purify law, to reformn the Church and the State, and to assert and defend liberty; in short, to mold and redeem, by its all-transforming energy, every thing that belongs to man in his individual and social relations.
It was the faith of our fathers that gave us this free land in which we dwell. It is by this faith only that we can transmit to our children a free and happy, because a Christian, commonwealth.
We hold it to be a distinctive excellence of our Congregational system that it exalts that which is more above that which is less important, and by the simplicity of its organization facilitates, in communities where the population is limited, the union of all true believers in one Christian church, and that the division of such communities into several weak and jealous societies, holding the same common faith, is a sin against the unity of the body of Christ, and at once the shame and scandal of Christendom.
We rejoice that, through the influence of our free system of apostolic order, we can hold fellowship with all who acknowledge Christ, and act efficiently in the work of restoring unity to the divided Church, and of bringing back harmony and peace among all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.'
Thus recognizing the unity of the Church of Christ in all the world, and knowing that we are but one branch of Christ's people, while adhering to our peculiar faith and order, we extend to all believers the · hand of Christian fellowship upon the basis of those great fundamental truths in which all Christians should agree.
With them we confess our faith in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost [the only living and true God];' in Jesus Christ, the
The words in brackets were inadvertently omitted in the volume of Proceedings, but inserted in the text of the Manual. See Cong. Quarterly, Vol. X. p. 377, where Dr. Quint shows that they belong to the original MS.- Ed.
incarnate Word, who is exalted to be our Redeemer and King; and in the Holy Comforter, who is present in the Church to regenerate and sanctify the soul.
With the whole Church, we confess the common sinfulness and ruin of our race, and acknowledge that it is only through the work accomplished by the life and expiatory death of Christ that believers in him are justified before God, receive the remission of sins, and throngh the presence and grace of the Holy Comforter are delivered from the power of sin and perfected in holiness.
We believe also in the organized and visible Church, in the ministry of the Word, in the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, in the resurrection of the body, and in the final judgment, the issues of which are eternal life and everlasting punishment.
We receive these truths on the testimony of God, given through prophets and apostles, and in the life, the miracles, the death, the resurrection of his Son, our Divine Redeemer-a testimony preserved for the Church in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, which were composed by holy men, as they were inoved by the Holy Ghost.
Affirming now our belief that those who thus hold 'one faith, one Lord, one baptism," together constitute the one catholic Church, the several households of which, though called by different names, are the one body of Christ, and that these members of his body are sacredly bound to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,' we declare that we will co-operate with all who hold these truths. With them we will carry the gospel into every part of this land, and with them we will go into all the world, and 'preach the gospel to every creature.' May He to whom 'all power is given in heaven and earth' fulfill the promise which is all our hope: 'Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the World. Ainen.
* The Apostle puts ‘Lord' before 'faith'—Eph. iv. 5.-Ed.
THE OBERLIN DECLARATION OF THE NATIONAL
CONGREGATIONAL COUNCIL. A.D. 1871. [The National Council of Congregational charches, which was organized at Oberlin, Ohio, Nov. 17, 1871, and which holds triennial sessions, adopted a Constitution with the following declaration of principles concerning faith and Church polity.)
The Congregational churches of the United States, by elders and messengers assembled, do now associate themselves in National Council :
To express and foster their substantial unity in doctrine, polity, and work; and
To consult upon the common interests of all the churches, their duties in the work of evangelization, the united development of their resources, and their relations to all parts of the kingdom of Christ.
They agree in belief that the Holy Scriptures are the sufficient and only infallible rule of religious faith and practice; their interpretation thereof being in substantial accordance with the great doctrines of the Christian faith, commonly called Evangelical, held in our churches from the early times, and sufficiently set forth by former General Councils.
They agree in belief that the right of government resides in local churches, or congregations of believers, who are responsible directly to the Lord Jesus Christ, the One Head of the Church universal and of all particular churches; but that all churches, being in communion one with another as parts of Christ's catholic Church, have mutual duties subsisting in the obligations of fellowship.
The churches, therefore, while establishing this National Council for the furtherance of the common interests and work of all the churches, do maintain the scriptural and inalienable right of each church to selfgovernment and administration; and this National Council shall never exercise legislative or judicial authority, nor consent to act as a council of reference.