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והיתה נפש אדני צרורה ,and the prayer ,צרור חיים ,The expression
,והיתה נפש אדני צרורה ,thus opposed to that other word of Scripture
familiar even to the women! Surely this is a most valid argument to show that there was, in our nation, a deep and widely diffused wisdom, even as is said of them, (Deut. iv, 6,) 6 surely a people wise and understanding is this great nation."
, D'O7 91787, “May the soul of my Lord be bound up in the bundle of life,” Maimonides regards as the opposite of the Jewish form of excommunication on the Cereth (na) in the formula, “Let that soul be cut off from the people.” This means, says Maimonides, (“Porta Mosis,” Pocock's edition, page 154,) no x37 says 1737 117 Osiya. By being exscinded (cut off) in this world, it is cut off in the olam habba, or world to come, and is
, , “Be the soul of my Lord bound up in the bundle of life.” Quare: Did the ideas of binding and loosing in our world what is bound or loosed in the other come from these forms into the Jewish, and from thence into the language of the Christian Church?
Cereth, Kereth, nna, was the excision, the excommunication from the Jewish nation, from the Jewish Church, from its community of life, its fasciculus vitarum, or D" 1979. Like other symbolical words of the Old Testament, it has a sense beyond the merest letter. It has a significance deepening and expanding, according to the spiritual stand-point of the interpreter, or his view of the Jewish life as merely historical, like any other national life, or as symbolical, throughout, of a far higher and more spiritual community.
Maimonides regards Kereth (nnas denoting annihilation. See “Porta Mosis," Pocock's edition, page 154, 10: “The most complete wretchedness is the Kereth or excision of the soul, which is its destruction—that it may no longer have continuance of being. And this is the Kereth or excision mentioned in the law.; for the meaning of Kereth is the cutting off of the soul, as it (the law) explains and says, “that soul shall be surely cut off'—and so they say, (our wise men,) by being cut off in this world it is cut off in the world to come, and the Scripture saith, “Let the soul of my Lord be bound up in the bundle of life,' etc. For whoever continues in mere bodily pleasures, pursuing them alone, and rejecting truth, while ever embracing the false, is cut off from that high degree, and remains forever mere mass or matter, separated from all life.”
Some might say that Maimonides attaches too much importance to the word "b), which is used simply to denote person or individual. But how came wa), or soul, to be thus used? This is a deeper question than the common philology or the rationalizing theology can answer. We need not argue with Maimonides, in his view of annihilation, but he is right in regarding the Kereth of the law as affecting the whole being, instead of being merely a civil separation, or as having reference only to the body and the bodily life.
And so, just above this, Maimonides interprets the expression, Deut. iv, 40: DD' 79801 75 20", “May it, be well with thee, and mayest thou prolong thy days,” as the opposite of the Kereth. “And there has come to us a tradition which explains this as follows: That thou mayest prolong thy days, and that it may be well with thee forever in that world which is all good, and that thou mayest prolong thy days in the world which is all length;” that is, infinite in duration. This gives us the idea which the Jewish doctors had of the phrase, d'778, length of the days, as employed in such passages as Psalm xxiii, 6, D'9" 775 mln' n'a "navn, "and my dwelling (my fixed abode) shall be in the house of the Lord for length of days,” rightly rendered in our English version, (if this view be correct,) “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
ART. III.-METHODIST DOCTRINAL STANDARDS.
“Split hairs as much as you like, refine till you are gray
about standards, and, unless you take leave of common sense, you cannot be absurd enough to teach one thing to the children and its opposite to the congregation. It would be infamous to cram into the hearts of children a faith which we believe to be false. When the Church orders that children be taught this and this, it affirms that it believes this and this; and affirms it in relations that make its teachings peculiarly and solemnly binding. At present, the Church certainly holds the doctrines taught in the Catechism for its children.” *
Such are the conclusions to which the unbiased study of our Church history and literature have led.
We now pass to the second question :
II. What is the authority of the Methodist doctrinal standards over the teaching and denominational standing of Church members?
1. Of our official members.
Formal subscription to the doctrinal standards is not required of candidates for membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church. In this particular it continues the policy adopted when the Methodists were only “Societies” in the Anglican Church. “ There is only one condition previously required of those who desire admission into these “Societies,' a desire to flee from the wrath to come, and to be saved from their sins." +
Wesley frequently spoke with devout gratulation of this liberality in respect of doctrinal belief. Preaching at Glasgow in his eighty-fifth year, he said :
There is no other religious society under heaven which requires nothing of men, in order to their admission into it, but a desire to save their souls. Look all around you: you cannot be admitted into the Church or Society of the Presbyterians, Anabaptists, Quakers, or any others, unless you hold the same opinions with them, and adhere to the same mode of worship. The Methodists alone do not insist on your holding this or that opinion. ... Here is our glorying, and a glorying peculiar to us. What Society shares it with us?
The evangelical denominations in America have learned much of this excellent Gamaliel in the matter of doctrinal liberality since then; and, like the Methodists, rely on pulpit, Sunday-school, and literary instruction for the uniform inductrination of their adherents.
The American Church, as Wesley intended, is equally liberal. The General Rules require “only one condition ” of membership. In relation to that, “ are not the Articles to be considered rather as an indicatory than an obligatory dogmatic symbol, an indication to sincere men, seeking an asylum for Christian communion, of what kind of teaching they must *"Methodist," Dec. 10, 1881.
+ " Discipline,” | 31.
expect in the new Church, but not of what they would be required to avow by subscription ?”*
Once in the Church, no unofficial member can be expelled from it but for faults “sufficient to exclude a person from the kingdom of grace and glory.” Dissent from the doctrinal standards does not warrant extrusion. Inveighing against our doctrines or discipline does; because it sows dissensions, occasions schisms, gives rise to strife and every evil work; and is all the more unjustifiable in view of the fact that the offender had a general knowledge, at least, of the doctrines and discipline of the Church when he joined it, and that he is at liberty to withdraw from it at any time, and to connect himself with any branch of the Church of Christ whose tenets and rules may meet with his approval.
“ The maintenance of sound doctrine" demands caution of the pastor who receives candidates for Church membership into full communion, and logically justifies the question which, under instructions from the General Conference, he puts to the applicant, namely : “Do you believe in the doctrines of Holy Scripture, as set forth in the Articles of Religion of the Methodist Episcopal Church?” and to which the candidate is expected to answer: “I do."
Whether the “Form for Receiving Persons into the Church after Probation” be constitutionally binding, in view of the General Rules, and of the fourth restrictive rule, which reads: “They (the General Conference) shall not revoke or change the General Rules of the United Societies," is an inquiry that is only indirectly related to the subject of our present paper. Whatever the doctrinal opinions of the individuals received, coming as they may from under the influence of communions characteristically different from the Methodist,-if they “continue to evidence their desire of salvation" under the guidance of the General Rules, they will, in all probability, soon find themselves in perfect unison with the theology of the Church. “The spiritual life of the Church is the strongest guarantee of its orthodoxy, but not its orthodoxy of its spiritual life."
2. Of official members. (1.) Stewards. These are required to “be persons of solid
* Stevens' "History of the Methodist Episcopal Church," vol. ii, p. 217.
piety, who both know and love the Methodist doctrine and discipline.”
(2.) Leaders. “The sub-pastoral oversight made necessary by our itinerant economy” + is most effective when all the leaders are " of sound judgment, and truly devoted to God,”and particularly when they have pursued “such a course of reading and study as shall best qualify them for their work."If tlie pastors recommend to these sub-pastors such books “as will tend to increase their knowledge of the Scriptures, and make them familiar with the passages best adapted to Christian edification," there can be little or no doubt that the Methodist doctrinal standards will be found among themn.
(3.) Exhorters. These officials must pass an examination of moral and theological qualifications, that must be satisfactory to their pastors, before they can be licensed; and the subsequent renewal of those licenses is conditioned on the doctrinal as well as intellectual satisfaction given upon examination to church officials or appointed examiners.
The standards by which the orthodoxy of applicants for this species of ministerial license is invariably judged, are those common to Methodism, and “preserved in the memories and convictions” of the questioners.
(4.) Local Preachers. Formal acceptance of the acknowledged symbols of the Church is requisite in the case of all who becoine preachers in it. “Conformity to the doctrines of the Church is required by its statute law as a functional qualification for the ministry.” | If a member of the Church believe that he is moved by the Holy Ghost to preach the Gospel, the church of which he is a member must judge from his gifts, grace, and usefulness, or the absence of them, of the evangelical soundness of his persuasion; or, in other words, whether he be really called to preach or not.
If the Quarterly Conference be satisfied that his convictions are from the Holy Spirit, they may license him to preach, provided his “ general knowledge of the Bible, and of the doctrines and usages of the Methodist Episcopal Church,” as defined" in such course of studies as the Bishops shall prescribe, be found, on due examination, satisfactory to the Quarterly and,
*" Discipline," | 131. + Ibid., [ 58. 1 Ibid., 1 59. $ Ibid., 62. | Ibid., 1 62. | Stevens' “ History of the M. E. Church," vol. ii, p. 218.