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brethren, seceding from the dominant | large number of churches have also been party. This final separation from the planted in the Canadas, and the province Episcopal Methodists, took place, volun- of New Brunswick. tarily, at Manakin Town, N. C., Decem- A very extraordinary revival of religion ber 25th, 1793. At first they took the was experienced among the Presbyterians name of “Republican Methodists," but at in Kentucky and Tennessee, during the a subsequent conference resolved to be years 1800 and 1801. Several Presbyknown as Christians only, to acknowledge terian ministers heartily entered into this no head over the church but Christ, and work, and labored with a fervor and zea! no creed or discipline but the Bible. which they had never before manifested.
Near the close of the 18th century, Dr. Others either stood aloof from it, or opAbner Jones, of Hartland, Vermont, then posed its progress. The preachers who a member of a regular Baptist Church, entered the work, broke loose from the had a peculiar travel of mind in relation shackles of a Calvinistic creed, and to sectarian names and human creeds. preached the gospel of free salvation. The first he regarded as an evil, because The creed of the church now appeared in they were so many badges of distinct jeopardy. Presbyteries, and finally the separation among the followers of Christ. Synod of Kentucky, interposed their au. The second, served as so many lines or thority to stop what they were pleased to walls of separation to keep the disciples call a torrent of Arminianism. Barton of Christ apart; that sectarian names and W. Stone, of Kentucky, a learned and human creeds should be abandoned, and eloquent minister, with four other ministhat true piety alone, and not the externals ters, withdrew from the Synod of Ken. of it, should be made the only test of tucky. As well might be expected, a Christian fellowship and communion. large number of Presbyterian members, Making the Bible the only source from with most of the converts in this great rewhence he drew the doctrine he taught, vival, rallied round these men who had Dr. Jones commenced propagating his labored so faithfully, and had been so sentiments with zeal, though at that time signally blessed in their labors. As they he did not know of another individual who had already felt the scourge of a human thought like himself. In September, 1800, creed, the churches then under their conhe had the pleasure of seeing a church of trol, with such others as they organized, about twenty-five members gathered in agreed to take the Holy Scriptures as Lyndon, Vt., embracing these principles. their only written rule of faith and pracIn 1802 he gathered another church in tice. At first they organized themselves Bradford, Vt., and, in March, 1803, an- into what was called the “Springfield other in Piermont, N. H. About this Presbytery;" but in 1803, they abandoned time, Elias Smith, then a Baptist minister, that name, and agreed to be known as was preaching with great success in Christians only. Preachers were Portsmouth, N. H. Falling in with Dr. added to their numbers and raised up in Jones's views, the church under his care their ranks. As they had taken the was led into the same principles. Up to scriptures for their guide, pedobaptism this time Dr. Jones had labored as a was renounced, and believers' baptism by preacher nearly if not quite single-hand- immersion substituted in its room. On a ed; but several preachers from the regu- certain occasion one minister baptized lar Baptists and Freewill Baptists, now another minister, and then he who had rallied to the standard he had unfurled. been baptized immersed the others. From Preachers were also raised up in the dif- the very beginning, this branch spread ferent churches now organized, several with surprising rapidity, and now extends of whom travelled extensively, preaching through all the western states. with great zeal and success. Churches From this brief sketch it will be perof the order were soon planted in all the ceived that this people originated from the New England states, the states of New three principal Protestant sects in Ame. York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and more re- rica. The branch at the south, from the cently in New Jersey and Michigan. A Methodists; the one at the north, from the
Baptists, and the one at the west, from the Presbyterians. The three branches rose within the space of eight years, in sections remote and unknown to each other, until some years afterwards. Probably no other religious body ever had a similar origin.
The adopting of the Holy Scriptures as their only system of faith, has led them to the study of shaping their belief by the language of the sacred oracles. A doctrine, which cannot be expressed in the language of inspiration, they do not hold themselves obligated to believe. Hence, with very few exceptions, they are not Trinitarians, averring that they can neither find the word nor the doctrine in the Bible. They believe "Lord our Jehovah is one Lord," and purely one. That "Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God." That the Holy Ghost is that divine unction with which our Saviour was anointed, (Acts x. 38,) the effusion that was poured out on the day of Pentecost; and that it is a divine emanation of God, by which he exerts an energy or influence on rational minds. While they believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, they are not Socinians or Humanitarians. Their prevailing belief is that Jesus Christ existed with the Father before all worlds, and is therefore a Divine Saviour.*
*The word Saviour signifies a deliverer or preserver, one who saves from danger or destruction, and brings into a state of prosperity and happiness. In Greek writers, the benefactor of a state is called a saviour; so among the Jews, God raised up men called deliverers or saviours, to deliver them from the invasion and oppression of surrounding nations; as Othniel, Ehud, &c. These were only temporal deliverers. But Jesus, the Messiah, is called SAVIOUR in the highest sense of the word. He saves his people from eternal death, from punishment and misery as the consequence of sin, and gives them eternal life and happiness in his kingdom. Hence he is called the Saviour of the world."" able to save to the uttermost," i. e. wholly. He is even called the author of eternal salvation," "Lord and Saviour," to distinguish him from all human deliverers. It requires as great an effort to save a lost world from sin and death, as it did to create it in the beginning. Consequently none other than a divine being is competent for such a great work. The evidence we have to prove that ours is a divine Saviour is:
Although the Christians do not contend for entire uniformity in belief, yet in addition to the foregoing, nearly, if not quite
1. Because he is God's son, in a peculiar sense applicable to no other being in the universe. In the scriptures angels and men are called sons
of God, but Christ is called his "own son,” “his only-begotten son,” “his beloved son,” to distinguish him from others who are sons of God by creation, and regeneration. Also, in the parable, God is represented as having but "one son, his well beloved."-Mark 12: 6.
The same expression is used in the Septuagint, in reference to Isaac, Abram's only son, Gen. 22: 2.-"Take now thy son, thine (AGAPETON) only son Isaac." The phrase (HUIOS AGAPETOS) beloved son, is used ten times in the New Testament, and in every place it is Christ. See Math. 3: 17; 12: 18; 17: 5. spoken by the Father concerning his son Jesus Mark 1: 11; 9: 7;. Luke 3: 22; 9: 35. 2 Peter 1: 17. Mark 12: 6. Luke 20: 13. We want no better evidence to prove a man to be a human being than to know that he is of human descent; so we want no better testimony to prove that Christ is a divine being, than to know, as the scriptures abundantly inform us, that he is "the only begotten son of God."This proves that his essence is not only superhuman and superangelic, but strictly niforth and came from God," consequently if VINE. Jesus told the Jews that " he proceeded God were their father they would love him as possessing a nature equally lovely.-John 8: 42. Hence we find the most intimate union existing between the Father and the son, and such is the near relation, that their knowledge of each other is mutual. Jesus says (OUDEIS) "no one knoweth the son but the Father; neither knoweth (TIS) any one the Father save the son, and he to whomsoever the son will reveal him."-Math. 11: 27. Again he says: "as the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father." He is also represented as being the Father's bosom friend-even "in the bosom of the Father," that is, to be in his embrace, and cherished by him. John 1: 18.
Farther, the divine perfections were so exactly delineated in the son, that to see the son. was to see an exact representation of the Father; he that hath seen me," said Christ to Philip. "hath seen the Father." Hence he is called by Paul, the image of the invisible God." Col. i. 15. "He is the effulgence of HIS (the Father's) glory, and an exact image of his substance." The word brightness (APAUGASMA.) Heb. i. 3. is an image drawn from a luminous body, giving the idea that as the brightness of the sun is to the sun that emits it, so is the son of God in relation to his Father, reflecting the splendor of the divine perfections, to angels and men. The expression (CHARACTER HUPOSTASEOOS) of the Father, signifies the express image or counterpart of
carry on this building of God*—this New | is undeniably the true and proper appellaJerusalem from above, which is the mother tion by which the New Testament church of us all. And we may add, this, his ought to be designated. This is her scripown church or temple, he will continue to tural and appropriate name. This, and no build and prosper, despite of all her ad- other title, is given her by divine authori versaries; and ultimately, consummate his ty.* This name or title, therefore, ought purposes, by bringing forth the head stones to be adopted and worn to the exclusion thereof with loud acclamations and shout- of all others. ings of grace, grace to it.‡
It is nothing uncommon, among theological writers, to trace the origin of the Church of God to Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, with whom God made a covenant nineteen hundred years before the birth of Christ. We, however, dissent from this view of the origin of the church. We believe that the Abrahamic or Jewish Church was not the same church, called in the New Testament the Church of God. If the same, Christ would not have said to Peter, "Upon this rock will I build my Church;" and the Apostle would never have said, "He (Christ) hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, for to make in himself of twain, (Jews and gentiles) one new man." Now, if this "new man," means the Church of God, and of this there can be no rational doubt, then, without controversy, she originated under the personal ministry of Jesus Christ and his apostles.
2. The name or title, Church of God,
There are those, who have pled for the use, and for the exclusive use, of some other appellations: such as the name of Christian: others for that of Disciples; and others, again, for the name Brethren, &c. But it ought to be recollected, that not one of those is a proper noun, or a patronymic, and, therefore, none of them is ever used in the Scriptures as an appellation for the church. The individual members of the church are; and may be, very properly so called; but not so with regard to the church herself. We nowhere read of the "Christian Church," or of the " Disciples' Church," nor of the "Brethren's Church," &c.
If, then, it is unscriptural to assume and wear any one of these, or any other Bible name, as a church appellation, how much more improper, unscriptural, and God dishonoring is it, to lay aside all Bible names, even the divinely appointed name, Church of God, and assume a human name: such as Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Presbyterian, German Reformed, Baptist, Methodist, Menonist, Unitarian, Universalist, or something else, equally inappropriate, unscriptural, and unmeaning?
Ciric; Scottish Kirk; German Kirche, from the ancient German verb Kieren, to elect, to choose out, and is of the same import with the Greek verb Exxadɛı, ekkalein, to call out; and whence the word Exλnata is derived, and primarily denotes an assembly of men called together on the authority of the supreme • Is. lxii. 2. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory; and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.
Gal. i. 13. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it.
1 Tim. iii. 15. But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
As a religious community, therefore, we ceptions, and many grossly ignorant of claim to stand identified with, and to be a the right ways of the Lord, the most viopart of, the one true Church of God, of lent opposition and persecution arose from which Jesus Christ is the founder and that quarter, aided by not a few of the head.* As such, we claim brotherhood ministers of their synod. This state of with all the saints of God, wherever they things lasted for about five years, and then may be found, and wish to extend the right resulted in a separation from the German hand of fellowship to all, without excep. Reformed Church. tion, “ whose fellowship is with the Father About the year 1825, more extensive and his Son the Lord Jesus Christ." and glorious revivals of religion com.
But having been requested to write a menced in different towns and neighbor. brief history of the Church of God, as hoods, to wit: Harrisburg, Shiremans. she exists, by that name, in the United town, Lisborn, Mechanicsburg, Church. States, we shall
, accordingly, notice more town, New Cumberland, Linglestown, Midparticularly that religious community, or dletown, Millerstown, Lebanon, Lancasbody of believers, who profess to have ter. Shippensburg, Elizabethtown, Mount come out from all human and unscriptural Joy, Marietta, and other places. In these organizations, who have fallen back upon glorious revivals, hundreds were happily original grounds, and who wish, therefore, converted to God. As a natural conse. to be known and called by no other dis. quence, these conversions led, in different tinctive name, collectively taken, than the places, to the organization of churches. Church of God. This name we assuine And, as the views of the writer of this arti. from conscientious motives, because rea-cle, had undergone, a material change, as son and revelation require it; and not to church ordinances and the organization because we wish to magnify ourselves of churches, he united with others in adoptagainst others, as it has been improperly ing the apostolic plan, as taught in the New and unkindly intimated by some unfriendly Testament, and established free, and indesectarians.
pendent churches, consisting of believers In the year 1820, the writer of this or Christians only, without any human article, settled in Harrisburg, Pennsylva- name, or creed, or laws, &c. nia, as a minister of the German Reformed From among the young converts, in Church, and took charge of four congre- these newly planted churches, it pleased gations ; one in the town, and three in the God to raise up several able men, to take country. Soon after his settlement in this upon them the solemn and responsible charge, it pleased the great Shepherd and office of the gospel ministry. These min. Bishop of souls to commence a work of istering brethren, with a few other great grace among the people, both in the town and good men with similar views and kin-and in the country. But, as revivals of dred spirits, labored and co-operated with religion were new and almost unheard-of each other for a few years, without any things in those days, especially among the regular system of co-operation; but, German people of that region, this work finally, they agreed to hold a meeting for of God failed not to excite opposition the purpose of adopting a regular system among hypocrites, false professors, and of co-operation. the wicked generally ; just as true revivals In October, 1830, they met together for of religion, or genuine works of grace, this purpose, pursuant to public notice, in have very generally done. And as the the Union Bethel, at Harrisburg, and or. members of these congregations or ganized the meeting by appointing John churches were unconverted, with few ex. Winebrenner, of Harrisburg, speaker ;
and John Elliot, of Lancaster, clerk. • We admit, that there are more or less After spending the morning session in Christians, or converted persons, among the solemn prayer and deliberations, the meetdifferent sects and denominations; but we ing was adjourned till 2 o'clock, P. M., regret that the most of them have no prefer. ence for Bible names, and the right ways of when a sermon was preached before the the Lord; or, if they have, that they lack moral meeting by the speaker, of which the fol. courage to show it.
lowing is a brief sketch.