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and remains forever mere mass or matter, separated from all life.”
Some might say that Maimonides attaches too much importance to the word was, which is used simply to denote person or individual. But how came way, 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: Do 778 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'p778, length of the days, as employed in such passages as Psalm xxiii, 6, 098 7785 mln' nsa noon, "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 wlien 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 denoininations 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 individnals 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,"I and particularly when they have pursued “such a course of reading and study as shall best qualify them for their work.” $ If the 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 them.
(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,
H“ Discipline," | 131. + Ibid., | 58. Ibid., 1 59. $ Ibid., | 62. | Ibid., [ 62. | Stevens' "History of the M. E. Church," vol. ii, p. 218.
also, to the District Conference, in case his application should come before the latter body.
All the books belonging to the prescribed course of study are, either naturally or by adoption, included in the consensus of Methodism on the essential doctrines of Christianity; and these the candidate must have studied sufficiently to enable him to declare his enlightened acceptance of those doctrines as therein contained.
(5.) Traveling Preachers. Whenever any local preacher is received as a probationer for the itinerant ministry, it is after he has given “ satisfactory evidence of his knowledge of those particular subjects which have been recommended to his consideration."* He then repairs to his allotted field of labor, and employs a portion of his time in the study of the works prescribed by the Bishops, under authority of the General Conference—that is to say, of the Church-and is subjected to examination by a duly appointed committee at the next annual session of the Conference. The second year's experience is a repetition of the first. During these two years he has abundant opportunity to decide whether his theological beliefs coincide with the Methodist doctrinal standards or not.
But, say some, he is not questioned on this point. “Nowhere in the curriculum for admission, or orders, is a candidate in our Church asked if he believes in the doctrines taught in the standard authors. Such assent is neither asked nor given. Nowhere in the Discipline is there any record of such authors, as to who they are, or what they teach." +
These statements were true in part at the time they were written. But even then the “ Discipline” sajd: “If he give us satisfaction ... he may be received into full connection.”
The full acceptance of Methodist theology has always been ascertained or postulated; and had a probationer expressed conscientious dissent from any doctrine distinctive of the system, there is but scanty probability, if any, that he would have been received into the number of its recognized expounders and defenders.
“ Assent” to our doctrinal standards has uniformly been
* " Discipline," | 148.
“Discipline,” 1876, | 150.