The Presbytery of Ohio on the power of church discipline

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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
We think it of great consequence, that all these sceptical and latitudinarian views with regard to church discipline, should be made to cease. We believe, that there is a power in the church as such, independently of the mere weight it might have as an ordinary society among men, which is capable of being used in this way, for Christian purposes, with very great effect.

This power, like the word of God itself and the holy sacraments, is of a spiritual force, working far deeper and more efficiently than appears to common reason, and in a way not to be measured therefore by its calculations. To judge of it, as a man would judge of the authority and influence of a mere human organization, without taking into view the divinity which lies hidden within it, is to err in the same way as if anyone should think to estimate the power of the Bible by the same considerations, to which it is common to recur in weighing the eloquence or reasonings of men.

The word of God is quick and powerful, far beyond its outward show; and so also is the discipline of his church, administered according to his own appointment, and in the spirit of sincere piety. It is in itself eminently adapted to take hold of the conscience and heart, with quickening and convincing power; and were it only faithfully employed, as it ought to be, it might be relied upon for the accomplishment of the most difficult ends, where the more plausible methods of this world’s policy are trusted in vain. It is no objection at all to the worth of this agency that it may appear weak or unwise to common reason.

We know, that the wisdom of God is in other cases foolishness with men; and it belongs to that faith, by which the church should be led, to confide in his appointments, even where the power of them is not at once manifest, rather than in any rules of action suggested by the philosophy of man, however profound and comprehensive that philosophy may claim to be.

In every case in which the church is bold enough to commit her cause in this way, with godly simplicity, to the experiment of faith, it will be found that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and his weakness stronger than their strength; and that it is better to trust his counsel, even against hope, than to put confidence in the most princely show of reason arrayed against it.

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