Billeder på siden

of all, the illustrations given in the Acts of the Apostles of the exercise of that power, have not the remotest resemblance to the functions usurped by our modern priests, with their pressure of confession, their enjoining of penance, their pretended gift of absolution. Besides, in the early Church, this power was attended with the special charism of the discernment of spirits. Where that gift was imparted, so that a man's spiritual state could be discerned, to give or withhold the assurance of forgiveness would naturally follow; where there is no such discernment, either is absolutely impossible. The Great Atoner absolves all who repent and believe on Him. Neither church nor priest is needed between the soul and the Saviour. We receive grace directly from the Great High Priest of our confession, and no church on earth may come betwixt us and Him.

[ocr errors]

II. Such Sacerdotalism creates an office for which the Atonement affords no place whatever; an office which is not only useless, but which (to use the words of the late Dr. Hatch) by an exaggerated conception of the place and functions of the Christian ministry, has operated, more than any other single cause, to alienate the minds of men from the faith of Christ." I need scarcely say that the office to which I refer is that of a sacrificing priest, by whom the Atonement is perpetuated, and through whom alone its virtue is applied. No such office was ever instituted by our Lord or His apostles. It is absolutely needless. Our Saviour cried on the Cross "It is finished." "By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." "Now, once for all, in the end of the ages, hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." "At least ten other names are given in the New Testament to Christian ministers," says Dr. Farrar, "and the name 'priest' in the sacrificial sense is absolutely excluded from them." "The Kingdom of Christ," says Dr. Lightfoot, no sacerdotal system. It interposes no sacrificial tribe or class between God and man." Yet what says Rome? "The power of forgiving sins exists in the Church: no crime, however heinous, can be committed which the Church has not power to forgive; this power is not given to all, but to bishops and priests only and sins can be forgiven only through the sacraments when duly administered." And Canon Knox Little says: "Absolution, as an authoritative act, is entirely confined to the priesthood" (p. 18). Christian brethren, can you bear this? Through the Atonement forgiveness is proclaimed free to all who repent of sin and believe on Jesus. The emissaries of Rome-and, alas, others too-would limit that freeness; they say, "No, not free to all! absolution can come only through the priests, and those priests must be ours!"

[ocr errors]


III. Such Sacerdotalism sets up a mediation for whick, by virtue of the Atonement, there is neither need or room.— -We have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. We need a imediator between us and God, and we have One Who is all-sufficient. Through Him we have Our access by one Spirit unto the Father. What need we more? It is an infinite impertinence to pretend that we need a mortal man like ourselves

give us access to Christ! Impertinence? It is worse. It is a profane intrusion! "The

claim of priestcraft," says Dr. Farrar, "robs Christians of the most inestimable privilege of freedom, which Christ purchased for them with His own blood. It is bringing back the deadliest virus of Romish error, and thrusting a class and a caste between the soul and its free, unimpeded access to God!"

IV. Such Sacerdotalism claims to continue a Sacrifice which, in the Atonement, was offered once for all, and which was absolutely complete and final.

"Once for all hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” "We have an Altar, of which they have no right to eat that serve the Tabernacle." When the writer's meaning is "We Christians," what right has anyone to lay rude hands on that verse, and to quote it as if its meaning were "we Sacerdotalists"? The verse simply points us back historically to the great sin-offering in the Levitical Institute, of which the priests of old were not allowed to partake. But the sacred writer implies that the privileges of Christians are greater than those of the ancient Hebrews. We can partake of our sinoffering. The Body and Blood of Jesus were given to us as sacrifice on earth, they are ever given us as living Food by our Lord in Heaven.

This Altar," says Thomas Aquinas, "is either the Cross of Christ or the Christ Himself." In no case are we ever required in any sense to renew, or to repeat, or to continue, the sacrifice offered on Calvary. But what says Rome?"The sacrifice of the Mass is one and the same sacrifice with that of the Cross." What says Canon Knox Little?" The sacrifice of the Altar is one with the sacrifice of the Cross !" (p. 235).

No! emphatically No! Our believing recep tion thereof may be ever renewed, but the offering thereof on Calvary is unique, standing for ever in its peerless glory, absolutely complete.

V. Such Sacerdotalism not only attributes saving virtue to the Sacraments, but also limits that saving efficacy through the consecration and administration of the priests.-According to Rome, the priest not only gives the Body and Blood of Christ, but he has to make them before he can give them! And according to Canon Knox Little, "there must be the action of a priest episcopally ordained, else the Body of Christ is not consecrated" (p. 83). That is to say, the bread and wine cannot become spiritual food except through the priest! In Mr. Lock's Biography of John Keble (p. 82) we are told that the basis of action of the Tractarian party is this, though claiming a validity in the Anglican sacraments which Rome, of course, refuses to admit.

Thus does Sacerdotalism presume to restrict the action of the Atonement. But oh! brethren, if we could receive the Body and Blood of Christ only when a priest hands them to us, what starvelings we should be!

VI. Such Sacerdotalism builds up a partywall; whereas, by the Atonement of Christ, every party-wall was thrown down.-Christ threw down, at His death, the wall of ordinances which divided Jew from Gentile, and then, by making Himself the central magnet for both, joined them into the solidarity of "one new man, so making peace." But where Christ has made unity, Sacerdotalism makes division. Setting up its own priests, altars, rites, and then declaring that only those who adhere thereto are surely

[ocr errors]

saved, the rest are left to the uncovenanted mercies of God! Sacerdotalism is the greatest schism-maker in Christendom; parting Christian from Christian, minister from minister, church from church, crying aloud, "the Temple of the Lord are we," and instead of saying. “In Christ, in the Church," it says: "Not in our Church, not in Christ." Such words may well make us indignant, but how harmlessly they fall! "We believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved, even as they!"



VII. Such Sacerdotalism throws down a wall which Christ has set up.-If there be one thing in the Word of God clear beyond dispute, it is this: "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Yet Rome declares that there is no crime for which her priests cannot give absolution. When her priests say " Alsolvo le," the blackest man becomes white snow. "Yes," says one, on the assumption of their repentance." True-but what is the use of that assumption when the priest has not, and knows he has not, the power of discerning spirits, to enable him to tell whether there is penitence or no? We have seen a gang of men coming from the confessional at St. Peter's, at Rome, and a baser or more ruffian-like set we have never beheld. Yet the Absolvo te, and the touch of the fisherman's rod, set them free! What is this but throwing down the holiest guard which has been set up round the Atonement of Christ ?


VIII. Sacerdotalism regards the virtue which is alleged to secure such astounding results certainly handed down in an Apostolic succession. -The holiest man out of the succession is no valid minister. The unholiest man in it is filled with sacramental grace. Of such im. portance is this succession regarded, that we have seen the alternative put-"Continuity or collapse," which we understand as meaning "Only our church can show historical continuity, therefore every church but ours must, sooner or later, collapse." We are not at all alarmed. We will test such a statement by the Infallible Word. The Jews once made their boast of historical continuity. They said to Jesus: "We have Abraham for Our Father." So they had. Historically, it was beyond question. But what was our Lord's reply: "If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham,"


-i.e., historical continuity is worth nothing. where there is moral divergence. John the Baptist taught the same: "Think not to say within yourselves we have Abraham for our Father, for I say unto you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham,”— i.e., God can create a spiritual continuity where there is no historical one at all. Yea, not only can do it, but He has done it! The Apostle Paul says: "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed." The Galatians Abraham's seed? No! indeed. Yet, "if ye be Christ's ye are Abraham's seed": there is a spiritual continuity, Divinely created.

[ocr errors]

If it be said that this refers to character, not to office, we will take a passage which does refer to office: "Though we,' no question of continuity there, for we are at the fountain head-" or an. angel from heaven," no question of continuity there. Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." That is what the Book has to say on this pet claim of historical continuity. What is the result? Continuity or collapse? No! But the collapse of claims based merely on historical continuity!

Of this figment of succession, and the claims. founded thereon, the present excellent Dean of Norwich writes: "It is heretical, it is schismatical, it is unhistorical, it is unscriptural, and it has no place in Christianity!" To sum up, Sacerdotalism-(1) Sets up a theory of the Church which encumbers the simplicity of the Atonement; (2) Creates an office, not warranted by. the Atonement; (3) Pretends to a mediation, which is a guilty interference with the Atonement; (4) Offers a so-called Sacrifice, which is a pretended continuation of a completed Atonement; (5) Through a man-made priesthood it hampers the soul's freedom in applying the Atonement; (6) Sets up a party wall, frustrating the uniting aim of the Atonement; (7) Throws down a Divinely-appointed condition, obscuring the holiness of the Atonement; (8) Restricts within an artificial channel the free flow of the grace of the Atonement. From all complicity in the pretences of such a system, Good Lord, deliver us ! Paraded before us as they are this day, we must be Protestants if we would be genuine Catholics. The moment we surrender our Protestantism we forfeit our Catholicity.



WHAT do we mean by the evangelisation of the world? Not the mere planting of a visible organised church; not the promotion of civilisation, though the latter owes a great deal to missions; not the promulgation of a moral code. We are sometimes told that Buddhism, Confucianism, and other non-Christian systems have good precepts. Grant this, for the sake of argument; still, there are two things they do not profess to supply-first, the power to keep the precepts; then, the remedy if you fail. Christianity does both in the Gospel by which the world is to

be evangelised. Its remedy for failure is the gift of the Son of God, as an atoning sacrifice for sin; the power to live aright is found in the gift of the Holy Ghost. Thus we have as the foundation of our evangelisation, whether at home or abroad, no salvation except by Christ, and no spiritual life except by the Holy Ghost.

I.-What is to be the purpose of evangelisation? It is the same thing as the conversion of the world? There are two senses in which we may use the latter term. Historians speak of the conversion of the northern nations, and Dr. George

* An address at the recent Conference of the Evangelical Alliance at Tunbridge Wells.

Smith has written an spoken of the conversion of India. Do we mean the gradual acceptance by a nation of the outward profession of Christianity? I am not here to say "No" to that question. The early Christians, looking hourly for the return of their King, had not the slightest conception of the England of the nineteenth century.

is :

So, it may be, in the Divine purpose, that we or our descendants are to see fulfilled what is sometimes expressed in the words, "India for Christ," "Africa for Christ," "China for Christ." But this can only mean the external profession of Christianity, because we are told that Christ is coming back to an unconverted world. It is amazing how obscure are the ideas of Christian people on that point, which is made very clear in Luke xvii. The evangelisation of the world being not the conversion of the world in the highest sense, nor, of necessity, in even the external sense, wherein does it consist? First, in witness-bearing. "This Gospel," says the Lord, "shall be preached in all the world as a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come," Are we, then, to look for no conversions at all? God forbid! Dr. Gordon, in his admirable bɔok, "The Holy Spirit in Missions," tears to pieces the idea that mere witness-bearing is all. No; there is the calling out of the elect Church; not that there is any limitation in the message, which "Whosoever will, let him come." The end to be attained is the calling out of the ecclesia the Greek word for Church, that which is called out of the worl 1. "I have called them out of the world," saith the Lord. We are redeemed "out of all nations and kindreds, peoples and tongues." Dr. Gordon again points out this truth in connexion with the first general assembly of the Christian Church, as recorded in Acts xv. "To take out of the Gentiles a people for His name." That is the work of the present dispensation, which is an elective one. Then Christ comes, and after that?Were I to discuss that point we should probably get upon different grounds. It is enough for us to know that our work is the present duty of calling out the elect Church in this dispensation. May 1, in passing, quote words linked with the most solemn moments of our lives. pray Thee shortly to accomplish the number of Tnine elect, and to hasten Thy Kingdom." If we take the ground that we are to engage in converting the whole world to Christ, we may put off the coming of Christ, and hang our heads with shame; but, if we are calling out His elect we know not how soon the number thereof may be completed, and at His return we shall see things which are beyond thought and imagination. This is encouraging, because we see that work in an unfruitful field is just as much a fulfilment of the Lord's command as is work in a fruitful field. Again, to quote Dr. Gordon, "Our work in this dispensation is, not to bring all the world to Christ, but to bring Christ to all the world"-a good phrase, let us remember it. II. Why is the work to be done? Simply because the Lord says so. We need not go into a long argument about missions. Christ told us to go-is not that sufficient? Have you ever noticed the wonderful emphasis given to the matter in the Word of God? We are told that, during the forty days between His resurrection and ascension, the Lord discoursed


with the disciples cn many things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Now observe that the Holy Spirit has four agents to communicate to us what the Lord thus taught. Of all the things that the Lord said to His disciples, Matthew gives us but one," Go ye and disciple all nations." There is only one thing recorded by Mark, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." What is it in Luke? "That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem," introduced by those remarkable words, "Thus it behoved the Messiah to suffer." There was a "must" about

it. Was it not necessary? Where would you and I be to-night if Christ had not suffered? Yes, it was necessary indeed; but that was not all-" and to rise from the dead the third day." That was necessary, too, for we need a living Saviour, not a dead one. The third necessity is "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." These three things constitute the essence of the Gospel-the death of Christ; the resurrection of Christ, with the gift of the Spirit following; and the evangelisation of the world. Turning to the Gospel of John we find our Lord coming into the upper room in a mysterious way, when the doors were closed. He gives His disciples the salaam, as you would hear it in the East, and then He shows them His hands and His side. Beautiful act! Then another salaam; and then, as the thing which He had come to say to them, "As My Father sent Me, even so send I you." You are not saved-may I say it respectfully?—you are not saved, Christians of Tunbridge Wells, to sit in your churches and hear good sermons, to come to your prayer-meetings, to come to your Bible-readings, to come to your various functions, not to come to meetings even of the Evangelical Alliance. "As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you"-this is the attitude of the Church. Are you being sent? God send many of you! So, you see, there is a fourfold record, all the four evangelists tell the same thing. But the Holy Ghost has done one thing more, making the record fivefold; for, if you turn to the Acts of the Apostles you find that the half of the first chapter is not apostolic history, but that it goes back into the forty days. The Lord is on the Mount of Olives, saying, "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. "What comes next?" And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up, and a clud received Him out of their sight." These were the last words of Jesus on the earth, completing a five-fold record. Do we need more? Let us just go and do it. III. By whom is it to be done? Not by angels. They preached the Gospel once only, on that Christmas night at Bethlehem. We have, in the Acts, eight instances of angelic interposition, but not once did they preach the Gospel. An angel sees the Ethiopian traveller. Why does he not preach to him? No, he must go and fetch Philip. An angel comes to Cornelius. Does he tell Cornelius about Jesus of Nazareth? No, "fetch Simon ar.d he will tell thee." The work

is for you and me, because we are to be


witnesses. And so we go with this messagenot, as I have heard it put in heathendom by a half-instructed native teacher, My religion is better than yours; I recommend you to change and take mine." This is not it at all, but rather "Jesus Christ has saved me from the guilt of sin; Jesus Christ is saving me, day by day, from the power of sin; Jesus Christ is going to save me by-and-by from the presence of sin." That is the testimony to be borne by us throughout the world. If the Church had only done it, the world would have been evangelised long ago. May I reverently say the Lord might have come again, ere this? Who is stopping Him from coming? Is it the devil-the world? No, nothing but Christians. He will not return

until the work is done which we have to do and are not doing. Do you think that your obligation to the Lord in this matter is fulfilled by a guinea subscription? Fathers and mothers, how many sons and daughters have you sacrificed to the mission-field? Are you ready to let them go to-morrow? You say, "We cannot let them go to China because of the war." The more reason for going, when the people are dying. We need a complete revolution on this question in the Church of God. We do not care what the world says about missions, but we want to convert the Christian people to see that this is the thing which the Lord gave them to do, and they are not doing it. There are wonderful things which the Church of Christ has done. Look at its churches, schools, hospitals, infirmaries. We thank God for all these; but, after all, it is only the simple truth to say that the Lord Jesus did not tell us to do one of these things. He did tell us to evangelise the world, and that is the thing which the Church thinks of last.

IV. How is the work to be done? Here I might enlarge. I could delight to tell about the different methods of missionary work-evangelistic, medical, industrial, educational, zenana, city, village, anti-slave-trade work, training of native agents, translation work, which is often overlooked, though the missionaries who are doing it deserve our warmest sympathy. All I would say, however, is that it is good to group all the methods under two divisions, because these are scriptural. In the last chapter of John, missionary work is first pictured as fishing-the evangelistic side; then you have, in the latter part of the chapter, missionary work pictured as shepherding the pastoral side. But I pass to another scripture, and may God enable us to take it home: "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit." You may like one method of work, but do not despise others; for, "it is the same God that worketh all in all."

V. Where is the work to be done? Everywhere! Do you say "it is an unhealthy climate"? Yes, but souls are dying in it. Are they to be left to die, without an effort on our part to tell them of the Saviour?

VI.-Lastly, when is the work to be done? The Lord teaches us all to say, "Now." Why? Because the Lord is waiting to come back, while we are hindering His return. Is He not saying to you Christians, here in Tunbridge Wells-with all your privileges, touchingly referred to last night by Mr. Langton, and therefore with solemn responsibilities-is He not saying, "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets"? What shall the answer be? Shall it not come from every heart here, "At Thy word we will "?

[blocks in formation]

IN addressing the meeting at Mabledon, in connexion with the recent Conference of the Evangelical Alliance at Tunbridge Wells, Mr. Thompson said:

I am very glad to address a meeting of the Evangelical Alliance on Foreign Missions, and the subject seems eminently appropriate to the occasion. The mission-field exhibits the character of the Alliance in a most striking form; and surely the work of missions will be the great means of producing and manifesting to the world that true unity of the body of Christ for which we are all longing. We at home are, from time to time, called to witness from our own special view of Christian truth, principle, or organisation, which leads us sometimes to stand distinctly aloof from others, so that the spirit of Christian unity seems to be, for the moment, subordinated to the spirit of individual independence and the declaration of personal position. But, in the mission-field, we are all manifestly, engaged in the one great work of making known the common Saviour and the common salvation to needy men. It has been my privilege to journey a great deal in the mission-field, in connexion with my duties as Foreign Secretary of the London Missionary Society. I have been over the greater

part of India, and a considerable part of China, also to South Africa more than once, and I am thankful to be able to testify that throughout all those journeys I was continually reminded of the unity of the Church of Christ, in the brotherly love which prevailed amongst missionaries of different societies and different denominations. They are drawing together in nearness of heart and purpose, and they have a fellowship which in many cases is very remarkable. We have to thank God for that continual witness amongst all the diversities of opinion to the common faith and love of His children.

The condition of Foreign Missions to-day is very critical, and demands serious and earnest consideration by all who call themselves by Christ's name, and recognise their responsibility to God and man. I am not speaking exclusively of the work of the London Missionary Society, but rather calling attention to the mission-field generally and its need.

There are three great stages in the work. There is the initial stage of ignorance, suspicion, and


hostility on the part of the people. If some of those who are surprised at what they call the slow progress of missions to the heathen would more carefully study the facts, they would wonder that so much has been done. The witness of the work is continually "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord." God has blessed the labours of His servants in a most marvellous fashion throughout the wide world, as we plainly see when we enter the field and discover its real conditions. A hundred years ago most countries were closed to us. Only little by little has the world opened to missions; and there must be access to the people before you can do much for God. This comes, first, in knowing the language; then, in a more important sense, in knowing the mental and spiritual standpoint of the people and in apprehension by them of your message. Our work is a long and slow process in the great mission-field of the modern heathen world, where the whole atmosphere of life is non-Christian, and where, as missionaries, we speak of things utterly strange to the people. Their ideas of sin are different from the Christian idea. We may use their word for God, but their perception of God is totally different from that of those who are taught to call Him our Father in Heaven. From such causes the initial stage of missions becomes, especially in the great Eastern lands, a work of great and often long-protracted difficulty.

Passing to the third stage, it is that wherein opposition has been overcome, and the mission churches have become strong in numbers, intelligence, manifestation of the grace of God, and in perception of duty towards neighbours, and are taking upon themselves the work of evangelising their own country. This is the stage towards which every society is working. If we want to get to the people's hearts we must do so through their own tongues and countrymen. This end is being reached already in some of the smaller fields.

But, between the two stages already mentioned, is that of what I may call the open doors. Ignorance has gone, suspicion and hostility have passed away; the people have some elementary idea of what the missionary is about, what his message means and the value of it. Though that message conflicts with all their old ideas, and prably disturbs all their social relations, yet theel there is some good in it, and they begin to len sympathetically, to make inquiry, to respond to the appeal. The missionary now has before him unlimited opportunities-a truly open field, because the people are able to understand and are prepared to receive him and his message. Many agencies have been at work to bring this about. What a vast work has been done in the one direction of translating the Scriptures during the past hundred years. There are now nearly 400 versions of the Scriptures or portions thereof. What an amazing preparation this has been of the way of the Lord. Then, the evangelist has preached repeatedly throughout vast districts, followed by the teacher of children, the medical missionary, and by no means least in the glorious succession of workers, by Christian women entering the homes of the people. In India, China, Madagascar, and even in the South Seas, the men have always been reached; but the women

have not been cared for to the same extent. It is absolutely necessary for the domestication of Christianity in any country to reach women in their homes. Thank God for the great succession of educated, earnest women, who are going to all parts of the heathen world for this specially important work.

As the result of these and other agencies, our difficulty to-day is that the doors of all the world are open. Our fathers' difficulty was that the doors were closed. The condition of things which has already resulted from missions, fills us with dismay and paralyses us. It is easy to speak of a thousand millions of heathen, but our minds cannot grasp it. When, in a mission district, the early stage is overpast, a surface knowledge of Christianity is diffused among the people, and the missionary finds himself face to face with one million of the thousand millions, he is overwhelmed. That is the position of all the great societies in the mission-field today. They are face to face with enormous multitudes of people who are willing and even waiting to be taught. Of course I can speak of our own Society from a knowledge which I have not of others, but I observe that the same thing is being said by all the great societies. In China, India, dark Africa, and other parts of the world are to be seen God's answers to the prayers of our fathers, forming the difficulty which lies in the way of their children. We have so vast an appeal now that we know not how to touch it, an appeal which comes very pressingly to Christian people in this country. It will be worse; for the next few years, it appears to me, there will be more and more clamant need. Is it unreasonable for us to ask for a large accession of workers among the heathen? Look at the statistics of Christian workers in this country nearly 35,000 Christian ministers of the Church of England and dissenting communities; in addition, the armies of

town missionaries, Bible readers, and women in all sections of the Church; beside them, hundreds of thousands of voluntary workers. The whole number of those in the mission-field abroad is not 8,000, while we have at least 35,000 ministers at home; surely then we have really not overdone our appeal to the Christian public that more workers should be sent out. Surely the appeal comes to the people who are best able to bear it. Our Society completes its century next year; and I have been looking with great interest at the condition of England 100 years ago, as compared with the England of to-day. Not ten years before the formation of our Society, £100,000,000 was added to the national debt through the war with our American colonies. Then came a tremendous struggle with France, adding £600,000,000 to our national debt. The country was burdened in every direction with taxation and bad trade. Notwithstanding all this, within the ten years ere the century closed, and the ten years after, another century began, the faith of the Christian Church started the Baptist Missionary Society, the London Missionary Society, the Church Missionary Society, the Bible Society, the Tract Society, and other great organisations for carrying on Christ's work in the world. What a different condition is that of England today. Think of having to pay income-tax on £550,000,000 sterling; and that does not

« ForrigeFortsæt »