« ForrigeFortsæt »
EXTRACT FROM THE GENERAL BAPTIST MAGAZINE, “This sense of responsibility is well secured by the primitive model of self-government, but is sure to become enfeebled, if not obliterated by whatever verges on the nature of proxy.
The church was divided into three bodies—Bishops, Deacons, and the less demonstrative members.
The single pastor is nowhere discoverable. His presence would have gone far to neutralize the entire system, or, at least to put it out of gear; for his post of concentrated interest, though suitable enough for worldly success, was just the very thing which a plurality of bishops was designed to obviate. I have heard Mr. Spurgeon say that the order of Presbyters, or Elders, was restored in his church ; but so long as a chief Presbyter is retained, such chief Presbyter is thereby simply lifted one degreeshigher, and his Pontificate embraces a wider area. He will also indirectly control the finances; and (must the result be whispered,) he will eventually come to share a large portion of them. As Dr. J. Bennett says, The first step in the devious course was the adoption of the principle that there must be but one bishop in a church, where the Scriptures clearly show there may be more."- May, 1875).
REVIVALISM-NEEDED CAUTIONS. THERE can be little doubt that the wider the extent and the longer the duration of the vast evangelistic meetings that are now exercising so great an influence, the more will it be the duty of the various churches that are sympathetic with these movements to take care that the great cardinal truths of the Gospel do not suffer from the misconceptions that such services may induce. No one that has attentively noticed the prevailing tone of conversation among those who frequent these services can have failed to perceive signs of what may become grievous and injurious mistakes, for which, it is only just to say, the conductors of the meetings are not responsible. Those are ever the greatest dangers to faith and truth that rise out of perversions of notable Scripture texts concerning the disposition of God to man and the exercise of the power of God unto salvation. And it is evident to many earnest observers, that the sight or reputation of the massive meetings that are being held is deepening in some minds the idle and mischievous feeling that the vitalising and revivifying influence of the LORD the SPIRIT is in effect spasmodic, located, like the currents of the wind, blowing where it listeth, coming we know not whence, going we know not whither. In point of fact, it may fairly enough be questioned whether those who make the most of extraordinary efforts, and expect the most from them, do not in very many cases think that the SAVIOUR really said to NICODEMUS that the HOLY GHOST was like the blowing of the wind in its uncertainty and obscurity of origin, occurrence, and consequences. A moment's quiet and prayerful thought of John iii. 8 would show that the LORD had no such meaning in His words, but speaks of "every one that is born of the SPIRIT,” whose new life springs
Observer, June 1, '75.
from sources that man cannot measure or trace, and the destiny of whose regenerate being is, in supremacy to human conceptions and imaginations, also unknowable. “Whence it comes,” the mysteries of Divine love, and grace, and overwatching tenderness that precede it, none can tell.
“Whither it goes,” to what mysteries of glory it ascends in GOD, none can in this life discover. “ Thou hearest the sound of the wind," and likewise any one can perceive the present reality of a regenerate life. To make this passage, as is so frequently the case, represent the operations of the SPIRIT under the symbol of the wind, is to justify the many expectations of those who forget, if they ever thought, that the SPIRIT OF GGD is around, and will be in all who will reverently submit to Him who still breathes into man the breath of life.
It is to the right and intelligent exposition of Scripture that churches must look for the correction of tendencies in belief that cannot fail to mislead many souls. Thus the careful maintenance of CHRIST's meaning in His conference with NICODEMUS will guard many from the danger of waiting for the HOLY SPIRIT as seamen wait for a wind that may or may not come to their advantage. That great numbers learn to think thus of the SPIRIT, and look to times of notable religious excitement for influences of God that they imagine have not been in active exercise at other times, is only too apparent. Against such mischievous ignorance there cannot be too distinct and emphatic an effort; and no congregation will be the worse, but rather the better, for being cautioned against the mistaken habit of waiting for the HOLY GHOST. Men might as well wait for the air that all breathe. It is well, also, that congregations should be warned against any idea of fitfulness in the work of GOD'S SPIRIT, or the thought that God gives His SPIRIT to some and not to others, and in some places and not in others, for the purpose of quickening and supporting the regenerate life. Many encourage themselves in the feeling that if they go to such and such places, and come under the influence of extraordinary services, they would then be brought into contact with the SPIRIT of GOD as they cannot be elsewhere. In real nature this is not far from kinship with the Romish system of the location of special grace in sacraments and formal duties. But the chief wrong of the feeling is its mistake concerning GOD, for it represents Him as practically partial, and as leaving the soul's hope of salvation to accidents of place and time; by which one man may have a certainty of regeneration, and others no hope at all. Another
danger that is now common, and that the right judgment of our LORD's words would correct, is that of fancying that without one rememberable time of almost violent transition, there is no sure guarantee of having experienced the work of the SPIRIT of God. Through such experience God leads many ; but more are brought home by the gentleness that makes man great in holiness and Christ-likeness. GOD'S SPIRIT is not as a wind that now may blow with irresistible violence, and by its violence give evidence of its reality ; it is as the power of the spring of the year that is poured abroad everywhere, for all to have, and in which all may live and rejoice. Many a time is the question asked—What will be the result of present movements on the life of the churches ? Will they leave a disposition that prefers excitement to solid life? They will, if ministers and teachers only go with the current, instead of diligently
Observer, June 1, '75.
preparing all with whom they have weight, by the clear utterance of that free message of universal, unconfined grace and energy that are meant by the Biblical statement of the work of the SPIRIT. If such a position may make them appear cold, it may be well to remember that the coolness of the physician may be the patient's salvation.
REMARKS. The foregoing is sent by a constant reader who has taken it from a London contemporary and who desires that it re-appear in our pages. We need say but little, as the protest is not wanting in clearness. The caution is needed for the evil is rampant and the after results will be sad, probably entailing more evil than the good will compensate for. In the estimation of the writer the conductors of the great revival gathering are not responsible for what may become "grievous mistakes.” But why are they not responsible ? It may suit a popular religious journal not to run directly counter to the action of Messrs. Moody and Sankey; but we fail to see how the responsibility can be taken off their shoulders, and made to rest upon ministers and churches should they fail to counteract the evil. Conversion by a direct and special operation of Christ, or the Holy Spirit, is prominently preached by Mr. Moody. He says
God could convert every sinner in the city as easily as a man could turn his hand. He calls upon persons who desire to be saved to stand
up, and he calls upon Jesus as He passes by to save them. But the truth is there is no "passing by" on the part of the loving Saviour,the preaching and the singing to that effect are misleading. Jesus is always present, in the sense in which He is ever present, to save those who desire salvation. If some of those who wait for prayer and teaching after hearing Mr. Moody go away with an assurance of pardon and others do not, it it not because Jesus, when passing by, has specially manifested Himself to the one class and failed in like manner to favour the other; nor is it owing to a direct operation of the Holy Spirit, granted in the one case and withheld in the other. Instruction to sinners, such as Mr. Moody's convicted hearers receive, was never given by the Apostles and other inspired preachers—it is unscriptural, and Mr. Moody does not, and dare not, speak to sin-convicted souls as the Apostles did. It is not that he does not know what they said in such
He does know, and he admits that if he were to do as they did his popularity would speedily end. He has not been left unwarned. He knows what he is doing and what he is leaving undone, and we cannot admit that the responsibility is to be taken from his shoulders and thrown upon churches which neglect to counteract his work.
NOTES FOR THE SUNDAY SCHOOL.
INTERNATIONAL SERIES OF LESSONS.
June 6. SAMUEL THE JUDGE.—1 Sam. vii. Recall the capture of the ark from former lesson, ard note that it brought only trouble to the Philistines. Describe its return, chap. vi. State the punishment of the men of Bethshemesh for disobedieutly looking into it.
The number smitten (v. 19) is understood to be seventy; the 50,000 being merely a note improperly brought into the text. The men of Kirjath-jearim fetch the ark and place it in proper keeping; where it remained nearly a century. After twenty years, the people having lapsed into idolatry and been oppressed by the Philistines, lament after the Lord. The good boy of our former lesson (Samuel) had become the faithful prophet and judge. They lament after the Lord, i.e., confess their sins and long for the help of God, as in former days. Samuel calls upon them to turn to the Lord, and put away their false gods, which they do. Israel is gathered that Samuel may pray for them. The Philistines attacking are discomfited by thunder from heaven, and pursued by Israel. The stone, Ebenezer, marked the place of Israel's former defeat and of their present victory.
NOTE.–Failure is certain when men rest in God's ordinances while their hearts are not right with Him. That is no reason for neglecting God's appointments when the heart is right. Early piety, the best preparation for a good, useful, and Godapproved life. The path of the righteous is as the shining light. A righteous person now is one who loves and trusts in Jesus.
QUESTIONS.—1. In what was Israel trusting when defeated by the Philistines ? 2. After twenty years of oppression what did Israel do ? 3. In what did they trust when they pursued and conquered? 4. What did Samuel do for them when they lamented after God ? 5. How did they manifest faith in his prayers ? 6. What is the best preparation for a useful life ? 7. How can people now become righteous ?
June 13. A KING DESIRED.—1 Sam. viii. " When Samuel was old."-Some thirty years after the great event of the last lesson. “ His sons," unlike their fatber; their conduct becomes an excuse for sin on the part of Israel, v. 5.
A king was not needed to correct the evil, the removal of Samuel's sons would have sufficed. In demanding a king Israel rejected God, v. 7 and 19. God manifested their folly by granting their demand.
NOTE.—God sometimes grants petitions which are hurtful to those who ask them. Ps. lxxxi. 11, 12 ; cvi. 15. Thoughtless and self-willed prayers may bring us much affliction. “Thy will be done” should cover all our prayers. The desire to be like the world leads to constant danger. Israel wanted a king like the nations. Get the full lesson from v. 18, and note its fulfilment in 1 Kings xii. 4.
QUESTIONS.—1. What was the conduct of Samuels sons ? 2. What evil came from their conduct ? 3. Was a king needful? 4. Whom did Israel reject by demanding a king ? 5. Did God grant them a king ? 6. Did His doing so prove that a king was good? 7. Does God sometimes grant petitions which are not good ? 8. Why does He grant them? 9. How can we make sure that we offer right prayers ?
June 20. SAUL CHOSEN.—1 Sam. x. 17-27. Samuel calls the tribes, v. 17. The solemn accusation, v. 19. Recite the leading features of deliverance from Egypt as showing their ingratitude in rejecting God. The tribes brought up, not all the people, but by their representatives. Saul chosen. Note his humility, v. 22. “God save the king,” v. 24, meaning preserve his life, “Let him live.” Whether a man shall be saved eternally does not depend merely upon the will of God. God is willing to save all men ; but they also must be willing to be saved in God's ways.
NOTE.—How God's manifold goodness in past deliverance seems to have been lost upon Israel. Consider how often in like way men and children now forget all God's goodness and persist in their own ways. Saul's humility did not last. He became proud and self-willed, and consequently died in the disfavour of God.
QUESTIONS.—1. Who called the tribes together? 2. What accusation did Samuel bring against them? 3. How did he show God's love for them ? 4. What did the people shout when they saw their king ? 5. What did they mean by “God save the king?” 6. Can God save all people? 7. Why not? 8. What must we do to be saved ?
June 27. SAMUEL'S PARTING WORDS.—1 Sam. xii. Recount the leading items in selecting Saul, fiom chap. ix-xi. Mark the faithfulness of Samuel, o. 2-4; also his reproof, v. 6-15. The miracle showing that he was speaking from God, o. 16-18. Wrong acknowledge l yet persisted in, v. 19. The exhortation, v. 24.
NOTE.-Only one thing needful—" Fear the Lord," which is only properly fulfilled by those who love Him-those who thus fear Him, serve Him,
,"_in truth," that is sincerely, “with all their heart," completely. Why do this ? Because He claims it and because of His loving kindness.
QUESTIONS. – 1. Who was Israel's first king? 2. What can you tell us of the circumstances which led to Saul becoming king of Israel? 3. What was the charactor of Samuel. 4. How did God show that He was speaking by Samuel ? 5. To what did Samuel exhort Israel when they had got their king ? 6. What is the one thing needful? 7. Why fear the Lord ?
A LESSON FOR SOME WIVES.
On a cold dismal evening in with you to-night?" she exclaimed, November, two neighbours might | as she sat down opposite him. have been seen wending their way
His voice trembled as he replied : along the streets of a large manu- “I suppose you might as well facturing town.
know first as last. I have been Slowly they proceeded with deject- discharged.” ed countenances, not exchanging a “ There !” exclaimed his wife, word until the one we shall call quickly pushing back her chair, Smith halted before a neat little " Just what I might have expected. house and unlatched the gate. Then I'd like to know what we are going there was such a look of utter to do now.
Winter coming on misery and despair gleaming from and all. I declare, Smith, you will his
eyes that his companion mur- torture me to death !" mured :
“I am very sorry, Lydia, but I “We must trust in God, Smith!" cannot help it.” They were unheeded, and his
Sorry! No you are not sorry companion passed on, while Smith at all! You would as lief see your entered the house.
wife and child starve as not. It's A tall, dark woman was flitting nothing in this world but poor about getting supper.
She gazed managing. up as he entered, exclaiming : Lydia, you are cruel.” Instead
“You are late to-night ?” of helping me to endure my great
“Yes !” he articulated gloomily, trouble which is bearing me down and going to the cradle he took up to the very earth, you make it ten the six weeks old baby, and sorrow- times harder for me to bear. I fully pressed it to his heart. was not the only one discharged.
"I do wish you would put that There was Jim Hawley, and ever child down and get ready for so many others. Business is dull. supper !” exclaimed the wife, after “Business dull !" Always an enduring his gloominess for some excuse."
To think that you time in silence.
should be discharged now, just as He slowly obeyed, and then seat- our rent is due, and when we are ed himself at the table with a deep needing coal; and look at my sigh.
shoes, won't you? My feet are "What in the world is the matter almost out on the ground.