Billeder på siden

Observer, Aug. 1, '75.

[ocr errors]

and the citizens were glad to have a visit from the eloquent stranger. On the first Sunday after his arrival every seat in the meeting house was filled at an early hour; soon every foot of standing room was occupied, and the doorway blocked by an eager throng; and, inspired by the interest which prevailed, the preacher began. His theme was the confession of Peter, Matt. xvi. 16 : “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," and the promise which grew out of it, that he should have intrusted to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven. The declaration of Peter was a theme upon which he had thought for years, it was a fact which he regarded the four Gospels as written to establish, to which type and prophecy had pointed in all the ages gone by, which the Eternal Father had announced from heaven when Jesus came up from the waters of Jordan and the Spirit descended and abode upon Him, and which was repeated again amid the awful grandeur and solemnity of the transfiguration scene. He then proceeded to show that the foundation truth of Christianity was the Divine nature of the Lord Jesus—the central truth around which all others revolved, and from which they derived their efficacy and importance—and that the belief of it was calculated to produce such love in the heart of him who believed it as would lead him in true obedience to the object of his faith and love. To show how that faith and love were to be manifested, he quoted the language of the great commission, and called attention to the fact that Jesus had taught His Apostles, “That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” He then led his hearers to Jerusalem on the memorable Pentecost, and bade them listen to an authoritative announcement of the Law of Christ, now to be made known for the first time, by the same Peter to whom Christ had promised to give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, which he represented as meaning the conditions upon which the guilty might find pardon at the hands of the risen, ascended, and glorified Son of God, and enter His kingdom.

After a rapid yet graphic review of Peter's discourse, he pointed out its effect on those that heard him, and bade them mark the inquiry which a deep conviction of the truth they had heard forced from the lips of the heart-pierced multitudes, who in their agony at the discovery that they had put to death the Son of God, their own long expected Messiah, cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do ?” and then, with flashing eye and impassioned manner, as if he fully realized that he was but re-echoing the words of one who spake as the Spirit gave him utterance, he gave the reply, “ Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” He then, with great force and power, made his application, he insisted that the conditions were unchanged, that the Word of God meant what it said, and that to receive and obey it was to obey God, and to imitate the examples of those who, under the preaching of the Apostles, gladly accepted the Gospel Message. His discourse was long, but his hearers marked not the flight of time; the Baptists forgot, in admiration of its Scriptural beauty and simplicity, that it was contrary to much in their own teaching and practice; some of them, who had been in a measure enlightened before, rejoiced in the truth the moment they perceived it; and to others, who

[ocr errors]

Observer, Aug. 1, '75.

had long been perplexed by the difficulties and contradictions of the discordant views of the day, it was like light to weary travellers long benighted and lost.

The man of all others, however, in that community who would most have delighted in and gladly accepted those views, so old and yet so new, was not there, although almost in hearing of the preacher, who with such eloquence and power was setting forth the primitive gospel, this was Wm. Amend, a pious, God-fearing man, a member of the Presbyterian Church, and regarded by his neighbours as an “Israelite

“ indeed.” He had for some time entertained the same views as those Mr. Scott was then preaching in that place for the first time, and was not aware that anyone agreed with him. He was under the impression that all the churches—his own among the number—had departed from the plain teaching of the Word of God. He had discovered, some time before, that infant baptism was not taught in the Bible, and, consequently, that he was not a baptized man; the mode of baptism seemed also to him to have been changed, and he sought his pastor, and asked to be immersed. He endeavoured to convince him that he was wrong, but finding that he could not be turned from his purpose, he proposed to immerse him privately, lest others might be unsettled in their minds by his doing so, and closed by saying that baptism was not essential to salvation. Mr. Amend regarded every thing that Christ had ordained as being essential, and replied that he should not immerse him at all; that he would wait until he found a man who believed the Gospel, and who could without any scruple administer the ordinance as he conceived it to be taught in the New Testament.

He was invited a day or two before to hear Mr. Scott, but knowing nothing of his views, he supposed that he preached much as others did, but agreed to go and hear him. It was near the close of the services when he reached the Baptist Church and joined the crowd at the door, who were unable to get into the house. The first sentence he heard aroused and excited him, it sounded like that gospel which he had read with such interest at home, but never had heard from the pulpit before. He now felt a great anxiety to see the man who was speaking so much like the oracles of God, and pressed through the throng into the house. Mr. Dibble, the clerk of the church, saw him enter, and knowing that he had been seeking and longing to find a man who would preach as the Word of God read, thought within himself, “Had Mr. Amend been here during all this discourse I feel sure he would have found what he has so long sought in vain. I wish the preacher would repeat what he said before he came in." Greatly to his surprise the preacher did give a brief review of the various points of his discourse, insisting that the Word of God meant what it said, and urging his hearers to trust that word implicitly. He rehearsed again the Jerusalem scene, called attention to the earnest, anxious cry of the multitude, and the comforting reply of the Apostle, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” He invited any one present who believed with all his heart, to yield to the terms proposed in the words of the Apostle, and show by a willing obedience his trust in the Lord of life and glory: Mr. Amend pressed his way through the crowd to the preacher and


[ocr errors]

Observer, Aug. 1, '75.


making known his purpose, made a public declaration of his belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and his willingness to obey Him, and on the same day, in a beautiful clear stream which flows on the southern border of the town, in the presence of a great multitude, he was baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.

This event, which forms an era in the religious history of the times, took place on the 18th of November, 1827, and Mr. Amend was beyond all question, the first person in modern times who received the ordinance of baptism in perfect accordance with Apostolic teaching and usage.


GOSPEL.* “The Fourth Gospel and its Advocates."-An Essay by Dr. Davidson, occupied over thirty pages of the Theological Review, for July 1870. A few months later there was published in reply, a letter by Kentish Bache. The second edition of that letter, just now from the press, is well worth reading by those who feel interest in the inquiry. The letter is keen, kindly, and scholarly. If Dr. Davidson does not feel considerable shame at the exposure of his shallow work he ought to be ashamed of not doing so. The following may be taken as samples.

TERTULLIAN. You try to throw discredit on Tertullian, asking “What did he know about John, except that the last of the Apostles when cast into a furnace of oil came forth unhurt, and was banished to an island ?” (p. 317.) Would you have us suppose that Tertullian knew nothing more than what he has told about St. John? You can harldy expect your readers to entertain so foolish a supposition, even on your invitation. The first three Gospels, at least, were in his hands, and from studying their sacred records he must have known much more concerning the Apostle than the two incidents which you cite. You appear desirous of leaving your readers under the impression that Tertullian has not referred to St. John except in that one place.† But he has mentioned St. John by name, and referred to him, many more times than you intimate. He both knew and has told us more things about him. What concerns us now, however, is the testimony which Tertullian gives as to the authorship of the fourth Gospel. You insinuate that he gives

He twice [ enumerates the Evangelists, naming them each, and discussing severally the authority of their Gospels. Throughout his works he refers again and again to the fourth Gospel as John's, and makes a large number of verbatim quotations from it ; certainly some scores, if not one or two hundred. Tischendorf says two hundred at least.

THEOLOGY OF THE GOSPEL. One more medley of errors must be noticed. Of the fourth Gospel you say : “ The theology of the work knows nothing of Christ's birth

: * A LETTER to the Rev. 8. Davidson, D.D. LL.D., in_answer to his Essay against the Johannine Authorship of the fourth Gospel, by Kentish Bache. Hodges, King William Street, London.

+ Præscript, Hæret. 36. It may be conjectured that Tertullian learned the first of these circumstances from the second of the five fragments ascribed to Polycarp. (?)


# Adv. Marcion. iv. 2 & 5.

Observer, Aug. 1, '75.

from a virgin, of His descent from David, of the Lord's Supper, of His second coming to judge the world. In it, a bodily resurrection recedes behind the reappearing of a being already glorified by death; nor can it speak of an ascent into heaven as an event separated by an interval of time from the resurrection, but as standing in the closest connection with it.” (p. 330.) Pray, Sir, have you read the Gospel which you undertake to criticise? These half-dozen assertions justify a doubt on the point.

(I.) The theology of the work involves Christ's birth from a virgin. He is spoken of as “The Son of God," “ the only-begotton of the Father,"

* “ His only-begotten Son,” “ the only-begotten Son of God,” “ the Son of the living God. The Gospel is too full of these designations for them to have been nsed casually and meaninglessly. It is not enough to refer them to the begetting“ before all worlds,” when we have at hand the history of our Lord's birth as given by Matthew and Luke. John chose to begin his Gospel at the manhood of Jesus, and therefore does not recount His birth, which would have been unnecessary as two of the inspired writers had already done so. But John intimates that he knew of and received their account. He intimates it, not only by employing the above designations for Jesus, but also by recording (xix. 7) the Jews' charge of blasphemy,—" by our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God,”—a charge which would have been without meaning, unless the title Son of God had indicated a peculiar relation between God and Jesus, different from, and closer than, that spiritual relation which God holds towards all men as their Father.

(II) The Gospel records the question of the people, "Hath not the Scripture said that Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem where David was ?” (vii. 42.) It therefore cannot be said that the Gospel “ knows nothing” of His descent from David.

(III.) It is true that the fourth Evangelist does not give us those words of the Lord which we have been accustomed to associate most intimately with the Lord's Supper. Those words were already before him and the world in three other memoirs. But, though he did not feel called on to re-write those few sentences, he has given us a longer account of thạt Supper than the other three Evangelists have done. They do not report the address and prayer which occupy four chapters in St. John (xiv.-xvii.), where we find the hortative and devotional aspect of the Lord's Supper fully presented. The doctrine of its ritual also is set forth in this Gospel (vi. 32-58) with a plainness and force which we do not find in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. It is untrue therefore that “the theology of the work knows nothing of the Lord's Supper.”

(IV.) Even if the two propositions of Christ's second coming to judge the world are not contained together in any one verse, they are none the less stated separately. The doctrine of His second coming is plainly taught in the fourteenth chapter, (verses 3 and 28): “ And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." That He shall judge the world we

” are taught in the fifth chapter, (verses 22 and 27): "For the Father

« judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son, and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also.”

Observer, Aug. 1, '75.

[ocr errors]

(V.) Does Christ's bodily resurrection recede behind the reappearing of a being already glorified by death,” in this Gospel ? Quite the contrary: this Gospel is the most carnal of the four in narrating His resurrection. For the theory of an incorporeal re-appearance you will find no support in St. John, who alone narrates St. Thomas' doubt,doubt anticipatory of “modern criticism” and “liberal theology,” but removed nevertheless by evidence most unspiritually tangible and fleshly.

(VI.) Equally careless is the assertion that John puts no interval of time between the resurrection and ascension. “The re-appearance of the risen Saviour and His ascent to the Father are parts of one act. Compare the present tense åvaßalvw in John xx. 17.” Here is the verse to which you refer : “Jesus saith unto her, touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.” You call attention to the use here of the present tense, I ascend, as if it meant to show that at that very time Jesus was in the act of ascending. Is this “ modern criticism,” or is it utter nonsense ? Is there so much “ traditional inertia” in the modern critic that he cannot read a chapter through before commencing to pervert it? If the ascension takes place (as you think) in this verse, how is it that we find Jesus immediately afterwards in intercourse upon earth with His disciples? If your deduction from the use of the present tense be correct, then there must have been a second ascension subsequently. Let St. John himself extricate us from the folly (savouring some what of impiety) which your critical theories involve. After the resurrection he mentions specifically (xx. 26) the lapse of eight days, and afterwards refers to the lapse of yet more time, during which the Lord was still on earth. And he concludes his Gospel after all without narrating the ascension. Where, then, are the grounds for your assertion that he puts no interval between the two events ?

Before resting any argument on the assumption that Matthew and John, eye-witnesses, contradict each other, it would be well to adduce two or three plain instances of contradiction such as should bear deliberate investigation. Till these be forthcoming the world will probably be inclined to give more credit to apostolic testimony than to the assumptions of the self-styled "critics," who have hitherto been far from successful in their efforts to prove the first Gospel inconsistent with the fourth.

The Magazine in which your Essay appeared finds its readers chiefly among a section of society who receive with credulity statements intended to overthrow received opinions and established facts. They are overawed by the expressions “Liberal Theology” and Modern Criticism,” so glibly used in support of each destructive venture. They read with complacent avidity theological burlesques from Natal and Healaugh: and with them therefore errors, whether of logic or of learning, when directed against Johannine authorship, will readily pass current for acumen or research.

Whatever be the merits of the negative side of the question, it appears from your Essay that in this matter you cannot safely guide those who are seeking for the truth as it is in Jesus.

« ForrigeFortsæt »