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Observer, Aug. 1, '75.
“ NEITHER INVITED NOR EXCLUDED." Our remarks, under the above heading, have been, by the Apostolic Times and the American Christian Review, largely circulated among the churches in America. As before intimated both these papers declare that they stand upon the same ground. But another of our papers, The Christian, does not approve of our remarks, and refers to us thus :
The Apostolic Times and Review both reprint an article from the Ecclesiastical Observer, Birmingham, England, under the title, “Neither Invited nor Excluded.” In the first paragraph of this article Bro. King says :
“We know of no evasion more complete than that of throwing open the Lord's table to all comers on the pretence of neither inviting nor debarring. People who, by the teaching and preaching of the church, are declared not to have put on Christ, are invited to attend a service, part of which consists in handing round the bread
We supposed it was generally admitted among our people that the communion table was the Lord's table, and that He, through His Word, invites all that are invited, and excludes all that are properly excluded. If this be true, we see no “evasion” in a preacher's denying the prerogative to invite or exclude any one, provided the Word of the Lord be fully and faithfully preached.
On the foregoing the Editor of the Review writes :
“We copy the above from the Christian. We see evasion and that of a very peculiar kind, in arranging to commune with those whom we know have not put on Christ, are not in Christ, not in one body, not in the kingdom, under the pretext that we neither invite nor exclude, and an evasion very unworthy at that. Why not say to all who desire to become members of the church, whether immersed or unimmersed, that we neither invite nor exclude ; that it is the Lord's Church and for the Lord's people; that a man must examine himself and decide for himself; that we take no responsibility in the matter, and permit all who claim to be the Lord's people to come. Any one who will reflect can see that this is evasion, of a most subversive kind at that.
The Gospel does not administer itself. It is preached by men. Men have to determine what it is, what it requires, what obedience to it is. They have to preach it and administer it. They have to decide who are proper subjects for baptism, and baptize them. They have to decide
, who are proper subjects for membership, and receive them. Men have to conduct the worship and determine who are worshippers. They have to examine the law of the Lord and adminster it. They do not decide, only in this way: They set forth the law and receive those who comply with it, and do not receive those who do not obey the law. The Lord
gave the commemoration of His sufferings and death to His Disciples, and Paul, in Corinth, gave it to the congregation of the saints, and not to any others. Those who are His Disciples, who are in Christ, in the body, are communicants, and those not in Christ are not communicants. We neither invite nor exclude, but show to whom the Lord has given the communion, and that no others have any right to it only those in good standing in the body, and give it to no others.
But for any preacher or church to arrange purposely for communion with persons whom they know are not in Christ, not in the kingdom,
Observer, Aug. 1, '75.
and try to blur over the clear violation of the law of the kingdom, as thus deliberately arranged for, by defining the position of his church to be that they neither invite nor exclude, is certainly a weak and shallow device. It is an attempt to ignore the very act by which wc enter into union with the Father and with the Son, as also the whole family in heaven and on earth-immersion into Christ, into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, under the sham pretext of a union meeting, a union communion. There is no Christian union in any meeting that intends to ignore the clear law of induction into the kingdom of God. It is only a union in disloyalty to the Great King—ignoring His law.”
The Apostolic Times also copies the foregoing extract from the Christian, adding the following comment :
“The editor of the Christian misses the point. That which the Ecclesiastical Observer pronounces an evasion, is throwing open the Lord's table to all comers, on the pretence of neither inviting nor debarring. Surely the Christian would not approve of this. Moreover, in the matter of neither inviting nor excluding, we think the Christian hardly does himself justice in his remarks. Does he not invite persons to partake of the Lord's Supper ? Does he not tell them that it is their duty to do it? When brethren leave the house just before the Supper, or stay away to avoid it, does he not tell them that they are doing wrong? And when a person is excluded from the church does he not let him know that he is excluded from the Supper? He does, then, assume the prerogative of inviting and excluding. How can he, as a teacher, avoid doing so ? If the Lord, through His Word, invites all who are invited, and excludes all who are properly excluded,' is it not Bro. Garrison's duty to preach this word to the people ? And does he not thus, in the Name of the Lord, invite and exclude ? Let us drop the talk about neither inviting nor excluding, unless we mean by it that we claim no merely human authority in the premises; and when we make this explanation let us be sure to tell candidly what the divine invitation is.”
We are happy to have been the means of increasing on the other side of the Atlantic the needed protest against an evil which subverts our entire plea for guidance only by Apostolic precepts and examples.
ON SLEEPY SERMONS. “ And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds.”—Gray. A MAN who sends people to sleep by his discourses, can scarcely be regarded as an “awakening" preacher. Who would look for a revival amid nods and snoring? How true are the words of Sydney Smith, that sin is not to be taken out of man, as Eve was out of Adam, by casting him into a deep sleep! Sleep may be caused by the wearisome length of a sermon; or by its commonplace insipidity; or by the lameness of its delivery.
Dulcimer Dreamaway, M.A. (master of the soporific art), is one of those who have a musical voice and by his mellifluous monotony tenderly soothes his hearers into a state of profound repose. When he speaks
Observer, Aug. 1, '75.
'tis like the gentle babbling of a brook in summer time, accompanied by
a zephyrs softly whispering among the overhanging foliage. It is said that he is sound in doctrine, and without controversy the flock is sound in sleeping. Those who come to hear, remain to sleep. They are dozing on the right hand and on the left. It is not merely a Eutychius here and there that we see, but a general settling down to slumber. It is Eutychius here, Eutychius there, and Eutychius everywhere. One supports his glossy head with his primrose-tinted kid-gloved hand. Now and then the head slides away from the hand, but anon comes back again to its rest. Another, by a series of polite nods, appears fully to assent to all the speaker advances. He seems to have no fault to find with the treatment of the subject. All is peaceful acquiescence. A lady tries to keep awake by the aid of her vinaigrette, doubtless wishing that some of its pungency could be transferred to the sermon. Old Mr. Loveanap has arranged his head in a radiant silk pocket-handkerchief, to keep from catching cold, for the old gentleman is wise in his generation. This precautionary arrangement is usually attended to while the preacher is announcing his subject. Some lean their chins gently on their bosoms as though they were counting the buttons of their vests ; others have their heads thrown back, and their mouths wide open, into which a few walnuts might be dropped with ease, though it would be no ease to them. _Still the musical ripple of the preacher's voice flows on to the end! To some such a scene went that gentlewoman of London, whom Bishop Latimer mentioned in one of his sermons before King Edward the sixth. A neighbour met her in the street as she was going, and said, Mistress, whither go ye? Marry, said she, I am going to St. Thomas of Acre's to the sermon; I could not sleep all this last night, and I am going now thither; I never failed of a good nap there.
A sleepy sermon is sometimes followed by a lively hymn, which enables people to shake off their drowsiness before venturing out into the open-air
. Those who have slept the soundest are frequently amongst the heartiest in singing, especially if there is something in the sentiment of a more than usually appropriate nature, such as:
“ Thine earthly Sabbaths, Lord, we love,
But there's a nobler rest above." But the Word of the Lord should be so proclaimed as to render it almost impossible for the hearers to sleep. Preaching was not designed to be mesmeric. A sermon should not be a lullaby. There should be no speaking for the sake of speaking. No attempt to drag out a theme when the speaker has really got to the end of his tether. No weaving a web of soft nothings. A life-like, hearty, and direct style of preaching will not admit of much sleeping; though there are some incorrigibly drowsy ones who will sleep under almost any circumstances. Even in connection with Apostolic preaching we read of one sleeper, but then there was some excuse for him, as the occasion was quite exceptional.
may be presumed that not many of the Pharisees slept during the delivery of the Saviour's address, recorded in the 23rd of Matthew;
of the Jews who were present at Peter's discourse, on the day of Pentecost; nor many of the Athenians, when Paul spake on Mar's Hill.
Were these good examples followed, sleepy sermons would become rare indeed.
Observer, Aug. 1, '75.
THE NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY.
It is believed that such a work as “ THE NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY” is designed to be, is greatly needed. This age has been characterized by unusual activity in the department of Biblical criticism. There never was a time when the Bible was more severely attacked. But it is equally true, there never was a time when the friends of the Bible felt more secure in their plea for its genuineness and Divine authenticity. Opposition has only stimulated earnest inquiry, and this has brought to light a vast amount of heretofore unknown evidence, as well as developed an exegesis which promises the best results to all earnest students of the sacred volume.
We think it may be fairly claimed that the Bible, as a divine revelation, has been fully vindicated. It only remains to apprehend the truth which the Bible teaches, and then we may hope for the complete realization of the blessed influence which it is designed to exert in the salvation and civilization of our race. To secure this result, it is very desirable that the present means for enlightened criticism should be used in giving the world a comme
mentary that will at once be popular, and employ all the best learning that is now so abundantly accessible in this department of study. It was the belief that such a work as would meet this demand of the age could now be produced, that suggested the publication of
THE NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY.
Within the last few years several able commentaries have been published on the Old Testament, and it is believed little more can be done for this portion of the Bible. But as the New Testament contains what we are more particularly interested in, it is all the more important that the best results of Biblical criticism should be applied in elucidating its teaching And yet we are inclined to believe that this is just the part of the Bible that has failed to receive that enlightened treatment which is necessary to give it its true meaning. Taking this view of the matter, it was thought that a commentary on the New Testament, projected on a liberal basis, and wrought out by skilful and able men, possessed of the clearest and ripest views of the Christian Dispensation, would commend itself to the public in a way that would at once secure a large patronage. Hence, after much correspondence and conference on the subject, the publishers of the present work called a meeting of such persons as had been agreed upon to take part in the proposed commentary, to consider the whole matter, and make such arrangements as were deemed necessary to push the work to completion. At this meeting it was unanimously agreed that the work should proceed at once upon the general character and plan indicated as follows:
1. When completed, to consist of eleven volumes, divided and assigned as follows :
1. Matthew and Mark, J. W. McGarvey.
Observer, Aug. 1, '75.
5. Romans, W. K. Pendleton. 6. First and Second Corinthians, Isaac Erret. 7. Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, R. Richardson.
8. First and Second Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, to be assigned.
9. Hebrews, R. Milligan.
2. The text used to be the same as Bagster's Critical English New Testament. To be arranged into paragraphs. Chapters and versemarks to be retained, but to be subordinated to this arrangement.
3. The text to be printed at the top of the page. The different readings and purely critical notes to be printed in small type immediately under the text.
4. Following the text to be, first, a brief analysis of each section when necessary; second, Exegetical and Critical notes, as concisely made as can be done to present clearly the meaning, provided that such notes as are not suitable for the body of the work shall be arranged at the end of the volume; third, brief Practical Reflections; fourth, each book to contain an introduction, giving history, canonicity, general purpose, etc. The whole work to be made as popular as possible, at same time scholarly and critical enough for preachers and Bible students.
5. Parallel references to be placed in the margin of the text; and such maps, illustrations, chronological index, tables, etc., to be provided, as are necessary for ample illustration.
6. The size of the volume to be crown octavo. The text in long primer and notes in bourgeois. Each volume to contain about 400 pages.
Since the meeting referred to above, considerable progress has been made in the various divisions of the work-several of the volumes being already completed, or nearly so. It is the purpose of all concerned to push the work forward as rapidly as possible.
We do not propose to discuss here the merits of the present volume,* and yet we feel that it would not be out of place to call the attention of the public to the following important special features :
a. It distributes the subject matter of the narratives into the parts, sections, and paragraphs, which are the natural divisions made by the inspired authors, instead of observing the unnatural divisions into chapters and verses which has been introduced into our printed Bibles. This arrangement makes the plan of the inspired writers more intelligible and greatly facilitates both the comprehension and the remembrance of what they have written.
b. It treats these narratives as historical proofs of the Messiahship and Sonship of Jesus, and the logical bearing on this question of all the facts recorded, is carefully pointed out in the form of an " Argument" at the end of every section. This feature of the work, which is entirely new, is calculated to greatly exalt the reader's appreciation of the testimony for Jesus, and it should not fail to increase his faith.
c. It discusses elaborately, and by a method in many respects new, the interesting subject of the genealogy of our Saviour, as given by Matthew.
* Vol. I., containing Matthew and Mark, is now ready, by J. W. McGarvey.