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Observer, Oct. 1, '75.
pray for it.
The preacher who is ignorant of our teaching on this question is too ignorant to be trusted by his brethren in our circle, for he will certainly bring reproach upon them. If he knew our views, and knowingly offended, the case is worse, and he is too coarse to be allowed to enter anybody's pulpit. A man who will wilfully trample upon the feelings of others must be gross. He who enters, by invitation, the pulpit of another church and thrusts his party dogma upon the people whose hospitality he enjoys has not the spirit that belongs to the true minister. I do not remember that such a bold offence as this was ever committed in my hearing, but nothing is more common than for the Methodist preachers to repeat this thing in their prayers in our union or mixed meetings. Where we meet on common ground, and have equal rights, they will constantly thrust this objectionable thing upon us, ignoring our view and teaching and disregarding our feelings. How would it do for us to retaliate by following such a prayer by another in which we pray God to make all the congregation willing to repent and be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins; that they may submit to be buried with the Lord by baptism? That they, like the Corinthians, might be impressed with the need of going forth, as Ananias, to say to the penitent believers,
why tarriest thou ? Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins calling on the name of the Lord.' What a stir it would make? Would they not cry out! Would they not say he is thrusting his sectarianism upon us? Would they not call it unfair, unchristian, coarse, ungentlemanly? Well we think so, too. But is it any worse when the shoe is on the other foot ?
I do not suppose we ever had a preacher so discourteous, uncivil and disrespectful as to offend them with his peculiar views while occupying, by invitation, their pulpit.” The words thus quoted are signed by E. L. Frazier. He seems to write like a man of wide experience, and openly advocates shameful time-serving. Apostolic doctrine in the very terms of Scripture are called our peculiar views, and he does not suppose that we ever had a preacher so uncivil as not to withhold them when filling sectarian pulpits. Methodist preachers are to occupy our chapels and we are to take part with them in union meetings, and the very thing above all others they believe to be desirable, for the spiritual good of Christians and the salvation of sinners, they are forbidden to pray for on pain of denunciation, in the public prints, as coarse fellows who should be thrust out of decent society, and that, too, by people claiming to restore Primitive Christianity in faith and practice. We do not receive the judgment of E. L. Frazier as to preaching brethren in America. We cannot doubt but that there are many who would speak out all that he cites as constituting the preacher unchristian and ungentlemanly, or who, not feeling at liberty, so to do, would refuse to occupy a sectarian pulpit or to take part in a union meeting. But these union meetings, without exception, wherever we have seen them, are cast in such a mould as to tend to the production of the craven spirit which animates him. Let the church do its own work, and leave others to do whatever good they can. If this course does not suit any liberal brother, who may read these remarks, let him produce New Testament precept or example for combining with unauthorized associations in direct Christian work; or let him relinquish the plea for Apostolic sanction as the ground of his faith and practice.
Observer, Oct. 1, '75.
4. Our Annual Meetings. p. 331, presents an uncalled for alternative and may possibly exert injurious influence. It reads :-“We had much better sacrifice our pleasant and useful Annual Gatherings than that they should have a tendency to narrow us into a sect, or that they should be utilized for settling differences which never can be healed by resolutions, and which, as a general rule, can only be mended by those who have caused them.” Now we are free to affirm that the Annual Meeting, as now constituted, has no tendency whatever in the direction, intimated. Certainly it cannot be said (as the writer put's it) that, “ In drawing our line, as we seem to do, in our published list, it has come to be regarded as a line of fellowship.” The churches do not so view it.
' If there are individuals who do so they are few indeed, and quite inexcusable. The constitution of the co-operation is most explicit. It does not limit the number of Christian churches in this country to those upon its list; it declares that its declining to place a church thereon leaves any church at full liberty, both as to fellowship and labour, in reference to the omitted church, and that its action only relates to the special evangelistic operations this co-operation is intended to promote. When the progress of evangelization is obstructed by contention between two churches, or parties claiming to be churches, the Annual Meeting has passed resolutions recommending them to endeavour themselves to settle the difference, and failing that to select for themselves disinterested brethren whose decision shall be final. In this there is no tendency to the formation of a sect, in any sense of the word.
5. The communion question, on page 333 is described as “the most difficult and the greatest hindrance." Though the writer declines to give judgment on the question, and withholds the expression of “any conclusion at which he may have arrived” (which we think he should not have withheld), he does not leave us in doubt as to his understanding of our duty, as churches of Christ, toward the unbaptized; we are not to furnish to them the means to commune with the church in the Breaking of the Bread. At least, so we understand him. Not that this conclusion is stated, on the page now under notice, as clearly as we could desire. There he says, "If it were a question of the adoption of this practice furnishing to unbaptized persons the bread and wine) by the churches represented at this meeting, I would have no difficulty in urging, that we would have no hesitation in deciding that it is our safety to abide by Apostolic tradition." The only point upon which our brother hesitates is, whether we should refuse to acknowledge associations that do allow the unbaptized to commune. He says we must weigh well the grounds of our decision and the consequences to which it leads. Now we do not like the word “safety” as employed in the foregoing. It is more than our safety to abide by Apostolic tradition; it is absolute duty so to do. If in this thing our abiding by Apostolic tradition is not of the nature of duty in nothing else can it be proved to be so, and the fundamental plea of our reformation dissolves like the baseless fabric of a vision. Nor can we admit that, in deciding cases of this kind, we must look well at the consequences. Consequences should be left to God. We have nothing to do with them but to suffer them. Most of the elements of the Apostacy come from looking to consequences. One of old put forth his hand to stay the falling ark.
Observer, Oct. 1, '75.
He was looking to consequences, but the Lord punished him by death. We have to obey the Law of God and leave results to Him. bandage our eyes with the fear of greatly reduced numbers then we become much less likely to discern the path marked out by the Lord. We feel impelled to say this much, not because we fear that the writer of the paper is going wrong, but owing to a tendency, here and there, to draw from doubtful expressions more than their author intends. Turning to another page we find a clear intimation of our duty in regard to the Lord's table, and an out-spoken testimony against those who depart from that duty. Page 327 reads: “The remarkable success of our cause, in the great American Republic, has brought with it responsibilities and trials, and, in some instances the brethren have been tempted above what they were able to bear. The consequence is that we have to mourn over a measure of departure from the primitive times, for example, in the introduction of a species of open communion be sure the same temptation is before us, and it will be our wisdom to take timely warning. Let us guard against the insiduous influence of time-serving policy; it may promise us many favours, but it will pay us with counterfeit coin.” With these words we shall conclude for the present, because we can scarcely close with anything better. Other matters growing out of the Meeting in Glasgow claim notice and, should time and circumstances favour, we may turn to them in our next. ED.
BAPTISM INTO CHRIST. As it is common with some to depreciate, from various motives, the institution of baptism, it may be useful to present a few thoughts upon the position assigned to it in Scripture. It is not left to men to fix either the absolute or the relative value of the different parts of the remedial economy. Certain it is, that nothing can be trivial which appertains to so grave a matter as the redemption of mankind; nor is it to be supposed that anything redundant or superfluous has been connected with a system of salvation devised by infinite wisdom and love. It is by reverently considering the emphasis placed by the Holy Spirit Himself upon any particular part of this system, that we may alone learn to estimate, in some measure, its importance.
It is usually admitted that the frequency with which a significant word occurs in the New Testament, indicates the importance of the thing it represents. This being so, then certainly for this reason, if for no other, baptism should claim the most earnest attention. For, though, in primitive times, there was no controversy on the subject of baptism which could occasion a frequent recurrence of the term, we find it literally employed no less than eighty-two times; while to these may be added at least twenty metaphorical references, making, in all, about one hundred distinct notices of the institution of baptism. It cannot be supposed for a moment that a matter so often brought into view in the original promulgation of the Gospel, may now be safely passed by in silence, or treated with indifference.
It is worthy of note, moreover, that baptism is one of the very first things presented to us in the record of Christ's mission. In what Mark
Observer, Oct. 1, '75.
calls “the beginning of the Gospel,” this institution is made most prominent as the means through which the Son of God Himself was to be manifested to men. Furthermore, as it is thus placed among the first things in the historical record relating to Jesus of Nazareth, so is it also among the very last things spoken of and solemnly enjoined by Him at the close of His ministry on earth. Again, after His ascension to the heavens, we find it made conspicuous in the very beginning of the Apostolic mission, in the second chapter of Acts, and, thenceforward, throughout the narrative, in the various recorded cases of conversion ; while there is hardly an epistle in the New Testament, in which it is not particularly mentioned or referred to. Every thoughtful and unprejudiced mind will hence admit, than an institution which occupies so large a space in the sacred volume, must be of no little moment among the things of the kingdom of heaven.
It is not at all difficult, however, to comprehend the reason of the great attention thus given to baptism, when we consider the objects and effects expressly attributed to it. Unqualifiedly it is declared to be “for the remission of sins," a phrase elsewhere connected only with faith, with repentance, and with the blood of Christ. So, also, as it is written of Christ that He washed us from our sins in His own blood.” Saul is divinely commanded to “be baptized and wash away his sins." We need say nothing here as to the sense in which baptism is for the remission or washing away of sins. We merely adduce the fact that the Scripture asserts a connection between baptism and pardon, or that moral and spiritual washing and purification which the ordinance so appropriately represents. To prevent misconception, we remark further, that this connection, like everything else attributed to baptism, is affirmed only of a true baptism-of a baptism with its necessary and proper antecedents of faith, love and penitence, and not at all of a baptism per se, isolated and independent, and therefore vain. Even the word of God itself is thus unprofitable, if not “mixed with faith” in those who hear it, nor is there anything in the Gospel which may not be rendered nugatory, if separated from its proper relations.
One of the most remarkable declarations, however, in regard to baptism is, that it is into Christ. Here the same preposition, eis,
is used as in the case of faith, so that as faith is said to be (eis) " into Christ," so baptism is “ into Christ.” Surely it would be difficult to estimate too highly an institution of which this can be affirmed, even if it be in a merely declarative and formal sense. To be thus “baptized into Christ," we are furthermore informed is to "put on Christ.” “ As many,” says Paul (Gal. iii. 27), “ as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” To "put on Christ”—to become indued with Christ—is a most significant expression, and a result not affirmed of anything else in the Gospel but of a true faith ; so that, in this respect, faith and baptism are here again associated. In this phrase, there is indeed much implied. It indicates the accomplishment of a union with Christ, so true and complete, that, as Chrysostom says, “we are brought into one lineage and one form with Him," or, as Calvin well observes: “Before God, we wear the name and the
person of Christ, and are estimated in Him, rather than in ourselves. Paul hesitates not to attribute boldly and without qualification this result to baptism in the passage cited from
Observer, Oct. 1, '75.
Galatians, where he also appropriately groups together with it the faith that must precede and the unity that should follow. “ After that faith is come,” says he, we are no longer under a schoolmaster (i.e., the tutelage of the law). For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.” Here the transition from faith to baptism is direct, and their intimate association is strikingly shown.
He does not say, many as have believed into Christ have put on Christ," as he doubtless would have said if this result could have been attributed to faith alone, or if the obedience rendered in baptism was in any sense incompatible with that salvation by faith and grace which in this epistle he especially labours to exalt above the Law; but, on the contrary, after speaking of faith as the principle of sonship to God, he passes at once to baptism as the ordinance in which all believers had "put on Christ.” It is to be noted that both of these affirmations are alike connected with the conjunction “for," in all its illative force, and that they together constitute the premises or proof from which sonship to God and deliverance from the Law had just been deduced and asserted. The Apostle thence proceeds to declare the spiritual unity of all thus constituted children of God, since in Christ Jesus all had become one, and Jew and Greek, bond and free, male and female were alike assimilated to one Divine image in being indued with Christ in baptism. It is easy to perceive, accordingly, why Paul, in addressing the Ephesians, should place baptism” among the marks or constituents of Christian unity, and why he should again associate it immediately with “one Lord” and with one faith.
Yet it is this “one baptism," which, in the pretended interests of “ Christian union” itself, modern perverters of the Gospel would teach men to regard as unimportant--as a matter which may be wilfully and unnecessarily postponed ; an institution which may be modified in form and deprived of all significance, or even be contemned and dispensed with altogether, without impropriety or loss ! To other important results of “ baptism into Christ,” we may, however, advert at another opportunity.
NOTES FOR THE SUNDAY SCHOOL.
INTERNATIONAL SERIES OF LESSONS.
October 3. JESUS LIFTED UP.-John xii. 26-30. « Certain Greeks." Not necessarily of the Greek nation, but Gentiles. Mark v. 26. Jesus was sent only to the Jews, but these Gentiles would see Him. He takes occasion therefrom to teach that He will become the Saviour of people of all nations, v. 32. Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. A wise course—let all matters of religion and duty be settled by an appeal to the will of Jesus. It is not said that He consented to see them. But it would be very unlike Him to refuse ; even though they were not of the class (Jews) that He had then come to instruct. Most likely the word “them,” v. 23, refers to the Apostles and to them. “ The hour is come”-the time of His death, to be speedily followed by His resurrection, return to heaven, and enthronement at the right hand of the Father, was close at hand. It was only by death and resurrection that He could become known as the Saviour for all nations. In His life He appeared as a Jew and for Jews only; by His death He is made a healer for all sinners. Except a corn of wheat." Till the body of the corn dies in the earth there can be no increase. The harvest depends upon and comes from the corn buried in the