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Observer, Nov. 1, '75.
1. The baptism of John.
With most persons and denominations of our time, the first, if not always clearly understood, is generally easily distinguished from the others, but the last three are much confounded; but, by attention to the sacred teachers, it is easy to distinguish wherein they differ, for the differences are great. The third chapter of Matthew mentions those which are numbered 1, 2, 3. Acts xix. 3-5 mentions those which are numbered 1 and 4. These two passages clearly distinguish all the four baptisms. Luke iii. 16 is the only other passage that speaks of the baptism in fire; and the context clearly shows in both passages that it means that punishment of the wicked which Christ personally shall outmete in the day when He shall burn the chaff with fire unquenchable. Mark i. 8, Luke iii. 16, Acts i. 5, Acts xi. 10 are the only other passages which speak of being " baptized in the Holy Ghost." By necessary inference from Acts i. 5 and xi. 16, we say that Acts ii. 2-4, x. 44-46, and xi. 15-17 describe the baptism in the Holy Spirit; and beyond this there is no teaching on this subject in the New Testament. This baptism had these characteristics :
1. It was administered by Jesus from heaven. 2. The subjects were specially selected persons. 3. They were not only immersed in Spirit, but, as it were, saturated with the power of God.
4. They manifested their baptism by miraculous results.
Surely this cannot be confounded with baptism administered by any man, or even with that participation, communion of the Holy Spirit
, common to all saints, which in the New Testament is nowhere called a baptism. The references to the baptism of John are not very numerous, and may be easily found; but we simply remark of it that the sum of the teaching is that John, at the command of God, preached the baptism of repentance, and the subjects of it received remission of sins, and looked for the coming of the Redeemer, who, John announced, was coming immediately after him.
The baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus is more often referred to in the New Testament than all the other baptisms together. It is manifest from Acts ii. 38, x. 47, viii. 12-15, xix. 5, 6, that the presence of the Holy Ghost, so far from being a substitute for this baptism, furnished a strong reason for it. John's baptism was superseded by it. Most assuredly this is not the baptism in fire. Looking at Matt. xxviii. 18, 19, we learn that Jesus commanded His Apostles to baptize as they preached the gospel of salvation through faith in His shed blood. Then This is undoubtedly the one baptism (Eph. iv. 5) that remains in and for the use of the churches of God. About the action of baptism we have no controversy. Dipping is baptism. All scholars are agreed that the Greek word means this; and the unlearned may settle the question by substituting dip and dipping, or immerse and immersion, wherever the Greek baptize or baptism occur, and then trying what the sense would be if sprinkle or pour was substituted. Thus Rom. vi. 4:
Buried with Him by baptism into death.
Buried with Him by sprinkling into death.
No question would arise on this point, if the Greek words were merely translated into English. We can only briefly summarize the teaching (doctrine) as to what this action of baptism is for. It indicates—
1. Discipleship to Christ. (Matt. xxviii. 19.)
2. Union with Christ and death to sin. (Rom. iv. 3-6; Gal. iii. 27; Col. ii. 12, 13.)
3. Forgiveness of sin. (Acts i. 38; Acts xxii. 16; 1 Peter iii. 21.)
4. That the believing, trusting soul desires in this ordinance to express its living faith and true repentance. (Acts viii. 12, 36-39.)
5. That it is the beginning of a new life; that is, it is a new birth. (John iii. 5; Titus iii. 5.)
6. This baptism is performed by Christ's Disciples on those who wish to become such.
An ordinary reference Bible will enable the student of the Word of God to find all other teaching on this subject; and then, having faith in God, he will readily obey the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Anyone who has not faith will not care what is the doctrine of baptisms.
We take it that the phrase, “ the doctrine," is not only to be construed with of baptisms, but also with the remainder of the six principles that follow. Thus we would say:
4. The doctrine of laying on of hands.
If, however, some should consider it doubtful about the grammar of the text actually indicating this, yet the fact would remain that it is the doctrine, i.e., the New Testament teaching on these subjects, that interests us, and that teaching which was given by the Apostles in their first promulgation of the Gospel. For teaching obtained from later revelations (e.g., the Apocalypse) could not be in the foundation truths of Christianity. It strikes some people strangely that laying on of hands should be mentioned in the same breath as faith and repentance; but so it is. We learn from this that non-essential is an unchristian word—that whatever God has appointed is absolutely essential for the purpose God associated it with; and that we may not leave out or substitute any of God's ordinances.
For the doctrine of the laying on of hands we must look into the Old Testament; for we find the custom existed under the patriarchal and Mosaic institutions, and it was adopted in Christian churches for similar purposes. See the following passages, among others : Gen. xlviii. 14-16; Lev. viii. 14; Deut. xxxiv. 9, Matt. xix. 13-15; Mark xvi. 18; Acts vi. 6, viii. 17, 18, ix. 17, xiii. 1-3; 1 Tim. iv. 14, v. 22; 2 Tim. i. 6; Gal. ii. 9.
The substance of these and other passages may be stated :
1. Is a strictly natural action. We touch with the hands the persons or things that please us.
Observer, Nov. 1, '75.
2. God has expressly enjoined this action in His public service.
3. When one person lays hands on the head of another, they are not equals; but the person who does the act is the greater personage.
4. Officially, it was a sign of a charge conferred.
5. Blessing and miraculous powers were conferred by it; and sin was imputed to sacrifices of the altar.
6. In the New Testament, besides being used for a special purpose by the Apostles, it was also used in the churches, in the ordination of officers, as deacons and evangelists.*
7. When equality is indicated, shaking hands, or the right hand of fellowship, is used.
This act is a congregational act, lying at the foundation of the order of a Christian assembly. So let it be done decently and in the due order.
That the dead shall rise was taught by Christ and His Apostles, is generally admitted, but is in danger of being regarded in our time as a truth unessential, or practically no truth. It was, however, distinctly taught by Christ Himself. (Matt. xxii. 30-32; Luke xiv. 4; John v. 28, 29, vi. 44-54, xi. 24-26.)
The resurrection of the dead was also a substantive part of the preaching of the Apostles. (Acts i. 22, ii. 31, iv. 2, xvii: 18, et al.] The Apostles regarded this doctrine as the revelation of all others the most intimately fundamental. See Paul's strong language 1 Cor. xv. 13, 18, his warning in 2 Tim. xi. 18, and Peter's glorious thanksgiving, 1 Peter i. 3, which is based on the assurance of the resurrection. Swedenborgian and Spiritualistic error are alike remote from the apostolic teaching, and the scientific doubt about possibility was as common in the Apostles' dayš as in those of Strauss. " With what body do they come ?” is the unbeliever's question; but the Christian's answer is : I do not know; but this I know, that when my Lord shall appear I shall be like Him, for I shall see Him as He is. (John iii. 1, 2.) The Gospel has one fact for its corner-stone. God raised Christ from the dead, and till the day of His appearing we shall never know all the power of His resurrection. How our own shall be accomplished we know not, though the growth of a grain of wheat may illustrate it; but the presence
of the Son of man alone can accomplish it. But without this for our hope, faith is dead; we are yet in our sins, deluded and deluding:
Eternal judgment! Fixity of state for ever! Several of the passages referring to the resurrection of the dead refer also to the fact and the day of judgment. Paul, preaching before the Roman governor, warned him of a judgment to come. (Acts xxiv. 25); And when talking to the philosophic Athenians, he told them that God had appointed a day to judge the world in righteousness. Writing to the Romans, he says we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ (xiv. 10-12); and, for himself, he is assured of reward from God, the righteous Judge, at that day. The New Testament gives no uncertain sound about the fact and the day of judgment. Christ shall appear on the throne of His glory. All peoples shall be gathered before Him, and the deeds done in the body
+ There is no instance of the ordination of an evangelist in the N. T.-Ed.
shall be the matter of record. A self-accusing or approving conscience shall be the witness in the heavenly court; and the individuals arraigned will aggregate themselves in masses, two companies, by virtue of their moral affinities. God's judgment is not harsh or arbitrary, but simply according to law—the law of our own moral nature, of our own highest good. See inter al., Matt. vi. 17, vii. 1, xxv. 31, 46; 1 Peter ii. 23; 2 Peter ii. 9; 1 Thess. iv. 16., v. 2 ; 2 Thess. i. 6; 1 John iii. 1-21.
; These, then, are principles of the doctrine of Christ. Let us then build on this foundation of faith and hope a superstructure of love, and garnish the temple of God with goodly stones, well shapen and tried, and wait for the Master-builder to come to inspect the work and judge the deeds; and, as we know not the day of His coming, let us evermore WATCH.
PREACHERS WITHOUT PLACES.
In a communication recently published in the Evangelist, we find the following sentence in Italics :
“ Just now there are more preachers without places and places without preachers, than were ever known among us before.”
To speak of a preacher without a place to preach, is like speaking of a bird without a place to fly, or of a ship without a place to sail. There may be birds with crippled wings that cannot fly, or birds too old to fly; there may be ships with tattered sails and rotten hulls which cannot venture into the open sea ; and so there may be preachers who cannot preach, or who cannot go to the place in which they ought to preach ; but as the whole boundless atmosphere is for the birds, and the whole surface of the ocean is for the ships, so the whole world is the place for the preachers.
The talk about preachers without places is the cry of an imbecile. It means that there are preachers who preach only when some church or churches will guarantee them a salary ample for their support. And it means that if this is not done they will abandon preaching, and go to selling sewing machines, or obtain an insurance agency, or find some other employment suited to their capacity. The same writer proceeds in the following strain :
“What will our young men do who have laid out their hard-earned means to prepare themselves for the ministry, when the churches will not employ them? They will turn their backs upon the ministry for ever, and their history will ever prevent their places being filled by others. The writer of this is seriously contemplating another calling in a few short months, when in all probability he will bid farewell to the ministry. It is needless to conceal longer the fact that a heavy per cent. of our ministry will soon be sacrificed unless their services are appropriated by the churches."
We say with a hearty good will concerning all such preachers, let them go ; and the sooner the better. Their call to the ministry is not a deep and solemn sense of obligation to God, but a mere choice of professions : and consequently they have missed their calling. that puts his hand to the plough and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God."
Observer, Nov. 1, '75.
But perhaps someone is prepared to ask seriously, what shall a man do who wants to preach but has no place offered him in which he can be supported. We answer, first of all, let him starve to death rather than advertise himself in the newspapers as a seeker for a place. This custom, which is beginning to show itself among us, is degrading to preachers, and no man who has proper self-respect will descend to it. We answer, in the second place, let no man go around
the churches that are hunting for fine preachers, and preach trial sermons. This also is a degrading practice, and one that should be broken down at once. If a church thinks of securing your services, she can, through a judicious committee, learn far more about you from those who know you than she can by setting you up in her pulpit as a mark to be shot at, while you, in your efforts to dodge the arrows of criticism, make a ninny of yourself and spoil your sermon. Let the abomination of trial sermons be laid in the dust. We
answer, in the third place, let every man who has taken it upon himself to preach, go forth and preach wherever he can find people who will hear him; and where he finds that they hear him with the greater interest, let him preach the more. If he find that by this means he does not receive a support for his family, let him add tent-making like Paul, or something else that he understands, as a means of support, and still preach as much as he can. He can find some place to preach every Lord's day at least, if it only be in some neighbouring school house, or in some shady grove; and he should fix his residence where he will be most accessible to places in which his preaching is acceptable. At times when his means of livelihood will allow it, he should make extended tours through regions in which he can be useful, or hold protracted meetings in communities where he can find an audience. If, through want of better encouragement, he should spend all his life in this way, he will be doing only what thousands of good men have done before him, and will be doing his duty. But if a man labour thus and possess the real elements of usefulness there is no portion of our country in which his labours will not eventually be so appreciated that he can receive a support for his preaching alone.
Above all things, let us shun, as fatal to our souls, all selfish views of gospel work, and remember that to spend and to be ent is at once the duty and the glory of the servants of Christ.
The foregoing editorial, from the Apostolic Times, shows that the Disciples of Christ, in America, can make no better hand than do the denominations generally of the hired preacher-pastor system.
Young men go to College, prepare themselves for a profession, and seek a 'vacant church so soon as possible. Many of them are not sufficiently up to the mark to secure a place in a church willing and able to pay a fine salary, and after knocking about for awhile they turn away to some other calling; and, too often indicate that there was but little anxiety to make known the Gospel, save that which appertains to the professional aspect of the work. The system fails everywhere. Each sect as it comes to depend for its edification and enlargement chiefly upon a stated preacher-pastor fails in most vital points. A few large congre. gations are kept up, making very few converts, and scarcely at all influencing the masses, who are left without contact even with the truths those sects would gladly disseminate.