Billeder på siden
[ocr errors]

of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of His majesty." (2 Peter i. 16.) To all the followers of Christ the command is imperative, "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter iii. 15.)

Thus we have seen that reason and religion are in unison. God Himself, the Saviour and the Apostles have each in their turn vindicated its claims by example, and have commanded all professors of religion to do the same.

We may therefore conclude that if any doctrine be held for which there is not a sufficient reason, that it can be no part of the Christian institution. When Reason is fully satisfied that the Bible is from God she has then no more to do but to understand its lessons and carry them out in daily practice, neither adding to, nor taking from, nor in any way seeking to modify what the Divine Being has seen fit to reveal. The following remarks from "Coleridge's Aids to Reflection,"

. “ pages 129, 130, may not be out of place :

“Enthusiasts find it an easy thing to heat the fancies of unlearned and unreflecting hearers; but when a sober man would be satisfied of the grounds from whence they speak, he shall not have one syllable or the least title of a pertinent answer. Only they will talk big of the SPIRIT, and inveigh against reason with bitter reproaches, calling it carnal or fashly, though it be indeed no soft flesh, but endureth the penetrant steel, even the sword of the Spirit, and such as pierces to the heart. There are two very bad things in this resolving of men's faith and practice into the immediate suggestion of a Spirit not acting on our understandings, or rather into the illumination of such a Spirit as they can give no account of, such as does not enlighten their reason or enable them to render their doctrine intelligible to others. First, it defaces and makes useless that part of the image of God in us, which we call reason; and secondly, it takes away that advantage, which raises Christianity above all other religions, that she dare appeal to so solid a faculty.”

"It is wrong to represent faith as in itself opposed to reason in any of its forms. Faith may go far beyond intelligence, but it is not in itself repugnant to it. It is not good either for reason or faith that it should be alone. The former is in itself hard, bony, angular; and, unmarried to the other is apt to become opinionative, obstinate and dogmatic; the latter without her partner to lean on, would be facile, weak and impulsive, and given to partiality and favouritism. The one is a helpmeet provided for the other, and let there be no divorce of the former from the more flexible, or the more devout and affectionate from the more considerate and impartial.” M'Cosh on the Intuitions of the Mind, p. 372-3.



[ocr errors]



DISESTABLISHMENT. THE Rev. Dr. Gregg, vicar of East Harborne, Birmingham, sends us a copy of a tract he has just issued, strongly advocating the disestablishment of the Church of England. He assigns various reasons for this conclusion, amongst them being the circumstance that “we alone, in the

Observer, Dec. 1, '75.


[ocr errors]

Church of England, as by law established, have neither the power, nor permission, to manage our own affairs ;” and another being that “under the name of the Church of England is propagated a great deal of Romanism,” the Establishment having, “ to an alarming extent, become a nursery for sisterhoods' or convents, and many other institutions of Rome, to which, as a Protestant, I very strongly object." The Church, Dr. Gregg says, does not, as an Establishment, touch the masses of the people :

“I um pained to observe the complacency and satisfaction with which the clergy, as a rule, and even some of the laity, express a contrary opinion. When people cry 'peace and safety' under such circumstances then sudden destruction' may not be 80 very far away. Let any man of common sense take his stand, as I have often done, amongst the people,' at a meeting in the Town Hall in Birmingham (or any other large town). Let him hear, and heed, the remarks made by shrewd, intelligent, thinking men of the so-called masses.' He will then be extraordinarily deaf if he do not hear something very different from many utterances made from Church platforms and pulpits. Oh,' you say, ' Birmingham is Radical. Yes, I know it; and 'Radicals,' whatever may be their faults, speak their minds very plainly. They say what they think; and the people’ are getting into the way of thinking aloud at public meetings, and (in the body of the hall) often speaking aloud. I have heard a very great deal in this way. I have moved unkown, not as a parson, but as a man, among the people, not only in the Birmingham Town Hall, but elsewhere, and, trying to see and hear things as they are, I have come to this conclusion—that the Church of England is not deeply rooted in the hearts of the people. On the contrary, while professing to be the National Church,' she has ceased to be the Church of the Nation, and only ministers to a minority of the people. My opinion is that 'the people' do not care one straw about the 'National Church,' as an establishment; and they are getting, by degrees, not only to think so, but to say so; and some day (not very far distant) they will say so in a very silent, though clear and distinct, way (at a general election) through the ballot boxes; and this Protestant nation will then strip the Church's teaching of the authority which it now derives from national sanctlon." As to disendowment, Dr. Gregg is less emphatic.

" What have I to say on this point? I candidly confess that, although I have read a very great deal on this subject, I do not understand it; but this I do say very clearly--if the Church of England hold any money which belongs to the State, by all means she should give it up. If she do not hold State or national property, by all means she should not be deprived of what is her own. Let documents be produced. Let her hold what is her own, and give up what is not her own.

One thing is very clear—if the Establishment be disestablished, truth cannot; and if the Establishment be disendowed, and if the Church be sent away pecuniarily empty, well, what the Church may lose by poverty she may gain in purity; and a poor Church, if pure, is better than a rich Church if rotten. This is merely a truism. I do not think that the Church of England is rotten. It is because she is sound at heart that she ought to be severed from all that now impedes her usefulness.”

The writer makes the following references to his own position :do not belong to the Liberation Society. I know very little about it, except the name. Most probably I should not agree with many of its tenets. To the best of my knowledge, I have never read one of its publications, and I have never attended any of its meetings. I have been told and warned that if I express my sentiments I need never expect any advancement in the Church. Well, be it so. I feel very content as I am. I can afford to do without advancement, and, if

_“ I Observer, Dec. 1, '75.

[ocr errors]



needful, to live without holding a position in the Establishment; but I cannot afford to stifle the still, small voice' within, which says

Speak, and hold not thy peace.' So far as advancement is concerned, I say, with all my heart, Perish all advancement, except the advancement of truth.'” The pamphlet, it seems, has been submitted in proof

.' to Mr. Bright, who writes in reply, “ the tract on the Church is good.

. I hope it may be read extensively.

Daily Post




December 5. JESUS AND MARY.-John xx. 1-18. “ On the first day of the week.” From then to be known as the Lord's-day. Note the fitness of the designation. Early.' While yet dark. (Mark xvi. 2). They have taken away the Lord.The Disciples did not understand He was to rise from the dead. It was not by reasoning that they concluded He had risen, the fact was proved to them. They saw Him. “ Linen clothes lying" in order. No mark of haste or confusion, and none of the body having been taken away. Went inand saw-and believed," i.e., believed the resurrection. " Touch Me not." Mary was not then to wait with Jesus, but to go forth on her mission to the brethren. We must learn to work for Christ as well as to enjoy His presence. She went and told the Disciples but they would not believe (Mark xvi.). Her heart must have been made sad by their unbelief. So now with those who love Jesus, the refusal of sinners to believe is a source of severe grief.

December 12. JESUS AND THOMAS.John xx. 19-31. The same day." That on which He had been seen by Mary and her companions (Matt. xxviii. 9). Peace be unto you.Reminding them of His promise to give them peace. His peace such as the world cannot give ; full, satisfying, abiding. The world cannot take it away

" Receive ye the Holy Ghost(properly Spirit). This preparatory to baptizing in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. “ Whosesoever sins ye remit." Sin may be remitted actually, declaratively, or legislatively. As to the first, God only can remit sin. As to the second, man can declare sin remitted when God has made known the conditions and they have been complied with. As to the third, the lawgiver remits sin when a way of pardon is enacted and promulgated. The Apostles by their baptism in the Holy Spirit were made to know the way of pardon graciously determined by God, and being commissioned by Jesus to announce, with authority, what was thus revealed to them, and to bind the same, they thus, legislatively, remitted sin. This they did once for all, and have no successors. Thomas saw and believed. Blessed are they who believe but do not see. All the signs and wonders done by Jesus were to produce that demonstration which enables us to believe.

December 19. JESUS AND PETER.John xxi. 1-18. “I go a fishing.Why not? They had seen the Lord, but as yet had no work for Him to enter upon. Food would be needful, and what better mode of getting it? The Saviour, when He came did not chide them, but directed where to cast the net that they might have a plentiful supply: Come and dine." How loving to call Peter to that dinner party, who had denied Him with cursing! Lovest thou Me more than these ?Peter had boasted that though all his fellow-disciples forsook Jesus yet he never would, thus declaring his love greater than theirs. But he had three times denied Him, and is, therefore, now, asked three times whether he loves Jesus. His answer, in effect, is Indeed, or truly, Lord Thou knowest that I love Thee. As he had thrice denied his Lord, and thrice reaffirmed his love, so he is thrice recommissioned to do the work of an Apostle in tending the sheep of Jesus. Feed My Lambs.The word used by the Saviour means to tend rather than to feed, and includes all the watchfulness and care of a shepherd. Lambs refer not to young children, as such, but to young Christians--young converts to Christ.

Observer, Dec. 1, "76.

December 26. REVIEW THE MINISTRY OF JESUS.--Heb. ii. “The Epistle to the Hebrews is devoted to setting forth the GREATNESS OF CHRIST. He is shown to be greater (1) than the angels (ch. i. ii.), (2) than Moses (ch. iii. iv.), (3) than the Levitical priesthood (ch. v...)

The lesson belongs to the first of these three divisions.

I. SOLEMN CALL TO ATTENTION. ii. 1-4. The first chapter has spoken at large of Christ's Divine glory, hence the “therefore.” The appeal is from the less to the greater, from the angels messages to the words of Christ. The law was given (instrumentally) by angels (Gal. iii. 19; Acts vii. 53; Deut. xxxiii. 2; Ps. lxviii. 7). If it were a crime deserving punishment to turn away when angels spoke, how much more to neglect the voice of the Lord Jesus, declaring so great salvation ! How great, who can tell ? CHRIST AS MAN ABOVE THE ANGELS. ii. 5-9. The world to come here means the same as "the kingdom of God," of which we so often read in the Gospels. Angels have nothing to do in establishing this. They sang of its coming, they watched it come, they ministered to Him who brought it in, but it was not put in subjection to them. One only is Lord in that kingdom, and He has attained this supremacy through His manhood (proved from Ps. viii.)"

CONCLUDING REMARKS. During the year we have supplied in advance notes upon the International Series of Lessons. Had we been aware, when first announcing intention to do this, that a Monthly would be published in our own circle, for the same purpose, it is not likely that we should have entered upon the work; and, in view of the existence of that publication, we have not given to the work the contemplated space and attention.

There is also another particular in which we are disappointed. We urged the use of the International Lessons, on the ground of advantage derivable by all parties from access to the varied treatment of the lessons by the divers sects. This exchange of views we thought would produce very beneficial effects on teachers, parents, and churches. But the selection of lessons is anything but equal to what it might have been, and we cannot but conclude that our schools would have done better by choosing their own.

Under these circumstances our notes will not be continued. Those who have used, and continue to use, the International Lessons, can obtain help from the Teachers' Study, published by Richardson, 10, Warwick Lane; from The Hive, published by Stock; or from " Notes of Scripture Lessons,” published by the London Sunday School Union, a month in advance. One penny being the price of each.


(Continued from p. 375.) AFTER giving a fair hearing to both sides, the Editor of “ The Baptisthas closed the controversy. Mr. Norton has several letters of which we shall only reproduce his completion of the one inserted last month.



DEAR SIR,—There are three other passages, besides the three already mentioned, in which baptism is expressly associated with the pardon of sins and salvation ; they are Mark xvi. 16, Acts xxii. 16, and 1 Pet. iii. 20, 21. I hope that your readers will not be wearied if I offer a few remarks on these. The question whether baptism be part of the way of salvation made known in God's new covenant cannot be fully considered without referring to these passages.

Mark xiv. 16, in the opinion of Tischendorf and others, ought not to be considered a part of the inspired Word of God. The whole of this chapter, after the eighth verse, is wanting in some of the earliest and most accurate copies, and though that part of the chapter is found in many other copies, some of which are also very ancient, and though it was recognised as part of Scripture by Irenæus, a Christian writer of the second century, yet both external and internal evidence seems to prove

Observer, Dec. 1, '75.

that it was not written by Mark. There is no sufficient evidence that the person who added it was either himself inspired or wrote at the dictation of an inspired person, and some differences between the statements of this addition and what is said by the other evangelists are thought to justify doubt as to even the correct information of the writer. A passage which lacks decisive proof of inspiration cannot be fitly appealed to as proof of what the will of God is ; but nevertheless Mark xvi. 16, may, for all this, express what is in perfect harmony with other passages which are undoubtedly inspired. The question whether it does so must be determined by passages the inspiration of which is certain. We must not rely on uninspired tradition, how. ever ancient. Mr. McIntosh says, in “ The Baptistof October 1, that Mark xvi. 16 is "an incorrect paraphrase " of Matt. xxviii. 19. Proof that we speak correctly if we say, as Mark xvi. 16 does, that God has promised salvation to those who have trusted and been immersed, bas, I think, been given in the three passages already referred to, which speak of the pardon of sins as the privilege of those who repent and trust, and have been immersed into the profession of repentance. Let us now look at two other passages and see if they do not also speak of salvation as promised to those who have repented, trusted, and been immersed.

Acts xxii. 16. Tischendorf's latest Greek text has “loose thyself from thy sins," instead of “bathe away thy sins.” The difference consists in the omission of one letter, and, as he does not even refer to this alteration in his notes, it may be only a printer's error. He also has “ His name instead of “the name of the Lord.” Supposing “bathe away to be the true reading, these words must mean, receive pardon for thy sins ; for the curse or penalty due on account of Paul's sins was put away when Christ died : Heb. i. 3; ix. 26. “ Loose thyself from thy sins ”must also mean, receive pardon for them. Either reading, therefore. leaves the meaning the same. God, by Ananias, commanded Paul to be immersed, as a step which was to precede God's assurance of pardon, and one which was to be taken with a view to enjoy that assurance. The words, “ having called upon His name," show that prayer for pardon in the exercise of faith in God and in Jesus to grant it was to accompany baptism. Paul had already repented, and received the gift of faith in Christ; this is evident from his words, wben arrested on his journey, “ What shall I do, Lord ?and from his obedience to the command of Jesus to go into Damascus that he might be told what to do. Yet Ananias did not tell Paul that the promise of pardon through Christ was at that time applicable to him ; but, on the contrary, that he was to be immersed, in order that it might apply to him; he told him that immersion had to be added to repentance and faith in order to complete that state to which the promise of pardon was made. So that the passage makes baptism a part of the way of salvation.

1 Peter iii. 21. In this verse we have God's own declaration that “ baptism now saves." The Divine inspiration of these words is admitted. The only alterations which Tischendorf makes in the common Greek text of the verse, in order to conform it to the best authorities, are, that he substitutes “which ” for “whereunto," and “you ” for “us.” The word " which ” may perhaps be an abbreviation (one which is sometimes found elsewhere) of “ according to which.”. The word translated "the like figure” may be translated as an adjective agreeing with baptism, and the meaning may be—“in accordance with which, a corresponding immersion now saves you also.” The translation adopted by the revisers of the American Bible Union is

-“Were saved through water ; which, in an antitype, immersion, now saves us also.” Dean Alford translates thus—“Were saved by water; which, the antitype [of that], doth now save you also, even baptism.” Both of these two translations make "which” refer to water ; so that water, as used in baptism, is that which, by these translations, is said to save. There is no means, so far as I know, of giving to the words their true or possible meaning which does not involve the declaration that baptism saves.

The common English version tends somewhat to mislead the reader. The words, “the like figure whereunto,” may perhaps be supposed by some to mean that baptism is only a figure or symbol of salvation. But even that version does not say that baptism is only a figure ; it, as well as the others, says that " baptism now saves

What it implies by introducing the words like figure is, that Noah was saved by a figure, and Christians are saved by a figure. But Noah was saved, not by a figure, but by a fact-the ark; and baptism is said, in this passage, to save Ohristians, not by virtue of being a figure, but as the inquiry of a good conscience

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


« ForrigeFortsæt »