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Observer, Jan. 1, '75.
dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains ;" so he contemplated building a house for the Lord.
From the Jews God required their first and best, and does He require less at our hands, who enjoy far greater priveleges than they-who know more of God's love and mercy than they? I think not. “ For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” Depend upon it, God requires of us our first and our best, not only in money, but time, talents, everything.
Now how can we improve on this matter of giving? How can we increase our liberality? Some answer the question by saying, “ Let us enlarge our borders and take money from the pious and respectable people that attend our meetings, who are not members ; let us show our large-heartedness by allowing them the pleasure of giving, and then our treasury will overflow with the needful, and besides, we shall get a better name among our religious neighbours." sound very plausible, but Quo Warranto? What, have we been delivered from Egypt, and shall we long after the fish and cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and the garlick that abound there? What, after we have tasted of the liberty and freedom of the gospel system, are we to go back to the beggarly elements ? No, no! God's way is the best.
We are not to go to the world for help. It is not right to ask the non-christian to do what only has been enjoined upon the Christian. It was the believing repentant immersed ones that attended stedfastly to the Apostles' doctrine, the fellowship, the breaking of the bread, and the prayers. It was members of the church in Jerusalem (immersed believers) that being possessors of houses and lands, sold them that the wants of the poor might be supplied. It was the disciples, the Christians thus made by believing and turning to the Lord, that, according to their ability, sent relief to the brethren in Jerusalem. It was the churches in Corinth and Galatia that made collections for the poor saints. It is to the churches of Christ that all the exhortations to give willingly, freely, and according to ability are addressed ; none others are exhorted to do it. The Lord's people are to do the Lord's work in this matter, and I believe they are well able to do it, if only the right method be adopted. We are right when we say that the Lord's people are to support the Lord's cause, and the world says that is consistent. But I question if we have adopted the right method of collecting our contributions. I think we have made a great mistake; I feel that in this, as well as in some other things, in shunning one extreme we have gone into the other. Among the denominations we were surfeited with the everlasting begging for money, and the many schemes that were concocted (some of them not over honest) for the purpose of raising funds; and when our eyes were opened to the unscripturalness of such things, we renounced them and joined ourselves to a people that scarcely ever said anything about money, and must have a box so constructed that it seemed to say, give as little as you can, and in such a way that no person can tell the amount. Consequently it may be feared that we have nurtured a spirit of niggardliness, in those whose inclinations were in that direction. A brother once said that some joined us because of a cheap religion. I fear there is some truth in the statement.
O, say they," the contribution on the
Observer, Jan. 1, '75.
first day of the week is the only scriptural one; we give to that and will not give to any other,” and thus they give as little as they can. Now upon what authority have we practised this secret giving ? Certainly there is no scripture for it. Scripture is often quoted in favour of it, as “ Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth : that thine alms may be in secret: and ihy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly." Surely this passage has no application to the subject before us; the Saviour never taught that His followers were not to perform benevolent acts in the streets, or along the highway, or in public. If He did, then He taught in opposition to Jewish custom, as all their offerings, whether in produce or money, were brought openly to the temple and given to the persons appointed to receive them. If it be true that the Saviour taught that all giving should be secret, then, upon the same principle, He taught that all praying should be in secret, for in the very next verse He forbids praying in public, and commands them to pray in secret. What the Saviour condems is giving to be seen of men, giving from a wrong motive. There is no reason why this part of our duty should be in secret—we sing openly, we pray openly, all else is done in the meeting in an open public manner, and I know no reason, neither earthly nor heavenly, why the giving to the Lord should not be openly done. It is said that if that plan were followed it would be known what each gave, and it would have the tendency of developing a wrong spirit in the church; those who give the most would be thought the most of, and those who give the least would be thought of accordingly. But if Christianity is not able to lift us above such meanness, then let us give it up. If we have not got farther on in the divine life than that, we are a long way behind, and the sooner we mend our progress the better.
Now it may be asked, is there any scripture for open giving? Well, there is the case of the widow and the two mites; it was well known what she gave—there was nothing secret about it; and what is more, Jesus Christ enlarged the publicity by calling attention to it, and handing it down to later generations. There is the case of Joses, who by the Apostles was surnamed Barnabas. This noble brother having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the Apostles feet. Surely this was a case of open giving, and the case of Ananias and Sapphira seems to confirm it. I have no doubt that if the churches were to abolish the closed boxes, and use the plate, tray, or bowl, there would be considerable increase in the income, enabling them to do more in furthering the Lord's cause. There are several churches that have substituted the plate, and have realized considerable increase. I know a church that for years used the box and were in debt at the end of every year. At length they agreed to try the plate; since then they have been able to liquidate the debt and obey the scriptural injunction, man anything." They have also done considerably more for evangelization
Observer, Jan. 1, '75.
than before. I know some will say, then that church is now giving from a wrong motive, to be seen of men. Nothing of the kind; it is because the screen of selfishness and parsiinony is removed, and a more sensible means adopted, and we have never heard of any member giving more than he ought because of the plate. Here, then,
I submit, is a cure for our present impoverished state. We are exhorted to incite one another to love and good works, and we are justified in using all lawful means for so doing. If we can suggest any way whereby the liberality of the churches can be increased, I think we are doing a real good. I think there is a close connection between liberality and spirituality. The Jews in their latter days robbed God; they gave Him the halt and lame, instead of the pnre and good. The Lord challenged them,
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith said the Lord of hosts, if I will not open unto you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Depend upon it, the Lord will not allow Himself to be debtor to us-He will give us far more than we give Him. See what He has done for us ; how great has been His love; how numerous are His mercies; how continual is His goodness. Surely we should do all that in us lies to carry on His work.
At a methodist missionary meeting was an old woman who seemed to be enjoying the occasion very much. While the hymn was being sung, the collection was made. The old lady was so intent upon singing the hymn that she did not see the deacon standing by her side with the plate ; just as she had got to the end of the line
“Fly, everlasting gospel, fly ; ” the good old deacon said, " yes, Betty, but we must give it the wings." Yes, while we sing out heartily,
“Salvation ! let the echo fly
The spacious earth around, we must remember the wings. Let us supply them in such way that it may fly over all the earth. I trust that these rambling words may stir up the brethren to greater faithfulness and diligence in this matter, that God may be glorified in the spread of the Redeemer's Kingdom.
ADDRESS BY JOHN STRANG, AT HINDMARSH. BELOVED BRETHREN.—I have not come here with any formally prepared address. Newly arrived in your colony, this could scarcely be expected. I have come to this meeting, not to speak, but to hear, and to make the acquaintance of many brethren whose faces it has not been my privilege to see before.
I take the present opportunity of expressing the pleasure it has given me to be permitted to greet the disciples of Jesus on this side of the great ocean. I must also express the profound satisfaction it has afforded me to find such a noble brotherhood in this land. A brotherhood whose order of worship, and whose spirit and aims, are so similar
Observer, Jan. 1, '75.
to what I have been accustomed to at home. These things, along with the cordial manner in which you have welcomed me to your shores, and the kindness with which I have been treated since my arrival, have made me feel not like a stranger among strangers, but like a brother among brethren_happy, and already at home.
Since my arrival, eight days ago, I have had many enquiries about the work in Great Britain. A few remarks, therefore, upon the present position of the churches at home may be interesting and acceptable to all.
We are not, perhaps, adding so rapidly to our numbers as you are here ; but if we cannot report large accessions to our ranks every year, our progress is, nevertheless, steady and sure, In many places where there was no church ten or twelve years ago, there are now churches of fifty or sixty members. And, during the same period, quite a number of churches have increased from a membership of fifty or sixty to not less than three times that number.
But however gratifying it may be to you to hear of numerical progress, there is another feature of progress, the simple mention of which will, I think, afford you special satisfaction. I allude to the moral and spiritual condition of the churches. Through the length and breadth of the land there is a desire to rise higher in holiness of heart and life. The brethren growingly feel that primitive Christianity is more than a system of doctrine. The Christianity of the New Testament is being regarded more and more as a life. A life of faith in the Son of God. A life of holiness. A life of love. A life of humility, gentleness, prayer, self-denial, and devotion to the service of Christ. This is felt to be essential alike to the happiness of the individual, and to the cause we plead. While, therefore it is our determination to maintain an unflinching advocacy of the apostolic doctrine, we earnestly long to live nearer the Lord; to rise higher in the divine life ; and to reproduce the piety and spirituality of the apostolic age. I regard this as a most encouraging feature of the cause at home; and in proportion to the depth of those aspirations, and the measure of success with which they are followed up, shall the moral weight of our churches be felt. I may also
say that the churches in many of our large centres have been able, during the last few years, to forsake their “upper rooms," and to build neat and commodious chapels. This is bringing us more prominently before the public in many places. It also, as a natural consequence, enables us to command larger audiences at the proclamation of the Gospel.
Then, again, our evangelistic arrangements are becoming very much more extensive. Some twelve years ago we had two, or perhaps three evangelists, whose labours extended from Land's End to John o Groat's. Now, the country is divided into districts, with one or more evangelists for each. In this way a certain town or city is fixed upon and a preaching brother located in it. His chief attention, it is expected, will be given to that place; but he is also expected to go out from it as a centre, and preach the Gospel in the towns and villages around. We have now a goodly staff of evangelists whose labours are disposed of in this way. And, thanks to our beloved brother King, the numbor of men whose
Observer, Jan. 1, "75.
time and talents are wholly devoted to the work of the Lord is annually increasing. These considerations, with others which might be named, lead me to believe that the progress of the disciples in the mothercountry will become greater every year; and that at no distant day, the cause of New Testament Christianity in Great Britain shall have accomplished real and enduring triumphs.
I conclude by delivering a message. Before leaving Glasgow, I was entertained at a large farewell tea meeting, attended not only by the brethren in Glasgow, but also by the leading brethren of the church in Edinburgh; and they asked me to convey their united Christian salutations to the Churches of Christ in South Australia. They rejoice in the rapid spread of New Testament principles throughout the colony. They desire that the choicest blessings of our common faith may be multiplied among you as a people. And they further desire that God may enable
in all faithfulness and with growing success, to plead for an unqualified restoration of the faith and order instituted by Chris and His Apostles.
"DR. THOMAS: HIS LIFE AND WORK.” SO READS the chief line of the title page of a biography of the late John Thomas, M.D. The work is from the pen of Robert Roberts, of Birmingham, and got up in the interest of the Christadelphians. It is set forth as “Illustrative of the process by which the system of truth revealed in the Bible has been extricated in modern times from the obscuration of Romish and Protestant tradition.” In our view the book was uncalled for, because the life of the Doctor presents so little worthy of imitation, being characterized by indications of a heart and mind restless for supremacy. Having been personally acquainted with him, and largely and variously informed as to his course, and taking into account all the light that this biography sheds thereupon, we can see only a man of moderate natural ability, somewhat improved by educational advantages, yearning to be head over all ; consequently not content to stand with brethren his equals and superiors, but making himself the leader and designator of a paltry faction, numbering as the result of the work of his life (as he intimated not so long before its close) perhaps one thousand in America and Great Britain. There might transpire even in the life of such a man stirring events which would redeem a biography from the charge of merest common-place, but this is not the case in the present instance, and, therefore, the first fault of the biographer is that of writing the book at all. But no doubt Mr. Roberts deemed it needful. Taking it as a whole it seems an attempt to tone down and cover over facts which stand somewhat in his way as chief of Dr. Thomas' followers. Mr. Roberts was scious that he had this sort of work to do, and hence he writes-"Like a tool tempered and shaped for a particular purpose, he was out of place from that purpose, and this negativeness, under such circumstances, has given his enemies occasion to cavil. The part of friends has been rather to hide than expose infirmity. Gratitude threw the ample fold of protection over what may have been deemed the faults of