Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

commanded to His disciples. He said of Himself, “I am the Light of the world.”* And, although none of the sons of men can be the very Light itself, but can only bear witness of the light, t yet from the beginning of His ministry, when in the Sermon on the Mount He spoke of the blessedness of those, in whom were those spiritual characteristics which distinguished them as the children of God and heirs of the kingdom, He said to His disciples, “Ye are the light of the world.His church was to be a city set on a hill.” The lamp when lighted was to be set on a lampstand, not hid under a bushel. “E your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”*

express terms

so let

* cf. St. John viii. 12; and xii. 35, 36.

+ cf. St. John i. 7, 8, and v. 33. 36; where the word dúxvos lamp, not bôs light, is used of John the Baptist.

cf. Phil. ii. 15.

CHAPTER IV.

THE CHURCH INSTITUTED TO WITNESS

FOR

THE TRUTH

This truth of the work of Christ Himself, during His earthly ministry, being the example for us to follow in our work for God, is further illustrated by His having instituted a society upon earth for the express purpose of continuing till His coming again that same testimony to the Truth which He Himself had been sent into the world to bear; only more fully revealed and more definitely applied, through the gift, after His Ascension, of the Spirit of Truth. Jesus Christ remained on earth forty days after His Resurrection, not only that He might give to the chosen disciples sufficient proofs of His Resurrection, but also that He might fully instruct them as to His kingdom of heaven on earth,* and duly constitute that kingdom. On the very day of His resurrection, when He

* Acts i. 5.

were

appeared to the eleven and those that were with them, His first words,—after He had blessed them with His peace, and shown His hands and His feet as proofs of His resurrection,—w a mission to the same work as that to which He Himself had been sent. “As My Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” Afterwards, in reply to their enquiries as

to the time of the fulfilment of the prophecies concerning His kingdom, He reminds them that it was not for them to know “times and seasons which the Father hath set within His own authority.”* “ But," He continues, "ye shall receive power when the Holy Ghost is come upon you : and ye shall be my witnesses.” The kingdom, as He had said to the Roman governor, was to be one the power of which was to be its witness to the truth, that is, to Himself. And in exact conformity with this is the last solemn commission to the eleven, as recorded by St. Matthew.t It is impossible for any words more clearly to express, that the office of the society of which this is, so to speak, the charter of incorporation, is to continue the same work as was committed to Jesus Himself as His work for God on earth-viz., to bear witness to the Truth and Name of God.

+ St. Matt. xxviii. 18-20.

* Acts i. 7.

This office of the Church is not only thus distinctly defined by Christ Himself, but is explained and illustrated in its various aspects by His apostles in their writings. St. Paul reminds Timothy that “The house of God, which is the Church of the living God, is the pillar and ground of the truth ;" its work for God is to bear witness to the truth. And again in the Revelation of St. John the symbol of the Church on earth is a candlestick which holds forth the light, even that truth and Name of God the knowledge of which is life eternal. This view of the Church as constituted to bear witness to Christ, the Truth, is that which alone explains the force and meaning and value of all its ordinances, its sacraments, its order, and its various ministries. All these are its public testimony to Christ and to our relations to God in Him; and that testimony for Him and His truth which the Church gives on the earth, He Himself promises to confirm in heaven.

But to understand more fully how this office of the Church affects my own work for God, it must be observed that Christ instituted His Church to bear witness for the truth, not merely, or chiefly, by outward rites and ordinances, as the Mosaical system testified of the Redemption that was to come ; but above all, as being the living spiritual body of those who are united in one common work for God as witnesses for His truth, according to the ability and vocation of each. And they are united, not only in the bond of one visible communion and fellowship, but in that of mutual sympathy and brotherly love.

This principle is fully expounded in the writings of the apostles, and particularly by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians ; but it is important to notice that it was taught very clearly by our Blessed Lord Himself,

« AnteriorContinuar »