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NOTES AND GLEANINGS. 79
on the branches below. Then its fruit, who shall describe it! Gold and silver nuts, and pine apples, bags of sweets, and dolls, and all kinds of fairy-like handiwork. The whole is lit up by more than half a hundred candles, while, below, the tree and its fruit are guarded by a circle of variously dressed dolls that seem like a band of fairies dancing among the larger toys, the best representation of heaven that some of the children can understand, while children of larger growth look on with longing eyes.
The children sing sweetly several hymns suited to the occasion, eight of them recite, short speeches are delivered by Sig. Bertola, Mr. Wall, and the writer, as well as by Mr. Gibson, of Liverpool, and the finale comes with the distribution of first the useful presents—various articles of clothing in paper parcels—and then the toys from the tree. Every little girl is made glad with a doll, and every boy with some taking toy. Sweets and oranges are added, and the small folks go home feeling unspeakably rich, and with their arms full of their possessions.
Christmas is gone, and we are fairly launched on the new year. During the past year the school has improved, but we have yet to work hard for small results. Will 1883 add to our numbers? There is reason to hope so; but we dare not hope for a large increase under present circumstances. O that we had a few good workers to assist us in this arduous enterprise! We shall succeed, but we dare not attempt to say when.
Dear Sir, I hereby enclose a cheque for £5. Please accept the same for the Baptist Mission as a vow. Give to me no thanks, but praise Redeeming love, which has raised a poor fallen backslider to the fulfilment thereof.
Would that all felt more of their indebtedness to “Redeeming love,” not only in restoring poor backsliders, but also in keeping them from openly falling. In such a case thankofferings would be much more frequently presented to the Lord's cause than they now are, and the glorious work of saving souls from death would be materially helped.
THE NEXT COMMITTEE MEETING will be held in Broad Street Schoolroom, Nottingham, on Tuesday, Feb. 27th, at eleven o'clock. THE REV. ALEX H. YoUNG, M.A.—Letters have been received from Mr. Young from Suez and Aden—all well. We have also learnt by telegraph that the S. S. Rewa, in which he sailed, has safely reached Calcutta. THE ORISSA CONFERENCE was to be held in Cuttack, and commence on Dec. 24th. KHUNDITTUR.—Two were baptized at Khundittur by Kumbhoo Naik, the native preacher there, December 26th. LovE TOKENS ACKNOWLEDGED.—Tuesday last, Dec. 12, was an exciting and interesting day at Cuttack, as the boxes brought by the Goorkha were received and opened. It was very encouraging to receive the tokens of loving remembrance sent by kind Christian friends in the
80 MISSIONARY OESERVER.
dear old country. I hope they felt that it was “more blessed to give,” for there was much real blessedness in receiving. I may not mention the names of those who have remembered us in our old age; but Barton, Donington, Grimsby, Papplewick, Derby, and Leicester, were among the places from which these love tokens were received. We would pray for our dear friends as the holy apostle did for one who had “oft refreshed” him, “the Lord grant unto them that they may find mercy of the Lord in that day.” J. B.
Box FOR THE ORPHANAGES.—I am thankful to add, that at the same time we received a box of useful articles, to be sold for the benefit of the Orphanages. It is sent from Union Chapel, Islington, through the Female Education Society, and we are no doubt indebted for it to Miss Leigh, who knew our necessities. This will be a very seasonable help, and I hope that all our friends will remember that it is an important part of pure and undefiled religion to care for the fatherless. J. B.
SALE OF ENGLISH BooKs.—Our new supply of books was exhibited for sale at the book-room, and the sales the first two or three hours exceeded two hundred rupees (£20). This is very gratifying. J. B.
OUR NEW SUNDAY SCHOOL-ROOMs will, I hope, be opened on New Year's day. J. B.
Received on account of the General Baptist Missionary Society from December 16th, 1882, to January 15th, 1883.
Subscriptions and Donations in aid of the General Baptist Missionary Society will be thankfully received by W. B. BEMBRIDGE, Esq., Ripley, Derby, Treasurer; and by the Rev. W. HILL, Secretary, Mission House, 60, Wilson Street, Derby, from whom also Missionary Boxes, Collecting Books and Cards, may be obtained.
XII. — BAPTISM AND THE CHURCH IN THE FOUR GOSPELS.
(1.) THE FINAL APPEAL on all questions relating to the actions of Christians is the “mind of Christ.” He is our One Master, and His will is our unrepealable law. “Whatsoever He saith to you, do it !” is a direction that comes to us clothed with all-subduing energy. It is our supreme joy to yield an unhesitating and complete obedience to every wish He utters, and every direction. He gives.
“The mind of Christ” is one of infinite fulness and of manifold and present-day expression. He still lives and speaks. The Legislator of “the kingdom of heaven” is with us “all the days, even unto the end of the age.” “He walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;” and whoever has ears to hear may still hear what the Spirit of Christ saith to the churches.
But, in this discussion, we must at first carefully close our ears against anything that is being said by our Lord now. Purposely, and with the utmost rigour, we exclude the evidence of experience; the witness of the “spirit of the time;” the argument from expediency; and the authority and value of denominational tradition and interests; and go straight to the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles, which describe Christ's life and words on earth, and His initial acts from His throne in the heavens. We resolutely restrict ourselves to the actual contents of the New Testament, determined not to lose or misplace, stretch, garble, or suppress, a single item of the evidence, so that we may be as sure as is possible to erring mortals that we have the full “mind of Christ,” in so far as it spoke to men on Baptism and the Church in the first half century of Christian history.
(2.) What is the amount of Evidence in the Gospels? Although we have four gospels, three trace the story of Jesus in much the same way. In these three, we have four references to baptism in Matthew, four in Mark, and three in Luke: but out of eleven allusions in all, six are about John's baptism, and are identical ; three concern Christ's baptism by John, and are identical; and the other two report the farewell words of Christ to His disciples, in which He solemnly and authoritatively incorporates baptism, with the enduring commission to preach the gospel to the “whole creation.”f
In John's Gospel there is a little more. For though there is no hint of the baptism of Christ, and not even an allusion to baptism, in any way, after the opening stages of our Lord’s ministry, yet we have a most vivid picture of the reforming work of the great Baptist Pioneer, a conversation with a learned Jewish Rabbi in which baptism is fairly supposed to find a weighty place, an affirmation that Christ baptized by delegation; and a suggestion that baptism was then, as it is now, the
* Continued from page 55. # Cf. Matt. iii. 21, 25; xxviii. 19, 20. Mark i. 4–11; xi. 30; xvi. 15, 16. Luke iii. 8, 22; xx. 4.
occasion of controversy.” So that, omitting repetitions of the same facts or words, we have, in all, SIX passages containing gospel evidence on the Will of Christ as to baptism.
Still less do we find about the CHURCH in the Evangelists. John does not use the word, nor does Luke; and, more surprising still, not even Mark, who acted as the reporter of that great Churchman, the apostle Peter. Twice, and twice only, it occurs in Matthew;f and, excepting these two statements, not one of the gospels contains a line that describes the form of the church, or states the rules and methods by which it is to be directed. They reveal, in many a passage, the spirit of the Society of Jesus: its living and magnetic bond of cohesion, its dominant love, its regal goodness, its beautiful forgivingness, its conquering mercy, its superior morals, and its indwelling, all-inspiring, and all-controlling Chief: but there is an eloquent and fruitful silence concerning its organic form, and its “constitution and laws.” Add these two words about the Church to those on Baptism, and we have a total of EIGHT passages waiting our investigation.
(3.) The Church in the Gospels. Every one knows with what forcible frequency our Lord speaks of “the kingdom of God;” “the kingdom of heaven.” It is the topic with which He breaks the silence of His long preparation, and it is on His lips as He fitly crowns His work by His ascension on high. Again and again He illustrates it, in parables of matchless beauty, and in conversations of sweet simplicity and winning power. Rarely does He refer to the Church, and never does He identify it with “the kingdom.” The “Church” is an organizable society: the “kingdom” is an inward and spiritual experience. That is fixed or fixable in certain localities, and governed by certain verbal rules: this is the sway of “righteousness, joy, and peace” in the spirit. That is a visible institution: this is the invisible rule of God in souls, producing a spiritual order within, and creating a spiritual beauty and fruitfulness that prove themselves divine. You may have one church at Ephesus, and half a dozen in Galatia; here it may be so small that it has “ample room and verge enough” in the house of Nymphas, and there it is so large that Jerusalem is crowded with it; but the “kingdom is not localizable, and has no boundaries of time or space. With undeniable truth Principal Fairbairn says, “The “kingdom' is not an institution, nor is it capable of being embodied in one. . . . . The voluntary action of men can institute the church, but not the kingdom. The kingdom was the most, the church was the least familiar idea of Christ. Of the first He never ceases to speak, of the second He never speaks but twice, and each time so as to indicate its structural or institutional character.”f Christ says of the church (a.) “I will build” it. It owes its origin to, as it derives its life, from Him. (b.) Its basis is the “rock” in Peter's confession. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” It is a society formed of men like Peter, men to whom the Father has given the vision of the Divine anointing and infinite authority of Jesus, and in whom He has begotten a bold and all venturing “enthusiasm of humanity” for Christ's sake.S. Such men are the “material” of which Christ builds His church. (c.) Two or more
* Cf. John i. 19–28; iii. 5, 22, 25; iv. 1. # Matt. xvi. 18, 19; xviii. 15, 35. ! Studies in the Life of Christ, p. 108. § Matthew xvi. 16–19.
CONDITIONS OF CHURCH MEMBERSHIP. 83
such men, meeting in Christ's name and in recognition of His supreme lordship over souls, enjoy His presence and form. His church. He “is” in the midst of them.* (d.) And, whether large or small, they constitute an organization for the utter extirpation of malignity, the nourishment of brotherly love, and the triumph of the spirit of forgiveness and selfsacrifice. No one will maintain that the sayings of Christ in the Gospels concerning the church contain any hint of its external form or “polity,” or of the necessity of any outward and ritualistic act as a condition of admission. This much, then, is clear, that no words of Christ about the church authorize us to say “it is the indispensable duty of all who repent and believe the gospel to be baptized by immersion in water in order to be initiated into a church state.” The two affirmations in Matthew prove that the basis of the new society is spiritual and inward, and in no sense whatever formal and external.
(4.) Acts of Baptism in the Gospels. John, called by pre-eminence the Baptist, did not originate immersion; but, led by the Spirit, who made him the greatest of the prophets, appropriated it as the symbol of the moral revolution he heralded and advanced. For a Reformer, baptisms in the river Jordan were a grand, rousing, expository and effective expedient: an irresistible summons to attention, a dramatic proclamation of the urgent necessity of a bold and thorough renunciation of the sinful past, and a determined aspiration towards a righteous future; and, primarily, a mighty bond attaching men to the Baptist himself, and preparing them for allegiance to the Christ he announced.
It was not surprising Christ accepted baptism at John's hands; it would have been surprising if He had not. Who so likely as He to enter into that spiritual change Who felt so completely as He the utter wickedness and ruin of men? Who was so eager as He to inaugurate the calm and beneficent reign of God on the earth? Hence He was baptized; and though it was John's baptism. He accepted, still His baptism is part of “the example He has left us that we should walk in His steps,” declaring the wisdom of an eager zeal to fill out every plan framed for “righteousness,” suggesting the grand utilities springing from a daring acceptance of high responsibilities and solemn trusts, and of public committal to the execution of difficult enterprises; and in these forcible ways preaching the signal uses of baptism in all ages and all lands.
Moreover, though Jesus did not, like John, Himself become a Baptizer, yet, at the beginning of His work He certainly directed His disciples to use the method John had found to work so well; and therefore we read, “Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, though Jesus Himself baptized not, but His disciples.”f
Take these baptismal acts singly and together; give them their utmost value as evidence, and what do they teach This, first, that at the dawning of the Saviour's ministry discipleship to Him was notified by immersion; $ that the act was an avowal of personal devotion, of fellowship with His hopes and aims, and subjection to His teaching: and was
* Matt. xviii. 20, and Matt. xviii. 15, 35. # The Place of Baptism in the Life and Teaching of Jesus, by J. Clifford, pp. 3, 4, and pp. 7–11. t John iv. 1. $ Dr. T. W. Willmarth, a distinguished American Strict Fellowship Baptist, says, “After the
death of John the Baptist it seems very probable that baptism ceased to be administered until the day of Pentecost.”—Baptist Review, 1877, p. 818.