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the ideas formed as to their origin and source by the Jewish beholders. Mr. Mill informs us that it was the belief of the age that miracles could be worked by a lying spirit as well as by the Spirit of God. Not disputing his theory to a certain extent, we have examined facts in order to find out whether it was true to that extent which would make it of the smallest value to Mr. Mill in his inferences from it. It is not enough for this purpose to say that, according to popular belief, evil spirits could work miracles. We must also inquire, to what extent it was popularly believed that evil spirits could work them? If it was indeed believed that evil spirits could do the same, or equal miracles to those which God was believed to work, and that the miracles now in question, viz., those of Christ, were not in their nature different from those which evil spirits were thought capable of working, then indeed Mill would have good ground for his idea that no one would think it worth his while to deny the miracles of Christ, since no one thought them, even if true, capable of proving His doctrine true, or Himself a Messenger from God. But here Mill's groundwork altogether fails him. It was never believed among the Jews that evil spirits were capable of doing wonders equal to those of God. A theistic people never dreamed of paralleling the power of God with that of Satan. The Manichæanism of the Gnostics was not accepted by a nation which had learned its ideas of God and creation from the Books of Moses, commented upon by the Psalms and Isaiah.
THE CHURCH. “By revelation He made known unto me the mystery . . . which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed anto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel.”—Eph. iii. 3-6. “ Christ... loved the Church that He might present it to Himself,
We are members of His body.”—Eph. v. 25, 27, 30. “ The Church which is His body.”—Eph. i. 22, 23. “He is the head of the body, the Church.”—Col. i. 18.
“ The Church of the first born, which are written in heaven.”—Heb. xii. 23. IT is impossible to read the New Testament with attention, with
a invisible, a nominal and a real Church. Things are said of the nominal which are inapplicable to the real, and of the real which cannot be affirmed of the nominal. Unless this distinction be kept in mind, a clear idea of the Church of Christ, which is His body, cannot be realised; but it is of the utmost moment, both for doctrine and practice, that we should realise this idea ; and the means
of doing so are not far to seek, if we cast aside our hierarchical and denominational notions, and take the word of inspiration as our sole guide.
Hierarchy is mentioned in Scripture, and so are the divisions into formal communities under different names, but they are mentioned only to be condemned. Allusions to the foreseen growth of the first are found in such cautions as this : “But be not ye called Rabbi, for One is your Teacher, and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon earth, for One is your Father which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters, for One is your Master, even Christ” (Matt. xxiii. 8-10). And the second is severely rebuked in the following language: “Now, I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye
be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I mean, that each one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ. Is Christ divided ? Was Paul crucified for you ?
Or were ye baptized into the name of Paul ?" (1 Cor. i. 10-13). And then, after showing the folly of the world's wisdom in relation to God's plan of salvation, and pointing out how God hath chosen what the world calls foolish, and weak, and base, and despised things, he adds that there is to be no glorying except in the Lord, and that he determined neither to recognise any of their contentions and divisions, nor to adopt the excellency of speech which the world admires, resolving to know nothing among them save Jesus Christ, even the Crucified One, whose cross was such a stumbling-block to the Jew and such folly to the Greek. After this he returns to his complaint, affectionately but earnestly addressing them in this manner : “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat, for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet are ye now able. For ye are yet carnal ; for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and division, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal ? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man ? I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase (1 Cor. iii. 1-7). Alas! these hierarchical assumptions, “ lording it over God's heritage,” reached, as ecclesiastical history proves, the full and fearful development shown in vision to the Apostle John. “ I saw,” says he, a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication; and upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, and when I saw her I wondered with great admiration” (Rev. xvii. 3-6). And upon the other hand the jealousies, bitterness, strife, and fierce contentions of rival sects or churches, have filled our libraries with volumes that breathe anything and everything but the meekness and gentleness of Christ. It is clear, then, that we cannot look to any visible community for the wonderful thing, the mystery hidden from past ages, but revealed in apostolic times, as the peculiar first-fruits' reward of the rejected Lord. No ecclesiastical corporation, Papal or Protestant, and no brotherhood of professed disciples of Jesus, has the shadow of a right to appropriate to itself the high and honourable designation of “ The Church.” By whomsoever advanced, this assumption must be regarded, not as evidence of apostolic truth, but of fellowship with the apostasy of Christendom foreshadowed in our Lord's parables, predicted by the apostles, and signified by the letters to the seven symbolic churches in the Book of Revelation.
It is no pleasant task to dwell upon the dark side of a great subject, but when duty calls choice must retire; and unquestionably it is better for us to know the truth, though it may disturb our fond notions, than to be deluded by an agreeable fiction, the hollowness of which must be revealed some day, however long covered by ecclesiastical artifice. To search the Scriptures for the truth, and to believe and proclaim that truth when found, is certainly the duty of all who have received Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. To maintain a theory simply because it has grown up in an ecclesiastical community, and been associated with it as part of its general belief, is unworthy of any one who would stand in the light, strong in the faith of revelation, and ready to abandon every shred of thought which was merely of human origin.
There is a church of God and of Christ in the world, but assuredly it is not of it. There is a holy community, inhabited by the Holy Spirit, whose members are scattered among the several nominal churches; but all that renders it peculiarly sacred is heavenly in source and character, and invisible to the human eye. This peculiar temple of God is the pledge to the Heir of all things that His reserved rights shall be publicly bestowed at the proper time. Like its Head, it does not strive, nor cry, neither does any man hear its voice in the streets; that is to say, expressions of
; contention, assertions of supremacy, warlike shouts, come not from it. “Behold what manner of love," gratefully says one of its members, “the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore"- What? Some distinguish
ing mark of Divine favour, visible to every eye, and commanding the admiration of society? No!—" therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not” (1 John iii. 1). The Lord of glory tabernacled among men ; but who or what He was the world neither knew nor cared. It turned away its face from Him as unworthy of a moment's attention ; so His Church, though a partaker of the Divine nature, and therefore immortal, is unknown in her real character, and despised by the world as a poor foolish thing, the victim of a diseased imagination. She has no right to expect favours from a world that gave frowns to Him whom her soul loveth. He told her what she was to experience during His absence preparing a mansion for her. “If the world hate you,” He said, " ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therethe world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you ; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for My name's sake, because they know not Him that sent Me” (John xv. 18-21). Do not forget these things; keep in mind especially your relationship to Me, and look not for ease where I have had hatred and persecution. The world knows not Him that sent Me, knows not Me, knows not you. There standeth one among you whom ye know not” (John i. 26), said John Baptist to the deputation from Jerusalem, respecting Jesus. So of the Church may it be said to the world, Ye are altogether ignorant of whence it is, what it is, and whither it is going.
It is a stranger and a pilgrim here. This is not its rest. Its Divine Head, its Lord, its life, its all, had not where to lay His head, when, with veiled glory He sojourned among men in pursuance of the wondrous undertaking which led Him from the regions of uncreated glory, to this sin-smitten earth; and it would ill become His Church to set her affections on things seen and temporal, and to love a world which refused Him a lodging. A rest remaineth, and an inheritance is reserved for her- a better rest than softest couch or gilded palace, and a richer inheritance than ever legacy bequeathed to mortal-but she must wait for both until the Lord of her heart comes into possession of His royal rights. She lives by faith, not by sight. All the graces that adorn her, the fruits of the Holy Spirit who has sealed her to the day of redemption, must be tested by the heats and colds, the biting storms and still more dangerous calms of time, and tried by the discipline, often severe, but always loving, of a Father's invisible hand. The end in view—the purpose to be served by this education in the wilderness—is so exceedingly important, both as it relates to God's ultimate design, and her own qualification for the destiny that awaits her, that counsels to patience are found to be
the very voice of Fatherly love. “ Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James i. 2-4). When the mind of the Christian is in full sympathy with that of his Lord, he sees in such an admonition a depth of most blessed meaning. “I reckon,” said one who was privileged to have an extraordinary insight into the mystery of the Church--“I reckon,"--I have come to this certain conclusion-"that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. viii. 18). And again, “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might, through the thanksgiving of many, redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but, though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor. iv. 15-18).
Men who speak thus, declare plainly that they are on a journey; that the roughness of the road, though it pains and incommodes them, only strengthens the purpose to press forward ; that their lofty aspirations soar beyond the highest heights of human ambition; that their hearts are set on a prize which will retain its lustre and value when the grandeur and glory of earth’s glittering coronets and crowns shall be forgotten for ever, or remembered only as the meteoric flashes of a hollow dream ; that though the tempest sweep, and the lightning flash, and the thunder roll, they cannot, will not, shall not turn back; and thus animated by a voice heard, and sustained by an arm felt, only by themselves, they will continue their marvellous, God-ward pilgrimage with girded loins, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto them at the Revelation of Jesus Christ. What a sublime thing is this rising of the heart to God! Where, throughout all the regions of human thought, is there anything to compare with it? Talk of the evidences of religion ! Can you, with the eye of faith—for this region is not visible to that of sense—look upon this wonderful fact and ask for evidence ? Here is the spirit of the saint, rising in adoring confidence and filial love to the very presence of God and the Lamb; realising its birthright's bliss in holy communion with the Father and the Son. This is no imaginary picture of possible privilege at rare intervals; it is the actual experience of the children of God, the saints who constitute the Church of the firstborn. And a wonderfully blessed fact connected with this is, that in ascending thus to the place where Jesus is, so far from feeling like strangers in a strange place, the idea of home happiness is there realised in the sweetness of a holy peace. “Whom, having not