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Observer, April 1, '71
THE FELLOWSHIP. The breaking of the bread and the prayers also stand disconnected from the word apostles.
What, then, is the fellowship to which these first Christians attended? Some have said, in reply to this question, "that brotherly feeling for which the Church was so proverbial." This we reject, because, in the whole usuage of the word, we find no instance of its denoting mere feeling. Everywhere it has the idea of partnership—a sharing of some possession common to all the fellows. We have the fellowship of God's Son. He is given to, and possessed in common by, all who have a place in the one body. We have fellowship of the Spirit, and therein is seen the common participation in the presence and power of the Spirit by every living stone in the temple in which the Spirit dwells. We have the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ, by which the apostle indicated participation in the afflictions put upon Christ and his followers. So we may go on through every occurrence of the word, and find no trace of its being used to express merely good, kindly, or brotherly feeling. It always brings us into the region of the substantial and makes us sharers in some common possession. But may it not embrace all that we have and enjoy in the Church of Christ? Certainly not in Acts ii. 42, because there it stands out as one of several specified items. The attending constantly to the fellowship cannot include attending to the doctrine of the apostles, nor to the breaking of the bread (elsewhere designated fellowship of the body of Christ), nor can it embrace fellowship in the blessings of the throne of grace, for these are all separately specified in the same verse," They attended constantly to the teaching of the apostles, and the fellowship, and the breaking of the bread, and the prayers." Something, then, these items exclude, is THE FELLOWSHIP. Remembering the definitions both of κowvwvia and fellowship (the Greek and English terms), what is more likely than that the mind should at once revert to community, participation, common gift, beneficence, joint interest company, an establishment in a college with a share in its revenues, etc.? That the first Church, owing to many of its members being strangers from distant parts, and to the prevailing persecution, did stand in most pressing need of common effort, to provide for the necessities of many, is absolutely certain, as it is also clear that the means came from themselves. What, then, more natural and likely than, that Luke, in after years, writing an account of their constantly attending to the doctrine, the Lord's table, and the prayers, should in the same place indicate that equally constant fellowship in material things, by which the needing were supplied and the holy commonality, or partnership, manifested? That it was so is rendered more certain by the fact, that he immediately adds, "And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, as every man had need." In this brief verse we have the contribution and distribution specified, as, also, their purpose and extent, Truly, there was a fellowship-each member of the college of Christ giving or receiving, or both, as occasion required. In the putting together and using of this common fund, we see the constant attending to THE FELLOWSHIP described in verse 42, and no one word in Greek could better express this than kovovia, nor can we find a word in our language so well adapted to represent it as the word fellowship. In full accordance, too, is the subsequent use of this word when applied to temporalities. The churches of Macedonia abounded in liberality toward the suffering saints in Jerusalem, and of them Paul says, They were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of administering to the
Observer, April 1, 71.
saints. (2. Cor. viii. 4.) And again, "For the administration of this service not only supplieth the wants of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal fellowship (kovovia) unto them, and unto all men. (2 Cor. ix. 12) To the Christians in Rome Paul wrote-" But go to Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make fellowship for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem." (Rom. xv. 26.) To the Hebrews he wrote-" But of doing good and of fellowship be not forgetful; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (Heb. xiii. 16.) In these combined statements we have clearly settled, that THE FELLOWSHIP refers to material things and is realized as the Church, by its contributions and distributions, manifests its Divine copartnery.
Having the fellowship thus clearly before us as a Divine Ordinance, our next business is that of ascertaining the law of the fellowship as to time, place, manner, etc. In a word, we have to learn what there is absolutely binding in reference to the Ordinance, and what is left undetermined and for adjustment by each church, as from time to time may be found expedient. The law must be sought in the positive commands of the Book. and in the examples of the first churches, as approved by the apostles. But here we rest for a while, hoping to meet the reader again in our next issue. D. K.
THE following enquiries are to hand. Will our readers supply the information sought, in good time for our next issue?
1. Why did the Apostle Peter need a miracle to convince him that the Gentiles were, equally with the Jews, entitled to receive and obey the Gospel, seeing the Apostles had been commanded to preach it to every creature, and had received the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth? J. P.
2. If the Disciples at Troas and Corinth met at night to break the bread are we justified in doing so at any other time? ENQUIRER.
3. How is it that our translators have rendered σaßßarwv (sabbatoon) "the first day of the week," in Acts xx. 7, and 1 Cor. xvi. 2, whilst in Matthew xxviii. 1, they make it the last day of the week as well as the first?
In the first letter to the Corinthians, xi. 20, is the term "Lord's Supper" correctly translated? Did this Church celebrate the Lord's death at night? Did the Apostle condemn this Church for coming together at any particular time, or for their manner of coming together ?
WORDS FROM THE WORK-TABLE.-No. XXXIII.
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, in the grave whither thou goest"-Ecclesiastes ix. 10.
"At Stepney Meeting, on Tuesday evening, a testimonial was presented to Miss Thompson, as a parting memorial from the teachers and friends, on her ceasing active work in the Sunday School, with which she
had been connected for more than forty-two years; during which time she had never been absent a single Sunday, except from illness. The testimonial was a Purse of Twenty-five Guineas."
THE foregoing paragraph, in a recent issue of the Christian World, arrested my attention and set me musing. "Forty-two years, and not absent a single Sunday except from illness!" Miss Thompson must evidently have felt herself bound to attend to the work she had undertaken for the Lord. Doubtlessly, during those forty-two years she had been tried in various ways; meeting with ignorance, temper, pride, and obstinacy. We cannot suppose that the scholars were better than those of other schools. Discouragement must occasionally have been felt. Over some of the children she must have wept and prayed. Some will have called for manifestations of great patience. She may occasionally have been tempted to say-" What good am I doing? I see so little fruit for all my labour." Her hands may have fallen listlessly to her side, and her head may have been bowed down by a sense of helplessness and inability to do all she would. But she must have gloried in the Lord, and thus have persevered for forty-two years in
"The patience of hope and the labour of
In many departments of Church work great laxity is displayed; it is taken up and laid down, seemingly without thought as to the responsiThe demands of bility incurred. earthly employment must be rigidly regarded, the laws of the shop, the counting-house, or the factory, must be punctiliously observed." The
Church member who on no account would be behind time at his work, who would never dream of neglecting his employer's commands, who would scorn to waste the time he is paid to use diligently for the interest of those he works for, frequently forgets that he has covenanted to labor diligently and faithfully for the Saviour who has purchased him with His own blood: forgets that the Saviour exhorts His followers to seek first
the kingdom of God and His right
Observer, April 1, '71
The law of love should be more binding upon us than the law of necessity. If we may not neglect, despise, or trifle with earthly things, how much less should we do so with the heavenly. If we fear to displease an employer by want of punctuality, attention and honesty, lest we lose his favour and our money; how much more should we be true to Him who suffered, bled, and died, "to bring us near to God," whose "exceeding great and previous promises should dwell in us so as to produce life, growth, and activity in the peculiar duties of His work arising out of our Church position.
Truly, we are to be diligent in business, and our homes and families are to be well ordered and governed. But in a certain sense Christians have no "world's work" to do; all that they engage in should be with an eye to the glory of God; they are to live Christ, to show forth Christ in the work-shop and the home. But in order to do so effectually, they must feed on Christ, learn of Him, follow in His footsteps who went about doing good, whose meat and drink it was to do His Father's will!
My sister are you coming in this evening? It is just time for our Visitors' Meeting,' and we have not had you with us much lately."
No, I shall not be with you tonight. Indeed, I would not like to feel bound to attend every meeting." But, do not you think it a good and necessary work? I know we frequently meet with much that might dishearten us, but, then again we have some things to encourage, and at any rate it is but little that we can do for the service of God, and surely we should feel 'bound' to do that little faithfully."
"Yes, I admit it is both a good and necessary work, but at the same time, I do not like to be bound to do it."
"But, my dear sister, are we not, in common honesty, bound to do
Observer, April 1, '71.
this willing bondage that leads some of our brethren to go hither and thither, carrying the sweet message of the gospel of peace; unmindful of pecuniary reward, and caring little for earthly joys and comforts, feeling "bound" to do their Master's work, braving reproach and contumely without complaint, so that they win souls to Jesus.
Our lines have fallen to us in pleasant places, and we seem well content to sit at ease in Zion, with just as much activity as shows forth a small measure of life and keeps us a place in the assembly of Saints.
what we have undertaken to do? the Church asks us to attend to certain matters, and we accede to the request, are we not as much bound to do that work as your husband is bound to do the work his employer gives him to do? I do not think we put Christ in the first place when we treat the requirements of the Church with less deference than the common matters of every day life. I do not think it should content us to give merely our spare time, our spare cash, and services that cost us no effort, to God. I fear that many who have taken upon them the name of Christ, will fail to receive the 'well done, good and faithful servant, The people of God are to be a enter into the joy of thy Lord;'" peculiar people," and one distincbecause they have failed to render tive peculiarity is, they are to be loving reverent service to His laws "zealous of good works." Now, if and His Church." each Church member, in the line of Church work, best suited to his or her capacity (for we cannot all be teachers or preachers), will for the present year, feel bound to be as attentive, as punctual, and as earnest as Miss Thompson has evidently been for forty-two years, when 1872 dawns upon us, there will be a rich increase in number, intelligence, and power, which will make itself felt in the world, and help to hasten the coming of our Lord.
The first Christians rendered no half-hearted service they gave up ALL and followed Christ; and the noble army of martyrs, from Stephen even to the present, have felt bound by the dearest, sweetest cords-even the cords of love-to render full free service to the Christ of God. It was this willing bondage that in ancient time nerved weak striplings, and tender women to endure the Scourge and cross. It was this willing bondage that caused the fires of Smithfield to be preferred to position and wealth, which were to be purchased with a denial of the Faith as it is in Jesus. It was this willing bondage that sustained Luther and other Reformers, in their struggles, which have resulted in giving us the Bible, The Word of God. And it is
"Oh that each in the day
Oh that each from his Lord,
NO PLACE LIKE HOME.
How natural are the yearnings | the labourer, as he leaves the fields and longings after home! "I long at eventide, tired with the work of to see home," says the sailor from the mast-head, when the ship rocks to and fro from the violence of the storm. "I am going home," thinks
the day. "I must hurry home," says the mother, whose heart is with the baby in its cradle. Oh, how I wish I was at home," says the school
boy, disconsolate over his hopeless | home happy."
"The first sure symptoms of a mind in
Are rest of heart, and pleasure felt at home."
A Christian's home should be the abode of warm and loving hearts. The families at Nazareth and at Bethany enjoyed an almost celestial happiness. Their homes were hallowed by the sacred presence of Jesus, for where He is, a divine influence sanctifies the abode. Just as the lamps in the Jewish Temple shed a lustre over the worshippers, so the presence of Jesus hallows domestic life, the altar is reared, the Bible is read, and the home becomes a Bethel a heaven begun below; for
Observer, April 1, '71
The charm con
sists in mutual sympathies, mutual love being the ruling power.
"Love rules the earth, the camp, the
And men below, and saints above,
For love is heaven, and heaven is love." As a sunbeam is composed of millions of minute rays, even so the home light must consist of little tendernesses, kindly looks, sweet laughter, gentle words, and loving counsels; each must bear the other's burden; there must be mutual confidence, and then the home becomes a cheerful, happy place.
Wives and mothers cannot estimate too highly the importance of such home influence, although they sometimes reach it over the steppingstones which lie in the brook of daily trial and discomfort. The husband
may have to be lured from the publichouse, where the landlord aims at making his drinking-room as cheerful and attractive as possible. The children may have to be shielded from the snares of out-door life, so injurious to their future life. The home should be surrounded by an atmosphere of love; it should be a place of happy meeting and endearing friendships.
Let us not forget that each member of a family has his part to play, his influence to exert, his duty to perform, in order to make home influence felt. In the earthly abode there should be the foretaste of that
calm and joy which the heavenly home provides. There nothing will mar perfect love and joy, for there the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.". Homely Feelings.
WAIT ON THE LORD.
That Thou wouldst haste Thy coming, gracious Lord;