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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 kouvwvia 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 kolvwvia, 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 (kolvwvia) unto them, and unto all men.” (2 Cor. ix. 12) To the Christians in Rome Paul wrote--"But I 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
QUERIES. 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 oaßßatwv (sabbatoon) " the first day of the week,” in Acts xx. 7, and 1 Cor. xvi. 2, whilst in Matthew xxvii. 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 even- I had been connected for more than forty-two ing, a testimonial was presented to Miss years ; during which time she had never Thompson, as a parting memorial from the been absent a single Sunday, except from teachers and friends, on her ceasing active illness. The testimonial was a Purse of work in the Sunday School, with which she Twenty-five Guineas.".
Observer, April 1, '71
THE foregoing paragraph, in a cousness. The law of love should recent issue of the Christian World, be more binding upon us than the arrested my attention and set me law of necessity. If we may not musing. Forty-two years, and not neglect, despise, or trifle with earthabsent a single Sunday except from ly things, how much less should we illness !” Miss Thompson must evi- do so with the heavenly. If we fear dently have felt herself bound to attend to displease an employer by want of to the work she had undertaken for punctuality, attention and honesty, the Lord. Doubtlessly, during those lest we lose his favour and our forty-two years she had been tried money; how much more should we in various ways; meeting with ig. be true to Him who suffered, bled, norance, temper, pride, and obstinacy. and died, “ to bring us near to God," We cannot suppose that the scholars whose“ exceeding great and previous were better than those of other promises should dwell in us so as to schools. Discouragement must oc- produce life, growth, and activity in casionally have been felt.
Over the peculiar duties of His work some of the children she must have arising out of our Church posiwept and prayed. Some will have tion. called for manifestations of great Truly, we are to be diligent in patience. She may occasionally have business, and our homes and families been tempted to say—“What good are to be well ordered and governed. am I doing? I see so little fruit for But in a certain sense Christians all my labour.” Her hands may have no “world's work" to do; all have fallen listlessly to her side, and that they engage in should be with her head may have been bowed down an eye to the glory of God; they are by a sense of helplessness and into live Christ, to show forth Christ ability to do all she would. But she in the work-shop and the home. But must have gloried in the Lord, and in order to do so effectually, they thus have persevered for forty-two must feed on Christ, learn of Him,
follow in His footsteps who went “The patience of hope and the labour of about doing good, whose meat and love."
drink it was to do His Father's will! In many departments of Church “ My sister are you coming work great laxity is displayed; it is in this evening? It is just time for taken up and laid down, seemingly our Visitors' Meeting, and we have without thought as to the responsi- not had you with us much lately." bility incurred. The demands of No, I shall not be with you toearthly employment must be rigidly night. Indeed, I would not like to regarded, the laws of the shop, the feel bound to attend every meeting." counting-house, or the factory, must “But, do not you think it a good be punctiliously observed. The and necessary work? I know we Church member who on uo account frequently meet with much that would be behind time at his work, might dishearten us, but, then again who would never dream of neglecting we have some things to encourage, his employer's commands, who would and at any rate it is but little that scorn to waste the time he is paid to we can do for the service of God, and use diligently for the interest of surely we should feel bound' to do those he works for, frequently forgets that little faithfully." that he has covenanted to labor dili- “Yes, I admit it is both a good gently and faithfully for the Saviour and necessary work, but at the same who has purchased him with His time, I do not like to be bound to do own blood : forgets that the Saviour it.” exhorts His followers to seek first But, my dear sister, are we not, the kingdom of God and His right in common honesty, bound to do
Observer, April 1, '71.
what we have undertaken to do? If this willing bondage that leads some the Church asks us to attend to of our brethren to go hither and certain matters, and we accede to the thither, carrying the sweet message request, are we not as much bound of the gospel of peace; unmindful to do that work as your husband is of pecuniary reward, and caring bound to do the work his employer little for earthly joys and comforts, gives him to do? I do not think we feeling “bound" to do their Master's put Christ in the first place when work, braving reproach and conwe treat the requirements of the tumely without complaint, so that Church with less deference than the they win souls to Jesus. common matters of every day life. Our lines have fallen to us in I do not think it should content us pleasant places, and we seem well to give merely our spare time, our content to sit at ease in Zion, with spare cash, and services that cost us just as much activity as shows no effort, to God. I fear that many forth a small measure of life and who have taken upon them the name keeps us a place in the assembly of of Christ, will fail to receive the 'well Saints. 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 The first Christians rendered no Church work, best suited to his or half-hearted service they gave up ALL her capacity (for we cannot all be and followed Christ; and the noble teachers or preachers), will for the army of martyrs, from Stephen even present year, feel bound to be as to the present, have felt bound by attentive, as punctual, and as earnest the dearest, sweetest cords—even the as Miss Thompson has evidently cords of love to render full free been for forty-two years, when 1872 service to the Christ of God. It dawns upon us, there will be a rich was this willing bondage that in increase in number, intelligence, and ancient time nerved weak striplings, power, which will make itself felt in and tender women to endure the the world, and help to hasten the scourge and cross. It was this coming of our Lord. willing bondage that caused the fires “ Ob that each in the day of Smithfield to be preferred to
Of His coming may say,
"I have finish'd the work Thou didst position and wealth, which were to be
give me to do!' purchased with a denial of the Faith
Oh that each from his Lord, as it is in Jesus. It was this willing May receive the glad word bondage that sustained Luther and *Well and faithfully done; other Reformers, in their struggles, Enter into my, joy and sit down on which have resulted in giving us the
my throne. Birmingham.
LOUISE. Bible, The Word of God. And it is
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 day. “I must hurry home," the mast-head, when the ship rocks says the mother, whose heart is with to and fro from the violence of the the baby in its cradle.
Oh, how I storm. “I am going home,” thinks I wish I was at home,” says the school
Observer', April 1, '71
boy, disconsolate over his hopeless home happy." The charm contask. So true is it, “there's no sists in mutual sympathies, mutual place like home.”
love being the ruling power. "The first sure symptoms of a mind in “Love rules the earth, the camp, the health,
grove, Are rest of heart, and pleasure felt at And men below, and saints above, home.”
For love is heaven, and heaven is love." A Christian's home should be the As a sunbeam is composed of milabode of warm and loving hearts. lions of minute rays, even so the The families at Nazareth and at home light must consist of little Bethany enjoyed an almost celestial tendernesses, kindly looks, sweet happiness. Their homes were hal- laughter, gentle words, and loving lowed by the sacred presence of counsels; each must bear the other's Jesus, for where He is, a divine burden ; there must be mutual coninfluence sanctifies the abode. Just fidence, and then the home becomes as the lamps in the Jewish Temple a cheerful, happy place. shed a lustre over the worshippers, Wives and mothers cannot estiso the presence of Jesus hallows do- mate too highly the importance of mestic life,--the altar is reared, the such home influence, although they Bible is read, and the home becomes sometimes reach it over the steppinga Bethel-a heaven begun below; stones which lie in the brook of daily for
trial and discomfort. The husband “His presence makes our paradise, may
have to be lured from the publicAnd where He dwells is heaven."
house, where the landlord aims at Our Home! What images are making his drinking-room as cheerbrought before us by that word! ful and attractive as possible. The The houseless stranger listens with children may have to be shielded tearful eye to the story of home-joys, from the snares of out-door life, so and sighs for by-gone days. There injurious to their future life. The is the gathering around the evening home should be surrounded by an hearth, the interchange of thoughts atmosphere of love; it should be in kindly words, and the social cup a place of happy meeting and enof tea.
dearing friendships. “ Where social sympathies combine,
Let us not forget that each memAnd kindred spirits intertwine.” “Here woman reigns, the mother,
ber of a family has his part to play, daughter, wife,
his influence to exert, his duty to Strews with fresh flowers the narrow perform, in order to make home in
way of life, In the clear heaven of her delightful
fluence felt. In the earthly abode
there should be the foretaste of that eye An angel-guard of loves and graces lie. calm and joy which the heavenly Around her knees domestic duties meet, home provides. There nothing will And fireside pleasures gambol at her mar perfect love and joy, for there feet.”
the wicked cease from troubling, A beautiful epitaph was once writ
and the weary
are at rest.' ten by a husband, after sixty years
Homely Feelings. of wedded life,—"She always made
WAIT ON THE LORD.
One little touch would make our brother whole ;
Send a swift answer to our waiting soul.
That Thou wouldst haste Thy coming, gracious Lord ;