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Observer, Sept. 1, '71,
grows largely out of our lack of prayer. Think you we have ever yet learned to pray? I know some who think the Lord's prayer a thing for the past- but I doubt if we have ever yet learned to breathe that prayer aright. I doubt if we have yet learned the true spirit of its first petitions. Let us see. What is the first petition in that prayer? Grant me life?
No. Grant me health? No. Grant me wealth? No. Bless me and mine with all good things, and keep me from all harm and suffering, and let not adversity come nigh us, and let us have our own sweet will to do as we please? Oh! no, no, no. The first petition is, "Thy kingdom come." And the second is like unto it, namely, " Thy will be done in earth as it is done in heaven." And how much does He teach us to pray for of worldly good? Just one day's supply of food—that is all. "Give us this day our daily bread." Christ would thus teach us to subordinate the earthly to the heavenly, the material to the spiritual. We have never learned that prayer, then, unless we have learned to make the spiritual first in our affections and the interests of the kingdom of God the first and dearest desire and aim of our lives; and unless we have subjugated our will to the will of God, until we can say, Thy will; not mine-Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Oh! it is this, it is this, dear brethren, that we need to make us what we ought to be. We are too much devoted to our theories of the world's conversion, and too little given to the work of converting the world. We are too little humbled before God in view of our weakness and inefficiency, our selfishness and sinfulness. We know far too little of that absorbing, enthusiastic desire for the spread of the kingdom of God which would lead us to pray always first, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done" It was the first and the last struggle of the tempter with Jesus to persuade Him to supplant the will of God with some other will-any other, no matter what; it was the first and last victory of Jesus over the tempter, though it cost bloody sweat and bitter cryings and tears, to cling to the will of God, and say in the darkest hour, Thy will be done. Would that we might all be brought, through whatever humiliation and agony, to this point of entire submission-how mightily would God enable us to move forward the triumphs of His kingdom! We have the men, we have the money, we have the open door; we want-supreme devotion to the will of God-a devotion that shall conquer our love of the world and our carnal security. I. E.
A SURVEY OF HISTORICAL SUPERNATURALISM.-No. VI. WE are not informed concerning any outward radiance when God walked with man in the garden. The cherubim fire and the revolving sword of flame not appearing at the eastern gate until man is driven out. The manifest outshining of God in this case being to awe rather than to charm-frightening marauders from the tree of life.
We have a remarkable account on record in the third chapter of Exodus. When Moses led the flock of Jethro to the backside of the desert, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. "And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed." When Moses sought to find out why the bush was not burnt, the voice of the Lord came to him, and he was taught that he stood on holy ground. God who remembered the ancient covenant had seen the oppression and knew the sorrows of His people, and Moses receives his
Observer, Sept. 1, 71.
commisson as the earthly instrument of deliverance. His name how wonderful, if we abide by the common version. "I AM!" It combines austere simplicity with metaphysical grandeur. He is the Absolute, Unchangeable One from eternity to eternity, and we are but shadows. The worlds and the orders of being only subsist in Him, and without His support matter and spirit would equally fail. Some eminent Hebraists, however, translate the One who will be the coming One, and this leads the mind into a richer field. For the coming One, who was then the coming One and is still the coming One, is our own Lord and Saviour, glorious in His work as the ANGELUS REDEMPTOR of one age and the man Christ Jesus of another. In Exodus xiii., xiv., xv. we have some memorable circumstances. When the emancipated people left Egypt the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, and by night in a pillar of fire. When the crisis of the Red Sea came, the angel of God who went before the camp of Israel removed and went behind them. Cloud and darkness to the camp of Egypt; light and fire to the camp of Israel. And when God triumphed, gloriously, Moses and the people sang a song of transport and life, which is like a blast of trumpets: "Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the Gods? Who is like Thee, glorious in holiness?"
When the people were to receive their constitution Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the nether part of the mount, Ex. xix. "And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly." Afterwards there went up Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders. And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai.. . . And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel," Ex. xxiv. When the splendid tabernacle was finished, where God communed with Moses and Aaron from between the golden cherubim, above the mercy-seat, there was a fire burning which man never kindled-an outshining glory from the Lord. The palace built for the King of Israel was sanctified by His glory, and the people knew that He was the Lord God who redeemed them from Egypt. Ex. xxv-xxix.
We must not forget the penal revelations of the glory. Nadab and Abihu perished under the fire of the Lord while burning strange incense. The two hundred and fifty princes who adhered to Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were slain by fire after the leaders had descended alive into Sheol. Lev. x., Num. xvi. We are reminded of One who is the very essence of perfect love, but who will, nevertheless, be revealed in flaming fire taking vengeance. In neither case may we distinguish as though the fire were different. The Holiness of God shone forth in glory between the cherubim -serenely resting on the mercy-seat-the same Holiness burned out in devouring fire to consume the rebels. The inward Holiness of Jesus shone forth on the holy mount, so that He was transfigured into intense white splendour, and those who were bathed in it felt it good to be there. The same Holiness will burn out in flaming fire, so that those who have not known God, nor obeyed the Gospel, may be consumed with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.
Habakkuk says: "God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of
Observer, Sept. 1, '71.
his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand and there was the hiding of his power," chap. iii. The Psalmist says: "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth." xxix. When God, who is in His essence pure Spirit, assumes any form, it is the human, for man was made in His image. And when His awful holiness is outwardly manifested, it shines forth in glory, and the glory is the vehicle of His power. It is the Holy God who is revealed in external glory, and it is the God of glory who thundereth in power. That glory which is the outshining of His essential holiness will either bless and transform and glorify, or scare and kill and destroy, according to the material on which it falls. The persons and things which are pure in His sight bask in the splendour of the holy light, the persons and things corrupt and offensive perish in the devouring fire.
After Solomon had finished the Temple, which was better fitted than the Tabernacle for a consolidated people, the glory of the Lord filled the house, and so long, as that Temple endured the peculiar radiance was found there. Ezekiel saw it depart in vision and he likewise saw it return in the vision of a more auspicious age. "When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and the spirit of burning. And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence," Isaiah iv. We are not, however, to conceive of a local limitation as the final reality, for the same writer declares: “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." Doubtless the Prophet has before him the ancient promise on record in Numbers: "I have pardoned according to thy word. But as truly as I live all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord," chap. xiv., 20-21.
We see one beautiful and comely thing in the ancient theocracy, their religion was their law and their law was their religion. At present we get our religion from one source, and.our political law from another; often in direct antagonism. But in an age of approaching glory the theocracy shall revive again-wider and more glorious-and all the harmonies of a perfect state shall be seen in divine unity.
There came a time when the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds by night, and they received the tidings of the new-born King. When that King arose from the water of immersion, the heavens were opened, and the glory descended. His miracles, even the first, struck the key-note of divine music. "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory." His last great miracle has the same voice to Martha who talked about decomposition and corruption. He says: "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" His outshining on the Mount was a supreme revelation. Two out of the three witnesses have named it with emphasis: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." John i. "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came
Observer, Sept. 1, '71.
to him such a voice from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
We are represented as standing in grace, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. And in the same epistle all creation is painted as in birth pangs, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God in the resurrection morning. All creation is to share in the glorious liberty, or rather the liberty of the glory. We are looking for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. He is coming to change the vile body, and fashion it like unto His own by the energy of His working; and though we know not what we shall be, we know that we shall be like Him when we see Him as He is. The same thing is true of the disciples as of the Master and Lord. The holiness is the root of the glory; in proportion to the purity such will be the splendour, and the measure of the glory will be the measure of the power. But Holy Scripture conducts us to an age past latter-day glory-opening eternity when the Shekinah Presence of God will be perfect and uninterrupted; not even a cloud,-for the cloud indicated the existence of sin, and the contiguity of hostile and disturbing forces. "And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold the Tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them."
The essential holiness of God underlies all moral government and responsibility, all righteousness, or life, or possibilites of victory for the good and the true. When it finally breaks forth unobstructed the result is inconceivable glory. We no longer need to be hidden in clefts of the rock while the supreme splendour passes by, only to gaze sadly on lingering radiance, but on the contrary the holy effulgence rests upon us in the fulness which is blessedness. Outside people may require the old natural luminaries, but no sun, or moon, or stars are needed in the city of the golden. The Father and fountain of all light reveals His face, and the impartial glory bathes the whole city, where no temple is needed. Even a temple, sublime though it be, has a side of awe and darkness, speaking of guilt and sin to be purged and pardoned through the appointed ritualism. But there is no temple in the city where God descends to dwell with His holy ones for
In the deeps of the divine philosophy we can clearly perceive how it is that the holy are glorified and the unholy perish. It must be so in the very nature of things. The foundations of immortality are laid in the regeneration, in the supernatural birth, and the life growing up in God. The holiness implanted and nourished is sure to shine forth in its proper form of glory when the obstructions are removed. Whereas, among the unregenerate, where there is no holiness, there is nothing to shine forth. When the glory of God falls upon the naked flesh and the unclean spirit the corruptible things are consumed and perish for ever. It is our business, our privilege to take care that the work advances even now. Beholding, as in a glass the glory of the Lord; we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." G. G.
Observer, Sept. 1, '71.
THE CHURCH IN THE DIOCESE OF CHESTER.
THE boundaries of the diocese of Chester are much more limited than they were some time ago. It was created by Henry VIII. out of a portion of the dioceses of Lichfield, Coventry, and York. It then included the whole of the counties of Chester and Lancaster, and also part of Yorkshire, Cumberland, Flintshire, and Denbighshire. The Yorkshire portion was transferred, in 1836, to the new diocese of Ripon. In 1847, when the new diocese of Manchester was created, it was further reduced, and in 1849 it experienced another reduction. It is now nearly conterminous with the county of Chester, but includes a portion of Lancashire. population in 1861 was 1,248,416; its benefices are 383; its curates 228; and its church sittings 295,705.
The first inquiry as to the condition of the Establishment in this diocese naturally relates to the provision which, on the whole, is made for the spiritual wants of the population. There should be accommodation for public worship for fifty-seven per cent. of the people; or, in 1861, for about 701,588 persons. The Establishment, however, furnished, in 1870, according to the Chester Diocesan Calender, accommodation for 295,705 persons, or only twenty-eight per cent. of the population as it was ten years ago; or about two-fifths of the whole number who may now be expected to require accommodation. The first fact, therefore, which we find is, that more than half of the population must be left to be attended to by the Free Churches. We are without information as to the sittings provided in the several parishes of the diocese; but if we were possessed of it, we should no doubt find that a great deal of the accommodation that is afforded is either not practically available or is not used. There would be, as there are in other dioceses, large buildings half, or more than half, empty, among small populations, while Methodist and other places of worship are crowded; while in the towns we should find that the Church ministers but to a small fraction of the people. If the total accommodation is not 300,000, for four times the population, the total number of worshippers would be far less than the accommodation. The professed adherents of the Church in the diocese of Chester are probably not more than 200,000 in number, or one-sixth of the total population.
The distribution of the revenues in this diocese is marked by that gross inequality that is everywhere characteristic of Established Church finance. The Bishop is paid less than many other bishops, his revenue amounting to £4,500; while other bishops, doing no more duty, receive considerably larger amounts. The gross yearly income of the see, when the Ecclesiastical Revenue Commissioners made their report in 1831, was stated to be £3,951, but it was raised by the Church Reform Act to its present sum. At the same time, the revenues of the Dean and Chapter were reported at £2,135-a very small sum for a Dean and Chapter. In answering inquiries upon this point, both the Bishop and the Dean and Chapter stated that a considerable diminution in revenue in future years was expected from a depreciation of the value of tithes. Why tithes were expected to decrease no one can tell, for their nature is to increase; and as a matter of fact, this expectation turned out to be fallacious, for in 1852, the Cathedral Commissioners reported that the revenues of the Dean and Chapter had not only not decreased, but that they had more than doubled; the amount being at that time £5,522. Scarcely any property, in fact, has increased in value of late years more rapidly than ecclesiastical property, and it is increasing every year.