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Observer, Oct. 1, '71.
It will be interesting to hear the Doctor upon baptism and the Lord's supper. Taking the last named first, we have him saying
In the early part of the apostolic period, so simple was the manner in which this Christian ordinance was observed, that it hardly bore the appearance of a religious solemnity; except that every meeting of Christians at that time was marked with a strong out-flowing of religious feeling, which solemnized their whole life, and almost made every action of it a religious service.
"In the sacred record, there is not the slightest intimation that the validity of the sacrament depended upon any ministerial power or act; or that any Christian minister had the power of conferring sacramental grace through his administration of it. Indeed, the analogy of the Jewish Passover, which this ordinance closely followed, will suggest that any Christian might preside at the Lord's table, although, after a time, as a matter of order, it would naturally devolve upon a presbyter to conduct this as well as the other religious services.
"There is not the slightest intimation that any change whatever was effected in the bread and wine; or that any power or virtue, natural or supernatural, was infused into them. They are not even said to be consecrated, but only to have a blessing or thanksgiving offered over them. "There is not the slightest intimation that our Lord Jesus Christ is in any sense present in, or in conjunction with, the consecrated elements: or that His presence in the believer's heart at this service is different in kind from His presence in him at prayer, or in any other spiritual communion. "There is not the slightest intimation that the Lord's Supper is a sacrifice; or that the sacramental elements are offered on an altar by a priest."
Here, too, we find refreshing doctrine-something like apostolic simplicity, alike in reference to the manner of observing the feast, the administration, the design, and the quality of the elements.
Baptism must have some measure of notice, and then we shall detain you no longer. You will note with pleasure most of the following—
"The efficacy of Christian baptism in the apostolic age, or the nature of the religious state and its consequent privileges into which the baptized were brought, may be fully learned from the various notices respecting it, which are scattered throughout the New Testament. Baptism is nowhere in the sacred record declared in express terms to be the sacrament, or sign, of regeneration; yet there can be no reasonable doubt that such words as the washing of regeneration' (Tit. iii. 5), imply this connection between baptism and the new spiritual life that is in Christ, as does also the assertion that Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify it by cleansing it with the washing of the water by the word.' (Eph. v. 26.) Besides this, the same connection is clearly implied, though in a different form of words, in those passages which describe the baptized as thereby brought into union with Christ, the fountain and source of the new spiritual life; as we find in such texts as 'Through faith ye are all the children of God in Christ Jesus: for as many of you as were baptized into Christ, put on Christ' (Gal. iii. 27), and buried with him in your baptism, in which ye were also raised up with him, through faith in the operation of God.' (Col. ii. 12.) While in other passages particular blessings which follow from this union, and belong to the regenerate state,—such as the forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, fellowship with the Church of Christ,-are spoken of as the direct results of the believer's baptism. Thus we read, 'Repent and be baptized,
Observer, Oct. 1, 71.
everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.' (Acts ii. 38.) 'Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins.' (Acts xxii. 16) 'By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body.' (1 Cor. xii. 13) And we find the whole summed up by St. Peter in one bold assertion, that 'baptism doth save us.' (1 Peter iii. 11.)
"Besides this, it should be distinctly marked, first, that whatever efficacy is ascribed to baptism as a divinely appointed ordinance, the sacred writers are careful to make it plain, that it is by no power or virtue, natural or supernatural, in the water and its application, that the ascribed effects are produced.
"And, secondly, it should be distinctly marked that the persons, whom their baptism is said to have cleansed from sin, to have sanctified and saved, were those who gladly received the gospel word, who confessed their sins, and who believed in Christ. They were at any rate those who, as far as man could see, made an honest profession of repentance and faith; who consequently in the economy of the apostolic age, as in all subsequent times, were spoken of on this hypothesis, and so far as this hypothesis was realized, as being what they credibly professed to be, and who on the ground of such profession were received into the communion of the Church. In the Churches of the Apostles there was no consecration of the baptismal water to intimate that some mystical power was imparted to it. A pool or stream in any place was a sufficient baptistery. Nor was there any thought of sacramental grace dependant on the act and office of the officiating minister, or of any power in him to impart it by his ministrations. The apostles seem to have purposely guarded against all such notions; when even on the important occasion of the baptism of Cornelius, which formed a distinct epoch in the early history of the church, Peter did not administer the ordinance himself; and when Paul informed the Corinthians that he had not been sent to baptize, but to preach the gospel,' and considered it a cause of thankfulness that he had himself baptized very few of his converts in that city.
"It only remains to be observed that baptism in the primitive Church was evidently administered by immersion of the body in the water, a mode which added to the significance of the rite and gave a peculiar force to some of the allusions to it. But in the absence of all commands on the subject this mode of administration cannot justly be considered as essential to the ordinance or a deviation from it as detrimental to its validity. For myself I desire to express my entire assent to the words of our twenty-seventh Article, The baptism of young children is in anywise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.' But, at the same time, notwithstanding all that has been written by learned men on this subject, it remains indisputable that infant baptism is not mentioned in the New Testament. No instance of it is recorded there—no allusion is made to its effects-no directions are given for its administration. However reasonably we may be convinced that we find in the Christian Scriptures the fundamental idea from which infant baptism was afterwards developed,' and by which it may now be justified, it ought to be distinctly acknowledged that it is not an apostolic ordinance. Like modern episcopacy, it is an ecclesiastical institution, legitimately deduced by Church authority from apostolic principles, but not apostolic in its actual existence. There is no trace of it until the last part of the second century, when a passage is found in Irenæus, which may possiblyand only possibly-refer to it. Nor is it anywhere distinctly mentioned
Observer, Oct. 1, '71.
before the time of Tertullian, who, while he testifies to the practice, was himself rather opposed to it. As an established order of the Church, therefore, it belongs to the third century, when its use, and the mode of its administration, and the whole theory of it as a Christian ceremony, were necessarily moulded by the baptismal theology of the time. A circumstance which ought to be distinctly kept in view in every consideration of the subject."
Here time compels us to conclude. So long as the Doctor keeps to the New Testament, in reference to baptism, he is right. Looking there he says it was immersion--it was preceded by faith-it consummated a process--it required no official administrator-it was into Christ and for the remission of sins. Infant baptism, he intimates, is not in the New Testament, neither in precept nor example; is not apostolic in its origin, there being no trace of it before the last part of the second century. Yet he agrees with the twenty-seventh Article, which says that "the baptism young children is in anywise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ." But why abandon the Apostles and depend upon the Fathers, whom he before entirely abandoned, telling us we are to follow them only so far as they followed Christ and the apostles? But the apostles did not deem the baptism of babes "most agreeable with the institution of Christ." Had they done so they must have practised and enjoined it; which, Dr. Jacob admits, they did not. Here, then, we find a considerable blot upon his fair pages, an inconsistency no doubt unperceived by himself. But that very defect gives additional strength to his testimony as to the entire absence of baby baptism from the New Testament and from apostolic practice. He desires to retain it; he even thinks that there is in Scripture the fundamental idea from which, in post-apostolic time, it was developed; yet has he to confess that "it is not mentioned in the New Testament; that "no instance of it is recorded there:" that "no allusion is made to its effects;" and that "no direction is given for its administration." Such testimony ought to weigh with every candid reader, and no doubt will tell upon such.
And now I have done, only adding that if we were believers in the possession of living bodies by the spirits of dead men (which we are not), and if asked whose spirit moved the hand of Dr. Jacob in writing the greater part of his book, the answer would be-that of Alexander Campbell. In certain passages one almost feels that we must be listening to our departed and much beloved brother. I have been asked whether the Doctor may not be indebted to us for light which shines in his pages. I cannot say there are far less likely things; and it may be that his book has been made possible by our previous advocacy of certain of its great truths. But be that as it may, this is certain, that God speaks by whom He selects, and that He will raise up voices in most unlikely quarters, and accomplish by other agencies what cannot be directly reached from our position. Herein is our hope. It is God's work; He is the great worker; He suffers delay, but cannot fail in the end.
"His purposes shall ripen fast."
Which may He hasten, and to His name be the glory! Amen.
Observer, Oct. 1, '71.
"And thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars."-Rev. ii.
THE primitive churches were greatly troubled with men who claimed to be apostles without having received any divine commission-"false apostles, deceitful workers." These men laboured to undermine the authority of the Apostles of Christ and introduce the leaven of false doctrine among the disciples. They found their way to Ephesus. But the Church there refused to acknowledge their pretensions-unmasked them in the light of truth, proving their assumed apostolate to be an imposition and a lie.
Eighteen centuries have elapsed since then. But there are not wanting, even now, men who will palm themselves off as apostles upon all who are simple enough, or rather silly enough, to receive them. We have Mormon apostles, and also the apostles of the Catholic Apostolic Church. When in Newcastle-on-Tyne lately, I received a letter from the Catholic Apostolic evangelist there. It was written to show me the necessity of abandoning my present hold of truth, being sealed by living apostles and prepared for the coming of the Lord. I was, moreover, warned that I had no time to lose-for the remaining apostles were now far advanced in life: and that, consequently, the coming of the Lord must be near at hand. I called upon the gentleman, thanked him for his very benevolent intentions; but stated that I was far from satisfied with his remarks in reference to living apostles. It so happened that just at that time a meeting was advertised, to be addressed by an apostle from the Salt Lake City. I called his attention to this fact, and asked how I was to know whether his apostles or those from the Salt Lake were the true ones, or whether either party were true. Evidence clear and undeniable alone could suffice under these circumstances. Those Mormon apostles, I was told, were immoral men, of which he had ample evidence. But the apostles of the Catholic Apostolic Church were men of blameless morality: men who, through a long course of years, had diligently studied the Scriptures, and carefully compared them with the original. This, however, could not be accepted as proof of their apostleship. For it was pointed out that, upon his own shewing, all I had to do was simply to live a life of blameless morality before men, through a long course of years diligently to study the Scriptures, and compare them carefully with the original, to stand forth before the world a full fledged apostle. The gentleman became irritated-told me he had written, sincerely desiring to help me; but it was perfectly evident that I was not prepared to learn. Whereupon he summarily dismissed me with his benediction. He did not do this, however, until I had brought before him certain criteria which the New Testament furnishes, and by which the true apostle will ever be distinguished from the false.
An apostle must have SEEN THE LORD. Hence Paul's language when his apostleship was challenged, "Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?' (2 Cor. ix. 1.)
An apostle must be ABLE TO SUBSTANTIATE HIS CLAIMS BY MIRACLES. Hence the same Apostle, in vindication of his apostleship, could appeal to "the signs" by which his ministry was confirmed. (2 Cor. xii. 11, 12.) An apostle must possess THE POWER TO BESTOW THE HOLY SPIRIT BY THE LAYING ON OF HANDS. This was a power which no evangelist possessed,
* From a recent address to the Church in Roxburgh Place, Edinburgh, by John Strang.
Observer, Oct. 1, 71.
which money could not buy, but vested in the apostles of Jesus Christ alone." (Gal. iii. 3-5, compare with Acts viii. 12-20; xix. 1-6.)
There is no man living to whom these criteria will apply. The Lord sent forth but twelve apostles. They are still in office. Though dead, they yet speak. And he that is of God heareth them; he that is not of God, heareth not them. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error."
I may also say that when John saw in a vision the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, he informs us that “ the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb"-the best proof possible that the apostles of the nineteenth century had not entered into the divine plan, up to the time when the Apocalypse was sealed, and the canon of Holy Scripture closed.
I have dwelt at some length upon this question, because it is in keeping with the passage before us; because existing circumstances seem to require it; and that every disciple of Jesus may be able to dispose of the question of modern apostleship whenever it arises in his path.
"Nevertheless,"-nevertheless, NEVERTHELESS—"I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love."
The church at Ephesus had one serious defect. Their first love had waxed cold, and was fast dying out. O, how stands it with us? Ah, my brother, my sister, what about " thy first love?" We remember the time when we were pricked to the heart, and trembled under the burden of our sins. "The pains of hell gat hold upon us," as conviction wrought its terrible work in our souls. The past filled us with anguish—the future with dismay. And we will never forget our joy when the love of God broke in upon our souls: and when, by faith, we beheld "the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." Gratitude-pure, warm, fervent -came welling up from the deep fountains of our hearts, and our souls swelled high as we sang
My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
I love thee, because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree;
Even nature seemed to undergo a divine consecration. The fields seemed
fragrance. The chorus of birds in the early morning burst upon our ears like the melody of angels. The very stars seemed to speak to us so lovingly of "our Father who art in heaven." Old things had passed away, and behold, all things had become new. Formerly we never prayed. But prayer then became a delight. Formerly the very thought of being alone with God was irksome to us. But then we found our seasons of sweetest and purest enjoyment in communion with God. And in our zeal for the salvation of souls, we would gladly have carried all the world in our arms to the foot of the cross, had we been equal to the mighty work. All these blessed experiences the words " thy first love" will at once recall.
Brother, sister, what about " thy first love" now? kept the vows of thine espousals? O, let us be faithful here. It is a vital matter. Do our hearts condemn us?
How hast thou with ourselves Then, God is