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Observer, Oct. 1, '71.
withstanding this warning, and though the civil authorities disallow the claim of the Pope to Infallibility, the Archbishop and his subordinates have published the encyclical letter of the Pontiff. The situation is interesting. Whether the ecclesiastical dignitaries will dare to carry their threats against the Reformers into execution, remains to be seen. Should they do so, the civil ruler will step in, and they will presently be stript of their power. The disestablishment of the Roman Church in Bavaria is imminent. And the same holds good of all Germany. These are eventful times, fruitful in rapid and important changes. Such as live to the end of the present century will have strange stories to tell their grand-children. By that time Popery and State establishments of religion will perhaps have become memories only. “ The wish is father to the thought.”
EDIFYING THE CHURCH.
TO EVERY pious heart the church is always an object of deep interest, and to the preacher of the Gospel it is peculiarly so.
I purpose a few short articles on it, and will begin by defining and unfolding some leading terms which are used in speaking of it.
1st. Ecclesiastic. This word, so often used in church history, is from the Greek ekklesia ; and ekklesia is from ekkalco. The verb ekkaleo literally means to call out or call forth. Ekklesia is the term used in the New Testament to denote the church whether the term be used in its large sense to signify the whole family of God, or in its narrow sense, to signify some particular local church. It strictly denotes the people that compose the congregation, and tells us whence they are. They are a called-out people ; that is, a people called out of the world. This is the meaning of
; ekklesia—a congregation or an assembly of people called out of the world. Of course the term does not, in its New Testament sense, denote
kind of congregation summoned together, but strictly a congregation of Christians.
Every man who hears the gospel is called, and this, in this day, is the only call any man ever has. No one is ever the subject of any other. When a man hears the call and obeys it, in other words, obeys the gospel, this takes him out of the world into the church. When a number thus obey, and band themselves together, they constitute an ekklesia, or church. To denote this body of Christians thus banded together, we use the two words, church and congregation, both of which for the sake of those who may need it, I propose to define.
Ι 2nd. Congregation. This is a compound word derived from the Latin. It is composed of the particle con and the word grex, which means a flock or herd, as a flock of sheep. Hence, congregation means a flocking together, or rather those who have flocked together. It denotes the body when assembled together who compose the church.
3rd. Church. The derivation of this term does not strike me as being so easy as the two just defined. It is most probably from the Saxon circ, and this from the Greek kuriakon. Kuriakon in Greek denotes the house of a lord (kurios.) In Christian usage it would denote a house of the Lord Jesus ; that is, a house devoted to Him or consecrated to His worship. Such is most likely both the origin and meaning of church. It denotes a house in which the worship of Christ is conducted.
The three terms now defined give us a pretty clear conception of a church. Congregation denotes the body met together, or in its collective
Observer, Oct. 1, '71
capacity. Ekklesiu shows whence it is; it is called out of the world. Church signifies the house it meets in to worship.
4th. Edify. This term is also from the Latin, and is composed from the two words, adis and facio. The former means a house, and the latter to make. Hence edify means to make or build a house. This is the literal meaning of the term. In the New Testament, where it is used figuratively, it means to build up, instruct, and enlighten the church or congregation. In this sense it expresses the increase of the church in knowledge and in favour rather than its increase in numbers. Taking the four terms together, they give us the following: The house in which the congregation meets; the congregation met together; a congregation collected out of the world; and, finally, a congregation growing or increasing in knowledge and in spiritual life. Certainly these are great outcroping and important features of a church. In considering the subject further, I shall notice, first, the material we build into the church ; and, second, the management of the material after it is in it.
Paul describes the material of which the church in Corinth was built, by six terms, all used metaphorically, namely: gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble. The three first, doubtless, denote. the true Christians who endure to the end, and are saved; the three last, those who endure but for awhile, and in time of temptation fall away. I presume nothing is to be inferred from the fact that three terms are used to denote the one class and three the other, especially nothing as to the relative proportion of the one to the other. It would certainly be unwise to infer from this circumstance that the number who will be lost is exactly equal to the number who will be saved.
These six terms describe to a certain extent the kind of material posing that ancient church, or the characters or persons who composed it. With reference to these characters the apostle says ; “ Let every man take heed how he build.” But this I understand him to mean-let every man, every preacher, take heed what kind of material he builds into the house of God; let him be careful to build gold, silver, precious stones, and let him be equally careful not to build
wood, hay, stubble. Now the point to which, for the present, I wish to call the attention of all our preachers is, how shall we obey the apostle's warning? When he says, “Let every man take heed,” he drops a caveat which we cannot afford to overlook. What attention are we giving to it, or how is it influencing our daily conduct ? Clearly we should not build wood, hay, stubble; and just as clear is it that we should build gold, silver, précious stones, and nothing else. But how shall we so build that we build these only, and not those ? This is the question which perplexes. I confess it perplexes me, and that not a little. Wherein lies the secret of that preaching which builds gold, silver, and precious stones ; and never builds wood, hay, and stubble? Surely there is a kind of preaching which builds the one, and a different kind which builds the other. Otherwise there would be no use in the warning. In other words, if the same kind of preaching builds both, then the warning cannot be obeyed. Or is this the view that the same kind of preaching presents both kinds of material, but that we must accept the one and reject the other ? How is this? If we are to reject, by what criterion are we to be guided ? Here is a point over which, possibly, we have not thought as much as we should. It will certainly be well to give it our special attention. How shall we “ take heed," as directed by the apostle? I leave the question to the thought of our preachers for the present.
Observer, Oct. 1,71.
NOTES ON EPHESIANS IV., 11-16.* REFERENCE is here made to the glorified Jesus—to His ascension into heaven, to His royal throne, on God's holy hill of Zion—where the Father anointed Him His King—whence He declared the Father's decree of His appointment, “ The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee: Ask of me and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." (Psl. ii.)
From henceforth, Messiah, the King, is engaged in establishing His kingdom., the first step towards which appeared on the day of Pentecost, when the ascended Conqueror “received and gave gifts for men," "yea, the rebellious also,”—and this, in order that the Lord God might dwell among them.”
The extent of this dominion is "the uttermost parts of the earth.” Its setting up and extension, until completed, was to be accomplished through human instrumentality: first by “the gifts,"—then through “the saints."
“He gave gifts unto men." These were the Lord's first instructionsbut this arrangement was merely provisional-to prepare for permanent operations, the ultimate object being “to build up the body of Christ."
These permanent operations comprehend the action of the saints, in the service of God. The gifts made provision for all this, their part being to instruct the saints during a period of minority, and so to qualify the church, in absence of the gifts, “to edify itself.” Verse 13 explains how far these gifts were necessary in the building up process : « Till we all come into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man (full manhood), unto the measure of the stature (or age) of the fullness of the Christ.” Verse 14 refers to the weakly condition which preceded that of the full stature of discipleship, the growth of which was to be matured by the gifts, because the infantile state is inconsistent with the service of disciples in the house of their Father. Verse 15 states action in the body, by which they were to effect this transition,—"speaking the truth in love"; and verse 16 gives the result of this action="the fitness of the body to edify (or build up) itself.”'
The action of the gifts, as stated in verse 12, was to perfect, or fit, the saints for doing the duties of this service. These duties are service in the church, regarded as God's holy temple.
As the verse reads there are three times that the word “ for" is used in our translation.
The first—"For the perfecting of the saints.” This one accords with the original.. The second and third have not the same word in the Greek ; the word for these two is els, which is usually translated "into."
" The work of the ministry,” does not refer to a separate class, to be trained by the gifts, and made “ministers.” This “ministerial” position wants proof; indeed a literal translation will not admit of this. The definite article is not there. The terms work (epyov), and service (dlakwvias), are general, not special. With these alterations the passage will read, "For the perfecting of the saints, into work of service, into building up of the body of Christ: Till — " the saints are put into a position to carry on the work without the help of the living voice of the “gifts." This they are now able to do, having the scriptures of the truth for a guide.
* These Notes owe their existence to the series of articles on Ministry, which appeared in our pages from the pen of the Editor, some time back. It might be too late to insert them now but for the fact that though arising out of those articles the writer presents his comments
upon the text
without formal allusion to them, and thus his notes stand complete in themselves. Illness and absence from home prevented earlier completion.
The "service" is no doubt general, and it comprehends great variety, beyond that of “pulpit” service. (See Rom. xii. 4—21, 1 Cor. xii. 12—27) The action of “the many members” in the body must needs differ, because of their varied functions.
The service is one of priesthood. This seems to be the idea here. The gifts were given to train up God's royal priesthood, fitting them to serve Him in His holy temple, “ that the Lord God might dwell among them.” This accords with the prophecy in Psl. lxviii. 18.
The nature of the service has a practical illustration in the historic record. The germ of the whole, as afterwards developed, is found in the special charge or commission which the Lord gave to His eleven apostles, Matt. xxviii., Mark xvi. “Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All authority is given unto me in heaven and on earth.” The Lord rests His commands upon His lordship over the nations--"Go ye therefore.” The manner in which the apostles began to carry out their instructions is seen in Acts ii. Compare the whole passage with the conditions laid down in the commission in Matt. xxviii., when He says—“Go ye therefore and teach (disciple by teaching) all the nations, baptizing them (the discipled ones) into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them (the immersed disciples) to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
Acts ii. 22—36. Peter made known the glad tidings. In verse 38 he calls to repentance and obedience; verse 41, they gladly received his word and were baptized—that is, being " discipled” by his teaching, they in gladness of heart confessed the Holy Name in baptism, and now, having become followers of the Lord, they are introduced into the commonwealth of Israel.
The commission given to Saul of Tarsus (Acts xxvi. 16-18) comprehends the same objects, the result being thus expressed—“That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me,” (that is, inheritance among the family of God or the citizens of His kingdom). The Church, the household of the faith, was henceforth to be their home and the scene of their services.
The result of Peter's proclamation was, that “the same day there were added about three thousand souls.” Obedient ones were added to the Church, to receive instruction from the apostles according to the command
.“. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."
Verse 42 relates things which they were “ taught to observe:"? “ They continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles, and in the fellowship, and in the breaking of the loaf, and in the prayers.” Verse 47, “Praising God.” “They," the church or assembly of Christ's followers, "continued steadfastly,” because they were taught, no doubt, the importance of this steadfastness.
Returning to Eph. iv.-Verse 11 describes the “gifts." These were men, possessed of certain endowments, or qualifications, imparted by the Holy Spirit, to fit each for the particular work which was assigned him. First “ Apostles,”—"the twelve," each called by name, and appointed to his work by special charge or commission. This charge was at first given to only eleven; some years later it was also given to Saul, of Tarsus.
The nature and extent of this appointment, as apostles, are to be found in the commission. Looking to that in Matt. we find that the field of operations is "the world" "among all nations"--and, further, that the nature of the labour is two-fold,—the first to evangelize, or convert man.
Observer, Oct. 1, '71.
kind into the knowledge of the true God, in Christ Jesus the Lord. The second division is to “build up these discipled ones in their most holy faith,” to instruct them in the duties to which they are to attend.
Brought out from the world, from darkness to light, into a new, a spiritual relationship with God, still subject to the surrounding evil influences of this world--they need to associate together to obtain strength by union. Association requires order. Order needs law and government. The new kingdom, though not of this world, is exposed to worldly influences; but, the world presents no rule of man by which to guide this new association. The church is a spiritual body, therefore its order and government cannot be inferred from the institutions which prevail among men. Hence, need for Divine inspiration,-hence, “the gifts,"—the inspired men.
This power is made conspicuous in the apostles, in whose writings the will of God is recorded, -not only as “gifts” then present, but to be guides in all ages.
The appointment of apostles was adapted to meet the emergency; for, in it was included all needful qualification for setting up the new “Nation," in organizing its social polity, and in prescribing its laws and institutions. On apostles was devolved the whole charge of planting churches, setting them in order, and building them up.
But the work was beyond the power of the twelve to accomplish, they were not sufficient to reach over all the churches; hence, the need for more "gifts,"—which, nevertheless, were all subordinate to apostles,-the Lord's commissioned ambassadors.
One further remark on the labours of apostles. The commission was given them with a promise, as regards the extent and duration of their labours. “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” This special presence intimates the power which should accompany their special labours, not merely during the few years of earthly sojourn, but, during the whole age or era, which, inaugurated at Pentecost, is to termin. ate only when the last stone is added to the spiritual temple, of which apostles were and are “ Master Builders.” This will more fully appear after examination of the other gifts.
T. W. To be completed next month.
THE LOADSTONE OF CULTURE-WHAT IS IT?* “ That it is desirable that some effort be made to attract to New Testament ground, more than has hitherto been done, men of education and culture."
“I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."
We have a blessed sense of the meaning of the latter quotation ; but everyone would not be quite so clear about the first.
Not that there is any doubt about the desirability of saving educated people, by all possible means ; seeing they need salvation as much as others. Neither can it be
* The first quotation at the head of this article is a resolution adopted at the Annual Meeting of Disciples of Christ, held in Huddersfield, and reported in our last issue. No one in the meeting said anything approach. ing the thought that “New Testament ground” possesses no power of attraction for “men of education and culture.” The
main consideration was as to the means for bringing the New Testament order of things under the attention of the educated class. We distribute Tracts; but they are almost entirely given to the poor. We instruct cbildren ; but, again, they are the children of the poor. We speak to our neighbours and associates ; but, as so many of us do not move in educated circles, our social intercourse does not considerably extend to the persons referred to. We open
rooms for preaching; but for the most part they are in poor neighbourhoods, and not likely to attract the attention of people who are not in some way directed to them, and those who are thus specially informed are the poor. “But,” says one, " did not the Saviour point out, as characteristic of Christianity, that the poor have the gospel preached to them.” He did, and that because the then existing philosophers ignored the poor. But if anyone suppose that He sanctioned the passing of men of education, culture