« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Observer, Oct. 1, '71.
questioned that education, when rightly directed, gives additional power for good; but an enquiry naturally arises, as to what means are likely to form a sufficient attraction to men of culture, leading them to take “New Testament ground." Is it a fair inference that the ground itself possesses no power of attraction for the class referred to, and that some outside influence must be sought after gently to lead, unawares, to that which has hitherto repelled when presented directly; and by some spell to charm the sense and make the thing appear what it is not? That men of education and culture are not attracted by the ancient gospel, nor drawn towards the organization, institutions and doctrines of the old faith, and that, therefore, we ought to bestir ourselves as a people, take off the sharp edges, get the rugged corners nicely rounded, and the entire surface polished down until every trace of the divine quarry is lost, and this same “New Testament ground" stands forth fashioned according to the nineteenth century standard, so becoming a loadstone for the culture of the age—the “men and women of the period?" From such a consummation we turn away in disgust. Go with hammer and chisel, and let the rugged grandeur of the Alps be wrought into the devices of art! Go, level the barrier at the mighty Niagara, and bid the stream flow on unruffled to the sea! Then, when the Alpine peaks are hewn, and Niagara is no more, come and assail, with philosophic sand-paper, the sublimist structure of Almighty wisdom!
New Testament ground is essentially rough to the foot of human nature, and for this reason many decline to walk thereon, choosing the broad and smooth asphalte, as more consistent with the elegant ease and refinement which have become part of their nature by careful culture. The Master met gentlemen of the above description, who thought they saw, and therefore perceived no beauty in mud eye-salve. They were whole, and had no need of the Physician. His message to these was soon delivered; He wasted no energy in a special effort to bring in the Pharisees and Saducees -the men of culture and education of that day. The mission of the Christ was to man, in the widest and most solemn sense; wherever manhood was realized in its essential deformity and deep need. True, His anointing had reférence to certain classes of mankind; but they were the meek, the broken-hearted, and the captives, to whom it was fraught with glad tidings, healing and liberty. The world is full of such to-day, in a spiritual as well as a natural sense, and the mission of the Head comes down as a divine legacy to the body, leaving neither room nor time for any novel or original experiment.
If, however, the proposition at the head of this paper points to something in the churches, the existence of which is obnoxious to true refine ment and shocking to cultivated moral sense, then it is, indeed, high time a supreme effort should be made to change such a condition and bring in a better era-to teach those who are otherwise minded, or who, through and riches, as though they had no souls, that one is awfully mistaken. He did nothing of the sort, nor does His doctrine warrant it. Christianity knows the unconverted only as sinners, and the command of the Master reads. "Preach the gospel to every creature." We are not justified in confining, almost entirely, our efforts to one class-that is if means can be found to reach others also. Were we asked to neglect the poor in order to seek the rich the request should be treated with contempt, but we should be quite as little disposed to act as though the soul of one poor and ignorant man were worth as much as those of a half-dozen men of education, culture and money. Not that we suppose that the writer of the above article has fallen into such error. We know him as not likely thus to err. We are glad, too, of his remarks in both directions. It is well to be reminded that whatever we do to attract to New Testament ground, there must be no cutting down of New Testament truth-that if attraction cannot be found without that it must be dispensed with. And it is quite as well to be reminded, that there may be in some churches, something truly obnoxious to "refinement and cultivated moral sense," and that persons of education and culture cannot be attracted to those by whom they are disgusted. We thank the writer for calling attention to these two important considerations. At the same time we did not consider the whole ground would be sufficiently surveyed without remarks such as this note supplies. ED.
Observer, Oct. 1, 71.
ignorance, perpetuate the evil; that coarseness, vulgarity and disorder are alike repugnant to Christian sense and subversive of Christian law; that the Church is the school for, and must be an organization of, gentlemen and gentle-women; and the man or woman who does not become-who is not constantly becoming, more and more refined in habits of thought, speech and life in other words, who is not undergoing a thorough reformation and purification, under the appliances of the faith and hope of the gospel, is a standing disgrace to the Christian name, and an intolerable barrier to the progress of the truth. On the other hand, as iron to the loadstone, so will the purest and most refined natures-the men of truest culture and heart, as well as brain education-be attracted to the noble and true standard of being, which constitutes the normal condition of the Christian Church. To be the responsible instrument, as a labourer in word and doctrine as well as by example, in bringing the Church up to, and maintaining it in, this high standard of excellence, stamps the office and work of a Christian pastor as the highest possible to finite and mortal man, and opens a path to glory and renown, inexpressible because inconceivable. This work well done, will leave no other to be desired.
It is well that there should be social reformers, and every right-minded citizen has good reason to thank the men, who stand forward as the advocates of freedom and right, in connection with temperance, sanitary, ecclesiastical and political matters; but momentous as some of these interests truly are, I believe the Spirit would whisper in the ear of every pastor, notwithstanding, Yet I shew unto thee a more excellent way." Reforms may ameliorate, but they cannot cure. They polish the brass. to-day, only to find it tarnished to-morrow-they cannot transform it into pure gold. Ye must be born again," is the expression of man's real need as well as the fiat of the Deity; and the great factor here, is the Spirit of the living God. It has pleased God to appoint His Church as the medium through which, by the gospel, he seeks to effect the regeneration of the race, and it would be as reasonable for a man to join a dozen weavers, and spend his life in throwing the shuttle of an antiquated loom, with a view to clothing the world, while he had at his disposal the mighty machinery of 1871, as for Christian overseers to be tinkering away all their lives at this and that reform, instead of applying themselves to the preservation and guidance of the divine organization which the Almighty has entrusted to their care. Be assured it was not said for nought, "Ye are the salt of the earth; "Ye are the light of the world." The characteristics of the Church should be “fair as the moon, clear as the sun; then may she hope to be "terrible as an army with banners."
The Great Shepherd has done His part-O how nobly! He calls upon the under shepherds to do theirs to aspire after His heavenly character, to live in the fellowship of the stern, real, earnest work that made His life and name the source and centre of all true greatness, and the fountain of salvation to man.
The great out-looking question seems to be, "How shall we bring man to God?" Brethren, do not suffer this question to become complicated! It is answered for us in the old Book, and it has also become a thing of history, as to how the marvellous success of the primitive days was brought about; indeed, I could hardly more appropriately close these lines than by quoting the record of Macaulay in the following words, viz. :-"It was before Deity, embodied in a human form, walking among men, partaking of their infirmities, leaning on their bosoms, weeping over their graves, slumbering in the manger bleeding on the cross; that the prejudices of
the Synagogue, and the doubts of the Academy, and the pride of the Portico, and the fasces of the Lictor, and the swords of thirty legions, were humbled in the dust."
"Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." "Jesus Christ, and him crucified." CHRISTIAN.
PUBLIC DISCUSSION ON THE DESIGN OF BAPTISM.
A PUBLIC discussion commenced on Wednesday evening, May 24th, 1871, in the Temperance Hall, Buninyong, Victoria; between Mr. Hamill, Christian Evangelist, and the Rev. T. Hastie, Presbyterian Minister; the former gentleman maintaining that the design or purpose of baptism, to the penitent believer, is the remission of sins, the latter denying. The Hall was crowded to excess. The Mayor, R. Allen, Esq., took the Chair at half-past seven o'clock, and Mr. Gowdie having opened the meeting with prayer, the Chairman then requested a patient hearing for both gentlemen.
Mr. Hamill then opened the subject by saying that "Mr. Hastie had made a statement from his pulpit that he (Mr. Hamill) had said that the principles of Presbyterianism were of a blasphemous character. In conse quence of this he called upon Mr. Hastie to deny the assertion, and also to converse with him on the matter. Mr. Hastie then said that if he did converse with him it should be before the public, and it was ultimately arranged that the question for discussion should be the design or purpose of baptism. One great advantage Mr. Hastie has over me is, his being so very much my senior, thus having all the advantages of more reading, thought and experience; so that his superiority in these respects will enable him sustain the negative of my proposition if any man can; if he cannot do it under these circumstances, it may safely be said that no man can." Mr. Hamill proceeded to say, I enter upon the present undertaking as one of the most solemn that can well be conceived of, as a right understanding of the subject of pardon and how it is received is necessary to our present evidence of remission of sins, and may be to our future glory. My proposition is one which I can affirm with my whole heart and with the most absolute certainty; it is- That the design or purpose of baptism, to the penitent believer, is the remission of sins. Observe, that it is thus to the penitent believer, and to no one else. Baptism administered, without the pre-requisites faith and repentance, is not only worthless, but sinful, being done in God's name without His authority. Observe, that I attach no merit to baptism, nor anything else man is commanded to do, as the blood of Christ alone could merit or procure pardon; but Christ having procured it by His death and bestowed it as a free gift, has a right to say on what terms the sinner is to receive it. The Saviour, before His death, pardoned men in many ways-e.g. Luke vii. 50, Matt. ix. 2; but after His resurrection, when He had purchased remission of sins for man, a new dispensation commenced, no longer now to be confined to the Jews, but open to all, and offering a free salvation to every son and daughter of Adam.
The law of baptism under the new dispensation could not, of course, be in force until it was instituted, and it was not instituted until Jesus was on the eve of His departure to the right hand of the Father; and I hope Mr. Hastie will be very particular and not confound the dispensations. I also hope he will tell us in scriptural words what the design or
Observer, Oct. 1, 71.
purpose of baptism is; also, in what passage of Scripture it is to be found. The question before us is not whether a person believing in Jesus can be saved without baptism. God must have had a purpose or intention in instituting baptism, as in all other ordinances; prayer has a design or purpose, so has the Lord's supper, and so has baptism, and that design I affirm to be the remission of sins. With these remarks I proceed to my first argument, which is taken from the commission, and by taking the whole of it we have faith, repentance and baptism, in order to salvation; and salvation never includes less than remission of sins, whatever more it may include. In John xx. 23 Jesus gave power to His apostles to remit sins —'Whose soever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain they are retained.' And having thus given them authority to remit sins, before He left the earth He gave them the terms or conditions by which they were to give assurance to all men of the remission of their sins."
Mr. Hamill then drew arguments from the following texts:-Matt. xxviii. 19, Mark xvi. 15, 16, Luke xxiv. 46, 47. He then gave a rule, to which he stated there was no exception-" That whenever two or more acts are conjoined in order to a given end, that each of those acts is for the end or purpose for which they are conjoined.' The words He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,' conjoin faith and baptism together in order to salvation; indeed, if these words do not join together faith and baptism, I would like to know what stronger words would. 'What,' then, 'God has joined together let no man put asunder.' Salvation is promised to the believer when he is baptized, therefore baptism is for the remission of sins."
MR. HASTIE responded by saying that there was nothing new in the doctrine advanced. Tertullian had preached the same thing ages ago, and the latter divine had, in order to make sure of a sinner's salvation, recommended the ordinance of baptism to be deferred until the approach of death. Mr. Hamill reminded him of Ferguson who, when a boy, in taking a watch to pieces, thought he had discovered a new principle in mechanics. He complained of the exertions of Mr. Hamill in proselytism, and thought it would be more in accordance with the spirit of the Gospel, to go to the way side and hedges, rather than into the folds of other ministers; he himself had never been guilty of such an offence, and appealed to the audience in support of the statement. He maintained that the ordinance of baptism was only to be regarded as a covenant of Christ to His people; such an one-and of a parallel with the bow which God had placed in the heaven-a memento that He would no more destroy the world with a flood; neither of which, were to be confounded or taken for the object for which they stood. Baptism could no more remit sin than the bow could take away a flood. They each were merely covenants of God to His people. A number of quotations followed, tending to show that faith is the sure foundation of a sinner's salvation. If baptism is so essential as was attempted to be made out, then, he argued, should we expect to find faith and baptism inseparably connected-one would not be mentioned without the other; but this was far from being the case. Thus If thou shalt
confess with thy mouth that Christ is the Lord, thou shalt be saved." Again we read- -"To give repentance unto Israel and remission of sins;" and he might go on quoting passages of the same import where baptism is not mentioned, in conjunction with the terms said to be essential to salvation.
Observer, Oct. 1, '71.
Mr. Hamill complained of his opponent running away from the argument. It was much easier he said, to raise an objection to proselytism than to answer arguments. Did not his opponent know Baptism as an ordinance of the New Testament? Then, why bring the only semblance of an argument from the Old? Before his argument could be invalidated it must first be proved that Baptism was unnecessary, and if Baptism be not for the remission of sin, it must be stated for what purpose the Ordinance was designed.
His second argument was the reply of Peter, on the day of Pentecost, to the sin-stricken believers who cried, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?' Repent,' said the man of God, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'-Acts ii. 37, 38. In Luke xxiv. 47 we have seen that repentance and remission of sins were to be preached in the name of Jesus Christ among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. If we learn how repentance and remission of sins were preached at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, we shall be enabled to know how they are to be preached now, and to the end of all time. Be it remembered that the day of Pentecost after the death of Jesus is the first time in the history of the world that repentance and remission of sins were preached in the name of Jesus Christ. When Peter said repent, did he not preach repentance? And when he said be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins,' did he not preach remission of sins? If he did not, will Mr. Hastie tell us what he did preach?
Thus, then, in whatever way we look at the design or purpose of baptism, we see with certainty that it is for the remission of sins. there is no possible escape."
Further arguments were also taken by Mr. Hamill from the declaration of Peter twenty-seven years after Pentecost-" Baptism doth also now save us." -1 Peter iii. 20, 21. He argued that baptism brought the penitent believer out of the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God's dear Son, thus assuring him of salvation or the remission of sins. Arguments were also drawn from the following texts :-conversion of SaulActs xxii. 16; "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized in Christ," &c.-Romans vi. 3. ; Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster," &c.-Gal. iii. 24-29; "But after that the kindness and love of God," &c. -Titus iii. 4, 5. Mr. Hamill dwelt considerably on the foregoing argu
Mr. Hastie replied that "the Old and New Testament were one and the same relation of God's will to man, the Hebrew was included in the method of salvation which embraced all mankind from the beginning to the end of time, and he was surprised to find any distinction attempted to be made." All sacrifices made by them (the Hebrews) previous to the great one, offered up for all men, were but types and shadows of that event. By faith it was seen by them afar off, and by it were the Hebrews saved. Baptism pre-supposed a living faith in the blood of redemption, and it was the faith alone without it which gave us the true certificate to eternal life. If not-how were we to reconcile God's mercy to all those who had died unbaptized the infant and the different sects of Christians? The supposition of eternal death to be the result of neglect of an outward form was monstrous, and could not for a moment be entertained by any right-minded He quite agreed with Mr. Hamill, that we must take the reading of Scripture in its general bearings, and not interpret the whole by a few detatched passages. He might fall into an error similar to that which a