« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
going to press. The main conclusions arrived at may be gathered from the following
“It is commonly thought, that only Judah and Benjamin were taken into Babylon, but we have ample proof that Israel shared in that captivity as well as Judah. It began 606 B.C. The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel predicted that Israel, as well as Judah, should be taken captive by the Chaldeans. Jer. v. 11, 17. Ezek. ix. 9, 10. Jeremiah also prophesied that Israel and Judah should return together to their country after the fall of Babylon. The word that the Lord spake against Babylon, and against the land, of the Chaldeans, by Jeremiah the prophet. Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard ; publish and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, out of the north cometh up a nation (the Medes. Jer, li. 11.) against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein : they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast. In those days, AND IN THAT TIME, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward.'. Jer. 1. 1, 5. ' Israel is a scattered sheep, the lions have driven him away ; first the kiug of Assyria hath devoured him, and last this Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, hath broken his bones. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied on Mount Ephraim and Gilead. In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found : for I will pardon them whom I reserve.' Jer. 1. 17, 20. [The reserved were those who sighed on account of Israel's inquity, and those who had reformed. Ezek. ix. 4, 5. Amos ix. 8, 9.] Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together ; Their Redeemer is strong; the Lord of Hosts is his name; he shall thoroughly plead their cause, that he may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon.' Jer. 1. 33, 34. Thus the slain shall fall in the land of the Chaldeans, and they that are thrust through in her streets. FOR ISRAEL HATH NOT BEEN FORSAKEN, nor Judah of his God, Lord of hosts ; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel. FLEE OUT OF THE MIDST OF BABYLON, and deliver every man his soul; be not cut off in her iniquity : for this is the time of the Lord's vengeance ; he will render her a recompence.' Jer. li. 4, 6. "The Lord hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes : for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the ven. geance of the Lord, the vengeance of his temple. Jer. li. 11. The Chaldeans destroyed the temple 588 B.C. Now we have before us absolute proof that Israel was in the Chaldean captivity, as well as Judah, and also the
clearest prophetic testimony that they both return together to Zion at the fall of Babylon, which was then the glory of kingdoms.'
Further on we read“We shall now give additional proof that Israel and Judah returned to their old estates' in Palestine after the fall of Babylon : after which we shall notice the condition of their brethren who permanently remained among the nations according to the will of God. Now bearing in mind that neither Judah nor Israel were forsaken, but prophetically exhorted to flee out of Babylon,' we may more forcibly see the return of both parties as found in the following instances of their history.. Then (537 B.C.), rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah, and Berjamin, and the Priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.' 'Ezra i. 5. "AND ALL ISRAEL (dwelt) IN THEIR CITIES. (536 B.C.) Ezra ii. 70. "And the children of Israel were in their cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. Ezra iii. 1. And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy, and offered at the dedication of this house of God, an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs ; and, for a sin-offering FOR ALL ISRAEL, TWELVE HE GOATS, ACCORDING TO THE NUMBER OF THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL, Ezra vi. 16, 17. • Also the children of those that had been carried away, which were come out of the captivity, offered burnt-offerings unto the God of Israel, TWELVE bullocks for ALL ISRAEL. Ezra vii. 35. Such historic records are too clear and decisive to require comment. Here we have veritable proof that God fulfilled his promises by Ezekiel to the house of Israel, i. e.,
• And tho cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded, * and I will settle you after your old estates' Ezek. Ixxvi. 10, 11. So here we plainly see the faithfulness of God to the
Observer, Nov. 1, 71
Twelve Tribes. They were now restored to their “old estates,' and were gathering them. selves together as one man to Jerusalem, ' According to the law of Moses the man of God.'
The return of the Twelve Tribes from the Chaldean captivity to their land, according to the prophets, seems a matter that requires no further proof, it appears settled beyond all controversy. But if further evidence is sought for, it may be found in the Psalms, and in the New Testament.
“The New Testament contains no small proof that the Twelve Tribes were in the Holy Land at the time of our Lord's advent, excepting that portion of each tribe who were living abroad. John, the harbinger, the Lord, and His apostles were sent to the house of Israel," "to the cities of Israel.' Matt. xv. 24; x. 6, 23. Surely these messengers were not sent to Judah and Benjamin only, but to all Israel, to the twelve tribes who were instantly serving God day and night in hope of the promise. Where then would they find the twelve tribes ? Certainly in their old estates,' in the cities of Judea and Galilee; and the rest of each tribe, calied 'the twelve tribes scattered abroad, they would regularly find at the feasts in Jerusalem, Peter addressing one of these national assemblies says: 'Let all the nouse of Israel know assuredly. Acts ii. 36. Stephen also, in Acts vii., gives a short history of Israel in Egypt, in the wilderness &c., and addresses those of his day as their children--not the children of a portion of the tribes—but as the descendants of all Israel. Again, the new covenant, it will be admitted on all hands, was instituted in the apostolic age, at which time the old covenant was ready to vanish away. Now that covenant was made in those days not with Judah only, but with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.' Heb. viii. 8. Four tribes are mentioned by name, i. e., Judah, Benjamin, Levi, Asher. Heb. vii. 14. Rom. xi. 1.' Heb. vii. 5. Luke ii. 36. Asher was one of the ten tribes, so here is proof that that tribe, existed, and its chronology was not then lost. If one of the ten tribes was then known, what was to prevent the other nine from being known also ? But the twelve tribes are referred to as then known. Acts xxvi. 7. James i. 1. Again, it is worthy of note that neither our Lord, nor John, His harbinger, nor any writer of the New Testament ever spoke of the Jewish people as being in their day composed of two kingdons, or of two disunited houses, but always as one kingdom, nation or house. If the houses of Israel and Judah had not become united, had not returned together to their land, could they possibly address them as one people, house, nation and kingdom? Further, they never refer to the ten tribes as being then lost owing to some former captivity. If they regarded them as then lost to Judah and Benjamin, and to all nations, how can we account for such mysterious silence? The New Testament then, in its references to all Israel, is completely one with all that we have adduced from the Old Testament. In every stage of the history of Israel and Judah, we have found one unbroken evidence that the house of Israel was not lost as commonly taught, but that it shared more or less all national privileges and adversities in common with Benjamin and Judah."
For the remainder the reader must see the pamphlet.
R. W. DALE ON ASSOCIATED WORSHIP. THE Congregational Union Meetings held in Swansea during the last month have been richly favoured by highly-suggestive utterances. R. W. Dale, of Birmingham (who declines the prefix “Rev."), is said to have entranced his vast audience for an hour and a half upon the subject of Public Worship." We commend to our readers, many of the thoughts expressed in the following extract, assured that we largely need a more settled and abiding recognition of the church as the temple of God; and that some of us, also, need to be taught that preaching and teaching, though very good in connection with worship, are not worship and not needful to the highest enjoyment and communion with God, when we congregate as the Church of Christ. Mr. Dale is reported as saying :
“Our church buildings are not temples: they are places in which we meet, not places in which God dwells. It is the mystery of Christ's presence among those who meet in His name which, simply by the law of association, invests the buildings with whatever sanctity they may be supposed to possess. The preacher then referred to the motives which animated the Jews in their love for Jerusalem, and to the corresponding
Observer, Nov. 1, '71
motives which he said should actuate Christians in their regard for the church. First, Jerusalem was the centre and bond of national unity. In the church we realize a unity far nobler and more divine. Rich and poor, learned and illiterate, confess their guilt together, appeal to the same mercy, give thanks for the same salvation, triumph in the hope of the same glory. There is a common sorrow for a common sin and a common faith in a common saviour. In the church we find not God only, but all our brethren. There the broken unity is restored, and we are conscious that we are one with God Himself, and with all whom He loves. Secondly, to the Jews Jerusalem was the centre of the influences by which the intellectual and moral life of the nation was unfolded, and national civilisation promoted. The church answers a similar, but a loftier aim: its chief purpose is to quicken the higher elements of human nature, and to perfect the strength and grace of the regenerate life. The ethical truth which we investigate is as worthy of human thought as truth concerning the structure of the earth and the laws which govern the motions of the heavenly bodies. In the church we are conscious that our vision of the divine glory becomes clearer, our gratitude to Him more fervent, our kinship with Him more vividly realized. Thirdly, to the Jews Jerusalem was the city of God, and the temple was the palace in which He dwelt. To us the church is the home of God on earth, and we have the nearest access to it when we worship Him with our Christian brethren. It has been the natural tendency of Protestantism to depreciate the worth and the sacredness of the services of the church, and to insist with exaggerated emphasis on the great truth that every individual soul may have direct access to God. During the last twenty-five years there as arisen amongst us an instinctive dissatisfaction with the traditional opinion, and we have been trying to maintain that the great object for which Christian people should meet on Sunday is not to listen to sermons but to offer common praise and prayer. Still he inclined to think that we have a very imperfect apprehension of the truth which justifies this departure from our traditions. So long as the chief purpose of meeting together was to listen to preaching the public service of the church was intelligible; but if no more intimate access to God's presence is possible when we worship Him with our Christian brethren than is commonly possible when we worship Him alone, then it is very hard to discover the justification of public worship. Some appeared to think that the reason lies in this, that in the services of the church we can surround ourselves with certain æsthetic influences which cannot be secured in solitude. But though it is impossible to refuse to recognize the relationships which exist between the accidents of worship and its inward spirit, it is not the external form of the service which in. vests united worship with its unique character. Their is a special manifestation of God in the Church, and this consists in the mysterious presence of Christ. Spiritual worshippers are members of His body ; His spirit penetrates them. Without the suppression of their separate personality, they realize a transcendent union with the personality of Christ. His relationship to the Father is theirs; they are conscious that the great words in His last prayer are being already fulfilled, "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them,"—the glory of excess to God, more intimate and more blessed than is possible to any except the Redeemer, and to those who are near with Him. If this be true, a strong love for the church, and a great delight in communion with the church, are inseparable from a healthy and vigorous spiritual life. According to the Divine order, fellowship with other Christian men is almost as necessary
Observer, Nov. 1, '71.
to us as fellowship with God Himself. Too many members of our churches live an isolated spiritual life, and all those who earnestly desire an increase in the spiritual vigour of our churches ought to consider how the true idea of the communion of saints can be more perfectly fulfilled among us. The most obvious means of accomplishing this is to create and strengthen the conviction that it is a duty to attend the services of the church with faultless regularity. They should do this in order to enter into the sorrows and joys of their Christian brethren. It should also be insisted upon that in the public worship of the church we have not to hold solitary communion with God, but to unite in common acts of worship. Every man ought to enter into the rich and complicated life of the congregation. The confessions, the prayers and the thanksgivings of our brethren are to belong to ourselves. There are very few who when assembled together for public worship, fail to think of some of our absent friends who have been overtaken by great sorrows, but do we think enough of those with whom we are worshipping? Do we remember the widow who, perhaps, is sitting two or three seats away from us, and whose heart is worn by the anxieties of the week? Do we think of the parents near us who are filled with shame and trouble because their children have grievously sinned; of the man whom we met at the door, who a few years ago was living in a handsome house; but, not through his own fault, perhaps, has been dragged down to most miserable poverty; of the happiness of the young people who are with us for the first time after their marriage, and of those who are to be married to-morrow; of the beauty and nobleness of character which some of our brethren have reached through long fidelity to God, the gentleness, the purity, the uprightness, the zeal which are the visible revelation of the indwelling Spirit? This is one of the chief purposes for which we meet together. If once we discovered the accession of energy that comes to us from merging our own life in the life of the church, we shall thirst for communion with our Christian brethren just
thirst for communion of God. Except in rare and remarkable instances he greatly doubted whether it is possible for a man who lives an isolated religious life to pray much or to pray earnestly. Restore the communion of saints and you restore communion with God. Would it not be well, also, in order to attain the same object, to institute services of altogether & different type from those which are common among us, in which a clear interchange of religious thought might be encouraged? We know too little of the troubles and perplexities by which the hearts of our brethren are saddened. Those perplexities might be relieved and the troubles lightened if they had the opportunity to speak of them prayerfully. The disclosures of God's love which are made to the individual Christian are not all intended to perfect the peace and confirm the strength of the soul that receives them. They belong not to the individual, but to the church, and we shall never fulfil God's own idea of our relationship to each other until every man that enters the church feels that he is come into a true household of faith, a household in which no heart needs suffer alone, and in which the joy of one is the common joy of all. By strengthening the sense of the obligation to attend the services of the church more regularly, by striving to correct the tendency to spiritual isolation, and by creating new opportunities for the free development of Christian communion, we may do something to confer that consciousness of communion with each other which cannot be enfeebled without imperilling the consciousness of communion with God. It may be urged that amidst the mass of vice and irreligion which surrounds us we have neither thought
Observer, Nov. 1, 571.
nor strength to spare for the cultivation of the inner life of the church; but you conceal half the Gospel and strip the other half of much of its glory if you speak only of the forgiveness which every Christian may secure for himself. The appeal of the Gospel is not to fear alone, but to those instincts which assert our kinship to God, and those which assert our kinship to each other. There are some who believe that the convulsions which accompanied the fall of the old Roman Einpire threaten us again, and within a century, within a generation, the storm may be upon us. That we are coming to the end of one great phase of European civilization I cannot doubt; and it is just in the transition of the old to the new that the church of Christ has her supreme opportunity. But she must be a true church, with a strong organic life, or the great opportunity is certain to be lost."
OUR DYING CHURCHES IN AMERICA.
It will be remembered that sometime back we addressed a series of letters to the disciples of Christ whose lot is cast on the other side of the Atlantic; which letters were designed to inform them of the condition of the churches of this country with which they stand connected. It will be remembered that in doing this we were compelled to indicate certain points at which some of the churches in America deviate from the good old ways of apostolic simplicity. This secured the thanks of many brethren in the United States and the displeasure of a few. Among those who treated us to a little gall and vinegar was Thomas Munnell, Secretary to the American Christian Mission Board. He did not at all like that one in the "Old Country" should presume to suggest the existence of any serious wrong in the churches of Christ planted in the New World. But it now appears that his dislike arose from our suggestions coming a year before the time. He now declares the hour has arrived when the truth may be made known. Had we been aware that not before 1871 was it proper to sound a note of caution, we would have waited. But let us hear our good brother as he states the case in the Christian Standard, of June 24, under the heading
A PLEA FOR OUR DYING CHURCHES." It can no longer be a wise, nor even an excusable policy, to withhold from our brethren the real condition of many hundreds of our churches. We have felt for years past, for manifest reasons, unwilling to make any full developments in this direction, but the evil, it seems, cannot be corrected so long as the brotherhood think we are doing well enough. The following facts are stated in no spirit of complaint or discouragement, nor in any want of confidence in the plea we are making for the restoration of primitive Christianity, but in the deep conviction that, practically, we are affording that religion only a poor chance for revealing its power among the people. The deficiencies alluded to are not seen in our cities and towns, nor in strong country churches, to any great extent, but in large sections of every State destitute of an intelligent ministry, and of the means of maintaining their spiritual life--no prayer-meetings, no Sunday Schools, but little private prayer, no pastoral labour, and no spiritual prosperity. The only result, and that inevitable, is the death of such churches. Notice the following facts, selected as samples :
Passing through a certain portion of Illinois, the brethren told me there had been eight churches in the adjoining county, but all had gone