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Observer, Nov. 1, 71.
down, save one. The county south of that had lost three out of five. These had monthly preaching and no pastoral care.
One of our evangelists in Kentucky reports'a district that, before the war, had twenty churches, as having now only three organizations that ought to be called churches. Only one of these has any pastoral care.
An evangelist in one of the Indiana districts reports a certain county with sixteen little organizations, from three to five miles apart, none of which can support a labourer, and some not having even monthly preaching. Other counties in his district are in no better condition. Many of those yet living are on the way to dissolution.
A county in Ohio, once possessed of twenty-three churches, has to-day but four in an organized condition. Other counties in the State are well known to be dead or dying for want of proper care—for want of a ministry wholly consecrated to the work.
Brethren in Missouri represent the south-eastern portion of that State as in great destitution. Many heard and obeyed the word, were organized into churches, and set out for heaven ; but the elders were inexperienced, preachers came along only occasionally, no Titus being “left” in their Crete to help them, many are weak and sickly, dying and dead, for want of care.
Such being the facts in large sections of our strongest States, it is unnecessary to speak of the rest. Nor are these mere hearsays, nor the dyspeptic complainings of discouraged preachers, but the reports from the field-notes of those who are willing to spend and be spent for a better state of things. We do not say that we have not many churches doing well, many industrious ministers, liberal members, flourishing colleges, excellent periodicals, and other enterprises of the church, of which we have no reason to be ashamed; but there is no reason why we should lose as much at one end as we gain at the other. Especially is this true when a full restoration to primitive Christianity would establish the means of having a care of all these weak churches. We must not assume too soon that everything is already restored. In this we are still behind. We send no Timothy regularly 'to know their state.' We are not anxious enough, lest Satan has tempted them, and our labour be in vain.' On the contrary, we establish new churches by the score, and leave them a prey to their own weakness, to renegade preachers, to Satan, and to death. Is this a restoration of the ancient order of things'? Is it Scripture ?"
The foregoing is not the entire article, but it will suffice to show that one who is in a position to know more, perhaps, about the churches in America than any other, does know that there is room to complain and need to reform-that there are many hundreds of churches," in so bad condition that he speaks of them as dying, and calls for alteration because there is no reason (speaking of the entire brotherhood) why we should " lose as much at one end as we gain at the other.”
But, after all, he does not consider that the cause has retrograded. It seems that there never were more members in our fellowship than at present. Then why complain—why thus publicly speak out? Because, if under existing circumstances we lose as much at one end as we gain at the other, we can advance no farther unless an alteration in the condition of these many hundreds of churches be effected.
But why republish the matter in this country? Do we suppose that the churches in America will be affected by so doing. Not at all; nor do we ask that these remarks shall be reprinted in our American periodicals
. We gladly leave our brethren there to the remedies that Bro. Munnell and
Observer, Nov, 1, 71.
others may prescribe. We republish this matter for two reasons 1.Because it is due to common fairness not to conceal. We have gladly, every now and then, made known indications of prosperity in American churches, and it would be unfair and misleading to conceal the opposite. 2. We need the facts for a warning, and believe they can be made largely useful to the churches in this country. Not the mere facts given in the foregoing, but those, in connection with suggestions, from editors and evangelists, which have appeared in comment thereupon. We shall hope to make such selection from them for our next issue as may indicate where the fault lies, and to suggest the direction in which we must move if the churches are to prove centres of power,
ROME, THE BIBLE AND FREE CHURCHES. BIRMINGHAM has just now been visited by Signor Gavazzi, who has been warming and cheering the hearts of various audiences by interesting facts concerning the triumphs of the Gospel in Europe, and especially in Italy. On Monday, October 16, the subject of his address was “ The Gospel in Rome.” The lecturer commenced by saying “We are in Rome ; that is a fact. But, how did we get there ?” He answers, “We have got into Rome by miracle and the special providence of God. We had witnessed the succession of twenty monarchies. But, amid the revolutions of empires, the temporal power of the Pope has remained unchanged for about twelve centuries. And this, not because we had not sought to free ourselves, for we tried to escape from his hateful power as early as the tenth century. But all efforts were in vain, until God in judgment swept away
the dire and blighting curse. In this is to be seen not the finger of God merely, but the full hand of God. In July, 1870, the Papacy had arrived at its climax. Then, Napoleon III., the chief support of the Pope, declared war with Prussia, and, on the 18th of the same month, the Pope was declared infallible. One month after the declaration of war, Napoleon is Emperor of France no longer, but a prisoner at Sedan. And, one month after the proclamation of infallibility, the Pope is no longer a temporal monarch. That proclamation hastened the freedom of Rome, for, from that time, the Papacy had declined, even in the estimation of Roman Catholics. Now, we have entered Rome, not merely for political purposes, but for religious also- Free to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ,--the Pope impotent to oppose, and this after it had been banished from the 'Eternal City' some fifteen centuries.” He added, “ There are now in Rome the Italian Free Church, the Waldenses, the Wesleyans, the Baptists, with Lord's Day schools cheerfully attended even by the children of Roman Catholics." The lecturer then contrasted Rome in 1849, when he left it as an exile, with the Rome of to-day.
" Then there was not a copy of the Scriptures in open circulation, and any person known to possess a Bible was subject to five years imprisonment. But now, there are eight colporteurs regularly selling Bibles everywhere. From 7,000 to 10,000 copies of the Bible complete, and with various parts thereof, make an aggregate of about 20,000 copies now in circulation in Rome alone. In a short time there have been sold in the Jews' quarter 2,000 copies of the New Testament. The Pope may see from the gloomy windows of the Vatican Palace (without the aid of opera glasses) a large shop, in a beautiful square on the opposite side of the Tiber, over which is inscribed in letters of gold The General Depot of the London Bible
Observer, Nov. 1,71.
Society'. And thus is the priest-banned Book sold and circulated in the City of the Popes, bringing light, salvation and joy to the hearts of the people, who for centuries have sat in darkness and the region of the shadow of death."
The foregoing was handed for insertion in the E.O. by one of Gavazzi's delighted hearers. The following is from the Freeman ;
"The unsatisfactory condition of Protestantism in Italy has been owing to various causes, but in a great measure to the effects of Plymouthism. The tenets of the latter found a ready response in the minds of converts just emancipated from the artificial system of Romanism. The no-system, nogovernment, no-organization of Plymouthism is exactly the opposite extreme of the sacerdotal and administrative system of the Papacy. The tendency to go into extremes was, as usual, operative, and the Christian converts were gathered in separate centres without any cohesion either amongst each other or themselves. After much good evangelistic work was done in this fashion, and some progress made in edification from the Word of God, the elements became discordant, the disadvantage of unruliness became manifest, and a general weakness was the result. We are truly rejoiced to learn that the experience of this evil has led to the adoption of active measures for its repression. In June last, thirty-three independent gatherings or churches formed themselves into a Union at a general assembly held at Milan, so as to promote the true ends of a Christian Church, and secure the fulfilment of thorough evangelical work. They agreed on a simple confession of faith, in order to manifest their principles, and to declare their sympathy with others. We may wish that they had united with the Vaudois church, but they have thought otherwise ; both may go on in harmony and unite in effort, as they do in creed and in scope. In essentials they are one. We need hardly say that this is not only a noble work, but an interesting example, and we may well follow it with our prayers and sympathy. We append the manifesto, and have only to add
. that the congregations referred to consist wholly of Italians who have been converted from the errors of Rome, and have embraced the leading doctrines of the Reformation, and to state the further gratifying fact that Gavazzi has thrown the whole of his enormous energy into the work of simple evangelization, and is, with Ferretti, of Pistoia, Lagomarsino, in Rome, De-Michelis, in Pisa (the secretary), a leader in the movement. We append the Declaration of Faith, issued by authority of the united churches :
DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES.
1. God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, has manifested his will in Revelation, which is the Bible, the alone perfect and immutable rule of faith and conduct.
2. God created man perfect in his own image and likeness, but Adam, disobeying the Word of God, sinned, and thus by one man sin has entered into the world, and death by sin. On this account, human nature in Adam and by Adam has become corrupt and sinful; and we are all born in Adam with the inclination to do evil, and the inability of doing well what God has commanded; wherefore, naturally, we are all sinners under condemnation.
3. God does not desire the death of the sinner, but that he should come to the know.. ledge of the truth and be saved. 4. Salvation
from the eternal and gratuitous love of the Father ;-it is obtained through the expiatory sacrifice, resurrection, and intercession of the Son ;-it is com. municated by the Holy Spirit, who regenerates the sinner, unites him to Christ by. faith, comes and dwells in him, produces peace in his heart, giving him the assurance of the entire remission of his sins, making him free, guiding and
consoling him by means of the Word which He Himself has given, sealing and guarding him until the day of the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
Observer, Nov. 1, 71.
5. The Christian, redeemed with a great price, ought to glorify God in his soul, body, and spirit, which belong to God, walking in holiness, without which no man can see the Lord. In order to this he finds strength in communion with Him who says to him, • My grace is sufficient for thee.'
6. Believers, regenerated in Christ, form the Church, which cannot perish nor apostatize, being the body of the Lord Jesus.
7. In addition to the universal priesthood of believers, God Himself has established in the Church various special ministries for the perfecting of the saints and the edifying of the body of Christ, which ministries ought to be recognised by the Church itself.
8. The Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven and transform our body of humiliation into a glorious body. In that day the dead in Christ shall rise first, and the living who are found faithful shall be transformed, and thus together shall we be caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, to be for ever with the Lord : and, after His Kingdom, all the rest shall rise to be judged in judgment.
These articles are held to suffice as a testimony of a Christianity purely evangelical, without pretending that there are no other doctrines in the Bible to be believed. It is also clearly asserted that this Declaration of Principles' does not pretend to infalli. bility. The Word of God is alone infallible and immutable. Nor is it looked upon as the cause or title to salvation, but simply as the outward bond of unity in the faith and the banner of the Church."
QUERY ON “EDIFYING THE CHURCH." Is The word church, in New Testament usage, applicable both to the congregation of disciples met to worship God, and to the house in which they are met ?
In the October number of the E. O. there is an article on " Edifying the Church.” In that article, on page 343, near the bottom, occur these words :
Kuplakov, in Greek, denotes the house of a lord (kuptos). 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.” Again, on p. 344" Church signifies the house it (the congregation) meets in to worship." Yet in the next paragraph, on the word "s edify,” it is affirmed as follows :-" In the New Testament, where it (edify) is used figuratively, it means to build up, instruct, and enlighten the church or congregation."
Now, if church be derived from a Greek word meaning a house of a lord, and if church be also the congregation that is built up, instructed and enlightened, it seems quite justifiable to apply the term church alike to the stone and lime building and to the congregation of believing men and women. If the word be thus appropriate in a two-fold sense, the querist is free to confess that he has been at fault in heretofore confining its application to the congregation, and disputing the right to use it of the house in which the congregation assembles. In his conviction, that church refers exclusively to the believers, he has been confirmed by referring to κυριακον,
from which it is supposed to be derived. He can only find kupa Kov. twice in the New Testament, in 1 Cor. xi. 20 and Rev. i. 10. In the oue passage the supper is called KUPLAKOV—the Lord's; in the other, the day is called kupcake-the Lord's, But there is nothing about house; and hence there is nothing about church being the name for the house in which the Lord's people meet. Nay, more : Kuplakov does not even point out the Lord's supper without the additional word SELTVOV-supper; nor does kuplare denote the Lord's day except by the substantive quepa-day, which accompanies it. No more would kvplakov denote the Lord's house without another word indicative of house.
Observer, Nov. 1, 71.
"Ekklesia," as the writer of “Edifying the Church " rightly observes, “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.” So that from ekkieola we have no authority to apply church to the meeting-room. But if no sanction from ekkieola, and none from Kuplakov, is it right to give any countenance to denominate the meeting-room or chapel a church? If “ Ekkleola is the term used in the New Testament to denote the church” _" the whole family of God,” or some particular local church ; and if κυριακον in the New Testament never denotes either church or buildingare we at liberty to speak of the room as the church? Is it holding fast the form of sound words which have been left to us by the apostles ?
I fail to see the scripturality of naming the house a church, and equally fail to see what service that application of church renders in teaching us anything as to the edifying of the congregation. If the writer of “ Edifying the Church,” or any contributor, can give further information on this matter, I am sure it will be of interest to many readers of the E. O. who plead for an unqualified return to Christianity as taught by the apostles of Christ.
SCRIPTURE PROOF OF OPEN COMMUNION.
The other day I had conversation with the leader of one of the open communion parties. He upbraided us for not receiving unimmersed believers to the Lord's table.
I replied that we meet upon New Testament principles; and that we find that the immersed broke bread, but that we have no account of any unimmersed persons doing so,—that it is simply because we cannot find any warrant in the Word that we do not provide a table for the unbaptized, and not at all from any choice we have in the matter,-that, if any one can point out any warrant in the New Testament, we will agree to it at once.
This he undertook to do, and accordingly read Matthew xviii, 1–8.
As I have failed to see any connexion between the passage and the subject, I decided to send it for the benefit of the readers of the E. O., and if any of them can point out what I have failed to see, I shall be glad. In the meantime I protest against the presumption of any one, whether of high or low standing, using God's precious Word as though it were an India-rubber ball, to be compressed into any shape that he may think proper. I trust that the usage of God's Word in this way, by others, may lead us to study it the more.
We may as well seek authority for inviting the unbaptized to the Lord's table in Mat
. i. 1-8, as in Mat. xviii. 1-8. The verses in question show that the humility of the little child is an essential trait of the true and advanced follower of Jesus, and that it is a grievous thing to trespass against His true followers. The chapter has no reference to baptism, none to the Lord's table; and a teacher who has traversed the country, preaching far and wide for, perhaps, half a century, abides by a practice for which bę can give no Scripture warrant, evidently because he likes it and finds it convenient, and then, when called upon for New Testament precept or example, cites a few verses which serve his purpose about as well as would the first Psalm, the first of Genesis, word Mesopotamia.
or even the