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discrimination by looking for the good points, while we in England too often prove our discernment by our perception of, and seeking after the ugly—a mode which has very different results, seeing that there is no beautiful object in nature but has some line or point that is commonplace. And in truth it is withering to all talent to find the defects ever sought out rather than the beautiful.”
We have already shown the result of the carping spirit with which some old-fashioned theologians regard the attempts made by more advanced thinkers to reconcile Genesis with geology, and the impatience with which they pull to pieces any apparent, though certainly not any real, defect, and at the same time refuse to accept the good presented to them. A similar feeling of prejudice prevents them from appreciating other efforts to make the Word of God a matter of personal realization. We may give one instance out of many to be met with in the religious journals and magazines of the day. During the Sunday evenings of Lent the Rev. Mr. Mackonochie preached at St. Alban's, London, on the Old Testament types of Christ and His Passion. One of his sermons, an account of which appeared in the Christian World, would have convinced any impartial reader that, in spite of the genuflections and prostrations of external worship, the preacher was doing a good and useful work in inculcating the doctrine of life—the life of goodness and truth, of charity as well as faith; and his discourse is a remarkable instance of the prominence which is being given to the spirit of love in the regeneration of man. He is quiet in manner," says the writer in the periodical referred to," and is a tolerably fluent speaker, with an Irish accent. He seems earnest, and not altogether at ease; and his face, which is of the priestly type, has an anxious expression. He drew a somewhat laboured and farfetched parallel, showing that Cain represented the world, while Abel represented Christ.”
Why not? we should ask; what is the narrative without its spiritual lesson? Does it require a revelation from God to give us a mere fragment of history? An attempt to show the meaning of the passage is described as a somewhat laboured and far-fetched parallel." But the writer is good enough, notwithstanding his prejudice, to give us the parallel, and so we may judge of it for ourselves. “The only point of particular interest,” he continues, “was an allusion to the present crisis of Church and State. According to the preacher, 'the world feels itself wounded by the power of Christ, and is putting forth its strong arm to crush the truth.' The world says, “I will embrace the Church with my cold, icy arms, and will draw the life out of it.' But the Church must reject such proposals. There can be no alliance between Christ and Belial. It is because the Church has forgotten this for so many centuries that her life has become feeble. We must choose Christ, even if that means that we must be rejected and persecuted."
Could there be a stronger or more eloquent appeal for a free Church -unfettered in spiritual matters by the iron arm of the State—than this? Could there be a more favourable instance-in an “orthodox” pulpit--of a true insight into the nature of the Scriptures? Yet what is the conclusion arrived at by the writer I have quoted? “ It will be seen that although these words were warmly spoken, and might have a strong construction put upon them, they were after all vague and ambiguous.” Any one who thinks so must indeed be strangely blinded by ignorance or prejudice, or perhaps both combined. Had the writer asked himself not whether truth can come from a High Church pulpit, but whether these words are true, and examined the Scriptures for himself, he would have come to the conclusion in his own mind, whether he said so or not, that the Rev. Mr. Mackonochie was not very far wrong when he stated that Cain represented the world, while Abel represented Christ.
The occupation of Abel as a “keeper of sheep" -representing goodness or charity-is very different to that of Cain, a tiller of the ground, the latter denoting the planting of knowledge in the intellect merely. The Lord, who is essential charity, is called “the Good Shepherd," who knows His sheep, because He watches over all the things of innocence, goodness, and purity in the human mind. The Lord regarded Peter as a shepherd when He said to him, “Feed My sheep,' and Abel's represented the same occupation. Knowledge or faith without charity is nothing. Cain was the firstborn, .
So faith, or truth in the mind, of which he is the representative, is the first principle of which man has cognizance. He learns to think and speak, and investigate the things of religion ; but he must not stop at this point and imagine that his religious principles are formed. This, as the Rev. E. D. Rendell puts it in his well-known work on Genesis, would simply be to resuscitate the character of Cain. “We must employ the truths we know to obtain the good they teach, before they can become an acceptable offering to God.” The Apostle has most eloquently said, “Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." Faith in its solitary character is the mere knowledge of truth. If it separates itself from charity it is a dead, and not a living faith. It is charity or love which gives it life; and if man have this dead faiththis merely mental consciousness that certain things of religion are true—and refuse to employ the truths he knows to obtain the goods they teach, he is no better than a worldling. In this sense we may see how Cain, a tiller of the ground, represents the world, and can fully endorse the truth of the words of the Rev. A. H. Mackonochie, that the world—feeling aggrieved at the power of Christ, the Good Shepherd, represented by Abel-says, “I will embrace the Church with my cold, icy arms, and will draw the life out of it," and that “it is because the Church has forgotten this for so many centuries that her life has become feeble." We rejoice to see the spirit of the Word acknowledged as of higher spiritual value than the letter, and are unfeignedly thankful that this view is beginning to commend itself with unusual force to those within other communions besides our own.
H. W. R.
THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY.
The position which the ministry should occupy in the Christian Church is a subject on which there has been a vast amount of discussion from a very early period in its history, and on which the widest differences still prevail.
The Roman and Greek Churches claim for their ministers or pastors the position and rights of a priesthood; they are a class, a caste, by themselves, set aside for a special work, as were the priests under the Jewish dispensation; they are the mediators between God and man; they alone can officiate in the Churches, or administer the Sacraments ; they alone can pronounce absolution; and in the days of their power they held themselves to be above the jurisdiction of the civil laws of the land; thus they claim rights and powers quite different to those which are possessed by Christians in general.
In the English Episcopal Church a large, powerful, and unfortunately growing section arrogate to themselves exactly the same powers, whilst the other party, though rejecting the priestly assumptions, still retain the title of priest.
The English Dissenting Churches repudiating an Episcopacy, repudie ate likewise all claims to the office and title of priest, as contrary to the spirit of the teachings of the New Testament.
In the New Church we have no authoritative statements on this subject, and so almost every shade of opinion has been, and perhaps is still, held within its pale, and we have no means of deciding the question except such as are accepted alike by all bodies of Christians.
In endeavouring to decide what is the true position of the Christian ministry, it will obviously be best to go back, as far as we possibly can, to the days of the early Christian Church, the Church of the apostles and their immediate successors, before the changes which so soon marred the beautiful purity and simplicity of the primitive Church had taken place. The sources of information as to the condition of the Church in those days are rather scanty. They are contained principally in passages in the Acts of the Apostles and the various Epistles contained in the New Testament, and to these, of course, we might add the writings of the various Fathers of the Church before the end of the first century, whose works have been preserved. It does not, of course, follow, nor would I for one moment assert, that every rule and regulation laid down by these writers is binding on the Church for all time, for external forms must always change to some extent with the circumstances; but still I think we may safely assume that the rules laid down by those who had been the companions of our Lord, and who were, at least to some extent, directed by the Holy Spirit, will indicate relations that are at least in perfect harmony with the teaching and spirit of Christianity, a claim which certainly cannot be made for the writings of later times; and as the writings of the New Church give us nothing on the subject, I think we may safely assume that those outward regulations which were in harmony with the spirit of primitive Christianity before it became corrupted, will likewise be in harmony with the spirit of the New Jerusalem.
In the time of the apostles, and for some time after, each congregation was a church of itself, it had its own laws and its own officers, and did not own any control outside itself, either by Pope or by Presbytery, and there is no record of two or more churches uniting under a joint management, and certainly there is no trace of anything approaching the form of government of the Episcopal Churches of to-day.
In the churches we find but two classes of officers mentioned in the • New Testament, the elders and the deacons. The elders, presbyters, or bishops, for these names were all applied to the same officers, had control of the spiritual action of the church; they were the teachers, they visited the sick, and in fact took general supervision of the spiritual wants of the congregation. The deacons, of whom there were a larger number, had control of the finances and the secular organization of the church, they were in fact the general committee of management.
To these two classes are sometimes added a third, the apostles, but these were not a distinct class from the elders, nor do they claim to be (1 Peter v. 1). Of course from their position and from the knowledge which they had of the life and teachings of our Lord, they would be respected and looked up to, and their words would therefore carry great weight; but we do not find them claiming to be a separate caste or class, nor were they pastors in the ordinary sense of the word, they were essentially missionary preachers who went from place to place founding and organizing churches, but never staying long in any place; and from their positions, the relationship existing between them and the churches was quite different to that which exists between a church and its pastor. The teachers in the early Church, whose positions corresponded with that of the pastors of to-day, were not then the apostles, but those of the elders who devoted themselves to teaching and explaining the Word (1 Tim. v. 17). Thus the pastor at first was not a man sent by any higher authority to teach in that church, but he was a member of the church, who from his wisdom and his knowledge was competent to instruct the people “in the Word and in doctrine.” It would probably often happen that a church had not an elder who could do this satisfactorily, and then they would have to invite some one from outside the church to become an elder and undertake the work. As the churches increased it would soon be found advantageous to have an elder who could devote all his time and talents to the instruction of the congregation; to do this he would have to give up his secular calling, and as he could not live without food and clothing for himself and family the church would have to provide for him ; thus he became a salaried official, but at the same time he would not give up his eldership, he would still be an elder, and would forfeit none of the privileges he previously enjoyed,--the payment of a salary being merely a means of enabling him to devote more time to the church than he could otherwise do, and the case would be the same whether he had previously belonged to that church, or whether he had been invited