And is it really come to this? All the boasted attractions of the English Liturgy, its adaptation to all wants, the ease with which it can be followed (as contrasted with extempore prayer), is found to be an unintelligible farrago for the masses, impossible for an uneducated mind to follow!
The Roman Catholics (where the writer of this paper has known them well) manage the matter better. The service is histrionic, no doubt. But it is in Latin, and the worshipper has nothing to follow. But he is furnished with prayers for himself in his own tongue, which he can say while the priest is saying his, and which are not what the priest is saying at all;119 a curious form of public worship indeed, but the priestly distinction is fully carried out. But, taking the English Liturgy as it is, what is the remedy? A worship in spirit and in truth, such as the Lord God requires from spiritual worshippers, such as the Father seeks? Nothing of the kind. That must be sought for, if we believe the tractarians, neither at Rome nor Canterbury, neither at this mountain nor at Jerusalem. Spiritual worship is not sought, nor the object desired. In that they would have to do with God. This is not their object. They seek influence over the masses for themselves, to regain numbers, the many who have slipped away from their influence; and if the end do not justify the means, the means betray the end. Worship is to be histrionic, they tell us; that is, the acting of a play so as to attract the imagination by theatrical spectacles, and secure an unintelligent crowd, pleased with what is acted before them. Let it not be for a moment supposed that this is a harsh accusation. It is their own statement. (Page 37.)
“Hence a lesson may be learnt, by all who are not too proud to learn from the stage. For it is an axiom in liturgiology, that no public worship is really deserving of its name, unless it be histrionic.”
Can Christians who know what spiritual worship is believe this?
“To adopt another principle, whether it be that of sermon-hearing or meditation, may be salutary enough in its proper time and place, but it is not worship, with which alone ritualism has to do.”
Surely neither sermons nor meditation is worship; but neither is histrionic ritualism. The writer only proves that what is worship has never entered into his mind; but to proceed. The writer then speaks of gin palaces (p. 39), “so widely and so universally popular amongst the London poor;” these, he urges, are lighted, ornamented, &c, but—
“Many landlords have found even all this insufficient, without the additional attraction of music; and the low singing-hall is sure to indicate the most thriving drinking-shops in the worst quarters of the metropolis. If, then, painting, light, and music are found necessary adjuncts to a trade which has already enlisted on its side one of the strongest of human passions, it is the merest besotted folly to reject their assistance, when endeavouring to persuade men to accept and voluntarily seek an article for which they have never learnt to care, even if they are not actively hostile to it—to wit, religion.”
“The fact is seized on by secular bodies, whose aim is to gather as many members as possible from the lower orders. Societies like the Odd Fellows and the Foresters” … have found this, “and consequently elaborate processions, with badges, music, and banners, are found needful appliances for attracting numbers, and keeping them together,” &c.
“The tractarians alone, of all the schools in the Church of England, have recognized this truth, and appraised this truth, and appraised it at its true value,” p. 40.
Is it possible? Is it possible to conceive anything more degraded, or more degrading, or more contrary to Christianity? In true Christianity we see the power of the divine word, through the Holy Ghost, bringing light and grace into the soul, revealing God to the heart and conscience, and so leading men through redemption to worship God in spirit and in truth, knowing the grace of the Father which has sought such to worship Him. Instead of this unutterably blessed and holy worship, fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, the aim of the tractarian is to substitute (what one is ashamed to mention in the same sentence) the attractions of a gin palace, and the singing-halls of the worst parts of London, the processions and banners of the Odd Fellows and Foresters, to win the masses by pleasing their tastes as they are. They have told their own tale. The persons they attract to worship, mark it well, not to Christ as a Saviour or to salvation, are persons who do not care for, or who hate, religion, and they are to be won, not to God or to eternal life, but to outward worship, by that which attracts the fleshly nature, as it would to a gin palace or a society of Odd Fellows! It is not the degradation of the thought in connection with such a subject which (offensive as it is) most strikes one here, but the evidence of the total absence of divine life, spirituality, or thought of spirituality, in those who can take such views. The masses are to be drawn by attractions like those of a gin palace, to see a histrionic spectacle; and that is worship!
But we must not therefore suppose that there is not a diligent and, for its own purposes, efficient system at work. By all human means—means calculated to act on men’s wants and natural feelings, and the influences of priestcraft, which are very great—they would exercise universal influence. They would have their agents nurses at all hospitals; guilds of females, made respectable and religious by the patronage of “Sisters,” to keep them from mischief in manufacturing towns; confraternities in parishes to get amongst men whom the parochial ministers cannot reach, deferring to influential classes, who might resist such as physicians, but getting their ear so as to be their instruments and carry on their own purposes, and carefully excluding only one thing from getting access as to ill they can —the truth of God. The clergy and upper classes need some means to hold the poor under their influence. But the clergy must have the lead, as is natural if of God, yet by service to the poor, by which they may be gained, but the effect is priestly power. If it be a work of Satan (and likening worship to a gin palace and to the processions of the Odd Fellows is certainly not of God), we must not fancy that Satan does not know what suits and acts on human nature; he knows it well. He cannot stem the power of God, nor love the truth, nor give true spirituality or holiness; but he can, where these safeguards are not, gain human nature and take the form of godliness, and change himself into an angel of light, and thus gain masses of men, and in this form still more women; and that is what they want. Of the truth, or the power of the truth, they know nothing, and care nothing.
Priestly influence is the object. Take a statement from another paper in the same volume, in which there are many truths, as to the effect of various practices, and whose tone is not so offensive as the one I have quoted above as that from which my first quotation was taken. There I read:—
“And it must not be forgotten, that the godless in a parish have to be brought to a consciousness of the existence of a God, a heaven, a hell, and the value of their immortal souls, before they come to church. Their consciences must first be roused, and then they may be brought to the parish church to learn the details of their duty to God and their duty to man.” (Page 96.)
Now it is a very striking thing that in the case of a godless man, who has to learn the existence120 of a God, a heaven, a hell, and the value of his immortal soul, it never occurs to the writer to think of salvation, or a Saviour, of Christ, or the truth. Yet so it is. Let it not be said, “But it is assumed he will hear of it at church.” No; there he is to learn the details of his duty to God and his duty to man. He will find histrionic spectacles to engage his imagination, but he is not to learn salvation or a Saviour; and in truth, with such teachers, he never will. But is not such a statement a striking display of the system? “Thy speech be-wrayeth thee” One paper brings him to a theatrical display, the other to learn his duty; neither to God. What a contrast is apostolic simplicity! “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” But let it be noted, this display is not to win to hear the truth, no catching with guile, as people have falsely applied the text, nor even what dissenters and presbyterians do or are anxious to do, namely, have organs and good singing to attract, and then present Christ (itself an unholy and evil practice, and savouring of priestcraft), but they are to be attracted thus to worship. It is the worship which is histrionic—to the worship they are to be brought.
Now I will speak seriously of worship, and tractarian worship by-and-by. There are a great many points in which, as to form, though not as to substance, the tractarians are right, just as Romanists have kept up the name of the unity of the church. Worship is that for which Christians should meet, and, I add, the Lord’s supper is the centre of worship. But to bring persons who do not care for religion or are hostile to it, to worship by histrionic displays, could never have entered into the mind of any but a tractarian; nor have been invented but by priestcraft and the seekers of priestly power. It is not Christianity. This (and we have the authority of the divine founder of it for saying so) looks for worship in spirit and in truth, and reveals the grace in which the Father seeks such to worship Him. It is not Christianity. Christianity is the activity of God’s love towards sinners, and the joying in and worship of God by those who have been reconciled to Him, with all the fruits which flow from it through the presence of the Spirit, and the display of the life of Christ which is imparted by it, wrought, all of it, by the Spirit of God, and the fruit of the accomplishment of redemption, eternal redemption, by Christ. If it is not Christianity, what is it?
Nor is this insensibility to divine truth or divine objects shewn in a casual passage, treating of some collateral subjects, or in view of some particular difficulty. There is no other thought presented to us. It is generally known that clergy and laity of all classes hired several of the lower classes of theatres to preach in, with the hope of reaching the masses who never go anywhere, and they were successful. The means may have been desirable or not: it is not needful to decide that question here. Speaking of the Liturgy, our tractarians say (p. 41):—“There is nothing to impress the eye, nothing to quicken the attention, nothing to make the breath come short, or the pulse beat quicker.”… “It is all very sedate, very decorous, very good, no doubt, for those who like it; but it is not in the very least degree missionary.”
One hardly is aware how worship in itself can be properly so; but (p. 42)—
“The evangelical school has practically admitted this truth by its adoption of theatre-preachings, thereby confessing, on the one hand, that it is hopeless of making the church service attractive to outsiders, and on the other that some fillip of excitement in the way of novelty is needful as a lure.” A lure! Is that the object of worship, that which the Spirit of God can propose to itself in prayer and adoration? and a lure 10 what? That the zeal which sought the outcasts of London in their own haunts, and found a response because these outcasts were cared for, may have been mixed with excitement and the attraction of novelty, is possible. But they were allured to God, at least, to salvation, not to “our church,” even if it were Anglican or catholic. A vast number of preachers, even not ordained by man, and, if they were, nobody knew to what denomination they belonged; and a service in a theatre was not, and could not be to win them to go there or to belong to any body of Christians. This is evident, be it an evil or a good. It was to win their souls to God, but of that, while declaring that people do not know the existence of a God, nor the value of a soul, a genuine tractarian has no idea. It does not enter his mind. He can only see a plan to win partisans by novelty and excitement. Again:—
“The Prayer Book, with its somewhat antique phraseology and high spiritual level, is, to the mass of uneducated worshippers, like the score of a piece of music, simply unintelligible… Put the score into the hands of a band of musicians for execution, and all will benefit from the harmony. So too, let the dramatic aspect of common prayer be manifested, and every one can join, however uninstructed.” (Page 42.) Join in what?
I close this part of my remarks with one more quotation, leaving the historical part for further consideration. “Take two street arabs, perfectly ignorant of Christianity. Read to one of them the Gospel narrative of the Passion, and comment on it as fully as may be. Shew the other a crucifix, and tell him simply what it means. Question each a week afterwards, and see which has the clearest notions about the history of Calvary.” (Page 50.) Now to say nothing of the utter pelagianism of this, the total leaving out of preventive grace, as is the case indeed in the whole of the statements furnished by this article, and, to speak only of means used, I ask what is declared by the Lord and His apostles to be the means of quickening, saving, edifying? Is it the word of truth, or pictures and crucifixes? Let not the objector talk to me of sacraments; they are not in question here. In the alternative put by the writer, he has chosen what God has not chosen; and God has chosen (what he condemns) the word written and the word ministered by men. But still, though this article be low and degraded, the same fundamental principles characterize it which are insisted on in others.
“The constant appeal to antiquity, the tenets of the dignity of the human body, and of the superiority of prayer over preaching, the appreciation of symbolism, the magnifying the sacraments as spiritual agents, could not otherwise be practically brought within the observation of the mass of Christians, which has neither taste nor leisure for abstruse research, and this is one of the reasons why, as has been said before in this paper, simplicity, that is, bareness and poverty in the externals of worship, is unsuited for a national, much less for a universal, religion.” (Page 36.)
Gathering for worship by a dramatic display which magnifies the sacraments (and is carried even to the adoration of the eucharist), so as to gather the whole nation or be even universal in its effect, such is the system. But it must be added:—all are not supposed to be communicants; there are to be “non-communicating attendance,” or better “non-communicants,” to be put indeed out of the choir, but stay in the nave and look on (p. 500-503); so that in this centre of christian worship (for such the Lord’s supper is, as far as rites go), which ought to be accompanied with the holiest christian affections, we are to find a drama enacted within the rails, to win by stage effects; and spectators without, kept there by what is now intelligible to all, but not taking any part in it.
Such is tractarianism—not worship by saints, but religion for the nation, to keep them together! How totally contrary this is to antiquity, it is not needful for one who is the least acquainted with it to say. The word “mass” is simply the corruption of the words “Ite, missa est” by which all who did not communicate were sent away. Primitive antiquity had not such a thought as missionary dramas in worship. It did magnify the holy mysteries, as they were called, but it did so by removing all who were not about to communicate. To insist on the word “mass,” as is done by these tractarians, and provide for a non-communicating attendance, is imposing on the ignorance or inattention of the reader.
In my present review I have to do with a more serious paper, written in a more earnest and serious tone, treating upon subjects of the deepest interest, detecting the false points in current evangelical views, and opposing to them forms of truth drawn from the word, but appropriating the value of these truths to that which is wholly unscriptural and even antichristian in its nature, so as to give, if received, the force of these truths to that which is itself such. Now when truth is used to detect error, and the defects of the erroneous scheme are seen by it, the human mind is apt to believe that what is associated by the detector of the error with these truths is part of the truth, and thus dangerous error is often introduced by the force of the truth.
It was thus with Irvingism. The church had lost the doctrines of the coming of the Lord and the presence of the Holy Ghost in the church, and the enemy used these truths to introduce deadly error. So it is with the tractarians. On nearly every point on which they attack the dissenters and evangelicals they can produce scripture to prove their defects; but they use this only to accredit more deadly error still, and to sanction views and practices which subvert Christianity. I will quote their statements as to dissenters and evangelicals:
“The theory of the latter requires a disbelief in the doctrine of the visible church; that is, in a divinely instituted body and an equally divinely appointed government of the visible body; it requires a denial of the fact that our Lord appointed a priesthood in His church, whose office is to celebrate those ‘mysteries’ which are the means and channels of grace and communion between Christ and His body. Nay it denies that the body itself is a visible community or kingdom, separated from the rest of mankind by the partaking of, or communicating in, these sacraments. On the contrary, the notion seems to be that the church is not strictly a body, but an aggregation of individuals who hold a certain theological or philosophical system, gathered out of the holy scriptures; that certain truths are revealed in the scriptures, which truths were systematized by certain learned men in the sixteenth century; and that a belief in these truths constitutes the membership of Christ, irrespective of the visible body of the sacraments. This is the objective aspect.
“Besides this, there is the subjective aspect: a certain consciousness of personal interest in these truths, and a sense of general unworthiness, and a further sense of the removal of that unworthiness, in the belief and apprehension of these truths—the whole matter of salvation being a personal one between the individual and Christ the Saviour; and that, for purposes of mutual edification and advantage, it is expedient that individuals should unite into distinct bodies or communities, appoint their own teachers, frame their own terms of communion, and administer their own ordinances. Admitting for the most part—not universally—the divine authority of the two greater sacraments, a form of baptism is used, and a form of communion in bread and wine; but these are not really sacramental in the sense that the church holds them, as means of grace to the recipients; but rather as seals and pledges of grace already given, outward signs of God’s Spirit already bestowed on the part of God; and signs of faith in His promises, or rather the fulfilment of His promises, on the part of the recipient.” (Pages 183, 184.)
The writer avows he is “not speaking of the formularies of the different protestant sects” (p. 184), but “of the views of protestants at the present time.” He is wise; he would have to speak of himself and his own church; nor would it be true in some important statements. And further he takes no notice of national churches formed by the magistrate, of which his is one, although he may urge its having in a great measure escaped the hand of the spoiler: “the least deformed because reformed the least.” Still, as describing the present state of protestants (dissenters and those associated with them in their general views), it is in the main just as to the principal charges. I continue my citation that we may fully have the views of the essayist:
“We repeat, then, that the idea held by protestants of the present day really amounts to this—That there is no such thing as a visible church; but there is in the world a body of elect members, known to God only, who shall finally be saved; and that these, and these only, form the church of Christ; that the union with Christ consists chiefly, if not wholly, in holding certain doctrines of justification by faith alone in the atonement of Christ, together with a belief in God’s promises as set forth in scripture: and that, consequently, the whole matter is a private and personal one between each individual and Christ, quite independent of the belonging to the visible church, or any sect. In accordance with this, we hear everywhere proclaimed the doctrine of a universal priesthood—every man is his own priest, and, in some sects, every woman her own priestess—but that it tends to good order and mutual advantage that individuals thinking alike should unite in some one community or another, choose their own teachers, and frame rules for general government and conduct; that the gifts of grace are not attached to any outward form or ordinance, excepting perhaps that of preaching, but that they are a private concern between God and the individual; that the highest form in which grace manifests itself is in the knowledge of scripture and of protestant doctrine, and especially in the power of preaching.
“In direct opposition to this is the idea of the catholic church, the leading features of which may be stated in the following propositions:—First, that it is a spiritual system, not an intellectual one; a system whose purpose is a re-union of man with God, through the incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. That this union is not effected by merely believing in a certain system of theology, or in the revelation of God in the Bible; but, being essentially spiritual, only effected through those means by which spiritual gifts are conveyed to man. That those means are the sacraments, which may be termed “extensions of the incarnation,” or means whereby the benefits of the incarnation are applied to man. That such a union is, in most cases, and at first, independent and irrespective of any exercise of the intellect on the part of the person brought into union, but is by means of the gift of God in Christ’s own appointed way—Holy baptism. That that sacrament is the means of conferring on the recipient a new and spiritual life, similar and parallel to the natural life into which every infant enters at birth: so that it is called regeneration, or the new birth: and that one great effect of the Church is to feed, support, educate, this spiritual life till it comes to the ‘measure of the fulness of the stature of Christ.’ That the church is the body of persons possessing this life, and consequently wholly distinct from the ‘world’ without; it is, therefore, a visible body with an invisible life, and that the means of support for this invisible life is invisible grace conveyed through visible forms or signs, instituted and appointed of Christ for that purpose. That the whole being of the church rests on the incarnation, or rather, to speak properly, on the Son of God become man. Christ is ‘the head of the body, the church.’ (Col. 1:18.) That, in order to the extension and communication of this spiritual life and grace, our divine Lord appointed a ministry in His church, whose office is to administer the means of grace to its members; so that it is His work, though done by the hands of His ministers and ambassadors: consequently, no one can take this office on himself without a direct commission from Christ. That He appointed His disciples, in the first place, to be apostles, with a power to transmit their commission to others, as the need of the body required; and that without this commission no acts are valid, and no ordinances have any assurance of grace attached to them. That the episcopate and priesthood is not only a form of church government most nearly after the model of scripture; but it is the one only of divine appointment in the body, the one only which has the promise of grace attached to it, the one only which has the stamp of the divine commission.” (Pages 184-186.)
“The protestant assertion that ministers are mere delegates of, and therefore are elected and commissioned by, the congregation, at once completely overturns the whole constitution of the church, reverses the divine order, and substitutes human authority for that of Christ.”… “The body is dependent on the ministry, and the ministry is ordained for the body, mutual fellowship and communion being requisite for growth in grace. Thus the catholic idea is, that union and communion with the church is absolutely necessary for union and communion with Christ; and that persons are received into communion with the church in order to union with Christ; and, further, that this communion is effected by a communication of a spiritual gift, an actual bestowal of the grace of God to the person through this ministration of the church’s ordinances; that thus communion with the Church implies and connotes union with Christ, as well as supplies the means of such union.” (Page 187.)
“On the other hand, the protestant theory reverses this: making an intellectual process called faith, and a mental conviction, called apprehension of Christ by faith, to be the means —not the condition, but the means—of effecting this union with Christ ; it puts out of sight the fact that a special gift of the Spirit is necessary to create a union; or, perhaps, we shall describe the theory more correctly if we say, that it supposes grace to be an intellectual process going on in the mind, whereby a certain effect called faith is produced; and that the production of this mental effect accomplishes the union between the individual and Christ; that any communion with fellow Christians is subsequent to this, not necessary in itself, but productive of good to the individual in a secondary and inferior way. Thus, according to this theory, the existence of the church is in no way necessary. It may be believed in as an abstract proposition, but its existence, and communion with it, are quite immaterial.” (Page 187.)
The writer refers to Ephesians 4:4, 5, 6, and adds (p. 187): “A unity of faith and a unity of constitution are predicated here, both of which are essential to the idea of the oneness of the body.121 The former is defined in the creeds and the decrees of the six general councils; the latter is found in the universal practice of the one body. We shall not attempt to prove either of these from holy scripture; for we must bear in mind, that both the faith of the church and her visible constitution were complete and in full force before a single word of the New Testament scriptures was written.”
Now there are very grave questions here. The assumptions are without end, and I shall notice them before I close, but the questions meantime are to be met seriously; but I beg my reader to mark the confession that the system is not found in scripture. There are, they say, allusions to it. But such a confession, when the word of God assures us that in the last days perilous times shall come, in which there will be a form of godliness with the denial of its power, referring to the scriptures as the safeguard in them and to nothing else; but those from whom Timothy had learned (had personally learned) the truths he held, that is, Paul himself, to which we may add the other inspired witnesses whose teaching, so as to know from whom we have learned them, we have now only in the scriptures—such a confession is of all importance. But, further, the scripture, if it does not teach these doctrines, may contradict and condemn them. All this must be seen into.
But they tell us the creeds and the six general councils have defined the faith. With v/hat authority? Why the six? Are there no more than six? Why am I to believe six? Anglican authority speaks of four—why six? Romanists, though it be a sore subject with them for many reasons, and they declare some are to be said “to be and not to be” a council, as Pisa and Basel, yet make some nineteen. The Anglican articles say they are not infallible and have erred. How can I trust to them as defining faith?
And as to the creeds, the Nicene creed which we have now, contains an article—and an article which has divided the Greek, or most ancient, church system and the Roman—which was not in the ancient creed, and which was inserted contrary to the express decree of one of these councils and the decision of a very illustrious pope, who put up the creed without it on silver plates in a church at Rome that it might not be added. It was introduced by a small Spanish council, insisted on by Charlemagne; sanctioned by a council of three hundred prelates at Frankfort, who also condemned image-worship which had been sanctioned by what the Romanists hold for the seventh general council at Nice; and (if we are to believe modern Anglican catholics) an article forced upon the pope against his better judgment, and authority, and certainly in spite of the prohibition of a general council and the pope of the day. And this article is not on some immaterial point, but nothing less than the procession of the Holy Ghost, the third person in the Trinity, and the nature of His relationship with the Father and the Son. The Greeks hold procession from the Son to be error (nor do they nor the Anglicans believe in purgatory with the Romanists); the Anglicans and Romanists believe it to be truth, and recite it in the creed as essential truth. One of these general councils forbad any addition to the creed which did not contain it, and the pope forbad insertion of this particular clause. What can we say of the certainly defined faith?
But, further, “the universal practice of the one body” is the authority for the unity of the constitution. To say that one Spirit and one body proves the unity of the constitution of the body and its form on earth, is rather violent; but this we may take up on its own merits farther on. Only if this be a strict definition of the unity, it certainly defines nothing as to any constitution on earth, nor even alludes to it. They did well not to attempt to prove it from holy scripture; but then why say it defines it strictly? If it did, being scripture, it would prove it clearly; but it says nothing about any constitution, about the only point to be proved—a visibly constituted form on earth displayed in an episcopate and priesthood. But, in point of fact, about one-third of the universal professing church has not this form, say a quarter of it; universal practice does not prove it now. It will be said, “But they have separated from the unity as they have not the episcopate and priesthood;” but this is begging the question. Universal practice, they say, proves the unity of the constitution of the one body. I shew the practice is not universal, and I am told that they are therefore not of the body. This is a mere vicious circle.
I shall be told that this is a mere modern thing. Now in the dark ages it was universal, or nearly so; but so, with rare exceptions, was the grossest and most horrible corruption. Our Anglican catholic essayist will not receive the councils held in these days. Why not? Nor do the Greeks. Why not? But in earlier days it was not universal. We may inquire from scripture whether it existed anywhere in the earliest days. This is certain, that in the patriarchate next to Rome in dignity, till the council of Nice set up Constantinople, this constitution did not prevail, but what contradicts formally the whole theory of our Anglican of the necessity of episcopal ordination to the communication of grace. For this we have no less authority than Jerome, or, if they please, St. Jerome,122 who declares moreover that there was no difference originally between bishops and presbyters, and that it was introduced as a matter of order to prevent disputes. A singular thing if it was a necessary channel of grace, and equally singular that he should not have known it if it was universal practice, he who was a correspondent of popes, translator of the Bible, and equally conversant with the East and West. He tells us there were not originally bishops, that it was only introduced to keep peace among the presbyters. But all this is by the bye.
But before I treat the main subject I have a few not unimportant remarks to make. In the first place the statement that faith is a mere intellectual process, and alleging this to be the theory of Protestants is an unfounded one—and savours of infidelity in the objector. At least it is the view taken of faith by modern infidels, or at least of belief, for they make faith a sentiment, a feeling of the heart. But the soul may be acted on by the Spirit of God so as to produce a divine conviction of unseen things revealed by the word. When Paul says, “when it pleased God… to reveal his Son in me,” it was not an intellectual process, and it was not a sacrament. It would seem that the essayist ignores this altogether—a very serious lack indeed in his religious system. The direct operation of the Spirit of God in bringing truth home to the soul is wholly ignored. His doctrine is practical Pelagianism. All he owns is a sacrament or an intellectual process. What then of the grace of the Spirit of God, as the Lord opened the heart of Lydia? I would further draw my reader’s attention to the total absence of all reference to the truth, except to depreciate it and faith in it, in order to exalt the sacraments. “Grace is communicated, life is communicated, by sacraments, is only effected through these means,” “irrespective of any exercise of the intellect on the part of the person brought into union.”
But, according to our essayist, the truth has no place as an instrument in God’s hands for quickening and converting souls. In the same way and for the same reason the action of the Holy Ghost is ignored. We have His gifts conferred in baptism, but no action of the Spirit of God Himself on the soul. Hence preaching is depreciated, and the truth so little material, that in the case of those who have, according to the essayist, been in heresy for centuries, and out of the pale of the Catholic church, denying the true faith, yet, because the episcopal form is there, their orders are all valid, effectual grace has been communicated, and they have only to return to a sound confession, and they are part of the Catholic visible church. Grace, union, life were all there. They denied the faith, left the visible church through this; but they have all that is essential. But in the case of presbyterians or Lutherans, who are not charged with any heresy but may hold the truth as such, all must be begun over again.
“They have cut themselves off from participation in the one Spirit as living in the church and flowing through the sacraments, which are the arteries and veins of the body.”123
In a word, the truth as the instrument of God in the soul is wholly ignored by the essayist, the action of the Holy Ghost also, and hence also preaching, which surely is not worship, of the importance of which I shall speak. Further, individual salvation, and hence individual responsibility is slighted as much as possible. It is inconsistent with church authority. Hence we find, too, the Spirit in the church insisted on; but the Spirit in the individual, mocked at among Romanists as fanaticism, by Anglicans ignored. Now conscience must be individual, responsibility must be individual: no man can answer for another at the judgment-seat of Christ. He may pretend to secure him here, he must leave him to answer for himself if he gets there. The priest will be on the same ground or worse. Hence salvation must be individual, and responsibility. Everyone of us shall give an account of himself to God, and if he is saved, he is saved individually; if purged, purged individually. The saint does also become a member of Christ, of His body the church; but it is a second and distinct thing, though both are true of those who have now believed through grace. But this individual salvation and responsibility does not chime in with the asserted authority of the church; and they carefully set aside what they cannot secure anyone against, direct individual responsibility to God, and, what goes necessarily with it, individual salvation. If I have an individual soul, I must have individual salvation. They reproach protestants with their saying, “This is a private and personal matter between Christ and the individual.” I answer, “It will surely be so for all in the day of judgment.”
Even a Romish priest would admit that in the day of judgment each one must answer for himself, just as his conscience is individual now, his soul individual, his sin individual. Scripture is as plain as can be on the point. It teaches plainly the unity of the body and its union with Christ the head, most true and precious; but the Lord dealt always with individuals as such; and further our individual relationship as Christians takes the first place, because it is with His Father. We are individually His children, the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty; El Shadai is our Father. We cry individually, Abba, Father, and Christ’s relationship with us in this respect is of the first-born among many brethren. The reader will finer in Ephesians 1, the Epistle where the unity of the body is most fully brought out, that the children’s or individual’s place with God and the Father is first brought out, and then the relationship to Christ, as the body to the head; but only at the end of the chapter. All John’s writings speak exclusively of the individual and of divine life in him. He never refers to the church at all,124 but to individual life from and in Christ, adding our individual perfection in Him before God. The truth is, the church is never mentioned in the Epistles but by Paul, nor the word even used, save in the case referred to in the note, and, similarly, in James. Paul declares he was a minister of the church (as well as of the gospel) to fulfil, or complete, the word of God.
This system, then, is characterized by leaving out the truth’s action in testimony on the soul. The presence and action of the Holy Ghost, and individual responsibility and salvation, all are passed by or slighted. The church is trusted, God is not. Man gets union with Christ, life, and every blessing, unconsciously, without the smallest actual effect in conscience, heart, or anything, in any way in which he is brought to God with the sense of what he is, and of God’s grace. The parable of the prodigal is all nothing to the purpose, the weeping lost one of the city, or the believing thief, the invitation of the labouring and heavy laden, is all, according to this horrible teaching, misleading instruction, for this was individual. This was (not an exercise of intellect indeed, but) individual consciousness of their own state, wrought by God, individual faith in the Son of God, individual salvation taught, if the Saviour is to be believed; divine action on the heart, the soul, the conscience, the affections; the eyes opened spiritually to see the Son and believe on Him: men brought to God and the state of their souls manifested, and a divine work wrought in them by the word of the Lord reaching them. I may ask my reader, Does the Saviour teach this on the bringing of a person unconsciously into union by holy baptism? Read the Gospels, and see if this unholy rejection of the grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ, and the divine operation on souls around Him by it, producing faith in His person, in order to substitute unconscious union in baptism, is to be found in them.
But if these great principles and truths be ignored by the Anglican catholic system, there are important truths on which it pronounces, and in which, while it can justly object to protestant evangelicism, it is far more deeply and fatally in error. It sets aside all that is vital in individual salvation, leading to carelessness of conscience and insensibility to personal responsibility. It makes the world not what scripture does, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” but simply the un-baptized heathen, so as to allow worldliness in Christians. It sets aside scripture authority; it ignores the Holy Ghost in individuals, on which the word of God insists; and it passes over or falsifies history, when it meddles with it; and, as I shall now shew, it is wholly false on the points as to which it has laid hold of certain truths which evangelical Christians have, by inefficient teaching, left in its hands.
It is not true that protestants or evangelicals make faith a mere intellectual process: no Christian does, unless it be the party of the essayist. But the unity of a visible body on earth has been ignored or denied by them. They have not generally held the real communication of a new, spiritual life. And they have (at least dissenters) held the meeting together of voluntary associations which they call churches, and which frame regulations and choose or dismiss their ministers. In all this scripture condemns them. On the last point the “Catholic,” indeed, has not much to say; for it is held by them that everyone is at liberty to choose his own direaor or confessor, the most important of all their ministers in practice.
As regards the true body of Christ, it is become invisible, and scripture contemplates this without sanctioning it. “The Lord knoweth them that are his,” though of course always true, is a state of things contemplated in the last days; but it was not the original state of things. On this, “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” There is in scripture, as I shall fully shew, the doctrine of a visible body. But the object of the Anglican is, not to prove that the word of God teaches the doctrine of a visible body on earth, but to set up a human priesthood in the clergy, and shew that grace is communicated by their means only, that grace comes by sacraments, divine life and union with Christ by baptism; and that the visible body is to be found only where the priesthood or clergy is. The reformers taught the being born of God in baptism, and (at any rate, the Anglican body) becoming members of Christ by it. Evangelicals hold neither now, but they speak of union with Christ by faith, which scripture never does. When they speak of regeneration, they do not, generally speaking, mean a new life really communicated, but the effect produced by the operation of the Spirit of God on man as he is, not a really new life communicated. Now scripture does speak of the church as one body on the earth, and of only one, with particular churches in each locality, which in that place held that of the body so far, though not separated from other members of Christ. It has no idea of distinct churches in one place or of a national church.
It does speak of the church in the purpose of God, as finally one with Christ in glory; but it also speaks of a church and body of Christ on earth, responsible here below. It also speaks of the church as the dwelling-place of the Spirit on earth, as the house of God as well as the body of Christ. Scripture does speak of a life really communicated to man; it does speak of a ministry received directly from Christ so as to exclude man’s choice and nomination. It speaks of union with Christ. I will take up these points in order, and the setting forth scriptural truth will, in a great measure, answer the erroneous statements on the subject, both of Evangelicals and Anglicans; but I will also take up, afterwards, the positive errors taught by the latter, which are very grave indeed.
As regards the general truth of a body on earth, the scriptures are plain. Thus, in I Corinthians 12:12, 13, “For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” For by one Spirit we have all been baptized into one body, whether we be Jew or Gentile, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit; and verse 27, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular; and God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers; after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” From this it is evident that there is a body, the church, and that that body, the church, is on earth. There are no healings in heaven. “So if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it.” (Ver. 26.) So in Romans 12:4, 5, “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another;” and then they are exhorted to the present exercise of their gifts accordingly. So Ephesians 1:22, 23; only here it is looked at in its completeness and perfection in the counsels of God as a whole, not yet attained, for “we see not yet all things put under him,” though we own Jesus’ title as exalted to the right hand of God. So Ephesians 3:10, 25, 32: all which shew the church set up on the earth as the body of Christ, though letting us understand that it will be presented to Christ a glorious church.
We have the church also in the character of a building, and, as we shall see, which is of great moment, in a two-fold way. First, Christ Himself says, Matthew 16:18, “And on this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Whom Peter follows, “Unto whom coming, as unto a living stone … ye, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2:4, 5); and so Paul (1 Tim. 3:15), “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” Here it is on earth too, for the question is of Timothy’s conduct in it. So Ephesians 2:21, “In whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.” Here, as also in 1 Peter, it is only growing up to a future temple, not yet finished; but, in Ephesians 2:22, it is added, “In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Here it is a present thing; God’s habitation in the person of the Spirit come down from heaven.
Now it is to be remarked that in the temple, as forming for its final perfectness and glory, in the Gospels the workman is Christ only. “I will build.” In the Epistles there is no workman at all who builds. The building, see Ephesians 2:21, “fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple:” in 1 Peter the saints come “as living stones.” Here it is growing to a house, and Christ carries on the work—against which the gates of hell cannot prevail—on earth but for glory. But when we come down to a present house or building on earth, the case is different: “as a wise master-builder,” says the apostle (1 Corinthians 3:10), “I have laid the foundation. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereon;” men may build with wood, hay, and stubble, and their work come to nothing; or with gold and silver, and their work abide. Nay more, a man may defile the temple of God and be destroyed himself. Here men are responsible for the way they build in this building of God on earth. So in the passage in 1 Timothy he was to learn how to behave himself in the house of God.
The doctrine therefore of the body of Christ, a body to be perfected in glory, and also that of a body existing on earth— of a house to become a perfect and holy temple in the Lord, and that of a present habitation of God through the Spirit, that which Christ builds infallibly and perfectly for the final result, and that in which, as a present thing, man is responsible by the way—are all clearly taught in scripture. One the Evangelicals and Dissenters admit, though obscurely, what Christ is building for final glory; but the body now formed on earth, by the Spirit, and the house now the habitation of the Spirit, they have wholly lost sight of; and of these scripture speaks.
I turn to the doctrine of communicating life. The common evangelical teaching is, that the operation of the Spirit changes a man’s heart, takes the stony heart out of us, subdues the will, renews the affections, &c. Now this is practically true, but is in no way the whole truth. There is the reception of a new life. God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. Christ is that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us, and He through grace becomes our life, as it is written, “when Christ, who is our life.” We are really born of God, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit, as that which is born of the flesh is flesh; as everything born partakes of the nature of that it is born of. He that is born of God sinneth not, the seed of God remains in him, he cannot sin because he is born of God. Hence the apostle sought that the life of Jesus might be manifested in his body. It is a new creation in Christ Jesus, a new man. And further, living in Christ risen, we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord, crucified with Christ, yet alive, but not we but Christ living in us. The flesh still lusts against the Spirit; but we have the life of the last Adam as we had the life of the first. On this scripture is clear. Christ is become the life of the Christian, but it is Christ who has died and who is risen, so that the Christian is accounted quickened together with Him and all trespasses forgiven—can reckon himself dead, is dead for faith, crucified with Christ, but Christ risen, His life. There is no condemnation thus for him. The word of God does speak of a new life communicated, a new man.
Lastly, the choice of a minister by man is not scriptural. Ministry is directly received from Christ. He, when He ascended up on high, gave gifts to men; apostles, prophets—who were, we are told, the foundation—pastors, teachers, evangelists. The Spirit distributed to every man severally as He would; and as every man has received the gift, he is to minister the same as a good steward of the manifold grace of Christ. He that teacheth is to wait on his teaching, and the various gifts are so many various members of the body, to be exercised in their place; as Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12:1, Peter 4:10, and all the history of the Acts shew us: only women are not to speak in the assembly. The received talent is to be traded with, or woe be to him who possesses it. In the assembly, order was to be kept; not more than two or three speak, and in succession. These are a summary of the statements as to gifts of ministry in scripture.
As regards offices, elders and deacons, the only ones spoken of, the elders were chosen by the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, among the Gentiles at least, or by Paul’s delegate Titus. Those who served tables were chosen by the multitude, the apostles laying their hands on them when chosen. Choosing a minister or a pastor by the people is wholly unknown to scripture. Christ chose and endowed diem. They were bound to serve; they were again members in the body, and what they were at Ephesus they were at Corinth, those specific members of the body, whose ministry was for the edification of the body everywhere. Elders, on the contrary, were chosen for each city by the apostles. But gifts were specific members of the body: men could not choose them. They were directly from Christ by the distribution of the Holy Ghost, and the possessors of them Christ’s servants in them; diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; differences of administrations, but the same Lord. Men cannot choose when Christ has chosen the vessel and conferred the gift, and when he is Christ’s servant in it, wherever he is, that member in His body—its exercise being withal ordered, and that for edification, by scriptural rules. They are not ministers or pastors of a church, but in the church according to scripture. Nor would such an idea as a pastor and his flock have been tolerated in the apostles’ days or have entered into anyone’s mind; they had higher thoughts of service, lowlier of themselves; they were to shepherd the flock of God. The truth is, a set of churches in a place is foreign to the whole teaching of scripture. If Paul or John were to write now an epistle to the church of God which is at ——, no one would get it. There is no such one recognized body to be found, not in the boasting Anglican, more than in the narrow Baptist; the Romanist would mock at the Anglican, and raise up his pretensions above all; and the rest would not in general dare to ascribe it to themselves. There is no church for the letter to reach; the church has ceased to be what it was—one, known, visible, and united body manifested in different places, but only one in all. Anglicans have pretensions enough; but Rome would not own them, if they own Rome; and no man’s commendation of himself will do to give him a title: I know not whose commendation else the Anglican catholic has got; of his own he has plenty.
I admit, then, according to scripture, a new life is communicated. We have now to consider what communicates life. “Holy baptism,” says the Anglican. I recognize that the church was, and ought to be, one visible body on the earth; but we have to consider what constitutes the body. I own a ministry direct from the Lord, but what makes the minister? This is the real question. If we bow to scripture we have no ground, and, if taught of God, can have no wish, to deny the manifestations and blessing of the unity of the body on earth, the communication of divine life, the direct gift of ministry from Christ, not of man. But the Anglican uses these truths to set up a humanly ordained priesthood and deny grace out of it; he attributes the communication of life and union with Christ to baptism. Priesthood and sacraments are the only divine means of grace and unity. The Evangelicals have foolishly denied or neglected the truths, which they have thus thrown into the hands of Anglicans to use as a weapon against themselves; but the Anghcans have taken these truths to set up a wholly anti-christian system of priesthood and sacraments of which these truths say nothing. They are wrong, even on their own ground, as to the sacraments, as I shall shew; but the main point is, they teach falsely as to the whole way and application of grace to the soul, and set up, not Christianity, but the deceit of Satan clothed with the form of neglected christian truths.
And first as to life. We have seen how they slight truth and faith, and drop the action of the Spirit of God. Now I shall shew from scripture that to these the communication of divine life is attributed by God. They slight preaching (and preaching, I repeat, is not worship); but to it scripture attributes salvation. Let us remember that in the beginning Christians had to deal with Jews or the heathen world, and this will much simplify the matter; for unquestionably preaching—it may be private communications as well as public ones, for publicly, says Paul, and from house to house, but the ministry of the word—was that which acted on souls, and that by which they were brought to baptism. As many as received the word gladly, we read, were baptized. So Philip went down to Samaria and preached Christ to them. But when they believed Philip, preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. They believed and were baptized. The time was not come for winning kings by processions, so delighted in by Anglicans, and those christianizing their subjects en masse; nor for driving the Saxons, by arms, into the Elbe to baptize and make Christians of them as, the famous Charlemagne. Faith came by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
Let us see the positive teaching of the apostles on this subject. Whoever called on the name of the Lord was to be saved. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed; and how shall they believe on him of whom they have not heard; and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things … So then faith cometh by hearing [the report], and hearing by the word of God.” Salvation is for faith, according to the apostle, and faith by hearing the word. And this is a moral dealing with souls. “Wherefore when I came was there no man; when I called was there none to answer,” is the appeal of God to Israel.
No person can read the Gospels or Acts without seeing that the testimony of the word was the great means of divine dealing with souls. Whatever the miracles of goodness and the ineffable excellency of His person, the service of Christ was preaching, and so He declares, “And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also; for therefore am I sent.” (Luke 4:43.) Accordingly, in describing His service in Matthew 4:23, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching.” “The poor have the gospel preached unto them” was one of the signs of His divine and blessed presence;—when He sent out His disciples, it was (Matt. 10:7), “And as ye go, preach, saying,” &c. And after His ascension (Mark 16:20), “They went forth, and preached everywhere.” They were to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature: he that believed and was baptized would be saved, and he that believed not would be damned. So in Luke 24:47, repentance and remission of sins were to be preached in his name, beginning at Jerusalem. In carrying it out, Peter’s preaching in Acts 2 reaches the hearts of some three thousand and brings them, as gladly receiving the word, to baptism. They could not but speak the things they had seen and heard, and sought grace to speak God’s word with boldness. If there were miracles, it was the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by signs following. (Mark 16:20.) So Hebrews 2:1-4. Philip went down to Samaria and preached Christ to them. It is needless to go through the whole history of the Acts, which, with abundant confirmatory signs, is the history of the preaching of Peter and Paul: indeed, while giving prayer the first place, it is to this Peter declares that, leaving the care of the poor, the apostles would give themselves. Peter to Cornelius calls the whole testimony of Christianity: “The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all): that word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached.” (Acts 10:36, 37.)
Salvation, then, is for everyone that believes; faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God. What, then, shall we say of a system which depreciates preaching, calls faith an intellectual process, and puts a ceremony, be it a divinely instituted ceremony performed on an unconscious person, in the place of living faith and the power of the Spirit and the word? I shall now shew, as to the means of receiving life, the application of this grace of the gospel, that it is by the word through faith, faith as a means, not as a condition, but as a work wrought by God in the soul. James declares: “Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth that we might be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (Chap. 1:18.) Peter tells us: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently, being born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Pet. 1:22, 23.) And to shew that it is by the testimony of the gospel, it is added (ver. 25), “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” Thus the word of God, and the word preached, is that by which we are born of God.
But faith, which receives that word as of God (for he that receives this testimony has set to his seal that God is true), is that by which we are thus born. We are all, says the apostle, the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:26.) So 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 16: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” … “Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved,” &c. So 2 Thessalonians 2:10-14: “Because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved … that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, whereunto he called you by our gospel.” So the Lord: “Sanctify them by thy truth; thy word is truth.” (John 17.) I might multiply quotations to the same purpose shewing that the saving quickening work of God is by the word, and hence by faith, and by faith as a means, not as a condition.
That we are justified by faith (the doctrine wickedly called Lutheran, and so hateful to Anglicans) is affirmed so repeatedly by the apostle, that is, by the word of God, that it is hardly needful to cite passages. It is the main subject of the whole Epistle to the Romans and of that to the Galatians. The whole christian system is designated by it in contrast with law, “after that faith came” (Gal. 3:25); but our present subject is eternal life and salvation rather than justification. Paul preached the faith, he tells us, which once he destroyed. But the Lord Himself tells us, “He that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,” and again, after stating that the Son quickeneth whom He will, He adds, as to knowing that we have it, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation [judgment], but is passed from death unto life.” Thus, through hearing Christ’s word and believing on Him that sent Him, a man has everlasting life. It is by the word, it is by faith.
The other element of the new birth and the power by which it is wrought is, according to scripture, the Holy Spirit. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” as that which is born of the flesh is flesh. And “so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” That new nature or life given to us, which is contrasted with the flesh, is attributed to the Spirit, divinely and essentially so. Every life has its nature from that of which it is born. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. You cannot thus speak of water: it is not the communication of a nature, but cleansing power. As far as it represents anything, it represents unequivocally death, not life, for we are baptized into Christ’s death. “That which is born of water is water” would be nonsense. It is not presented as the communicator of a nature; the Spirit is. It is a divine lifegiving Spirit. So of Christ, who acts as well as the Father in it, He is a quickening Spirit. As the Father raises up the dead and quickens them, so the Son quickens whom He will. Christ becomes our life.
I do not doubt that John 3 refers to what baptism refers to, as John 6 refers to what the Lord’s supper refers to; but John 3 does nor refer to baptism, nor John 6 to the Lord’s supper. The passages speak of what baptism and the Lord’s supper also figure. Christ incarnate was the true bread come down from heaven, and, having been crucified, His flesh and blood become the way of life and the food of the believer’s soul. But as the bread was Christ incarnate, so the flesh and blood are Christ sacrificed on the cross. And hence the chapter speaks of His going up where He was before, shewing that it speaks of Christ personally, not of the Lord’s supper. The chapter speaks, that is, of Christ, not of the Lord’s supper, in the bread come down from heaven and the flesh and blood. And this is evident and certain upon the face of it, because the Lord’s supper is for the church only; the bread He gives is His flesh, which He gives for the life of the world. If any man eats of it, he lives for ever; but this is not true of the sacrament. Whoever eats His flesh and drinks His blood has eternal life. This is not true of the sacrament; and this partaking of eternal life is effectual and eternal: Christ “will raise him up at the last day.” This cannot be said of everyone that partakes of the sacrament. Every one of the passages proves the utter falseness of applying it to the sacrament.
The truth is, there is no such Christ now as is figured in the sacrament in existence. It is Christ’s body broken in death, and His blood shed; but there is no such Christ now, any more than there is a self-humbled Christ come down from heaven. He is gone up glorified, and there is no dead Christ or shed blood to be found. Those united to a living glorified Christ celebrate, till He come, the blessed memorial of what is no longer, and which has given them a part in Him now, and with Him and like Him hereafter.125
And it is equally false of John 3. The Lord speaks of the reality in the operation of divine power, the communication of a new life, of a spiritual life, by the Spirit—that which is analogous to the wind, which is seen in its effects, not in itself. Baptism is seen in itself, on the contrary, not in its effects, as every one knows. What, then, does water refer to? Scripture teaches us fully. It typifies the word. Christ sanctifies and cleanses the church, for which He gave Himself, by the washing of water by the word; as James tells us we are begotten by the word. Again John 15, “Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” It is an allusion more particularly to Ezekiel, where Israel’s blessings are promised to be restored to them: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you,” &c. (Ezek. 36:25, 26.) It is real cleansing within by the word. With this comes, in Ezekiel, the earthly promises to Israel. Hence the Lord says to Nicodemus, “Art thou a teacher of Israel and knowest not these things? “He ought to have known them, from His own prophets. “If I have told you of earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?” And the “ye” and the “every one” of John 3:7, 8, refer, the first to Jews, the latter embracing the heathen.
The birth of the Spirit, or new life, the new man, is attributed to the Spirit. Cleansed in mind by the word we are, but that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Baptism, we are expressly told, signifies our dying, our dying to sin, which is true inward cleansing, and in Colossians our resurrection is added, but communication of life never. The passage in Titus may be alleged, where the apostle uses the expression, “the washing of regeneration;” but regeneration is not used in scripture for the communication of life but for a change of state and condition. It is only used once elsewhere in scripture, for the new millennial world; where Christ shall sit on the throne of His glory: “In the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory.” (Matt. 19:28.) Here it is evidently a change of state and condition, not communication of life. Hence, in Titus 3 :5, we have the washing of regeneration. One, before a heathen or Jew, or at least born in sin, and outside the place of grace and God’s dwelling, was admitted within it. His state was changed. He had been a heathen, a Jew, a sinner, away from promises and God and hope. He passed into that condition where all these were, translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Where being born of God is spoken of, it is another word, not paliggenesiva, but gennhqh/' a[nwqen, or ajnagennavw, never paliggennavw). And wall the laver of paliggenesiva" we have, “and the renewing of the Holy Ghost” as a distinct thing. New life is attributed to “Tim who can give it—the Spirit of God, the Father, and the Son.
In result, quickening or communicating life is expressly attributed to the word, to faith, to the Spirit. It is never attributed to baptism. On the contrary, this signifies or figures death; it may be said resurrection, as coming up into a new state. For Christ being our life, this is in the power and status before God of His resurrection. Baptism signifies in fact the quitting an old state by death, that of the first Adam, and an entrance into a new, that of the second Adam risen from the dead. It does signify washing or cleansing, but in no place giving life. We read of being born of water, but it is not said of baptism; and where the possession of a new nature is spoken of in this very passage, it is referred exclusively to the Spirit: “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” We have too the expression the washing of regeneration; but regeneration is a change of state and condition, as Matthew 19 shews, not the communication of life. Baptism is of real importance and deep signification in its true place, but it is not in pretending that water can give spiritual life. This the Spirit, direct divine agency, alone can do; and we know, when manifested in this world, it is by the word through faith. But as an entrance into a new state, as death to the old, and, figuratively, washing and cleansing from what belonged to the old by death to it, it has its full scriptural signification. Hence we read: “Arise and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord;” not, Arise and receive life. Communication of life it was not. For, in the case of adult heathen and Jews, they believed and were baptized;126 that is, they had life first, for he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. In a certain aspect, baptism signified more than giving fife that is, the deliverance and salvation of those who had life. The centurion Cornelius had life, was devout, and we see evidently that he was renewed in heart. He was to send for Peter, and hear words whereby he would be saved.
The doctrine of a real deliverance and actual salvation has been so lost that many a true Christian, knowing he must be born again, looks for the fruit of it to ascertain his state. But there is an actual deliverance and translation into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, which belongs to every renewed soul, but has been acquired by the death and resurrection of Jesus, of which baptism is the sign, death as we have seen to the old (Rom. 6), and rising into the new condition, all trespasses being forgiven. (Col. 2.) So in external things: Israel, brought to God in heart and will in Egypt, was delivered out of Egypt at the Red Sea, by the “salvation of Jehovah,” and baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the sea. Hence, Peter says, the antitype whereto now saves us, even baptism … by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The disposition of Noah through grace gave him a part by faith in deliverance, but he had his deliverance through the flood into a new world. By faith Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house. This baptism figures, scripture declares; not the communication of life. We may be said, in a certain sense, to be figuratively born there, as coming out of the womb of death to the old Adam state into a new world (paliggenesiva), but not to have life communicated.
I admit baptism is not a sign of what we have already, as is commonly taught; but of getting, through death, into a new position, where we have what entitles us to it. With union it has nothing to do, good or bad. It is not by receiving the Holy Ghost we are born again, nor do we receive the Holy Ghost in baptism. It is not in any way a sign of union. On this scripture is as clear as can be. Baptism is baptism into Christ’s death, at the utmost rising in coming up from it, when having figuratively passed under death. Union is with a Christ exalted at God’s right hand, and only so, and by the Holy Ghost the Comforter, who could not come till Christ was exalted.127 That is, baptism does not go beyond death, or, at the utmost, resurrection. Union is with an exalted Christ by the Spirit, where He is on high. The first proposition, I have already shewn from Romans 6 and Colossians 2. The reader has only to refer to these chapters. As many as have been baptized unto Christ have been baptized to His death. As a figure we are not baptized as a sign or seal that we are already dead and risen again; we are baptized to death, buried there, wash away our sins there. As a figure it saves us, because we therein pass, by death, out of the old scene and Adam state, and so into the new or risen Christ state. But secondly, in no sense has baptism anything to do with union. We have seen, and scripture is express, that it is by one Spirit we are baptized into one body, and this is always distinguished from baptism; and the Lord’s supper, not baptism, is the symbol of the unity of the body, though it may figure what implies it as a consequence.
But it does not itself even figure, in any way, introduction into Christ’s body. In this Baptists are as wrong as Anglicans. We have seen that baptism signifies death, but having a part in Christ’s death, and, hence, death that delivered from an old state and all transgressions connected with it. As Noah was freed by the flood entirely from the old world, which was now gone and had perished in the flood, and emerged out of the ark into a new world; yet that flood was judgment through which he was saved in the ark, so we are delivered by Christ through death and judgment, which He underwent for us, for it would have been our everlasting ruin—out of the old state and brought into a new condition, into which He is risen, if indeed we have a part in Him. Of this, baptism is the figure. We are baptized to128 Christ’s death, and we are to reckon ourselves dead; the judgment having been borne by Christ, it is death to sin, the world, and all that belongs to the old man. We have put off the old man and put on the new, and this is the profession by baptism of every Christian. Where it is said, “few, that is eight souls were saved by water,” it is not simply saved, not ejswvqhsan, but dieswvqhsan, saved through danger or catastrophe, they were saved through the flood—not by it, though it was salvation as deliverance from an old and introduction into a new world; but it is saved, through a destroying judgment, through what would have been, but for the ark, and was, for others, destruction. Baptism is the antitype (such is the word figure) to this; it passes us through death, not literally of course, as is evident. But inasmuch as Christ, into whose death we are baptized, is risen, it is deliverance from an old and introduction into a new, even Christ’s risen, state: really if we take outward standing here, figuratively if we speak of the condition of the soul before God. But it is death, not communication of life, which it figures in itself. It is the flood of which it is the antitype, death into which we are brought by it. But even, were it the communication of life, this is not union. By the reception of life we become children of God. Christ is, in this aspect, the firstborn among many brethren, not Head of the body, and the saints members of His body, that body of which He, exalted above every name, is the Head. It is by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, and of this the Lord’s supper is the symbol, not baptism. Baptism is death, and leads to resurrection figuratively through grace, but does not go beyond the latter, does not point farther than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But in order to form the body, Christ must be exalted as the Head. This is, in every way, evident from scripture. The Head, that is Christ exalted, must have been there to unite the body to.
But in detail, in the first place as the body is formed by the baptism of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 12), it could not be till Pentecost, for this was, we are expressly told, that baptism (Acts 1:5); but the Comforter could not come till Christ went away: then He would send Him, and we may add that Christ had not received the Holy Ghost to confer on His members as sent down from heaven until He went up. (Acts 2.) Further, there was no head to unite the body to, till He went up on high. We are members of His body, we are of His flesh and of His bones; but that it is of Christ exalted the end of Ephesians 1 makes as plain as language can make it. To make the incarnation the ground of it is a gross and heretical blunder. Without the incarnation, of course it could not have been, for it is to Christ as the glorified Man we are united. But there was no union with Christ incarnate. I will say more of this further on, for it is a very vital point and a capital and fatal false doctrine of Anglican catholics and even Irvingites.
For the present, I confine myself to the fact of union. Till redemption were accomplished, there could be none. A union of the Son of God with sinful corrupt man is an utter and mischievous error. We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. It is not said He of ours. His real humanity, flesh and blood, is a fundamental doctrine, but this is not union. Union is by the Holy Ghost. He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit. But, further, as to the outward dispensation of unity, union before the cross was impossible, because it was by that the middle wall of partition was broken down, in order to make of twain (Jew and Gentile) one new man, making peace, and present both in one body to the Father. (Eph. 2.) Thus, whether we consider the position of Christ as Head of the body, or the power that forms us into one body, or the time and order of its administration on earth, it is clear that Christ’s death and Christ’s ascension, and the coming of the Holy Ghost, were all essential to union, to the existence of the church His body. With the last two, baptism has even figuratively nothing to do.
Another very grievous error connected with this, is the notion that the giving of the Holy Ghost is the same as being born again, or necessary to it. This error is common to Evangelicals and Anglicans. In the first place, as to prescribed order, it was received after baptism. (Acts 2.) But as to doctrine, no person receives the Holy Ghost till after he has been born again, and has even yet further grace given to him. In John 7 we read, “This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him should receive.” Now, if they believed, they were born again. “In whom after ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” (Eph. 1.) “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” (Acts 19.) “He that established us together with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God, who also hath sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (2 Cor. 1.) And Galatians 4 is very express: “Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts.”
The disciples were believers and clean through the word when the Holy Ghost came upon them. I might add proofs if needed. But it is evident that God cannot seal an unbeliever. He quickens or gives life to the unbeliever through faith by the word; He seals the believer. That, as to prescribed order, it is after baptism, is evident. “Repent and be baptized every one of you, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2.) So Paul, “Whereunto then were ye baptized?” and then after they were baptized, Paul laid his hands on them, and they received the gift of the Holy Ghost. So in Samaria the Holy Ghost was fallen on none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The exceptional case of Cornelius is an additional proof of the distinction. The Jew demurred to receiving the Gentile. God shewed He would, and the apostle could not forbid water, the outward reception here below, since God had put His seal upon him. This is the apostle’s own account. But the seal of the Spirit even here was by itself, though first, and was not at or by baptism. The forming of the body, and its union with the Head, even with a glorified Christ, is by the Holy Ghost, by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven consequent upon that exaltation. It is in no sense or case by baptism, nor is baptism even a figure of it. The bread in the Lord’s supper is used as a figure of the unity produced down here by it. (1 Cor. 10:17.)
Next, as to ministry, scripture does not own man’s choice of ministers, any more than voluntary associations called churches. The Anglican catholic holds it to be a constituted order derived successionally from the apostles by ordination. Christians in general have gone more or less decidedly into the same system modified after their own thoughts; only the Anglican holds it to be an exclusive channel of grace in the episcopate and priesthood. He says it must be directly from Christ. How a successional system is directly from Christ it would be hard to tell. I understand a person saying God endows a person appointed by man, or even by the Lord, or endows him indirectly through a man. Both are found in scripture. Christ appointed apostles; they were endowed on the day of Pentecost. And the apostles conferred the Holy Ghost by laying on of hands, on (not the ministry, though the Holy Ghost might operate by them in ministry, but on) the whole company of the faithful, as at Samaria Peter and John did. But ministry was free to all and special gift directly from the Holy Ghost, and under the authority and, I may add, gift of Christ. This I shall now shew. This directness characterized the ministry of Paul, here, I admit, in its highest or apostolic character; “not of man,” he says, “nor by man.” Those who called themselves Jews then insisted on derivation of ministry from the apostles. Paul gloried in its not being so; but it was not confined to him.
Let us see historically. All that were scattered abroad on the occasion of Stephen’s death (that is, all except the apostles) went everywhere preaching the word. (Acts 8:4.) I suppose the whole church was not ordained; and in chapter 11:21, in Antioch, we read of them, “and the hand of the Lord was with them; and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.” Stephen, using the office of a deacon well, purchases to himself a good degree, and great boldness in Christ Jesus; so Philip. So, in 2 John and 3 John, Gaius is commended for receiving those who went out, and a lady is directed to inquire, not for letters of orders, but what doctrine they brought. Diotrephes refused them: according to our modern Anglicans he did well. As to doctrine, the Lord in the parable of the talents makes the question of faithfulness in ministry turn on trading with a gift,129 small or great, without other authorization than receiving it. This was faithfulness. Peter tells us: “as every one has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:10, n); that is, as those who speak on God’s behalf, that God may be glorified, as in ministry (service), of the ability which God giveth. The apostle, teaching how to discern what was of the Holy Ghost in 1 Corinthians 12, tells us, there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit … and then goes through a long list, wisdom, knowledge, prophecy, &c. “All these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” These are different members in the body which have need one of another, and these various gifts are not local or an office in a particular church; but God has set in the church apostles, prophets, teachers. All have not these different gifts, but all who have are responsible for their exercise, for trading with their talent; and they are in the church, (not in office, I repeat, in a church).
Hence Apollos, if he taught at Ephesus, taught at Corinth if he went there. They were gifts in the church, members in the body. Hence the apostle, resisting the first beginning of sects, says, “‘all things are yours. Paul, Apollos, Cephas,” &c, all are yours; the gifts belong to the church at large. So we read, there were in the church which was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers. We have limits and order set to their exercise, surely. But these shew and confirm the general principle. Not more than two, or at the most three, are allowed to speak in the assembly when come together, and women are to keep silence: a strange direction, if only an ordained priest or deacon, ay, or dissenting minister, could open his mouth, and they were the only channels of grace. Such a limit in that case could have no sense at all.
But again, in more ordinary and regular’ministrations, as may be thought, is their conferring less direct? Christ ascended (we read in Eph. 4.) up on high, and gave gifts unto men, and He gave some apostles and prophets, and some pastors and teachers, and some evangelists for (prov") the perfecting of the saints, for (eij") the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till all are come in the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. We read “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,” so that we may leave them aside; but pastors, and teachers, and evangelists, are directly given as gifts (talents) by Christ ascended on high. This is direct giving according to scripture, not of man, nor by man. And it is added, “from whom,” the Head, Christ, “the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Our essayist was wise not to seek to prove his thesis from scripture.
In 1 Corinthians 14:29-31 we read, “let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge”… “for ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be comforted.” James, indeed, warns the saints “not to be many masters [teachers] knowing that we shall receive greater condemnation.” But why so, if they could not unless regularly ordained to it? Such a warning could have no place according to the system which knows only an ordained clergy. I shall be told there were extraordinary gifts. Some of them were, not all. Pastors, teachers, evangelists, are not, nor that which every joint supplies; nor does James’s direction apply to such, nor 1 Peter 4, nor 2 and 3 John. But in any case this is nothing to the purpose. The theory I combat is that God originally instituted a system of episcopate and priesthood, the only channels of blessing and grace, a direct ministry which man could not choose.
I am told, indeed, that scripture is not to be referred to in order to prove it, as it was established before the scriptures were written, but that they allude to it often. But I find they speak very fully, not by allusion but historically and doctrinally, of another system which God did institute and appoint, and which proves, as to the original constitution of God, the Anglican system to be false; false historically, false doctrinally. If he tells me that his system supplanted what God originally instituted, I admit it. That is the truth, it did supplant it. The system they teach is incompatible with that taught in scripture, either for the world or the church. Do they mean to allege that, for some wise reason, God set aside His original system, and order, and power? For it was God, we are told, who worked all in all; Christ, who gave from on high pastors, teachers, evangelists; and every one who had received the gift was so to minister the same, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Did God and Christ withdraw all their gifts, ordinary and extraordinary, from the church, and substitute the clerical system insisted on by Anglicans? When did He do it? Not in times taught of in scripture. Or was it man, who, as power died down, so to speak, substituted his order for God’s?
But the external order will be alleged; bishops and priests. Let us see what positive testimony the word furnishes. It does more than allude to these also. Nor does it recognize the church’s choice even of these church officers, save as regards money and table serving. Then it is insisted on. In Acts 6 the apostles withdraw from table-serving, establishing needed order in the church, to give themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word, not to baptizing or administering the Lord’s supper. One was generally entrusted to others, it is not said to whom—strange case of the exclusive character of grace! and the breaking of bread was daily from house to house (or at home in contrast with the temple). Where were the ordained ministers who communicated the grace? I know not; but the apostles withdrew from tables to give themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word, a matter so deplorable in the eyes of our modern catholics. And they have the table-carers, chosen by the people; and on these they lay hands, the only expressly ordained persons in scripture; and, we read, faithfulness in this is a way to higher service. So Paul would not take the money of the saints for Jerusalem unless the churches chose some to travel with him, providing things honest in the sight of men. The word used is ceirotonevw, election being made by stretching out the hand; but it has nothing to do with ordination. 2 Corinthians 8:19 shews it beyond controversy, and so indeed does Acts 10:41.
But there were elders chosen, and they were never chosen by the church, but by Paul and Barnabas; or Titus was sent to establish them.130 There were overseers; that is, bishops, expressly so-called in Acts 20, nor is anyone else so called. And there were several in each locality, they chose (not “ordained:” the translation is ecclesiastical but false) elders in every city; some laboured in the word and doctrine; some, it .appears from 1 Timothy 5:17, did not, but the same Epistle shews us it was desirable. But the difference between their office and gift is evident.
The gifts were set in the church and exercised everywhere; the elders, though they might have gifts too, were local officers, city by city, or in every church. (Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23.) And these wrere not gifts, but offices appointed. They were bishops, I repeat, the only bishops spoken of in the scriptures, and Christ Himself directly and alone over them. These elders were to shepherd, not their flock, but the flock of God; and were responsible to the Chief Shepherd, who, when He should appear, would recompense them. (1 Peter 5. 1-4.) As we have seen in Acts 20., they are expressly called bishops. Nor has the apostle an idea of anyone over them here below, or of a successor to himself. He calls them solemnly together, declares the Holy Ghost had appointed them bishops, tells them he is going away, and they were to watch. Where is the room for the modern bishop here, now he forgot to remind them of Timothy, and their due subjection to his admonitions? He commends them to God, and the word of His grace which is able to build them up. They were to take heed to themselves and all the flock. Where was the bishop?
But, farther, the apostle was going away and expected never to see them again. Here, indeed, was the place to “allude” to the episcopate, and the successors of the apostles; but not a hint of such a thing escapes him. It has a strange and ominous silence about it, and, more than that, though he declares that things will go on badly as soon as he was gone, he has not an idea of appointing a vigilant successor to take his place; on the contrary, there will be none; grievous wolves would break in, and even among themselves perverse men would arise. Was there no bishop to consult, no successor in the see to watch? None. They, the elders, Paul’s bishops, the only ones he knows, were to watch; and he commends them to God and the word of His grace. He treated his successor very slightingly, if he had one. But I shall be told Timothy was the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians. Not Paul’s successor then, for Paul was alive. And the apostles as such (and even Bellarmine admits it) had no successors properly, for their charge was universal, not local. The notion of their having successors is indeed absurd. Paul, we have seen, knew nothing of it in Acts 20—the very occasion to speak of it; and so Peter takes pains, that after his decease all the Jewish Christians should have his teaching in remembrance, having no idea of a successor.
Where is the “allusion” to this constitution of God? There is none. (I reserve the question of priesthood as a graver question.) But what then was Timothy? This alleged episcopate must have been either successors to the apostles, as if (which is false) the apostles had a local see, or persons whom the apostles appointed in places they had evangelized and established Christianity in. But Timothy and Titus were not the successors, for the history we have of them relates to the apostle’s lifetime, and the apostles had no local see as such. And we have the account of what they established in the places they had laboured in successfully. They established elders in every city, that is, not a bishop but several elders or bishops. That is a certain fact, whether in the Acts or in the Epistles to Titus and Timothy, confirmed as it is in that to the Philippians also. Titus and Timothy were especial delegates of the apostle, who were certainly not located in sees, but accompanied the apostle or were sent on special missions by him, his confidential agents. He left Timothy for a time at Ephesus specially about doctrine; but he, after that, desires him to come to him speedily. Titus did not stay at Crete either: in 2 Timothy 4:10 we read of his being gone to Dalmatia.
The apostle, or his delegates by his direction, did establish bishops or elders in each city; that is, they did not establish an episcopate in the modern sense of the word, but something else which contradicts it: and if episcopacy is a necessary and exclusive channel of grace, the true primitive church had no channels of grace at all, and those who followed had no grace to communicate. There were officers, but they were of another kind. Nor is there a hint of communicating grace in the matter.
That the church fell early into a system of episcopacy is perfectly true; and Jerome tells us how and why, as we have seen: namely, to prevent the jealous ambition and disputes of the elders. But the church’s decay was contemporaneous. All sought their own already, the apostle tells us, not the things of Jesus Christ; they were in the last times already, John assures us, in his day; and Peter, that the time was come for judgment to begin at the house of God. Episcopacy accompanied this, a human arrangement to meet decaying spirituality. Then some began to say, My Lord delayeth His coming, and began to beat the men-servants and maid-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken, so that, in some 140 years from the apostles’ days, Cyprian assures us that one of the most terrible persecutions was only too light as a chastisement from God. The bishops, so-called, were running about as commercial travellers to make money. In a little more than another century the emperors had to make laws to prevent the avarice of priests around dying beds, who were not called for (as Jerome complains), with buffoons or actors, or any heathen priests.
For ministry there was no ordination by man. It was direct. The apostles laid their hands on those who served tables; laymen, so-called, laid their hands on an apostle. But no one can shew, in scripture, ordination for ministry. Whoever had a gift, for the world, or for the church, was bound to exercise it, order being maintained in the church by scriptural rules. I defy anyone to point out ordination for ministry in scripture, or to sustain it by scriptural authority. Elders and deacons, or servants, there were. I dare say hands were laid on them, as it was the universal custom; but it is only said of the table-servers in Acts 6. Timothy is told not to lay hands suddenly on anyone; and I dare say he did on elders or bishops; but God has taken care it never should be stated in scripture. As to conferring a gift, it was by the laying on of the apostles’ hands exclusively.
The question of priesthood and another important one remain. The setting up of a distinct priesthood is the denial of Christianity. A distinct priesthood is a body which can go to God for me, because I cannot so approach God myself. To say there is such a body in Christianity is to deny it. The essence of Christianity is, that we can directly approach God, even the Father, ourselves. We are (1 Pet. 2) a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices by Jesus Christ. He has made us kings and priests to God and His Father. (Rev. 1.) That is our christian place; to say that others are priests to approach for us is to deny our place. We cannot hold this too fast that whoever sets up a priesthood other than that of all saints, entering in spirit into heaven, denies (it may be ignorantly, no doubt) Christianity itself.
What does scripture tell us of priesthood now? First, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, we read that if Christ Himself were on earth He could not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law, who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things. Now this is exactly what is urged for christian priesthood by the ritualists. They say indeed that they are not merely (uJpodeivgmata) copies, shadows, figures (p. 308) of the worship in heaven, but the priest is the “present vicarious representative of the one true, real, and everliving priest” (now for a time corporeally absent), acting “in his name.” Or,—
“It is the one Mediator, acting in heaven directly, as we may say, and immediately by Himself; acting on earth indirectly and mediately by His minister as His visible instrument, who, forasmuch as in that most solemn of all His duties, He represents the priestly functions of His heavenly Master, is Himself, for that reason, and for that reason only, called a ‘priest.’” (Page 309.)
And so “the christian Eucharist … is called ‘a sacrifice,’” and “that whereon it is celebrated an ‘altar.’”(Page 310.)
Now it is clear, Christ on earth, at the time the Epistle to the Hebrews was written, could not have been a priest. There were priests who ministered to the example and shadows. But if Christ could not be a priest on earth, His ministers were. Is it not strange that this whole service is left out where the subject is treated of? Does any honest man (yes, I repeat, honest man) believe that when this was written, and it was said Christ could not be a priest on earth, there was a christian priesthood who served as the mediate and indirect instrument, offering sacrifices on earth, a vicarious representative of the great High Priest in heaven? The apostle tells us that such a High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, made higher than the heavens; that on earth He could not be a priest, seeing there were those that served in the example131 and shadow of heavenly things. Yet at this very time, we are to believe, there was on earth what was expressly constituted of God to carry the priesthood on on earth, not as a copy but as “gloriously real.” (Page 308.) Further, can an honest man believe what the Epistle teaches, that repetition of sacrifices was a proof that sin was not taken away but remembered, but that, Christ having by one offering perfected for ever them that are sanctified, there was no more sacrifice for sin nor remembrance of sins, and that the worshippers once purged should have no more conscience of sins, left it equally true that there was a sacrifice, a memorial sacrifice, gloriously real? And note, it is not merely intercession in virtue of the sacrifice as alleged: that would be scriptural enough. He ever liveth to make intercession for us. It is breaking His body, it is His blood shed; it is offering a sacrifice, which is not intercession. That is founded on a sacrifice, and appeals to its efficacy, but this is the memorial sacrifice itself. I shall enter more fully and directly into this in another paper, I now refer to it in connection with priesthood.
The declaration that priesthood is in heaven, and Christ could not be a priest on earth, and that there was no more sacrifice for sin—means that there is a priesthood on earth, who are priests only because they offer a sacrifice! Strange that the New Testament writers should never say a word of this priesthood! But they do speak of priesthood, and in a way which excludes this ordained distinctive one. We are all a holy priesthood, all made a kingdom of priests, and to offer up spiritual sacrifices. Peter too, it seems, had forgotten or never heard of this “gloriously real” priesthood, and puts us together as priests.
But it affects, as I have said, our place as Christians. Where there was a distinctive priesthood on earth, the veil was not rent, the people could not come beyond the altar, nor were the priests to go within the veil, the Holy Ghost this signifying (Heb. 9:8) that the way into the holiest was not yet made manifest. In contrast with this (the one offering which has perfected for ever them that are sanctified having been offered), the veil is rent, and we all have our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, boldness to enter into the holiest by a new and living way which He has consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh, and we are to draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith. Where is the place for a mediating priest here, when I draw near myself into the holiest in full assurance of heart? I am a priest and enter myself, where the great High Priest is over the house of God, the family of God upon earth. There is a great High Priest and a whole body of priests under Him. That is, the whole notion of any other priests between me and God is thus sedulously excluded. I enter into the holiest where the great High Priest is; and this is founded on the sedulously elaborated declaration that there is, and can be, no more offering for sin, that a memorial offering is a memorial or remembrance of sins, and there is a diligent application of this to the conscience, that once purged we have no more conscience of sins, that Christ has sat down, is not standing, because there is no more offering, neither by Him nor by any, and with the so urgent and so just reason given by the Spirit, that it must be real, and that if there was, Christ must have often suffered from the foundation of the world, that the reality of suffering was necessary to the reality of His sacrifice; without it there was none accomplished. Christ is not offering Himself now, and on this, that He is not doing so now, the apostle insists. Those high priests were standing, “offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” What a picture of ritualistic priests! But this Man, when He had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down at the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool, for by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Offering for His friends He has finished once for all; He is seated, and that expecting till His enemies are made His footstool. That Christ is offering Himself now is a heinous anti-christian falsehood. He appeared once in the end of the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, and as it is appointed unto men once to die and after this the judgment, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and to them that look for Him He shall appear the second time without sin (cwriV" aJmartiva", apart from sin) to salvation. He is in the presence of God according to the efficacy of that sacrifice, and intercedes for us; but it was when He had by Himself purged our sins that He sat down on the right hand of the majesty in the heavens. But, save to deceive souls, there is not as much value in any pretended sacrifice now, as in the letters I am forming here. As a lie of the enemy’s, it may be a snare for those who have no knowledge of the efficacy of Christ’s one sacrifice, and that by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified—for those who have not received that word, “who needeth not daily, as these high priests, to offer first for his own sins, and then for the people’s, for this he did once, when he offered up himself.”
Christianity, then, teaches us that in virtue of that one sacrifice we, all believers, enter in through the rent veil into the holiest of all having a great High Priest over the house of God, in full assurance of faith. We are the priests; and to set up a priesthood to do it is to deny the efficacy of Christ’s work, the believer’s place, and the rending of the veil—that access of every believer to God which is the essential distinction of Christianity. A christian priesthood, save as all saints are priests, is an anti-christian He. Christ offering Himself now is unscriptural and false; a repetition of His sacrifice in any shape or form, or under any semblance, is a denial of the perfect efficacy of His one offering once for all, in which He offered up Himself. Both, the pretended priesthood and the pretended sacrifice, are a subversion of Christianity; one of the believer’s place, the other of Christ’s one offering. An offering of Himself implies the cross, implies suffering; He cannot suffer and die now.
Another point, calling for notice, as subversive of Christianity in ritualistic doctrine, is the church being founded on incarnation, of which the sacraments are an extension. It is false upon the face of it, even on the ground they put themselves upon, that of the sacrament. Baptism and the supper of the Lord both signify death, have no sense or meaning without it. If these form and nourish the church, the church begins by the death of Christ, not by His previous life, and feeds on Him also as having died. All of us that are baptized unto Christ are baptized to His death. Nothing can be more distinct than this. It is not to a living Christ that we are brought by baptism, which they allege forms the church and unites to Christ; it is to His death we are baptized. The very profession of a Christian can have no place, no existence, till Christ be dead. And, indeed, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone; if it die, it brings forth much fruit. A living Christ remained alone; lifted up, He drew all men to Him; He died to gather together in one the children of God which were scattered abroad. “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” And Paul, who alone teaches the doctrine of the church, declares, if he had known Christ after the flesh, he knew Him no more. One of these passages is only stronger than the other. And when the incarnate Saviour is so blessedly spoken of as the bread that came down from heaven to give life unto the world, then He especially presses on them—“except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood ye have no life in you;” and to this, as we are aware, the second sacrament refers. Of course for that He must be incarnate; nor is there for the accepted soul a more blessed subject than God manifest in the flesh, the divine person and path of Jesus; but it is not the less true, that in order to our having that life we must eat His flesh and drink His blood, that is, He must die, and we must so know Him, by living faith, to have life, to know Him really at all.
But in truth union with Christ has no place at all till He is ascended also. God “set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places … and gave him to be head over all things to the church.” Till He ascended as man on high, consequent upon accomplished redemption, He could not send, had not to that effect received the Holy Ghost by which His members are united to Him. They are united to the Head in heaven by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. The Epistle to the Ephesians is clear as to this, as indeed is all scripture. We are to be the church, quickened together with Him, and raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Him. That He had not received the Holy Ghost for this purpose previously is clear from Acts 2: “He, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear.” Union before redemption is apostasy from the truth, and the denial of the need of redemption as the basis of the church’s place. It is an unredeemed man united to one who has not yet accomplished redemption, a sinner in his sins, and in flesh, with the holy Son of God. And what Christ shed forth after redemption was accomplished was what formed the church, nor did any church exist till then, for by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body (i Cor. 12), and that this was the baptism of the Holy Ghost the Lord shews us, saying, “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence” (Acts 1:5), for which consequently they were told to wait at Jerusalem. Hence too in the distinctive offices given to Christ in John 1, we have first: “The Lamb of God who taketh away [not the sins, as our ritualists, with so many, falsely quote it] the sin of the world,” and then, “He it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.” Now that the Holy Ghost could not come until Jesus was glorified is beyond all controversy. The Holy Ghost was not yet [given], we read, John 7, because Jesus was not yet glorified. “If I go not away,” says Christ, “the Comforter will not come; but if I go away I will send him unto you.” The whole distinctiveness of the Christian, the church and Christianity itself, is the presence of that Comforter. It constitutes the living power by which the Christian is what he is, and the church is what she is. Unity, ministry, individual consciousness of sonship, everything that constitutes the Christian and the church lies in the presence of the Holy Ghost.
Christianity is, the apostle tells us, as he ministered it, the ministration of righteousness and the ministration of the Spirit. Christ’s death was needed for both; and of this the Old Testament types and the New Testament history give us a most interesting testimony. The high priest was anointed by himself without blood; the priests (after being, as well as the high priest, washed with water) were sprinkled with blood and then anointed with oil. So, on the Man Christ, perfect in himself and perfectly acceptable to God, the Holy Ghost descended as a dove: no blood-shedding, we all know, was needed for Him. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power. But for us the blood of sprinkling was needed. Christ’s precious death came in, redemption, and cleansing, and then the Holy Ghost came down, sent from Him on high, and not till then. Our union is with a Christ whom God has raised from the dead, and given in that state and place to be head over all things to the church, and that union is by the Holy Ghost who never came till then. Christians ought not to need to have it proved that redemption is necessary in order to our having a part in Christ. Christ’s person is the blessed object of our faith—surely— “The Son quickeneth whom he will;” but sinners cannot have a part with Him but through redemption. Even the water of cleansing comes out of His pierced side, but He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. The notion of His being bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, as if that were union, is an Irvingite heresy. We are, as I said before, members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.
The union of a sinner with the incarnate Lord before He has died is a denial of the need of redemption in order to have a part with Him; it is a denial of the need of blood-shedding for cleansing (or else Christ and Belial can be in concord); it is a denial of the need of the Holy Ghost for the forming the unity of the body, and He alone forms it, for the Holy Ghost could not come till Jesus had died and was glorified. It is a denial of all upon which Christianity is based, as regards the position of sinners.
I understand perfectly well what they allege as to communicating life by baptism from Christ incarnate; but this (besides being false, for it is the Spirit that quickens) is adding another error, for true baptism is baptism unto His death. But the doctrine I combat here is the essence of the system, I mean extension of the incarnation by sacraments. And where we hear Christ speaking, He has no thought of forming the church during .his lifetime. It is upon the title of Son of the living God He founds it; and where was this demonstrated for sinful man in this world? He was declared (determined) Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead. He was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and He was rejected by them; but resurrection publicly proved Him the Son of God with power. A man is not justified by incarnation, but by the death and resurrection of the Incarnate One, and being found in Him when risen.
Sin is put away only by the sacrifice of Himself; without shedding of blood is no remission. If union is formed by the sacraments, as an extension of the incarnation, then it is formed without sin being put away, without remission, without that in which the blessed Lord glorified God, and redeemed sinners. It is formed without the Holy Ghost, without our having access to God, for we have access by one Spirit to the Father, and we are builded together for an habitation of God by the Spirit, and it is certain the Spirit could not be given till Christ were glorified.
And it is in vain to say it was by sacraments afterwards; for they are only an extension, or, as some have called them, a continuation of the incarnation, Christ’s body having been a source of healing and life. But an extension of the incarnation cannot do more than the incarnation itself; a figurative instrument, exalt it as you please, cannot go beyond the personal living power of Christ. But the incarnation did not and could not put away sin, the incarnation could not bring the gift of the Holy Ghost. Christ declares solemnly, the Comforter could not come unless He went away. Remission of sins could not be obtained by incarnation, or redemption, for it is by His own blood (in the power of it) He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption. Incarnation or any continuation or extension of it, could not give an eternal inheritance, for it is by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, that they which are called might have the promise of eternal inheritance. Incarnation cannot purge the conscience, for it is the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, which purges our conscience.
The whole system—I do not use these as hard words but in the full scriptural force of them—is a lying fable subversive of Christianity. It may deceive one who does not know what sin is (which Christ could not put away but by dying), because the person of the incarnate Son is the blessed object of faith, the attractive object of our spiritual affections, the sufficing delight of the Father Himself, and given to us to be ours. But redemption and remission, with all their consequences in the church by the presence of the Holy Ghost, are the fruit of Christ’s death. If there be anything which possesses the soul of the believer, it is the person of the Son of God. Hence what seems to exalt will naturally affect the mind. But used, to set aside, or to dim the necessity of the cross, of redemption, it is Satan transforming himself into an angel of light. If Christ’s incarnation and the communication of the benefits of it by sacraments are the whole substance of the truth, that on which the church is founded, and by which man is saved, then the cross loses its value, the sinful state of man is denied, redemption is unnecessary, or an immaterial addition to the main truth. It loses its place in the economy of God. “Therefore doth my Father love me,” says the blessed Lord, “because I lay down my life that I might take it again.” It was because He was obedient unto death, the death of the cross, that God also has highly exalted Him. It was then He could say, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him, and if God be glorified in Him, God shall glorify Him in Himself and shall straightway glorify Him. There is no remission, no putting away sin, but by shedding of blood, by Christ’s sacrifice of Himself. The peace and security this gives to the conscience, leads us back to contemplate from within, from, if I may so speak, the divine side, the perfection of the living Son of God, and His perfectness in obedience unto death. The eye is opened on the divine beauty of that human walk, and the unutterable perfection of that death which was, not that the prince of this world had anything in Him, but that the world might know that He loved the Father, and as the Father had given Him commandment, so He did. But a sinner cannot gaze thus on this but through the efficacy of a redemption which has reconciled him to God and given him a part and a place in and with the now glorified Saviour who is gone to His Father and our Father, His God and our God; words never used, and which never could be used till He was risen from the dead, and could tell to His redeemed ones, calling them then first “brethren,” what He had obtained for them, declare His Father’s name to them, as One into the full light of whose countenance He was re-entered after drinking the cup of wrath for them, and thus, as He declares, and not before, in the midst of the church sing praise to Him. Oh, what a difference between the position of those that, through redemption, have a part with Him gone up as a man into glory, and the vanity of empty ceremonies! for in such case they are so, though most precious when scripturally used, a pretended extension of incarnation, without any redemption at all.
But the very object proposed to us by ritualists is false and unscriptural in this salvation by incarnation and its extension by sacraments. They say that the object proposed is reunion with God by incarnation. Reunion with God is simple nonsense. Save in the person of the blessed Lord there is no union of God and man, or ever was, still less a reunion. Adam was not united to God when innocent. He was His offspring, [the son] of God, living by a life breathed into his nostrils by his divine Creator. but there was no union. The union of man and God is the sole prerogative of the Word made flesh. It is incarnation, and that is true of none but Him. And when the Word was made flesh, it was in a divinely ordered and miraculous way, He was conceived by the Holy Ghost so that that born of the virgin was a holy thing, true flesh and blood surely, but untainted by sin. And this is true now of no other humanity. All are born in sin, and there is no question of any union or reunion with God, or is the idea in any way scriptural, nor is there union with the Lord in incarnation. He was among them “the holy thing;” but He was alone, God and man in one person, but not united to men, to sinful corrupt man; but, having miraculously-formed sinless manhood in His own person. The union with Godhead was now, for the first time, and only here. Reunion there was none; it was not re-establishing an incarnation which had place in the first Adam, for there was none. Incarnation, or union of man with God, was found in Christ alone. We are united to a glorified Christ by the Holy Ghost. It is the man whom God has raised from the dead, whom, as we have seen, God has given to be head over all things to the church. The avowed foundation or ritualism is deadly error and heresy.
Another point may require more development—the visible and invisible church. We have already seen that Christ declared He would build His church, and that both Peter and Paul speak of that progressive work, by which the building is carried on, to be completed only in glory; set up, no doubt, perfect at first, but carried on by the Lord by the addition of living stones, and this without recognizing any human hand in it; nay, speaking so as to exclude man’s work, whatever wood, hay, and stubble might be put by man into the manifested building on earth. But there was also, as we have seen, an external visible building, called withal “God’s building,” into the formation of which, day by day, the responsibility of man entered, built with gold and silver, and with wood and hay or stubble, yea defiled, corrupted by man.
The great principle of popery and (of its poor imitation) Anglicanism, is to appropriate all the intrinsic principles of the body formed by the Holy Ghost—such as being members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven—to those who have been admitted by man into the outward and visible manifestation of the body, or the building upon earth (for these they, with equal ignorance, confound together) and, in order to this, they have attributed to baptism (which is the ordinance by which men are received into the christian company) what it is not even the figure of—namely, communication of life, and union with Christ. We have seen that scripture is express as to it, that baptism is a figure of death, and that the Spirit is the giver of life. Baptism receives a man outwardly, publicly, and actually amongst Christians, where the privileges conferred on these people in this world are found. But it is responsible man’s building, not the Lord and His grace adding only living stones, forming members of His body.
No doubt, at first, the ostensible body and the real members of Christ were identical, because the Lord added daily to the church such as should be saved; but, as to the earthly building, the insertion of wood, hay, and stubble are doctrinally contemplated, and false brethren, coming in unawares, historically recorded. The sacramental church was not identical in principle with the body formed by the Holy Ghost,132 and, in fact, soon ceased to be so, as to its limits. This the apostle intimates with warning, when he declares that all Israel were baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and drink the same spiritual drink; … but with many of them God was not well pleased. So a Christian may belong sacramentally to the church, as Simon did, and have neither part nor lot in the matter, have nothing to do with life in salvation, be still in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity; not “sinned away baptismal grace,”133 as they say, but not have any part in grace at all; false brethren, spots in the feasts of charity, while they feast with Christians, yet baptized members of the ostensible, visible body.
If I turn from the statement of actual circumstances to the prophetic statements of scripture, I read that in the last days perilous times will come … there will be a form of godliness denying the power; from such, turn away. That is, the ostensible body is wholly currupt, so that the obedient Christian is to turn away. And in Romans 11 this responsibility of the professing body is definitely pressed on the conscience, comparison is made with the cutting off of the Jews, and, it is added, Upon thee goodness, if thou continue in His goodness, otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. To say that the body of Christ will be cut off from Christ, would be simply monstrous; but the external system which supplanted Judaism will. That is, scripture contemplates an external thing connected with the responsibility of man, as well as the true body of Christ, and the house which the Lord builds; and to appropriate the conferring the possession of the privileges of the one to the forms of the other is to falsify all the teaching of scripture, as to the body of Christ, and the substance of these privileges, the true force of being born of God and partaking of the divine nature, and union with Christ the head, and to falsify the true character and import of the forms themselves. None are more ignorant of what the church is than the Anglicans who talk so much about it.
The body is always real; there can be no false members of it. It is formed by the Holy Ghost and not by sacraments at all, though the Lord’s supper symbolizes its unity. The house is building by Christ, and in this there is no bad building, but it is only growing into a temple. But there is a building in which man builds, in which wood and hay and stubble have been built in, and which will be cut off, where apostasy sets in, which is become as a great house, in which are vessels to dishonour as well as to honour—vessels from which the obedient Christian has to purge himself. We must not confound what Christ builds and what man has built. Against the former the gates of hell shall not prevail; in the latter we may expect wood, hay, and stubble. We may expect to find a great house in which are vessels to dishonour, from which we have to purge ourselves —a form of godliness in the last days, denying the power, from which we have to turn away—and, having found it, know that the Gentile branches have not continued in God’s goodness, and that it will be cut off. Solemn testimony to Christians. Is there anything which we ought more to lay to heart, anything more deeply affecting, than the ruin of that which was planted in grace, in glory, and in beauty?
I have done with the substance of these important questions.
I add some remarks on the fallacies which prejudice or ignorance has introduced into the statement of the questions to be treated of. And the ignorance of these essayists is very great. Now, only note what is assumed or slipped in without any proof. “The visible church,” it is said, “that is, a divinely instituted body, and an equally divinely instituted appointed government of the visible body.” Now we have seen that, in speaking of the body, scripture is clear; but connection of a divinely appointed government of the body there is none. Gifts there are, members of the body, and manifested in the visible body; but it is to be remarked that the government of the church, save as gifts in power—“helps, governments”—is never in any way connected with the body, visible or invisible. Elders were appointed, as we have seen, in each church; but their office was local, not like the gifts set in the church. I notice this, because it is the secret of the whole papal edifice, confounding gifts and offices. This made the clergy gradually come in, for open ministry continued a good while in some parts, but the confusion went on till office became the exclusive guarantee for gift. But a divinely appointed government had nothing to do with the body as such. Now, unity is made to depend on it, yea, to consist in it.
Of priesthood I have spoken. Of mysteries and means and channels of grace we may speak elsewhere; but a divinely appointed priesthood, other than that of all Christians, is a mere lie of the enemy. If not, let it be shewn. And here I beg to insert Terrullian’s, and, still better, the Apostle John’s, rule, that what was at the first is right. The scriptures are the earliest historical testimony we have, and divinely given. They tell us what was divinely appointed at the beginning. It is in vain to talk of interpretation here. I believe everyone taught of God can use them. It is wicked Satanic fraud to deprive the church of the scriptures. They were written, save three epistles, to the flock —not to ministers but by them. But certainly, as a history, they are worth the corrupt and interpolated trash134 which is palmed on the unlearned as the fathers. But Luke, Peter, John, Jude, Paul, James, know no such priesthood. If they do, let it be shewn. I say their history of the church denies it. One taught of the Holy Ghost by the word abhors it, as of the enemy.
Again, I find in one essay, “the body itself is a visible community—a kingdom.” This is very mischievous confusion. The body of Christ is not His kingdom. It is very convenient to assume it, but there is no ground for it whatever. His body is Himself; His kingdom is what He rules over, apart from Himself, He being King over it. King of the church is a thing unknown to scripture135. When He takes to Him His power and reigns, it will be over all the world. The field is the world now. The devil’s work [the tares] is in the scene of His kingdom now. They are not members of His body. We are His body, His bride—of His flesh and of His bones; His kingdom is not that. He does not nourish and cherish His kingdom, He governs it, not His bride and His body. There is not a more mischievous error on these points than what is assumed here as a thing to be taken for granted. The kingdom may be realized within certain limits, and so far as to limits coincide as Christendom with the professing church; but the field is the whole world, and the form that the kingdom takes in fact is the work of the enemy as much as of the Lord. That is not true of the body, and shews the profound evil of the false doctrine which makes baptism the means of communicating life and introduction by union into the body, for a large part of what is in the kingdom is introduced by Satan—namely, the tares, which are to be burned. Have they had life and union with Christ communicated to them by the sacrament of baptism? And let it not be said here, “Yes; but, being the seed of the wicked one, they have lost it again.” In the parable they are introduced by Satan, and the theory of the Anglican catholic is that they are introduced by baptism and union thereby. Can there be a greater or more deplorable confusion? There are a few general remarks I would make in conclusion to clear up the whole question. It is not the existence of a visible church which is denied by the evangelical world. Everyone knows there is such a thing; that there is a Christendom, which, as a religion in the world, can be contrasted with heathens, Jews, and Mohammedans. But evangelicals do not see the responsibility of the visible church, and that there ought to be, as there was, a maintenance of corporate unity as a testimony136 for the glory of Christ. They do not see that Christians were bound to maintain unity and godliness. They do, consequently, content themselves with individual salvation, the individuals being members of the invisible body of Christ.
But the Anglican catholics do worse; they attribute all the privileges of the true body of Christ to the outward, baptized professors, and the truth of divine operation in the soul, all moral power, all reality in the religion of Christ, is lost. The soul has nothing to say to God in being saved. Christianity becomes a mummery of ordinances, making righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost—the true moral reconciliation with God in a new nature, by the Holy Ghost, in a conscience purged by the blood of Christ—immaterial to the possession of the privileges of Christianity. It is really gross antinomianism with all its legality. Eternal life and union with Christ are acquired without any consciousness of real change in the person: this is simply of Satan. For the kingdom of God is in power; it is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The true Christian is really reconciled to God; there is a renewing of the Holy Ghost, which is shed on us abundantly.
But further, as regards the visible church itself, the Anglican catholics, too, have lost the sense of the church’s responsibility. For the outward visible church is divided; it is more: the parts most esteemed by the Anglican catholic, are grossly corrupted, full of superstition, idolatry, vice and error. Its history has been the history of the worst vices, the worst corruption in the world; not sought out by secret search, but in the open day. We have a Greek church, a Nestorian church, a Jacobite church, a Latin church, an Anglican church, which have no communion one with another, and those of the most pretentious are the most corrupt. Has the church, then, met its responsibility? Has it continued in God’s goodness? Has it waited for its Lord from heaven? Or has it beat the men-servants and maid-servants and eaten and drunk with the drunken? If it has done the latter, its portion is to be cut asunder and to have its portion with the unbelievers, to be cut off. And the attributing the privileges of the body of Christ to this corrupt external system, slighting its responsibility and insensible to its failure, is the most fatal delusion, hurrying those seduced by it to their final destruction. It is the worst proudest denial of the responsibility of the visible church, a seared conscience, which can pretend to security in privileges, as the Jews of old, where God has announced judgment because of the state they are in.
If the universal church is in a normal state, why so much pains to make out its case, to re-unite it, to heal its open public divisions? If it be in a fallen state, are we not to think of its responsibility and see what is the result according to the word of God? What is the effect of a doctrine which leads the visible church to claim the possession and power to communicate, by ordinances, its highest privileges, without the slightest reference to its fallen state, with a conscience perfectly dead to the evil, which, if God’s word be true, is surely bringing on its judgment? Our essayists, on this very ground of communication of life and union with Christ by ordinances, slight and blame individual earnestness about salvation, individual sorrow for sin, individual peace obtained by grace through faith, Christ having made peace. These are thus described: “A certain consciousness of personal interest in these truths, and a sense of general un-worthiness, and a further sense of the removal of that un-worthiness in the belief and apprehension of these truths, the whole matter of salvation being a personal one…” Now this ‘is a very feeble statement of personal conviction of sin and faith; but scripture does deal with the individual and with conscience. It teaches the doctrine of the church—we have spoken of it— and of a church which ought to be visible, holy and one. I have no wish to avoid or enfeeble this part of truth; on the contrary, I desire to press it, as I have done according to my ability, on Christians; but that withal they should have the deep sense of how we have failed and it is ruined. But it is ignorance, or worse, which would put this in opposition to personal individual salvation; and the Anglican catholic system is guilty of this.
Save in the exhortations of chapter 12, all the Epistle to the Romans is individual. In all the Epistle of John everything is individual. In Galatians the teaching is individual, and I might add a great deal more. But, besides this, the ruin of the visible church itself is contemplated, the perilous times of the last days are spoken of, and the judgment of God on its departure and its apostasy. Not only is salvation individual, but the individual Christian is called upon, at his peril, to judge the state of the church, to purge himself from vessels to dishonour; to turn away from such and such, from forms of godliness without the power; to depart from all iniquity, where the foundation of God stands sure; but having this seal (not a recognized visible church, but) the Lord knoweth them that are His. And when the Lord judges the state of the church, whoever has ears is called upon to hear what is said to him. The state is one to be judged, not trusted in; the individual’s duty is to give heed to what the Lord pronounced upon it. Not only is salvation necessarily individual, but, when the responsible church is judged, and the Lord, by His testimony, declares that state, the individual Christian is solemnly, and, by divine authority, called upon individually to give heed to that testimony, and act according to it. It is at his peril if he neglect the warning injunction; and, if that be the call of God, what shall we say of a system which sets up the authority of that which is to be judged, and closes the ear of the pious against the warning and summons of God to look at the state the church is in?
And let not anyone speak of interpreting scripture, and its being for the church—that is, for the clergy to interpret. It was written by the inspired clergy, if people are pleased to call them so, to the christian people, and for the christian people. Only three short epistles can be pretended to be written for ministers, and these are now, even so, a part of the common heritage of the church of God; and as regards the warning of Christ’s judging in the midst of the churches, whoever has ears to hear is called upon peremptorily to give heed to them. The voice of the Lord claims his attention, his individual heed, to His judgment of the state which surrounds the saint in the church. It is disobedience to the voice of the Lord, addressed distinctively to the individual Christian; and attention to it marks one who has ears to hear; and the judgment of Christ on the state of the church is that to which he is to give heed. What is judged cannot be a rule and a guide, when we are called to give heed to the judgment, and to guide ourselves by it in our position, in that which is judged. And to make (when thus judged) the judged church a conclusive and binding rule is open contempt of the authority of Christ. We are bound to hear Christ, and to act on what we hear, Christ singling out the individual and making him responsible for what is communicated to him, as to Christ’s judgment of the church. I repeat, not to give heed and obey is to slight Christ Himself. And what is substituted for this giving heed to the testimony of God which claims our attention? What has been justly called ecclesiastical millinery.137 But, if the matter be looked at as beneath the surface, it is subjection to ordinances, the denial of being dead and risen with Christ, in which is the force and power of Christianity (Col. 2); a return to the religiousness of the flesh, as if we were alive before God as unredeemed children of Adam; a keeping of days and months and years which, though from Jewish influence, is, the apostle declares, a return to heathenism (Gal. 4:9, 10), because as shadows they were instructive before Christ came who was the substance, but, taken up now, they are the rudiments of the world to which we are crucified with Christ, declaring that we have not died to it with Christ, that we are living in the world as children of Adam, subject to its rudiments, not holding the head, certainly not Jews with instructive shadows, but heathens in the flesh, following its religion and abrogated ceremonies. Such are the beggarly and condemned elements which are given to us instead of living union with the head, Christ, by the presence and power of the Spirit of God, and a conscience perfected towards God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
No. 3 Eucharistic Worship
I admit the Lord’s supper to be the centre of true worship. I admit, and I adore such ineffable goodness, that Christ leads the praises of gathered spiritual worshippers: “In the midst of the church,” we read, “will I sing praise unto thee.” But as these essayists have used neglected truths in other cases to pervert the minds of the simple, of those not guarded by the word, so they have done here.
But we are speaking of worship, and to know what worship is, one must be a true worshipper; and in this case they have, from the very outset of their pretentious teaching, made statements which prove them wholly ignorant of what true worship is; and I must add that throughout the article there is that ignorance of scripture and scriptural truth which characterizes the school. I am not disposed to deny the existence of piety in many of those brought under the influence of these views.
Where redemption is not known and imagination is strong, piety naturally runs into ordinances and what are called mysteries, for ordinances are the religion of the flesh, and where redemption is not known, man, as to the state of his mind, must religiously be in the flesh.
There is, and can be, no walking in the light as God is in the light, for redemption must be experimentally known for that; nor the happy childlike, yet adoring confidence and liberty which cries for itself, “Abba, Father;” and as the soul cannot be in liberty with God (a liberty which is exercised in adoration, for the nearer we are to God the more we adore His greatness, and have done with ourselves), it brings God by imagination not faith, in an awful way near to us in our actual state, and we adore the image formed by our own minds, and are subject to ordinances, have a morbid delight in mysteries, “tremendous mysteries,” “transcendent mysteries.”138 I do not say there is no piety in the article we are occupied with, but there is great pretension to spirituality:
“We speak of truths profoundly spiritual, and needing to be spiritually discerned, though liable, alas! like other high spiritual truths, to be unbelievingly rejected by unspiritual minds, or, if unspiritually embraced, to be perverted.” (Page 316.)
Our essayist of course discerns spiritually these profoundly spiritual truths, neither rejects them as having an unspiritual mind, nor perverts them by embracing them unspiritually. His is a spiritual mind embracing spiritually high spiritual truths, truths profoundly spiritual. Christ’s acts are “embraced in all simplicity of devout affection.” This good opinion of self is accompanied by slight and sarcasm cast on the authorities who are over them, the Anglican prelates.
“These would-be iron rulers, whose lightest word would now be obeyed with alacrity, did they know how to shew themselves true ‘Fathers in God,’ would then (that is, if they cause a schism by ‘a mere cold, unsympathetic repression’) (p. 319), have time to reflect in the dull peace of the solitude they had made,139 and might haply come at last to the conviction that, after all, they had ‘fought against God,’ and with the usual result— ‘their own confusion.’”(Page 319.)
So previously, “Little do some of our fathers in God seem to reck of the anguish, not unmixed with indignation, caused to faithful souls by the shallow denials of unpopular truths into which they allow themselves to be drawn.” This incessant threatening of ecclesiastical authorities, if they do not acquiesce in and further the movement, is characteristic of the party. Mr. Newman used the same unholy means, and it is now the common weapon to overawe those whom these high-worded men profess to obey, and force them to silence, at least while they carry on their schemes. Do not resist us, they say, or we will make a split in the church.
The utterly unchristian character of such a course is too evident to need comment. But let us see what these, if we are to believe their own account of themselves, profoundly spiritual men, these discoverers of high spiritual truths, have to say for themselves and their doctrine when soberly weighed in the light of God’s word to which they themselves appeal.
Let us do them justice. They declare that there is no repetition or reiteration of the sacrifice of Christ, but that Christ is always offering on high His one sacrifice, and that the ordained priest on earth is doing the same thing on earth, presenting the one unrepeated sacrifice constantly on the altar to God.
“And what does Christ now offer as our ever-living Priest in the heavenly temple? What but His own most precious body and blood, the one saving victim to make reconciliation for our sins and unite heaven and earth in one?” (Page 306.)
“The continued offering of a sacrifice, made once for all, does not necessarily imply any repetition.” (Page 307.) “And this continual offering and presentation of a sacrifice once made, is itself a sacrificial act, and constitutes him who does it a priest.” (Page 307.) “It is a propitiatory sacrifice, as pleading before God for all the successive generations,” &c. (Page 307.)
“Thus, what the christian priest does at the altar is as it were the earthly form and visible expression of our Lord’s continual action as our High Priest in heaven.” (Page 308.) “The earthly priest … does on earth that which Jesus does in heaven. Rather we should say, according to that great principle which is the true key to the whole theory of the christian ministry, it is Jesus who is Himself the Priest, the offerer of His own great sacrifice, in both cases.” (Page 309.)
This is connected with perpetual intercession.
“But though He repeats not the sacrifice, nor can again offer Himself as a victim unto death, yet in His perpetual intercession for us He perpetually, as it were, appealeth to it.” (Page 307.)
“Christian worship is really the earthly exhibition of Christ’s perpetual intercession as the sole High Priest of His church.” (Page 299.)
Thus intercession is, according to our essayist, the highest act of worship, Christ Himself carrying it on in heaven. Now, to say nothing else, the statement that Christ is worshipping in heaven is itself a strange proposition. He is worshipped there, of which more anon; but where shall we find the blessed Lord worshipping in heaven? Not in scripture, and not in any divinely taught mind, I believe. When He is brought into the world again, all the angels are called on to worship Him, and when the Lamb takes the book to open it in the Revelation, all fall down before Him and declare His worthiness. But who ever heard of Christ’s worshipping in heaven? This, while pretending to be profound spirituality and high spiritual truth, flows from what shews total ignorance of what worship is, mistaking intercession for worship.
Intercession is not worship at all. Christ surely intercedes for us, and His intercession is based on His perfect work, and carried on as the perfect One in heaven, whether we speak of a high priest with God, or an advocate with the Father; but intercession applies to infirmity or failure. We have a great High Priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, having been tempted in all points like as we are; “and having suffered, being tempted, is able to succour those that are tempted.” “He is able to save to the uttermost them that come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
I will touch in a moment upon the offering and sacrifice in which He is alleged to worship on high, but intercession never is worship. It is done for others, for their actual failures, or infirmities which make them liable to fail; its only connection with worship that can be alleged is the analogy of the golden plate on the high priest’s forehead, and his bearing the iniquity of Israel’s holy things; but this only confirms what I have said, that the priestly service of intercession applies to failure. It is the same as regards the analogous case of advocate with the Father. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins.”
The abiding efficacy of this propitiation no divinely-taught soul denies. We cannot be too thankful for it; but the abiding unchangeable efficacy of Christ’s propitiation for us, is not His worshipping, nor is intercession worshipping, but pleading for others in respect of infirmities and failures.
Worship is altogether another thing. It is the heart rising up through the power and operation of the Spirit of God in praise, thanksgiving, and adoration, for what God has done and does, and for what He is, as we know Him in Christ. The returning up by the Spirit from our hearts in adoration and praise of what has been revealed and descended in grace through Christ to us, expressed in our present relationship to God, the going up of the heart in spirit and in truth to our God and Father in the full knowledge of Him.
Worship is the expression of what is in our own heart to God according to the holy claim He has upon us, and the full revelation He has made of Himself to us. Intercession is intervention with God for another. Christ may be present in spirit to lead the praises of His saints, and offer also their praises on high that they may be accepted.
It may be in the eternal state that He may lead our praises in glory, but to present Him as carrying on real worship Himself in heaven, and us as entering into it or doing the like sacramentally on earth, is nearer blasphemy and heresy than profound spirituality, though I may acquit the writer of being intentionally guilty of it, and is the result of the egregious blunder of making intercession to be worship. I will now consider what is said of the continual offering of the sacrifice. I will not retort the charge of scandalous carelessness or scandalous dishonesty, bandied against the opponent of the writer for his manner of quoting Tertullian.
It certainly is a more serious thing to deal so with scripture than with that honest and able but heady and unsubdued writer, who, after proving by necessarily legal prescription that it was a sin to leave the great professing body of the church, left it himself (because it was so worldly and corrupt), to throw himself under the power of the fanatical reveries of Montanus, and was as ardent in condemning as once in maintaining the authority of what was held to be catholic unity.
Let us see rather how our essayist quotes scripture to prove his point. I recall to the reader that they say there is no repetition of the sacrifice, only He is ever offering140 it to God.
The passage quoted is, “For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices; wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.” After quoting the latter part of this, the writer adds, “And what does Christ now offer, as our ever-living priest in the heavenly temple? What but His own most precious body and blood, the one saving victim to make reconciliation for our sins, and unite heaven and earth in one?” I omit noticing the latter part of this, which, by its obscurity, defies analysis or answer.
Is Christ then a victim now? Is He now making reconciliation for our sins? If not, the sentence has nothing to do with the matter, it is not applicable now. If it means that He is, it is a denial of the plain, positive, christian doctrine that believers are reconciled.
“You hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death.” (Col.1:21, 22, and 2 Cor. 5:18.) “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself.” Probably it is ignorance of the Gospel and scripture, and I leave it to pursue the question of sacrifice.
Why did the writer omit what goes a few verses before, “Who needeth not daily as these high priests to offer up sacrifice first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once [ejfavpaz once for all], when he offered up himself.” The passage speaks of the actual offering, as a sacrifice to God (ajnafevrei). He did this (ejfavpaz) once for all.141 And on this the apostle insists as contrasted with the Jewish sacrifices, that the work was effectually, finally done by one single act of sacrifice, done only once and completely; once and once for all, excluding constant, subsequent, as well as repeated offering. Thus Hebrews 10. By His own blood He entered in once (ejfavpaz) into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption. And again (and note here the passage refers to His entering into the holy place where it is pretended He still offers His sacrifice): “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Now here is the very place to lead us to that truth of profound spirituality, the constant offering of His sacrifice to God. Alas!—rather, thank God—it is just the contrary. “Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with the blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world he hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” That is, when His appearing personally in heaven is the subject, not only has the Holy Ghost not a word to say of this profoundly spiritual truth, but He negatives any such thought. It was once, in the end of the world, the sacrifice of Himself was made, and as it was appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.
It is not, He does not suffer as once, but He offers Himself continually; but He does not offer Himself, for if He did, He must suffer.
The doctrine of a perpetual sacrifice in any and every shape, is a simple denial of christian truth on the subject and of the efficacy of Christ’s one sacrifice. The once, once for all, is the especial theme of the teaching of the Holy Ghost on the subject when it is elaborately treated of, excluding continuation, as well as repetition. The Epistle adds: “But this man, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down (eij" toV dihnekev") on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool; for by one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” He was not standing offering oftentimes, as the Jewish priests, but when He had offered one, for ever142 sat down (eij" toV dihnekev"), that is, He had not to get up and offer any thing any more, and the reason was, by that one He had perfected for ever the sanctified.
When He rises up it will be to deal with His enemies as His footstool. As to His friends, the sanctified ones, God remembers their sins no more, and “where remission of these is there is no more offering for sins.” Is there, or is there not? It is unconscious infidelity in the efficacy of Christ’s one sacrifice to think there is; —there is no such thing as a prosforaV periV aJmartiva" now; no bringing anything to God about sin. It has been done once (ejfavpaz), once for all.
I repeat, it is a simple denial of the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice which purges the conscience and has obtained eternal redemption, the proof given by the Holy Ghost that it had been offered once for all, that it was eternally efficacious, and that there could be no more.
No doubt His intercession is founded on the efficacy of His sacrifice, but that is not the question. The question is, does He in any sense offer it now? The words of my author are, “the continual offering of a sacrifice made once for all,” and, “it is a propitiatory sacrifice.” Now this the Epistle in every shape and form denies.
He is speaking of offering sacrifice when he says “this he did once (ejfavpaz, once for all).” He is speaking of it when he says, “there is no more offering for sin,” where he declares that it cannot be, because “by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” We have its being once for all, as prosforav, that is, the presenting to God to be a sacrifice before Him; and with the word ajnhvnegke, the technical word for actually offering up. We are told by the essayist, He might offer it without being a suffering victim; the word says, “He must often have suffered if it was not once for all.” It is a vital point, and handled consequently in every shape in which the devices of the enemy could undermine its efficacy. It is the keystone of Christianity as to acceptance with God and eternal redemption.
We are referred to the Apocalypse as introducing us to these scenes. Well, and what does it shew us? The Lamb presenting His sacrifice and worshipping? Far from it. The Lamb in the midst of the throne, and beasts and elders falling down before Him. You may find angelical figures of priesthood it may be; but Christ presenting His offering, or worshipping, never. Did the writer ever read what he is referring to? But all is blundering in these statements. We have, by way of accurate Greek, This is my body which is being given, This is my blood which is being shed. That from John 13 the Lord is contemplating His going away, and speaking in view of His heavenly position, is perfectly true; but the pretending that it means “is now being given,” “now being poured out” (p. 305), that is, in the last supper, save in the general sense that it was not yet, but was going to be accomplished, or that it was “a sacrificial act,” is all a delusion; the very passage (p. 305) in which it is stated proves the absurdity of it. “The declaration of Himself as the Lamb of God, the very Paschal Lamb that taketh away the sins of the world … then and there offered by Himself,” &c. Now “that taketh away the sin143 of the world” was spoken by John the Baptist at the very commencement of the blessed Lord’s ministerial life, yet it is the o Jai[rwn, the present time. The fact is, such present tenses are characteristic, and do not refer to time. It is a broken body and a shed blood we feed on, not a living Messiah simply. Thus oJ speivrwn is the sower, he that sows. He that entereth in by the door is the shepherd, and he that entereth not in by the door, where it is evidently characteristic. So in John 6, “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood.”
But it is useless to multiply examples. It is the commonest thing possible; and the rather that the case referred to by the essayist proves the fallacy of it, because “He that taketh away the sin of the world” is, upon his own shewing, not the sacrificial period, yet it is the present tense.
We are told that the church triumphant and the church on earth are all one, we being “the outer court;” both worship Christ presenting His offering in heaven actually, and on earth in the Eucharist. Of this last we have spoken. But all is error. There is no church triumphant. That all departed Christians, whose spirits are now with Christ, will finally make one body is quite true; and that when absent from the body they are present with the Lord, so that to depart and be with Christ is far better, this too it is most blessed to know. It has made death to be a gain. But there is no church triumphant. For this we must wait till the resurrection. The saints in their complete state, that is, conformed to the image of Christ, bearing the image of the heavenly, are not yet ascended or glorified. Their spirits, happy with the Lord, await the day of glory which Christ Himself, though glorified, is awaiting. For, as we read, David is not yet ascended into heaven. And however confused and contradictory the ideas of the early doctors may have been, (and on this point they were confusion itself,) still early liturgies and all early teaching recognized this; for they prayed for the departed—what afterwards, under Jewish traditions, became purgatory.
What subsequently was turned into the saints praying for us was at first the church on earth praying for the saints; and this was so distinctly the case, that Epiphanius makes it the proper difference of the person of Christ, that, whereas even the Virgin Mary was prayed for, Christ was not. That all sorts of contradictions may be found in the fathers as to it, I freely admit; but what I state is notoriously true, and known to everyone who has a very slight knowledge of church history. You may find, even as a distinct privilege of saints, that they had at once the beatific vision; but a triumphant church was contradicted by the early doctrine of prayers for the dead: that is certain. Nor is the notion of a triumphant church scriptural, nor is Christ on His own throne now, but on the Father’s throne, sitting at the right hand of God till His enemies be made His footstool. The distinction I have referred to of saints who do see God on high is wholly unscriptural. The whole church is composed of saints, and none are glorified. The praying for them may be a superstition, but it proves that the early church held what contradicts a triumphant one, worshipping in heaven, while we do on point of sacrifice contradictory to the Epistle to the earth.
But not only is the especial teaching on the Hebrews (saying that there is a continual sacrifice, the Epistle declaring that there is none; saying that the Lord need not go through what He once went through, the Epistle that He must suffer often if His sacrifice, once for all, was not complete and final; saying that there is a continual offering now, and even that it is propitiatory, the Epistle that it was done once for all)—not only is the teaching of the article exactly the opposite of the especial point of the reasoning of the Epistle, but it betrays a total absence of the knowledge of what sin is, what redemption, what reconciliation; so that the whole form and substance of thought is false.
The notions as to Adam and angels, are unfounded. That the angels worship may be freely admitted; that Adam would have done so, we do not doubt; but to attribute surrender of self to them, as if that too was worship, has no ground whatever; there is nothing to surrender; their duty is to stay in the place where they are, such as they are, and just as they are. The delight to serve according to their nature, they have nothing to give up, no selfish will to surrender. Christ could give up His place as to manifested glory, and take upon Himself the form of a servant as man, for He was God.
We have to yield ourselves to God as those alive from the dead (and it is a blessed privilege of the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free), because we have had a selfish will. But in neither case has it anything to do with worship. It may be sovereign grace, it may be duty, through sovereign grace towards us, never worship. Holy and innocent creatures have nothing to do with it. There may be in us a common source of both self-sacrifice and worship, God recovering His rights in the heart; but, save that, one has nothing to do with the other. But die writer’s notion of sacrifice betrays his total ignorance of divine truth on these points, that conscience is wholly dead, and that darkness reigns in the mind. Cain, he tells us, did right in offering the fruits of the ground, only something else should be also offered. “This was right.” … “But this was not enough.” (Page 304.)
God says to Cain, “If thou doest well shalt not thou be accepted?” but he was not accepted here, so that he did not do well. It is really monstrous, when it is written, “to Cain and to his offering God had not respect,” to say, “this was right.” Offering, worship, drawing near to God, is supposed not only possible, but right, only insufficient without redemption. It is a denial of all christian truth. There was no faith in it, as we know from Hebrews; no sense that they were excluded from paradise for sin, and could not, without redemption, draw near to God, and it slighted the appointed and needed sacrifice, instituted, our writer tells us, by God Himself, which I in no way dispute. He was bringing, so blinded in heart and conscience was he, the marks of the curse as an offering to God, and pretending to approach God in the very state in which God had driven out the man because he was in that state. In a word, an offering which proved that there was no faith, no sense of sin, no conscience of God’s judgment executed against man, an entire passing by God’s instituted and only way of coming back to Him—a state so really hardened as to bring the sign of the curse to God as an offering “was right.”
Nothing can betray more completely the state of mind of the writer, his incompetency to speak on such a subject, than his declaring to be right what God had no respect to; what, if we examine its true character, was the demonstration of a hardened conscience and an utterly blinded heart, breaking out in open rebellion thereupon, and ultimate exclusion from the presence of the Lord, and a mark set upon him of perpetual memorial. We may reverently say, If his path was right, what was God’s? But this is the expression of the great general principle of ritualism —incarnation, reuniting man to God, and sacraments an extension of that, leaving out the place redemption has in the truth of God according to the necessity of His nature and character. So sacrifice, we are told, means the act of offering or presenting an oblation before almighty God.
Now this very vague statement leaves all the truth untold. We can offer ourselves, everything, to God: our bodies a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God—not that this is worship; but must not Christ come first? That is the question. Can sinful man return to God without redemption? If not, if the nature and will and righteousness and holiness of God require this, so that if the Son took up our cause He must suffer and die, what makes sacrifice thus vague: an act of offering without bringing in redemption is high treason against Christ, apostasy from the only truth. Besides, after all, it is beguiling the English reader.
The word specifically rendered sacrifice (Zebach) comes from “to slay,” and is in contrast with meat-offerings and burnt-offerings. When the sacrifices are instituted representing Christ, the burnt-offering comes first. Christ’s offering Himself to death and the ajnafevrein; or offering up to God, was on the altar; there was the sweet savour, an offering made by fire. The testing, consuming judgment of God brought out only what was the delight of God.
The prosforav was the presenting an oblation before God, and this though a first preliminary was not the sacrifice in the true sense of the word, nor could any offering of a sacrifice come after the sacrifice was made. The altar and fire were needed, or there was no sweet savour, no offering made by fire, and this was true of the Mincha or unbloody sacrifice, it was burnt on the altar and so became a sacrifice. It was presented to be one, but it was not one before that. There was no sweet savour till then.
It was not an Ishah, an offering made by fire, a sweet savour to the Lord, and this is always kept up. The two leavened cakes of Pentecost144 were presented, but they could not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savour. And these Minchas or meal-offerings, were offered with the other offerings; and as the burnt-offering shewed Christ’s perfectness in death as an absolute offering to God, ever sinless, but now offered up, so the meal-offering shewed His perfectness unto death, the pure Man, born of the Spirit, anointed with the Spirit, all the frankincense of His grace going up to the Lord, finally burnt on the altar to God, but the food withal of the priests. In its own way death, the altar, the fire was as much brought in here as for the burnt-offering. No Christian doubts the perfectness, and perfect obedience of Christ all the way along, but here it became a sweet savour perfected on the altar of God. And the peace-offerings which witness communion, not simply the acting of Christ towards God, confirm this fully. The fat was burned to God, was the food of God, as expressed in Leviticus 3, before the flesh became the food of the offerer and his guests, and if this feeding on the flesh was too far removed from God’s part in it, from the burning of the fat on the altar, it was iniquity not communion, the sacrifice on the altar, the work of redemption. The fire of God consuming the sacrifice or its fat, must be, for any sweet savour or any communion. It is this that ritualism is directed against. “The word ‘sacrifice’ means ‘a presenting an oblation before almighty God.’” This is, whose ever the sentence is, dishonesty or ignorance of divine things. There was no sweet savour but in offerings made by fire. Presenting it to God, was not the true sacrificial act, the sweet savour to God. There must for that be the hiktar as well as the hikriv, the ajnafevrein as well as the prosfevrein; and in the only case where there was not this because of leaven, it was not a sweet savour to God. Further, when application of sacrifice to man was made, it always began with the sin-offering.
When it presents Christ abstractedly, the burnt-offering is first, then the Mincha, then the peace-offering, then the sin-offering. Christ was made this, made sin for us, but having become a man, all that He was for God as sacrifice, began with blood-shedding, and in every case its being burnt on the altar made it to be a sweet savour as an offering made by fire; but where there is application, that is, where man profits by it, the sin-offering comes first; till this is done there cannot be any other, no enjoyment of Christ as a perfect offering of sweet savour to God, for the sin-offering was not an offering for a sweet savour, though as a general rule the fat was burnt on the altar, for Christ was thus Himself perfect for God in that wherein He was made sin. Still for the sinner there must be the perfect putting away of sin by the work of the cross before he can enter into God’s presence in the sweet savour of Christ’s work. Redemption in the work, redemption in application, must come first, before there can be any approach of a sinner to God, though God be love, yea, because He is so.
To say therefore that a sacrifice is the act of offering or presenting an oblation before almighty God is utterly false; for the presenting of the victim, the prosforav, did not make it a sacrifice at all, nor the presenting of the fine flour or cakes even. It was when ajnhvnegke, when it had been offered up on the altar, that it became a sweet savour to God, a true sacrifice. It was not always a living creature, for there was a meal-offering added, Christ’s perfect human nature and offering as born and anointed of the Spirit, but it was made by fire on the altar of God, or was no sacrifice. The whole paragraph (p. 302) ignores the true nature of sacrifice, though necessary for the system of the continual presenting of Christ on no altar at all. We are told Melchisedek offered bread and wine. This, however often repeated, is a mere fable. He brought forth *** (N,Sin) bread and wine. There is no hint of a sacrifice, no sacrificial word. People may have repeated it till they believed it; but there is not a hint of it in the passage, but the contrary.
And so entirely excluded is redemption and the efficacious work of Christ by which it is wrought, in order to introduce this idle notion of Christ’s sacrificial worship in heaven, so entirely is the value of His person as of the essence of true sacrifice ignored, that we are told that “the essence of sacrifice as such, that which has made it, and we can hardly doubt, by God’s original primeval appointment, to be the chiefest and most important act of worship in every religion, whether patriarchal, Jewish, Gentile, or christian, is not the material thing offered, but the inward disposition of devout adoring homage, and perfect surrender and dedication of ourselves and our whole will and being to God, of which the outward sacrifice of the most precious of our material possessions is but the visible symbol and embodiment.” (Page 302.) Now, could Christ made sin for us, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, the bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, be more completely ignored? That Christ through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, that He did blessedly give Himself up, surrender Himself and His will to God, is most true; but God made Him to be sin for us. The writer is speaking of devout and adoring homage, of an act of worship, so that Christ’s sin-bearing sacrifice is wholly excluded; for however perfect His love to His Father, and giving Himself up to His glory, sin-bearing is not an act of worship, nor is enduring wrath. And could we speak of the material thing offered being comparatively immaterial where Christ offered Himself without spot to God? That His inward disposition was perfect no one doubts; but is it not evident that Christ was not in the thoughts of the writer when he wrote this passage? Yet he is treating of what is important in sacrifice and its true nature.
Now Christ’s sacrifice is the only true key to all sacrifice developed in the law in figures, in all its parts and in its application; and here God’s original, primeval appointment is referred to. This surely points to Christ. The certain difference of this was that it was the fat of lambs and not the fruit of the ground, on which, without redemption, the curse rested (compare too Gen. 8:21), and if the covering the nakedness of Adam with skins was the occasion on which the divine appointment of sacrifice took place, as is very naturally thought by many thoughtful and learned Christians, the nature of sacrifice is plain. One thing is sure, the meat-offering, or Mincha, was an adjunct to other sacrifices and in itself is never called a sacrifice. And on such a subject scripture alone can be allowed to have any weight. If God appointed sacrifice, it is there it must be learned.
But though the connection of all true worship with sacrifice is evident from what I have said, and that it is founded on it, yet sacrifice is not worship. It is as a gift that it approaches the nearest to it, as bringing such a gift is a homage done to the majesty of God; but as a sacrifice it is not worship. There death, as meeting the righteous claims of God, comes in, and the fire of His judgment which tests the worthiness, or judges the guilt laid upon the victim; and this, in which God has the principal and essential part, is not worship. The prosforav, or oblation for free-will offering, alone has at all this character. The moment it gets into the place of sacrifice, the altar of God, the testing fire of God is applied, His claims on that which is offered. And such an offering comes, so to speak, from without. It may be perfect. I need not say in Christ it was so, but as coming on the part of a rebellious race it must be tested by the majesty of God. “It became Him for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Coming for man, in behalf of man, He must be dealt with as the majesty and truth of God claimed. The result was to prove His absolute perfectness, but He was tested and tried. And He presents Himself as so coming, and this was true of the meat-offering, the Mincha, though not called a sacrifice.
Worship is the free adoration, and for us in the holiest, of those who have been brought nigh by sacrifice, who know God as love, who know Him as a Father who has sought in grace worshippers in spirit and in truth, and brought them in cleansed to do so. The worshippers once purged should have no more conscience of sins. By one offering Christ had perfected them for ever, such is scripture truth (see Heb. 10.); and then they worship, adore, praise in the sense of perfect divine favour and a Father’s love. They have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way He has consecrated for them through the veil. It is not that Christ is doing it in heaven actually in the triumphant church, and they on earth in the militant. They enter in spirit into the holiest, in heaven itself, to worship there; and hence a high priest made higher than the heavens was needed for them, because their worship is there. They do not offer the sacrifice in order to come in, they are within in virtue of the sacrifice.
And this is the place the symbols, of Christ’s broken body and blood, have in worship. The worshippers are in spirit in heavenly places, Christ in spirit in their midst, as it is written, “In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee,” and they own and remember that blessed and perfect sacrifice by which they can so worship, by which they have entered in. Doubtless they feed on Christ in spirit; but that is not the point we are on now. The Christ that is represented in the Eucharist is a Christ with a broken body, and the cup is His shed blood, not a glorified Christ in heaven. It is His death, a broken body and the blood separated from it, life given up in this world, that is before us. We may in spirit eat also the old corn of the land— be occupied with a heavenly Christ, assuredly we may, and blessedly so; but that is not the Christ that is here. We eat His flesh and drink His blood, that is, separate from His body— not only the manna which is for the desert and ceased in Canaan, the bread that came down from heaven, but the additional and necessary truth of His death. Hence His going up is only spoken of in John 6 as an additional subsequent truth. We worship as belonging to heaven and own that by which we got there, that perfect blessed work which He, who could speak what He knew there, and testify what He had seen, could tell was needed that we might have the heavenly things, and not only tell but in infinite love, accomplished. But no such Christ as the one whose symbols lie before us in the Lord’s supper exists now. It is specifically, solely, and emphatically, as a dead Christ that He is remembered there. They were to do that, that is, to use the emphatic symbols of His death, in remembrance of Him. Hence it is the centre of worship because hereby know I love, because He laid down His life for us. Here He glorified the Father for me, so that I can enter into the holiest. Then the veil was rent and the way opened; but here was the perfect work accomplished, by which I, as risen together with Him, can say I am not in the flesh. In the heavenly Christ I say, by the Holy Ghost, I am in Him and He in me. It is being of Him, being united to Him, He in our midst in grace. A dead Christ I remember. I do not, in the joy and glory in which I have a part through and with Him, forget that lonely work in which He bore the sorrow and drank the cup of wrath. I remember with touched affections the lowly rejected Christ, now that I am in heavenly places through His solitary humiliation. The offering Him up now is a presumptuous denial of Christianity. The remembering Him, that divine Person, in His solitary suffering and perfect love to His Father, is the most touching of christian affections, the basis and centre of all true worship, as the efficacy of the work wrought there alone admits us to worship at all. The drinking of the blood apart points it out as shed. We shew forth the Lord’s death, emphatically, not a glorified Christ, but we do so as associated with Him the glorified Man, who Himself purged our sins, remembering with thankful hearts how we got there, and, above all, Him who gave Himself up that we might.
It is a singular instance of Satan’s power which Romish superstition has occasioned among those who have carried the eucharistic sacrifice to its full extent: the cup is denied to the laity. To comfort them under this, they are assured that the body, blood, soul and divinity, a whole Christ, is contained under both species, that is, in the bread and in the wine. But if the blood be still in the body, there is no redemption. It is a Christ as living on earth which is celebrated, when He had shed no blood to redeem us. It is a sacrament of non-redemption.
I understand these ritualists being angry with Archdeacon Freeman for having presented this view, though he be as ritualist as they could wish; but it is as evident as truth can make it, to anyone who respects the truth, that it is a Christ sacrificed, a Christ who has died, a body broken and blood shed, which is celebrated in the Eucharist, and (false as the essayist’s Greek may be in it) his testimony confirms it, for he makes it, My body now being given (or broken), My blood now being shed. If so, it is not a living glorified Christ, but a dying and in real truth a dead Christ, for the blood is clearly presented as shed, and to be drunk apart. But they also see clearly that in this case it can be no carrying on an offering now, as Christ does in heaven, for there is no dead Christ there, no body broken or being broken, and they see clearly enough that this view of Archdeacon Freeman upsets the real presence, for there is no such Christ to be present nor can we think of a dead Christ present thus perpetually in the Eucharist.
Finally, the Christian’s giving up what he has is not worship, nor is it what an intelligent Christian does. He yields himself to God as alive from the dead, and his members as instruments of righteousness. It is giving himself up to God for service, not worship. Nor is it giving up self, self-surrender. That is surely our part, but that is departing from the wickedness of self-will, from possessing ourselves in will, in spite of God. That is given up when conversion arrives. The Christian has the privilege, when freed by grace, of yielding himself to God, to be the instrument of His will. That is another thing; but, though a just homage to God, neither is it worship. This is adoration and praise to God for what He has done, and what he is, as standing in His perfect favour in Christ, and in the consciousness of it by the Holy Ghost owning Christ’s work as that through the perfect efficacy of which we are brought there; and hence the place of the Eucharist in worship, as we have seen, the memorial of His death, of His having died for us, and the truth it refers to, whether actually celebrating it or not, awakening withal every affection which refers to His love and perfect work.
Our essayist admits Christ to be the one only great High Priest, and all Christians to be priests. And the special priesthood which offers Christ as a sacrifice on the eucharistic altar, we are told, belongs to that “view of christian worship. And that without trenching in the least, when rightly understood, on either of those two cognate truths, the sole and unique priesthood of the one true Priest, Jesus Christ, or the common priesthood of all christian people.” (Page 301.) But I can find no explanation of why it does not, nor proof of this third kind of priesthood. Not one word is condescended on the subject. He enlarges with a strange jumble of truth and error on the two first kinds of priesthood, and then says (p. 302), “the special functions of the ordained priest, which distinguish him alike from the deacon and layman.” But how we get this priesthood, or what is its authority, whence derived, by whom instituted, where found in scripture, not a word is uttered.
Everyone knows that priest is a corruption of presbyter, or elder; but as to what made elder into a priest, in the modern sense, we are left wholly in the dark. There are three priesthoods—Christ’s, all Christians, and ordained priests. Where is this found? These poor christian priests, of whom scripture speaks, are quite incompetent to perform the “functions of the ordained priests.” (Page 302.) But where are the three found? If Christ has given to all of us His own titles of kings and priests to God and His Father, how comes it that we cannot do what God’s priests have to do? and that another kind of priest, never hinted at in scripture, is to represent Christ in what is alleged to be the solemn act of priesthood, but that those, whom God has made kings and priests—given Christ’s titles, cannot? How comes it that He has named the sacrifices which His priests are to offer (that they are a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ), but that He never mentions that as a sacrifice which the priests He never names are to offer? That He is perfectly silent as to both; yet we are to believe that God’s priests are laymen, and those that He has not named are, after all, exclusively priests who have supplanted them? Is all this not very strange? Is it not very like an invention? Is it not an invention of man, or Satan? The result being an offering of Jesus Christ now, denying the value of His one offering of Himself once for all, and the solemn declaration founded on it, that there is no more offering for sin; yet there is, according to these men, and a sacrifice and a propitiatory sacrifice.
If a propitiation is needed now, Christianity is not true. The allegation that it is said He is, not was, the propitiation for our sins, is but poor sophistry. That the value of the propitiation is constant and eternally so is quite true; but for that very reason He is not offering a propitiatory sacrifice now, because He did it once on the cross.
But sacrifice, we are told, is the central and important word; and it is alleged that 1 Corinthians 10 is a proof that the Eucharist must be one, for it is compared to the idol sacrifices. But it is no such thing; the passage proves just the contrary. It is eating of the sacrifice which it is compared with, and the writer of the article is drawing our attention from that to its being itself a sacrifice. Every true Christian admits, of course, Christ to have been the true sacrifice; and the passage insists that the priests, who eat of the altar (ver. 18), were partakers with the altar; but it was their eating, not their sacrificing, which did this. It was the same with the Gentiles: they eat of the sacrifices; so of Christians: they eat at the Lord’s table. But in no case was it the sacrifice itself which is spoken of, but of feeding on what had been sacrificed. In a word, the passage shews that the Spirit and word of God look at it as a feeding on what had been sacrificed, and not as a sacrifice. It teaches the contrary of that which the writer insists on, in a way than which nothing can be plainer.
It is not very material to our present subject, but the vulgar error of Christ’s being the ladder on which angels descend, uniting heaven and earth, being repeated here, I notice it. Christ has Jacob’s place, not the ladder’s. Jacob was at the foot of the ladder, and these messengers were coming down and going up from God to him, and from him to God. Now the Son of man was to be the object. God’s angels would have the Son of man for the object of their service from an open heaven. There is no ladder thought of. Christ, the Son of man, is the object. Nathaniel had recognized Him as Son of God, King of Israel, according to Psalm 2. Christ carries him on to His title in Psalm 8 (being rejected), and says he would see greater things than that, even heaven open, and the Son of man the object of the service of the angels, of God Himself.
I have pretty much examined the material points of this article, though I have passed over many objectionable passages; but the great principle is what is in question—the continuous offering of a propitiatory sacrifice, and that in heaven by Christ, and on earth by the priest in the Eucharist; and, further, what is involved in it, the nature of worship. Sacrifice is that by which we approach to God as coming from without; worship, adoration, and praise, when we have got within. The Jewish temple-service had the character of sacrifice in general, because they could not go within, the Holy Ghost signifying by the unrent veil that the way into the holiest was not yet made manifest. But we pass through the rent veil into the holiest, and worship there as in the holiest. Knowing withal God as our Father, we recognize —remember with adoring thankfulness—that sacrifice, that rending of the veil, that breaking of the body, that shedding of the blood, through which we can so enter, purged from all our sins and reconciled to God. Christ is in the midst of two or three gathered in His name, but it is a living Christ in spirit, not His body broken and shed blood. Having Him in our midst in spirit, we celebrate His precious death; we do this in remembrance of Him. We cannot have a dead Christ in our midst; and, above all, we cannot have both a dead and a living One.
Let it fully be remarked that expiatory sacrifice (p. 304) is only added to the precious unbloody sacrifice and worship. Hence, we have seen, it is stated that Cain was right, only wrong in neglecting the other. “This was not enough.” Christianity teaches that the sinner cannot come at all but by a true atoning sacrifice; the offering of Cain was the neglect, was the denial, of that. It is said God accepted Abel’s repentance and faith. Scripture does not say so. He accepted Abel, bore witness that he was righteous on the ground of his gift (Heb. 11); and (whatever the homage paid) acceptance and the enjoyment of divine favour is the fruit of sacrifice, not worship. And so we see in Leviticus: our High Priest must be one higher than the heavens. As Priest He is separated from us, acting for us, not amongst us. This is certain in all priesthood. The statement that all He did from the moment when He said, “This is my body,” to the moment when He said, “It is finished,” was one long, continuous, sacrificial, action (p. 305), is necessarily false. First, His surrender of all to God, so far as true was always perfect, the sacrifice was always “made in purpose and in intention.” So far as it was a special act, it was in Gethsemane, as the Lord’s agonizing prayer demonstrates, and the discourses in John 14, 15, 16 are in no sense sacrificial. The priest had, in ordinary sacrifices, nothing to do with the offering till the blood was shed; he received that, and sprinkled it on the altar. The prosforav was not a priestly act at all, and this prosforav (oblation) is what we have, even on the writer’s own shewing, before us here.
In the great day of atonement the priest confessed the people’s sins on the head of the scape-goat, as representing a guilty-people, not as between them and God as priest, but as high priest standing in the place of them all to make their confession. He stood, as the guilty person, inasmuch as he represented the people. So did Christ on the cross. He offered Himself, through the Eternal Spirit, without spot to God, to be the victim. God made the spotless One to be sin for us. Except as thus representing the guilty people, the priest did not slay the victim; and the offering a victim or himself to God was quite another thing. In no case was the offering of a victim, or surrender of self to God, a priestly act. The statement (p. 307), that “the act of offering or presenting a victim is a sacrifice,” is simply a blunder; this was done by the one who offered the victim, not by the priest. I notice these things to clear the ground by scripture statements; the confusion of the author, by his ignorance of the whole subject, making the analysis of all his statements an unprofitable labour. I have already said a prosforav, after the victim had been offered (ajnafevresqai) on the altar, is a thing unknown in sacrifice. We read again: “As the most holy body and blood of Christ, the alone acceptable victim to make our peace with God, are offered…” (p. 308.) Now He has made peace by the blood of His cross. All this subverts Christianity.
In result, the propositions of the author are that Christ is to be adored with the profoundest homage in the Eucharist. Secondly, there is “the solemn pleading … of that once-sacrificed body and blood for ourselves … as our only hope of pardon, reconciliation, and grace.” (Page 315.) As to the last, I have spoken of it. We are pardoned, we are reconciled, we stand in grace, if Christianity be true. This theory is not Christianity but denies it. The former proposition requires a little attention.
That Christ is to be adored, every true Christian cordially accepts; but the sting is in the tail, “wherever he is.” His body and blood, it is alleged, are in the Eucharist. He is where His body and blood are (p. 315), and, consequently, He is to be adored in the Eucharist. It is the common argument for idols; the divinity is present there. In death, though Godhead may hold its title over the body, nor suffer it to see corruption, yet the soul was separate from the body, or it was not death.
The Eucharist, let them say what they will, is a symbol and sign of the dead Christ—a broken body and shed blood. Christ is personally in heaven. He is present in spirit in the congregation; as He expresses it, “In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” Do they mean to say that He, though in our midst, leads us to worship the signs of what He was when dead? That His body is now to come down from heaven to be broken (for that is what is done in the Eucharist)? and that He returns into life before death to be broken and His blood shed (for that they avow is what was doing when He instituted the Eucharist)? Christ’s place, if we speak of “where” as to Him, is in heaven, sitting at the right hand of the Father, nowhere else. God has said, “Sit at my right hand till” and there accordingly He sits, nor will He leave it till the time appointed of the Father. Is He present alive in the bread before it is broken, and then does He go through death, there symbolized by the broken bread and the wine to be drunk? If so, then His soul is separated from His body. Or is He not present then, that is, before breaking the bread, but only after His body is broken and His blood shed? Then it is not He in any sense who is given and His blood shed. I can understand well that such inquiries offend them, as they talk of the devout and simple affections of faith. Reverence is our place, the right spirit to be in when one thinks of the blessed One given for us. But if they invent false and erroneous views, which pervert the truth, which pretend to bring Christ down from heaven, when God has said to Him, as to His person and glorified body, “Sit at my right hand,” it is right to put questions which have no irreverence for Christ, but expose the fallacy of their views, which shew that it is a false pretended Christ of their own imagination—that there can be no such Christ, for He is glorified in heaven, and not now broken and shedding His blood on earth, nor ever will again. If death is symbolized, and partaking of Him in that character—and it certainly and evidently is so—there is no such Christ now. He is alive for evermore. In death His soul was separated from His body. It is not so separated now. It is of faith (the moment you use a circumscribed ‘where’) to say He is in heaven, and nowhere else, till He rise up from the throne of God—”whom the heavens must receive till the time of the restitution of all things of which the prophets have spoken.”
[End of Doctrinal Vol. IV]
118 1866. Third Edition. London: Longman and Co.
119 In some places, where there are many protestants, there is a translation of what the priest says.
120 The truth is, though they may not think of the value of their immortal souls, such ignorance does not exist. You may find plenty of infidels who deny it, but in the darkest places these subjects have been heard of.
121 This is wholly without foundation; no constitution is predicated, but the unity of the body itself, not something else essential to it.
122 The curious reader may see the proof and character of Jerome’s sanctity in Tillemont.
123 The way high-churchmen avoid and slip over the great facts of church history is very peculiar. Jerome’s statement as to the episcopacy being a human arrangement for quiet is conveniently ignored, and here in a note our essayist tells us, “We do not intend to enter into the question as to how far the individual members of these communities receive grace… For this reason we purposely avoid hazarding conjecture on the efficacy of schismatical and lay baptism.” (Page 189.) But if people “have cut themselves off from the participation of the one Spirit as living in the church and flowing through the sacraments which are the arteries and veins of the body,” what is the effect of the schismatical and lay baptizing? Yet by baptism alone life and the special gift of the Spirit is given, they tell us. They have not the gift which brings them into union. But it is very natural they should shirk it and leave it as a vague dread because the question was raised in the early church. The famous Cyprian in Africa, and Firmilian in Asia Minor, and by their influence Africa, and at any rate a large part of the East, denounced Pope Stephen, because he did not rebaptize heretics; inasmuch as, not being in the church where the Holy Ghost was, they could give nothing, and they remained firm and refused to give way. However mighty as the consent of the fathers, if to be found, may be, the contrary doctrine prevailed, and lay baptism is commonly practised in the Latin church (that is now the right word), and heretical baptism held to be valid— for the absence of the truth and the Spirit is immaterial where the form is; I suppose I should add the matter also in the case of a sacrament. It is really ludicrous to see the torture in which the truly excellent Augustine in his controversy with the Donatists is through the prevalence of this doctrine. It was held as by our essayist—which is a most fatal error—that the Spirit was given in baptism. Yet the Donatists had not the Spirit, he alleged, because this was only in the Catholic church. Yet, said the Donatist, you declare we have given and received it in baptism, and you condemn the contrary doctrine. Poor Augustine fumes, taken in the toils of his adversary.
Do you understand, reader, why our essayist avoids the question? Schismatical and lay baptism confers the Spirit, and the new life—I suppose, according to them, therefore union with Christ—but they have not the Spirit and cannot have union but by the church ; for the catholic idea is, that union and communion with the church are absolutely necessary to union and communion with Christ; and that persons are received into communion with the church in order to union with Christ, and further, that this communion is effected by a communication of a spiritual gift, an actual bestowal of the grace of God to the person through this ministration of the church’s ordinances. And such a union is—by the means of the gifts of God in Christ’s own appointed way—holy baptism. So they come into the church in order to come into union with Christ; “that sacrament is the means of conferring on the recipient a new and spiritual life” and communication of a spiritual gift, and of the grace of God; and yet schismatics and laymen who cannot minister these holy mysteries confer all these things outside the church, and, instead of coming into the communion of the church to get union with Christ, they receive it all out of the communion of the church, and receive union with Christ without communion with the church at all. I must leave it to Anglicans to say if they are brought thus into the communion of the church by having union with Christ outside it. That they have the latter is, at any rate, the orthodox doctrine. No wonder they purposely avoided hazarding conjecture; but I can hardly suppose such learned men to be ignorant of the Donatist controversy or of the discussion of the question between Cyprian and Stephen and Firmilian, or of the every-day fact of lay baptism in the Roman system, or of the decision of the Arches’ Court (to come nearer home), that a child baptized by dissenters had consequently a right to burial in consecrated ground.
124 Once to a local church, where Diotrephes was; but this has nothing to do with our subject.
125 It is curious how far the enemy has gone in deceiving those who are under his power. That by which the laity, so-called, are comforted under the privation of the cup is what is called the doctrine of con-comitancy, that a whole Christ, body, soul, blood and divinity are in each of the species of bread and wine; but, if the blood be not shed, there is no redemption; the sign given to the flock of God is a sign that no redemption is completed! It is with a broken body and shed blood we have to do, that which, as I have said in the text, does not exist now; and the drinking of the cup as a distinct thing is essential to the nature and meaning of the sacrament. It declares, too, that death has come in, and necessarily, that there can be no participation in the blessing of incarnation, without the death of Christ also. “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink of his blood, ye have no life in you.” Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone! The bread which He gives is His flesh, which He gives for the life of the world, which He gives in the shedding of His blood; and this must be drunk as a separate thing. All this, on which John especially insists, and which is of the essence of Christianity, Romanism and Ritualism deny.
126 I do not enter on the question of infant baptism here (which, for my own part, from other scriptures, I hold to be right), but discuss the place baptism holds. The Anglican church teaches, in the most express way possible, that faith is necessary to baptism: only it is faith in the promise of God made to them in that sacrament. Infants, they say, promise this by their sureties; but I suppose, if they believe the promises made there, they must believe in Him who made them, and in whose name they are baptized; they must believe, or others for them, that Jesus is the Son of God. That is, according to this system, faith goes before baptism. It is not my business to reconcile this with the doctrine of being born by baptism, for we are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. What is required of those of riper years is to be examined whether they be sufficiently instructed in the principles of the christian religion, and they are to prepare themselves with prayer and fasting. I suppose they are really to believe these principles, they are to have faith for it—must, unless they are hypocrites. Indeed without faith it is impossible to please God. It would be curious research, but too tedious, to examine the utter confusion in which the Anglican catholic is by his blunders as to baptism and false ideas of its place. Men are born of God in it, yet have faith in order to receive it. Indeed under the form of the Apostles’ creed, the person to be baptized is called upon to profess his faith in all Christian doctrine, in Christ Himself. He is to be baptized in this faith. That is his desire, I suppose accounted genuine and sincere. Now it is certain we are the children of God by faith; and the catechism is not quite honest where it says “The promises of God made to them in this sacrament,” because they are called on to be instructed in the principles of the Christian religion, and to profess their faith as set forth in the formula of the Apostles’ creed, and they are baptized in that faith, not faith in the promises made to them in the sacrament. Nay, these promises are rehearsed, and they are required to believe in something else—“God’s holy word.” But I feel it better to inquire into the substance of the truth in scripture as contrasted with ritualistic doctrine, than to spell out the confusion introduced by the breaking of light into the popish system, and the mixture of doctrinal light and ancient traditions and forms, increased by the partial return to catholic sentiments in the time of Charles II.
127 The apostle Paul alone speaks of the church as Christ’s body. He alone refers to this doctrine. He was not only a minister of the gospel, but a minister of the church, to fulfil (complete”) the word of God. But he tells us he was not sent to baptize. Is not this strange, if baptism is that by which we are made members of that body, the means of union?
128 It is not really into, it is the same word as to Moses, to John’s baptism.
129 The talents were received on the Lord’s departure to take the kingdom and return. They have nothing to do with wealth or natural gifts, however responsible we may be (as we are) for the use of these.
130 No appointment is found in the Jewish church. They rather seem to slip into the office by a natural order. “The apostles and elders came together to consider of this matter.”
131 *** ujpovdeigma is not, as stated, a mere copy. Christ has left us (John 13) an example: so 2 Peter 2:6. It is what sets a thing forth in the way of model or example: so in Hebrews.
132 Indeed it never was coincident in its limits, for the apostles evidently, if we take the divine records, never were baptized at all as Christians, 1 suppose, or the 120 either. A singular thing if baptism were life and union with Christ. But that is an utter fable.
133 In the confusion which a false principle brings in, it is curious and sometimes useful to trace it in its results. Thus, in the Romish and Anglican principle, if we fall from baptismal grace, restoration is by the sacrament of penance, but it is not pretended this confers life. Life must remain in the soul; so if a man die in mortal sin, and consequently go to hell, out of which there is no redemption, he goes there with the holy life of Christ.
134 It is pretty well ascertained that what has long been insisted on as proof of the episcopate (Ignatius’s epistles) is on this very point a forgery. Cureton’s Syriac edition leads to this conclusion as to five out of eight, and as to all but about one sentence on it in the three genuine ones. Forgery, on a large scale, was the habit of the primitive church, and as early as the second or third century, and corrections and interpolations since. Except a mass of heretical matter, it is hard to say what is genuine in this class of writing, so very busy were these forgers. Since then the Roman index has corrected what did not suit. No honest person can deny what I here state.
135 Even “King of saints” is recognized to be a false reading. It should be “King of nations”.
136 I say as a testimony, because the unity of the body is of God in itself, and cannot be destroyed. Christ’s body is in itself one. Against His building the gates of hell shall not prevail. The responsibility lies in the manifestation of this on earth by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the unity of the members down here.
137 It is curious that, in the seventh century, when the clergy began to put on distinctive garments, white ones, Pope Gregory the Great sharply reproved them, telling them their white robe ought to be personal innocence.
138 All this is a mere abuse of the word mystery. Mystery means in scripture, and indeed it is the original sense of the word, what would be known only by special revelation, but to those taught by it (the initiated) is clearly known.
139 This alludes to a phrase of Tacitus on Tyrants—”solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.”
140 There was no offering to God of a sacrifice, but the burning it, or a part of it, on the altar. The truth is the prosforav is the bringing the victim to be an offering, Korban. Then ajnafevretai it is offered upon the altar. After that, however long its efficacy lasts, there can be neither prosfopav nor ajnafevrein. Christ prosnhgke Himself to be a sacrifice, was offered up on the cross.
141 The offering of Himself to be a sacrifice was impossible when once *** ajnhvnegke eVautovn, and offering Himself to be a sacrifice is the force of prosfevrein. Once consumed on the altar there could be no further offering to God. It will be well to notice what the divine order of offerings was. If a person would bring an offering to Jehovah, he was to bring it near *** 3”1J?n. This was the technical term for bringing it up as an offering, was the mere physical act of making it come. He or some one slew the victim if of cattle. The priest took the blood and sprinkled it on the altar of burnt offering, or on that before the mercy seat, as the case might be. Then he laid on the altar (after washing when needed) the part that was to be burned there, the whole carcase or the fat, as the case might be, in order, and *** (TOpH) burned it as sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire, when such was its character, on the altar. *** Prosfevrein is the Greek word used for the bringing it as an offering to God: ajnafevrein for its being actually offered up to God and burned upon the altar. The offerer did the first, the priest and the fire from God did the last. The priest’s office did not begin till after the offerer had brought his offering. When the victim, or its fat, or even the Mincha or meat offering, had been consumed on the altar, the essence of the act was that that was absolutely and completely done, gone up to God (hold), consumed as here, and mounted up to God as a sweet savour, an offering made by fire (Ishshee). The thought of any new offering, prosforav, presenting it to God, was impossible. It would have been the setting aside of the burning on the altar, the completeness of the sacrifice to God by fire, as having all gone up to Him as a sweet savour. The value of the blood of Christ, is eternal with God, assuredly; the sweet savour of His sacrifice ever before Him, but an offering of Himself by Christ after He had been sacrificed on the divine altar to God, could not enter into the mind of one who knew what sacrifice was. Christ proshvnegken eJautoVn a[mwmon tw'/ Qew'/ (Heb. 9); so eJautoVn avnhvnegke was an actual offering (offered himself) up to God upon the cross. (Heb. 7.) (Compare James 2:21). The victim is said to bear the sins when he has been presented by the offerer, but only after he has become an offered victim. So Christ (Heb. 9:28) was once offered to bear the sins of many, prosenecqeiV" eij" toV ajnenegkei'n. Here He is viewed as a sin-offering: but an offering or presenting the slain victim after it had been on the altar, and the fire of God had consumed the sacrifice as taught by scripture.
If the LXX be consulted, the distinctive use of ajnafevrw, as the actual offering on the altar, becomes quite clear.
142 I am perfectly aware of the foolish effort to change the sense by putting the comma after “ever,” instead of “sins.” But this is not changing the sense, but making nonsense. “When He had offered” is necessarily a past thing. “This man (ou|to") having offered one sacrifice for sins” is a thing done; and the whole argument requires this, for it is in contrast with the High Priest standing and offering. His work was never done, but Christs sits eij" toV dihnekev" because by one offering He has perfected eij" toV dihnekev". Nothing can be clearer.
143 Let my reader remark “that taketh away the sins,” however habitual, is an utterly false citation of the passage. Christ does not take away the sins of the whole world at all. Such a thought is nowhere to be found in scripture. If it were so there would be no sins to be answered for by any. But it is not said. The new heavens and the new earth will be the full effect of this truth.
144 They surely represent us, not Christ. A sin-offering was offered with them.