The Sacraments (so called).

1882 102 No right-minded Christian will otherwise than highly esteem the two ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper instituted by our Lord — the latter previous to His death, and the former subsequent to it. Why the Supper should have been previous to it, and the commission to baptize after it, may be an interesting question, but it is one not expressly answered in Scripture. It should at least have preserved the church from the gross error of taking in the literal and carnal sense the words, "This is My body," "This is My blood." Indeed, even this should not have been necessary to guard against the degradation of a spiritual truth, and a prostitution of our moral sense, which nothing but the deliberate intention of establishing and justifying sacerdotalism could possibly have brought about. And what will men not do when they are bent on anything? What will they not at length believe? They then take credit for sincerity — a sincerity however in error, which is the consequence of the rejection of truth, and which is therefore altogether without excuse. If utter darkness has no less arisen from an original and continued departure from a divine testimony in the traditional form in which it was known to, and held y, the patriarchs, then spiritual darkness has come about in the church from the rejection, and even perversion, of divine truth. But as all men have not faith, so all Christians have not spirituality. Writing to the church at Corinth, Paul says, "Ye are carnal." He does not say they were natural, for in that case they would not be Christians — at least not true Christians; but he says they are carnal, at the same time distinguishing the spiritual from the carnal (1 Cor. ii. 14, 15, 1 Cor. iii. 3).

Yet nothing then in the church approached the imbecility of a later time. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat," says Paul. Is this to be taken literally? A believer in transubstantiation will perhaps say, "Well, Paul was a priest in the church of God, and in the Eucharist" (why not call it always, the Lord's Supper?): "he at least fed them with the flesh of Christ." But so degraded a notion had at that time neither entered the head of Paul, nor of any other Christian. It was those who were destitute of faith, who, taking the Lord's words literally, said, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Utterly unspiritual, and taking His words in a gross, carnal, and literal sense, they were of course stumbled. Again, the Lord says, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of." Is this to be taken literally? On the other hand, the prophet Jeremiah says (Jer. xx. 16), "Thy words were found, and I did eat them," i.e. the food was spiritual and non-material, and the eating was consequently also spiritual, and non-literal. So in John vi., and in reply to those who, once disciples, went back and walked no more with Him, Jesus said, "Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life;" as much as to say, "If you so grossly misunderstand My words, now that I am with you, how much more egregiously will you misunderstand them when I have ascended to heaven?" The words He had just spoken were to be taken spiritually and not literally, and the eating is in this case also a spiritual and not a literal process.

It is a, not uncommon notion, though it is a very incorrect one, that to be baptized, and to partake of the Lord's Supper, are commands. To a nation — a people in the flesh and under the law, circumcision and the observance of the Passover were indeed commands, at least so long as individuals remained members of the commonwealth of Israel. Every legal obligation had to be fulfilled by such. To put Christianity on this ground, however, is to mistake its spirit and genius. The Christian ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper are matters of privilege, not of enforced requirement; nor is there such a thing to be found in the New Testament as "the New Law" — or a new legal system. A person is not a Christian by birth, but a person was a Jew by birth, and upon that ground was under the law.

As regards the Lord's Supper, 1 Cor. xi. 24, 25 simply enjoins us, as often as we partake of it, to do so in remembrance of Him. As to baptism, there was a command to make disciples of all nations, and to baptize them, but no command to people to be baptized. Acts x. 48 is no exception to this, it is rather "commanded that they should be baptized in the name of the Lord." Privilege and blessing are not matters of command, but of divine grace. Christians are indeed subject to Christ, but this is not being under law. There is one advantage which the Church of Rome possesses over most other professedly Christian bodies. It meets, in its own way (which after all is but a parody of the truth), the varied needs of souls, and it does this with a dogmatic clearness and fixity of meaning wholly wanting to the usual Protestant systems. It thus meets the felt want of an age feeble in faith, and wearied with uncertainty and confusion. And truly there can be no rest for the conscience, no repose for the heart and mind, without authority to rest on. When the soul has not rest and peace through the finished work of Christ — where justification by faith only is unknown, or the proper (forensic) meaning of the word is denied, and the meaning of infused righteousness substituted for it — where consequently the soul knows not what it is to find perfect rest in Christ, a present and an assumed authority, such as that of the church, or of the Pope, saves the trouble of faith, and the exercises of soul connected with it, and gives at least a superficial and temporary rest or rather lull. The conscience is, as it were, drugged.

Now we feel as strongly as any Roman Catholic that, unless there is adequate authority for our confidence, that confidence is worth nothing, and will certainly fail us sooner or later. But the word of the living God as contained in the holy Scriptures is our authority — that word, in the Spirit's favour, is our confidence. We acknowledge no other, and we place implicit confidence in it. Ministers of that word may be used and blessed to us; but if so, they will be the first to own the distinction between a rule of faith — i.e. a divinely-given standard of what is to be believed — and a means of communicating it. The former cannot err, the latter can. As to the faith even the apostle Paul says, "Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand" (2 Cor. i. 24). If true to the Lord, whose servants they are, they will repudiate any personal authority in matters of faith, and will exhort and encourage their hearers or readers to base their convictions on the Scriptures alone. Tradition is but the enemy's device to injure the integrity of the Bible, as the sole authority for what is to be believed.

In the patriarchal age, and when there were no written records, certain men were the depositaries of simple yet divine revelations, which they communicated to others; but in these days, and in order to preserve such revelations from the alterations and corruptions which frequent repetition would inevitably bring about, human life was vastly prolonged. For instance, Adam was for more than sixty years the contemporary of Noah's father, Lamech; and Shem died only twenty-four years before the death of Abraham. Shem therefore may have related to Abraham what Lamech had heard from Adam. Here we have, for tradition, certainty of origin and of transmission. Tradition was in the case of the patriarchs alike genuine and authentic. What now goes by the name of tradition in the Church is devoid of either. The attempt is made to justify it, and there is no want of boldness, or rather of impudence, in assertion: but assertion is not proof; and the written word, the Holy Scriptures, remain, and will remain, the sole standard and authority for what is to be believed. The law may require judges to carry it out; but they are not judges of the law, but of those who transgress the law, still less do they constitute authority to enact. So the true believer is no judge of God's word, but he has competency to understand and apply it. "I have not written to you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth" (1 John ii. 21); and in the preceding verse, "Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things." Such only have the true verifying faculty. Nor should we be disturbed or alarmed by any expression of horror at what is called "the right of private judgment." By this is properly meant, not, of course, the right to judge God's word when we have it in our possession, but the obligation to judge of everything by that word. It is not so much a right as an obligation. We are individually responsible to God that we do judge everything by His word, and shape our conduct accordingly. Take for example the first Epistle to the Corinthians. Here is a letter written by the apostle Paul to the saints at Corinth, and to "all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours." lie sends this epistle, not through any official or presiding individual, for no reference to such a person or office exists in any of the Epistles. Even where in a local assembly bishops or elders, and deacons, are spoken of, it is always as indicating a plurality of them. No trace of a presiding officer is to be found in any one of Paul's Epistles — still less of diocesan episcopacy. The apostle writes to the saints, or to the church, directly and immediately; in fact, upon many points, in reply to questions they had asked him (1 Cor. vii. 1). Now, is it to be believed that those Christians either had not the right to take this Epistle as being to them immediately, or if such were the case, that they were unable to read and understand it, as an inspired writing? And so with all the Epistles; excepting those called "pastoral." They were addressed to what was afterwards called the "laity;" and will it be pretended that the laity could understand them then, but that we cannot understand them now? To take another example. The Epistle to the Colossians is thus addressed, "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse," etc. Communication between the apostle and the saints or brethren is direct and immediate. There is not the slightest allusion to any presiding individual: had there been such an office, it is impossible it could be so entirely and so systematically overlooked. We read indeed in this Epistle (Col. iv. 17), that Archippus had some ministry committed to him by the Lord. Is the Epistle sent either to or through Archippus? On the contrary, Paul requests the Colossian saints to read it amongst themselves, and directs further that it should be read in the church (i.e. assembly) of the Laodiceans, and, moreover, they are to say to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it." The letter itself would probably suffice to convey this message to Archippus, yet such are the Apostle's words, such is the way in which he puts it. If Archippus was (to use the phrase) "their minister," we get a fine instance of independency here. But he was nothing of the sort, for, as has been shown, no such office was in existence in the early Church. Ministry indeed was, in its purity; but the office of a presiding minister was the invention of a later date.

Where there is no motive for distorting or falsifying God's word, how simple it is! Infinite depths in it, no doubt — how could it be otherwise if it is the word of God? — yet, for the most part, very and purposely simple. Why, then, should it be wrested out of the hands of individual Christians, or be nullified by committing its interpretation to others, unless to bolster up the fictitious claims of a sacerdotal caste? Difference amongst Christians is a very convenient plea for robbing them of the privilege and responsibility committed to them by their Saviour and Lord, to hold and to heed His word. But, in fact, the remedy would be worse than the disease; less of truth would be known and held in common by them, than ever, and, in short, the same reason existed for taking the Scriptures out of the bands of the so-called "Fathers" (of whom it may be said, without exaggeration, quot homines, tot sententiae), had there only been in those days an infallible Pope to have done anything so advantageous for the church. But, unfortunately, infallibility came too late to make sense and consistency, much more orthodoxy, out of the Fathers.

A text (2 Peter i. 20) is sometimes quoted, or rather misquoted, in denial of the right of private judgment, "no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation;" but such is not the meaning of this text. It simply means that no prophecy of the Scripture is of self-interpretation, or of isolated meaning and application — that it must be taken as part only of the whole co-ordinated system of Divine revelation. This holds true of the word of God generally, though applying here more particularly to the coming kingdom. Acts of Uniformity, or the crafty policy of Rome, in instigating the civil power to punish those who, desirous of rendering unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things which are God's, cannot, if obedient to their Lord, accept the dogmas and dictates of a cruel and corrupt church, may bring about a certain amount of outward uniformity; yet, after all, we never read in Scripture of the unity of the church, though we do read of the unity of the Spirit, and of endeavouring to keep this in the bond of peace. But the Spirit is truth; unity in error, therefore, has another origin and source. "To whom coming as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious, ye also as living stones are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Peter ii. 4, 5). This was addressed by the Apostle "to the strangers scattered," etc., evidently converted Jews, true Christians, and applies no less to true Christians now; none the less, if true Christians are sadly scattered in the days in which we live. Living stones themselves, and coming unto Christ as a living stone, they are built up a spiritual house, in the binding power of the Holy Spirit.

Babylon is a specious imitation of this, bricks for stone and slime for mortar, like the Babylon of old; and coming unto the Pope, the spiritual Babylon referred to in Rev. xvii. 5 rises into view — a vast meretricious system, destined yet to a limited sway, but soon to incur the everlasting judgment of God. And most artfully is the Church, of Rome availing herself of the boasted but godless liberty of the day to recover her lost power in this favoured but guilty land. It is often imagined that the Romish Church has herself become liberalised by the liberty accorded to her, and to all other ungodliness. Has she cease 1 to teach her candidates for orders, "Tolerantia religiosa est impia et absurda?" Has she revoked the article of the Council of Trent which decrees thus? "In matters of faith and morals, and whatever relates to the maintenance of Christian doctrine, no one confiding in his own judgment shall dare to wrest the Sacred Scriptures to his own sense of them. . . If any disobey, let them be denounced by the ordinaries, and punished according to law." Has she cancelled the following clause in the oath taken by the Roman Catholic Bishops? "The rules of the holy Fathers and Mandates Apostolic, I will with all my power observe, and cause to be observed by others. Heretics, Schismatics, and rebels against the same our Lord (the Pope) aforesaid, I will persecute and attack."

This is the sort of church which England is at the present time fostering, these are the principles which that church is cherishing. The way from Protestantism to Rome is easy and clear. Baptismal regeneration and apostolic succession are taught us by the orthodox Church of England. From this we have only to pass through the Ritualistic phase: consistency must then land us in Popery. The figment of baptismal regeneration, in place of the quickening power of the Spirit by the word, producing bricks instead of living stones; church ordinances holding people together, instead of the binding power of the Spirit, slime for mortar — this is the Babylon which Satan is building, the counterfeit city of God, the woman who falsely assumes to be the bride of Christ. But though she has yet to reach the climax of her audacity and wickedness, her time is getting short, her cup of iniquity fall, and ready for judgment; strong is the Lord God who will judge in her destruction, the sufferings of the saints whom she has persecuted with all the cruelty of religious rancour.

The word" sacrament" is from the Latin sacramentum, the military oath of allegiance administered to the Roman soldiers, and is thus an ecclesiastical and not a Scriptural term. In the Latin translation it is used as the equivalent of the Greek word mysterion, mystery. It is so used in Eph. 5:32, where speaking of marriage the Apostle says, "this is a great mystery." Hence the Roman Catholics make matrimony a sacrament. The absurdity of this is evident when it is seen that the usual ecclesiastical sense of the word would be gone if the Greek word mysterion, is always to be considered as meaning a sacrament; for instance, "the mystery of the gospel," "the mystery of godliness," "the mystery of iniquity," etc. Yet if not always, with what authority in Eph. 5:32? The Catechism of the Church of England tells us that "a sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace," etc., "as a means whereby we receive the same." According to the Prayer-book, therefore, the elements in the Sacraments are channels or vehicles of divine grace. But the above definition of a Sacrament is erroneous, for the "inward and spiritual grace" is not necessary to the definition of a Sacrament, and is mischievously false if we are to regard the water in baptism, or the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper, as its channels or vehicles. Yet everyone knows that baptismal regeneration is the teaching of the Prayer-book, and as to the Lord's Supper, the Catechism, in answer to the question "What is the inward part, or thing signified?" replies, "The body and blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper." but the import of a sacrament in no way depends upon any subjective effort in the individual. Sacraments have also been compared with the tree of life in the garden of Eden, or with that in Rev. xxii. 2. These, however, in no way represent the death of Christ, and this would be moreover to maintain the opus operatum, to make them operative in themselves, a theory rejected by nearly all the Reformers.

1882 118 How are we then to define a sacrament, so that the definition may be what a definition should be, viz., adequate, yet devoid of superfluous conditions? A sacrament is an ordinance instituted by Christ Himself, and which exhibits, in a symbolical form, the way, or the meritorious cause, of our salvation. Hence the Anglican body rightly says, there are two sacraments and two only. One of these is subjective, the other objective. Baptism, the subjective, and the initiatory rite of the church, signifies that death and resurrection in and with Christ is the process of salvation. "Know ye not that so many of us as have been baptized unto Jesus Christ have been baptized unto His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him by baptism unto death." (Rom. vi. 3, 4). "Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him," etc. (Col. ii. 12). "For ye have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col. iii. 3.) "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 judgment, but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:24.) Death and resurrection is the fundamental principle of the gospel — on the part of Christ it is the meritorious cause of our salvation, on our part it is the necessary process; and of this truth baptism is the symbol. The Lord's Supper is the ordinance in which the sacrificial death of Christ is symbolically presented to us, as forming the subject-matter of the church's communion with the Lord, and with each other, and that in peace with God. The Lord's Supper is particularly connected with the church as the body of Christ "For we being many are one bread (loaf), and one body" (1 Cor. x. 17); but we are baptized into one body, not by water, but by the Holy Ghost.

Water baptism is connected with the kingdom — a wider sphere than the church. And even though the church and the kingdom are, as long as the church is upon earth, coincident, the terms are not synonymous, either as to their general meaning or in reference to the individuals who may be in either. To be in the church is to be in the kingdom, but the converse will not always be true. Water baptism is connected with the kingdom, and that again is connected with this earth, — the kingdom, whether in its mystic or in its manifested form, here on earth. The principle of death and resurrection is so thorough, that it utterly baffles any attempt on the part of men in the flesh to follow that way — such an attempt would be hopeless. Faith in Christ is the only way. Hence the weakest believer, if a true believer in Him, has a vast vantage-ground. Life in the risen and glorified Son of God is indeed a divine gift, and not only entitles the believer to, but requires that he should, reckon himself dead to sin, dead to the law, and dead to the world. Nor is this mere theory — it is most solemnly and wonderfully true. An earthly religion would be useless to such, it cannot reach him where he is — he worships by the spirit of God — he is in Christ, and boasts in Him. Amidst all the sorrows and changes of this world, he has access to "the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort," who never forsakes or forgets His child, even though He may chasten him for his good; and if called to die, it is his privilege to realise, practically, the momentous importance and unspeakable reality of that life in Jesus, which, having reached his soul, whilst in the body and in this world, passes, through the dissolution of that body, into the presence of Him who is that life — without break of continuity — changeless and his own, from the moment Christ gave him life, and onward to a never-ending eternity. Beyond the power of sin or death, to touch, taint, or injure it, such gift is God's unspeakable grace and mercy, to poor man, ruined by sin, and under the terrible power of Satan and of death, with eternal judgment before him, the only escape from which is in that Saviour who "bore our sins in His own body on the tree," and who is "the way, the truth, and the life."

For baptism the Lord gave a formula of words, not as "consecrating" the water, but as giving validity to the rite as performed in His name, and by His authority. No such fixed formula of words, but giving of thanks, attends the celebration of the Lord's Supper; for 1 Cor. xi. 24, 1 Cor. xiv. 16, 17, compared with Matt. xxvi. 26, and with 1 Cor. x. 16, prove that eulogeo = eucharisteo and that, eulogia=eucharistia, i.e. to bless means in this case to give thanks. To quote the words of a very able writer: "The term eucharistia is used metonymically, resembling in all respects the phrase poterion eulogias, ho eulogoumen, in St. Paul=ho eucharistetheis artos kai oinos, in Justin Martyr — the bread and wine over which the prayer of thanksgiving has been pronounced. The latter says expressly that, immediately after the president of the church has pronounced this prayer of thanksgiving over the bread and wine, and the church joined in it with their amen, the sacramental elements were distributed. He mentions no other consecration." We quote this, simply as confirming what we have just stated as the teaching of Scripture, not as regarding the "Fathers" to be any authority whatever. On the contrary, it is to the Fathers we must go to find the basis of that systematic perversion of Scripture, and of that traditional and corrupted Christianity, which has existed (though with increasing departure from the truth) from the time the apostles were removed from this world; who oven, in their later writings, endeavoured to combat the tide of corruption, both of doctrine and in practice, which was then commencing to invade, as it soon overflowed, the church, to its ruin as a testimony in the world for God.

It can scarcely be necessary to observe that circumcision and the passover were types, whilst baptism and the Lord's Supper are symbols; and symbols only. The type looks forward, and is prophetic; the symbol, as it were, looks back, and is figuratively expressive of a known truth, i.e., is historical. The two sacraments, viz., baptism and the Lord's Supper, are of similar import to circumcision (which signified the cutting off of the flesh), and the passover (which was typical of the expiatory death of Christ); but, the atonement having taken place, Christians commemorate the Lord's Supper in the blessing of accomplished redemption, and hence it has to them the character of the peace-offering. But the sacraments are not operative and efficacious in themselves. Whilst in the Lord's Sapper we have communion with the Lord as to His death, and its value to us, nevertheless one main object of the sacrament is to mark off and separate the Christian profession from non-Christianity, and that by signs significative of Christ's death.

This is essential to the meaning and nature of a sacrament, rightly understood. Marriage is not a sacrament, though it is, and was from the first, a divine institution. It does not distinguish Christianity from Judaism or from heathenism, for the relationship exists in these. There are in fact two "sacraments" only, using the term-in the proper sense, the term itself no doubt being merely ecclesiastical, though expressing the two New Testament ordinances, and not necessarily in a wrong sense. Confirmation is not regarded as a sacrament in the Anglican body, though it is retained as a rite. Still, not a trace of it is to be found in the Scripture. The word episterizo occurs four times, all in the Acts; and it is impossible to read those passages with an unbiassed mind, and not see that the meaning is no ritual process, but morally and spiritually to strengthen or establish. Thus Parkhurst says in his Lexicon: "In the New Testament it is used only in a figurative and spiritual sense for confirming persons in their adherence to the gospel, notwithstanding opposition and persecution." These occurrences are Acts xiv. 22; Acts xv. 32 and 41; Acts xviii. 28; the last text being, "And after he had spent some time there, he departed and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples." And in Acts xv. 82, Judas and Silas, the prophets, exhorted and confirmed the brethren. Now the so-called "Bishop" is the person who "confirms" — doubtless for the sake (as is so often said) of decency and order. but this human view of decency and order has utterly overthrown God's order, and made human authority in the church paramount to Scriptural authority, generally with the flimsiest pretence, and often without say at all.

Take, again, what is called "ordination," or official appointment to the office of a teacher in the church. Here is another most striking instance of the way in which God's word is set at naught, and the sovereign operations of the Holy Spirit completely checked by human regulations under the plea of decency and order. That God sometimes used the apostles as channels, through whom, extraordinarily, to convey some spiritual gift, is most true, and the Greek preposition used (dia, with the genitive), shows that God used them instrumentally (see Acts viii. 18; 2 Tim. i. 6); but 1 Tim. iv. 14 also shows that when, on a certain occasion, others were associated with the apostle, the particle of association meta is used not that of instrumentality. The place which the apostles had in the church was unique, and marked by God in various ways, not only us a whole, but in detail. That the apostle Paul deputed Timothy and Titus to ordain elders in specified localities is true; but where is the authority now to ordain elders? — where the proof that it ever was to be transmitted?

Paul, indeed, says to Timothy, "the things which thou hast heard of me, in the presence of many witnesses, the same commit them to faithful men, such as shall be able to teach others also." Every care was taken that, till the canon of Scripture was completed, the truth which God had revealed should not be lost. But what has this to do with ordination? Truth, which any of us may deem now to be far from generally seen or held, we are anxious to impress upon our children, or others, even although it is already contained in the written word. Guides or rulers in the church there are, and will be so long as the church is upon earth; but elders or bishops, specifically, there are not, just as there are no apostles, and consequently none deputed to act locally for them. Whatever may have been the qualifications necessary for an elder or bishop, we see from Scripture, e.g., Rom. xii. 7; 1 Cor. xii. 8, 11, 31; 1 Cor. xiv. 12, 26, 29, 84; 1 Peter iv. 10, 11, that the ministry of the word in the church (assembly), was open to such as were qualified for it, and for the occasion, by the Spirit, that women only were excepted. If ordination were the sanction, 1 Peter iv. 10, 11 would be meaningless. Also, whatever may have been otherwise desirable in an elder or bishop, the essential function pertaining to that office was to rule (i.e., to take a spiritual oversight and care), not to teach (see 1 Tim. 5:17). Doubtless ability to teach was desirable, but this by no means implies that teaching was the primary duty of the elder or bishop, much less that no one might teach who was not an elder. The distinction between the functions of teaching and ruling is clearly made in Rom. xii. 7, 8, and 1 Tim. 5:17.

No doubt at an early period of the church's history we find a sacerdotal and hierarchical system in the germ: first, local episcopacy, soon to develop into diocesan; a priestly caste, gradually coming into view, with a corresponding metamorphosis of the elements in the Eucharist; the growth of Catholicism, soon to ripen into Popery. But all this is the corruption of the truth, a corruption which, it is admitted, began to work very early — but which, whatever tradition may say, is branded by Holy Scripture as the corruption of God's word and order. As this sacerdotal element developed itself in the early church, so every truth waned and vanished under its baneful shade. The priesthood of all true believers was ignored or despised, spiritual worship consequently was lost, and a half Christian, half Jewish kind, substituted for it. The simplicity of the way in which the Lord's Supper had formerly been observed was annihilated; the elements underwent a so-called "consecration," and began to be regarded with superstitious reverence. The gospel was unknown in its purity and power, and contemned by the side of this perverted "sacramental" system. Immense, in short, was the loss to the Church and to individual souls, and great the dishonour done to God's word, great the despite to the Spirit of grace.

This terrible state of things was but partially rectified at the Reformation, the Church of England was but half reformed; baptismal regeneration and apostolic succession were doctrines never eradicated from its tenets, and we are now living to see the result in a frightful relapse into Romanism, or in the giving up of all faith and even profession of Christianity for blank infidelity, these being the two poles of unbelief, as to the Scriptures, and as to the power of God, through the Spirit. Of supreme importance to the individual, and consequently to the church, as evangelical truth is, experience has proved that there is a tendency, when too exclusively dwelt on, to disregard, either as though it were non-essential, or as though it could have no practical importance, the teaching of Scripture as to the church — her calling and destiny. We do not say this evil goes to the same lengths, or is fraught with such dire effects, as that of being absorbed with, and trusting almost exclusively to, a spurious sacramental system. Very far from this, evangelical truth, i.e., a clear and full gospel, is of paramount importance — there could be no true church, no happy and intelligent Christians without it.

The gospel, and that only and exclusively, is God's grand ordinance for this salvation of man, and the too general absence of the knowledge of the gospel in its power and fulness, and the substitution for this of mere ordinances, amply accounts for the state of heart and mind in which so many are to be found, even though they may be very devoted church people. But if the teaching of Scripture, on the subject of the church, is in any measure slighted, there is just as certainly great loss to the individual, and great dishonour to the Lord. True, it is impossible to go back to apostolic times; sadly true it is that we seem to have witnessed even in our days, though on a smaller scale, what we might almost call a second fall of the church. Doubtful it is how far any considerable body of Christians now existing in the world can fairly and justly claim to represent the church. Still, when in spirit and in heart all true Christians, the whole church in God the Father is included in our thoughts and spiritual desires — with subjection to our Lord as the Head of His church even the (literally) two or three gathered together unto His name will not fail to know His presence, and to have His blessing. There may, through circumstances, be more or less of isolation; nevertheless, if the eye is single and the heart true, we shall surely find that "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him."

1882 133 Metaphor is of constant use in the language of Scripture, and no more dangerous and deadly error exists than that of attributing to the sign what belongs only to the thing signified. It effect is at once to construct a counterfeit Christianity. No book approaches the Bible for the frequency and richness of figurative language and of figurative acts. The amount of truth, enfolded in them but perceptible to the eye of faith, commands our highest admiration. One of the most common, as it is one of the most beautiful, figures in the Bible is that of water, in allusion either to its cleansing, or to its refreshing and vivifying effects. The Gospel of John abounds in the most remarkable instances of the use of this figure, — John iii. and John xiii. in allusion to its cleansing property; John iv. and John vii. to its refreshing or vivifying qualities. In John xv. 3 the Lord says, "Now ye are clean, through the word which I have spoken unto you," — the effect produced upon the conscience, the heart, the mind, the walk, by the word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. So in Ephesians 5:25, 26, "as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it, with the washing of water by the word." In John xiii. 10, the Lord says, "He that is washed (bathed) needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit"; i.e., there is the one grand washing of regeneration which can never be repeated, but there is the need of constant washing of the feet, prone as we are to contract defilement in our daily walk, — defilement which would hinder communion unless removed. And so, in the type, we find the priests washed all over, at their consecration, but afterwards needing only to wash the hands and feet at the laver before approaching to serve God. Thus also water as well as blood came from the side of a dead Christ, — water to cleanse, and blood to expiate.

As regards expiation, we are washed from our sins in the blood of Christ; as regards the new or morally clean nature, we are washed as it were by the water. Neither of these can ever be repeated, — they occur once for all, and for ever; — but thanks be to God, there is provision also for the daily cleansing from daily defilement: "He that is washed (all over) needeth not save to wash his feet." John iii. 5 has no reference to baptism, for Christian baptism was not yet instituted, and therefore our Lord would not have blamed Nicodemus for being ignorant of it. "Born of water and of the Spirit," — purification and renewal, alludes to the moral cleansing and new life, of which every one has been the subject who ever was saved, from Adam downwards. The same things, — water or purifying, and the Spirit, or a new life, — are spoken of in Ezekiel xxxvi. 25-28, and it was this that Nicodemus should have known. From other passages iii the Old Testament also, he should have been familiar with the figurative use of the term water; for instance, the Red Heifer, or water of separation amongst the types; and Isaiah i. 16-18, "Wash you, make you clean . . . . though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Here again we have the water to cleanse and the blood to expiate. Again, as to the refreshing effect of God's word, "For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground"; "Ho every one that thirsteth come ye to the waters," etc. If we compare with this John vii. 38, 39, we see the meaning clearly, "He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, (but this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive," etc.) The truth is, that John iii. and baptism allude to the same thing (figurative language and a correspondingly figurative act); and similarly John vi. and the Lord's Supper allude to the same thing. But John iii. does not allude to baptism, nor John vi. to the Lord's Supper, the Lord's Supper not being yet instituted or known to the disciples. Moreover, all who partake of the Lord's Supper have not eternal life, whilst all who in the sense of this chapter eat the flesh of Christ have eternal life.

The term "regeneration," (regeneratio, anagennesis), according to this its etymological signification means being born again. In this sense also the term is used by theological writers. But such is not the Scripture sense of the term. The word translated "regeneration" is in Scripture not anagennesis, but paliggenesia, which name means being "born again." It occurs twice only in the New Testament, viz., in Matt. xix. 28, and Titus iii. 5, and means a renewed or reconciled state of things — in fact, the Millennium, (compare 1 Cor. iv. 8; 1 Cor. vi. 2; Rev. xx. 4; with Matt. xix. 28). In their raised and glorified bodies the saints are destined to reign, during the Millennium, over (we do not say on) the earth. This is the period of the regeneration. The words used in Scripture for "born again" are gennao anothen, John in. 3; and anagennao, 1 Peter i. 23. Philo uses the term paliggenesia for the renewal of the earth after the deluge, — the latter being, as it were, the washing of regeneration. Doubtless in order to have part in the paliggenesia spoken of by our Lord, a person must be born again, as we learn from John iii. 3. Still a new birth is not the scriptural meaning of the word, and the baptismal service of the Church of England is grossly in error in confounding regeneration and the new birth, and still more so in attributing the latter to the ordinance of baptism.

Baptism, like regeneration, imparts, not a change of inward state by the communication of life, but a change of status or position. In Titus iii. 5, 6, we read, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." We have here three very distinct statements: 1st, He has saved us; 2nd, "by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, (i.e., as in John iii., "born of water, and of the Spirit"), moral cleansing or purification, and a new life or nature; 3rd, "which He shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour." Here we have more than the life-giving agency of the Holy Spirit, — we have the special Christian privilege, the Spirit of adoption, whereby we are enabled to address God as Abba, Father! the gift of the Spirit with all the fulness of spiritual blessing connected with His abiding presence in and with us. The order in Acts ii. 38, is, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins," and then, as a subsequent thing, "Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Compare Galatians iv. 6; Eph. i. 13. For a special reason in Acts x. 44 the gift of the Spirit preceded baptism, but this was an exception, — both cases proving the distinctness in time and in fact, between baptism and the gift of the Spirit.

Again, in 1 Peter iii. 21, "the like antitype whereunto baptism doth also now save us, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh," etc., i.e., not literally, but symbolically. As the waters of judgment were death to those not in the ark, (and the ark represents Christ, not the Church, or at least Christ's redemption), so death is judgment to those who are without Christ's salvation, but is the process of salvation to those who believe in Him; for "we are buried with Him by baptism, wherein also we are raised with Him," Col. ii. 12. The death of Christ is the meritorious cause of our salvation, — our death with Him and resurrection in Him is the process whereby we are saved; and to us death, instead of being a destroyer, is the cleanser, as well as the passage into a new scene. Of this, baptism is the symbol or representation of a known truth, and hence may be called an antitype (antitupon) to that (the deluge), which, though now seen to have a similar meaning, was destitute of that significance till the gospel was preached and Christian baptism was instituted. No such puerile notion is meant, as that the water of baptism was an antitype of the water of the deluge, — this would be to make water typical of itself, a manifest absurdity. The truth figuratively presented to our minds by baptism is the antitype to the waters, or judgment, of the deluge.

1882 148 How is it possible in the face of these Scriptures to misunderstand the meaning of water as a figure, whether with speech or action? Yet how distorted from their true use and import have the Sacraments become? — what the Lord intended for our good, turned into an almost idolatrous object of veneration and superstitious regard. Under somewhat similar circumstances Hezekiah acted well in 2 Kings xviii. 4. The Church of Rome, boldly, unequivocally, and consistently with itself, asserts the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, and holds that what is called "original sin" is removed by it. After the "consecration," it calls the water "holy," and attributes life-giving efficacy to its use in baptism.

As to "original sin," it is requisite that we should know what is meant by it. And in the first place it is necessary carefully to distinguish between sin and sins, — the root and the fruit. We all have sin in us, as we all have committed sins, and the latter are the fruit of the former. They are most clearly distinguished in Scripture, and are separately, and in some respects differently, treated of. Christ was made sin for us, but He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. Sins are forgiven, sin has been condemned in Christ as sin-offering on the cross. If we go to the Articles of the Church of England, we find (Art. ix.) original or birth-sin defined as, "the fault and the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the nature of Adam." In Romans viii. 3, this is called "sin in the flesh," (phronema sarkos). But this is never said to be forgiven, — God has condemned it in the sacrifice of Christ; and to faith, the Christian is dead to it, (Rom. vi. 2, 7), though sin is not dead in him (1 John i. 8). Even in the case of the true Christian, as a matter of fact sin remains in him till he dies (or puts off this body of humiliation), though his sins have been forgiven. How absurd then is it to say that original sin has been washed away in baptism! Evidently the corrupt nature is not washed away, and as to the new or divine nature and reconciliation to God, that depends upon true and individual faith in Christ, and not upon baptism. As we have seen, "by His own will begat He us with the word of truth," — this is irrespective of any ordinance. As regards the sin of the world, the work is done in virtue of which it will in due time be removed, viz., the work of Christ on the cross: as yet, however, all that can be said is, "we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness," 1 John 5:19.

The sin of the world consequently is no more yet removed, than sin in the flesh is removed from human nature. In the eternal state no trace of sin will exist in the heavens, or on the earth, which will then have undergone its baptism with fire; but, terrible to think, or to say, apart for ever, and in the place of punishment, Satan and all evil doers will be, where they can no more mar or blot the rest of creation; for the kingdom of God will then be no longer in mystery, but in power and in manifested glory.

It is a common saying, and too true a one that, "the Church teaches." The Church does indeed teach, as a matter of fact, and systematically teaches error. But the very idea of the Church teaching, no less than the fact, is opposed by Scripture. The Church is taught, — it is the business of the Church, (or should be so), to receive and hold fast the truth. The Church confesses the truth, but does not, according to Scripture, teach it. Teaching is an individual gift, and, like every other gift, involves responsibility to the Lord, on the part of the individual or person to whom the Lord has committed the gift. Those who hear are responsible to the Lord that they accept only what is in accordance with Holy Scripture, — the only standard of truth.

The Holy Spirit would Himself teach by the mitten word, those who when taught are to teach others. The Holy Spirit would equally aid the hearers in ascertaining whether, what is taught agrees with the revealed and inspired word of God. "Prove all things," says the apostle, "hold fast that which is good." Reject, of course, what is otherwise. Even in the case of apostolic teaching, those who heard were commended for comparing what was said with what had been already revealed and written, as we see in Acts xvii. 11, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Never has there been a case of the Church usurping authority, either to teach, or to appoint those who are to teach, without grievous injury to souls, and what is worse, without contravening the authority of Christ, and hindering the sovereign action of the Holy Ghost. Nothing illustrates this more than the case of the Sacraments, utterly misplaced and perverted, to exalt the pretensions of a mere human priesthood. A multitude of collateral truths suffer through the attempt to maintain and justify this prime evil.

As examples, we take the following quotations from the well-known work of Dr. Harold Browne, Bishop of Winchester, on the Thirty-nine Articles.

"But our Lord was to depart from them; and for the future government of His Church, we find a promise that in the regeneration, (i.e., in the new state of things under the gospel of Christ, the renovation of the Church), the twelve apostles should sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. What are the twelve tribes, but the whole Church of God? . . . . Thus, when the Saviour in body departed from them, He left behind Him twelve apostles to sit on the thrones or seats of government in the Church."

Again; "We come lastly to speak of what has been most commonly called the special grace of Baptism, viz., Regeneration, or the New Birth. We have indeed anticipated the consideration of this already. If by baptism we are all made members of Christ, children of God, the inheritors of the kingdom of heaven, then are we new-born in baptism; for therein we are joined to Christ, cut, out of the wild olive tree, and grafted into the good tree, born into the Church, into the family of God, as children of our Father which is in heaven. Moreover, if then the Spirit of God becomes our assured guest and present help, the first germ of spiritual life must be ours; and this is all that is meant by new birth."

Once more; "The doctrine of a real, spiritual presence, is the Anglican doctrine, and was more or less the doctrine of Calvin, and of many foreign reformers. It teaches that Christ is really received by faithful communicants in the Lord's Supper, but that there is no gross or carnal, but only a spiritual and heavenly presence there; not the less real, however, for being spiritual. It teaches, therefore, that the bread and wine are received naturally; but the body and blood of Christ are received spiritually," etc. There can be no doubt that this is the teaching of Dr. Browne and of the Church of England: indeed the work from which these extracts are taken, is the standard work on the subject, — one in which candidates for ordination have to undergo examination,

Where is one to begin, or end, in dealing with, not only the ignorance of divine truth they evince, but the gross error of these statements? To expose them as we could wish would be to write a volume on this subject, a task which we are not at present contemplating. There is, however, a moral conviction, so deeply impressed upon our mind, by statements such as these, that, before saying more, we must give expression to it. It is this. The solemn lesson we learn, as to where men may get to, — often good, and in other respects able even, — when not themselves taught by the word and Spirit of God; and on the other hand, the great blessing, and high spiritual advantage, of taking God's word as our sole authority, — reading and studying it reverentially', — gaining spiritual intelligence from it, testing everything by it, and rejecting everything which is counter to it. How many a simple, and in other respects unlearned believer is there, to whom God by His word and Spirit, has given a knowledge of divine things, and a heavenly wisdom, which enables him at once to perceive the character of such teaching, and to feel no less shocked and astonished by it! Wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil, he finds in the knowledge of the truth, not only the blessing of the Lord, but the sure detector of all error and evil.

In Rev. iii. 21, we read, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame and am sat down with my Father on His throne." No one could confound these thrones, or be absurd and even profane enough to think that we shall sit upon the throne of God. But the Church as the bride of Christ will sit with Him on His throne as the Son of man, that throne which He will take in accordance with Psalm viii., and from which He will reign in His mediatorial kingdom, — Israel being then restored to their land, and all the promises and prophecies fulfilled. This is the period of the regeneration, — the time alluded to in Matt. xix. 28, "In the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." And though the Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone, yet we nowhere read that in the renovated state of the Church, i.e., in glory, the apostles will rule the Church. The twelve tribes of Israel are quite distinct, and connected with the earthly Jerusalem.

1882 163 But in what sense could the Apostles rule now? Paul and Peter in their writings speak of their departure from this world, and prophetically announce the utter ruin of the Church in the latter times. Even the sway of the Pope is more rational than the notion that the Apostles are governing the Church. There certainly is not much appearance of their doing so by their writings (even if there could be sense in say in g so), for never were their writings more slighted. Paul indeed makes it a charge against the Corinthian saints, "Ye have reigned as kings without us." Did they begin to reign when he died and went to heaven? "I would to God," says he, "ye did reign, that we also might reign with you." True believers are now, in title, kings and priests unto God, and as already they exercise priestly functions, so in God's own good time will they exercise that of ruling as kings. For this honour we await our changed or resurrection bodies, and glorified with Christ shall then reign with Him over (we do not say on) this earth. We are "begotten again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation," etc. And by what means or process are we thus begotten? "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever . . . And this is the word, which by the gospel is preached unto you." (1 Peter i. 23, 25.) Again, James says, "Of his own will begat he us with the Word of truth;" i.e. the word of truth is the incorruptible seed, as in Luke viii. 11, "The seed is the Word of God." How then can any one be either so mistaken or so wicked as to corrupt divine truth, and speak about a germ imparted at baptism? The error arises from the endeavour to bolster up another error, that of a sacerdotal order in the church, and thus it ever is, that one error begets another. The germ is the Word of God. "'That on the good ground are they which in an honest and good heart having heard the Word keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."

As regards "the kingdom of heaven," this phrase occurs only in Matthew's Gospel — its equivalent in the other Gospels being "The kingdom of God," though the terms are not entirely synonymous. To be in the kingdom as a true subject, one must be born again, as we have been reading in Peter, and as is stated in John iii. 3. But, till that kingdom comes in manifested power and glory, mere professors may enter it, and hence we have "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven." Christ's people are made by baptism! All this confusion and error arises from a depreciation of the gospel, an exaltation and abuse of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper, and the introduction of the fiction of sacramental grace.

To this is added the extraordinary notion for any Christian to entertain, that we enter into covenant with God in the sacraments. That the blood of Christ is the blood of the new covenant is true, but we are expressly told that the new covenant is with the house of Israel, whilst Paul says he is a minister of the new covenant, "not of the letter, but of the spirit," 2 Cor. iii. 6, that is, we have the blessings of the new covenant, but are not the subjects of the covenant itself. All this grievous and mischievous error arises from ignorance of the grace of God in the gospel, with which in fact it is irreconcileable. Another perversion of the truth we may briefly glance at before closing, that of referring Malachi i. 11 to the Christian dispensation, "and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering," i.e. the Mincha, or meat offering. The Roman Catholics think that they carry this out in both Clauses, i.e. as regards both incense and offering. But the only application of this text to the church is in a spiritual sense. Praise and thanksgiving — offered to God by those who are cleansed from their sins in the precious blood of Christ, and hence who are "accepted in the Beloved," — does ascend to God through Christ. and with the fragrance of His Person and work. These and acts of charity are the sacrifices, which the true priests of God offer to Him, on the altar which sanctifies the gift, — viz., Christ: see Heb. xiii. 10, 15, 16. Properly speaking, however, Malachi i. 11, has no reference to the present economy, but will be fulfilled literally, during the Millennium.

The boldness with which Roman Catholicism asserts her dogmas has at least the merit of a certain amount of consistency, though it is sometimes very inconsistent where they least expect it. For instance, if the so-called sacrifice of the mass is an unbloody sacrifice, then it is a sacrifice of non-redemption, for "without the shedding of blood is no remission." But again, if in virtue of transubstantiation, the wine is turned into the blood of Christ, how can it be an unbloody sacrifice? The attenuated Anglican sense is, of all, the most irrational; though the word of the minister, on delivering the elements to the communicants, happily avoids reference to it, and beautifully says, The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Take and eat this, in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on Him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving." In this sense only, do we eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood, but in this sense the elements are no vehicles or channels of divine grace; the feeding is, in no sense or manner, a physical process.

The wretched notion that the sacraments are an extension or continuation of the Incarnation is very easily disposed of, by remembering that the sacraments bring before us the death of Christ, that baptism symbolises not only His death, but that by it we too are dead and buried, according to the Christian doctrine, and as raised to newness of life we should walk according to that new life. The commencement of the Christian career is, death to the old man, by baptism figuratively; and baptism is unto Christ's death. But death having terminated Incarnation, how can the sacraments be a continuation of that, the end of which they commemorate and figuratively exhibit? The truth connected with baptism makes a clean end of the old man; and as to life in Christ and union with Him, it is as dead, risen and ascended, it is to a Christ in glory that we are united by the Holy Spirit, for "unless a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." For there must be the judgment of sin. Are we Christians in reality and truth? Then Christ on the cross suffered, at the hands of God, the judgment of our sins, He was there made sin for us, personally and individually. This is what is properly called Substitution, i.e. suffering in our stead. The death of the body we may know; death as the wages of sin, death in its spiritual power and effect, we never can know, for (blessed be God!) Jesus has borne that for us, and has said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death." Again, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of my hand." Let us leave those to carp at Divine grave, who are so wilfully ignorant of it, as were those to whom the Lord said, "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you." The mock humility, which says it is presumptuous to feel sure that God hath saved us, will find its true worth at last. Weakness of faith, or want of spiritual intelligence, one can understand and sympathize with; the systematic denial of the words of Scripture, and the maintenance of what is nothing short of a counterfeit Christianity, is altogether another thing, and deserving only of our abhorrence. Yet, sad to say, the latter is increasingly and deliberately preferred. That evangelical spirit, which once was true and strong in the land, is almost if not quite gone; everything which was good seems to be waning and fading, falsehood and corruption carry all before them, and the Saviour's gracious promise to the individual, for a day which He foresaw, is now our resource, "Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

With this as our present portion. our sure and certain hope is to see Him as He is, and to be with Him and like Him for ever: "Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus." J. B. P.