Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." They, too, shall "burst the bars of death," and “then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory? The sting of death 18 sın, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

R. R.

CHRISTIANITY IN ITS RELATION TO JUDAISM AND

PAGANISM.

We lay down the following remark as a tenet-Christianity stands under an especial historical obligation to Judaism, it is true, but in its objecls, and as an historical fact, it stands related to Judaism and Paganism alike.

By Judaism, must here be understood the Mosaic institutions mainly, but also whatever in the antecedent history of the nation was preparatory thereto, and having the tendency to distinguish the Jews as a peculiar people. Now with this (i. e., with Judaism) Christianity is historically connected by the fact, that Jesus was of Jewish parentage, and hence, one aspect of the Divine wisdom and goodness in setting apart this nation, is manifested in the circumstance, that a Redeemer for humanity, or, in other words, for the whole human race, must necessarily descend from a monotheistic people. But we cannot say that Christianity, even in this one point of its historical connection, was indebted purely and exclusively to Judaism, as such, for the religious mode of thinking among the people at the time of Christ's appearance, had ceased to be exclusively based on Moses and the prophets, but was variously and extensively modified by foreign elements, imbibed during and after the Babylonish captivity.

And on the other side, Hellenic and Roman Paganism was, in va. rious respects, prepared for monotheism, and expectation was every where among the heathens upon the stretch for a new and higher form of religion; while, on the contrary, among the Jews the promises of a Messiah were either misinterpreted or discarded altogether; so that if we sum up all the historical relations of these two religious systems, the difference turns out to be far less than, at the first glance, might appear. And the mere circumstance of Christ's descent from Judaism, however significant in itself, is more than compensated in a comparison of relations, by the two-fold fact, that a far larger number of heathens embraced Christianity than Jews, and that Christianity would not have met with the reception among the Jews that it actually did, had they not been penetrated by those foreign elements of which we spoke above.

So far as Christianity is the only religion designed for the adoption of the Jews and Pagans, it stands more immediately related to Judaism and Paganism, than to any other system of religion. “I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance." "And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” The chasm seems, indeed, to be wider between Paganism and Christianity, as it was necessary for the former to have become monotheistic in order to be. come Christian; but the two, after all, did not stand inaccessibly asunder, for monotheism was now given immediately to the heathens under the form of Christianity, as before under that of Judaism. On the other side, the demand upon the Jews to cease confiding in the Law, and to change their views with reference to the import of the Abrahamic promises, placed a chasm between them and Christianity equally as wide as the polytheism of l'aganism. Consequently, if we are obliged to admit that the Christian religion, in the form in which it originally appeared, cannot be regarded as evolved out of the Jewish religion, either of that time or of an earlier date, we may then conclude that it was in no sense a remodelling or a reformation of Judaism.

If Paul, indeed, (Gal. iii. 9-14, 23–25,) regards the faith of Abraham as the original type of the Christian faith, and represents the Mosaic Law as only filling up the interval between the two, we might, of course, conclude from this that it was Paul's intention to represent Christianity as a renewal of that original and pure Abrahamic Judaism. But bis meaning was simply this,-that Abraham's faith bore precisely the same relation to the promise that ours bears to the accomplishment; but he by no means designed to intimate that the promise to Abraham was precisely the same as the accomplishment to us. But where the apostle expressly speaks of the relation of the Jews and Gentiles to Christ, he there represents it as entirely the same; Christ the same to both; both equally very far from God, and, consequently, in equal need of Christ. (Rom. ii. 11-12, iii. 12–14, 2 Cor. v. 16–17, Eph. ii. 13-19.) Now, if Christianity is equally related to Judaism and Paganism, it can no more be a link in the chain of the one than of the other-it can no more be a part or modi. fication of Judaism than of Paganism; on the contrary, if either a heathen or a Jew turn Christian, he becomes, as respects his former religion, a new man-a new creation. So Paul.

The promise to Abraham, however, so far as it has been fulfilled in Christ, is represented as referring to Christ simply in the Divine will, or decree, not in the religious self-consciousness, or sentiments, of Abraham and his people. Now we recognize the homogeniety of a religious community only where this consciousness is similarly developed, i. e., where the same, oj ogeneous sentiments actuate the whole mass of the membership; and hence, upon this principle, we can just as little recognize an identity between Christianity and the Abrahamic Judaism, as between Christianity and the later Judaism or Paganism. Nor are we allowed to assert that that purer original Judaism contained the germ of Christianity, in such wise that it would have been unfolded out of it by a natural process of development, without the intervention of a new element, any more than that Christ himself appeared in the track of this progression, in a way that forbids us attributing to him the origination of a new common life and a new creation.

The wide-spread persuasion of the existence of a one only church of God from the foundation of the human race to the "end of the world," contradicts our tenet more in appearance than in reality. For if even the Mosaic Law pertains to this one method of the Divine economy for the salvation of man, then we must include in it likewise, as some creditable Christian teachers have done, the Hellenic philosophy, especially such as is pervaded by a monotheistic spirit, and yet we dare not maintain, if we would not destroy the essential attributes of Christianity, that heathen philosophy forms any part of its teachings. If, however, by this one church doctrine we are to understand the unrestricted and gracious interests and interference of Christ in all human history from the beginning to the end of the world, then we will merely say, that this is not the place to determine this point, only our tenet contains nothing incompatible with such a doctrine.

Prophecy, too, had already attributed a character to the new covenant, in direct contrast with the old, and this contrast distinguishes, in the clearest light, the internal relation of the new, (Jerem. xxxi. 31-34;) hence we may infer, that whatever is contained in the Old Testament of any service to Christianity, is, for the most part, but the outer relation, or the visible life, corresponding to the inner principle referred to by this prophecy, and that part of the Old Testament is really of least service to Christianity which is the most decidedly Jewish. Accordingly, we find that the Old Testament Scriptures are only capable of reflecting, with any degree of accuracy, those religious im. pulses which are more or less common to all men, but those phases of feeling which are peculiarly Christian, can meet with no adequate expression in any passages of the Old Bible, at least without considerable exclusions and additions. Another fact is to be taken into the account, namely, we meet with affinities of feeling equally as close, and expressions as consonant with Christian sentiment and morality among the remains of the nobler and purer Pagans, as are to be found in the Old Testament; and the elder apologists also were not backward to appeal to the Messianic prophecies, though they regarded them as Pagans, and thus they manifested, and thus we recognize, a longing of human nature after Christianity—“the desire of all nations."

H.

[From the Christian Age.] WHAT ARE THE DUTIES AND AUTHORITY OF THE

CHRISTIAN MINISTRY?

AN ADDRESS BY ISAAC ERRETT,

The topics mentioned for investigation at the coming Re-union, are so closely connected, from the 2d to the 6th, that the conclusions reached in the first-named, viz., What constitutes the ministry of the congregation ? must necessarily give shape to the discussion of each succeeding question. Not knowing what view may be taken of the Christian ministry by the brother to whom that subject is given, I must beg leave to submit a few thoughts on this, as preparatory to the discussion of the theme which is assigned to me.

The original fountain of authority for all Christian service and religious enterprise, is the apostolic Commission. It is a mistaken view, that the language of this commission was confined to the apostles, and that its import was fully realized in their personal labors and ministrations. So far as ambassadorial authority is concerned, it was most unquestionably confined to them. The qualifications and the duties of ambassadors were alike, from the nature of the case, limited to them. But the apostolic commission, in its scope and import, embraces vastly more than the personal mission and authority of ambassadors. It embraces the conversion of the nations, and the spiritual education of the family of God, for all ages, until all the purposes of Christianity in this world are consummated. It involves, therefore, delegated powers. The apostles were authorized to teach their converts to observe all things which they themselves had been commanded to observe. Every disciple of Jesus, therefore, is from his conversion, by his profession, by virtue of all the divine principles and sentiments planted in.his spirit by the gospel of salvation, and of the fellowship of the spirit of grace, and love, and truth, into which he has been baptized a missionary—a minister of Christ-a preacher of the gospel-a cooperant with God in saving the world. His time, talents, money, SERIES IV.VOL VI.

52*

influence and labors, are all solemnly and joyfully consecrated to this work in sacred oneness with Christ; nor can he, any longer, undertake any work, only as he conscientiously subordinates it, in its tendencies and fruits, to this one great purpose of his life-to'urn sinners to the Lord, and train them, when converted, for the skies.

But all converts cannot publicly preach the gospel, and teach the lessons of the Master. There must be an economy of means in grace as in nature. Common sense, as well as Scripture, says, “ Make a wise appropriation of your abilities.” Hence the parables of the talents and pounds. Hence, too, the teaching of Paul: "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having, then, gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to our proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he whg.exhorteth on exhortation, he who giveth, let him do it with liberality; he who showeth mercy with cheerfulness.” Rom. xii. 4-8. The difference, then, between what we now call the Christian ministry, and the Christian brotherhood at large, is not necessarily a difference in spiritual excellency or holiness, by reason of which they have a right to claim superior authority, honor, and emolument. It may be as truly religious an act to "give,” as Paul enjoins, as to “ teach" or to "rule." The entire brotherhood are “kings and priests to God,” a “royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that they should declare the perfectness of Him who hath called them from darkness into his marvelous light.”

It is, then, for the sake of order and efficiency, in accomplishing the purposes of the commission, that a division of labor takes place among the partners in this most holy enterprise; and while one religiously devotes himself to farming, an other to commercial pursuits, a third to literary occupations, and others, by common consent, devote themselves specially to religious studies and ecclesiastical duties, it is the common purpose of all these different members of the body, each in his own sphere, to Jabor for the common good of the church of God.

I will only premise, farther, that so far as relates to the ordinary ministrations in the Christian church, the order and efficiency, of which we have spoken, are fully secured, by the graduated ministry which the New Testament provides -distributed into evangelists, overseers and deacons. I assume this, because it does not properly belong to my theme to prove it; and it is presumed that the proof will be clearly set forth in one of the preceding essays.

The limits of this essay will not allow we to say what I wish to say of the deacon's office. Not agreeing in the views generally expressed

« ZurückWeiter »