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We have in vs. 12, 13, a description of the Messiah. The phrase "from his place shall he grow up," is a description of his obscure origin. He shall not openly descend from heaven, in visible glory and greatness, but shall slowly grow up ont of the earth, in lowly humiliation. This was true of him as a man, for he was the humble carpenter's son for thirty years, and grew slowly in the shade as a Nazarene. It was true of him as Messiah, for he was a root out of a dry ground, despised and rejected of man. It has been true of him as a recognized Saviour in the world, for his church began as a little flock, and is yet in a minority among men. It is true of him as a life in each heart, for Christ is formed within us the hope of glory gradually, first the blade, then the stalk, and then the full ear in the stalk. Hence this phrase is strikingly descriptive of the Messiah as he has been actually manifested in the person of Jesus.
The building of the temple of Jehovah, which is repeated for emphasis, to show its prominence in his work, is explained by Christ himself, when he says, “destroy this temple, and in three days I will build it again,” which in like manner has its full significance only in that church which is at once the body of Christ, and the spiritual temple founded on apostles and prophets, with that corner stone which the builders rejected.
Bearing the majesty, refers to the kingly glory that shall be his, in spite of his lowly origin. He shall bear the crown.
This is more fully expressed by the words "he shall sit," (i. c. securely and permanently) " reign,” as a king, though the beginning of his kingdom is thus obscure.
His character is more fully set forth in the next phrase, "a priest upon his throne,” which asserts the kingly and priestly character of Messiah, as it is asserted in Ps. 110:4, “thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek," i. e., a kingly priest, and a priestly king.
The phrase in v. 13, "the counsel of peace shall be between them both,” refers to the union of the priestly and kingly offices in the work of redemption. “The counsel of peace" is the counsel that produces peace, and this is done by Christ in the exercise of these two offices, by one of which he purchases redemption, and by the other applies it; by the one expiates sin, and by the other extirpates it; and thus reconciling man and God, causes peace on earth and good will to man. We have then in these words a full description of the atoning work of the Messiah, and the application of that work in the development of the church.
We are now able to see, 2dly, why the material for the crown was taken from the gold brought by the deputation. It was to typify the introduction of the Gentiles into the church. This is directly asserted in v. 15, “and the far off," (the very expression used by Paul in Eph. 2: 17, to designate the Gentile Ephesians, “ you that are afar off”) shall come and build in the temple of Jehovah, and carry forward his glorious kingdom. This is then an exact parallel to Ch. 2: 11, 8: 10, Isa. 60: 9, 10, and many other passages of a like purport. The silver and gold were brought from the distant captives, and the crown was to be hung up in the temple as a memorial of the fact, that the distant outcast nations were coming, and would one day be admitted to the full privileges of the church. The condition of this blessing is then given in the words that follow, declaring that if the theocratic people are faithful they shall retain their privileges, but if unfaithful, they shall be cut off, and the wild olive branches graffed into the original tree, and that the fulfilment of this prophecy would prove his divine mission as a prophet.
We have here then a proclamation of the missionary character of the church. Christ is yet a Branch, yet growing, and not yet revealed, and hence men reject him. But he is yet a king, despite of the lowliness of his church, and the wickedness of men, and as such we must acknowledge' him. It is only by resting upon him as a priest and as a king that our souls can find peace. We must be pardoned by his atonement, and governed by his laws, or we can never be at peace. To those who refuse to receive him in these offices, he will come again in power and great glory, to take vengeance on all his enemies.
The crown that yet hangs in the temple, is a call to missionary activity. We may be able to do but little, so were the Jews in Babylon, but that little must be done, and God will bless us. We cannot go in person to this work, neither could they, but we may send our representatives as they did, to act in our place. Men are found willing to go far hence among the Gentiles, and only ask the church to enable them to do so, and wo! to the church that refuses to respond. Obedience is the condition of inheritance, and if we refuse to listen to God, God will refuse to listen to us, and will cast us off from his kingdom as he did the faithless Jews, and we remain as do they, a fearful memorial of the danger of neglecting the commands of God. How shall the far off hear without a preacher and how shall they preach except they be sent. The missionary activity of the church is the circulation of her lifeblood ; suspend this and she swoons, stop it, and she dies.
[TO BE CONTINUED.
ART. V. THE FUNDAMENTAL ELEMENT OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT.
By Rev. LOVICK PIERCE, D. D., Ga.
The two former articles, on the divine nature and order of church government, were intended to stir up the minds of ministers and church members, on the subject of church government; in whose hands it is most likely Christ did deposite the disciplinary law, and the execution of it, when organizing and establishing his church.
We found but a brief account, and that not explicit, but to us very satisfactory. Satisfactory, because we hold, that executive power, as such, is no where ascertained, as the appointment of Christ, unless it be in Matt. 16th, and John 20th.
The direction for a church trial, in a specified class of offences, as in Matt. 18th, seems to us, rather to support our theory than to change it; inasmuch, as in case of pertinacious impenitency, expulsion is commanded. And in no good sense, can anything be said to be commanded, which is left to the contingency of a mere majority vote. Whatever is intended to be executively certain, must be the result of a known law, and the work of an executive officer fully empowered to act. Church government must be either the duty of the laity, or of the ministry, or both conjointly. If of the laity, the ministry are uot responsible for the purity of the church, in her membership. If of the ministry, then the church is not responsible. But if the ministry and laity are conjoined in the executive administration, then they are together responsible. And much must depend upon the simplicity and brevity of the forms of trial; much also upon the zeal and fidelity of the united agency. If the laity be lax in their views and careless in their administrative relation; or if the minister in charge be so, relying too much on the charm of moral suasion, discipline will become practically obsolete. The Corinthian church had fallen into this state, in the case of the incestuous member. And in this case, Paul reminds us in no measured terms, of our leading idea of ministerial authority. He commanded the dismissal of the offender, and threatened them with a penal visitation, if it should not be done. This intimated the investiture of great executive power, and the determination to use it, if the church should not use her delegated power in the case ; and goes far in proof of the specimen fact, that the power of the church to exercise discipline, is rather delegated, than original, and that when the church fails to exercise the power, according to the divine law, it devolves on the pastor to do it, under the commission of the keys; the effect of which is, scripturally to bind, or to loose, as to truth may appertain.
The character of our church discipline is of this mixed kind. The only relic of the protective power of ministerial authority in behalf of a certain execution of church law, against an offending member, or in the maintainance of membership against a too rigid verdict, is found in our right to refer the case to a higher tribunal. This has been found a safe right in both issues; as to guilt, and as 10 innocency; and proves, that the possession of power in the hands of an individual is not dangerous, merely on that account; and especially, when it is so nearly appellant. This ministerial right, we hope will never be revoked. If it be, one of the safeguards of our moral discipline will be destroyed. The objection to this system of ecclesiastical polity as far as it is objectionable, is found in the fact, that in all executive government the multiplication of agents, to act as checks on each other, is but to increase delay and uncertainty..
The history of the church, and of life, verifies, in the most ample degree, the truth, that in any simply executive duties, one agent will do more and better work than ten would. so related to each other, and to the duty to be performed, that it is equally the duty of each of the agents to do it. And this difficulty is but the more surely to be seen, where the work to be done is one calculated to stir up personal feelings, or disturb fraternal relations. Such is always the nature of church trials.
It is strange, in a field of moral responsibilities like this, how each agent can pacify his conscience in view of neglected duty; because he can say, it was as much the duty of each of the others as it was mine. In other words, take ten good church members, and make them a standing committee to bring to trial offending members; each one equal in his power, and equally bound to act; and very little will ever be done. Take any one of them, and give him just the power they all had, and let the eyes of the church be turned to him alone for the enforcement of discipline, and it will be done. This is power concentrated. The other is power divided. And this very fact is the reason why in all matters, where system