« PreviousContinue »
the spirit of commercial enterprise, and through the teaching of the Holy mainly impelled by the engrossing Spirit. We are not to be wise above pursuit of material prosperity, and that which is written. Paul was not the expansion of sensuous demands ; allowed to record what he saw, by the marvellous development of physi- supernatural vision, when he was cal and physiological science, threat
“caught up to the third heaven." ening even the philosophy of the (2 Cor. xii. 2.) But, in the scene of mind in the physiology of the body; the “Transfiguration," when a transithe open unbelief of hundreds of
tory glimpse of the majesty of Christ, philosophers and men of science, who
as He shall appear in His future feel themselves constrained to deny glory on earth and in heaven, was altogether the existence of a soul as allowed to the disciples, they exa principle distinct from the mere
claimed how good it was to be there, functions of the brain, and by conse- and they wanted it to continue ; but quence, its life beyond the grave; the
surely this did not unfit them for semi-scepticism prevalent among the apostolic ardour in preaching and people, thousands of whom, absorbed
suffering for Christ's sake. in the cares of this world, and the
Now, the object of these remarks is deceitfulness of riches,' have insensi
not to tempt people so to pry into the bly outgrown their ancestral creeds, - realities of the future state as to unfit these circumstances can only serve them for the duties of the present; but to deepen the interest concerning the just the contrary. The intention is to peculiar importance and significance give such an insight as revelation leads of the soul's immortality. There is
us to indulge, in order to brighten hope, this one favourite and boasted point to animate desire, and quicken our which may be conceded to spiritual- steps in the gain of the celestial prize ists;' that they stoutly maintain the and crown set before us; just as when doctrine of the soul's future everlasting a distant view is gained from a lofty existence."
mountain height, of the city and home "In all ages," says a modern writer, to which the traveller or pilgrim is “ there has been an irresistible long- anxiously tending, and is presented ing in the human mind to penetrate to his eager gaze as the bourne of his into the unknown-into the future.
heart's ambition, be is animated with Very few are content in living on,
new vigour to press onward, and thus day after day, without a thought be
he obtains a better knowledge of the yond the present life; and most of journey before him, and of the gain those who are looking forward to
awaiting him if he perseveres to the heaven as their eternal home, would
end : like to be informed as to the kind of
“While he surveys the much-loved spot, place it is. For wise, irrefutable
He slights the space that lies between; reasons, the Almighty has not satisfied His past fatigues are now forgot, these cravings." The writer goes on Because his journey's end is seen : to say that if we were to obtain one “Thus, when the Christian pilgrim views, of these glimpses, it might so dazzle By faith, his mansion in the skies, us as to unfit us for every-day duties. The sight his fainting strength renews, What would the followers of
And wings his speed to reach the prize." Swedenborg say to this? for their
(To be continued.) Emanuel professes to have had thirty years of almost uninterrupted com
THE EPHESIAN STATE OF THE munication with very bright angels
CHURCH IN ENGLAND. in the invisible world of spirits !
The excessive cultivation of the WHEN the sober minded Christian spiritual faculties has almost always student of our Ecclesiastical history a deteriorating effect on the natural contemplates the present condition and physical frame and health. With-, of the Church in our isle, and conin appointed limits, remembering that trasts it with that of her state in her we are mortal, the same is proper, earlier days, he feels anxious to asdutiful, and healthful. These bound- certain whether sacred Church hisaries are well defined in Holy Writ, tory can furnish a parallel to our own
experience. This problem exercised ing of the text of Holy Scripture to my thoughts for a considerable time. enforce its truth; but with us “upon I think I found the parallel. With whom the end of the world is come," permission, I submit the result to especially in this our day, when we the readers of THE HEBREW CHRISTIAN are too apt to lull ourselves to sleep WITNESS AND PROPHETIC INVESTIGA- with the cry of “Peace, peace, when TOR.
there is no peace :” to us standing as The parallel I found is furnished we verily do in an almost exact in the history of the Church which counterpart of the Ephesian condiwas at Ephesus, in the days of yore. tion, the strict rendering of the words The following is the warning which of inspiration must be all important; the beloved disciple was enjoined to for they were “written for our learnwrite to that church in her lattering." days:*_“Nevertheless I have some- Let us then study the sad history what against thee, because thou hast brought before us in the words of Jesus left thy first love. Remember there just adduced, taking them in their fore from whence thou art fallen, and original rendering: “Nevertheless, I repent, and do the first works; or have against thee, because thou hast else I will come unto thee quickly, left thy first love." The Ephesian and will remove thy candlestick out Church was, I may say, an exact of his place, except thou repent." counterpart of what the Church of "Nevertheless, I have somewhat England is at the present time. She against thee," would seem to imply was most highly favoured: she had to us in this generation—with our learned to shine as a bright light in present acceptation of the word—as this weary world; she was full of if the church to whom these words labours of love and patience; and were written was in a good posi- she “could not endure that which tion, that she was on the whole pros- was evil;" to her St. Paul wrote that perous, zealous, and commendable, beautiful epistle in which, as every and that there was only some little careful reader well knows, not one triling thing, some “root of bitter- word of fault-finding occurs; to her ness," that needed amendment he could write: “Wherefore I also, wanted taking up, in order to her after I heard of your faith in the becoming perfect and without blame Lord Jesus and love unto all saints, at all. To us it might read in some cease not to give thanks for you, such form as this :
making mention of you in my "I know thy high standing, thy prayers.” Of her he writes that she holiness, thy patience—there is but “ built upon the foundation of one little thing I have against thee: the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ remove that somewhat, and thou Himself being the chief corner stone." wilt be in a good and healthy state." It was for this Church that St. But this is very far from the true
bowed his knees unto the meaning of the solemn words ad- Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that dressed to the angel of the church of He would grant unto them, according Ephesus. Most learned commenta- to the riches of His glory, to be tors agree that in the original Greek, strengthened with might by His there was no word used in any way Spirit in the inner man, and that whatever corresponding to this “some- Christ dwelling in their hearts by what:" that if we would read it faith they might be able to comprecorrectly we should leave that word hend with all saints what was the ont altogether. That this is true, breadth and length and depth and and that it is also most important, height, and so to know the surpasswill appear as I proceed with my ing love of Christ, that they might be analysis. In days gone by, when filled with all the fulness of God." the end of the Ephesian Church was And so advanced were they in Church fresh in the minds of men, it did not doctrine, so matured in the “deep perhaps require such a strict render- things of God," that he hesitated not
to write to them of that mystic unity • Rev. ü. 4, 5.
when he says:
“ There is one body
and one Spirit, even as ye are called donia, that thou mightest charge in one hope of your calling; one them that they teach no other docLord, one faith, one baptism, one trine, neither give heed to fables and God and Father of all, who is above endless genealogies, which minister all, and through all, and in you all." questions, rather than godly edifying
But it was not long ere St. Paul which is in faith." with prophetic vision observed a St. Paul saw too clearly the last “root of bitterness," which was des- perilous times dawning upon the tined to spring up and yield deadly Ephesian Church. When he ordained fruit; even, in the very words pre- Timothy as their bishop, he knew ceding those just quoted, he seems too well “that evil men and seducers to hint at what would be the cause would wax worse and worse, deceiv. of the fall of that church. These are ing and being deceived." No doubt the words, “Endeavouring to keep he hoped fervently that Timothy, by the unity of the Spirit in the bond of his sound doctrine and holy life, peace.” And it was here that the would be enabled, under God, "to Ephesian Church failed; it was here turn their hearts back again.” Alas! it that she fell. She did not keep was not so ; neither Paul nor Timothy united; sects rose up in her midst : could prevail. So St. John, the beinstead of remembering the ONENESS loved disciple, was sent unto them. of the body, she broke up into parties It was an especial lack of love—this and sections; one said, “I am of was the sin of the Ephesian Church. Paul; another, I am of Cephas; * She left her first love," and so the another, I of Christ"-She resisted apostle of love was sent to her to win authority; she did not abide in her back, if that were possible; when he the old paths. She who had once was so infirm that he could not walk, been so famed for unity and love, he was carried into the church at began to fall away from her high Ephesus, and there delivered his pastanding.
thetic sermon, "Love one another ; St. Paul saw all this, and it my little children, love one another." pained him exceedingly. He wrote, But all was of no avail: “Diotrophes" *. This I know, that after my depar- still“ loved to have the pre-eminence," ture shall grievous wolves enter and would not receive the exhortain, which shall not spare the flock; tion. also of your own SELVES shall men And now what could be done for arise speaking perverse things to this far gone church? She had in draw away diciples after them." The turn rejected S. Paul, S. Timothy, and apostle saw all this long before, S.John. What can be done more by he had instructed them well in Chris- the Lord, for this His vineyard? He tian doctrine, he had demonstrated has sent His most learned and skilled to them the power of the Spirit; the husbandmen to dress and watch over hollowness of mere form ; he had ex- it, and call it to repentance: yet, horted them “ to fight the good fight when He looked for grapes, it brought of faith, and lay hold on eternal life;" forth only “wild grapes.
What to “take unto themselves the whole more could be done? With man, it armour of God," that in “the evil
seemed impossible to do any more ; day" they might be able " to stand," but not so with God. Loving His and “having done all, to stand." people at the first, He loves them But his words did not avail, and so to the end ; nor will He let them go he sends to them Timothy, he or- into the pit of everlasting perdition dains him as their Bishop, hoping, no without frequent and strong efforts to doubt, by these means, with God's save them from eternal ruin. blessing, to cure their heresies, and And so it was with the Ephesian keep them steadfast in the true fold Church, though Paul and Timothy of Christ; and in his epistle to Tim- and John have each tried, and each othy, we find how well he instructed failed, yet shall they have one chance his son in the faith. He wrote to more. Jesus Himself will speak to him; “I besought thee to abide still them from heaven, and so by the at Ephesus when I went into Mace- mouth of His aged apostle, He thus
addresses them as a last appeal to But the loving Jesus could not prevail win their heart back again : any more than his ministets to bring
“ Unto the angel of the church of them to repentance-proving a striking Ephesus, write : These things saith commentary on the word, "If they He that holdeth the seven stars in hear not Moses nor the prophets, His right hand, who walketh in the neither will they be persuaded though midst of the seven golden candle- rose from the dead.” They sticks: I know thy works and thy even refused to hear Him who spake labours and thy patience, and how from heaven, and they went on to thou canst not bear them which are ruin. evil, and thou hast tried them which And now, my friends, where is the say they are apostles and are not, Ephesian Church ? and hast found them liars; and hast Recent Christian travellers say borne and hast patience; and for My that they visited Ephesus, and found Dame's sake hast laboured and hast there but two or three Christians, and not fainted. Nevertheless, I have even they were in a very dark and against thee, because thou hast left ignorant state with regard to the thy first love. Remember, therefore, vital doctrines of the Christian faith, from whence thou art fallen, and re- May we not say, “How are the mighty pent and do the first works, or else I fallen ?" will come unto thee quickly and will And now, may God give us grace remove the candlestick out of his to lay to heart the application of all place, except thou repent.” Our lov- this to our country, our Church, and ing Jesus did not forget the former ourselves. high standing of this Church-her As we traced out the state of the former good works, nor is it to be Ephesian Church, we must have been thought that even then, at her worst struck with its almost exact likeness state, there was not a small remnant to that of the Church of England in of faithful and true men, who walked the present time. Are we not. rift on still in the old paths serving the into parties and sects? Do any two Lord their God.
pulpits of our land agree in a certain It is very comforting to know that sound? On one side, is there not the Jesus forgets nothing; every act of extreme ritualist who forgets that love and obedience is treasured up in form is but the husk or shell which the heart of Him who said, Who- should enclose as a kernel the spirit soever shall give to drink a cup of of love and holiness, rather than be the cold water in the name of a disciple, sine qua non of religion ?-who would shall in no wise lose his reward." take us back to the darkness of Rome Thus much for its comfort: now for rather than increase our Gospel the warning. If men will persist in light? And on the other hand, are “ leaving their first love;” if a church there not those who reject form as a church, and as individuals, will altogether, pass by the apostolic not repent and turn to God, she will injunction, “Let all things be done in the end be cut off; the deep depth decently and in order;" who pave for of Christ's love cannot save her; by themselves salvation's road, making the very compassion of the Saviour, smooth (as they think) their path to will she stand condemned.
heaven? Surely in each of these Mark the words spoken to the extremes there wanteth not sin. Each Ephesian Church : “ Remember from is in an Ephesian state. To such is whence thou art fallen, and repent." the warning voice now sent, “Repent;" And these words were spoken to
“ thou hast left thy first love, be zeamembers of Christ's Church-bap- lous, therefore, and repent, or else I tized into Him. After all, they needed will come unto thee quickly, and will the Baptist's cry of “Repent;" with remove thy candlestick out of his all their far advancement in religious place, except thou repent.” knowledge, yet they had gone back. Oh, may we all learn from the sad So far back had they gone, that the fate of the Eastern Church-whose Saviour comes and bids them begin candlestick was verily removed again, even “do their first works." whose light became darkness, that the same fate will befall the Western "holiness, without which no man unless she repent.
sball see the Lord." My friends, as the Church of Let the battle with our own inward Christ is made up of many members, corruptions and temptations be our so this call to repentance becomes a greatest struggle. Let others wrangle personal call, and it must penetrate as they will about a creed, a posture, or into each separate heart of each sheep a vestment; let our battle be within, of Christ; and as each hears and re- against those ever opposing truant pents and does first works, so will the thoughts, desires, and affections that whole Church be repenting and turn- are of the earth earthy, and ever ing to God.
tend to mar the work of grace in our Would to God that the sound from souls. all our pulpits was one of “repentance
earnestly contend for toward God, and faith toward our the faith once delivered to the saints," Lord Jesus Christ.” Would that our and uphold steadfastly " the truth as clergy considered the one important it is in Jesus." Let us at the same message they had to deliver, instead time remember the grand and noble of preaching up a system or a sect! character by which those who bore Would that the call in our Churches our name in the ages gone by were was to holiness of life and spiri- known; even this—" See how these tuality of mind at home, in the world, Christians love one another.” Thus let as well as in the Church. Would our love abound ever more and more; that a real, loving, pure Gospel love to God, love to Christ, love to teaching took the place of the cold, the brethren, love to sinners, love to speculative, self-sufficient theology of souls; a love that will lead us to our times.
pray for all those that hate us, to do Let us one and all arouse ourselves, good to those who despitefully use lest, sinking into the Ephesian state, and persecute us; a love in short we rush headlong to destruction. The which, proceeding from the throne of word of repentance is still preached God, shall lead those in whom it to us ; to us the Gospel is still sent; dwells to the presence of God for and we have the words of the Prophet ever and ever. Jeremiah sounding in our ears, urg- And may we also be found ever in ing us to shun the evil and cleave to the attitude of prayer for our Zion, the good.
that God will be pleased to bless us, “Shall I not visit for these things, to deliver us from wicked, double and shall not my soul be avenged on dealing, and crafty men, preserving us such a nation as this? Go ye up evermore in the true faith and docupon her walls, and destroy: but trine of His most holy word. make not a full end; take away her Taking our stand thus, by hearty battlements, for they are not the repentance and true faith and fervent Lord's."
love, we shall be doing our part to May England's Church escape the draw down God's blessing and avert fate of the Ephesian. Remember
His curse. that are exalted very high. And, the more we study the state “ What nation is there that hath the of the Ephesian Church, and the sad Lord their God so nigh unto them?" end to which that state led, the more Let us guard against pride, against we shall see what a vivid comparison self-will, against heresy, against may be drawn between their state party spirit on one side or the other ; and our own at the present time. let us each remain in our appointed A great attainment of holiness is place, not going hither and hither no safeguard against an ultimate fall; with itching ears, ever desiring to hence the need of the exhortation, see or hear some new thing; let us “Let him that thinketh he standeth, abide where God has placed us ; let take heed lest he fall." us walk on in the good old paths which We, as a Church, have made a our forefathers have trod before us, vast attainment in holiness, and we and let all our religious zeal be di- have arrived to just that critical rected after the attainment of that point when we shall either go back