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Romans with whom we seem to be equally intimate ; but we know no one so. well as Jesus Christ. The four Gospels compose so many series of photographic representations of his whole public career, his actions, his discourse, his end. Him, whom to know is life eternal, we know, or may know, better than any other personage in history. By these records he still lives before us. They are full of life, of his life, of the life of Him who is “ alive for evermore."
Now if we had been daily spectators of the life of this wonderful Person so represented to us, what would have been the general impression that we should have received from it as a whole? There can be but one answer. It would have been that he spent his life, to use his own words, in “ seeking and saving that which was lost." He was the Agent of invisible love, the Messenger of that unseen power which hides its glory behind the veil of nature, of that eternal life which underlies all transitory being, of that Divine wisdom on whose depths, like a green island in mid-ocean, the creation floats. Wherever we had come face to face with him-whether teaching on the Sabbath day in the humble whitewashed synagogues of Galilee; or instructing the peasantry on a fine evening beneath the shadow of the sycamores on the hill-side, when old and young, matrons and lasses, sunburnt labourers and curly-headed children, were gathered around him, looking in amazement on that countenance like lightning, surmounting a figure in the dress of an earthly carpenter; or in the golden colonnades of the Temple quadrangle, surrounded by learned men endeavouring to entangle him in his talk; whether you come upon him standing on the grassy margin of the Sea of Galilee, instructing the multitudes and feeding them with miraculous bread, or at a feast where he turns the water into wine, or at a funeral where he restores an only son to his widowed mother
-what is it that you find ? It is always the same Good Shepherd “seeking and saving that which was lost." There is no change or variation in the design of his life. He never becomes proud, or ambitious, or selfish, or worldly, or vain, or covetous. You cannot even imagine him taking the bag from Judas, to count over the common store with gladness if there were abundance, with sorrow if there were little there. His spirit was as much above mankind as the heavens are above the earth. And the superiority was that not of contempt, but of compassion. His life was living and unconquerable love. He had a power, unknown before, of reaching the depths of sinful hearts, and winning them to repentance and goodness by a Divine benignity. See him in the Temple, surrounded by the crowd of Pharisees, who have brought to him the woman taken in adultery. He challenges the sinless to throw the first stone. The adulterous hypocrites go out one by one, leaving at last the woman standing alone before her Saviour. “Hath no man condemned thee?” “No man, Lord !” “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more"! He revealed the sacred secret of heaven, that the power for conquering sin is its forgiveness. He began with forgiving her. He gave her something for which she might love God, and then sent her forth to a new life in the strength of a new and victorious motive. See him, again, at Simon's feast. Behind him there stands another wicked wornan; but her hair hangs down over her face as the veil of a blushing countenance that shrunk from the day, and with her fast-falling tears she is washing those blessed Teet for which the haughty Pharisee had ordered no hospitable bath. Those tears are hot with repentance and the humblest love. The Saviour's love has melted the hard heart, and reached the degraded spirit, and won it back to God. There is nothing like this in Greek or Roman story. Here is a power unto salvation unfelt before. It is love revealing love. It is the revelation of God We sinners need, “ blotting out our transgressions as a cloud," and opening tho door of hope to the sons and daughters of despair.
And if death tests other men's characters, what a death was his ! For eighteen
centuries all the nations of the world have never wearied in reading of it. But every one feels that in those shadows we enter into mysterious depths; that his death was not the common death of men. The people who beheld it“ smote their breasts, and returned.” The centurion who directed his crucifixion ended by the bitter cry, "Truly this was the Son of God.” But the same spirit reigned as in his life. “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves." “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” “To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." It was the self-sacrifice of love, to bring life to the world. It was a “ransom for many."
But the Scriptures teach us (our only source of knowledge on such subjects that the humanity of Jesus was a “temple” in which dwelt the “ Word made flesh," and that the visible love of his human life was but the vestibule of the Divine. Within him was a Spirit by whom the Father “made the worlds ; " and the love of this eternal Logos was the spring of all that men beheld in the earthly ministry of the Messiah. The Divine nature of Christ furnishes us with other measurements of the “ love that passeth knowledge."
1. We may estimate this love by the Father's love to him. “As the Father bath loved me, so HAVE I LOVED YOU." How much has the Father loved the Son? He has loved him from eternity. He was "in the bosom of the Father" ere he revealed him. All the power of loving possessed by the Almighty has been exerted upon him. He has been embraced with all the force and affection of the everlasting arms. “Behold mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth"! “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”! • Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life for my sheep." And only eternity will suffice for the expression of this love that passeth' knowledge. God hath “highly exalted ” him, and has set him for ever over the works of his hands. But this was a love of complacency. Christ's love to us was the love of compassion first, and of complacency only afterwards. But it was equal in force to the love of God. He loves us with the strength of the Divine nature, and will “ gave to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.” How wonderful to think that we have a Saviour who loves us, if we continue in his ways, with the fervour, the perpetuity, and the efficiency of a Divine affection! The Church is not in vain described as the “bride of the Lamb." He loves her with an immortal ardour of which all earthly affection is but the shadowy type.
2. This love of Christ, which reveals the love of God, may be measured by the strength of the law whose curse he bore for us. The whole force of Deity is thrown into the creation. The might of the eternal will pervades the universe, and gives stability to every law which controls it. The steadfastness of pbysical law is an emblem, and but an emblem, of the stability of moral law. We may form some conception of the power of law by thinking of one example of its operation, in the movement of the globe. This earth-a sphere of eight thousand miles in diameter, a vast revolving world—is hurled along in its orbit at a speed two thousand times quicker than a steam-carriage moving at thirty miles an hour, and seventy times quicker than a cannon-shot at the moment it leaves the mouth of our mightiest gun. What an idea does this give us of the force of the Dirine will, which thus impels the globe, and all globes, in their several paths throughout infinite space. Now moral law is administered with the same vigour and resolution as physical law. To suspend the action of moral law is as great a miracle as to suspend the action of physical. It is far greater. It is a greater miracle to forgive a sin, and to save a sinner, than it would be to arrest the course of all the orbs of heaven. Yet the love of Christ has availed to stay the operution of that law which made it as natural for all sinners to be lost, and to rush forward to swift destruction in hell, as for the sun to rise to-morrow morning. Such is the power of that love that passeth knowledge. The strength of sin was the law; but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.
3. This love may be measured by the eternal glory to which it will bring the objects of its grace. When we have comprehended the everlasting life which shall be the portion of every believer in heaven, when we have measured the breadth and the length of that river of life which shall flow downward through infinite duration, then only can we tell the riches of that love whence this river bursts as from its fountain. We should wonder to see a great city full of happy faces. Those which we meet in London are mostly overclouded by care. The eye generally wears a fixed expression of anxiety or sadness. A countenance all radiant with intense delight is comparatively a rare spectacle to look upon. But in heaven every soul is to be “filled” with "joy,” and that joy is to be eternal. What, then, is the love which creates this rejoicing for Jerusalem, and this joy for her people? Truly we can understand something of the meaning of the apostle's words when he says, that in the celestial city he saw "no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it,'' " and the Lamb is the light thereof." Well may we cleave with full purpose of heart to a Saviour who is 80“ full of grace and truth," and whose love reveals to us a prog. pect of gladness at the recital of which the soul, like the Queen of Sheba, almost faints away. But the very greatness of the Gospel is the evidence of its truth. Such glorious hopes could have sprung from no fallacious source. The love of Christ is a revelation beyond the reach of forgery, and a light too bright to have been kindled in the regions of despair. “ These are the true sayings of God;" and “ blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book ;' “ for the time is at hand."
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
BY THE REV. E. L. FORSTER.
(Concluded.) IV. We remark again, that the officers of for us to bear in mind that the apostle is the Church are spiritual men, and therefore writing to the Corinthians respecting the it may be termed a spiritual house. Though supernatural and miraculous gists which Jesus Christ is placed at the head of his were so liberally bestowed upon them, and own house, and exercises supreme authority that he is warning them against the abuse there, still he has, in his infinite goodness of them. These special gifts of the Holy and wisdom, made provision for the wise Ghost were intended to answer a special administration of his own laws, and for purpose in the primitive Church, and the carrying out of his own glorious and having answered that purpose they were benevolent purposes on the earth, by the to cease ; just as when the building is appointment of appropriate officers to pre finished the scaffolding is taken away. But side over his Church. The apostle Paul there were officers who were to exist as tells us, that “he gave some, apostles; and long as the Church of Christ should en. some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and dure. These are what are called bishops, some, pastors and teachers; for the perfect. or elders, or presbyters, or pastors, and ing of the saints, for the work of the deacons. Paul, in writing to Timothy, ministry, for the edifying of the body of speaks of these two classes of officers. He Christ." And in another place he says, says, “If a man desire the office of a that “God hath set some in the bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, then must be blameless, the husband of thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then one wise, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, gifts of healings, helps, governments, di given to hospitality, apt to teach ; not versities of tongues." " But it is important I given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre ; but patient, not a brawler, nor | such as archbishops, bishops, deans, subcovetous ;” “not a novice, lest being lifted deans, prebends and canons, minor canons, up with pride he fall into the condemna- priests, vicars, rectors and curates, &c.; tion of the devil.” He goes on to say, and we object also to this ecclesiastical * Likewise must the deacons be grave, not system because there is not sufficient care double-tongued, not given to much wine, displayed to keep out of these sacred offices not greedy of filthy lucre ; holding the unspiritual men, men of the world, men mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. who merely look upon the work of the And let these also first be proved; then let ministry as a profession, as a means of obthem use the office of a deacon, being found taining a respectable livelihood and posi. blameless.” “ For they that have used the tion. We do not deny that there are office of a deacon well purchase to them. numbers of pious, spiritual, and devoted selves a good degree, and great boldness in ministers of Christ in the Established the faith which is in Christ Jesus." The Church. We rejoice that it is 80; but apostle, in the opening of bis letter to the what we deplore is, that so many enter Philippians, addresses the three classes of upon the ministry without a sense of the persons of which the Church was com responsibility connected with it, and with posed. He says, “Paul and Timotheus, out a spiritual fitness for their work. None the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the ought to be bishops or deacons but those saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, who are spiritual, holy, and devoted to with the bishops and deacons.” It is not God. We further object to the National difficult to prove that the sacred writers Church because its members have no voice apply the terms bishop, presbyter, elder, in the appointment of their ministers. pastor, to the same Officers in the People may choose their own lawyers, and Church. We are told, in Acts XX., that doctors, and tradesmen, but they must not Paul when at Miletus sent to Ephesus, have anything to do with the selection of and called the elders of the Church; those who are to be their spiritual guides. and in his address to them when they Many of these are fixed upon by the came he urged them “to take heed to Government, many by the universities, themselves, and to all the flock, over the many by the bishops, and many by private which the Holy Ghost had made them over patrons. The people are compelled to reseers ;” or as it might with propriety have ceive whoever is sent, be he saint or sin. been rendered, bishops. The apostle Peter ner, be he fit or unfit, be he likely to save seems to have used the terms interchange souls or lead them blindfold to hell. There ably. He says, “The elders' which are is no guarantee in the system that the men among you I exhort, who am also an elder." appointed to the work of the ministry “ Teed the flock of God which is among shall be what we term spiritual or godly you, taking the OVERSIGHT thereof, not by men. From these and such-like considerconstraint, but willingly ; not for filthy ations we are dissenters from the Establucre, but of a ready mind." An apostoli lished Church of the kingdom. I know it cally constituted church of Christ consists may be retorted by those who differ from of a congregation of believers meeting for us, that “those who live in glass houses Divine worsbip in some given place, and should not throw stones." True. We are who, of their own free choice, have elected aware that now and then unspiritual and a bishop, or bishops, and deacons, to pre unconverted men get into the ministry side over them, and to manage their affairs. amongst ourselves. This is, however, in These we believe to be the Divinely. au spite of our system; and means are soon thorized officers of the church. We believe taken to remove them from their sacred that none but godly or spiritual men ought office when they are found to be unworthy to be chosen by the church. The passages of it. The house Jesus Christ is erecting of Scripture already quoted prove this is a spiritual one. Its officers as well as its beyond all question ; and the duties which members are therefore to be spiritual. these officers have to discharge show us V. We observe once more, that it may that none but converted persons can con be called a spiritual house because the lavos scientiously discharge them. We object to | by which it is governed are spiritual in the Established Church of this kingdom, their origin and character. Every kingand refuse to identify ourselves with it, be dom, corporation, or house, must have laws cause it has appointed a number of unau by which it is ordered and governed. The thorized official persons to rule over it, ' nation to which we belong has its code of wise and salutary laws, by which our lives, i verned by laws not of Christ's making, but and property, and liberty, are protected, by those enforced upon it by an earthly and by which peace and good order are Government. What an anomaly it is that preserved and established. Every house, the Church itself, consisting as it does of consisting of parents, and children, and archbishops and bishops, deans, sub-deans, servants, must have rules or laws by which prebends and canons, rectors and curates, it is regulated. If every one was allowed and private members, should not be able to to do what he thought to be right in his make the least alteration in any of her serown eyes, all sorts of domestic evils would vices or offices, though that alteration be the result. The Church of Christ has might be ever so great an improvement. its code of rules or laws. These are not They are tied hand and foot through the earthly in their origin or in their character. golden fetters that bind them to the State. The Bible is the statute-book containing all The change they desire may be Scriptura), the directions and precepts to be obeyed may be vital, may be indispensable to their by the members of this spiritual house. prosperity as a religious community, and Christ is the Head of the Church. He is yet they cannot bring it about of themthe source of all spiritual authority. He selves. They must depend for its accomreigns as King in Zion. It does not seem plishment upon the Houses of Parliament, likely that he would neglect to give to his consisting as they do of persons connected own Church the laws which were essential with all sects and parties. Is it not a to its prosperity and advancement in the strange and false position for a Church of earth. I know that some people say, that Christ to be in, to have its laws made by though the New Testament contains all Roman Catholics, Jews, Quakers, Presbythe doctrines necessary to be believed, and terians, Wesleyans, Independents, Baptists, all the precepts requisite to constitute a and Unitarians, and it may be infidels as rule of life to Christians, still that there is well, for there is no positive and formida no exact direction given respecting the able barrier to prevent such entering the organization and discipline of the Church. I House of Representatives. Just think : the They say that it is needful to have recourse Church of Christ reduced to such a state to tradition to assist us in finding out what I of servitude ; her limbs fettered and is the constitution of a Christian Church, cramped, unable to move in the right diand what are the laws by which it is to be rection unless she is permitted to do so by governed ; that we must ransack the musty | a Parliament composed of such heterorecords of antiquity to ascertain what is geneous ingredients. We say, let Christ be the true apostolic model of this spiritual looked upon as the Head of his own house. Now we are ready to admit that I Church ; we say, let his heavenly and the New Testament does not supply us spiritual laws be respected and revered ; with every minute detail or circumstance. we say, let his people be free to carry out It does, however, give us the broad and the convictions of their minds, which are palpable outline. It chalks out in plain honestly and Scripturally formed by the and bold characters what the Church of study of the New Testament; and then it Christ is. The sketch is vividly portrayed will be seen that the Church of the Saviour by a Divinely inspired pencil. None need is indeed a spiritual house, that it is remain in doubt about its nature and con governed not by physical but moral force, stitution, or about the laws by which it is that it is supported not by compulsory but to be governed. Take the word of God as voluntary contributions, and that it is deyour guide, read it thoughtfully, submit signed to answer heavenly and not earthly to its teachings, and you will learn what ends. are the laws which Jesus Christ has im VI. This leads us to observe, that it is a posed upon his Church, and by which they spiritual house because the ends it is inare to be governed. This is his royal tended to answer are spiritual and Divine. statute-book. No Parliamentary enact Governments and institutions do not exist ments, no ecclesiastical decrees, must be for their own sakes. They are formed to allowed to interfere with his injunctions. accomplish certain useful and desirable He has delegated to no human authority purposes. They are means to an end or the right to impose laws upon his re ends. Our own, for instance, has been esdeemed Church, his spiritual house. We tablished for the preservation of the lives, conscientiously object to the Established property, and liberty of those who are Church of this country because it is go. l subject to it. These ends, however, though