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we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude; and they chose Stephen,. a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch; whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed they laid their hands on them.” Acts 6:1-6. These are generally referred to as deacons. When the church at Jerusalem was scattered on account of the persecution, then Philip, one of the seven, started into the ministry and was successful as an evangelist.
The Humble Equality of the Apostolic
Jesus set the standard of humble equality. “But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren." Matt. 23:8. “Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Matt. 23:10-12. “And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.” Luke 22:24-27.
Oh, what humbleness is here taught! “Ye are brethren." No one among you is higher than another or can possibly have from me any jurisdiction over the rest. Ye are, in this re spect, perfectly equal. He showed them how the Gentiles exalted some above others, but said, “It shall not be so among you.'
I will here insert a few extracts from history. “The church was in the beginning a community of brethren. All its members were taught of God, and each possessed the liberty of drawing for himself from the divine fountain of life. The epistles, which then settled the great questions of doctrine, did not bear the pompous title of any single man or ruler. We find from the Holy Scriptures that they began simply with these words: The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren.' Acts 15:23. But the writings of these very apostles forewarn us that from the midst of these brethren, there shall arise a power which shall overthrow this simple and primitive order.”—D'Aubigne's History of the Reformation, book I, chap. I.
“The doctrine of the church,' and of the necessity for its visible unity,' which had gained footing so early as the third century, favored the pretensions of Rome. The great bond which originally bound together the members of the church was a living faith in the heart, by which all were joined to Christ as their own head. But various causes erelong conspired to originate and develop the idea of the necessity for some exterior fellowship. Men, accustomed to the associations and political forms of an earthly country, carried their views and habits into the spiritual and everlasting kingdom of Jesus Christ. The invisible and spiritual church was identical with the visible and outward community. But soon a great distinction appeared
-the form and vital principle parted asunder. The semblance of identical and external organization was gradually substituted in place of the internal and spiritual unity which is the very essence of a religion proceeding from God. Men suffered the precious perfume of faith to escape while they bowed themselves before the empty vase that held it. Faith in the heart no longer knit together in one the members of the church. Then it united by means of bishops, archbishops, popes, miters, ceremonies, and canons. The living church retiring by degrees to the lonely sanctuary of a few solitary soulsan exterior church was substituted in place of it, and installed in all its forms as of divine