« PreviousContinue »
which our translators have r-ndered “ “ bewitched" has a secondary meaning, equivalent to “slandered” or “traduced,” as though Paul would say, 0 foolish Galatians ! who can have invented such innuendos; who can have alleged such childish things against you? Yet these silly practices have been exalted into precedents for that “pernicious nonsense against which the common voice of humanity is beginning to cry out.
II. FOOLISH IN ITS IDEA OF THE SUSTAINING ENERGY OF THE CHURCH. Its inspiration is bewitchment ; the most capricious and deceptive of all powers--if such it can be called—"a mockery, a delusion, and a snare.” More than three thousand years ago, Balaam made the discovery that neither enchantment nor divination was of any avail in matters that lay between man and his Maker. Bewitchment has always been a resort of the adversary-an element in the propagation of error—not a means of upholding the truth. The Abracadabra of Ritualism can never secure the continuous and unfailing oversight and renewing of the Holy Ghost, without which the Church could not exist a single hour; so true is it that the members of Christ's body, like the multiform creations of the material world, are vivified only by the direct inspiration of God Himself. “ Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; thou takest away their breath, they die and return to the dust."
III. FOOLISH IN ITS RETROGRESSION. “Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh ?” “Ye did run well; who did hinder you ?" More forceful is the marginal reading—“Ye did run well; who did drive you back ?" The sheep would have been safely folded, but for the silly antics of these false shepherds, who, standing in the way, with their turnings and crossings and genuflexions, their unknown tongues and flaunting vestments, scared them into bypaths, or drove them headlong to their own destruction,
Progress is the order of the Church; by Christ's own ordinance it is to go on unto perfection. The "Foolish Church" is a solecism-always advancing backwards ! Is Christ a schoolmaster to bring us to Moses ? Is that first which is spiritual, and afterwards that which is natural ?
IV. FOOLISH IN ITS ESTIMATE OF THE TRUE POSITION AND REQUIREMENTS OF HUMANITY. The Church of England has solemnly professed its belief that man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil ; so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit, and therefore in every person born unto this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation (Art. IX.). That the condition of man is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his natural strength and good works to calling upon God (Art. X.). That he is accounted righteous before Him only for the merit of Christ Jesus, and must be justified by faith in Him alone (Art. XI.).
And how does Ritualism propose to heal this great hurt, and supply this vital want? The practical blasphemy of its creed may excuse strong language. It comes to him with a travestie of the redemptive process, and turns the great mystery of godliness—God manifest in the flesh-into an acted charade! O foolish Ritualists! who should have borne the highest earthly name" Ambassadors for Christ!”—how can you have so turned back, so to become mummers and mountebanks—the dressed-up puppets of a mediæval “ Mystery,” the strolling players in our long-dead-and-buried “ Moralities?”
But this so-called Church is pre-eminently
This is the saddest item, the crowning wickedness in its whole catalogue of folly—the lower deep, beyond the lowest. “ After that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage ?" Christ had been evidently set forth before the eyes of the Galatians crucified among them. Flesh of their flesh-partaker of their nature, the echoes of his earnest voice had scarcely died out, and the
memory of his walk on earth was still so warm and fresh in their hearts; and yet they could turn from Him—from all his wonderful teachings, to another gospel, which was not another, guided by no better impulse than the bewitchments of time-serving and seducing teachers.
This phase of the sad story tells with direct power on those recreants in the Church of England who have in a similar manner turned from the truth, and been turned unto fables. If education could give grace, that Church might occupy a high place, indeed, among the Beræan nobility of Christendom. Their alma mater has been tenderly alive to the necessity of a sound and scriptural creed for her sons; and, so far as wise and well-meant laws could do it, has walled them in by ramparts reared upon a stable basis. “Holy Scripture," says her sixth Article, "containeth all things necessary to salvation, so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be received as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”
Looking round upon the pitiful shams who now minister n so many of our churches, will it be believed that every one of them has given his full assent and consent to this Article of the Church? What! The puppet who struts amongst his flowers and incense, clad in cope and chasuble, and albe and almuce, bearing on his left arm the mystic maniple, wearing at his back some sweet thing in sacramental millinery, bowing and whining before his candlesticks, exalting everything that is unnecessary to salvation, and ignoring all that is essential, requiring to be believed as an article of faith all the fripperies of his “foolish” creed, and ignorantly silent on all that relates to the common salvation ?
Yes. He who has made so pitiful a shipwreck of faith, once believed, or thought he believed, or with a lie in his right hand signed his declaration of belief, in the sufficiency of Scripture. The very thought is painful, and the more painful because too true. There are not wanting those who sympathize with the author of “The History of My Religious
HOMILETIC GLANCE AT THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
Experience,” and follow with interest the downward steps of John Henry Newman, and others of his school, groping, as they think honestly, though vainly, after Truth, and, in all earnestness and sincerity, crying, like children, for the light. But the story of the Galatian Church throws much light upon the mystery of such a fruitless “ feeling after God” by those who have been once enlightened, but, in the restlessness of an unchastened spirit, have sought to be wise above that which was written. Paul agonizes for the reconversion of those gropers in the dark, who could wilfully leave their first love ; and, had he lived in our own day, would have told us, with tears, how hard a thing it was for these lapsed priests of the Anglican community to recover their firm footing on the Rock of Ages. For the promise is not to those who, having found the right way, desire some other, but to those who, with all the love and trust of little children, commit the keeping of their souls at once and altogether to God, as unto a Faithful Creator.
1 Homiletic Glance at the Acts of the
Able expositions of the ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, describing the manners, customs, and localities described by the inspired writers ; also interpreting their words, and harmonizing their formal discrepancies, are, happily, not wanting amongst us. But the eduction of its WIDEST truths and highest suggestions is still a felt desideratum. To some attempt at the work we devote these pages. We gratefully avail ourselves of all exegetical helps within our reach; but to occupy our limited space with any lengthened archæological, geographical, or philological remarks, would be to miss ou aim; which is not to make bare the mechanical process of the study of Scripture, bat to reveal its spiritual results.
SUBJECT : Paul's final visit to Jerusalem. "And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the day following Paul went in with us unto James ; and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gen
tiles by his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law; and they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, nor to walk after the customs. Wbat is it therefore ? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads : and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them."-Acts xxi. 17-26.
ERE we have an account of Paul's fifth and final visit
to Jerusalem, the metropolis of Judea, and the mother Church of Christendom. His previous four visits have occupied our attention, and are elsewhere recorded (Chapters ix. 26; xi. 30 ; xv. 4; xviii. 21, 22). The verses now under consideration reveal to us the treatment he met with in the holy city by the evangelical Christians, the ritualistic Jews, and the Roman authority.
I. HIS TREATMENT
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS. (1.) They welcomed him. “ And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.” The word “we” includes Paul, Luke the historian, and those seven mentioned in the fourth verse of the preceding chapter. The“ brethren" includes those Christian believers whom they met immediately on their arrival ; these, we are told, received Paul and his companions “gladly." They rejoiced in their advent, as fellow believers in the Messiahship of Christ, and as the representatives of Gentile Christianity, and as the bearers of charitable contributions from distant churches to relieve those