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ceases when we recollect how fallible a creature man is, and that the most enlightened disciple is prone to err the moment he allows his fleshly judgment to act.
Though the Holy Spirit is given to every believer, wo have to keep ourselves in subjection to his guidance, and unless we keep watchful, failure is sure to follow. Hence the exhortations of Scripture— "Grieve not the Holy Spirit," "Quench not the Spirit," &c.
The leaders of this movement no doubt desired to be Scriptural, and in adopting the distinctive title of "The Brethren" considered it a term almost synonymous with " Christian." But the name has become as much a badge of a sect as that of "Baptist." "The Brethren" doubtless thought it impossible to walk in separation from corruption and false teaching without becoming a distinct order. This, however, was mere human judgment, and is entirely opposed to the AVord of God. Any Christians, however few, who may act upon such a Scripture as 2 Tim. ii. 19— 22, and separate from all that dishonours the name of Christ, and follow "righteousness, faith, love, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart," have no need to ticket themselves, or fix upon a name. There is but one body and one Head; the name of the Head is "christ;" the name for each member of the body is "christian,"—nothing more is needed, everything added is a liindrance.
"The Brethren," however, in real, simple faith in the abiding presence of the "Comforter," became diligent and dependent Searchers of the Scriptures; the truth was wondrously opened up to them, and they rejoiced in "tho liberty with which Christ had made thorn free." They became, a company of true worshippers, worshipping the Father in Spirit and in truth." They accepted tho glorious revelations of God respecting Christ and his Church; they became a Waiting people, having been "turned from idols to servo the living and truo God, and to Wait for his Son from heaven." Their spiritual search into Scripture brought to thoir joyful souls the intelligence that the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be looked for and hoped for by all believers—that the coming of tho Lord for his Bride is quite a different thing from his coming to earth in judgment;— that though both events are distinctly foretold, they are most emphatically stated as separate;—that, in truth, when the Lord comes for the Church he will descend into the Air (1 Thess. iv. 17), whereas when He appears in judgment, previously to setting up his Millennial reign, he will come to the Earth. Moreover, that the final judgment of the unsaved dead is again quite distinct from, and not to be confused with, tho judgment of tho nations upon the earth. It became also evident to these students of the Word, under tho guidance of God the Holy Spirit, that, though Scripture plainly declares "wo shall all stand before tho judgment seat of Christ," true believers will never stand to be judged for their sins, because tho Judg.3 himself has put them away, blotted them out for ever by the Sacrifice of Himself. They also learned that when tho believer stands before the judgment seat, he will have been already
changed into the likenese of Christ, and that therefore the only questions to be gone into by the One who went away to prepare heavenly places for his people will bo concerning the bestowal of His rewards; "Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be." Tho inquiring reader is referred to 1 Cor. iii. 10—15, which clearly shows the character of our Lord's judgment when dealing with his dear blood-bought friends.
Our readers will perceive that our object is not to "cry up" "the Brethren," of whom we are not, but to give that which we think many need—a brief statement of their "standing"
"The Brethren" soon began to multiply. Meetings for worship, teaching, tec. were established in Dublin, London, Bristol, Plymouth, and many other places. The assemblies were mostly held, as they are still, in obscure neighbourhoods, in rooms of the most unpretending character. Following the practice of the earliest churches, they came together on the "First Day of the week " for the special purpose of "breaking bread," in order to "show the Lord's death till he come," as the Lord ordained. Gradual but steady progress in the knowledge of the mind of God, characterised tho Brethren for some years, and many souls rejoiced in the liberty of the truth. But, in course of time, there came to pass that of which Paul warned the Ephesian saints,— men arose "teaching perverse things to draw away disciples after them." A very grievous heresy began to be taught at the gathering at Plymouth, viz. "That the Lord Jesus Christ, as man, was associated with the place of distance in which man in tho flesh was, and therefore that he had through obedience to find his way to that point where God could meet IFim," Sf-c. This is a specimen of the teaching put forth.
It is well understood that but very few were tainted with this heresy; but it became the occasion of a permanent rupture. Some who had obtained a very prominent position as leaders among "the Brethren" insisted upon the excommunication, not only of any who received the heretical teacher or teachers, but of whole gatherings that declined to deal with tho question at the dictation of certain self-constituted rulers. We have long had the impression that tho section which resisted this assumed authority became knownas"thePlymouthBrethren," while the despotic party specially repudiated the local title and maintained their claim to be "the Brethren." We are assured, however, that this is not so, but that the term "Plymouth " came into use at a time when the Christians who came out from systematic religion in that place were rather numerous, and wo suppose were not very well informed as to the fact that tho precious truths opened up to them were being widely promulgated in other towns and cities.
This, however, is very unimportant. That which is of far greater interest to us is, that, as wo are informed, all sections of "the Brethren" and "Plymouth Brethren" utterly repudiate the false doctrine; that the one who introduced it has long since ceased to have any connection with either party; and that he has himself recanted.
In this rupture, however, is manifested one of the many evils arising out of the first mistake made by "the Brethren" in taking a name to distinguish them from their fellow Christians. Had they been content with simple Scriptural usage in the matter, their meetings would have been but Christian assemblies, as the early churches were; and none but those meetings which were tainted with false doctrine would have had to deal with it, probably it would have been confined to a single gathering. But with a distinctive name came a distinct organisation. As a mere human arrangement, "Brethrenism" has failed, as man's cloverness always does; yet so much of it as was of God (we mean as to principles of association) has stood, and will stand. "The Brethren," from the first, came together in the power of the Lord's assurance—"Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them." Owning the Head of the Church as present in their midst, and subjecting themselves individually to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, their assemblies still present (to the astonishment of Christians who follow the letter, but not the spirit, of God's word) numbers of believers worshipping "the Father" in spirit and in truth, and realising, in measure, while yet upon earth, their heavenly portion as eternally associated with Christ, the Son of God. It is not a small thing for little gatherings of true followers of Christ to company together, and realise the Lord Jesus in their midst; yet this may, with certainty, be said of the meetings of " the Brethren."
But as a consequence of having combined together under this name—a body separated from "the one body," i.e., the body of Christ,—they have to bear, more or less, the odium of whatever false teaching has emanated from any one of their gatherings. Thus, not only the enemies of the cross of Christ, but Christians, who, through self-interest or other unworthy motives, seek to prevent the return of believers to the simplicity and blessing of the first days of "the Church of God," sneeringly apply such a term as " Plymouth Brethrenism" to those who, in the exercise of a good conscience, have separated from whatever they consider dishonouring to the name of Christ. Among teachers in Christendom generally, there are few who can be compared with those found among "the Brethren" in the faithful exposition of the Scriptures; none know better than they that there is but "one body," comprising all the members of Christ. Yet, marvellous to Bay, they persist in constituting themselves another body!
"We purpose, if the Lord permit, in our next number, to show wherein "the Brethren" have otherwise fallen short in faithfulness by slighting the Lord's ordinance of Baptism. May the facts into which we have been looking stir the Lord's people everywhere to increased carefulness, and an earnest, stedfast conformity to the Holy Word and the Holy Spirit of God.
THE PROPHET OF THE LORD MUST SPEAK ONLY WHAT THE LORD SAITH.
"And the messenger that was gone to call Micaiali .spake to him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets dcclaro good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak good. And Micaiali said, As the Lord liveth, what tho Lord Saith unto me, That will I speak."—(1 Kings xxii. 13, 14.)
The incidents narrated in 1 Kings xxii. and 2 Chron. xviii. are full of instruction for such as are willing to learn under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, had hitherto been careful to follow the precepts and commandments of the Lord, and had been jealous for the glory of God. For this faithfulness God had prospered him. But he fell into temptation. "Bo had riches and honour in abundance," (2 Chron. xviii.) he had hundreds of thousands of soldiers at his command, and, as if to display his power, he "joined affinity with Ahab," the sinful king of Israel, "which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up." Alas! for the union of Jehoshaphat and Ahab; though brief, nothing but evil could come of it. May the children of God take the lesson to heart! How many Jehoshaphats are there at the present time fighting in a common cause, hand in hand, with the enemies of God? It may be ostensibly fighting for the Lord, but He will never own their labours.
Ahab gladly welcomed the arrival of the king of Judah: "he killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance." Ah, it is very enticing to be received in this way, and to be made much of; but mark what follows. In the midst of the feasting, Ahab "persuaded him to go up with him to Ramoth-gilead," to fight against Syria. Jehoshaphat had misgivings about it. Ho knew in his soul that the expedition could not succeed unless approved by God; he therefore said to the king of Israel, "Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord to-day." "Therefore the king of Israel gathered together of prophets 400 men, and said unto them, Shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up: for God will deliver it into the king's hand."
This was very satisfactory to Ahab. If the prophets will only prophesy in accordance with the desires of wicked men, their words will always be welcome. But this is the very height of folly; for what real encouragement can be found in the oracles of lying prophets? The 400 prophets prophesied in the name of God, and professed to ascribe to God all the glory of the victory they foretold. There was perfect unanimity and absolute confidence. "All the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king." But—
What a solemn lesson is here! May the reader learn it thoroughly. Who were these 400 prophets? They took the place of being prophets of God; but they were in fact the King's pnoniETS! They must consequently prophesy for the king; and they therefore accept the inspiration of a lying spirit, instead of that of the Holy Spirit of God. Ahab is well pleased with his prophets; they have nothing to say but what would exactly suit their master's purpose. He listens to their honeyed words, caring nought about the hidden, lying source whence they flow, and is lured by them to his own destruction. Ah, there have always been such prophets; and they abound —these prophets of the king—in our day. Oh, beware of them; they prophesy smooth things ; their word is ever "Go up, and prosper.'' They have nothing to say against self-will and carnal desires; they pronounce God's blessing upon your undertakings with confidence and unanimity. But they themselves are not subject to the " Spirit of the Lord ;" and their word will prove to be nothing but a delusion and a snare.
However satisfactory to the king of Israel, these words of the prophets afford little encouragement to Jehoshaphat. Though erring for a time, he knew the value of God's guidance. He does not, it is true, disown Ahab's prophets, but he is not satisfied with them. "And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire of him?" Yes, that is what tho earnest enquirer wants—not the ready promises of those who may bear a mere official standing as prophets, but the true testimony of "a prophet of the Lord."
*' And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Mieaiah, the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him: for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so." Mieaiah is therefore summoned in haste; and the messenger sent for him takes upon himself to deprecate anything like an adverse answer to the question the kings of Israel and Judah wish to propound. "The prophets have declared good unto the king," will he not speak as one of them? "And Mieaiah said, As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak."
Micaiah's faithfulness has to be fully put to the proof. Ahab and Jehoshaphat arrayed in their royal robes, and surrounded by their retinues and the prophets who have responded so cordially to the wishes of the kings, were calculated to seduce or overawe the prophet of God. But the servant is true to his trust. He has received the word of the Lord, and there shall be no doubt left as to what is the mind of God about the proposed expedition. Mieaiah is undismayed by the splendour of the scene, —undeterred by the frown of Ahab or the consciousness that his message is most unwelcome, or the fact that his voice is the only adverse one. The 400 prophets may scorn him, and Zedekiah may smite him on the cheek; but Mieaiah falters not. Regardless of consequences, he tells them the inevitable result of their attack upon Eamoth-gilead. "Ahab shall there be slain and the people shall be scattered." How they despised his words! what a pitiful figure did Mieaiah present, according to men's thoughts, in the midst of that scene of excitement and earthly grandeur! How eagerly the sophists of our own time, had they been there, would have sought to
stifle his faithful testimony. "Consider," they might have said, "that though Ahab is a bad man, Jehoshaphat is one approved of the Lord; refrain, for his sake, or at least modify the severity of your judgment. Then, again, see what confusion you are creating; here are 400 prophets—and you cannot deny that they are prophets—yet they say with one voice, Go up and prosper. Surely you must be wrong. It is really too bad to oppose. All these men, who are as good as you—perhaps better, have as much right to their opinion as you have to yours. You know that many of God's words admit of different interpretations. You are positively bringing all prophets into disrepute—who will believe anything if one controverts what is stated by the others? Then, too, do you not see how angry you are making the king? what will become of you if you persist in your singular views?"
All this, and much more, such reasoners argue now, and doubtless would have done then. But Mieaiah has got one simple answer to it all—" What the Lord saith unto me that will I speak." Ah, this is very precious ; how it simplifies everything! May we be careful to have it "Thus saith the Lord," and then tes ify in defiance of every opposition.
God's Word is sure—not one jot or tittle of it can fail. Ahab wreaks his malice upon the messenger of God ; he consigns Mieaiah to prison, with bread and water for his fare. But in that place the prophet has a portion the King knows nothing of, "the peace of God which passeth all understanding," and he has doubtless a high reward in the glory which is to be revealed. The ruler of Israel may display his power for a little while; but he is fighting against God. Vainly does he seek to avoid his doom by disguising himself before going into the battle. "A man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the King between the joints of the harness." Thus he had by his disguise escaped the captains of the king of Syria, but to fall by the arrow of a nameless warrior. The man drew the bow "at a venture," but an unseen power sped the shaft. Jehoshaphat fought with the Israelites in the battle, and barely escaped destruction at the hands of the Syrian captains, who mistook him for Ahab. Returning afterwards to Jerusalem in peace, he had to bear the reproof of Jehu, son of Hanani, the seer, "who went out to meet him, and said to the king, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord. Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God."
TRUE CHARACTERISTICS OF CHARITY (LOVE) IN THE CHILDREN OF GOD.
As proposed in our lust, we now purpose to look into the application of 1 Cor. xiii. It is needful, however, to notice first that the word "Charity" has in our day a more circumscribed signification than when originally used as a translation from the Greek. Love gives a much more truthful idea of the thing spoken of; though every kind of true benevolence may well be included in tho full apprehension of this christian grace. Substituting therefore the word "love" for that of " charity," let us look at the entire passage. "Love suffereth long, and is kind ; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not buhave itself unseemly, soeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, bclieveth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
Now all these characteristics of the love which includes charity are manifested by the true-hearted Christian in his individual dealings with other?. All the sweet qualities enumerated show that the grand lesson enforced is, thorough unttljUhntu. Wo will apply each expression to tho Christian reader, as a child of God. In the exercise of the love which has been planted in you, through faith in tho Lord Jesus Christ, you will be long-suffering and kind. Instead of resenting injury you will hear it; and you will not then wish harm to any who offend; on the contrary you will be actively kind. You will not envy others, neither with respect to spiritual gifts (the subject of tho previous chapter), nor any other blessing. You will not vaunt itself ; your love will be quiet and unobtrusive. You will not be puffed up; pride and selfsufficiency cannot dwell with true Christian love. There wi 1 Do in you no unseemliness of behaviour; but a meek and gentle bearing towards all. You will not be self-seeking, but your actions will be generous and disinterested. You will not be easily provoked. Tho treasure is in an earthen vessel, so perchance you may bo provoked, but not easily. You will think no evil; and you will put the best construction upon tho motive* of your brethren. You will not rejoice in iniquity; you will have no part in it, and will be grieved to see it in whatever form it may appear. You will rejoice in the truth. The Word of God will be always precious to you, remembering the prayer of our Lord, " Sanctify them by thy truth, thy Word is truth." You will be ready to bear all things; whatever trials may be laid upon you, especially in connection with the wrong doings of others. You will be ready to believe all things, generously and hopefully; unlike the natural man, who is usually suspicious and unbelieving. You will hope all things; when others would give over the hardhearted, the ungrateful, and the rebellious, your love will still hold on and hope for the change. You will be ready to endure all things, in patience and self-devotedness, remembering Him who first loved you and gave himself for you. All this applies to yourself in your dealings with mankind. It is entirely an exemplification of unselfishness and self-sacrifice for the advantage of those on whose behalf Christian love is brought into exercise.
That this is the true teaching is fully confirmed by the context. The Corinthian saints were blessed with all spiritual gifts, and they were unhappily giving way to the display of these, in ungenerous rivalries and contentions. Self-assertion was beginning to predominate. The apostle has, therefore, to remind them that these gifts were not given for selfish use, but for the edification of all the members of the body of Christ, and ho concludes the twelfth chapter with tho words " Covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way." That more excellent way he goes on to show is Christian love. For the exercise of this no special gift is required. It may bo fully practised by Christians who have but little intelligence or brightness of gift. It is greater than faith and hope, for while those will necessarily cease in the eternal state, Love will endure for ever.
But this in no way interferes with the duties of a Christian teacher. He must be unsparing with all that is in opposition to the mind of God. Love prompts him in the exercise of his calling to oppose error, and it may be, "rebuke sharply;'' for the very reason that he cares for othors, not for himself. His mind is to be in entire accord with the Scripture under examination, but he has duties superadded to those which appertain to ordinary Christian intercourse. He therefore looks to other portions of the Word of God for instruction in those exceptional duties. When Paul found that the apostle Peter was not acting truthfully towards the Gentile converts he says—" I withstood him to the face, because he was to bo blamed." The Holy Ghost has had this recorded for warning and instruction. We must act in the same spirit. God forbid that wo should entertain the least animosity towards any brother. We love all who "love our Lord Jesus Christ in
sincerity." But while Christian preachers who hold high places before the children of God and before the world, are not content to set forth the simple, faithful teachings of Scripture, our unquestionable duty is, to withstand them to the face, for they are to be blamed.
REPORTS OF SCRIPTURE MEETINGS. 'Search the Scriptures.'—John v. 39.)
(33oA, Strand, opposite Somerset House, Mondays, at 7 pm.) June 19. Acts i. 12—H.
"Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet." It was remarked, that in returning thus to Jerusalem the disciples were taking the path of obedience, for the Lord had previously commanded them to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father. The path of obedience is ever the path of blessing, not ouly to ourselves, but to others through us. What a great blessing descended to these obedient ones on the day of Pentecost, and through them to how many others!
Not only did they believe the promise, and obediently return, and patiently wait, but "all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication." Times of weakness will be times of united prayer, and of clinging together, as does a poor, fearful, defenceless flock of sheep. The shepherd was personally withdrawn, and the righteous cry; anon, the Holy Ghost descends, and " the righteous are as bold as a lion." Oh, that Christian assemblies generally would be more content to be weak outwardly, rest less on visible resources, and seek, by prayer in the Holy Ghost, to "be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might."
Though the blessing for which they are waiting is promised, and promised not many days thence, yet they continue in prayer, doubtless, among other things, for the fulfilment of the promise. The churches on earth should still take the same posture of waiting and praying ones —" Behold, I come quickly. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
"With the' women, and Mary the mother of Jesus." How remarkable that the last time we hear of Mary, it is as a praying one! what a rebuke to that large section of Christendom which prays to her! Long after it is said, "Blessed art thou among women," we behold her as a suppliant, and a suppliant for that blessing we now possess —the Spirit as an indweller, thus evidencing that she needed, equally with all believers, to be " baptised by one Spirit into one body," and if in the Body it follows that she cannot be an independent dispenser of blessing, because that glory appertains necessarily to the Head.
"And with his brethren " In John vii .5, we read "Neither did his brethren believe in him." But here we see that after his death they do believe. How often are the prayers of Christians not answered during their life. The obduracy of heart of his kindred was one of those respects in which he was tried "like as we are, yet without sin."
COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL BY
(Written expressly for this publication.)
How often we are constrained to pause and wonder, when reading the inspired Word, at the peculiar and lofty way in which divine truth is linked together. The most careless reader ought to be convinced that the books, called collectively the Bible, are no mere human production. Such thoughts arise spontaneously when looking at the words of verse 18, in connection with the contrasted missions of Moses and Jesus as stated in tho preceding sentence.
Ver. 18.—' No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared,' not only declared him, (as the authorized translation has it,) but his thoughts, ways, and purposes. Man could give or promulgate God's righteous laws; but the Son of God alone could declare or make known 'the Infinite Unseen' Himself. It needed the Son, who was not only from, but in, the bosom of the Father to reveal the perfect attributes of God, and, above all, his amazing love towards fallen men. No man had seen God at any time. Mosos had but a glimpse of him; and therefore none could adequately describe him. But his only-begotten, his well-beloved Son had fully known him, and continued to dwell with him, in closest intimacy. He could declare, he could show us, not only the ' I Am, ' but the Fatiieh.
"We must not omit to notice the remarkable difference of expression as to the manner by which men were brought, first under Law, then under Grace. Not only did the One who made known the latter require for higher qualifications than he who brought in the Law; the Law was given, or laid upon, those to whom it was sent. They were brought under obligation by it. It was a yoke j a yoke which, said Peter, 'Neither our fathers nor we were able to bear.' Whereas grace and truth came by Jesus Christ; came that we might be attracted by them to Him by whom they came. The very thought presented by the words is impregnated with grace. Jesus came: Who can find words to express how gracious it was of Him to come to us? Well—grace and truth came by Him. We cannot say they accompanied Him; He was the expression of them. He cannot be had without them, nor they without him; yet he has left them here for us. They are stored up in his word; and happily the Soul who appropriates them takes Jesus with them.
19,20. 'And this is the record (ortestimony) of John when the Jews sent Priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not j but confessed I am not tho Christ.' The emphasis with which it is here recorded that John confessed he was not the Christ, is remarkable. The people were no doubt struck with the holiness and austerity of his life, and the righteousness of his doctrines. 'And all men mused in their hearts of John, whether this were the Christ or not.' It would have been easy to encourage the thought and even possible, perhaps, for John to have been so inflated by his divine mission as to have suffered himself to bo deluded by the suppositions of others. He repudiated however every pretension, not only to Messiahship, but even to the dignity of Elias.
21—23. 'And they asked him, what then f Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered no. Then saith they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? And he said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prohet Esaias.' Admirable humility! He must needs tuke up the prophetic word, but he will not assume prophetic honour. He was a ' voice! '—content himself to be of no account, if they would only hear him, and prepare the way of the Lord. 'He that humblcth himself shall be exalted.' Of him who thus confessed himself to be but a 'voice,' Jesus said, * Among thoso that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.
HAN BREATHES THREATENING AND SLAUGHTER: JESUS BREATHES PEACE.
"Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of."—Luke ix. 55.
The Gospel of Peace has been preached for eighteen hundred years, nevertheless it is as needful as ever to remind Christians that war, strife, and vengeance are utterly opposed to the spirit of the present dispensation. To the hearts of sinful men there seemed good reason to call down vengeance upon certain Samaritans, who would not allow the Lord Jesus Christ on his way up to Jerusalem to rest awhile in their village. He was journeying up to the sacred city
with the " stedfast " purpose of offering Himself a sacrifice for sin ; yet these Samaritans refused him a temporary repose by the way! This treatment moved his disciples with indignation, and they said "Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elias did 'i But Jesus turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save.'' vLuki' ix. ")4—Wt.)
These words are not understood by the world, not even the Christian world, so called; but they ought to be apprehended by all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. As for those who merely hold opinions about Him, the p.inciple here taught cannot be received by them. There must be, by faith, personal interest in the Saviour. We must have confidence, trust, absolute reliance on and in Him before we can appreciate the sublime teachings of the Son of God.
To those who are with us on this heavenly ground we earnestly commend the words of our Lord. We are led to press them especially at this time through having read the report of what transpired recently at a general meeting of the Congregational Union. On that occasion a number of ministers of the Gospel of Peace delivered a succession of warlike speeches which could not easily have been more anti-christian had they been uttered by so many heathens. They endorsed tho fratricidal war of the Northern Americans against those of the South; they applauded the thought of the undying anger and vengeance which would, under certain circumstances, actuate both Englishmen and Americans; they moreover allowed Scripture to be explained away; for the Rev. Mr. Vaughan endeavoured to show that the apostles only failed to preach tho abolition of slavery because they feared the opposition which such a course would have provoked!! altogether forgetful that it was the Holy Ghost, upon whom the fear of man could have no influence, who wrought in and by the apostles, revealing fully the mind of God.
Such teaching not only controverts the spirit of "the Word," but is in defiance of the emphatic declaration of Paul—"I have not shunned to declare unto you All the counsel of God"! If, therefore, the abolition of slavery was a principle of Christianity, Paul must have declared it. But not only so; the plain teaching of Scripture respecting the question of slavery is this—"Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a slave? Care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather."
In the days when the New Testament scriptures were written, slavery was a common thing; and many slaveB bocamo spiritually free—the Lord's freemen. It was therefore needful that plain directions should be given to them as to the course the Lord would have them to follow under the trying circumstances in which they were called. And blessed be His name, they were not left in any uncertainty about it. Being called in slavery they were '• therein to abide with God," not caring about their bondage, though if they might lawfully be " made free" they were to use it.