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church-life, catching sermons, the machinery of societies, the hurrah of religious conventions, and the high pressure of peripatetic evangelism, which is "for revenue only.” Our very buildings are elaborately expensive Church-plants, which, besides taking a large revenue to keep them running, constantly expose us to the danger of hoping that their architectural magnificence and cathedral splendors will draw men into their inner fold. In many instances, they are handsome, luxurious, free concert halls, and there is the unconscious hope that the ravishing sounds will entice the world behind the gates of the sanctuary: here we are in danger of imposing a delusion upon the worshipper-of inaking him think that mere sensuous delight in artistic music is real spiritual rapture and joy in the Holy Ghost. · The tendency is to shorten the distance between the Church and the world by relaxing discipline, pandering to worldly pleasures, and even furnishing cheap theatricals, and conferring social distinctions: here we are in great danger
of making our congregations ecclesiastical clubs, and finding our members have come in with the idea that they were promised entertainment and liberal club privileges. Entertainment threatens to supplant the notion of instruction, and our preachers find that "sight drafts" are made upon them for sermons that please, that draw, that hold the young as by spell, and that deliver the hearer from all effort and responsibility of hearing: we are threatened with the substitution of the magnetism of the preacher for the magnetism of the Holy Spirit. We are about to smother the Church with societies, congregational, denominational, inter-denominational, extradenominational, until half the thought and energy and revenue which ought to be expended upon the cause of Christ is taken up in the effort to keep this elaborate machinery in operation : here there is great danger of dishonoring the Spirit and his cause by relying upon human inventions. Then the religious conventions of the hour! how multitudinous ! how expensive ! how superficial! how dishonoring to the Spirit ! the "whoop-'em-up" method, the attempt to stampede sinners, to corral them as negroes do rabbits with noise and shouting : do men hope to "bulldoze" the Spirit, to storm him into their scheme, to lay on his back the whip of the political "boss" ?
Well, the world refuses to suck the Church's honey: some say make it sweeter. The world is largely indifferent to ecclesiastical swelldom : some say make the Church more aristocratic. The world will not be ground in the ecclesiastical mill: some say multiply machinery and increase the enginery. The world will not stampede : some say more conventions and louder lungs. But we surely have gone far enough in this disastrous direction, this conscious or unconscious reliance upon something else than the sovereign Spirit of God. Reformation is the demand of the hour. Back to Apostolic simplicity. Every reformation returns to it. So did the Lutheran and the Wesleyan. Sinners need regeneration; they cannot be regenerated by millinery, nor by enticement, nor by the social lash, nor by the hurrah of the coacher of the race-track; the heart of the world is too deeply wrong for "methods."
R. A. WEBB. Clarksville, Tenn.
II. THE ANCIENT HEBREW POLITY.
Paradoxical as it may seem, the oldest is sometimes the newest. The dew which rests upon the beginning of things, is never completely exhaled. The water is always pure and sweet at the fountain, however turbid the stream in its after course. As we follow the development of history, we discover sometimes with surprise that institutions and ordinances, which we had supposed the creations of modern necessity and invention, were implicitly contained in seeds planted from the beginning. Thus in the old, yea, in the oldest of the old, we find the newness of much that marks our most progressive and advanced civilization. An illustration of this is afforded in the subject of the present article—the political significance of the ancient Hebrew Commonwealth, the part it was called to perform in the historic drama of those times.
There can be no difference of opinion as to the mission of the Hebrew Church. When the original Patriarchal faith had been thoroughly perverted and corrupted—when idolatry had been compacted into a system, and spread over the earth-God called Abraham out of that very Chaldea where this idolatry originated, to be the founder of a distinct people who should become the depository and guardian of Divine truth. In the front of all the statutes and ordinances given for their guidance was this supreme proclamation, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord”. In the assertion of a pure Monotheism, and with a ritual of worship which under exquisite pictorial emblems represented how the transgressor might be restored to the favour and fellowship of Jehovah, the Hebrew Church stood forth in protest against every form of a universal idolatry. Her geographical position in the centre of the surrounding nations, has been remarked as one of the providential indications of her mission. A nation selected for a Priestly function is placed in the bosom of other nations, that her stationary light may be diffused over the entire circle from centre to circumference. That her testimony may more completely penetrate every land, note the enforced Evangelism when, as a Protestant against all idolatry, she is borne a reluctant and captive witness into those very countries where idolatry held its court with the most imposing symbols under which its mysteries could be veiled. Nor should it be overlooked that, from the moment of the great Captivity to the final overthrow of the Hebrew State, the interval was a period of dispersion during which the entire nation was never gathered within its ancient borders. It will thus appear how effectively the Hebrew Church discharged the office to which she had been appointed as a witness for the one living and true God, against that idolatry which occurring after the Flood constituted the second great apostasy of the race.
Can we assign as distinct a function to the Hebrew State ? Were important principles as clearly embodied in the civil polity as in the symbols of worship? My answer is, that the one was intended by Jehovah to be a protest against the universal perversion of government, as the other was against the universal corruption of religion. · It is a large proposition, which we must endeavour to make good. In the fragment of history given of the ante-diluvian world, no trace of any form of government appears but that of the family: the expanding branches of which would naturally recognize a loose subjection to the Patriarch, whose extreme longevity enabled him to embrace a tribe under his authority. Under such conditions society could scarcely be considered organized. The obedience would be an obedience to custom, rather than to law; whilst no central authority bound these separate fraternities together in a single Commonwealth. To the absence of all governmental restraints, doubtless, we must ascribe that degree of violence on the earth which could only be purged by the waters of the Deluge. In the death-penalty enjoined upon Noah, a little later, is detected the first germ of civil
government. It is a comprehensive principle, capable of expansion into the widest legislation ; for it devolves upon society the duty of protecting human life, and organized it for that purpose. The Ordinance "whosoever sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed," is not the proclamation of private revenge, but the prohibition of it. It is the creation of the Magistrate armed with the sword of justice, which never smites but in the name of law. In this world principles are the seeds from which laws and institutions are produced; but the development is often gradual and slow. From the days of Noah onward, the earth had first to be repeopled : and the exercise of Patriarchal rule would naturally proceed under the same conditions as at the beginning. Society would move forward under ante-diluvian precedents, rather than under the organizing force of the new revelation. It was attended with like results : until, at the tower of Babel, we find the race embarked in a direct conspiracy to defeat the purpose of Jehovah. The issue was fairly joined upon the plain of Shinar: and if the Divine promise is to be kept, of which the Covenant rainbow was the sign, a bridle must be put upon the human will through the majesty of human law. By the simple expedient of breaking the unity of language, the race was divided into groups, who were forced to dwell apart, and to organize into governments for mutual protection and defence.
Alas! the gravitation to evil in man, perverted this idea of government from the moment it was seized. In the Divine purpose, it was an agency to secure the individual in the possession of his personal rights. When it was ordained "whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed," the reason is assigned "for in the image of God made He man." A sacredness is thus imparted to his person and life, which throws a Divine shield over him and all that appertains to him: and this lies at the root of the true conception of law or government. But throughout Asiatic history, the governments erected upon that monotonous Continent were not gov