Page images
PDF
EPUB

tion, leading us to see that—Christ is “our peace”-and that He has been the

peace and hope of every believer in every age. Through Him the “cloud of witnesses "* has left behind them that brilliant and varied evidence, which ever waits on the “Divine workmanship,” to “justify the ways of God to man.”

Were we called upon to condense into a single sentence the Catholic spirit of the believing people of God, we should say, that it consisted in attachment to the Lord Jesus, as our Great Head of the Church and its eternal consequence-attachment to each other. There is no proposition more inevitably conclusive than that laid down by the beloved Disciple, viz., “Every one that loveth Him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of Him.”+

* Heb. xi. Heb, xii. i.

+ 1 John v. i.

CHAPTER VII.

THE DIFFERENT ADMINISTRATIONS OF RELIGION CO-EXISTING

IN THE EARTHLY DAYS OF OUR BLESSED REDEEMER.

“ Concordia discors."
Discordant concord.

Hor. Ep. i. 12—19.

In following the inspired history of Religion from Genesis to Revelation, we have endeavoured to prove that Almighty God has never erected in this fallen world a sole visible and continuous religious corporationexercising universal authority, laying claim to exclusive salvation, and warranted by its infallible dogmatism to press the people of God into mental subjection, and superficial smoothness. We have seen that in the Patriarchal age, there was no assembly of believers assuming to be the mother and mistress of all other assemblies, and, alongside of the Jewish Church, separated as it necessarily was by its peculiar form and its singular bulwarks, there was yet, in every age, a body of believers worshipping God acceptably, neither bound by its authority, nor subject to its forms. Now, the inspired history of religion resembles the every-day revelation of Nature. As the morning approaches, the light increases. As the rising radiance glances along the landscape, its outline, and its objects become more distinct. So, also, the living substance of true religion, and its great principles are more largely and more clearly projected, and, just as the disc touches the illuminated horizon, we have a new and independent “administration" of true religion, co-existing with the Church of Israel, illustrating the arrangement before us, and thus inflicting another wound upon the contracted and domineering system, which worldliness and arrogance have endeavoured (but in vain) to establish in its room. To place this clearly before us, it will be necessary

direct attention to the different administrations of true religion-independent of each other—which we find co-existing in the earthly days of our Lord and Saviour. If infallible Church authority, vested in a successive priesthood, be an original principle, coeval with revelation, and by God's providence reaching us by an unbroken chain,- beyond all dispute, when the Lord Jesus appeared on the earth, that authority resided in the Church of Israel, and the very question which the Church of Rome delights in at the present day was put by the Jewish High Priest to the Redeemer Himself! “By what authority doest Thou these things, and who gave Thee this authority ?"* intimating thereby that His

to

* Matt. xxi. 23,

ministry was not derived from them. It was, therefore, independent in its origin. Now, a sole, visible, and unerring Church, constructed by infallible authority, and a ministry independent of it, cannot exist together. If the one be right, the other must be wrong. If the Church of Israel was what the Church of Rome now assumes to be, the “ministries” of the Baptist, and the Redeemer were unauthorised “ministries, and the Jewish nation was right to reject their testimony, and to adhere to the ancient and unerring tribunal which God had appointed to keep them in the truth. And the punishment for doing so, was scarcely a just punishment, so that the religion of the New Testament is stained in its authority, and in its source, and this terrible, but inevitable, conclusion compels us to dismiss the idea of an unerring tribunal, and to take refuge in the limited, but venerable authority of “the different administrations”—an authority cheerfully, and profoundly recognised and respected, both by the Baptist and by the Redeemer.

This conclusion is still more evident from the mode of conducting these administrations. Had a continuous and unerring, visible tribunal been the first principle of true religion, it would have been the leading idea in the Word of God, and being so, it would have been twined into the prophecy and history of the Redeemer. He would have been born in the line of this authority. He would have been a Jewish Priest of the tribe of Levi, of the family of Aaron. His words and wonders would have been placed before the Elders of Israel. He would have converted the majority of the Council - He would have been sent forth by their authority, and then, the golden chain would have been unbroken. Those who rejected Him would have been without excuse, and everything would have been of a piece. The very reverse of all this took place. He was not born in the line of succession. He was denounced by this authority. He stood off from it, and the whole spirit and conduct of His ministry went to discountenance the idea of its existence. He let the Jewish council alone. Like our Reformers, He appealed to the senses, and the intelligence of the common people. He based His religion on the Word of Truth, which He quoted, and the wonders of love, which He performed,—“If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.”* works which I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.”ll

Oh! what a rebuke to human arrogance, that He who is the HEAD over all things—far above all principalities, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to comes-declined to bear testimony to Himself !-placed the truth of His mission upon the Word,

6. The

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »