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the nation to which those Scriptures were addressed and confided. And the Messiah, when in the midst of that nation, adopted the same style as that in “ Moses and the prophets and the Psalms.” But glowing metaphors, and artistic imagery, and dramatic representation, are not characteristics of the occidental mind; neither has the genius of Japhetic languages an affinity with those which are Shemitic, of which the Hebrew is one.
And these particulars should be pondered, while it is borne in mind that, in any literary composition, the plain and explicit should always be used to expound the symbolic and obscure. Hence the importance of keeping in mind that “the language of law is literal and plain ;" and of this, the premonition given to man when innocent, and the sentence of doom pronounced on him when he had become disobedient, is the chief canon of interpretation to be applied to those passages which treat of the final execution of the original sentence on the human race. And it will be an immense advantage to consider and meditate upon the personal qualities and characteristics of Him“ who is appointed to be the Judge of the quick and the dead, at His appearance and His kingdom.”
“The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honour the Son even as they honour the Father." And the Son of God has given a special reason why the Father has given Him the "authority to execute judgment,
because He is the Son of man." That is, because that, being true God, He is also real man, and has become experimentally acquainted with human feebleness and sufferings, and love of life and dread of death. These are His human qualifications, and for
. these merciful considerations and reasons the Father has given to Him the authority to execute judgment, having appointed Him to be the Judge of the living and the dead.
The Man who wept at the tomb of Lazarus when He saw the sisters Martha and Mary, and the Jews, weeping-wept in sympathy with their sorrows ;
the Man who agonised in the garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross tasted the bitterness of death, and there prayed for His enemies-He is the appointed Judge. And, at the grand assizes on the last day, He will judge and condemn. In Him the tranquillity, holiness, equity, and truth, symbolised by the “ great white throne" will be exemplified ; and in His heart will be the perfection of human benevolence and sympathy, combined with Divine holiness and righteousness. By Him the due desert will be weighed, the justness of the original sentence of death man demonstrated, and the honour of the Divine government vindicated.
The Prophet who pronounced on Jerusalem, and wept over that sinful city, and uttered a lamentation for its people, in tender human compassion-He will be the Judge in the last day. And it is most certain that He will not cause one needless pang of anguish to be felt by the condemned; and that, in the execution
of the final sentence, not a moment of vindictive delay will be caused or permitted by Him who wept over Jerusalem while He pronounced its doom. And it is exceedingly dishonouring to Him, and to His truth, when Christian men, speaking of Him, call Him an angry Judge."
WILLIAM MORRIS. “ The First Adam and the Last Adam.”
NOT DISCERNING THE LORD'S BODY. To the question, What meaneth this ? the writer, having never
widen the inquiry after the following manner.
The law and the prophets as standards of appeal were until John; but now that the gospel of the kingdom is preached, the challenge is addressed to every man to press into it individually, without a pedagogue, without a prophet, without a priest.
a Christianity is an appeal inviting every man to put to the proof what the doctrine of the Resurrection can make of him. Will he on the one hand accept the challenge with all its issues, as did the Apostle Paul ? or will he be content to take up with the average level ? or, thirdly, will he cast the whole affair beneath his feet? Here are three alternatives. The present essays deal with the two first.
James Hinton, in his “Hours with the Mystics," regards it as an honourable distinction to this nation that it was capable of furnishing forth such a large body of men and women, wise to apprehend, and brave enough to put to sea and risk their every earthly hope on, the bare spirituality of the Christian doctrine, as the Quakers. It was a fearful strain on their faith and on their powers of endurance. For a while their band was unbroken ; nor would it be right to attribute their comparative (or rather their apparent) apathy at the present hour to unfaithfulness, but rather to the fact that their mission as a sect is accomplished. Their views are, as we say, in the air; they permeate society, and thank God they can never be obliterated.
So in the early age of Christianity when the Word came forth with power, it were surprising indeed if the result had been other than it was. The receptive hearts of devout Jews were only too anxious, if that were possible, to attest their absolute surrender in any shape or form which the Apostles might suggest, or their own spontaneous gratitude dictate. To cast their goods into a common stock was no sacrifice to men who suddenly found themselves the inheritors of the Life Immortal, and martyrdom was a bed of roses.
But could this enthusiasm be long sustained ? We know in point of fact that it was not. Nor are we at liberty to cast blame on their abandonment of the primitive experimental practice of giving everything away. The conduct of Ananias and Sapphira was the first sign of failure; and community of goods issued, as we know, in the pauperism of the Jerusalem saints. Torturing dislocations also took place in the matter of households; and it is to this point as an historical question that attention is now invited. If what follows be deemed heretical or mischievous, let it be condemned ; if it awaken inquiry, no harm will ensue.
But first it behoves to say that domestic dislocation, though sometimes inevitable, is not the end and aim of Christianity,-just the reverse. Christianity was never designed to interfere in any of the relations of life, nor are we bound to venerate any primitive usage in the church because the Apostles permitted it for awhile.
Monsieur Pressense, the acknowledged head of Protestantism in France, writes thus in his History of the first two Christian centuries : “ Each Christian household became a place of worship.
: Every repast rose to the level of a Christian sacrament; every breaking of the loaf recalled the broken body of the great victim, and challenged a song of praise. Thus Christian worship mingled itself with the entire life. The life being transformed and purified, the sublime was the rule, and the Church had pitched her tent on the very summit of the Transfiguration Mount." “ The most simple actions of life (Paul reminded the Corinthian and Thessalonian converts) were to be stamped with a sacred character. Whether they ate or drank they were to do all to the glory of God—with prayers—and thus the smallest repast was transformed into an Eucharist."
“Behold,” says he,“ the intrepidity of this primitive spirituality. It binds itself to no external condition, neither to days, nor places, nor forms. It is the spontaneous expression of the religious life in its continuity. St. Luke paints it with a few touches when he says, the Christians of Jerusalem persevered in the doctrine of the Apostles, in mutual communion, in the breaking of the loaf, and in the prayers." Sublime was the rule, not the exception.
What more then was wanted to beautify the Christian life? If the entire life was already an act of worship, can you advance any further forward ? Can you sublimate the sublime ? Christian worship, as Pressensé again and again avers, can never drop down to an isolated act, the outward manifestation being nothing more than a simple concentration of daily and private piety,-a concentration,-or as we might say, an intensification, of the sentiment. It may expand and exhale in hymns of praise, or it may culminate in adoring prayer. Higher it cannot rise. All worship then resides in the heart, and nothing can takes its place.
But though nothing may takes its place, a disputant may honestly urge that the worship of the heart craves expression. And this leads us to pass on to notice that early expression which formulated itself in the term “ breaking the loaf from house to house.” What does it mean? Of course it points to more than one fact. It declares a great sacrifice, and it also declares fellowship therein; but how was it carried out? Well,—the earliest form which the Eucharist (that is, the Thanksgiving) assumed seems to have been thus,-going into one another's households and joining in the family meal as thanksgiving Christians, indicating that such was the Christian's legitimate attitude of mind on the reception of any and every blessing. Mr. Muscat, a modern writer on Ecclesiastical history, has reminded us that the Anglo-Saxon name of the elements was housel or hounsel, indicating that the Eucharist was primarily a household and not an ecclesiastical institution ; and in some of the distant provinces of the Empire, like Britain, it continued to be a household action long down the ages. It was not till the year 740 that in England a law was passed that priests only were to celebrate mass in private houses. The faithful were still at liberty to practise it by themselves, provided no priest were present. This, as also the carrying of a portion of the elements to absentees and sick, all points to the primitive practice of breaking bread from house to house.
So far Mr. Muscat; now we go back to the earliest times, and ask,-Must not these Eucharistical visitations have greatly annoyed those members of a household who were not Christians ? Surely, yes. And we may well imagine how anxious it would make a Christian father to see all his children and guests become Christian. Where such was not the case, he would recall to his grief the prophecy that the son would sometimes rise up against the father, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's foes become those of his own household. On the other hand, we may equally well imagine, in the case of some amiable converts whose patience could hardly sustain the ordeal, how anxious they would be to get rid of all this domestic dislocation by relegating the family worship to a more general meeting where they would be all of one mind. A passage from one of the ante-Nicene fathers [Hippolytus ?] will illustrate this ;-an apocryphal authority, it is freely admitted, which of course only means uncanonical ; but manifestly descriptive of a state of things which really existed; and showing that at Jerusalem at least the Jewish custom of refraining to eat with Gentiles was retained in a Christian form. We all know that the celebration of the Passover was emphatically a household affair, – the master of the house being ex officio master of the ceremony,-which practice has been handed down among the Jews to the present hour. Now let us see how it worked under the Christian name.
The passage is to the effect that when Clement was as yet unbaptized, Peter on one occasion retires to take food along with his Christian friends,-ordering Clement to eat by himself; and afterwards saying to him, “ May the Lord grant thee to be made like unto us in all things, that receiving baptism thou mayest be able
to meet with us at the same table.” The mother of Clement is also represented as objecting to the postponement of her own baptism because she cannot enjoy the society of her newly admitted sons at meals; and after her baptism, they dine with her. Subsequently Clement's father applies for baptism in these words,“ The seeds of the Word which the field of my mind has received have now sprung up and so far advanced to maturity that nothing is wanting but that you separate me from the chaff with that spiritual reaping-hook of yours, and place me in the garner of the Lord, making me partaker of the divine table."
Whatever “the divine table ” of this latter part of the extract may refer to, it is quite clear that the previous passage points to domestic schism ; and one cannot help feeling that Christianity pronounced in this form, that is to say, in a refusal to eat with the unbelieving members of your own household, wears, to say the very least of it, a very doubtful aspect ; for it is totally subversive of Paul's argument when he treats of the unbelieving wife, husband, or children, as being sanctified to the Christian. Every relation of life is sanctified, and every position in society. To the pure all things are pure; and Christianity was never designed to be a separate entity in the world, but to be an influence permeating every action. It is quite true that Paul says on one occasion, “ With such an one no not to eat,” but that was in reference to a person who, while he was an open violator of the moral law, was yet called “a brother.” In the absence of any recorded command for such a violation of home instincts, the suspicion arises that it may have been a scheme of Peter's, who, as we know, had a great deal yet to learn touching the commonalty of the common salvation.
But now we come in sight of the early practice of the common meal, —at first taking place on the evening or afternoon of each day, afterwards perhaps once a week; and eventually varying in different localities. It must be evident that if every private meal had come to be regarded as Eucharistic, then the public meal could not be less so. Its publicity may have intensified its interest, but its character remained unaltered. Yet the statement has often been repeated from hand to hand, that the common meal or Agapé or Love-feast was a distinct and separate thing from the Lord's Supper. Granted, that the two things became separate in long after days; but this was subsequent to the date of Paul's letter to the Corinthians, and only when the divine idea of the entire Christian life was lost sight of. Certain it is that the Corinthians who fell under the Apostle's rebuke understood their gathering to a common meal as coming to an Eucharist; and they happened to be wrong in that conclusion simply because of their debauched, irregular, and selfish methods of procedure, sufficient to vitiate any social act, and bringing about that fatal condition of “not discerning the Lord's bodv," of which, presently.
That Paul supposed the celebration or existence of any other