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certain others, were sent from Antioch to Jerusalem, “unto the apostles and elders,” concerning the question of circumcision. “And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the Church, and of the apostles and elders ;" “And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.” In 1 Tim. v. 17, we read—“ Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." From these passages it is evident that an elder was not necessarily an apostle ; for the eldership included some who did not labour in word and doctrine. It was not exclusively a clerical order, and did not contain the idea of clerical priesthood.
Another order of labourers called deacons existed in the early Church, and the episcopate recognizes the office of deacon as a clerical office. The deacons of the apostolic Church were specially appointed as almoners of the Church's charity. In Acts vi. we have the record of the origin of the diaconate. There was a murmuring about the Grecian widows being neglected in the daily administration of alms. The twelve averred that it was not reasonable that they should leave the word of God to serve tables. They thereupon advised the disciples to look out seven men of honest report, and full of the Holy Ghost, to take charge of the business. The office of deacon is recognized by St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Philippians (i. 1) and in 1 Tim. ži. 8, and five following verses ; but that the diaconal office gives no claim to the priesthood is evident from the fact that in the early Church it was a lay office, instituted for the relief of the poor. It is true that deacons did occasionally preach; but ministering the Word was not their chief and especial work.
We read of bishops in the apostolic Church, and St. Paul minutely describes to Timothy what a bishop should be. But the terms bishop and elder, as applicable to the apostolate, or clerical office, appear to be synonymous. In the Epistle to Titus (i. 5–7), we read—“ For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: if any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused of riot, or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless." Here it is evident that the eldership and episcopate were regarded as one and the same office ; and the use of the term of qualification—“ blameless”-in connection with the word elder and the word bishop in this passage, seems to be conclusive upon the matter. Now, as the eldership excluded the notion of priesthood, and as the eldership and episcopate were, in reference to the apostolic office, synonymous, the episcopate excluded the notion of priesthood also.
There remains for examination one other term by which the apostle of the Gentiles designates himself in 1 Cor. iv. 1—“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.” A steward is a man in trust-popularly, one who has charge of the property of another, and who is responsible for the right management of such property ; one who holds an office of trust and accountability.
In attempting to interpret the passage now under consideration, two questions present themselves :
I. What is a mystery ?
I. What is a mystery ? A mystery does not necessarily imply insolubility, or something altogether inexplicable and incomprehensible. Such, certainly, is sometimes its meaning; but it generally denotes that which has been, or which is for a season, kept secret, and which has been, or in due season will be, revealed. In the account of the parable of the sower, given by St. Matthew in his 13th chapter, and St. Mark in his 4th chapter, it is stated that the disciples asked Jesus why he addressed the multitudes in parables. His reply was, “ Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given;" from which saying it is evident that some things are termed mysteries which may be revealed and understood. But the apostle, as a steward of God's mysteries, had to enforce or maintain truths whose profound depths he could not fathom, and whose great mysteries his reason could not grasp; for in the writings of the “ beloved brother Paul,” are * things hard to be understood," mysteries we cannot know, even as mysteries which we can comprehend.
II. The next question is, “What are the mysteries of God ?" In answering this question, “Paul shall himself direct me."
In Rom. xvi. 25, the Gospel and the preaching of Christ is called a mystery—“The mystery which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith."
In 1 Cor. ii. 7, the purpose of God towards man, even for man's exaltation and glory, is spoken of as the “wisdom of God in a mystery,” followed by the explanatory term, "hidden wisdom ;” and the assurance that the princes of this world were ignorant of it-knew it not. This mystery, this hidden wisdom, was God's plan of redemption—“Jesus Christ, and him crucified ”—as appears from the context, and was revealed by the deep-searching Spirit of God.
In the same epistle (xv. 51), it is written—“Behold, I show you & mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed." It is needless to say more of this passage than that it has direct reference to the resurrection, which, though a profound mystery, is not in the least connected with the work of the ministry, except as a doctrine to be held and proclaimed.
In Eph. i. 9, the term mystery occurs in connection with the revelation of the Divine will concerning the headship of Christ, and the time when all things in heaven and in earth shall be gathered together in him, and he (Christ) shall be all in all. In the same Epistle (iii. 3, 4, 9; vi. 19), the same term is employed to designate the will and Gospel of God.
In chap. v. 32, another use is made of the word mystery. It is there employed to signify the intimate, secret, spiritual union of Christ and the Church, à union alluded to under the figure of marriage.
In Col. i. 26, 27 ; ii. 2; and iv. 3, the same word is used to set forth the redemptive scheme, as originating in the will and purpose of God.
In 2 Thes. ii. 7, the Apostle speaks of "the mystery of iniquity.” It is not possible to discover in this mystery any ground for a claim to Christian priesthood; and the charity that “thinketh no evil” compels us to suppose that Ritualism will not base its assumption of the priestly office upon such a mystery as “the mystery of iniquity.”
In 1 Tim. iii. 9, we read—“Holding the mystery of faith in a pure conscience." The mystery is the Gospel, which its ministers are to hold fast and exemplify. How-by offering sacrifice as a priest ? Nay; but by faithful preaching, and a holy, blameless life, springing from purity of heart.
In 1 Tim. ii. 16, we have another use of the word mystery“Great is the mystery of godliness,” &c. In these words, the term is employed in its fullest and most complete sense, as a profound secret-an incomprehensible truth. The doctrine of the incarnation of God lies beyond the range of the intellect—quite in the sphere of faith. We know that God became man, but how the Divine and human were united we do not know. “The Word (who was God) was made flesh, and dwelt among us." How made diesh ? how conceived of the Holy Ghost? How humanly born, with a human nature, and not humanly begotten? How was God, the Maker of all, united with the Man, dependent and responsible-subject to temptations, but without sin—the absolute Lord of life, and passing through the pangs of death? The united humanity and Deity of Jesus Christ, the doctrine of the Trinity involved, the condescension and amazing love of God, the vicarious suffering and effectual atonement of Jesus, are all beyond the grasp of mere reason-mysteries which the intellect cannot unravel and explain. Only the heart, in the strength and beauty of faith, can know these things. Here is a mystery into which avgels desire to look, and their marvellous vision cannot see its depth.
The Apostle, then, and every man who by Divine direction preaches Christ, had, as a steward of the mysterious God, committed unto him—
I. The will of God concerning man's salvation.
II. The necessity of personal holiness, "holding the faith in a pure conscience."
III. The intimate and spiritual union existing between Christ and the Church.
IV. The resurrection of the dead.
V. The final triumph of Jesus, when all shall be gathered together in him.
VI. The profound and sublime doctrines of the incarnation and atonement, with all their correlative truths, lying at the root of Christianity.
But where does this stewardship involve sacerdotalism? In what sense is clerical priesthood connected with these mysteries ?
The steward is entrusted with these great doctrines ; he has to maintain and publish them. It is his to preach glad tidings to the captive, to lift up the cross
“All stained with hallowed blood.” He has no authority to make atonement by perpetual expiatory offer. ings; but he has authority—and woe to him if, in the sacerdotal pride of his heart, he set light by it—to point men, dead in trespasses and in sins, to Him who, having once died and risen again, « dieth no more," but "ever liveth to make intercession."
We cannot leave this part of the subject without mentioning a most significant and weighty fact-viz., that in the charges delivered by St. Paul to Timothy and to Titus, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, there is no allusion, direct or indirect, to priestly office and priestly work. These charges contain minute directions touching personal and official conduct. They clearly, and in detail, declare all that belongs to the office and character of a bishop. They are full of exhortations to reading, meditation, and study. They point out how, and for whom, prayer is to be made. They give instructions concerning the Church's widows, and concerning female attire. They give counsel as to the manner of rebuking elders ; but they make no mention of priestly authority.
Do not all these considerations go to prove that the Apostles never regarded the commission they had received of the Lord Jesus as authorizing them to exercise priestly functions? How else can we interpret this reticence—this entire silence upon a subject so important in its bearing upon the whole Christian Church? And whence comes it that in the charges to the young disciples-charges which detail their duties and their deportment—the Holy Spirit (be it said with all reverence) omitted to furnish instruction upon the most grave and solemn duties of their office, if that office was priestly!
Thus it is evident that Ritualism has no foundation upon which to build in the Divine revelation ; it has no foothold in apostolic teaching, this lust of lordliness, this pride of priestly power. The cradle of this curse is the unhumbled heart, the spirit in which there is neither meekness nor mercy, but panting ambition and restless arrogance. Ah! woe! woe! for liberty, for divine law, for virtue, for honour, for truth, for religion, when the foot of the priest walks through the land, and the anathema peals from his altar. The Word will be hushed upon the teacher's lips, couched in the silence of his crushed heart; the Book will be wrested from the scholar's hand; closed will be the doors of the house of prayer, and the voice of rejoicing will not be heard in the sanctuaries of God. “Darkness will cover the land, and gross darkness the people.”
But will this ever be? Shall England see again upon the canvas of her history a picture so gloomy and sad ? No! never again! Her caildren have too much light and knowledge and Christian life. The sons of the martyrs are still in her midst, and the inspiration of the olden fires glows yet in their hearts. We will have no priest but “our great High Priest," believing that his blood alone "cleanseth from all sin.” Gloucester.
J. C. WILLIAMS
SECRET Sin.-You have seen a ship out on the bay, swinging with the tide, and seeming as if it would follow it, and yet it cannot, for down beneath the water it is anchored. So many a soul sways towards beaven, but cannot ascend thither, because it is anchored to some secret sin.-H, W. Beecher,
Miscellaneous Articles, Anecdotes, &c.
THE CELESTIAL SCENERY elevation ; now, this group of stars OF THE MONTHS.
is over our head, and with it appear
others which were below the horizon VI.--JUNE.
in winter. Some telescopic objects The season of summer, with its which might have been seen at a late greatest maximum of daylight, has hour in winter, now make their aponce more returned, and universal - pearance towards the west at sunset. Nature, aroused by the advent of Looking due south, the most conspring, rejoices in renewed life and spicuous star is Arcturus, to which activity. While the habitable globe the three stars in Ursa Major seem abounds with objects of interest for to point. Mention is made of Arcthe thoughtful observer, the celestial turus in the book of Job, but there student has an infinite variety offered is good reason to believe the object to his gaze in the scenery of the there alluded to is either a bright heavens at this period of the year. star in Ursa Major, or the entire The winter constellations have dis- constellation. To the east of Arcappeared below the western horizon turus is a beautiful collection of stars, at the time of sunset, and during of semi-circular shape, called the the brief interval which will elapse Northern Crown: the dimensions of before they return in the east, we this group are small when compared have a rich store of stellar objects with the adjoining constellation slowly passing before our view. And Hercules, now a conspicuous object yet the daily revolution of the sun, in the south-east at a high elevation. the alternate change of light and "On celestial globes this constellation darkness, the nightly motion of the represents the classic hero, clad in stars, their appearance and dis- the skin of the Nemæan lion, with appearance, and the regular succes- uplifted club in one hand, while with sion of the seasons, are objects which the other he grasps the three-headed the great majority of mankind in dog Cerberus. In Hercules there is this age of competition and light a globular cluster of stars, which Literature pass unnoticed, because may be discerned by the naked eye they have witnessed them from their when the moon is absent; but its earliest youth. A large number of telescopic appearance exceeds all persons, intent on the great business description. In an ordinary telescope of life, while they enjoy the light the field of view is spangled with of day, rest during the shades of many glittering points, but there night, hail the return of spring still remains the great central gloand verdure, admire the richness of bular mass, impenetrable to all but summer, and pluck the fruits of first-class telescopes. The late Dr. autumn, yet scarcely bestow one Nichol says, “ Perhaps no one ever thought on the nature of the heavenly yet saw this object for the first time bodies, so resplendent with beauty, through a good telescope, without Nevertheless this pleasing study may uttering a shout of wonder." Our be pursued without difficulty, and illustration (Fig. 1) is a very fair in the course of a few months every representation of this interesting constellation may be known, and the object, as seen by the writer in the mind enriched with a considerable 20-feet achromatic in the Euston store of astronomical knowledge. Road, London, a few years since. Let us now examine the face of the Speaking generally of ihese stellar heavens, as presented to our view in clusters, Sir John Herschy says, “It the month of June.
would be a vain task to attempt to We noticed, in February, the po- count the stars in one of these glosition of Ursa Major, at a low eastern bular clusters. They are not to be