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in a knowledge of the facts from which its meaning is learned, pictures and even the drama, might have an appropriate place. The miracleplays of the middle-ages were mostly the work of the clergy, and had in view the instruction of the people. But such scenes are unsuitable in the worship of God, the time when the soul should be most of all withdrawn from sensible things, and raised to contemplate the spiritual nature of God, and the unchangeable forms of eternal truth. When we attempt to externalise everything in Christianity and render it perceptible to the senses, we not only mar its beauty; we, also alter its essential character. This is the most prominent feature of the Greek Church. It seeks to give everything sensible form and expression, not by the living word begotten of living thought, but by a vague and inarticulate symbolism. Christianity is made to consist in the repetition from year to year of the same rites and ceremonies. Were the symbolism understood by the people, it might be productive of good. The well-instructed would be reminded of Christian truth when they are present at a service, or gaze on a church. But how few these are ! And the truths which are supposed to be contained in the symbols could be more effectively conveyed by articulate speech. The most exalted objects of religious faith cannot be pourtrayed in sensible forms. Art may be often serviceable to religion ; but its creations can never become the object of religious faith. It may suggest, but it cannot represent the infinite. It is here the principle of symbolism is found to be most objectionable. The art which attempts to produce an image of God is an offence to right feeling and also a breach of a Divine law. In the Church of the Saviour at Moscow, a large human figure is painted inside the centre dome, with the name Jehovah in Hebrew letters in bold type. It had just been finished when I was visiting the church, and I found my way right under the dome on a scaffold. On looking at it I was forcibly reminded of the words of an apostle when describing the origin and growth of idolatry. They “changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man.”
In these papers only a few points have been touched in a field of great extent and fertility. There are many interesting and instructive chapters in the history of Russian Christianity. There is a great number of dissenting sects whose history and principles may yet be studied in the West. But in the meantime we take leave of the reader, referring him to two recent works for more information, should he wish to continue the subject further : The Russian Church by Madame Romanoff: and a work in French, entitled : L'Eglise de Russie, par L. Boisard. The former work consists of brief sketches of the Church as it exists at the present day, by an English lady who joined the Russian Communion. The latter ¡work is pretty exhaustive and also apologetic in tone.
CONGREGATIONALISM. CONGREGATIONALISM and Independency do not mean the same thing. The latter means that the church be independent of all external authority, the former has chiefly to do with the place of authority in the church and contends that the authority be in the minds of the congregation as such. While Independency forbids the interference of Ecclesiastical courts without the church, Congregationalism forbids the assumption of authority by any official or officials within. It claims for every member of adult age, the right to vote in all matters pertaining to the welfare of the church. It will thus be seen that a church might be Independent and not Congregational. A church might be free from the control of Presbyteries and Synods and yet be ruled by what is called a "session" of its own members. Such a church would be Independent but not Congregational. Congregationalism protests as much against sessions as against synods. It contends that every Christian man being enlightened by the Spirit of God in reference to divine things, is competent to have a voice in the affairs of the church or society of which he is a member, and that the right to have such a voice has been conferred on him by the Lord Jesus Christ.
We know that we who hold this principle are often met by the question, “If all are rulers, whom are they to rule?” Our answer is, “Themselves." We maintain that a Christian church is as much bound to rule itself as a man is to rule himself, and it ought to be as competent to do so. If we are further met with the query, “If all are rulers, what need is there for pastors ?" we answer, the need is great, and not only so, but Congregational churches require pastors of more than ordinary character and attainments. In some other systems, a man of small ability and less piety may work the ecclesiastical machinery with which he has to do, and thereby keep his congregation in order. But much wisdom and grace are needed by the pastor who has to guide the minds of thinking men and so instruct them in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, as to enable them to guide and rule themselves. It is an easy thing to put your finger on the exact law in the ecclesiastical statute book, and say, “There it is, you must submit to that.” It is a more difficult matter to expound and enforce the great principles of church rule as they lie in the New Testament. Now, Congregationalism takes it for granted that the Pastor of the church understand the law of Christ, be able to expound it to his brethren, and show its bearing on the business which from time to time comes up for consideration. The law of Christ being clearly laid down, and the case to which it is to be applied properly expounded, the judgment of the members will be convinced, and if the Spirit of the Gospel pervade the church, the will of the Master will be promptly carried out. Thus the Pastor is the ruler, but he rules with the consent and by the assistance of his brethren. If he attempted to force on them his own private views of things, they would resent such an attempt as an encroachment on their liberties, but when he can show them that he is guided by the law of the New Testament they willingly acquiesce. Thus while we have liberty we have order also. The people rule, but they are subject to the Pastor in as much as he rules by the law of Christ. Our churches have oftentimes been called democracies. With much more correctness, some have termed them Christocracies,—Pastors and people are subject to Him, though to Him only.
We have adduced no formal proof of the congregationalism of the primitive churches; at present we deem it sufficient to remark that this principle lies on the face of every epistle addressed to them. The church as such, or the church with its Bishops and Deacons, are the parties directly addressed. We do not know of a single injunction connected with the management of the churches, given to any pastor, to any session, or in fact to any class of officers; all is addressed to the church as such, and the church is held responsible for carrying it out.
In concluding this short paper, we deem it proper to remark that the principle of Congregationalism is as much opposed to the interference of the so-called "adherents” of a congregation as to the interference of any church court, either without or within the church. Some of our readers have heard a good deal lately about a “mixed Committee,” managing the affairs of a church in the south of England. It is to be hoped that such mixed committees are rare, but is there not reason to fear that the so-called adherents are often allowed to exert a power in church matters which does not belong to them? We ourselves have known of the choice of a church in the very important matter of the election of a Pastor, being set aside by the influence of the outside congregation. Such practices are a gross violation of both Congregationalism and Independency, and the sooner they are abandoned in all churches professing those principles the better.
Congregational Independency in its main principles, we firmly hold to have been the polity of the early churches. In the hands of wise Pastors and devout and intelligent people it works admirably, but in such hands only, and it is evident that in no other hands was it intended to be placed by the founders of Christianity.
NOTES OF THE MONTH.
A STORY told of one of our ministers in the North, which will bear to be printed. Not very long ago he was present at a Social Meeting, on the same platform with the Parish Minister, and other ministers of various denominations in the district. The Parish Minister, a young man of
clerical bearing and lofty airs, was the first speaker, and during his address he made abundant reference to things which had occurred in his parish. He got a patient hearing, and was troubled with no interruptions while he spoke. By-and-bye the Independent Minister had his turn, and he, with a quiet humour which did not appear upon the surface, also referred to things which had taken place in his parish, his chapel and congregation being within the bounds of the parish previously referred to. The parish minister, who was observed to be very uneasy in his seat while such observations were made, at last started up to protest against such indirect claims. “Sit you down," said the Independent brother, “I did not disturb you while you were speaking of your parish, and you must allow me to speak of mine. You know I have a parish as well as you, and a much wider one than you claim, for my parish is the world.”
DECISIONS COME TO AT CHURCH MEETINGS. We have been asked to answer the following question—“Should a decision come to at a church meeting be regarded as final, when a very considerable proportion of the members of the church were absent from the meeting, perhaps only one-half or one-third being present?” If there was nothing informal or irregular in the meeting, and due notice was given of it, we should say that a vote taken at it must be regarded as constitutional and decisive. At the same time, there are circumstances when it would be imprudent to enforce constitutional right. What is lawful may not be expedient. There are times in the history of most churches when Christian forbearance should have a higher place than theory or precedent.
SPURGEON ON “CANDLES.” We have been favoured with a newspaper report of Mr Spurgeon's celebrated lecture on
Candles,” the greater part of which we here give as reported. He said he was first induced to lecture upon candles, because of a remark made by a student in his college. He always enjoined the necessity of giving plenty of illustration and metaphor in preaching ; but one day a student said to him, “ It was all very well, but he could not find illustrations,” to which he (the speaker) replied, off-handedly, that a man with his wits about him could find enough in a tallow candle to serve him with illustrations for a twelvemonth. As there were some doubts about the truth of his reply, he undertook to take his text from a candle, and hence the lecture he was about to give them. · The candle was perpetually referred to in Holy Scripture, which the lecturer showed by several quotations. As a simple illustration of the text, “ Thou art as a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” from the 119th Psalm, he produced a coloured toy lantern, similar to those used by children at Christmas time. It was the custom in the East not to stir abroad after dark without a lantern, even at the present time, for the drains and sewers were open, and anyone without a lamp to guide his steps would get into serious mischief. This illustration applied to the Bible, which should ever be used as David used it, to guide him upon all occasions. Some good people kept it in lavender all the week, and only used it on Sundays, and when they returned home from church, put it by, saying, “You have had your airing ; you be quiet, don't interfere with us; we're going to give short weight, 'we're going to be eye-servants during the week.” This reminded him of the golden rule, which once got out of church and came upon the exchange, when the merchants called the beadle to lock him up, saying, “Do unto others as you would they should do unto you,” is all very well for church ; our rule is,
Do others as others would do you,” The next was an historical illustration —the time-measuring candle. In olden times they didn't say, “What's o'clock ?" they said, “What's a candle ?” Alfred the Great measured time that way. Seven candles, in various stages of consumption, were next placed upon the table, and these the lecturer explained to represent the seven stages of human life. The child of ten years, the young man of twenty, the man of thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, and seventy, each with his peculiarities, were then touched upon, and concluding with the remark that the illustration ought to strike all Christians with the thought of the possibly short time they had in which to serve God, for at any time any of those lights might be put out; and the same with life, which might be terminated at any moment. The next illustration was a respectable japanned candle-box, which was said to represent a highly respectable Christian church. It contained a pound or two of good wax candles, and, consequently, plenty of capacity for light. The same with the Church—it is a respectable building, has respectable people, respectable pews, respectable deacons, and a respectable minister, and sometimes on Sundays there are respectable carriages outside. People say a man must have great ability to draw horses—and donkeys too. This church must be respectable, with its carriages outside ; but it has no ragged-school, and as for street-preaching, the thing is absurd. The discourses of the minister, too, are so respectable, that it is far beyond the comprehension of the people, Well, he (the speaker) had nothing to say against them, for he liked to be respectable himself; but in the case he had mentioned, they were like the candle-box-no light, no fire, and no result. Next on the table were some ornamental candles, which were likened to respectable retired people, who had saved a lot of money. They were all capable of good, but there was no light; so he would introduce amongst them a lighted rushlight, in which there was more light than in the other prettier-looking specimens. He would, however, like to light them all up, and show their capacity for usefulness. The next example was a lighted tallow candle stuck in a ginger-beer bottle, which Mr Spurgeon introduced as a disreputable-looking thing, but, as Mr Booth would have it, very much like his mission. Well, they must not find fault with it. It would do good service in a carpenter's shop. It represented, to his mind, those young men who went into the street preaching the Gospel, and although they were accused of making the people laugh, and spoiling the Queen's English, they were throwing a little light into the darkness. If people got to heaven through their instrumentality, they would not be asked if the man who preached Christ did so grammatically. But to these young fellows he would say that the better-looking candles would not be less useful if lighted up. That candle, if alight, could be used both for the cellar and the drawing-room, but the one stuck in a ginger-beer bottle would be very useful in the cellar; but-well, he should not like it in his drawing-room, But he would rub a little grease from the side of the ginger-beer bottle, and so let the young men whom it represented use every opportunity for improvement, for Jesus Christ deserved the very best service they could render. The speaker next held a candle with an extinguisher to the light, and went on to speak of extinguishers in a religious sense. Dr Taylor once said to John Newton that he had read the Bible thirteen times, but could not find the deity of Christ anywhere mentioned. “No,” John Newton replied, “I have tried to light my candle thirteen times with the extinguisher upon it, and never could do it.” Amongst the extinguishers enumerated were prejudice and in