Imatges de pÓgina
[blocks in formation]

THE Lord's first Advent was on earth attended by two grand related results which suggest certain questions of importance at this hour. The one was the detection of the want of all true vitality in the then existing Church.

The Jews were numerous; they were widely scattered; they had large synagogues, and sometimes great influence in very many important cities, not in Palestine alone, but amid the influences of Asiatic luxury, and of Grecian philosophy, and even in Rome, in the very shadow of the throne of the Cæsars. They had vast wealth. An annual festival drew to Jerusalem Parthians and Medes and Elamites; dwellers in Mesopotamia and in Judæa; in Cappadocia, in Pontus and in Asia; in Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and Libya; Romans, Cretes, and Arabians.

Their zeal was conspicuous, whether in the making of proselytes, or in their endurance of persecution. They had schools of philosophy, some of which aided in giving to Alexandria a name which still is remembered. Yet the result to this Church of the Advent of its Incarnate Founder was the detection of its entire spiritual death. It had a name that it lived and it was dead. Its morality and its zeal were founded on the love of self and of the world; good was absent, and the truth was profaned. Accordingly that Church was consummated; its synagogues remain, but it has never since that Advent, either morally or intellectually, inspired or controlled the world's life.

This high and solemn duty was, as a second result, transferred to a


New Church which the Lord then established.

The New

Its vitality was instantly manifest. It could love its enemies. Within eight weeks of the Crucifixion, in the city of His death, to an audience in which were not a few who had exclaimed "Crucify Him," that disciple whose passionate frankness was most conspicuous, uttered an appeal, in which he pressed the multitude to be willing to be saved. Church was intractable. It haunted old synagogues with its utterances of new discovered truths. It could not remain silent. It could not limit itself to old formulas. It must speak and must contradict received opinions. It was forced to assume the guise of sectlife. Though sectarian it was Catholic. Its societies were often numerically feeble, and void of either domestic or foreign influence, yet it could not limit its activities. The knowledge of their Master as a Light to lighten the Gentiles was a continual incentive. They acknowledged but one all-embracing mission,-to give to mankind the knowledge of salvation by the remission of their sins. They went therefore every where preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. It was as though, long after Pentecost, the Christians spake each man with a tongue of fire.

The sect became the Church of the civilized world; deriving its first voices from those of Jewish parentage, it was mainly Gentile in its constituency. It had the traditions of Judaism, the scholarship and influence of the Gentiles, the direction of Providence, the light of Divine truth, the fervour of heavenly love, the prestige of the Crucified and Glorified. And thus, in the train of the Word of God, it went

forth conquering and to conquer.

It had a mission, and from this mission it could not be turned by Judas in his haste to force Providence, by Ananias in his desire to compromise between charity and self, or by Simon Magus in his willingness to prostitute the holiest things of the Church to his own aggrandizement.

The Jewish Church had been founded not as final, therefore it had risen and fallen, and evening and morning were its day.

Even so the Christian Church was not founded as final, and, at this moment, presenting greater tokens of life than did the Jewish Church in the first Christian century, it is as dead as that Church was.

A New Church is foun led, and the points of similarity between it and the first Christian Church do not need to be specified.

The first message of the New Church is to the synagogues and synodsof the old. Where truth has been slaughtered, and charity

« AnteriorContinua »