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COLLECTIONS FOR THE POOR OF JUDÆA.71 So repeated mention is made in the Epistles of St. Paul, of contributions for the relief of the Christians of Judæa, that it may be useful to notice this subject also in connexion with the apostle's stay at Ephesus. Whilst he was preparing to make excursions alone into other parts of Asia, for_the purpose of confirming converts in the faith, Timothy and Erastus were despatched to Macedonia, to urge the claims of the necessitous brethren, and to hasten the contributions, so that he might find them ready on his arrival there. It may be necessary to remind the reader, who inquires why the Christians of Judæa especially should need this assistance, that, according to the prediction of the prophets at Antioch, they had been distressed by a general scarcity of provisions, and that this was only a continuance of those charitable efforts, of which Antioch had set the example. It will be observed, however, that St. Paul advocates the cause of these his distressed brethren, not on the principle of mere benevolence, but as a peculiar Christian duty. With a view, then, of elucidating this principle, and thereby explaining the true character of the numerous passages which refer
to it, the subject has been noticed. Unity of the Our Lord had, with peculiar emphasis, told his disciples, that he Spirit.
gave them one new commandment, which was to love one another. This was the first precept which was given to them as a separate society. That it had reference only to their disposition and behaviour towards each other as members of such a Body, is evident. Else, the commandment could not be called new; inasmuch as his frequent injunctions to humility, and forgiveness of injuries, had much better title to this peculiar and emphatic appellation. So considered, the commandment was altogether new, because the object was new, the circumstances out of which the obligation arose
Of its solemn importance, and of its further enforcement by the Holy Spirit, under the expressions of “unity" and "unity of the Spirit,” it is at present unnecessary to speak. Enough has been said to render the principle easily applicable, and, in the present instance especially, to mark its connexion with St. Paul's earnestness, in urging the contribution on the brethren of every place as a peculiar Christian duty.
This, then, was the first occasion which was afforded to the whole Church of manifesting their social love,-of evidencing the unity of the Spirit; and as such we must consider the apostle to be represent
In order to be satisfied of this, we need only refer to one or two of the apostle's injunctions, and either place them side by side with our Saviour's commandment, or consider them alone. Thus, the Lord had said, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye
71 Acts xviii. 22, compared with 1 Cor. xvi.
love one another. As I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.' The apostle in speaking of the contribution calls it “ the experiment,” or test,” by means of which they 2 Cor. ix. 13. glorify God for their professed subjection to the Gospel of Christ. To the Galatians, before this, he had expressly sent a charge to “do Gal. vi. 10. good unto all men, especially unto them who were of the household of faith.” Those words of another apostle, too, “ Whoso hath this 1 John iii. 17. world's good, and seeth his brother (tóv áden@ov, not ganolov) have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” seem cast, as it were, in the mould of the original commandment, “As I have loved you, that ye John xiii. 34. also love one another;” and renders it almost unnecessary that the writer should inform us, as he has done, that it is to that commandment he is alluding.
ST. PAUL AND THE CORINTHIANS. Before we accompany the apostle to another stage of his journey, I would advert once more to his connexion with the Church of Corinth. The occasion is not unsuitable, because from Ephesus was written his first Epistle to the Corinthians, the design of which in part has been already noticed. His second followed after no very long interval. It would of course be incompatible with the scale of this
inquiry, Authority to discuss generally the matter and character of these Epistles. Governors Mention has been made of them with no further view, than to off the remind the reader of the tone of authority which the apostle assumes 1 Cor. v.; in them, over the offending members of the Church to which they 2 Cor. ii. are addressed; and this, not as vested in him alone, but as exercised by the governors of that Church. There, indeed, it would seem to have been properly lodged; for he would willingly, as he writes, have spared himself the task of interposing his extraordinary right as apostle, in order to enforce a discipline which of themselves they were competent to preserve, and which, as the event shows, they did maintain without his further interference.
About the same time also, (as may be inferred from his first Epistle to Timothy,) Alexander and Hymenæus were made examples to the Church, of the right vested in its governors of punishing its members. Some few remarks on the nature and origin of this right, therefore, may not be inappropriate here. As, in each instance, the sentence is styled a delivery of the person unto Satan,” the true 1 Tim. i. 2). import of that expression also should be determined.
That no society can exist without some rules, and without some Its origin. means of enforcing obedience to those rules, is obvious. When therefore it is asked, whether Christ or the Holy Spirit left any ecclesiastical laws, or vested any where power to enforce those laws —if the question is put with a view to ascertain whether Church
government be of Divine origin, it is idle; inasmuch as the very institution of the ecclesiastical society, the Church, implies the design that rules should be established, and means provided to enforce them.
But another object may be intended by the question. It may be put with the view of ascertaining what those rules are, whereby this society, the Church, is designed to be governed. For, it may be said, and plausibly enough, that granting the intention of the Church's founder to have laws established, to be ever so apparent, how are we to know what kind of government he intended ?
On one point the inquirer must satisfy himself. If, from the nature of the Church, and from existing circumstances, the members were already possessed of the means of acquiring this knowledge, in that case neither Christ nor the Holy Spirit would be likely to leave any code of ecclesiastical laws; on precisely the same principle, as no code of ethics was left.
Now, is there any thing in the nature of the Church to guide us, as to what are ecclesiastical offences ? Undoubtedly there is. In every society there must be such a principle; and by reference to it in each, are formed laws for the government of each. Every society recognises peculiar offences, arising out of, and depending solely on, the peculiar nature of the society; so that in proportion as this latter is understood, the former are defined. Much mischievous confusion in some instances arises from a want of attention to this connexion; and the attention is frequently diverted from it by the accidental circumstance, that the same act often becomes an offence against many societies. Thus, theft is at once an offence against the supreme Ruler of the universe,-against the political body of which the thief is a member,—against some certain class of society, perhaps, in which he moves, and so on. The act being one, it is only by reflection that we are enabled to separate the different views which render it in each case an offence, and in each of a different magnitude. Again, what becomes a crime because violating the principle of one society, may be none in another; if, namely, it does not interfere with the object proposed in the formation and preservation of that other society. Thus, the violation of the academical rules of our Universities does not render the offending member amenable to the laws of the land. Thus, too, the very conduct which recommends a smuggler or a robber to his confederacy, becomes an offence against the political body with which he is associated.
In order, therefore, to ascertain what are inherent offences or crimes in any society, it is necessary that we should know with what object or objects such society is formed. If information of this kind, then, be found in the sacred record, respecting the Christian society, ecclesiastical law by revelation was no more to be expected, than a code of ethics to tell men what their own consciences were already constituted by God to declare.
from itself an inherent
It is certain, however, that if the question need not be answered and punishin the affirmative, in order either to establish the Divine origin of ecclesiastical government, or to determine what offences come under its cognizance, there is yet a third object which may be proposed in urging it. What punishments are authorized, in order to check those offences? Ought not these to have been specified ? and, not having been specified, does the nature of the case here also supersede the necessity of a revelation, and enable us to know what coercion is, and what is not, agreeable to the Divine will? The inquiry, too, seems to be the more reasonable, because in looking to the methods by which various societies are upheld, we find the punishment even in similar societies by no means the same. Military discipline, for instance, in different countries, and at different periods, has been enforced by penalties unlike in degree and in kind. In different countries and ages, the social tie between the master and the slave has been differently maintained. All this is true, but still, in looking at the question so, we take only a partial view, and lose one important feature in the establishment of coercion,—the right.
Now, this right is either inherent in the society, or conventional, Exclusion or both, as is the case in most confederate bodies. When the right is limited to what the society exercises as inherent and indispensable, Right of -inherent in its nature, and indispensable to its existence,—the Society. extreme punishment is, exclusion ; and the various degrees and modifications of punishment are only degrees and modifications of exclusion. When the right is conventional also, (as far as it is so,) the punishment is determined by arbitrary enactment, proceeding from some authority acknowledged by all parties, (whether that authority be lodged in the parties themselves, or in competent representatives, or in other delegated persons,) and therefore styled conventional. Few societies have ever existed without a large portion of these latter. Hence the anomaly above alluded to, and hence too the vulgar impression, that all punishments are arbitrary, and depend solely on the caprice and judgment of the government. What is popularly and emphatically termed society, affords a good instance of the first; that is, of a social union regulated and maintained only by a right inherent. In this, excessive ill-manners and the gross display of ungentlemanly feelings are punished by absolute exclusion. According as the offence is less, the party offending is for a time excluded from some select portion of good society, or from certain meetings and the like, in which more particularly the spirit and genuine character of gentility are to be cherished. All its lawful and appropriate punishments are a system of exclusion, in various shapes and degrees.
Now it is obvious, that no authority is ever here appealed to in any case; because the right arises out of, and is inseparable from the society that exercises it,-is implied in the very existence of the
society. In like manner, when the Christian searches the New Testament for positive enactments against offences to which the Church may be exposed, and finds none, it cannot nevertheless be said, that the omission leaves the nature of the punishment arbitrary or conventional. It obviously sanctions those which are coexistent with the Church, and which must therefore claim the same origin and foundation as the Church itself. It does more, it sanctions these exclusively.
In applying these principles to the government of the Church, it is not intended to represent the subject as left wholly to be gathered from the nature of the Christian society, or as if no reference were found in the New Testament to particular points of ecclesiastical government. Not only does the case selected for consideration prove that it is otherwise, but many expressions and passages may be cited from other parts of Scripture, of similar import. All that is here asserted is, that these are only illustrations of, and allusions to, the principles of ecclesiastical society; which principles, thus exemplified and illustrated, are sufficient to direct us in all cases. So, (to allude once more to the analogous case of the Christian code of morals,) moral precepts may be found without number in the sacred volume, but they are employed only in illustration of the great Christian principles, which, thus acknowledged and sanctioned, were to be our guide.
In determining the true nature and object of the Church or special Type
Christian society, no small assistance is derived from the emblematical character of its special type, the Jewish temple. It was formed for the residence of the Holy Spirit, to be the medium of its operations. Look through the scriptural marks attached to it, and this truth every where meets the eye. It may be recognised in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper ;72 and in those many mysterious allusions which lie scattered throughout the record of our blessed Lord's words, especially in the Gospel of St. John. His writings are indeed inexplicable, unless we assign such a meaning, not to a few remarkable passages, but to a train of recurring allusions to this abode of God amongst his people; allusions in this apostle's case perhaps the more frequent, because naturally suggested by the recollection of those holy moments, when he used to lean on the bosom of his Master. What other view will sufficiently explain the mysterious expressions of that prayer, which the Saviour offered up
for his future Church, on his approaching separation from those who John xvii. 20, were to be the founders of it. “ Neither for these alone (prayed
he), but for them also which shall believe on me through their word. That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us. And again: “ The glory
of the Christian Church.
72 “ Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.”—John vi. 53.