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which thou gavest me, I have given them ; 73 that they may be one even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. “ If a man John xiv. 23. love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Here, then, is the principle by which all ecclesiastical discipline, Reference of
Ecclesiasby whomsoever exercised, must be regulated. To this, accordingly, tical St. Paul especially refers, when pointing out to the Corinthians, Punishment
. that what had occurred amongst them came under the head of ecclesiastical offences, and as such ought to be punished by the rulers of the Church. “ Know ye not that ye are the temple of 1. Cor. iii. 16,
17 God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you
• If any man destroy (or defile4) the temple of God, him shall God destroy ; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
All ecclesiastical offences, then, become such on the principle that they are inconsistent with the residence of the Holy Spirit in the Church, or with his operations. By this the apostles were regulated ; much more, then, their successors. Ananias's visitation was the first instance of the infliction of ecclesiastical punish
73 Alluding to his promise of the Com- of glory and of God resteth upon you.”. forter, that gift for which He was to (1 Pet. iv, 14.) St. Paul speaks of ascend on high in order that He might “ Christ's glorious Church;' and, in his give it to man, and for which it was comparison between the Mosaic and expedient that He should go away. Christian dispensation, the Divine pre
This glory is attributed to whatever, sence in each is expressed in the same from time to time, was the appointed figurative language. “If the ministraresidence of the Godhead. As this resi- tion of death, written and engraven on dence was chiefly manifested by the stones, was glorious, so that the children symbol of light, the word glory expressed of Israel could not stedfastly behold the the light also.
face of Moses for the glory of his counWhen Moses desired to have a mani- tenance; which glory was to be done festation of the Lord, his request was, “I away: how shall not the ministration of beseech thee, show me thy glory.” (Ex. the Spirit be rather glorious ?”. And, so xxxüi. 18.) In like manner, it is said continuing and explaining the image, he that “the glory of the Lord filled the at length proceeds to say that we, the tabernacle," (Exod. xl. 34,) and “the Church of Christ, are not only, as were house of the Lord,” meaning the light the Jews, spectators of the glory, but its from the cherubim.
abode and resting place, as it were. Accordingly, when Isaiah prophesied “But we all with open face, beholding of the manifestation of God in Christ, he as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are says, the glory of the Lord shall be re- changed into the same image from glory to vealed.” (Isa. xl. 5.) And St. John, glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” alluding to the prophet's vision, “these -2 Cor. iii. 7-18. things spake Esaias, when he saw his The latter part of this sentence, in the glory,”' (John xii. 41;) and again, “The original, is από δόξης εις δόξαν, καθάπες από Word was made flesh, and dwelt (or Κυρίου πνεύματος, of which the former tabernacled) amongst us, and we beheld words are, as Macknight observes, his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten Hebraism denoting a continued succesof the Father."-John i. 14.
sion and increase of glory," see Psalm So, too, when Christ speaks of his Ixxxiv. 7; the latter an expression shaped Church, as the future residence of the obviously in conformity with this He: Godhead in the person of the Holy braism, of which it is an appendage and Spirit, he expresses himself in allusions
explanation; it was used to denote that to this symbol; although that symbol he was not
speaking of any visible glory, was no longer to be given to a people but of the Divine Spirit himself, of whose destined to walk by faith, and not by indwelling it had been the ancient symsight.” His apostles continued to adopt bol. the same language concerning the Church. St. Peter writes, “ The Spirit
74 Φθείρει. .
ment, and it is expressly said to have been for an offence against the Holy Ghost. Certainly, to determine what behaviour constitutes an offence of this kind, supposes a knowledge of what is inconsistent with the abode of the Holy Spirit in the Church, and also what his operations are; and these are matters of revelation,—seen, doubtless, with more or less clearness, (as all other matters of instruction are,) in proportion as men exert their faculties to understand, and God sees good to bless that exertion.
Thus much may be sufficient, on the nature of offences against the Church, for the reader to understand the principle which renders them such ; and it now remains to inquire, what are the proper penalties?
The same method will be adopted as in the former case, viz. first, to consider what practices would naturally result from the principles laid down; and then, to see whether the sacred writings contain or allude to such a system of coercion, as we may have been thus led to infer. It was observed, then, that the inherent right of every society is exclusion in its various gradations: that every society must possess this, but nothing beyond this, as an inherent right. Whatever other punishments are adopted by any society, must be founded on a right created by the permission of its members, if its formation was a matter of choice to them, or by the compelling persons, if it was a matter of compulsion. Now, apply this to the case of the Church. There is a society left by its founder without any penal code; and the question is, whether any right of punish
ment therefore is vested in it, and of what punishment ? ExcluExcommu- sion, or excommunication, in all its shades and degrees, presents
itself as a kind of penalty, the infliction of which is an inherent and
perpetual right. Referring to the pages of apostolical history, we Apostles.
see every reason to conclude from the incidental allusions to ecclesiastical discipline, that such was the mode of coercion sanctioned by
the infallible guides and founders of the Church. Our Saviour's Matt. xviii. direction had been, “ If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go
and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall bear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church; but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a
publican.” To the Corinthian Church the apostle's rebuke simply 1 Cor.v.2, 11. is, “ Ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.”
Aud a little after he adds, in explanation of certain figurative expressions with which he had been illustrating the same principle, I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner ; with such an one no not to eat.
nication sanctioned by the
1 Cor. v. 5.
I Tim. i. 20.
In the energetic language of the apostle on this occasion occurs Deliverance the expression, “ to deliver over the person to Satan for the destruc- to Satan. tion of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” In this, then, there would seem to be something more implied than mere excommunication. It is spoken of, too, as a sentence proceeding by peculiar right from himself, and not, as the other, from one vested in the Church as a body. Whether in the present instance it was executed, or only threatened, is not explicitly stated; that it was actually inflicted on Hymenæus and Alexander, and by St. Paul, is proved by his Epistle to Timothy.
Here, then, the inquiry concerning the right of punishment takes apparently a new turn. The inquirer having satisfied himself that the Church has the right of exclusion, as well from its nature as from the allusions to the exercise of such a right in the apostolical writings, perceives, in the course of his search, instances of punishment which seem to wear a different character, and looks for some different principle to which he may refer them. He recollects, that not only those above mentioned were delivered over to Satan by St. Paul, but, what is more unequivocally expressed, and more awful in its character, that Ananias, the first offender against the Church, Death of was visited with death. And that there may be no misapprehension as to the nature of his crime, it is called an offence against the Holy Ghost—against him whose temple we are, as a Church. From the cruel and unholy practices which have defiled that temple of the all-merciful God, in the rash assumption of some other right than the right of exclusion, and to sanction which these instances have been alleged, the Protestant of the nineteenth century turns with abhorrence. He searches for any other principle and any other right in vain. Moreover, these very instances require only an humble consideration to set them also in the manifest light of cases of exclusion.
To understand this, it is necessary to state what is meant by excommunication or exclusion from the Church. Evidently, it is not exclusion from any particular place; for the Church is not such; but from certain common privileges: i.e. from the benefits of the Christian covenant, or of some portion of it. And what were these benefits? They were spiritual, derived through communion and the prayers and rites of the Christian community. Deprive the offending member of these, and you delivered him over to the world from which he had been called and elected. Cast him out of the Church and kingdom of Christ, and he became again a subject of that kingdom over which the god of this world rules. Thus he was said to be delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh—i.e. that the fleshly lusts through which he had offended may be destroyed by the discipline. The principle was the same as that on which the Israelites were delivered to Babylonish captivity, and debarred their temple service.
Second Epistle to the
The case of Ananias and Sapphira is not, perhaps, an exception.
It was final exclusion from God's Church, accompanied by the only sign which could prove that the spiritual punishment was final. Why that offence was so visited is not now important. Most probably, (as was elsewhere suggested,) it was an attempt to elude the extraordinary suggestions of the Spirit; and if so, the more appropriate seems the extraordinary mark of spiritual punishment.
It is by no means necessary, however, to the correctness of the view here taken of ecclesiastical discipline, that the nature of Ananias's crime and punishment should be shown not to form any exception to it. Like the pardoning of the thief on the cross, it arose out of circumstances which cannot recur in the ordinary course of the world; circumstances not only extraordinary, but of those so characterised, the most solemn and important. The one was a remarkable specimen of mercy and forgiveness, and as such fitly appended to the scene in which God was exhibiting himself as our Saviour; the other, an awful instance of severity and punishment, and no less properly attached to the scene in which God was exhibiting himself as the Ruler of his people.
A further mention of those offenders in the Church of Corinth,
whose case has furnished the ground for these remarks, is made in Corinthians. the apostle's second Epistle to that Church. In order that the
matter might be settled without his personal interference, he prolonged his stay at Ephesus; expecting to hear a favourable account of the impression made by his first Epistle. Meantime, an occurrence took place which hastened his departure. In his former journey, the cure of the Pythoness excited the ill-will of her master, whose gains were at an end, and caused the first persecution of his
party which originated with the idolatrous Gentiles. At Ephesus, Acts xix. 35. the famous seat of the Temple of Diana, and “of the image which
fell down from Jupiter,” he was exposed even to greater danger, from the tendency of his doctrine to ruin all those trades which depended for their support on idolatry and false worship. Demetrius, a silversmith, entered into a combination with those of his own trade; and the tumult excited by the appeal made to the superstitious feelings of the multitude in behalf of their tutelary goddess, whose shrine they represented as likely to be forsaken, was with some difficulty appeased. St. Paul, after having been subjected to one night's imprisonment, thought it prudent to withdraw for the time, and to pursue his journey at once to Corinth. The prejudice, however, which now began to be awakened against Christianity, was not of a character likely to pass away with the occasion. Throughout the world, the livelihood of a portion of every community arose out of the sale of images, the decoration of temples, and, more than all, the rearing of victims for the festivals. In proportion as Christianity spread, this circumstance formed an increasing source of opposition in the idolatrous world, scarcely less active and determined than that which was caused by Jewish prejudice among the more enlightened portion of mankind. The complaints and informations which from time to time were laid before the magistrates, against this “ pestilent sect,” as it was termed, although made under the various pleas of loyalty, patriotism, or piety, originated, for the most part, as in the case of Demetrius, out of selfinterest. Pliny, whose account deserves credit as an official document, and as the result of an investigation made by a highlygifted mind, evidently saw through all this; and accordingly he mentions, as the best proof and symptom of returning order and content produced by his measures, that the victims were once more brought to market, and that the altars blazed. As yet, however, the Church was too insignificant to attract the notice of the imperial government, although the tumult at Ephesus proves that it was spreading fast.
It was not until St. Paul's arrival in Greece, that he received any tidings of the Corinthians; to whom he immediately addressed his second Epistle, to prepare them for his coming. To Corinth, accordingly, he proceeded, and made it, as before, the boundary of his third apostolical journey. It is not, however, improbable, that, but for his anxiety to be at Jerusalem in time for the approaching festival, he would now have attempted to pass over into Italy, and visit Rome. The information which he had received respecting that important Church, could not but have rendered him anxious to perform his errand as soon as might be amongst them. His Epistle to it, written from Corinth, amply testifies this; and explains the cause of his anxiety. Converted as it would seem by Jewish Christians, whose eyes were not yet open to the true nature of St. Paul's mission, they had received the same erroneous impression respecting the obligation of the old law on the converted idolater, which still prevailed in the great body of the Church at Jerusalem. Accordingly, the whole tenor of his Epistle bespeaks an anxiety to remove this mistake; and the strong terms in which he has, naturally enough, advocated the independence of the Gentiles, by speaking of them as, equally with the Jewish people, “elect” by the foreknowledge of God, are as remarkable for the perverse interpretation which is often put on them, as for the striking transcript which they present of the apostle's anxious zeal, in endeavouring to effect by letter what circumstances prevented him from doing in person.
ST. PAUL AND THE EPHESIAN PRESBYTERS. St. Paul's company on his return was increased by the addition Increased of those deputed from the several Churches to convey their respec- St. Paul. tive contributions to Jerusalem. It was a journey of no small risk. Independently of the prophetic bodings with which the Holy Spirit addressed him by sundry individuals as he passed onwards, he could not but feel that his mission to the Gentiles had rendered his life