The Congregational Magazine.
ur Magazine addresses itself in the first place to a small constituency. It makes its appearance to meet a want, or what at least is believed to be a want, in a single congregation. Other serials, calculated to do service in a larger sphere, cannot pay full regard to local needs. This is to be, as it were, domestic in its character, supplying some record of the proceedings of one Church, and affording to the members of that Church a new mode of communication with one another.
It is not intended to supersede in any way those publications of wider scope, by which our sympathies are excited in favour of work done in other Churches of the Congregational order, and in Churches of every name. The members of a family may take great delight in private letters relating to their own affairs, and yet be as much interested in the newspapers as their neighbours are. Our neighbours, then, must not think us exclusive in spirit because we have our family Magazine. Perhaps, indeed, as no letters are more interesting than private letters, even to those whom they do not immediately concern, our neighbours may find something in our pages that they will not be disinclined to read. We are so little disposed to secrecy that we shall be happy to print a large number of extra copies, if a demand should thus arise on the part of our friends beyond our own Church. Our articles cannot be really useful to our own people if they contain nothing worth reading by others.
As to neighbouring Churches of our own order, at Dunedin and Wellington for example, we hope to make this a means of circulating in our congregation some account of their doings; and we invite them, until they have some similar organ of their own, to assist us in our circulation, and to use us as far as they are able.
It is believed that the large number of members of our Church who are scattered through the Province, and in other parts of the Colony, where they have not the opportunity of uniting themselves with other Churches, will receive with warm welcome a monthly messenger reminding them of their fellowship with us, and assisting them to realise it. They will receive the first number, and it is hoped they will become subscribers, and perhaps induce others to do so.
So much for our design in general: now to be more particular. It has been suggested that we might find room for some of the July, 1872.page 2
* Pastor's sermons. But sermons must be very good to find many readers, and one sermon would fill perhaps half of one of our numbers. Yet the Pastor has often wished that he could put before the Church in a more permanent shape such expository part of his teaching as had cost him most research and had the most careful attention paid to its arrangement; and here is the opportunity he has desired. We propose, therefore, for the present to give month by month some expository notes on the Epistle to the Ephesians, the result of study in the preparation of the Sunday morning lectures now in course of delivery. We deem it important that our people should have some knowledge of the history of Congregational Churches, of their polity, of their attitude towards the State, of their relations to the general life of the nation—knowledge which cannot be obtruded on the attention of an assembly met for worship, unless at the expense of matters more immediately spiritual and therefore of higher concern. We propose to give such brief sketches of these subjects as our scanty space will allow, and as busy men and women can read; such, moreover, as may induce some to turn their attention to fuller records.
The reports of Synods, Presbyteries, and Conferences, set before the public the views of the Churches which these assemblies represent, on topics similar to those just referred to. However we may often dissent from the opinions to which publicity is thus given, it would usually be an impertinence and an ungracious display of hostility to express our objections, by newspaper correspondence or other means, on neutral ground. An organ of our own will enable us with more propriety to set forth our own convictions, or to criticise the conclusions of others. The action of the State with regard to education, cemeteries, grants in aid of religious bodies, and some other matters, comes into occasional contact with religion, and so commends itself to the consideration of the Churches, and when this is the case we shall pass it under review. Our financial arrangements, and certain organisations for religious work, as the Sunday School, and the Mission at the Ferry-road, may with advantage be set before our congregation with more definite and detailed statement than is possible in a notice given from the pulpit. New books, and older ones of unusual interest, will be occasionally introduced to our readers by short reviews or abstracts. With so many purposes to serve, and with occasional records of Missionary operations, and of exemplary incidents occuring in other Churches, we expect to be rather cramped for space than at a loss for matter. We shall endeavour to find room for correspondence on Church affairs.page 3
A large circulation will be necessary considering the price at which we publish. Those of our friends who think that it would have been wiser if we had fixed the price at sixpence can make their liberal disposition serviceable to us by taking twice as many copies at the lower price as they would have done at the higher. We are compelled to regard the present issue as an experiment, by the result of which we must judge of the practicability of our scheme.
With regard to the tone of the Magazine, we must leave the articles which it contains to speak for themselves, only expressing our earnest desire that it may be used to promote the glory of the Redeemer and the welfare of His Church.
* It is perhaps unnecessary to explain that by the Pastor is meant the Pastor of the Congregational Church, Christchurch.
Notes on the Epistle to the Ephesians.
(Introductory, and on i. 1, 2.)
hese notes are intended to supply a brief exposition, such as may enable the reader to trace the course of thought through the Epistle. The doctrines expressed or implied will be rather indicated than illustrated and enforced. To most of those whose love for Holy Scripture will induce them to read it in the manner suggested by this exposition, the doctrines themselves are familiar and precious. The new interest which may be aroused in looking over the Epistle now will be chiefly that which springs from a discovery of the relations between the several parts of Christian truth as they are here exhibited.
We are in the way for finding the key to the whole Epistle when we carefully observe what prominence is given in it to the idea of the Church. The first three chapters may be regarded as constituting the three sections of the doctrinal part of the Epistle, and the three remaining chapters the practical part; although this distinction of doctrinal and practical is a very rough one and apt to mislead. Now, in every section the Church is prominently introduced; at the close of the first (i. 22, 23—"The Church, which is His body"); at the close of the second (ii. 21—"All the building [which is being] fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord"); and in the third (as iii. 10—"Known by [i.e., by means of] the Church the manifold wisdom of God"); and, once more, the first section of the more practical part sets forth our duties as members of the Church, rather than as mere individuals. Nor are these the only references to the Church; there are many of them—some seen at a glance (as iii. 21, and v. 23—27, 32), others becoming manifest as the whole argument is understood (as ii. 14, iii. 6, &c.)page 4
But if we fix our thoughts on the Church alone we shall lose the clue we had laid hold of. In Scripture "Christ is all and in all." In the Church also "Christ is all, and in all;" and indeed it is with regard to the Church that this phrase is used (Col. iii. 11). Just as, when Christ's office of Mediator is fulfilled, such an order of things will be established "that God may be all in all;" so now, while His mediation continues, Christ is all, both in the life of the Church, and in the writings which reveal His redemption. In the first chapter of this Epistle, for example, the name of Christ, or some pronoun standing for it occurs, just as many times as there are verses. In fact, the subject of the Epistle is not so much the Church as Christ and the Church.
One other word occurs so often as to invite the inquiry whether it also may not be a key-word. The word is "mystery." We use it as meaning something inexplicable; but its true meaning is a revealed secret. The Latin New Testament sometimes translates it by "sacrament," and so obscures the sense, and sometimes leaves it in effect untranslated, as we leave the word "baptize." That in our Epistle "mystery" means "revealed secret" is plain to any one who will look at chapter i. 9 ("made known, to us the mystery of His will"), and at chapter iii. 3, 4 ("the mystery . . . which in other ages was not made known . . . as it is now revealed.") From the 9th verse of the first chapter it appears that the mystery of God's will is to be the theme of the Epistle. For after a statement of the gospel, such a statement as, however grand, is not at all peculiar to this place and occasion, it is said that God in His grace has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence—"having made known unto us the mystery of His will." We are now prepared to find that the design of the Epistle is to unfold the mystery of God's will concerning Christ and the Church. In the third chapter (verse 4) the mystery which is the theme of the Epistle is expressly called "the mystery of Christ." The three key-words appear together in the fifth chapter (verse 32)—"This mystery is great: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church." Further to confirm the position here taken in combining these three words into one thought, let us turn to Colossians* i. 26, 27, where we read—"God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
And now, what is the "mystery?" An answer might be given rashly (by reference to Col. i. 27), that the mystery is Christ. But such an answer is not based on a full consideration of the passage relied on. That passage says, "Christ in you." The true answer seems to be this: the mystery is the union of Christ page 5 with His Church. Observe how often that union, and the unity which consequently is an attribute of the Church, is set forth in the Epistle: "Head over all things to His body" (i. 22, 28); "made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who hath made both one" (ii. 13, 14); "to make in Himself of twain one new man" (ii. 16); "the chief corner stone, in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth" (ii. 21); "the Gentiles fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ" (iii. 6); "the unity of the Spirit . . one body . . one head," &c. (iv. 3, 4, 5); "the head, Christ, from whom the whole body . . maketh increase" (iv. 15, 16); and see the whole passage in the fifth chapter from the 23rd verse to the 32nd.
The mystery of the union of Christ with His Church is a comprehensive theme, and is not treated exhaustively in the Epistle. The letter professes to be only a letter and not an essay. As Pascal wrote: "The order which Jesus Christ and Saint Paul observe is the order of love, not of mind; for they desired to warm, not to instruct. St. Augustin the same. This order consists principally in digressions upon each point that has relation to the end in view, in order always to exhibit that"† So we have no special reference to the Incarnation, nor any statement of the manner in which Christ and His people are united; only the glorious fact of the union and the unity is declared and reiterated, and its practical inferences drawn and applied, The theme is not regarded from every possible point of view. There is, however, one point which the circumstances of the Church at that time made it necessary to set in a clear light, viz., that the union of all believers with Christ in one body had put an end to the religious disabilities of Gentiles. This consequence of the union of Christ and the Church was so present to the mind of the Apostle of the Gentiles, and of such moment in those days of Judaising tendency, and of such value to lately converted heathen, that we cannot wonder at the prominence assigned to it. Only we must be careful not to put this part for the whole. The mystery is the union of Christ with His Church, and the consequent union of all the members in one body.
The impression made upon the mind of one who earnestly studies the Epistle in all its bearings is not unlike that which is produced by the revelations of astronomy, as space beyond space stands revealed, and everywhere harmony and order appear. No part of Scripture surpasses this in height and depth and length and breadth. It opens up suggestive glimpses of truths not yet grasped; it moves with ease among the most stupendous difficul- page 6 ties of thought; it reveals its own character as a true revelation, an articulate voice from the Infinite. It pierces to the heart of all things, and into the eternal past, and reads the counsels of God; it rises to the heights of the heavenly places, and contemplates principalities and powers gleaning new knowledge of God's ways from His dealings with man; it perceives the subtle yet mighty bonds by which a scattered Church is united as one body to its head in heaven; it sees in every detail of common duty the principle that connects it with the universe of truth and holiness.
The more doctrinal part of the Epistle falls naturally into three sections, exactly corresponding with the three chapters into which it has been divided. The Will of the Father, the Work of the Son, the Power of the Holy Ghost; each of these is the leading idea of a chapter, neither as excluding the other, yet each in turn receiving more immediate consideration as concerned in the mystery.
The first two verses are occupied with the usual salutation. To recall the relations of Paul to the Church at Ephesus, and to investigate the question raised by the omission of "at Ephesus" from some MSS., is beside the present purpose. Three things, however, should be noticed. 1. The true members of the Church are "saints," and "faithful in Christ Jesus." They are "saints," as counted holy for Jesus' sake, as renewed by the Holy Ghost, as separate from the world. They are "faithful," that is, believing; they believe on Jesus as their Saviour, they trust in him for pardon secured by his death, and they receive strength for a holy life by "looking unto Jesus." They are "in Christ Jesus," bound to him by ties spiritual and beyond the perception of sense and of reason, yet as strong as they are tender, as influential as they are inseparable. 2. A good prayer for those we love is that they may have "grace and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ;" not only his favour and bounty manifested in outward gifts, not only circumstances of peace with all around; but grace pardoning, sanctifying, permitting communion; and peace, as cessation of enmity against him, as assurance of his love, as confidence before him, as comfort in all distress. 3. The real origin of Paul's apostleship was in the Will of God. Historically it originated in the vision of Christ near Damascus. But Paul sees beyond that. As in this chapter the whole work of redemption is traced to the Will of God (i. 9), and the work of salvation in the individual soul is referred to that will (i. 4, 5), so it was Paul's happiness to believe that his position as a minister of Christ, of the Church, of the Gospel, had been fixed by the same will; being not simply by permission of God, but by his determinate counsel. When this is understood, all the preparatory discipline by which he was in some measure fitted for his office appears to be part of a far-reaching design. page 7 How firm a support this knowledge of the Will of God must have been to him under discouragement, depression, and persecution can perhaps be fairly estimated only by those who, occupying posts of service in the Church, and feeling their own insufficiency, yet have evidence clear, though not as in his case miraculous, that by the Will of God they were selected, appointed, and called to the exercise of their ministry.
* The Epistles to the Ephesians, to the Colossians, and to Philemon appear to have been written during the same imprisonment.
† Jesus Christ, Saint Paul ont l'ordre de la charité, non de l'esprit; car ils vouloient échauffer, non instruire. S. Augustin de même. Cet ordre consiste principalement à la digression sur chaque point qui a rapport à la fin, pour la montrer tonjours. Pensées, vii. 19.
On National Education.
ew things are more surprising to those who are old enough to look back over a period of say thirty-five years of the history of the country, still by most of us called "home," than the growth there of intelligence amongst the masses, and consequently the development of the power of public opinion. This is doubtless attributable to a variety of causes, tending in one direction, but a few of them have mainly, I think, produced the result. The others have followed, as it were, in their train.
Sunday-schools have been so important an agency, even in this respect, that I believe it would be very difficult to over-estimate their effects, without taking in their value as a means of spiritual good to the people. In the earlier history of these institutions they were very much more devoted to teaching the elements than they are now. I presume that, excepting the infant classes, most of the scholars are now taught, at least to some extent, to read, before entering these schools, and also principally attend schools of some sort during the week. I also believe that, even in the infant classes, the teachers' time is given to higher objects, which is an incidental recognition of the other means of obtaining the first rudiments. In the earlier days of Sunday-schools, however, it was almost entirely different. At that time a very large proportion of the scholars entered without any knowledge of the alphabet, and the teachers had a great deal of preparatory work to do, which is now done either before, or concurrently with, their work. The working classes, at the time I refer to, may be described as a stolid mass of ignorance, and without the desire to be otherwise. Parents amongst them were only anxious to make their children assist as soon as possible in earning the means of sustaining a merely animal existence. Sunday-schools may truly be called the thin end of the first wedge which was driven in below this almost immovable mass—their advocates had not only to teach the children, but frequently to overcome the obstacles in the minds of parents and others against their being taught. Some labourers who entered this field at the beginning of the day lived to see a blessed change in this respect, and witnessed parents and children alike in the list of Sunday-scholars. I page 8 remember well, a class of men advanced in life regularly in attendance at a Sunday-school, that their Bibles might be of use to them in their cottages.
The Legislation of the last forty years may also be very properly considered as a means of National Education. My memory just takes me back to the passing of the great Reform Bill of 1832, and the contrast between the British Empire of to-day and that date is something to make any man marvel! and to feel that, in relation to us as a people, the former days are not better than these. That great measure was not all its authors and champions desired it to be. It had to be accommodated to the jealousies of the Lords by the admission of the "Chandos clause," which fixed the county franchise at £50 tenants at will, and thus laid the counties at the feet of the Tories. It was, nevertheless, a splendid instalment of the peoples' liberties. It took them for the first time into the councils of the nation. It gave the people so much of what was due to them that it became impossible to withhold the balance, and laid them under a debt of obligation to its champions, such as Grey, Russell, and Brougham, which on many later occasions they have been too ready to forget. Lord J. Russell was, perhaps, above all the others, the hero of that measure, and of him at least I believe it may be truly said, that he was actuated by no merely political party motives, but by those proper to a great constitutional reformer and true friend of mankind. Except on unimportant occasions, when his temper has got the better of his heart and his head, he has all through his long political career been consistent with himself and with his early professions as the advocate of liberty. One of the predicted results of the measure I have referred to has been the growing interest ever since taken by a continually widening circle of the people in the affairs of the country, and that has quickened the national intelligence, and been a most important means of educating and raising the community. There is now vastly more respect for the institutions of the country, and the people are more law-abiding, as might have been expected, seeing that they are now conscious of exercising some influence in the making of those laws by which they are governed. In my early days soldiers were necessary up and down the country in the centres of population, and "riots" and "Riot Act" were familiar terms, but now a few "Peelers," assisted occasionally by some special constables, are all that is required. No doubt we have a dangerous population in the large cities in every part of the empire, and I would by no means speak lightly of this element. But are they not numerically a small minority? Is it not a bright sign of the times, and especially of activity in the Christian Church, that the conviction should be so general, that this is an evil for which a remedy must be at once found? I believe that page 9 in the past this evil would have been unheeded, until it had culminated in disaster, and then have been a matter of brute force.
They arc, however, at home, a long way from the enjoyment of that equality before the law, especially in ecclesiastical matters, which is I believe the birthright of every man, but it is all obtainable by constitutional means, and is so evidently approaching, that its advocates and friends calmly await the result of public enlightenment, and of political agitation and discussion.
The question of National Education has been one of very voluminous controversy during the period of which I have been writing, and I had intended to have given a short sketch of it, and to have shewn the stand-point of the different parties engaged therein, especially in relation to the Elementary Education Act, 1870, but I fear I have already taken up more space than I am entitled to, and must therefore lay down my pen. Should it, however, be considered suited to the columns of the Congregational Magazine, I will endeavour to do this in a future number.J.L.
The Children's Page.
here are many things spoken in the church that are too hard for children to understand. But many of you go to the Sunday School, and your teachers try to make everything very easy for you. Most of you have fathers and mothers who tell you of Jesus in words that you know the meaning of and can remember. In the magazine there are some things that you will not like to read. But I want to write something every month for you, so that you may be glad when the magazine comes. You know that when Jesus was on earth he was kind to children. When the grown up people thought the children would be a trouble to him he said, "Suffer the little dren to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven," and he took them in his arms and blessed them. All Christians ought to love children, and to let them see that they love them. So there is to be always a page in the magazine for you. I hope it will remind you that Jesus loves you, and help you to love him.
You all know what a spy-glass is. There are some spy-glasses made for looking at things that are far off, and when you look through them they seem to bring things near so that you can see them plainly. These glasses are called telescopes. Others are meant to make little things look large. These glasses are called microscopes. The microscope shows us how very beautiful are some of the least things that God has made. If we get some of the very finest sand from the bottom of the deep sea and page 10 look at it through a microscope, we find that what looks like nothing but small dust is really shells of very beautiful shape in which creatures once lived, and there are little flat round things with the most lovely patterns all over them. No man could make such small things half so beautiful in their shape. And when man has made anything very fine and beautiful, if you put it under a microscope, it looks coarse and rough and very badly made.
Think of these beautiful things lying for ages and ages at the bottom of the sea where no man could see them, and so small that until men had learnt to make the microscope their beauty could not be known to us. Why should God make such little things, that for a long time no one could see, so very beautiful? When people build a house or a church they Very often make the front of it very grand, but the back part they take very little pains with, and spend very little money on it, because no one will see it. But God makes things beautiful whether people will see them or not. If men go in a ship to an island where no one lives, and where, perhaps, no man has ever been before, they very likely see the loveliest flowers, and the noblest trees, and hear the sweetest songs of birds covered with the brightest feathers. Why does God put all this beauty where people do not live? We put our best furniture in the rooms that will be most seen, and do not care so much for every little bedroom. Why does God do so differently?
Perhaps there are angels and other spirits that can see the inside of things when we can only see the outside; perhaps they can see things at the bottom of the sea, and in dark caves, and in the heart of rocks. But whether they can or not, God can. He can see always all the beautiful things he has made, and he loves beauty; and this is one reason why the smallest things and the most hidden things are beautiful. He made them for himself, and he loves beauty.
I will tell you one thing that God thinks beautiful. It is beautiful to do what is right. What is right is beautiful in the sight of God, and of all good spirits. What is wrong is ugly and disagreeable to look at. Many people do what seems right only when some one will see. Some children appear obedient till their mother's back is turned, and then they do what she bade them not to do. A really obedient child does just the same whether any one is looking or not. That is like God making things beautiful though they are to lie at the bottom of the sea for countless years. Ask God to make you like him in this, that you may love what is right and beautiful, and do it not because some one is looking, but because you love it. If you are tempted to do anything sly, or to be disobedient, or untruthful, or slovenly, say to yourself, "But if no one else sees it, I shall see it and know how ugly it is; and besides, God will see. I should like him to see nothing but what he loves."W.J.H.
Provincial Government Votes.—The Council at its last session revived a bad precedent, which we had hoped was obsolete. A sum of £230 was granted to assist in building a German Church, and £24 (the price of two sections of town land bought at a Government land sale), to the Church of England at Waimate. In the former case the division showed 22 for and 14 against; in the latter Cade, 18 for and 13 against. We notice with more satisfaction a vote of the 4th June, on the motion of Mr. Sawtell, upon the question of a public cemetery for Christchurch It was resolved to request his Honor the Superintendent to make a reserve of not more than 100 acres of waste land for the purpose. It will be hard to find so much near enough to town, unless it be among the Sandhills. On the necessity for the vote a remark will be found in another paragraph.
Public Cemetery.—The present cemetery arrangements for Christchurch are very unsatisfactory. The only public cemetery is a small one of one acre, and we believe is quite full. The Roman Catholics have one of the same size adjoining it. The Church of England cemetery consists, we believe, of twenty acres. The so-called Scotch cemetery belongs to a private company. It is high time that some public and adequate provision were made for the wants of the town in this respect. Until the recent vote of the Provincial Council (referred to in an another paragraph) is carried into effect we must continue to be subject to an inconvenience under which we have long suffered. There have been five deaths this year in connection with our congregation; in three cases out of the five the Church of England cemetery was deemed the most convenient, and the pastor was therefore shut out from the exercise of his ministry at the grave. We earnestly hope for some improvement in this matter. Meanwhile it may be interesting to our readers to learn that the Barbadoes-street cemetery, lately known as the Wesleyan Cemetery, is now under the management of a Board nominated by the Superintendent, and who probably have the confidence of the various denominations who are interested. The regulations for its management have been decided on and published in the Government Gazette. A visit to this long-neglected cemetery will shew that already great improvements are effected, the walks being laid out, the larger trees all removed, and a new fence placed round the boundaries. Persons desirous of obtaining an exclusive right to any plot can now do so, on application to the Board, in writing, and we would suggest that those interested in this announcement should lose no time in communicating their wishes. The following are the names of the Board:—Messrs. G. Gould, F. Garrick, G. Booth, T. Abbott, and J. P. Jameson. Information as to funerals may be obtained from T. Cotton, sexton, Kilmore street.
Canterbury Collegiate Union.—Seeing that connexion with this association is necessary to qualify residents in Canterbury for an intro- page 12 duction to the New Zealand University, we must protest against its exclusive constitution. The operation of that constitution at present is to shut out from competition for university scholarships all boys who are not attending Christ's College Grammar School. Is it fair to give the Church of England this distinction? We trust that the Provincial Council will not hand over any portion of the school reserves to the University until a more liberal system is adopted.
Papers Read at General Meeting of the Church of England.
At the close of the Synod just held in Christchurch there was a general meeting of members of the Church of England, at which four papers were read and submitted to discussion. We have read three of these papers with unusual satisfaction. Mr. C. C. Bowen, R.M., had for his subject "The Secularisation of Education." We cannot endorse his approval of Mr. Forster's Education Act, of which we shall have more to say at another time. But we most cordially welcome his statement of the objection to denominational education at the expense of the State, He says, referring to the fact that undenominational schools are established in the country districts in connection with a system of local rating, while Christchurch depends on the efforts of the denominations, expecting them to be aided by State money:—
"It is out of the question to expect that the State will grant as large assistance proportionally to communities that do not tax themselves as to those that do. Such a distribution of the public funds would be obviously unfair; and it is practically out of the question to suppose that the Legislature will authorise the levying of a direct tax upon all ratepayers with a view of distributing the proceeds among a few denominations."
We should go a little beyond this, and say that the unfairness does not depend upon the way in which the money is raised, whether by direct taxation, or by land sales, or by other means, so long as public money is applied to denominational uses.
The Dean of Christchurch read an admirable paper on "Pastoral Visiting." We should like all our readers to give it a careful perusal. He asks the members of the Church to lay themselves out to make a good and spiritual use of a visit from their pastor, and to cast off some of that reticence which so often prevents any real contact of minds and hearts on spiritual subjects. He shows the comparative uselessness of mere hasty calls, and the necessity of staying long enough at each house to feel one's way to some profitable conversation. He invites those who know of cases that call for pastoral attention to inform the minister, and recommends all whose leisure and ability are sufficient for it, to give page 13 themselves to the work of visiting the sick, the needy, and the ignorant. Sunday-school-teachers are especially advised to become acquainted with the parents of their scholars.
The Archdeacon of Christchurch followed with a paper "On the Action of the Laity in the Church." It is too often assumed that the clergy are the Church, but in this paper it is shown that they are but a part of the body, and that the co-operation of members who are not ministers is now possible in a higher degree than ever before, in the work of teaching, and in the work of government. The Archdeacon says:—
"We stand simply in the position of the first converts to Christianity, voluntary members of a voluntary body. Each of us, if our profession means anything, has received a treasure of Divine knowledge and blessing—the one treasure which beyond all others grows by distribution. Men and women we are called on to see and try how much we can do by our own personal efforts to evangelise the world, and well will it be for us if the progress of our Church shows a constantly increasing company of lay fellow-helpers in the work of the ministry such as gladdened the hearts of the first preachers of the Gospel, and received in Scripture their living commemoration."
These are wholesome words, whether considered as exhortation to those who agree with them, or as a protest against that false doctrine of priestly prerogative, which, in some quarters, is openly advocated, and among many who are taught better is practically believed, and expressed in their abstinence from all Christian work.
"Whatever may be the advantages of a congregational choice of ministers, without doubt it is based on a selfish principle, in which the good of the many is gradually lost sight of for the benefit of the few; and more than this, I believe it to be a principle which is radically deficient in that wise and well controlled element of central authority which is as much a necessity to the work of the Church of Christ as it was to the Prussian army in its late campaign."
"The Bishop's office is not merely a result of human organisation, suitable to the economy of the Church. It is this, but it is also one of those facts which grew out of the principles laid down by Divine authority in the New Testament, which abundantly proves the principles of Episcopacy, whilst history, from its earliest records of Christianity, shows the natural development of the principle."
We believe that the "element of central authority," on which we do well to depend, is the Headship of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church. We see neither in the reason of page 14 the case, nor in the lessons of history, reason to hope that any other "central authority" will be always "wise and well controlled." We can understand an advocate of Diocesan Episcopacy seeking on the one hand for a foundation for his system in the Scriptures, or on the other maintaining that he has sufficient ground in the necessities of the case and in the historical development of the Church; but we do not see how the two bases can co-exist. We believe that no trace of Diocesan Episcopacy is to be found in the New Testament. The bishops were the elders, the pastors of the Churches. Such control as was exercised by the apostles differs in many important particulars from the control of a Diocesan Bishop. It is easy enough to trace the development of the system in the history of the Church from about the year 150 or 170 to the Council of Nice in 325. But we neither recognise the authority of the precedent thus found, nor approve of the principles by which the development was produced and guided. We shall perhaps revert to this subject, and treat it more fully, at another time.
Where the "selfish principle" referred to lurks, and how it operates, we are at a loss to guess. Any system may admit of selfish action in detail. Even Diocesan Episcopacy knows something of nepotism. Does the Archdeacon mean that a small Church may wish to keep a man who ought to fill a wider sphere? It cannot keep him against his will. Or does he mean that a large Church may seek to secure the services of one who is pastor of a smaller Church? There is nothing in this that does not exactly fall under the idea of that "promotion" which he wishes to see in the hands of Bishops. We do not understand the charge of selfishness, which he introduces by the phrase "without doubt."
Archdeacon Wilson's paper "On the Action of the Laity in the Church," reads in many parts almost like a reply to that of Archdeacon Harper. Practically it may serve as an antidote. An anonymous writer, calling himself "Plain Truth," criticises Mr Harper's paper with some severity; he has evidently been misled in one place by a typographical error, and perhaps his letters suffer a little from a similar cause. "Plain Truth" does not positively state whether he is in the strict sense a Congregationalist.
Presbyterian.—Our limited space will only allow a brief reference to the active operations of the Church Extension Society. Already it has been the means of securing the services of the Rev. J. W. Cree for Southbridge, Leeston, and Brookside; of the Rev. W. McGregor for Kaiapoi, Rangiora, and the Cust; and of the Rev.—Ewen for a large district between the Selwyn and the Waimakariri.
Wesleyan Church Durham Street.—At the performance, on the 20th of June, of the "Dettingen Te Deum" and selections from "The Messiah," the collection amounted to £132 18s. 9d.
Parramatta, N.S.W.—The Rev. T. S. Forsaith, whom many of our readers will remember, settled two years ago at Parramatta, with the design of forming a Congregational Church in that place, which was page 15 then without one. In this he has been very successful. We understand that his services have been gratuitously rendered. On the 19th May last a beautiful Church was opened for worship, the cost (including land) being £2663. The whole sum has been raised, except about £300, Mr Forsaith himself being a large contributor. Mr John Fairfax, of Sydney, has promised to give the last £100 required.
Ferry Road Chapel.—About six years ago a Sunday evening service was commenced in Mr. Joseph Smith's house. After a time it was found necessary to erect a building for the use of the congregation. In December, 1867, it was opened for worship. The members of our Church who (with some assistance from others) conducted the services, held on in spite of many discouragements; and during the last few months there has been a great increase in the attendance. Last year a Sunday school was established, which has grown rapidly, and now numbers seventy children. The chapel, 24 feet by 12 feet, was not large enough, and it was resolved to make extensive alterations. On the third Sunday in April the pastor of our church announced to his congregation that our mission required pecuniary assistance to the amount of £100 or £120 for this purpose, and invited those who would contribute to deposit their gifts or promises in the boxes at the church doors on that Sunday or the next. The contributions justified us in proceeding with the work, and it is now nearly complete. The building is now in the form of a T-cross, the old structure forming the head, and the new part (24½ feet by 16) the stem. The contract price is £112. The amount received by the Treasurer to June 26th is £82 7s. 8d. In addition to this about £32 is promised, making a total of about £114, Provision is yet to be made for the cost of lamps and seats, and the land ought to be fenced and laid out. It is expected that the formal opening will take place about the 6th of July. The building is already in use.
|Monday, July 8||Mr. Griffiths||Novels.|
|Monday, July 22||Readings and Recitations.|
|Monday Aug. 5||Mr. D. Haggett||Vows: their Moral and Religious relations.|
|Monday Aug. 19||Rev. W. J. Habens||A Lecture.|
|Monday Sept. 2||Readings and Recitations|
|Monday Sept. 16||Mr. Jno. Timpson||Mary Queen of Scots.|
|Monday Sept. 30||Mr. Jas. S.Jameson||Oliver Cromwell.|
Members meet in the chapel once a fortnight. Meetings (open to visitors) commence at 7.30, and close at 9.30p.m. An order and remmittance has been sent to England for a regular supply of periodicals. The library is accessible each evening of the meeting, and at 7.15 p.m. on Wednesdays. Those wishing to become members will please communicate with the honorary secretary, F. S. Malcolm.
Presentation.—The Young Women's Class which Mrs. Newton has for some years conducted on Sunday met on Tuesday, June 18th, and spent a very pleasant evening together. The class took the opportunity, in anticipation of Mrs. Newton's removal from Christchurch, to mark their appreciation of her services by a present of plate.
Death.—June 20th, William, youngest child of William and Barbara Unwin, after long illness, aggravated by the recent accident at Avonside.
Correspondence.—We must request intending correspondents to study brevity. We do not hold ourselves responsible for the views of correspondents. The same remark applies, in some degree, to communicated articles. A correspondent asks, "May Bible readers send passages of scripture for interpretation?" we shall be very glad to receive such communications, and will do our best with them.
Post.—Our Magazine will be registered for transmission by post, and can then be sent for a penny to any part of New Zealand, Australia, or Great Britain and Ireland. The present number, being over the ounce, can be sent per "Book Post" for twopence. Subscribers at a distance will please add the postage to the subscriptions they remit.
|1||2 Samuel 6||1 Chr. 28||1 Thess. 4||17||1 Kin. 5, 6||Psalm 74|
|2||7||29||5||18||8, 7||75, 76|
|3||8, 9||Cant. 1, 2||2 Thess. 1||19||9||Prov. 5||77|
|4||10, 11||2||20||10||6||78 a|
|5||12, 13||3||21||11||7||78 b|
|6||14||3, 4||1 Tim. 1||22||12||8||79|
|8||16||7, 8||3||24||14||10||81, 82|
|11||19, 20||6||27||17||13||86, 87|
|12||22, 21||2 Tim. 1||28||18||14||88|
|15||1 Kin. 2, 1||4||31||21||17||2|
|16||3, 4||Psalm 73|