« AnteriorContinuar »
the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord? Numbers, xvi. 3. If some professedly Christian ministers, alas! "Run greedily after the error of Balaam for a reward," are none of the people in danger of perishing in the gainsayimg of Core?"
You will now, it is to be hoped, see through the fallacy of the Unitarians' favourite question, which is boasted of as unanswered and unanswerable"-If you had never seen any religious book but the Bible, and had no other opportunity of gaining religious information, would you have known anything of orthodox doctrines? Let us put another question; If the Eunuch had had no other opportunity of gaining religious information but the Bible which he was reading in his chariot, would he have understood the 53rd chapter of Isaiah? If so, why was Philip sent to explain it to him, and what did he mean by replying to Philip's question, whether he understood what he read, How can I, except some man should guide me? God never intended the Bible to be our only opportunity of gaining religious information; he never intended, that when the Bible was put into our hands we should be left without any human help or teaching, to learn the truth out of it by ourselves; he never intended that our minds should be left unprejudiced, to form our own religious opinions; in other words, that we should grow up from childhood without any religious instruction. No, besides the knowledge of Divine truth, which every child should receive from its parent with the first dawn of intellect, God has given us evangelists, pastors, and teachers;" this shews that he does not mean us to be left to ourselves, but to be taught, guided, and instructed. It is true that all may not have this privilege; and whether a person, who really had no other means but the Bible of gaining religious information, would attain to a saving knowledge of the truth, depends entirely upon whether he had been given a sincere desire to know and do God's will. The Holy Spirit can open a sinner's eyes and shew him the way of salvation without, just as easily as with, a human teacher; for we contend resolutely against the Romanist, that all necessary truth is contained in, and may be proved by, holy scripture; that we are to receive no doctrine on the authority of any man or set of men whatever, unless they can give us full proof for it out of the Bible; that it is our duty to follow the example of the Bereans, who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so ;" and that the Bible, being the only authoritative and infallible rule of faith and practice, should be in the hands of every Christian, that the word of man may be tested by the word of God. On the other hand, we contend as resolutely against the Unitarian, that, while the Bible professes to contain all saving truth, it bids us seek the assistance of teachers to help us to a right understanding of it; and that they, who in the proud self-confidence of their hearts despise
the means God has appointed, are not likely to be guided from above, or attain to the truth as it is in Jesus.
Having thus seen the scriptural ground on which the christian ministry rests, let us now look at the means by which Mr. Barker tries to throw discredit on it. In the first place, he condemns its ministers in a body as "the worst, the most filthy, the most abandoned of all." Whether the worst of all those ministers of religion, who alas! may have "held the truth in unrighteousness," ever provoked God more fearfully than the writer of the above passage did, when he bore that and such like false witness against the servants of Christ, the day of judgment alone will shew. The charge, however, even if true, would not touch the question, as our Lord's command to the Jews clearly proves: "The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses's seat; all therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do ;* but do not ye after their works, for they say and do not." Matt. xxiii. 2. The teacher's ungodliness cannot make truth to be falsehood; we are not to disbelieve his doctrine, if proved from scripture, because his life does not adorn it. The favourite weapon however of this accuser of the brethren" is calling us hirelings, and charging us with teaching things we ought not for filthy lucre's sake. Now this deserves rather a closer examination, because it contains a fallacy not perhaps seen through at once by minds unused to thinking, but which I fear such a mind as his must see through. I only wish I could believe that he does not know what a gross deception he is practising upon the ignorant, when he applies the name of hirelings to all paid ministers. The deception is this. The word hireling is used in two senses. The first means a person who receives pay for any kind of service done by him: in this sense, scripture, as we shall presently shew, sanctions a Christian minister being a hireling; that is, sanctions his being supported by others, in order that he may devote himself exclusively to the work of the ministry. The second sense is that in which our Lord uses the word, meaning a person who cares nothing for the work he is engaged in, and does it only because he is paid for it. Now Mr. Barker tries to confound these together, and to throw the odium of being a hireling in the latter sense upon every minister, who is a hireling in the former sense. Lord says, that "the hireling careth not for the sheep" if therefore a minister does care for the sheep, he cannot be a hireling in Christ's sense of the term; and will any one dare to say that not one of all the paid ministers, who ever
There must have been some limit implied to this command, because the Scribes bid the people reject Jesus as the Messiah, and he could not have meant them to follow their teachers in this, Whatever their authorised teachers taught them out of the law, they were to obey; but when they taught them anything contrary to the law, the final standard of appeal was open to them, and they must, of course, obey God rather than man. The same limit is also implied in all those passages, where Christians are told to obey their "pastors and teachers," "Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy." 2 Cor. i. 24.
lived, cared for the sheep? If there is, or ever was, such a case, it proves of course that a minister may receive pay, and yet not be a hireling. But we need have no ifs in the matter; for scripture is quite positive on the point. When sending out the twelve to preach, Jesus bids them, "provide neither silver, nor gold, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves, for the workman is worthy of his meat." Matt x. 10. When sending out the seventy he gives similar directions: "And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give; for the labourer is worthy of his hire." Luke x. 7. And St. Paul devotes half a chapter (1 Cor. ix.) to arguing out the question, and proving that he, as well as all other preachers, had a right to be supported by those to whom they preached; although from the peculiar circumstances of the case he thought it better to forego his right at that time; "Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." Whatever then may be Mr. Barker's opinion of a paid ministry, Paul's opinion is clear enough that it was ordained by the Lord; and this is sufficient for any Christian.
That there are hirelings in the ministry, no one, alas! can deny; but it cannot be the simple fact of receiving hire, that makes them so; for Jesus says "the labourer is worthy of his hire." Everything depends on the motive-"the hireling careth not for the sheep." Take two ministers, in the same church: they both believe its doctrines and approve of its discipline; they receive the same amount of pay, and do the same amount of work; and yet one of these may be a hireling, and the other not. What makes the difference? Their motives-One " cares not for the sheep," has no love to his work, and would not do it at all, if he were not paid for it; he does it for the sake of the pay, and therefore he is a "hireling." The other does love his work, does care for the sheep, and only receives the pay, that he may "give himself wholly" to their service. Will any one dare to say, that he is a hireling in the bad sense of the term? Here is a man, who is willing to devote his whole time to the work of the ministry, but cannot do so, because he has not the means to live without working. A number of persons, forming a Christian Church, come forward and say to him, Well, we will provide you with a maintenance, as long as you choose to "do the work of an evangelist;" while we reap your spiritual things," you shall reap our temporal things." Pray, what's the harm of this? Why even if scripture had not said a word on the subject, common sense would have been sufficient of itself to decide such a question. But there is one circumstance, it may be thought, makes a man a hireling, namely, when he receives pay on condition of preaching particular doctrines, which if he did not preach, his pay would be withheld. I answer, If he preaches doctrines he does not believe for the sake of the pay, he is a hireling; but if he does believe what
he is required to preach, he is no such thing. And as to the other part of the objection, would it be right for any church to continue supporting a minister who preached false doctrine? An inspired apostle has decided; "A man that is an heretic," much more a minister, "after the first and second admonition, reject." Tit. iii. 10. Again, it may be objected, that many ministers receive a much larger stipend than is necessary for their proper maintenance. This has nothing to do with the question. Whatever his income may be, if he is a man of God, he will spend it to God's glory; but the amount cannot affect the question of his being a hireling or not. It all depends, as we said before, on the motive. If he works for the sake of the pay only, he is a hireling, let the pay be ever so small; if not, he cannot be one, let it be ever so large. The gross and scandalous abuses in the system we don't for a moment defend, and Mr Barker may lash at them to his heart's content. But he does not confine himself to them, he attacks the system itself, that system which St. Paul declares to have been ordained of God. We must beware of "rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing," but really, when we see a man taking upon himself to judge nearly the whole body of Christian Ministers, and in the most scurrilous language condemning them as a set of hirelings, and then talking about charity-it is not very easy to exercise the forbearance of Michael the archangel, who "durst not bring a railing accusation against" his adversary, no! not in the heat of dispute, but said, "The Lord rebuke thee." Jude 9.
ON THE FALLEN NATURE OF MAN.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. John iii. 6, 7.
In this conversation with Nicodemus, our Lord instructs him in the three grand doctrines of the gospel, which Berridge used to call the three R's,-ruin, redemption, regeneration. Man's ruin is twofold, internal and external; and the gospel provides a twofold remedy to meet it. He has exposed himself to the curse of God's righteous law, and a remedy is provided in "the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" he has also lost the image of God, after which he was "created in righteousness and true holiness," and a remedy is provided in the regeneration or new birth of the Holy Spirit. Now the first thing to observe is, that Christ here insists on the necessity of every man being born again, before he can see the kingdom of God; "except a man" being of course equal to except any or every man: and the next is, the grounds on which he rests that necessity. Nicodemus being surprised at what he had just heard about the new birth, Jesus explains it to him more fully, and shows him why it was so universally necessary: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." By referring to Gal. v. 17-23, you will see at once the meaning of the word flesh, when thus contrasted with the Spirit, namely, the evil principle which is inherent in our nature; and this is the only meaning that will make any sense of our Lord's argument, As every man receives at his birth the corrupt, fallen, fleshly nature of his parents, it is perfectly clear, that he must receive a new nature somehow or other, before he can enter the kingdom of heaven. This new nature, our Lord says, is given by