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serve; but we can do little more than notice the author's conclusions, and must refer the reader to the work for his arguments.
Dr. M'Culloh shows that our Lord never constituted a body of clergy as an ecclesiastical corporation, and consequently that there can, by no possibility, be any succession of ecclesiastical corporate rights or official relationship to God and man as are claimed by the clergy of the Catholic and Episcopal Churches, and more modestly by all who regard Presbyterial ordination as anything more than a mere form by which a body of Christians acknowledge their acceptance of a preacher or pastor. That the apostles were merely such divine agents as the prophets of old, acting in an individual capacity, and utterly incapable of transferring or transmitting their authority or office, either as individuals, or through the intervention of a corporate or collegiate embodiment, Dr. M'Culloh has shown beyond the possibility of successful contradiction. The theory of apostolical descent is, therefore, obviously absurd; and that of Pres. byterial ordination, if we claim for it any validity or importance on account of presumed transmission, is not a whit more tenable.
Dr. M'Culloh's views of the constitution of the primitive Church we give in his own words :
" The result of my investigation is as follows: First, when any number of Christian believers were sufficiently numerous in any locality to form a society or congregation, their theory of organization was either substantially like that ot' an ordinary prayer meeting, such as is held by devout laymen among us at the present day; or secondly, when a body of converts to Christianity had been made by the preaching of an apostle, it would seem that he ordinarily at least selected certain persons to watch over them and to instruct them, essentially in a manner analogous to what is done by the class leaders in the society of Methodists. In an ensuing age, after the decease of the apostles, the members of these several associations or congregations, however originally formed, henceforth selected their leaders by some formal expression of their own approbation.
" But that there may be no misapprehension as to the application of my argument hereafter, I must first state what is to be understood by a prayer or class meeting, as illustrating the views advanced above concerning the organization of the primitive Church.
“ The prayer meeting that I recognise as an illustration is the one where devout laymen, without any clergyman, meet together for purposes of mutual religious edification. They have no formal constitution, nor by-laws; yet it will be found, after the lapse of a few weeks, that the association has acquired a consistency of form, and that certain individuals among them have become prominent in the association as those who commonly make the public prayer, read the Scripture, or exhort and instruct the members, as well as make any address to the association on any extrinsic subject interesting to them. These persons thus become leaders or officers in the society only through the tacit approbation of the other members, and not by any formal election. Their number is necessarily indefinite from the theory of their union, that presupposes that whenever any member is able to say anything to the edification of his associates, he either will do so from the instigation of his own feelings, or else will be invited to do so by those who are aware of his ability. A society thus organized may continue to exist in a similar manner for centuries, as individuals will be found continually coming forward among the new members, to supply vacancies occurring among the leaders, whether from death or from any other
“ The leaders in such assemblies the primitive Christians designated according to their own idiom, as being zokenim, elders, which means nothing more than is signified by our terms, directors or superintendents.
" It is to the class meeting in its peculiar feature as being under the direction of a leader who is a simple layman, not selected by themselves, that I find an analogy to the organization established by the apostles among their disciples in certain instances, and which was more especially the case with those converted from the Gentiles. In other words, the apostles in these instances designated the leaders or superintendents, which ordinarily with the Jewish disciples arose from the tacit approbation of the members of the societies.
“ The various Churches of the primitive Christians were thus organized, whether according to the principle of the prayer or class meeting, and their respective leaders or elders from their mere position exercised all those functions which are now restricted to the clergy, such as exhorting, preaching, praving, administering baptism, or in commemorating the Lord's supper. They had no exclusive authority to perform such functions, yet (it was) just as it is in a prayer meeting, where, though any one of the association has a right either to exhort or pray in public, yet the majority never claim to exercise the right.
“At the same time that the zokenim, elders or presbyters, thus performed those services which are now specially arrogated by the clergy to themselves, the more humble services necessary in the association were performed by those who, in the Greek language, were terined deacons, i. e. ministers or servants. The function of deacon in the first instance, under the influence of oriental customs, required two classes of persons, viz., males for services among men females for those among women. These were to visit, comfort, instruct, or relieve the wants or afflictions of the several members.
“ That such simple forms of organization as the prayer or class meetings were amply sufficient for Christian edification or instruction may be distinctly inferred from the fact that the religious system promulgated in the New Testament requires no theological or speculative teaching. There are no esoterie doctrines to be communicated to the people, and the simple requirements of the gospel, as being perfectly intelligible to the plainest capacities, are there merely announced to mankind for moral or religious observance. It is our duty to carry them out into practice, and it is not our duty to speculate upon them as theological subtilties.”
With regard to the nature of ordination, which is made to play so important a part in modern ecclesiastical controversies, our author shows that it was not properly a Christian institution, but a mere continuance of a familiar Jewish practice. Among the Jews it was originally a civil rite, by which men were formally inducted into office of any kind. It was also used in the recognition of rabbis. being nothing more than the public acknowledgment on the part of one or more doctors of the law that the individual ordained was fully instructed in and competent to teach the Old Testament Scriptures. The early Christians founded their infant Churches upon the basis of the synagogue, and introduced into their new arrangements its
offices, and names, and usages. As in the synagogue system there was no ecclesiastical body or clergy analogous to those now recognised in the Christian Churches, so there was no such class of persons in the primitive Church. The term clergy originally merely designated persons officially employed in Christian congregations, in contradistinction to those who exercised no such functions. It included "women (deaconesses), readers, porters, door-keepers, and even the grave-diggers.”
Dr. M'Culloh shows most lucidly how this simple organization became corrupted; how the word clergy became restricted, and how the clergy thus technically admitted shifted their traditionary derivation from the synagogue to the temple, and claimed their descent from the Aaronic priesthood and the Levites. In this gradual, longcontinued, and successful attempt to establish the foundations of the Christian Church upon the temple instead of the synagogue lies the secret of the corruptions which have for centuries so disfigured and perverted Christianity. It is this error which of all others it should be the effect of Protestants to overthrow, and Dr. M'Culloh, by his clear, manly, and irrefragable exposition of this subject, has done a service to the cause of truth and to the welfare of the world which can hardly be appreciated too highly.
In his chapters upon the Developments of Christianity, our author has shown how this pestilent notion finally reached its theoretical maturity in the admission of the existence of a concrete Holy Catholic Church, as an article of faith :
“ At the same time that the innovations were taking place by which the elders of Christian congregations were gradually converted into priests, there was another principle developing itself among all Christian communities which not only tended to the establishment of the assumed priestly character of the elders or ministers of the gospel, but which actually confirmed them as such by bringing all Christendom under the entire control of the clergy as legislators for the whole body of Christian believers. This principle was the gradual rise and ultimately full recognition of the doctrine of a Holy Catholic Church. This term, originally an abstract one, meaning, as now among Protestants properly so called, the whole body of believers, now became concrete
, and designated the majority of Christians, acting and speaking through their clergy. The immense importance of this change can only be fully understood by examining its consequences, as frightfully developed and yet developing in both civil and ecclesiastical affairs. We fully agree with our author that "it is of the utmost importance that the reader should distinctly comprehend the vast change that was introduced into the Christian religion by the insensible process of converting the abstract term, Church of Christ, into the concrete term Holy Catholic Church; for the oversight of this matter has been the cause of great perplexity to all readers of ecclesiastical history, and especially so to those who have been engaged in controversies with the Roman Catholic Church.”
We cannot follow Dr. M'Culloh through his admirable exposition of the progress of the error above noticed, and the other mistakes
of carly Christians, as developed under the Roman empire. His essay upon this subject is a most valuable contribution to Protestant literature. It lays the axe to the root of the hierarchical pretensions of the clergy of the Roman Catholic and Episcopal Churches, and prostrates that gigantic upas which has for so many ages thrown its poisonous shade over the most highly civilized and intelligent nations of the earth.
Of the chapter which treats of the Developments of Christianity since the Reformation, we have no space to express a critical opinion. It is well worth the serious attention of devout and thoughtful men, and to them we commend it. Upon the subject of the mode of worship, however, Dr. M'Culloh expresses some views, so excellent and so pertinent to the present circumstances of the Church, that we cannot refrain from quoting from him, briefly :
" I am the more strongly impelled to call the serious attention of my readers to the subject of church edifices from the circumstance that many of the churches built in the United States during the past few years have been constructed upon architectural models that involve not only an unjustifiable expenditure of money, but are also expressly contemplated for promoting superstitious feelings in those who it is supposed will assemble in such buildings.
" This is especially the case with Gothic churches, the invention of the darkest and most superstitious time the Christian world has ever seen, when nearly all spirituality of religion being unknown, the mere imagination was excited by the fanciful proprieties of an ecclesiastical opera-house, that substantially only represented religious melodramas.
“ Instead therefore of entering a church under intellectual considerations that they are about, on their own theory, to hold communion with the Sovereign of the universe, from whom they are to implore pardon for sin, and the sanctification of their nature by the renewing of the Holy Spirit, these most unthinking Protestants have erected churches, whose gloomy decorations, stained glass windows, solemn strains of music from organs and well-drilled musical choirs, lead them away from all intellectual perceptions of the condescension of their Creator, and plunge them into the gross delusion of supposing that they are worshipping God when they are merely gratifying their own eyes
The decay of spiritual apprehensions concerning their religious condition, or the right exercise of their privileges, I think may be estimated in a congregation according to their proceeding on such subjects, as distinctly as the growth of a worldly spirit is indicated by the actions of an individual. As I believe, the establishment of a choir is one exhibition of the decrease of the true principles of Christianity in a congregation, the addition of an organ or other musical instruments manifests a still greater amount of spiritual insensibility to divine things. If to these be added the building of an expenively decorated church, and above all a Gothic church, I know not where their absurd will-worship will carry them. To expect that the Spirit of Jehovah will continue to abide among a community who have adopted practices so wholly unsustained by any approbation of prophets or apostles, and so contrary in their character to the intellectual genius of Christianity, is to expect directly contrary to what Jehovah has announced in the Scriptures, as well as what he has already exhibited in his providential dealings towards mankind."
and ears. ...
We heartily thank Dr. M'Culloh for this plain and fearless declaration of unfashionable and unwelcome truth. Like him, we think we see the three stages of declension manifested in choirs. organs, and Gothic churches. They mark the successive transfers of the kingdom of God from within to without us—the regular stages of progression in a scheme of piety by substitution. Praise by proxy. solemnity by mechanics, and an outward temple of stone for the inward temple of the Holy Ghost, these are the tendencies of this carnal generation. Even Methodism is infected with this evil spirit of sensualism. Alas! for us, we have to a great extent abandoned the beautiful and spiritual melodies, the heart-music of former days, with which the early Methodists sang the gospel throughout the land, making hills and valleys echo with the name of Jesus. Since we have been deprived of the privilege of praising God in the congregations of his people, the memory of the olden time is “sweet and mournful to our soul."
We here close our imperfect review of this, in many respects, remarkable work. If any shall be disposed to censure us for undue lenity towards an author who advocates so many opinions different from our own, we reply in the language of John Milton :—“Heresy is the will and choice professedly against Scripture; error is against the will—a misunderstanding the Scripture, after all sincere endeavour to understand it rightly. Hence it was said by one of the ancients, 'Err I may, but a heretic I will not be. It is a human frailty to err, and no man is infallible here on earth.
But so long as all of them profess to set the word of God only before them as the rule of faith and obedience, and use all diligence and sincerity of heart, by reading, by learning, by study, by prayer for the illumination of the Holy Spirit to understand the rule, and obey it, they have done what men can do. God will assuredly pardon them as he did the friends of Job, good and pious men, though much mistaken, as there it appears, in some points of doctrine.”. Milton, “Of True Religion.”
FOURTH SERIES, VOL. V.-18.