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from the Associations and denominational societies. Our design is the same as theirs, and mutual aid is the way to success, under God's blessing Hundreds of towns and large villages are yet without the pure gospel ministry, and friends on the spot, by working with us, can find the way to form a church and evangelize the district.
There is little fear of our driving older ministers out of the field; we would rather enlarge the area for their cultivation. We point to London, where we have planted a number of strong, healthy, vigorous churches, which cause us great joy, and we can devoutly say, hath God wrought! Let the kind reader observe how few of the old metropolitan pulpits we have touched, and how many new places we have helped to create. We believe there are some forty churches in the metropolitan district alone which have arisen from our College work, with the aid of friends and the Association. We gravely question whether the advance of religion in any denomination has been more solidly rapid than it has been with the Baptists in London, and in that we have had an honourable share. We have seen great things, but very little compared with what we hope yet to see, God helping us. We lift up our hearts and hands to the Most High, and bless the Eternal for all his mercies, craving still for more.
As to the actual success of the Institution, we thank God that we have most hopeful signs. The churches of Great Britain gladly receive our young brethren as soon as they are ready; indeed, our great difficulty is to retain them for the whole of our short period. But above this fact our joy is that we can report actual results of soul-winning. The gross increase of the churches under the pastorates of our brethren during the six years in which we have gathered their statistics, is 16,455, and the clear increase is 11,177. This does not include the churches abroad, nor does it represent all those at home, since we have never yet succeeded in inducing all the churches to report. Surely it is no small matter that sixteen thousand souls have been ingathered from the world. It makes our heart glad when we thus see the boundaries of Messiah's kingdom increased. America welcomes our men; many have gone, and more will go.
As the people of England remove to swell the great Republic, it is but fitting that a fair quota of the shepherds should go with the flock. No work can be more important than that of supplying the spiritual needs of newly-settled regions.
Our highest wish has not yet been fully realized. We long to receive the missionary call, but it has come only to one or two. We pray the Holy Ghost to separate some of our number to work among the heathen, and we ask our brethren to unite with us in the same petition.
Our funds come to us without lists of annual subscriptions. When the Lord's stewards receive intimations from him, they send us a portion of their goods, and up to this hour we have known no lack. As for the future we have no donbt or anxiety. The Lord is our Treasurer. For all we lean upon him. We wish every kindred institution Godspeed, and believingly commit our own dear life-work to the Lord our helper who cannot sail us.
Are Buildings Churches?
BY PROFESSOR G. ROGERS.
TE remember the time when those buildings only which belonged to the
was considered by Nonconformists to be one of the signs of a departure from New Testament principles; but we have lived to see the day in which that which excited the pious horror of their forefathers has been not merely condoned, but imitated by them. There is a singular tendency, in the midst of the most hopeful advances of Christianity in the present age, to palliate old injuries, and to renew former obstacles, as if for the purpose of giving succeeding ages an opportunity of overcoming them ; just as a remnant of the ancient nations was left," that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof." It is one thing, however, for God to permit evils for a time to remain, and another for his people to perpetuate them when the removal of them is in their own hands. The admonition to them is, “ That no man put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way," unobserved, and unintentionally, the greatest improprieties may regain their influence in the church and in the world. When opposition to them has ceased, and ceased to be remembered, they gradually rise to their former position, and not unfrequently surpass it, and their opponents by familiarity become reconciled to them. In this way we may account for the impropriety to which we now refer. It may be that usage has destroyed all interest in the subject with some; but that very usage may be seen to be accompanied with baneful consequences by others. That we mean no harm, does not exempt us from blame, if the thing be injurious in itself; nor are we the less to be blamed because the evil results are not immediately apparent, when by a little reflection we may convince ourselves of them. We may be allowed, at least, to state our own convictions on the subject.
1. The term church when applied to buildings is inappropriate. Words are appropriate when they contain some representation, in meaning or in sound, to the object or idea to which they are applied. Derivations generally have a resemblance in meaning to their root-words, and others derived from the same root, and yet are clearly distinct from them. The poetic beauty of words consists chiefly in some resemblance in sound between the word and the object to which it is applied. Words, in general, are arbitrary, having no other relation to their ideas than that which is derived from use ; or the relation at first was so casual that it was soon lost. They are not on that account inappropriate. Words are inappropriate when, after having a certain fixed signification, they are perverted from the conventional use. The evil is greater when there is some semblance of a derivative but none in reality. The same words have come, in some instances, to signify two very different things without any relation to each other, and occasionally derivatives have acquired directly opposite significations, without any inconvenience or impropriety being felt. It is when two separate meanings of the same word are apt to be confounded with each other, that in one instance or the other it is inappropriate ; and should there have been any intention in the second use of the word to confound them the impropriety is far greater. Let us see how these remarks apply to the case before us.
The Greek word from which our term church is derived, signifies an assembly of persons gathered together in obedience to a certain call. It signifies a people called out from the midst of others, and contains the three ideas of vocation, congregation, and separation ; or, the authority for assembling, the persons assembled, and their distinction fiom those who either were not called or did not obey the call. The suitability of this word for the use made of it in the
New Testament is self-evident; nor has it, we believe, ever been disputed. It is generally agreed to denote the company of those, either in whole or in part, who have obeyed the call of the gospel. Upon the nature of that call, and consequently, of the kind of obedience to be rendered, there has been a wide difference of opinions; but our argument is with those who adopt the limitation of the church of the New Testament to those who have spiritually obeyed a spiritual call. It is admitted by the that
his is the church, and that in reality there can be no other. There are those who maintain a community of professing Christians, whether really so or not, as of a nation or their own particular sect, to be the true church. Even with these the application of the term church to the places in which they assemble is inappropriate. It is contrary, at least, to general usage. We do not call the senate-house, the senate; the palace, the court; the council chamber, the council ; the music-hall, the oratorio ; the house, the family; the sbeepfold, the sheep; the beebive, a swarm or the honeycomb. The denomination of buildings is commonly regulated by the purposes for which they serve, but they are not called by the purposes themselves; and the more important those purposes are, the more the impropriety would appear. We have the old term meeting applied to the places of worship among Dissenters, which was simply an abbreviation of the place of meeting. A church does not denote a meeting merely, but a meeting of particular persons, and for a particular purpose, and with us applies to a certain number only, and usually the minor part of our assemblies. As a name to our buildings, therefore, it does not embrace the more frequent and extensive purposes for which they are used ; and is more appropriate to those who include all the worshippers in the real church, though not strictly appropriate with them. The wide difference, moreover, between a church of regenerated individuals, purely of a spiritual formation, and a mass of wood and stone, makes the application of one and the same appellation to both a gross perversion of the first principles of language, and all the worse for one professing to be explanatory of the other. “A Congregational church." If church here is ased in the old sense, it affirms the real church to have been made with hands ; if in the modern sense of a meeting, or the meeting-place of a denomination, it is tautological, and signifies merely “A Congregational congregation." For a building to be styled, "A Baptist Church” is, if possible, still more absurd, since it is difficult to conceive how under any circumstances, and especially if it has a lofty turret, it could be baptised by immersion. In no sense whatever, therefore, can the title be shown in itself to be appropriate.
2. It is unscriptural. The Greek word for church occurs one hundred and fifteen times in the New Testament; in one hundred and nine of which it is applied in its spiritual sense to a body of believers ; in two instances to the same church in its heavenly state ; and in the remaining four to assemblies of another kind. The two references to the heavenly state are in Eph. v. 27, and Heb. xii. 23; in the former of which we read, “ that he might present it to himself a glorious church;" and in the latter, " the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven." The four references to other assemblies are all in the Acts of the Apostles. In the seventh chapter, the congregation of the Israelites is styled, “ the church in the wilderness ;” and the three remaining instances are in the nineteenth chapter, in all of which it is applied to an assembly of Greeks at Ephesus. The reference to the church in the wilderness by Stephen, may have been purposely designed as a type of the true church, and its application to the Greeks at Ephesus was according to what with them would be its usual acceptation. There are two instances in the hundred and nine which we claim for its spiritual signification, which have been supposed to refer to a building, or the place in which Christians assembled. One of these is in Acts xi. 26, and reads thus, “ And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church.” This refers to Barnabas and Saul at Antioch. The marginal reading is in the church, but as the allusion is to two individuals only, the common sense interpretation is, not that those two
ministers assembled in the building, but with the company of believers ; since the word “ assembled ” here applies to none but these two. The meaning obviously is, that Barnabas and Saul for a whole year assembled with the church at Antioch, and not that these two met together in one building. It is not very likely indeed that the church in that city at so early a period would have a building erected for their use. It is added in the same verse, “ And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." It may naturally be concluded, we think, that the people would be called Christians long before their places of assembly would be called churches. In this same connection, where the phrase s robbers of churches,” occurs, the term for churches is not in the original. The other instance pleaded for this use of the word is in 1 Cor. xi. 18, where the words are, “ For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you." It is evident that“ in the church” would here equally apply to a churck-assembly, or to the place of assembling, supposing such places to be commonly so called; but it is no proof that they were so called. `Almost immediately after, the place of assembling is spoken of, not as a church but in these words : “When ye come together into one place ;" and the word church is thus used just before, “We have no such eustom neither the churches of God;" and just afterwards, “ Have ye not houses to eat and drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not ?" that is, the poor who could not bring such provisions to a church feast as their richer brethren. It surely cannot mean despising a building by eating and drinking in it, except with those who plead for the consecration of bricks and stones.
We maintain, then, there is no single instance in which the term church is applied to a building in the Scriptures. It matters not to us how far such a use of the term may be traced up in eeclesiastieal history, since it belongs not to apostolic times and receives no sanction from the word of God. It is remarkable that from the time it was selected to be the distinctive appellation of the sincere disciples of Christ, it should be so exclusively devoted to that one purpose, and that through all the epistles we should meet with it in no other form. Its one spiritual meaning, too, is maintained with great earnestness and guarded with great care. It is a building, indeed, but in contrast with every other. “Thou art Peter,” said Christ, “and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” “Ye are God's building, says Paul to the church at Corinth, and “as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.” To the church at Ephesus he says: “Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord ; in whom
ye builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Peter says to those to whom Christ is precious: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual bouse, an holy priesthood, to offer :p spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Now, is it not in direct contravention of such teaching to call a material building a church? What greater care could have been taken in Scripture to keep the two ideas distinct ? Was it ever intended that both should have the same designation, and that on account of some supposed connection with each other? Under the law, be it observed, the place for divine worship was styled “ The Tabernacle,” in emphatical distinction from the tents or tabernacles of the people, and yet in close conformity with them. The altar of burnt-offering, the altar of incense, the table of shewbread, the golden candlestick, the ark of the covenant, the holy place, and the holy of holies, had all their distinct appellations. If there had been interchangeably used what confusion would have ensued! Why should there be less precision in the use of sacred terms with us? Solomon's splendid edifice for divine worship, it may also be observed, was named a Temple, from the universal application of that title to buildings set apart for worship. It was not called Israel, or Jacob, or the feed of Abraham, or the priesthood, or by any of the gorgeous furniture, or
by any of the specifie purposes to which it was devoted. Why should a mere building be more worthy of the same name as the most privileged part of worship with us, than under the former dispensation ?
We are met here by a supposed analogy between the use of the term synagogue in the New Testament, and of the term chureh in the sense we condemn. Synagogue, which signifies a gathering together, and is frequently applied in the septuagint of the Old Testament to the congregation of the Jews, is applied in the New Testament to places of worship amongst the Jews; and may seem, therefore, to sanction a similar use of the term church with us; but the cases are widely different. Synagogue is a
Synagogue is a word of less meaning. It implies an assembly of any kind, without the speciality of a call or of a separation from others. It applies to a whole assembly, and not as a ehurch to a particular part of an assembly in any particular place. The term church is devoted in the New Testament to a special use, to which it is carefully limited; but the term synagogue is adopted merely as one in conventional use. The principal part of the religion of the Jews could not be performed in their synagogues ; not, indeed, any of their appointed ordinances, and consequently that title could not represent the peculiarity or substance of their religion. Neither were they devoted wholly to religious services, as we find them to be used as civil courts of judicature, and for the punishment of offenders. “Delivering you up to the synagogues.' They will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues.” What is still more to our purpose is, that from the time this word became applicable to places of worship it ceased to be applied to an assembly or to anything else. In the Greek of the Old Testament it is applied to people only; and in the Greek of the New Testament to places only. The apostle James, therefore, with the utinost propriety could apply it to a place for Christian worsbip. “If,” says he, “there come unto your assembly (in the original, your synagogue), “a man with a gold ring.” That he referred to a place is evident from the sequel: “ And ye say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under
footstool.”. It would seem to have been to avoid the impropriety of giving the same title to a people and the place of assembly, that when given to the one it was withheld from the other. If the analogy between church and synagogue is to be maintained, then the former must be applied to buildings only. Certain it is that synagogue is not interchangeably used in the New Testament for a building and the persons assembled in it, although it would have been far less inappropriate than the term church. The cases, therefore, are not parallel. Synagogue is always applied in the New Testament to a building, and never to the persons assembled in it; church is always applied to persons, and never to the places in which they are assembled.
3. The application of this title to buildings is deceptive. It is calculated to mislead and to foster erroneous ideas upon a subject of great import.
" That ye nay approve things that are excellent,” which is amongst the many good wishes of Paul for the Philippians, means rather," that ye may distinguish things that differ.” Whatever tends to preserve the distinctive meaning of words, in a technical and specific sense, in the New Testament, should be carefully attended to by us. The terms justification, redemption, regeneration, sanctification, for instance, we would not needlessly divert from their principal signification. Next to Christ himself, bis church is the most prominent object in the New Testament. It ought, therefore, to have its own preclusive title. As Christ is one, his church is one. Errors often have their commencement in the perversion of terms. Was it not by confounding the church with professors of Christianity, through an abuse of the name, and then by extending its application to a hierarchy infinitely more secular than spiritual, that Satan, when foiled in his effort to crush the chureh of Christ by violence, succeeded in almost supplanting it by a church of his own? How many in Protestant countries, too, have been deceived by the titles of “National Church" and * Parish Church," as though there could be no other ? They who know well.