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The Coming Church.

The Coming Church.

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Published by glennpease
By Amory H. Bradford,

" And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks ; and in
"the midst of the candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man."

Revelation i. 12, 13.
By Amory H. Bradford,

" And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks ; and in
"the midst of the candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man."

Revelation i. 12, 13.

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Published by: glennpease on May 10, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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 THE COMIG CHURCH. By Amory H. Bradford, " And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks ; and in "the midst of the candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man." Revelation i. 12, 13. St. John was old when he was banished to the Isle of Patmos. That spot is one of the most picturesque on the earth. It was probably in the evening, after work in the mines, that the old man came out into the light and glory of the day. Around were violet waters touched with splendour from the setting sun ; close at hand were barren rocks ; far away were purple mountains ; above was the clear and tender sky. Very likely from meditating he fell asleep and began to dream. In that dream came revelations and a voice. He saw the churches which had been founded in Asia, -some true to their faith, others lukewarm and needing to do their first works over again. Those churches were like seven golden lamp- stands in the midst of thick darkness. As he dreamed a voice spoke, a presence appeared, and he heard these words : " I am the first and the last, and the Living One ; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have 172 The Coming Church. the keys of death and of Hades." In his dream St. John beheld the living Christ in the midst of the churches, and that vision suggests our theme.
The origin of the Church as an institution is wrapped in obscurity. The ew Testament gives few hints concerning it. When it began to be recognised as a society, who composed it, what was to be the exact sphere of its opera- tions, is not stated in the ew Testament. It is a growth, an organism rather than a mechan- ism. An organism has the principle of life in itself and grows from within ; a mechanism is a product of something outside itself, and once completed can never change. Life always or- ganises for itself a body. The Church is the body which the Divine life in humanity has organised. The only rule ever given by our Lord for its government is this : " A new com- mandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you." The Church is neither like a state, nor like the denominations of modern times ; it is rather like a tree. The Master touched His disciples with His life, and that through them touched others, and thus the Church grew. That life is love, and wherever the Church goes love to God and man goes. As for officers, creeds, and methods, those constantly change, as a tree adapts itself to the seasons of the year. How the complicated machinery of modern denomi- The CoiiixG Chuech. 173 nations came into existence it is hard to tell. There was nothing like it in Apostolic times. The Church then was the company of those who believed in Jesus as the Christ ; who came together on stated occasions to study His truth and to help in the advancement of His king- dom. Whether the modern Church is a growth
from that as a seed, or a mechanism which has been built around it as we build barriers around trees, is a question about which there is differ- ence of opinion. One thing, however, is beyond doubt. The Church in the nineteenth century can be like that in the first only as a full-grown man is like an infant. The Church will never be what it was when the Master was on earth, and it ought not to be. Growth necessitates change and adjustment to new environment. That of to-day is no more like the Apostolic Church than the nineteenth century is like the first. Thought, institutions, habits of life, knowledge of the universe, have changed, and the Church with them. The Master was a uni- versal man, and yet a Jew ; and if He were to come again He would be a universal man, and yet a citizen of some state, and His thought and utterances would show the influence of His surroundings. While it is not to be expected that the Church will be the same in the present or the future as in the past, it is to be expected that it will in all times preserve its essential nature. 174 The Coming Chtjuch. Thus are we led to a study of some of the characteristics of the coming Church as pro- phesied in the teachings of our Lord. The coming Church will recognise the presence and sovereignty of the Holy Ghost. Jesus spoke not to an organisation, but to individuals when He said, " I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall guide you into all the truth." * The mission of

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