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would have been tantamount to subjecting oneself to the whims and fancies of men whose religious nature was powerful while their moral character immature and undisciplined. It was therefore indeed fortunate that the word of Jesus, handed down by the apostles, was accounted higher than the Spirit, that the master of sane sobriety and temperance kept in check all those waves of exuberant enthusiasm and unrestricted power.

Yet even with this restrictionthis subjection to the apostles—the influence and significance of the prophets were the greatest that can be conceived. God spoke again. He continued to speak. Once more there were men of God on earth, directly inspired. He that laid hands upon them and blasphemed them committed the sin that should never be forgiven blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. These prophets are of no great importance for the development of theology, but the history of the mighty religious impulse of the earliest age of Christianity would be unintelligible without them. The spirits of these men are still quivering with all the gladness, restlessness and enthusiasm of Jesus.

But the list of the leaders of the oldest time is far from being complete yet. We come next to the teachers, men likewise filled with the “Spirit,' who, through their spiritual gifts, fathomed the hidden meaning of Holy Scriptures. They are the representatives of the “Gnosis,' i.e. of the right spiritual understanding of the Revelation of God. Thus, Christian theology begins with them. Apollos is the first typical “teacher.' A great future awaits them. Furthermore, there are the mysterious seven deacons. Stephen and Philip belonged to them.

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They were all Hellenists, and, as it appears, originally representatives of the Hellenists in Jerusalem.

Then there were apostles of the second rank, missionaries like Barnabas, Judas, and Silas, chosen by the Churches and sent forth by them or by the twelve as their delegates. As time went on and the twelve died one after the other, these apostles in the wider sense of the word stepped into their place. Lastly, there were the heads of the different Churches, called presbyters or bishops. They, too, were chosen on the ground of spiritual qualifications and by the voice of the Spirit. But their position, on the whole, was entirely subordinate to that of the itinerant leaders into whose hands the Spirit placed the supreme authority over the whole infant Church that was now just coming into being. These presbyter bishops did not then dream of the position of dignity to which they were destined later to attain.

Look where you will, there is nowhere a want of leaders; it is rather the superabundance, the too great

; variety in the body of officers, that strikes one. There would appear to be no one man in supreme command, no one to dominate all these different spiritual forces and carry on the work of Jesus without hesitation or confusion. There is indeed something marvellous in the sight—so soon after the death of Jesus--of this great organized host of able, enthusiastic, and courageous men all engaged heart and soul in the work of preserving for the world their Master's inheritance. The cause of Jesus cannot fail.

THE EARLY CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY.

CHAPTER IX.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHURCH.

EVEN in Jesus' lifetime there was a Christian fellowship in the ideal sense of the word, the number of all those who recognized Him as the Lord, as their Head, and kept His commandments in their daily life. But there was no coherence, no organization. These followed only after Jesus' death, under the impression produced by the appearances and under the guidance of the apostles.

We cannot fix any exact date, but we may look upon the return of the disciples to Jerusalem in expectation of the second advent of Jesus in the place where He died as the decisive occurrence.

The Christian Church is the child of enthusiasm. The less likely we are to imagine this as we look at the Church to-day, the greater the importance of reminding ourselves of this fact. The Church originated in a hero worship—theologians call it Faith—the truest and the purest that has ever been. It united all the worshippers indissolubly together and created the new forms quite of itself. They were the tokens of the same love. Jesus Himself and none other was the centre of the new community, present in the veneration, the love, the enthusiasm, the faith of His disciples. The watchword of the brethren in its simplest form was just this : Jesus is the Lord—with Him through life or death into the kingdom of heaven; without Him we are lost. All the feelings of love and reverence for the nation, for the family, for friends, cherished in each individual soul, were now uprooted and transferred to Jesus and His followers. The saying of Jesus, “ He that is not with Me is against Me,” was now fulfilled in all its practical consequences.

The common faith immediately finds utterance in confession. Faith in Jesus as the Messiah is still in the background during His lifetime. Jesus forbade His disciples to speak of it. He had asked men to receive Him simply as sent by God. Now the formal confession “ Jesus is the Messiah becomes the distinctive mark between friend and foe. This confession rested at first on the unique impression made by Jesus the Saviour. It then acquired consistency and certainty by means of the appearances, and culminated in the hope that He should come again in glory on the clouds of heaven to inaugurate the Messianic kingdom. For faith in the Messiah was hope for the future. Jesus had not yet been Messiah. He had merely been a candidate for the office. Hence they spoke of the approaching advent of the Messiah—not of His return. Thus there crept into the confession, through this element of hope, something that was uncertain and yet certain, an anxiety, a yearning, a longing.

longing. In reality it could only find expression in enthusiasm. A terrible fact

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of a very

death seemed to contradict it.

The appearances brought comfort, but along with it new questions and perplexities. The expectation of the advent in the immediate future placed men's minds in a state of perpetual tension. Thus this confession of the Messiah was no mere theological formula, but the expression

disturbed and stormy frame of mind; and only thus in connection with all that rich spiritual experience and longing and love and courage did the confession of belief in Jesus, who lives in spite of His death and shall come again in glory, create the Church.

Faith is enthusiastic. Those who are enthusiastic for Jesus are ipso facto friends and brothers. Wherever enthusiasm is genuine, it is satisfied with a minimum of outward forms. Wherever an extensive apparatus of forms and ceremonies is counted necessary and holy, there as a rule enthusiasm has already beaten a retreat. At first enthusiasm embraces every one in a similar state with open

Herein we may discover the explanation of the fact that the early Church exhibits rather an enthusiastic than a legal character. All manifestations of anything extraordinary were

were 'reckoned the surest sign of a disciple: above all else the speaking with tongues. The impression made by the story of what Jesus did and of His appearances was so great that it often happened that not only believing disciples but strangers and newcomers who

were present fell into an ecstatic condition as they listened—an indubitable sign that they were brethren, as God had vouchsafed the Spirit unto them. So great was their joy, their gladness, that articulate speech formed no adequate expression

arms.

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