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for the overflowing enthusiasm. It could only find vent in stammering and in stuttering and in inexpressible sighs. In accordance with the psychology of that age these phenomena were immediately ascribed to supernatural causation. They were in truth simply the expression of a mystic state of psychical exaltation. The mystical element in religion had become a living reality. Yet this talking with tongues was never an isolated phenomenon. The enthusiasm of the disciples found vent in deeds as well, such deeds as man only accomplishes in extraordinary times. Through the migration from Galilee to Jerusalem a great number of the disciples had lost the means of earning their daily bread and had sunk into poverty. Without the support of their friends in Jerusalem, especially of some rich men among them, they would have actually starved. So it came to pass that the richer brethren gave the poorer so generous a share of their earnings and their possessions that the legend of the universal communism of the early Church arose in later times. Many a man in his enthusiasm sold his fields and brought the money to the apostles at Jerusalem to be divided amongst the poor. Charity was exhibited on an unbounded scale. Men
of their own in so heroic a fashion that the rigid conception of property was actually shaken, and it was revealed that there lay in the words of Jesus a power to change the outer forms of life.
All this enthusiasm was crowned by the heroism of the martyrs. There is an early Christian hymn :
- Let them take our life,
Goods, honour, child and wife :
These simple fishermen and artizans of Galilee surrendered their all, even their lives, and with a glad courage, that shrank not from death itself, set the seal upon their discipleship of Jesus. They translated Jesus' words into deeds and accounted death for nought. The first community of believers welded together by the blood of the martyrs far more than by the speaking with tongues. But this was all the organization that existed thus far.
He that spoke with tongues of Jesus, he that for His sake gave all his belongings to the poor and died for Him, was His disciple; of that there could be no doubt. No outer sign was necessary.
And yet an outer form did come to be needed for the whole community. In the first period of its development Christianity existed as a sect (heresy). The metamorphosis from sect into Church was a very gradual process.
Step by step the Christian sect separated itself from the Jewish Church. By slow degrees it emerged from its obscurity into publicity. But it was only in the reign of Constantine that the transformation was completed. At first it was a sect, and nothing but a sect. No one thought of leaving the Jewish Church. All shared in the public worship of the Church and were subject to the public discipline. But the community lived its own life hidden from the public gaze.
The earliest services of the Christian Church were secret conventicles, meetings in the house
of a friend with closed doors. We need but read the closing words of the Gospels, or the 15th chapter of the Acts, if we want proofs of this. Even the missionary work of the apostles was in part secretly carried on, and Jesus Himself had said, “ Whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets." Secret assemblies then such were the meetings at which the Spirit was given, at which the prophets prophesied, at which “all things were in common,” and every meal a Supper of the Lord. Punishment and imprisonment, even death itself, were the inevitable
nevitable consequences of any appearance in public. They ventured forth, it is true, again and again, but again and again they met with stern repression. For the Scribes in the Sanhedrim aimed at nothing less than the complete extinction of the sect. It was this policy of coercion which forced the Christians into the position of revolutionaries both in Church and State. We Christians of to-day should ever remember that our earliest forefathers were sectarians, like the Anabaptists in the time of the Reformation, and that they only managed to exist by constant opposition to the State Church.
Their life as sectaries imparted a sectarian character to the outer forms current among the brotherhood. Every one free from suspicion was, it is true, allowed ready access to the meeting-place of the brethren. But admission to the brotherhood itself was only granted after the observance of due formalities. This was the place occupied by baptism. Baptism was no original Christian institution, but was borrowed from the disciples of John with one addition. By the utterance of the name of Jesus, a
Christian character was imparted to the rite. We have no tradition as to the use of baptism in the earliest times. Its meaning is contained in the old expression, “ Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” It was preceded by a profession of faith, a confession of sins and prayer to Jesus, then the pure water cleansed body and soul alike, and when the disciple came forth from the water, he was accounted pure and a brother.
a As yet no instruction preceded baptism. It was not necessary. The confession of faith in the Messiah
so simple. But as a rule adults only were baptized. Had not Jesus promised children the kingdom of God without laying down any further condition ? The baptized now shared in the meals of the brethren. The chief meal was always, or at least frequently, connected with the repetition of a portion of the account of the Last Supper. At the same time they would speak of the blessing of the death of Jesus, and rejoice at the thought of His coming again. But the baptized were also subject to the strict discipline of the brethren. Unworthy members were excluded either permanently or for a time. He especially who was a cause of offence to the little society was compelled to leave the community. As far as possible the judgment was to be given without partiality or respect of persons, even the most important members, the hands and the feet' of the society, were to be put forth. Either the apostles or the prophets or the community as a whole were to pass the sentence. It was then counted to be passed by Jesus Himself, for His real presence in every assembly, were it but of two or three, was firmly believed in by
all. Lastly, the apostles, prophets and teachers, secured a certain amount of connection between the scattered congregations by their constant journeys from the one to the other. Wherever they appeared they stood in God's stead. They conveyed the collections to their right destination, they fostered the brotherly love both of individuals and of churches for each other, but they were always reckoned
the servants of the community, not as its masters.
The foundation of the sect, however, brings about the first great change in the new religion. It can be traced in a certain increasing rigidity both without, where it assumes the shape of exclusiveness, and within, where it becomes legality. Between the brethren and those that are without, an impassable barrier has been set up by the institution of baptism and the profession of faith in the Messiah.
The words orthodox' and unorthodox' come to be used as shibboleths, and take the place of the distinctive mark given by Jesus Himself :
By their fruits
ye shall judge them.” True, it cannot be forgotten that to do God's will alone leads into God's kingdom. But the opinion very soon gains ground that the doing of God's will presupposes faith in Jesus, and is, therefore, only possible in the company of the faithful. That is the first fatal step away from Jesus towards orthodoxy. Jesus had by preference taken as His types people like the publican, the Samaritan, the prodigal son, who were outside the Church. In people such as these He could trace so much more clearly just the really important things, humility, love, repentance. But in His sect