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"Honour all men.- Love the brotherhood.-Fear God.
Honour the king."
Daily Texts, POR SUNDAY SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES.-Cover, p. 2.
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Daily TEXTS FOR SUNDAY SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES.
“O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day.”—Psalm cxix. 97.
1 Th And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name
Jesus: for he shall save bis people from their sins. Matt. i. 21. 2 F And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least
among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a
Matt. ii. 6. 3 S And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: there
fore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn
Matt. iii. 10. 4S The Lord's Day.-And, lo, a voice from heaven, saying,
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Matt. iii. 17. 5 M It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Matt. iv. 4. 6 Tu Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Matt. v. 37. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matt. vi. 33. 8 Th Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Matt. vii. 7. 9 F The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests;
but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. Matt. viii. 20. 10S I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Matt. ix. 13. 11 S THE LORD'S DAY.-He that receiveth you
receiveth and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
Matt. x. 40. 12'M
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I
Matt. xi. 28. 13 Tu Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Matt. xii. 36. 14 W
So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come
Matt. xiii. 49. 15 Th And when Jesus had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray.
Matt. xiv. 23. 16 F This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and
honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. Matt. xv. 8. 17 S And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks,
and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. Matt. xv. 36. 18 S The Lord's Day. If any man will come after me, let him
deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Matt. xvi. 24. 19 M And Jesus was transfigured before them: and his face did
shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. Matt. xvii. 2. 20 Tu For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. Matt. xviii. ll.
The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept
Matt. xix. 20. 22 Th And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?
Matt. xx. 32. 23 F And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
Matt. xxi. 14. 24 S
Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's;
Matt. xxii. 21. 25 S The Lord's Day.--How often would I have gathered thy
children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens
Matt. xxiii. 37. 26 M Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Matt. xxiv. 35. 27 Tu Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Matt. xxv. 13. 28 W Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands.
Matt. xxvi. 67. 29 Th And when Jesus was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
Matt. xxvii. 12. 30 F Jesus, when he had cried with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. Matt. xxvii. 50. 31 s
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Matt. xxviii. 19.
What is Priestcraft? This is just the question we would discuss with many of our readers. He who will not honestly answer it classes wrongfully thousands of the best-hearted men in the world with thousands of the worst. On behalf of those who wish to be, and can be, your best friends, we call upon you to distinguish them from those who are your worst enemies. Priestcraft is the cant word with which the efforts of thousands of the least crafty and most sincere men on earth are now consigned to contempt and hatred, by numbers of the people. This should not be. Let the crafty teacher of religion bear his own burden. In the language of the Lord Jesus, whom he professes to preach, such a one is assuredly one of a generation of vipers,” “a child of hell," "a wolf in sheep's clothing." Indeed, no denunciatory language can be too strong to stigmatize the man with, who aims to serve his own selfish purposes under the guise of zeal for religion. Let such a man go to his own place, with the Scribes and the Pharisees, the Simon Maguses, and the Judas Iscariots. We have, however, just now mentioned the test by which all teachers of religion must be tried. Priestcraft, like craft in all trades and professions, is essentially selfishness; it is a selfish use of the office or profession of a teacher of religion. The king may use his office craftily to aggrandize and enrich himself and his family, instead of promoting the welfare of the people. The shopkeeper may carry on his trade craftily, so as to be really dishonest while professing to serve his customers fairly and honourably. The working-man or servant may use craft in his calling too, and while representing himself as a faithful or superior servant, may give his employer less work for money than his fellow-workmen who make no pretensions. Craft, alas, has never been wanting in human nature since the Old Serpent beguiled, by his subtilty, our common mother! It would seem as if he had infused a portion of his intellectual poison into the fountain of
No wonder, then, that ministers of religion should furnish plenty of examples of the working of this poison.
Religion, the noblest and distinguishing possession of man, is the highest power in the world. Every one, whatever his practice may be, owns that his religion ought to overrule every other motive to action. What an opening therefore for ambition! The lovers of power over men's minds have but to persuade their fellow-men that they are the infallible, or at least the authorised, guides in religion, and forth with the very souls of the many are at their feet! The bạit is tempting to the cunning ; and in all ages, and under all forms of religion, false or true, numbers have used religion as the best instrument of their ambition! In Christianity this is the most barefaced disobedience to its Founder. He distinctly says, speaking of Rule and Authority, “ It shall not be so among you."
Quite as frequently has the profession of a religious guide been used for a cloak of avarice. As a means to extract fees from men for performing ceremonies asserted to be indispensable to their salvation ; to obtain* grants of tithes, estates, and money, from kings, landlords, and all men, in their dying hours. The wealth of the rich, and the pence of the poor, even “widows' houses,” have been equally coveted by priestly rapacity. It was so in our Lord's time, and was bitterly denounced by him; no wonder men remain the same.
But now for the other side. And, first, it is clear that on this point, if you can put no confidence in men, you may put confidence in the Bible itself. Jesus Christ, the author and the end of his own religion, and all his Apostles, united in denouncing Priestcraft in every shape. Silver and gold they, at least, had none. Whatever they have been accused of from that day to this, none ever accused them of making money by their preaching. They, in great part, worked for their living, and at most received but their maintenance from those for whom they gave up their time and strength, and their lives too. Their hire they did receive, on the principle which all our readers hold sacred, that “the labourer is worthy of his hire.” In like manner, they renounced all authority over their disciples' faith,—transacted every thing openly,—would not even excommunicate a member guilty of flagrant sin, by their own authority; but referred it to the whole assembled church (1 Cor. v.),—and claimed no regard in any thing except as by manifestation of the truth, they commended themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. The founders of Christianity, who were also the penmen of the New Testament, were, of all men whom the world has seen, the most free from the love of money and the love of power—the two great marks of Priestcraft. Priestcraft, too, has generally resorted to some kind of imposition,—some assumption of artificial sanctity, exclusive power, to perform some halfmagical rites which in their hands alone were efficacious. Apostolic succession, transubstantiation, baptismal regeneration, extreme unction, are examples of impostures of this kind, and that too in the name of Christ ! The New Testament is absolutely free from all this. It denies that there are any priests at all upon earth.t Its religious teachers are simply those whose gists and endowments fit them for the work of guiding and instructing. In the New Testament, the clergy are nothing but servants; the church, i.e. the people, are every thing. Its ceremonies are but two simple forms, strikingly illustrative of its two cardinal truths. Baptism setting forth that we must be born again,—the Supper of the Lord, that he died for our sins, and is to come again to receive us to glory. Marvellous that forms so unpretending, should have been converted by Priestcraft into rites essen. tial to salvation, and only to be administered by episcopally ordained successors of the apostles ! The New Testament is not answerable for such gross impostures.
* See Hallam's Middle Ages.
Then, secondly, amongst religious teachers, as in every other class, you may discern the faithful from the crafty, the sincere from the selfish. “By their fruits ye shall know them,” says the Great Teacher. Of course, a hypocrite in any line of life may deceive for a time; but he cannot for very long. No man is fit to be a teacher of Christ's religion, who would not gladly teach without pay, if he had the means of living without it. Judge, then, fairly whether he preaches for filthy lucre's sake, or only receives money, as you do for your labour, to enable him to go on with his work. Notice whether he seems chiefly zealous to bring you to obey Christ himself, or whether he lays much stress on his own Church. The true Christian teacher longs above all things to bring men to Christ himself, although he may sincerely think some views he holds of his Master's will, to be more correct on lesser points than those held by others. Notice whether he appeals to what our Church ordains, or what the New Testamert requires; whether he speaks as a dogmatic, self-confident authority, or as an humble, yet un. finching interpreter of the blessed Book, which is as open to you as to him. The true Christian instructor sends his hearer to no composition of fallible fellow-mortals as a safe guide; "the Bible, and the Bible only,” is his appeal. Like Paul, he so preaches as to send you " to search the Scriptures daily, whether those things be so.” Manner may sometimes deceive. Paul speaks of those who by "fair speeches lie in wait to deceive.” Yet, for the more part, the modest, yet earnest,—kind, yet honest, pleader for Christ and souls, is a man whom we may believe free from Priestcraft.
To sum up, while Priestcraft is on all hands acknowledged to be the vilest craft in existence, a sincere desire to do good to the immortal part of man is the noblest of human feelings. No wonder it should be counterfeited, as all good characters often are, for base purposes. But, friends, it were as foolish to reject truly valuable and good Christian teachers because there are impostors, as it would be to empty your pockets of all your genuine money, because you find more or less of it to be counterfeit coin.
Finally, bad ministers are not the only crafty teachers. Infidelity, Socialism, and the like, have their crafty advocates too. There are certainly not wanting amongst them, men who make gain of their disciples, and men who only wish to be the leading men in the clique or crowd around them. “ By their fruits shall ye know them” also. Enquire into the lives of the greater part of them, and if you find them guilty of practices which the New Testament condemns, your common sense will teach you why they hate alike both the Book and its Teacher, hate, indeed, its sincerest teachers most, and endeavour to prejudice you against them, by confounding all together under the cant cry of “Priestcraft.”