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stand-point of worldly policy, or financial profit, such an arrangement may be deemed satisfactory, but not from that of Christian courtesy and brotherhood. These free sittings are understood to be sittings for the poor, and by their inconvenience both for seeing and hearing in many churches are a perpetual exhibition of the spirit the Apostle James condemned in his day—“Ye have despised the poor.' Yea, the arrangement might be made to give opportunity to practise the conduct he denounces with such withering sarcasm. Let a poor man in vile raiment enter, and he is allowed to stand, or take the humble position allotted the poor ; but should a man with a gold ring and in goodly apparel come into your assembly, he is not allowed to remain in the place he has taken ; some official or officious person will soon say to him, “ Sit thou here in a good place.” Such partial respect to the wearer of gay clothing is a practical insult to the poor who are witnesses of it, and when I have seen the welldressed selected from the free sittings and conducted to pews, I have wondered the non-elect did not resent the insult by simultaneously rising and leaving the place.
I wish all the sittings in this church could have been left unappropriated except by courtesy, and without any specitic rent attached to them. At the beginning of Methodism, and till near Mr. Wesley's death, it was so. In the course of time I have no doubt the original custom will be restored, but it will take time to effect the restoration, because it will take time to bring trustees and others in authority to correct views on this question. Till such a consummation is reached, our endeavour must be to breathe into the present system, as far as possible, a Christian spirit. I am happy to say that in this edifice there is no distinction of outward form in the pews; they are all equally commodious, and advantageously situated for seeing the minister and hearing him, and none have the opprobrious name of Poor Sittings given to them. Those who regularly attend, therefore, and cannot afford to pay pew-rent, will not have inferior places on that account; and strangers and visitors, I am sure, will ever have courteous attention from you. But permit me to say that fussiness is not good manners, and when a stranger enters after service has begun do not let him take the impression that you think more of attending to him than continuing your devotions. It will rather amuse than gratify a right-minded person for half-a-dozen of hymnbooks to be offered bim at once. Over-doing in this matter is almost as bad as neglect. All I ask is that respectful attention should be given to all comers by proper arrangement for that purpose, and that any stranger should find that he breathes a home atmosphere when he comes, because there is that about your spirit and demeanour which tells him he is welcome-welcome, that is, not so much as a personal visitor to your house, but as a fellow-worshipper in the house of God; of that God who judges not according to appearance, but looks at the heart, and who is no respecter of persons.
Finally, let me remind you of what I intimated at the beginning of my address, that the word " bebave," as used by the Apostle in the text, has a wider and deeper meaning than mere good manners. These letters to Timothy and Titus are called Pastoral Epistles, be
cause they relate to the duties of pastors, or teachers and rulers in the Church. So here Paul says, “ These things I write unto thee, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God.” And the things he writes, as you may know by reading the epistle, are relative to Christian truths and duties—to what a man should believe and what he should practise ; also to Church usages and customs—Church officers, and what sort of men they should be. And as Timothy was both teacher and ruler in the Church, the behaviour spoken of applies to his whole routine of duty in the Church, and the Apostle's design was to show him how to fulfil that both in spirit and in deed.
The reading of these Epistles has suggested to us addressing you as we have done this morning, but their teachings also lead us to see that our work is only partially done if we do not urge you to right behaviour in the house of God in its highest form and to its utmost comprehension. Formalism however correct is not Christian life. The Church is the Church of the living God, and He is a Spirit whose true worshippers are those who worship’in spirit and in truth, for He seeketh such to worship Him.
THE NORMAL GROWTH OF THE CHURCH. The age in which we live is characterized by this, that in it there is a going back to facts. This is true in relation to the worlds both of science and of religion. In the world of science we find a growing impatience of hypothesis, an adherence to facts, and a determination to follow them to whatever they may lead. Nor is it otherwise in the world of religious thought. In the theological controversies of these times there seems to be manifested a desire to throw off, or at least to weaken, Apostolical authority, as set forth in the Epistles of the New Testament, and to give first and prominent importance to the Gospels, and to the great facts of the Christian revelation as recorded therein. This is no doubt a healthy feeling in part, being a reaction from the spirit of excessive dogma, which distinguished the past age; but it is capable of much abuse. It is a truth manifested in every age, that man's mind can never be satisfied with mere facts. It must necessarily proceed to generalize about them. And then, after all, we must remember, that the Gospel of the narratives is but an immature Gospel, for it lacks that fuller development which comes by the Spirit, and the perfection of the Christian revelation is to be found in the Epistles, in Apostolical teaching and authority.
The bearing of these thoughts on our subject, the normal growth of the Church, is, that we have in the Gospels incomplete ideas of he Church as compared with the Epistles. We read much in the former about the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven, but we can form only imperfect conceptions of what is meant by these terms. But when we come to the Epistles the idea of the Church
is more clearly revealed. The idea is twofold. There is, first, the Church universal, and then, secondly, the Church local. The former seems most to approximate to the idea of the kingdom of God in the Gospels. That kingdom appears to consist of all who bear the name of Christ, or in whom Christ's spirit is, to whatever church, or nation, or clime they belong, together with all the institutions and influences that have sprung up in connection with Christianity. This, as I apprehend it, is the New Testament idea of the kingdom of God; but behind all this, dimly seen in the background, and through the celestial haze, as it were, that hangs over it, is that spiritual temple in process of erection, built of living stones—the temple of God, spiritual and eternal, which shall ever stand as the noblest and most glorious work of God in the moral universe. “Now therefore,” says the Apostle, “ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow. citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone ; in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth into an holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
But besides this we have another idea given unto us of the Church in the Epistles of the New Testament. It is that of the Church local. We read, for example, of the church of Corinth, the church of Ephesus, and of the Church in the house—the assembly, that is, of worshipping and believing Christians. We naturally ascend from the small to the larger, from the lower to the higher, and 80 we are carried on from the churches local to that which is being built up out of them, and towards the completion of which they are continually contributing redeemed and sanctified spirits — that invisible, spiritual, catholic, apostolic Church, of which Paul writes, and which consists of all, in both worlds, who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Now whichever view we take of the Church, we have associated with it the idea of growth. A thing to grow or increase must have power belonging to it somewhere, and it must be placed in circumstances favourable to the action of that power; we say, therefore, wherever there is power under these conditions; there will be increase. The increase of the Church is twofold, accidental and normal. There are two great laws of increase operating in the natural world : the laws of accretion and of assimilation. We see the first of these illustrated by the process of crystalization. A very wonderful and beautiful process this is. A particle of a certain kind of matter adheres to some substance in water. That particle possesses an attractive or magnetic influence, by which it draws to itself all kindred substances, and builds them up into transparent forms of symmetry and beauty. The Church also possesses this power of accretion. It attracts to itself many elements of adherence, which swell its bulk, and give to it an air of importance, investing it with a certain description of influence and magnetism. This, however, is not its normal and true growth. It may even prevent that growth, which indeed it has too often done, so that in proportion as the Church has possessed this kind of thing, it has been weak in vital power and destitute of true beauty and strength.
The true process of the Church's growth is by the law of assimilation. How wonderful is the operation of this law in the natural world! Wherever there is life, subject to conditions favourable to its development, it will manifest itself as a principle of increase, an increase of individuation, and that too by the appropriation of all those elements and substances it can assimilate and build up into its own proper being. The vital force is in the seed. The seed is planted in the ground. It first strikes its roots downward into the soil. It then grows upward towards the light. It appears at first as the tender blade, then as the stalk, then as the ear, and afterwards as the full corn in the ear. It draws to itself, and assimilates to its own nature, the particles of earth and air and water and light with which it is surrounded, and building them up into the wonderful structures we behold, increases the original into a wondrous mani. foldness. Such is the true law, as we apprehend it, of the Church's growth. It is not by accretion, but by assimilation, and this is normal and absolute. In any true Church of Jesus Christ there is a vital principle of life, which attracts to itself, and then assimilates to its own proper nature, the substance of human souls, by which it is surrouuded, and thus continually multiplies itself and perpetuates its own existence. The Church of Christ cannot die, for it has essential life, and that life is bound up with the very life of God.
The Church's mission in the world as to this process of growth is also twofold. Its first mission is to the world of the ungodly with which it is on all sides surrounded. It is not merely God's camp pitched in the midst of His enemies, ready to defend the truth against all assailants, but it is laden with a message of love and mercy to the foes of Christ and of His truth, and it proposes to subdue them, not by violence, but by gentleness, meekness, faith, and love. It seeks to overcome by the very energy of its own life, and to assimilate what it overcomes to its own proper character and condition. It seeks to accomplish this directly and especially by the preaching of the glad tidings, and subordinately and indirectly by manifold agencies. These times are distinguished by great institutions, and most of these institutions have been originated by the Church, and may be regarded as the overflowings of her zeal and love, and she has embodied these qualities in the almost innumerable philanthropic agencies and institutions of our days.
It has been said that all great social revolutions spring from beneath ; that they come, not from the upper, but the lower classes of society. In the Church's attention to these things, therefore, she is saving our country from almost untold evils in the future, and laying the foundation for a prosperity that shall be almost permanent. Some time since a gentleman was riding horseback along the margin of one of the lakes of North America when he was overtaken and almost overpowered by wailing, moaning, sepulchral sounds. For a moment he thought it was the wind holding concert in an adjoining pine forest. He soon found, however, that this could not be its source, and ultimately he discovered that it came from the lake itself. The lake had been frozen over, and the wind had been confined under the ice, where it was sighing and discoursing most weird and
melancholy music. It would continue so to do, if the inhabitants did not perforate it with holes to let the wind escape, until the spring sun should thin it, when, the ice no longer able to resist the pressure, the wind would break through with a tremendous explosion. This is a good illustration of what, in all probability, would have taken place in the future history of our country, were it not for the holes our numerous philanthropic institutions are making in the surface of society, through which the winds of popular discontent and fury may continually escape. These institutions must prove the safety valves of our nation. They will save us perhaps from the repetition of that awful and bloody catastrophe which overtook a neighbouring nation a few years ago, known in history as the great French Revolution. For centuries the princes, the nobles, and the upper classes of that country had been living in magnificence and opulence, but neglecting and oppressing in the most heartless and cruel manner the lower orders of the people, who were little better than their slaves. But beneath the surface of that cold and glittering civilization, the passions of a discontented and furious populace were gradually gathering strength. Forages these winds had been discoursing most melancholyand ominous music, but it was unheard, or if heard disregarded, and the result was, that when the time arrived and circumstances were favourable, these winds of popular fury burst through the surface of that gaudy and glittering civilization, and swept it away in a whirlwind of destruction; and then was enacted one of the bloodiest tragedies that ever occurred in the history of the world, and which will be a warning to future nations throughout all generations.
This will indicate, then, the indirect good which is being exerted in our country by those institutions originated and maintained by the Christian Church. But this is only a part of what is being effected by them. They are also instrumental in bringing innumerable multitudes of precious souls into the fold of Christ, and much increase is being realized in this way. This is one source of the Church's growth, but it is rather accidental than normal. We do not despise this source of increase, but would encourage it to the utmost, and yet it is not to it the Church should look for its normal growth. That growth is rather to be found in the family-the Christian household ; to which the Church should look continually for its great and permanent supplies of true increase. In the thoughts of God as set forth in His Word, or rather perhaps in the knowledge of God; for God does not think, He knows; from the knowledge of God then, as given to us in His Word, we see that the idea of the family was ever the root, the seed corn, of His Church. He called Abraham to found a new family in the world, that it might grow into a nation-a theocratic nation; and then, when that was worn out and was ready to vanish away, He took out of it the only good elements left, that they might be the nucleus of the new Church, God's true spiritual theocracy in this world. And we find that not only individuals, but households, were received into the new kingdom. When a new convert was received into the Church, and that convert was the head of a family, his household, i.e., all the inmates of his house-his wife, his children, his servants-were received and