SPIRITUAL, NOT CEREMONIAL
A. H. GOTTSCHALL
" THE law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."—John 1:17.
If Christ abolished types and shadows, why should we still observe them? If we are complete in Christ alone by faith, why should we still cling to fleshy emblems? These are searching questions, which will not be lightly dismissed by the sincere and spiritual-minded believer.
The great Head of the Church said to the woman at the well: "The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him MUST WORSHIP HIM IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH."—John 4:23,24.
Every child of God knows that he received Christ by faith, and not in, through, or by any perishable ordinance. Paul most emphatically says : "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so WALK YE IN HIM."—COL 2:6.
It is a mistake to teach that completeness in Christ by faith is not sufficient, but that some rite, ceremony, or type, administered by human hands, is necessary to completeness and obedience.
As well might an artist try to improve on the grandeur of the star-studded canopy of the heavens with his puny brush as a man endeavor to better the finished work of Christ in efforts to make a man more meet for the inheritance of the Saints in light by dipping his body into water, or inviting him to partake of perishable emblems.
When God has finished the work of a soul's salvation, by the mighty agency of His Holy Spirit, through the new birth, and most emphatically teaches in His Word that in the acceptance of His Son as our Saviour, and an implicit soul rest upon the vicarious atonement of Christ, we are complete, who shall say we need something that a man can add to make us more complete or acceptable?
Our worship is now " not of the letter (the law), BUT OF THE SPIRIT: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."-2 Cor. 3:6. " But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God : for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."--1 Cor. 2:14.
There need be no literal, fleshly eating, drinking, and washings, or baptisms, now in the worship of God, but we should feast upon Christ BY FAITH. Like the Israelites while in the desert, we should now " all eat the same spiritual meat; And . . drink the same spiritual drink : for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them : and that Rock WAS CHRIST."' Cor. 10:3,4.
" For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink : BUT RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND PEACE, AND JOY IN THE HOLY GHOST. For HE THAT IN THESE THINGS SERVETH CHRIST IS ACCEPTABLE TO GOD." —Rom. 14:17,18.
" It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; NOT WITH MEATS, WHICH HAVE NOT PROFITED THEM THAT HAVE BEEN OCCUPIED THEREIN. We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle."— Heb. 13:9,10.
Many Christians believe that carnal ordinances are obligatory now : many others do not. But if we have the spirit of Christ, we will not ignore and disfellowship those who differ from us in respect to these outward, earthly things.
It we reject a child of God because he does not see as we do, and because he clings to rituals which we plainly see have been abolished, we are not manifesting the right spirit. On the other hand, if the advocates of ordinances persecute us because we are satisfied with CHRIST ALONE, and reject all fleshly emblems which He abolished, they prove that they are occupied with something besides Christ, that they lack His mind and spirit, and at the same time show that the observance of fleshly ceremonies has not imparted to them the fruits of the Spirit. Every intelligent Bible Christian will acknowledge that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and that we are saved alone by appropriating to ourselves through faith the redeeming merits of His atonement for us on the cross. Then why should we ignore or denounce one another because we do not see alike in what are, at best, but non-essentials, in the great matter of salvation?
It is an evident fact that religious ignorance, hatred, and persecution usually go hand in hand, and nowhere, perhaps, are these traits more prominent than in ordinance advocates. Because Stephen preached down rites and ceremonies, and held up Jesus as being all-sufficient, he was stoned to death; Acts 6:13,14;7:59,60.
The pages of martyrology prove that during the earlier centuries of the Church a countless host of worthies passed up to join the blood-washed throng by way of fire, rack, knife, water, and every invention of cruelty and murder that religious monsters could invent ; and for the very reason that they refused to make an idol of bread and wine. Not less than two hundred and eighty people were publicly burned, or otherwise killed, in England, in 1555 and the three years following, principally because they differed with their religious enemies about the bread and wine. And of the thousands of people said to have been killed directly or indirectly by the fearful persecutions of the Catholic Church in various countries, many of these were slaughtered because of their non-conformity in the sacraments, as history amply proves, and as is shown in other parts of this work.
How much in the dark are people who fancy that they must consume a bite of bread and a sip of wine as a means of remembering the Lord, when His very last message to the Church is : " Behold, I stand at the door, and knock : if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and WILL SUP WITH HIM, AND HE WITH ME."—Rev. 3:20.
" Ye are the temple of the living God ; as God hath said, I WILL DWELL IN THEM, AND WALK IN THEM."- 2 Cor. 6:16. If the Lord, then, on His own assertion, dwells and walks in His children in spirit, how unreasonable it is to say that in order to remember Him we must observe a fleshly eating and drinking !
The Catholic Church maintains that the number of ordinances, or sacraments are seven. When Luther and the other early Reformers left Rome they carried two or three of these ordinances along, and left the rest behind. No man or set of men have all the light and truth, and these early Reformers made a grand stride from the yoke of dead rites and ceremonies in dropping four or five of the husks of Catholicism, especially in that dark day of Romish ignorance and superstition. Is it any wonder that later on other discerning Christians should also drop the other two or three as the Quakers and others have done and still do? Many centuries before either Luther or the Quakers appeared, even from the First or Second Centuries on down, as history shows, God has had a people who, discarding the borrowed rites of Judaism, strove to accept Christ as the end of all types and shadows, and aimed to be satisfied with the baptism of the Spirit, and to be fed by faith upon Him who is the BREAD OF LIFE and to seek for that worship which is spiritual and not ritualistic.
Some Christians insist that in the act of observing ordinances they show their humility, and thus make a sacrifice. To the honest, devoted soul there is comfort in the thought that duty is being performed, yet their idea of duty may not have truth for its foundation. Others claim to receive a blessing in the observance of ordinances. This may, in some cases, be true. There is always a comfort and satisfaction in doing what is believed to be right. Loyalty to convictions brings inward composure. But that is no proof against error. Paul lived in good conscience, and thought he was doing God service while cruelly persecuting the Saints.
On this point Burgess well says :
" When a man performs that which his judgment calls upon him to do, he finds great serenity of mind. You must never judge of the truth of any way in religion by the comfort and peace of conscience you find therein ; for all Turks, Jews and heretics have much quietness of conscience in discharging that traditional religion they are brought up in, and would be much troubled in conscience to deny or apostatize from their way." " This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, ARE YE NOW MADE PERFECT BY THE FLESH? "—Gal. 3:2,3.
" For Thou desirest not sacrifice ; else would I give it : Thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are A BROKEN SPIRIT : A BROKEN AND A CONTRITE HEART, 0 God, Thou wilt not despise."— Psa. 51:16,17.
" I am the living bread which came down from Heaven: if any man eat of this bread, HE SHALL LIVE FOREVER.
* * * It is the Spirit that quickeneth; THE FLESH PROFITETH NOTHING : the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."—John 6:51,63.
We have nothing but Christian love for those who conscientiously believe that in the observance of outward rites they are obeying and pleasing God, nor would we for a moment tolerate the idea of anything so unchristian as holding aloof from them because of their doctrine and practice in these things. No ; all who know Jesus to the pardoning of their sins are our dear brethren and sisters, irrespective of the observance or non-observance of ordinances.
We can, we trust, worship God in Spirit and in truth by their side, but on the other hand, our freedom in the Spirit must not be fettered by their rituals. Paul, after turning from the rites of the law to the gospel of grace, labored in harmony with some who seemed still to have been of the circumcision; see Col. 4:7-12, but he was not bound by their practice. The poet gives expression to the same sentiments in the old hymn :
The idea that God insists upon a literal water baptism, a literal washing of feet, a literal table, a literal cup, a literal feast of bread and wine, IN A SPIRITUAL DISPENSATION—and that, too, as a means of following, imitating or remembering Him who promises to be ever in and with us spiritually—seems absurd to a spiritual-minded man or woman, providing, of course, that light upon these truths has shown into the soul. We receive light upon divine things only as we want it, ONLY AS WE CAN BEAR IT, ONLY AS WE WILL WALK IN IT.
" We'll not bind our brother's conscience,
This to God alone is free ;
Nor contend for non-essentials,
But in Christ united be."
" Here's my hand, my heart, and spirit ;
Now in fellowship I'll give ;
Now we love and peace inherit,
Show the world how Christians live."
It is an undeniable fact that too often as Christians grow formal and loose in soul-life they try to make up for it by zealously observing rituals. But as believers, like Samuel, "grow before the Lord" (I Sam. 2:21), they see the hollowness of clinging to outward ceremonies. They are satisfied with Christ, and having Him, they would not (knowingly) dishonor Him by allowing anything emblematic to take His place. " Now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held ; that WE SHOULD SERVE IN NEWNESS OF SPIRIT, and NOT IN THE OLDNESS OF THE LETTER."-ROM. 7:6.
If people, when being occupied with bread made by the hands of a woman, and wine made by the hands of a man, would, like Peter (after observing a type), "remember the word of the Lord" (Acts II:16), they might more fully grasp the meaning, and more fully enjoy the reality of partaking of the real Lord's Supper which Jesus Himself invites us to in Rev. 3:2o, where He says : " Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, AND HE WITH ME."
If we have Christ in spirit, why should we cling to any perishable remembrance of Him? Must we consume a bite of bread and a sift of wine as a means of remembering Him whose Word declares that " Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."-2 Cor. 6:16. If we really have Christ by faith, who is the end of everything typical, why should we still cling to the shadow?
Right here is where many Christians make a mistake by adhering to that which was of the Mosaic dispensation, and was never intended to be kept up by the Church in the gospel age. In Acts 15, nineteen years after Christ, the Gentiles were received without the law, or rather declared to be exempt from it, as they had never been under Judaism, but not the Israelites, for in Acts 21, twenty-seven years after the cross, the Jewish believers were keeping the law, and it is only first in Heb. g:io, thirty-one years after the cross, that the law of types is plainly declared to be abolished.
Some Christians seem slow to understand that the rituals of Moses were still observed by the New Testament Christians for years after Christ, but the New Testament plainly declares the fact. Read the fifteenth and twenty-first chapters of Acts. In Acts 18:21 Paul said : " I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem," and in Acts 20:6, he said : " And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread." In Acts 24:18, he says, " Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple." So we see that Paul, with others, at this time, was still observing the law.
" Before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God BY FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS."—Gal. 3:23,24,25,26.
Our ordinance brethren so often quote Matt. 11:13, (A. D. 31), " All the prophets and the law prophesied until John," and claim that this text virtually declares the abolishment of the Jewish types, but the text makes no such assertion ; Jesus, in Matthew 23:2,3 (A. D. 33), moreover says, " The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do." Again, Mark 1 :44, " Show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a TESTIMONY UNTO THEM." Here we see that the Jewish law was still in force after John's appearance, and JESUS HIMSELF RECOGNIZED IT.
Others say that the observance of Mosaic rituals actually ceased at the cross. Neither is correct, for we find the rites and ceremonies of the law zealously observed by the believing Jews for years after Calvary, as has already been shown. While Christ in very deed did abolish rites and ceremonies at the cross, the time for their actual cessation was not declared till Heb. 9:10, thirty-one years later.
" A testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. —Heb. 9:17. The Christian Church, or dispensation, may, in a sense, be said to have grown out of the Jewish, and the washings, or baptisms, and the Passover Supper of that ceremonial system, seems to have been so implanted into the minds and customs of some, that they may not always have been fully dropped by all. Indeed in the Second and Third Centuries, as history asserts, there began a lapsing back into old customs, and a trust in ceremonies. This leaning toward Judaism and its ceremonies became more marked later on as Catholicism came to the front, especially from the Third Century on, and by this latter system rites and ceremonies were greatly increased and magnified. Many of the more modern Reformers never fully cut loose from the ceremonies of Judaism and Catholicism, but carried some of them, namely, water baptism and the supper, along out with them.
This backward movement on the part of the Early Church is, as we find, first mentioned in history as appearing in A. D. 140, 15o, 175. Neander, the great German ecclesiastical historian says :
" Christianity having sprung to freedom out of the envelope of Judaism, had stripped off the forms in which it was first concealed. This evolution belonged more particularly to the Pauline position. The Jewish principles which had been vanquished, pressed in once more from another quarter. Humanity was as yet incapable of maintaining itself at that lofty position of 'Sure spiritual religion. The Jewish position descended nearer to the mass. This recasting of the Christian spirit in the Old Testament form did not take place, it is true, everywhere uniformly alike. In general, the more men fell back from the evangelical to the Jewish point of view, the more must the original free constitution of the communities, grounded in those original Christian views, become changed. We find Cyprian (A. D. 250) already completely imbued with the notions which sprung out of this confounding together of the different points of view of the Old and New Testaments."
Seemingly with the adoption of rites and ceremonies from Judaism in the Second Century, the Early Church rapidly drifted into what later became Catholicism, cropping out more and more from the Third Century forward. The priesthood that came into power evidently seeing that a code of rituals was advantageous in maintaining priestly prestige, rule and power, added ceremonies to their hearts' content, and seem to have convinced their following that it was all of Divine approval. Baptismal regeneration, penance, purgatory, and the whole system of Popish emptiness, followed in course of time.
Later on down the line of time, says D'Aubigne, the French historian, (died 1630): " Indulgences were more or less an extraordinary branch of Roman commerce ; the sacraments were a staple commodity. The revenue they produced was of no small account."
Mosheim, the great German ecclesiastical historian (died 1755) says : " It is certain that to religious worship, both public and private, many rites were added, without necessity, and to the great offense of sober and good men. The principal cause of this I readily look for in the Perverseness of mankind, who are more delighted with the pomp and splendor of external forms than with the true devotion of the heart ; and who despise whatever does not gratify their eyes and ears. Also, there is good reason to suppose that the Christian bishops multiplied sacred rites for the sake of rendering the Jews and the Pagans more friendly to them, for both had been accustomed to numerous and splendid ceremonies from their infancy, and had no doubt that they constituted AN ESSENTIAL PART OF RELIGION.
Hence, when they saw the new religion TO BE destitute of such ceremonies they thought it too simple, and therefore despised it."
" The simplicity of the worship which Christians offered to the Deity had given occasion to certain calumnies, spread abroad both by the Jews and Pagan priests. The Christians were pronounced atheists, because they were destitute of temples, altars, victims, priests, and all the pomp in which the vulgar suppose the essence of religion to consist. To silence this accusation the Christian doctors thought they must introduce SOME EXTERNAL RITES, which would strike the sense of the People, so that they could maintain that they really had all those things of which Christians are charged with being destitute; though under different forms. Also, it was well known that in the books of the New Testament, various Parts of the Christian religion are expressed by terms borrowed from the Jewish laws, and are in some measure compared with the Jewish rites."
" In process of time, either from ignorance or motives of policy, the majority maintained that such phraseology was not figurative, but accordant with the nature of things. Bishops were called high priests, and the presbyters, priests, and deacons, Levites. In a little time, those to whom these titles were given maintained that they had the same rank and dignity, and possessed the same rights and privileges with those who bore these titles under the Mosaic dispensation. Also, from the Greek Mysteries the Christians were led to claim similar mysteries, and they began to apply the terms used in the Pagan mysteries to Christian institutions, particularly baptism and the Lord's Supper! They also introduced the other rites designated in those terms, and a large part of the Christian observances of this (Second) Century had the appearance of the Pagan mysteries!"
Dr. Robison, the Baptist historian, on this line says: " Unconnected as baptism may seem to be with all this, it was, however, the chief instrument of acquiring power and producing a revolution in favor of pontifical dominion. By this the hierarchy was formed, and by this, and not by argument, was chiefly supported. Pope Sylvester dedicated the first edifice to the Romanizing (Judaizing) party, November g. It was named after Solomon's temple, to distinguish it from idol temples. Also, for the same reason, a painting or statue of Jesus was placed there !—probably the true origin of pictures, images, and all ecclesiastical idolatry."
" A wooden table there was called an altar, and they denominated those who officiated there Levites. The same effects which the baptistery had produced at Rome followed in all other cities, as Venice, Naples, Florence, Pisa, Milan, Boulogne, Viterba, Modena, Verona, Ravenna, Aquileia, and many other cities. The priest of the congregation that claimed the baptisteries became a prelate ; the other priests in the city his clergy ; some of them were called his cardinal ' priests and deacons, chiefly because they assisted him to administer baptism. From these sprang suffragans, prebendaries, canons! chapters, conclaves and councils. Cardinals derived their titles from baptismal churches."
" The city fashion of building baptisteries was, as all fashions are, soon imitated by country towns. The bishop of the city baptismal church inspected and regulated the affairs of the town churches, and provided them with teachers and administrators of ordinances, and generally supplied them with oils and ointments from the metropolitan baptist try. The fetching of this chrism at Easter from the city baptistery, became in time an evidence to prove the dependence of these baptisteries on that in the city. The bishop who supplied the baptisteries acquired the most parishes. It was the baptistery, precisely, and neither the parsonage house nor the church, which constituted the title to the whole. For this reason baptismal churches are called Titular churches. All these baptisteries were dedicated to John the Baptist (an ante-Christian, Jewish priest) and not to Christ."
Dr. J. T. Hendricks in his work on baptism says : " The religion of Christ was a religion of principles. The religion of the Fathers, even in the Second Century, became a religion of sacraments or ceremonies, as the Catholic religion now is. The first symptom of decay in religion, at that time, was, as it ever has been, a revival of the ritual or ceremonial part. Principles and sacraments in religion never can be kept abreast of each other, they will not remain in a state of equipoise, the spiritual part will be thrown back, and retire, and the merest formalities and grossest superstitions will follow. No sooner than Christ had died, even before His immediate disciples died, this leaven of Judaism began to work itself into the Church, and did leaven the whole lump, and continued down to the Reformation."
Some Christians, and many of them well meaning, erroneously teach that Jesus instituted carnal ordinances for His Church to observe during this dispensation ; but let us observe what God's Word says, whether it conflicts with the popular belief or not. It is truth that we must deal with, and not what even many good and well-meaning people may think, do, or teach. "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."—Rom. 10:4.
" Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances."—Eph. 2:15.
Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings (Greek and German, baptisms), and carnal ordinances, imposed On them UNTIL THE TIME OF REFORMATION."—Heb. 9:10.
" Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances THAT WAS AGAINST US, WHICH WAS CONTRARY TO US, and took it out of the way, NAILING IT TO HIS CROSS." —Col. 2:14.
" Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, WHY, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (TOUCH NOT; TASTE NOT; HANDLE NOT; Which are all to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?"—Col. 2:20,21,22.
Dr. E. B. Turner, a Congregational minister, in a discourse entitled " Forms not Religion," says : " No part of the Mosaic religion was designed to be perpetuated but its principles. Her forms and ceremonies having now become of no importance, have become obsolete. The entire absence of any prescribed forms in the New Testament indicate it. If any particular external modes of exemplifying and perpetuating the doctrines of the Gospel had been designed, would they not have been the subject of express instruction? Of what use are principles, which cannot, through defect of the means of applying them, be made of practical utility? And if any fixed forms were intended to be established, and to be made perpetual in all countries and ages, is it probable that we should be left without any written formularies on the subject? Who will undertake to show that there are any such formularies in the New Testament? Who will say that they are so clearly defined that he who runneth may read?' "
Jesus says : — "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another ; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."—John 13:34,35.
Any one may observe fleshly ordinances, but the new commandment of "Love one another," only Christians who have the spirit of Christ can observe. Jesus plainly declared that upon the two commandments, Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And * * * thy neighbor as thyself, * * hang all the law and the prophets.''—Matt. 22:37,39,40.
Again in Mark 12:31, concerning these two commandments of love to God and man, it is said, There is none other commandment greater than these."
It is true that many godly men and women believe in these outward things, and observe them in good faith, not realizing that Jesus forever put away typical worship, and that the New Testament declares legal observances blotted out. We are responsible only for what we see and understand, but when light dawns, then we are responsible for our use of it.
On the other hand, there always was, in all probability, a " little flock " who worshiped God in spirit and in truth, ignoring outward, fleshly ceremonies, and in all likelihood, there will always be " a little flock " of similar heart and mind. But if we have the spirit of Christ, we will not reject those who differ from us upon these non-essentials. It is not observing ordinances, or laying them aside, that makes a Christian, but it is having the new birth—the life of God within the soul.
Chambers' Encyclopaedia says : " Some early Christian sects appear to have rejected baptism on grounds somewhat similar to those on which it is rejected by Quakers at the present clay, who explain the passages which relate to it symbolically, and insist that a spiritual baptism is the only real baptism of Christians."
Though not a Quaker, or a member of the Society of Friends, we indorse this their doctrine, and certainly love and respect them for the spirit of Christ, the uprightness of life, and the peaceful and benevolent characteristics so universally attributed to them by Christians in general. The first Quakers landed in America, at Boston, July, 1656, and disseminated their views with zeal and success. William Penn, Quaker preacher and author, the founder and first Governor of Pennsylvania, and the City of Philadelphia, might be called the leading representative of the Friends in America in his day.
The Quakers teach salvation to be obtained only through the death and merits of Christ. They accept the Bible as the work of inspiration and rule of faith and life, believing that in this, the new covenant dispensation, the baptism which embodies saving merit is not that of water, but that of the Spirit ; and that the true communion is not partaking of bread and wine, but spiritual feasting upon Christ by faith.
The census of 1880 gives the number of Quakers or Friends in the United States as 72,098, and the number of meeting places as 736. A number of these " meeting houses," as the Quakers call their church buildings, are situated in Philadelphia, one of the early cradles of Quakerism in America and perhaps still one of their strongholds in this country. Many Quakers, too, are found in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and in other countries.
John Wesley, in his diary, Aug. 1o, 1739, says : " I had the satisfaction of conversing with a Quaker. O, may those in every persuasion, who are of this spirit, increase a thousand-fold." In the same diary he says: " Thursday, Sept. 22, 1743 : As we were riding through a village called Stickpath, one stopped me in the street and asked, Is not thy name John Wesley?' Immediately two or three more came up and told me I must stop there. I did so, and before we had spoke many words, our souls took acquaintance with each other. I found they were Quakers, but that hurt not me ; seeing the love of God was in their hearts." Again Wesley says in his diary, of June 24, 1742: " I rode to Painswick, where in the evening I declared to all those who had been fighting and troubling one another about rites and ceremonies and modes of worship and opinions, The kingdom of God IS NOT MEAT AND DRINK, but RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND PEACE AND JOY IN THE HOLY GHOST."' Again John Wesley says : " He that truly trusts in Christ cannot fall short of the grace of God, even though he were cut off from every outward ordinance —though he were shut up in the centre of the earth. There is no power in means ; separate from God it is a dry leaf—a shadow, and in itself a poor, dead, empty thing. My belief is no rule for another. I ask not of him with whom I would unite in love, are you of my church? of my congregation? If thou lovest God and all mankind, I ask no more ; give me thine hand. So far as in conscience thou canst (retaining still thine own opinions) join with me in the work of God, and let us go hand in hand."
Wesley's spirit and attitude towards the Quakers were certainly God-like, for the Scripture plainly declares : " Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of Persons: But in every nation he that feareth Him, AND WORKETH RIGHTEOUSNESS, is accepted with him." —Acts 10:34,35. " Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."-2 Cor. 3:17.
The Society of Friends, or Quakers, arose in England. Concerning these people, ecclesiastical history says :
" They spread very rapidly in Great Britain and Ireland, as well as largely in the American Colonies. Their great apostle and founder, George Fox, was a man of intense earnestness in his investigation of religious truth, willing to go wherever the truth, as he understood it, might lead him, and to bear any reproach that might be laid on him because of his profession. At first the followers of Fox called themselves Seekers, as indicating their desire to discover the truth. The epithet Quakers was early applied to them by enemies as a term of derision and reproach. George Fox was unquestionably a good man, and sincerely aimed at discovering the primitive truths and practices which had been overlaid in the course of centuries. In his- own manifold journeyings and preachings through the country he attracted many by his evident sincerity, no less than by his eloquence, and led them to embrace his views."
" In 1647 he began his missionary career, and in eight years afterward ministers of the new society were spreading their doctrine in various parts of Europe. They endured with calm patience most grievous suffering and oppression. As many as thirty-four hundred of these earnest, God-fearing people were confined in noisome prisons, and many of them died as martyrs to their faith."
" Their meetings were broken up, their persons were assaulted, and they were treated with all forms of indignity and contempt. The society spread very rapidly in England, and when William Penn founded the Colony of Pennsylvania, the cause extended under his influence on this Continent. In New England and other sections of the American Colonies, they became numerous. Strange as it seems, even in New England their trials were most severe ; a godly woman and three men of culture and earnest piety were actually hanged on Boston Commons for their faith."
Of course, the Quakers who arose in 1647 were not the first to discard the rites and ceremonies carried over from Judaism, and to advocate the worship of God in spirit and in truth, because history proves that from the early centuries on down there has been a people who maintained the same truth.
The following brief extracts are gleaned from " Ritualism Dethroned," by William B. Orvis, (a college-trained Doctor of Divinity) published in 18751880. The work is probably the most able and complete one on the abolishment of rites and ceremonies ever issued. Its ancient and modern testimony as gleaned by its author in a wide field during his researches covering a period of one-third of a century, are very valuable. The work embodies 2 vols. of 754 pages.
The author died some years ago. Whether or not he has a monument of stone we cannot say, but he has left a monument in his work "Ritualism Dethroned" which we hope will never be obliterated, and we pray that the precious truths it embodies may ever have adherents. This Baptist Doctor of Divinity says :
" Ordinances, by Protestants so called, are simply borrowed Judaisms, undefined as to time and manner in the early Christian Church (being pre-defined only by the law of Moses), contingent as to observance in the Early Church, and received from, and ranked with, the other ceremonies of the prior dispensation ; and therefore are not „Positive institutions, nor of any binding force in the Christian Church."
" The writer was also a Pharisee of the Pharisees, made under the law of ritualism—a Baptist of the straitest sect and regular order, coming with all the credentials of baptism, and ordination, and theological parchments, and of ritual observances according to the appointed order of sect worshiping—an Hebrew of the Hebrews, touching the ceremonial law. But all these he now counts loss for Christ and truth, and takes the ground that the Christian Dispensation knows no ordinances, or ritual law."
" Christianity is, and must be, in the nature of things, a spiritual religion. Its seat and subject is the inner man! It is not in the letter, but in the spirit. Nothing outward or extrinsic strictly belongs to it. Its precepts and commands, each and all, inculcate principles, or the spread of principles to the heart-renovation, or spiritual regeneration of man."
" The circumstances of God's people in Palestine once demanded a Ceremonial Law, and that law was instituted, and inhered in a system we now term Judaism; but Christianity knows no such ceremonial law, no more than it knows the ceremonies of pagan worship which were cotemporary with Judaism. Christ, the Teacher and Redeemer of all, broke down all these ceremonial walls of partition."
" Towering walls of bigotry and sect are built around rituals, called ordinances, and sacraments, like the flaming sword around the tree of life, lest any man come, and eat and live. Ostensibly the wall is built, lest the sacrament be defiled, or its sanctity be trampled on, which mockery of pretense if there be amazement in Heaven, surely all Heaven stands amazed at such exclusion and sacrifice of souls, for whom Christ died, for the sake of saving a dead form —a ritual ! which thus proves a curse to all who so idolize it."
" Dost thou think that God has commanded all Saints to join some church that has a ritualistic door, and to pass through that door? If so, which is the church? Is it the Congregational Church? or the Baptist Church? or the Presbyterian Church? or the Episcopal Church? or the Methodist Church? or which of the forty or fifty extant orders of the Protestant Church? or the Greek, the Lutheran, or the Papal Churches? If Paul were to return to earth, which would he decide to be, the canonical Church? or Jesus, the Great Head? Perhaps, He would select (elect) your church and your baptism, and meekly inform all the others that they were not acceptable in His sight. Thinkest thou this, O, vain man and bigot?"
" Christ's baptism of the Spirit is demonstratively purifying and uniting, while ritual baptism and all sacramentarianism is as demonstratively the reverse. Eating Christ's body by faith in Him who is invisible (the Bread from Heaven), demonstratively gives life, while eating sacraments (bread of earthly elements), as demonstratively gives self-complacency, a censorious spirit, and divisive, and a false idea of the work and will of Christ."
" He is a poor student of the New Testament who does not see that therein the whole ritual, or ceremonial law of the Old Testament is set aside as cumbersome, and as a thing of naught to the Christian Church? And if any writer will point to us where a ritual law is re-established in the same Testament, marking its form and outline, to the intent that it may be practically apprehended as thus far from God and no farther, and just to what extent (when, where and how) the will of Christ, the Great Head of the Christian Church, would have us interested in it, we will meekly and thankfully sit at his feet and learn."
"This talk about sacraments has no warrant in the New Testament. Is there any word in the New Testament that answers to the word sacraments, or declares who shall administer them? Is not the idea wholly Popish and priestly? Ordinances are named in the New Testament, but ever as Jewish, and to be disregarded and renounced. And, when reassumed in after centuries, the appeal is not to Christ's, or apostolic authority, but to tradition. Of this we have abundant proof. It might be assumed in advance that a new dispensation (for all the world) would not be ritualistic like the old (the Jewish), and that Christ would not give a law to make bigots and sectarists, or to befool the unconverted with a vain hope of a ritual regeneration. Can any one assent to the proposition that the commission to convert the world was given a baptismal sheath? or that Christ's Spirit can be circumscribed by a ritual? There can be no sacrament but spiritually feeding on Christ. No sacred shrines or fonts, or forms—souls sanctified only are sacred. The heavenly life is not run in the narrow mould of a creed, or guarded and guided and bounded by a rite. Christ has not put salvation at the mercy of human frailty and shortsightedness, or in the power of priestly arrogance thus. No man's spiritual good is at the disposal of any administrator of rites."
" Every student of history knows that strifes about who shall administer baptism, how they shall administer baptism, and when they shall administer baptism, and what adjuncts shall attend it, have been rife for 17oo years. He knows that baptism has been administered in sanctuaries and out of sanctuaries ; by bishops, priests, and deacons ; to persons sick and well, living and dying ; infants and adults ; by affusion, by immersion, by sprinkling, by putting bodies into water, and applying water to bodies ; by trine immersion, and by single immersion ; by immersing with the face downward, and immersing with the face upwards ; immersing persons naked, and immersing persons clothed ; sprinkling with blood, with sand, and with tears ; following baptism with chrism, sign of the cross, white robes, confirmation, holy kiss, honey and milk, and other mummeries too numerous to mention ; and that in all these ages disputes about all these modes and adjuncts have been rife. Is this ritual then (and the supper, about which as many conceits and as many disputes have arisen) found woven into Paul's lofty catholic position, to secure the unity and purity of the Church?—to educate and train the Church to that higher spiritual life which she could not maintain, without going back to these carnal elements? "
" Where, we again ask, does the New Testament thus teach, or establish and define a law of sacraments? The evidence simply is, that Judaizers have interpolated them, and that the doctrine of baptism as a Christian ordinance, and of baptismal regeneration, was resorted to by the priesthood to gain power—to increase converts to their flocks and creeds—seizing even infants from their birth and before, to write their mark upon them, with most disgusting details of ceremonial adjuncts."
Surely this is a strong, bold master stroke against the observances of all fleshly ordinances, and coming, too, from a classical scholar, a college-bred Baptist Doctor of Divinity, armed with all the credentials of ordination and theological parchments. Under the head of " WATER BAPTISM " and also under the head of " THE LORD'S SUPPER," other extracts from his work, " Ritualism Dethroned," are hereinafter inserted with due credit.
Chillingworth says : " If this resting in outward performances was so odious to God under the law, a religion full of shadows and ceremonies, certainly it will be much more odious to do so under the gospel, a religion of much more simplicity, and exacting so much the greater sincerity of the heart, even because it disburdens the outward man of the performance of legal rites and observances."
Swinnock says : " When corn runs into straw and chaff, those that feed on it may well be thin and lean. When religion runs into formalities and ceremonies, her followers can never be thriving spiritually."
Bishop J. H. Vincent says : " There are people who exalt forms and ceremonies in religious worship, forgetting that parrots can talk, Aeolian harps emit sweet sounds, and sparrows chatter."
Preston says : " There are men who cannot see the body for the clothing, the signification of the spirit for the letter, the sword for the sheath, the kernel for the shell. They cannot see Christ but in the outward bark and rind of ritual observances and ceremonies, in the shell of them ; and so they become unprofitable servants."
This document was a reprint within Maurice Johnson's ministry.
Amos H. Gottschall 1854-1938 was born in Lancaster, PA.
He ran away from home when he was 10, traveling the country
and writing about his travels - especially among the Indians.
He worked for a long list of newspapers as he traveled.
This document is all that we have found of his spiritual writings.
If you find out more about him, please let us know.
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