We pass now to consider the organization of the Gospel church as described in the Scriptures of eternal truth. showing her origin of heaven from whence came her living head; also shewing the origin of her enemies; (Revelation xii, 3;) the various branches of anti-christ.
"Which is in God the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians i, 1.
"Upon this Rock I will build my church: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew xvi, 18.
In regard to the origin of the Gospel church there can be no question. The testimony is explicit upon this point. It was at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost; and while the dates of Bible events are not clear, yet surrounding circumstances give colour to the date. A. D., 33.
Christ was crucified at the Passover, Exodus xii, 3-12; Luke xxii, 1-20. He was evidently the paschal lamb foreshadowed through this typical offering. We might term the paschal supper in Egypt as the beginning of the travail of the birth of the Jewish nation, so as Christ partook of that supper and instituted the communion (Luke xxii, 17-29,) preceeded the organization of the Gospel church.
The term Pentecost is a Greek term signifying fifty. It was the first day of the week and fiftieth day after the resurrection, it was a harvest season, when the "first fruits" of their harvest were brought to the LORD. Deuteronomy xvi, 9-11.
In this we have the peculiarly appropriate time selected in the wisdom of Israel's God for the organization of the Gospel church as a witness through succeeding Gospel ages as the Jewish rites witnessed through preceeding legal ages; evidencing His power and glory.
On that eventful day we are told that there were gathered "at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven." Acts ii, 5. The same unseen hand accomplished this that gathered into the typical ark from forest depths and airy heights seven by seven, and two by two of every living thing. Genesis vii, 2, 3.
On this memorable and eventful Pentecost we are told that "they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spit it gave them utterance." Acts ii, 1, 2, 4.
Here we have unmistakable evidence of the origin of the Gospel church in clear contradistinction from the origin of the various branches of antichrist, hereafter noticed; the one class "coming down from God out of heaven", Revelation xxi, 2; the other "coming up out of the earth;" (Revelation xiii, 11:) out of the "multitudes, and nations, and tongues of earth," .Revelation xiii, 1, 2; xvii, 15.
At the very moment of time when this wonderful display of. Divine power was manifest, the enemy was there with the mocking cry; "These men are full of new wine," just at the very instant the church comes forth "clothed with the sun" (the gospel;) "the great red dragon" appears for her persecution. Revelation xii, 1, 3.
We can trace this church through all the ages of time not by particular descent in any one locality, but we must trace her through the testimony that they hold and the order that they observe; as in direct line with this organization on the day of Pentecost they continued "steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." Acts ii, 42.
This church as thus organized; and that maintained the apostolic testimony is the recognized standard of the gospel; church for all ages, conditions, and climes. The apostles warned the churches of departures that should take place after their death, and even in their day they bad trouble of this character; and have left on record ample testimony for our instruction.
And thus it has been through all the succeeding ages of the travel of this apostolic church. men have risen up; crept in among us, speaking perverse things.
To pervert is not to oppose; to claim to hold the real testimony, as to blind the eyes and deceive the simple minded, yet absolutely come no where near the truth..
You will notice that the apostle speaks of perverters, as well as grievous wolves; both characters are found in the gospel church; perverters herhaps more dangerous than wolves, because not so easily detected; on the principle that the nearest to the genuine a counterfit comes the more dangerous.
Solemn indeed were the closing words of the apostle Paul to the Eiders at Ephesus, and through them to the churches of that day. "I have," he declared "kept back nothing that was profitable unto you." "And now behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saving, that bonds and afflictions abide me. * * And now behold, I know that ye all, * * shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men." Acts xx, 20, 22, 23, 25, 26.
Then came the solemn warning "I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." Acts xx, 29, 30.
And so it was division after division took place. We trace the church through the dark days of her persecutions by the first beast under the general name of Ana-Baptist, the name given them we suppose because they would not take the baptism of other orders, but insisted on all who came to them with an experience of grace who had been received and baptized by parties not in their fellowship, should he baptized in order, hence the name of Ana-Baptist was given them as a reproach meaning Re-baptisers. In fact a baptism by disordily parties is really no baptism at all.
The enemies of the church in those dark days sometimes in their ignorance named the true followers of Jesus after some prominent preacher among them who stood the brunt of the onslaught from these bitter opposers; and thus in some localities they were called Novatians, Waldences, &c.
But in a straight line we trace the church of to-day back to her organization on that eventful and fateful day of Pentecost; her enduring travel revealing the truth of the Divine assurance; "Because I live," declares her living head, "ye shall live also." John xiv, 19.
Hence the church that bears the mark of the apostolic testimony, revealed on that day of Pentecost; fully measures up to the doctrine and order of that apostolic church, is known as the church which has come down in regular succession from the apostolic days. We cannot trace her as a successor: of a church once standing in good order, unless such an organization is to-day standing in the apostolic doctrine and order.
As an illustration,, under the ministry of Elder Jeremiah Moore, a. church was organized in Alexandria, Virginia. This church divided in the New School division of 1832.
The majority party going off with the New School, and according to the Virginia law taking the house. This New School party then went off into Sunday Schools, Mission Systems; and all other antichristian clubs.
A short time ago these chaps had a large gathering unveiling a tablet to the memory of Jeremiah Moore; this New School organization in Alexandria bears about as much relation to the church organized under the ministry of Elder Moore as a turkey-buzzard does to the American eagle.
Jeremiah Moore was a strong and able preacher of the Old School order. Three times he was sent to jail in Alexandria by the Episcopalians for preaching the gospel; and one judge sentenced him "to remain in jail for life for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ." These New School Baptist are as merciless enemies of gospel truth as ever were the Episcopal persecutors of Jeremiah Moore. Hence we cannot trace the church through any such character of descent.