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§ 113. The Catholic Apostolic Church (called Irvingites.)
Edward Irving: Works, collected and edited by his nephew, the Rev. G. Carlyle. London, 1864–65, 5 vols.
Michael Hohl: Bruchstücke aus dem Leben und den Schriften E. Irving's. St. Gallen, 1839; 2d ed. 1850.
Mrs. M. O. W. Oliphant: The Life of Edward Irving, Minister of the National Scotch Church, London, illustrated by his Journals and Correspondence. London and New York (Harpers), 1862.
A Testimony to the King of England, and another to the Bishops of England. London, 1836. (Anonymous. Prepared by the Apostles.)
A Testimony addressed to all Patriarchs, Archbishops, and Bishops, and the Reigning Sovereigns of Christendom. 1837. (Anonymous.)
Liturgy and other Divine Offices of the Church. London, 1842. Drawn up by the 'Apostles,' and enlarged from time to time.
C. M. Carré: The First and Last Days of the Church of Christ. London, 1851.
Readings upon the Liturgy. (By one of the Apostles.) London, 1852.
The Catechism. (The English Episcopal Catechism enlarged.)
Thomas Carlyle (one of the Apostles): The Door of Hope for Britain, and The Door of Hope for Christendom. London, 1853. By the same: Apostles Given, Lost, Restored: Pleadings with my Mother.
Rev. William Dow (one of the Apostles, originally a Scotch Presbyt.): First Principles of the Doctrine of Christ. Edinb. 1856. By the same: A Series of Discourses on practical and Doctrinal Subjects. Edinb. 1853; 2d series, Edinb. 1860.
Rev. J. S. Davenport: Edward Irving and the Catholic Apostolic Church. New York, 1863. By the same: Christian Unity and its Recovery. New York, 1866. By the same: Letter to Bishop Whitehouse: The Church and the Episcopate. Montreal, 1873.
W. W. Andrews: The True Constitution of the Church and its Restoration. New York, 1854. By the same: Review of Mrs. Oliphant's Life of E. Irving, in the 'New-Englander' for July and Oct. 1863. By the same: The Catholic Apostolic Church, its History, Organization, Doctrine, and Worship, in the 'Bibliotheca Sacra' for Jan. and April, 1866. Andover, Mass. By the same: The True Marks of the Church. Hartford, 1867.
Rev. Nicholas Armstrong (one of the Apostles): Sermons on Various Subjects. 2d ed. London, 1870. By the same: Homilies on the Epistles and Gospels. London, 1870.
Rev. T. Groser: Sermons, 1st and 2d series. London, 1871 and 1874.
Apostles' Doctrine and Fellowship. Anonymous. London, 1871.
The Purpose of God in Creation and Redemption. Anonymous. 4th ed. Edinburgh, 1874.
Readings for the Sundays and Holydays of the Church's Year. Anonymous. London, 1875.
The Dispensation of the Parousia. Hartford, 1876.
Various writings of Henry Drummond (one of the Apostles), Chas. Böhm, C. Rothe, A. Köppen, Ernst Gaab, Rosstäuscher (author of an essay 'On the Gift of Tongues,' and a history of the movement under the title Der Aufbau der Kirche Christi auf den ursprünglichen Grundlagen), and especially H. W. J. Thiersch (the Tertullian of this modern Montanism, and its most learned minister in Germany, who wrote Lectures on Catholicism and Protestantism, 1848, on the Canon of the N. T., 1845, on the Church in the Apostolic Age, 1852, and other excellent works).
De Quincey, in Literary Reminiscences, Vol. II.
Thomas Carlyle, in 'Fraser's Magazine' for Jan. 1835.
Articles on Irving in 'Edinburgh Review' for Oct. 1862; 'North British Review' for Aug. 1862; 'Blackwood's Magazine' for Nov. 1858, and June, 1862; 'London Quarterly Review' for Oct. 1862; 'Methodist Quarterly Review,' Jan. 1849, 1863.
Philip Schaff: Der Irvingismus und die Kirchenfrage, in his 'Deutscher Kirchenfreund,' Jahrg. III. 1850, pp. 49 sqq, 81 sqq. 161 sqq. 223 sqq. Mercersburg, Pa.
G. W. Lehmann: Ueber die Irvingianer. Hamburg, 1853.
Comp. J. L. Jacobi: Die Lehre der Irvingiten oder der sogenannten apostolischen Gemeinde verglichen mit der heiligen Schrift. Berlin, 1868.
Edward Irving, the herald and pioneer of the 'Catholic Apostolic Church,' was born at Annan, in Scotland, 1792, and died in the vigor of manhood at Glasgow, Dec. 8, 1834, where he lies buried in the crypt of the cathedral. He belonged to the Presbyterian Church, and for several years (1819–1822) labored in Glasgow as the assistant of the great and good Dr. Chalmers.
In 1822 he accepted a call to the Caledonian Chapel, Hatton Garden, London, and at once became the most powerful and popular preacher of the metropolis. He was at that time overflowing with bodily and spiritual life and energy. He excelled in the noblest gifts of eloquence, cultivated on the models of Hooker and Jeremy Taylor. Lofty thoughts clothed in gorgeous, semi-poetic language, devotional fervor, a solemn manner, a sonorous voice, a quaint antique style, a broad Scotch accent, an imposing figure, bushy hair flowing down in ringlets, a beaming face (which reminded Sir Walter Scott of that of the Saviour on Italian pictures), all combined to attract large and intelligent audiences, and to secure their closest attention, as if they listened to a messenger from the presence of the great Jehovah. De Quincey judged him to be, more than any man he ever saw, 'a son of thunder, and unquestionably by many degrees the greatest orator of our times.' He attracted people from all classes—noblemen, statesmen, and authors. When on a visit to Edinburgh and Glasgow, he roused the population at sunrise from their beds to hear his discourses. He shook the kingdom with his eloquence.
While he ruled like a monarch from his pulpit, he was a docile pupil of Coleridge, and received from the suggestive conversations of the old sage seeds of truth which seriously modified his Scotch Calvinistic creed. He now made more account of the incarnation and the true humanity of Christ, maintaining that he assumed our fallen, i.e., temptable, mortal, corruptible nature, yet without sin itself, into complete fellowship with his divine person. This exposed him to the charge of denying the sinlessness of our Saviour, which was far from his thoughts. He also gave a large place to the hope of the glorious return of Christ, and the revival of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit in the Church.
In these views he was greatly strengthened by the sudden reappearance of what he believed to be the supernatural gifts of tongues, prophesying, and healing. These manifestations first occurred in the spring of 1830 in the west of Scotland, on the shores of the Clyde, among some pious Presbyterian men and women, who believed that their organs of speech were made use of by the Spirit of God for the utterance of his thoughts and intentions. Several persons from London, on hearing of these things, visited Scotland, and, on their return, held prayer-meetings in private houses, attended by devout members of different denominations. They united in supplications for the restoration of spiritual gifts. In April, 1831, the same manifestations took place among members of the Church of England and friends of Irving in London. The 'prophesyings' were addressed to the audience in intelligible English, and resembled the solemn exhortations of Quakers moved by the Spirit. The speaking in tongues consisted of soliloquies of the speaker, or dialogues between him and God which no one could understand. The burden of the prophetic utterances was the judgments impending on the apostate Church, the speedy coming of Christ, and the duty of preparing his way.17151715 See A Brief Account of a Visit to some of the Brethren in the West of Scotland, London, 1831 (J. Nisbet); Robert Baxter (first a believer in the divine origin and then in the satanic origin of these gifts): Narrative of Facts characteristic of the Supernatural Manifestations in Members of Mr. Irving's Congregation and other Individuals, in England and Scotland, and formerly in the Writer himself, Lond. (Nisbit), 1833; Hohl, 1.c. (quoted in my Hist. of the Apost. Ch. § 55, p. 198). Comp. also Stanley, Comment. on the Epp. to the Corinthians, 4th ed. London, 1876, pp. 250 sqq.
Similar manifestations of ecstatic utterances in seasons of powerful religious excitement appeared among the Montanists in the second century, the persecuted Protestants in France, called the 'Prophets of Cevennes,' and among the early Quakers.
These extraordinary proceedings naturally led to a rupture between Irving and the Presbytery of London (1832). He was turned out of the church built for him in Regent Square, and ultimately deposed from the ministry of the Church of Scotland by the Presbytery of Annan (1833), from which he had received his first license to preach.
On being driven from Regent Square, he was followed by the larger part of his congregation to Newman Street; and the following year, when his Presbyterian orders had been taken from him, he humbly submitted to reordination by one whom he received as an apostle. He never rose beyond the position of an 'angel,' or pastor, in the new Church, and, after less than two years of great labors and sufferings, passed from this world of trial into the regions of light.
He is little mentioned in the writings of his followers, and is regarded by them merely as a forerunner or John the Baptist, not as the founder of their community. His brilliant meteoric career, lofty character, and sad end created profound interest and sympathy. Dr. Chalmers, on hearing of his death, said that 'he was one in whom the graces of the humble Christian were joined to the virtues of the old Roman.' Thomas Carlyle, his countryman and early friend, thus characterizes Irving: 'He was appointed a Christian priest, and strove with the whole force that was in him to be it. I call him, upon the whole, the best man I have ever, after trial enough, found in this world, or now hope to find.'17161716 When he adds, 'Oh foulest Circean draught, thou poison of popular applause! madness is in thee, and death; thy end is Bedlam and the grave,' he seems to cast a reflection on Irving's character which is not justified by facts; for Mrs. Oliphant's Life shows him to have willingly sacrificed popularity to his convictions.
THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLIC CHURCH.
This remarkable man, whose purity and piety can be as little doubted as his genius and eloquence, whatever may be thought of his soundness and judgment, gave the strongest if not the first impulse to the religious movement which, since its organization, is usually called after his name, but which calls itself 'The Catholic Apostolic Church.'17171717 'They do not lay claim to the name Catholic Apostolic as exclusively their own, but they use it as a proper designation of the one body of Christ, of which they are an organic part, and they refuse to be called by any other. They do this on the ground that it is wrong to affix to the Church the name of an eminent leader, like Luther or Calvin or Wesley; or one founded upon some feature of Church polity, such as Episcopal, Presbyterian, or Congregational; or one derived from some peculiar doctrine or rite, as Baptist or Free-will Baptist; or one expressing geographical limitations, such as Roman, Greek, Anglican, or Moravian. The essential characteristic of a thing should be expressed by its name, and the Church has for its three chief features, Unity, as the only organism of which Christ is head; Catholicity, as having a universal mission; and Apostolicity, as sent by Christ into the world, even as he was sent by the Father. It is a significant fact that this name, adopted in the Nicene Creed, has practically every where been changed, as into the Roman Catholic, the Greek Orthodox, the Protestant Episcopal, or something still narrower and more sectarian.'—W. W. Andrews, in Biblioth. Sacra, 1.c. It took full shape and form after his death, as it claims, under supernatural direction. It is one of the unsolved enigmas of Church history: it combines a high order of piety and humility of individual members with astounding assumptions, which, if well founded, would require the submission of all Christendom to the authority of its inspired apostles.
The modern 'Apostolic' Church believes and teaches that the Lord, who will soon appear in glory, has graciously restored, or at least begun to restore his one true Church, by reviving the primitive supernatural offices and gifts, which formed the bridal outfit of the apostolic age, but were soon afterwards lost or marred by the ingratitude and unbelief of Christendom. It claims to have apostles, prophets, and evangelists for the general care of the Church, and angels (or bishops), presbyters (or priests), and deacons for the care of particular congregations. All officers are called by the Holy Ghost through the voice of the prophets, except the deacons, who are chosen by the congregation as its representatives. They form a more complete hierarchy than that of the Episcopal or even the Greek and Roman Churches, whose bishops never claimed to be inspired apostles, but only successors of the apostles.
If the twelve modern apostles were truly called by Christ and endowed with all the powers and functions of that unique office, men will naturally look for sufficient evidence of the fact. But nine of these apostles died before 1876, and their vacancies have not been filled, nor are they expected to be filled. The Church, then, is relapsing into the same destitute condition which, according to their own theory, preceded this movement.17181718 From a conversation with a learned minister of that Church, to whom I mentioned this difficulty, I infer that he at least—I do not know how many more—regards its testimony as a partial failure, or merely as a temporary provision, to be superseded by a better one. Another writes to me in answer to the same question: 'We are quite ready to admit failure, great failure, so far as to the present effects of the movement upon Christendom. But intrinsically, and in relation to God's plans, we do not think it a failure.' Their only hope is in the speedy return of our Lord.
To this apostolic hierarchy corresponds a highly ritualistic worship, with a solemn liturgy, based upon the Anglican and ancient Greek liturgies, and with an elaborate symbolism, derived from a fanciful interpretation of the Jewish tabernacle as a type of the worship of the Christian Church in the wilderness.
In this hierarchical constitution and ritualistic worship consists the chief peculiarity of this community. Its ministers and members have accordingly a very high idea of the Church and of the Sacraments. They are strict believers in baptismal regeneration and the real presence, though neither in the Roman nor the Lutheran sense. They reject transubstantiation and consubstantiation as well as the merely symbolical presence, and hold to the spiritual real presence of Calvin, but combine with it the view of Irenæus and other early fathers, that the elements, after being consecrated by the invocation of the Holy Ghost, have a heavenly and spiritual, as well as a material character, and are antitypes of the body and blood of Christ. They regard the eucharist as the centre of Christian worship, and not only as a sacrament, but also as a sacrifice in the patristic sense of a thank-offering, and they connect with it a commemoration of the departed. They are, upon the whole, the highest of High-Churchmen. They are in this respect the very antipodes of the Plymouth Brethren, the lowest of Low-Churchmen and the most independent of Independents, although both agree in their antagonism to the historical Churches and their expectation of the speedy coming of the Lord.
Yet, on the other hand, the Irvingites are unquestionably Protestant, and accept the positive results of the Reformation. They reject the Pope, not indeed as the Antichrist or 'the man of sin,' who will be revealed in the last times as the outgrowth of unbelief and lawlessness, but as an antichristian usurper of supreme authority in the Church. In their general belief they are as orthodox as any other denomination. They receive the whole Scriptures with devout reverence as their supreme guide. They lay stress on the œcumenical creeds, and embody them in their liturgical services. In catechetical instruction they use the Anglican Catechism, with an additional part inculcating their peculiar views about the constitution and order of the Christian Church. They manifest a catholic spirit, and sustain, as individuals, fraternal relations with members of other denominations. Upon the whole, they have most sympathy with the Episcopal Church, from which they received the majority of their original members. Of their apostles, eight were Anglicans (including two clergymen and two members of Parliament), three Presbyterians, and one Independent. Their main strength is in London, where they have seven churches, after the model of the seven churches in Asia Minor. They have also congregations in many of the principal cities in England and Scotland, and in some parts of the Continent of Europe, especially North Germany; while in Roman Catholic countries and in America they have made little or no progress.
The Irvingite movement has directed the attention of many serious minds to a deeper study of the supernatural order and outfit of the Apostolic Church, the divisions and reunion of Christendom, and the eschatological questions connected with the second advent.
STATEMENT OF THE REV. W. W. ANDREWS.
With these remarks we introduce a fuller inside account of the Catholic Apostolic Church, which was kindly prepared for this work by the Rev. W. W. Andrews, of Wethersfield, Conn. He has been thoroughly acquainted with the movement from the beginning, and is highly esteemed by all who know him as a Christian gentleman and scholar:
'The body of Christians who call themselves by the name of the Catholic Apostolic Church, not as exclusively their own, but because it is the proper designation of the one Catholic Church, is distinguished from all other Christian communions by the claim to the possession of gifts and ministries which, after having been long lost or suspended in their exercise, they believe to be now again restored to prepare the way for the coming and kingdom of the Lord.
'The history of this religious movement can be given in few words. About the beginning of the second quarter of the present century, there was much prayer in many countries, but especially in Great Britain, for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost; and early in the year 1830 supernatural manifestations occurred in several parts of Scotland, in devout members of the Presbyterian Church, in the form of tongues, prophesyings, and healings. The following year similar manifestations took place in London, first in members of the Church of England, and afterwards among other religious bodies.
'Towards the end of the year 1832, by which time the supernatural character and divine origin of these spiritual phenomena had been abundantly attested, and a considerable number of persons had become believers, another and most important step was taken in the restoration of the apostolic office. The will of God that certain men should serve him as apostles was made known through supernatural utterances of the Holy Ghost by prophets, as when, at Antioch, he said, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." The apostolate to the Gentiles, begun in the calling of Paul, but then left unfinished, the Lord now, at the end of the dispensation, set his hand to restore; and by the middle of the year 1835 the full number was completed, and they entered as a twelvefold Apostolic College on the work of caring for the whole Christian Church. As Great Britain had been chosen of God to be the centre of this catholic movement, one of the first duties laid upon the restored apostles was the preparing of a Testimony to the Bishops of the Church of England and Ireland, and of another to the King's Privy Council, in which they pointed out the sins and perils of those lands, and testified to the coming of the Lord as the only hope of mankind, and to the work of the Holy Ghost as the necessary means of preparation.
'A year or two later, they addressed a more full and complete testimony, of the same general character, to all the Rulers in Church and State throughout Christendom. They did this, because it was their duty, from the nature of their office, to seek the blessing of the whole flock of God. Apostles alone have universal jurisdiction, as they alone receive their commission directly from the Lord; and it belonged to them, when restored towards the close of the long history of the Church, to take up those questions in respect to doctrine, organization, and worship which had broken the unity of Christendom; and having examined the creeds and rites and usages of every part, to separate the evil from the good, and to stamp with their apostolic authority every fragment of divine truth and order which had been preserved. This they have been doing for more than forty years, and the results to which they have arrived may be thus briefly stated.
'They hold the holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (the Old Testament as received from the Jews, without the Apocrypha) to contain the sum and substance of all divine revelations, and therefore to be the supreme and infallible standard of doctrine.
'But they also believe that Christ's promise to be with his Church to the end of the world has not been made void, and that the Holy Spirit has borne a living witness to the one faith in all generations; and they have adopted the three great creeds commonly called the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian, as expressing more clearly than any others the belief of the Universal Church. The great doctrines of the holy Trinity, the incarnation, the atoning death and bodily resurrection of the Lord, his ascension and high priestly work in heaven, the descent of the Holy Ghost to draw men to Christ, and to regenerate, sanctify, and endow with heavenly gifts them that believe, together with the second personal coming of the Lord to judge the quick and the dead, and to administer eternal retributions, they hold in their plain and obvious import, in harmony with the whole Orthodox Church, Greek, Roman, and Protestant.
'These creeds they have appointed to be used in divine worship: the Apostles', at the daily morning and evening services; the Nicene, in the ordinary celebrations of the eucharist on the Lord's Day; and the Athanasian, four times in the year, at the great festivals of Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and All-Saints. They use the Nicene Creed in the form in which the Western Church receives it, retaining the Filioque, but not condemning the Eastern Church for using it in the form in which it was left by the Council of Constantinople.
'In respect to the great central truth of the incarnation, the key to all the purposes and works of God, they teach that the second Person in the adorable Godhead, the only and eternally begotten Son, became man by assuming our entire humanity—body, soul, and spirit —under the conditions of the fall, but without sin, through the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost. They reject, therefore, the dogma of the immaculate conception of the mother of the Lord as against the truth of holy Scripture, which declares the whole human race to have been involved in the fall of the first Adam. They teach that by being born of a mother of the fallen race, he took the common nature of man, with all its infirmities, burdens, and liabilities, so that he could be tempted in all points like as we are, and be dealt with in all things by the Father as the representative of mankind. But they also make prominent the work of the Holy Ghost in effecting the incarnation, holding that it was through his presence and power that the Son of God was conceived of the Virgin Mary, and afterwards anointed for his public ministry; so that while it was a divine person who became incarnate, he had no advantage of his Godhead in his earthly life, but did every thing as man upheld, guided, and energized by the Holy Ghost.
'They hold, with the Church of England, and all the great leaders of the Reformation, that the death of the Lord Jesus Christ was "a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world" (and not merely for those of the elect); and on this ground they stand aloof both from the rationalism which denies its vicarious and expiatory nature, and from the Roman doctrine of the mass, which teaches that the sacrifice of the cross needs to be supplemented by the sacrifices of the eucharist, in which the Lamb of God is continually immolated afresh.
'But they go beyond the theology of the Reformation in respect to the Church, which they look upon as the fruit of the death and resurrection of Christ, and of the descent of the Holy Ghost which followed his ascension; and as differing, therefore, fundamentally in its spiritual essence and prerogatives from all the companies of the faithful in the preceding dispensations. They believe that in rising from the dead he became the fountain of a new life, the head of a redeemed humanity, of which those who believe in him are made partakers by the operations of the Holy Ghost working in and through the ordinances of his Church. The Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper are the divinely appointed means of conveying and nourishing this new life of his resurrection, by the implanting and energizing of which the whole multitude of the faithful are made to be the One Body of Christ.
'As to the structure and endowments of the Church, they hold that its original constitution contains the abiding law for all generations. The fourfold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors, first fulfilled by the Lord himself when upon earth, was continued in his Church after he had gone into heaven, because it was the necessary instrumentality of conveying his manifold grace and blessing, and of bringing his Body to the stature of his fullness (Eph. iv. 11–16). The Holy Ghost was given to be the permanent possession of his people; and the apostles reject the common distinction between ordinary and extraordinary gifts as wholly unscriptural, and as restraining the manifestations of the Spirit. They lay great stress upon the connection of the descent of the Comforter with the glorifying of the Lord Jesus (John vii. 39), and teach that the object of his mission was to reveal the glory and manifest the energies of the Man whom God had exalted from the weakness and dishonor of the grave to his own right hand. Supernatural gifts and miraculous workings are therefore in accordance with the nature of the dispensation, which began with the resurrection of the Lord, and is to end with the resurrection of his saints.
'Its chief features are the celebration of the Eucharist on every Lord's day; services at six in the morning and five in the evening of every day in the year, requiring for their complete fulfillment the three ministries of angel, priests, and deacons; the observance of the great feasts of the Church, excluding those in honor of particular saints; and a monthly service by the seven churches in London gathered into one as a symbol of the Universal Church, which is also observed in all the congregations throughout the world.
'The holy Eucharist is made to be the centre of worship, of which Christ, the great High-Priest in the heavens, is the leader, and the Mosaic ritual the shadow and type. The showing to the Father of that one sacrifice of the cross, which is the basis of all intercession, is effected by the Lord himself, by his own bodily presence in heaven; and the Church is enabled to do the same upon the earth by means of that sacrament in which he places in her hands the symbols and spiritual reality of his body and blood. The eucharist is regarded as the antitype of the priestly act of Melchizedek in bringing forth bread and wine to Abraham, the father of the faithful, from whom he received the tenth of all; and in the offertory, both the tithes and the offerings of the people are brought up and presented to God as an act of worship.
'As the death of the cross was itself the fulfillment of all the bloody sacrifices of the Law, the commemoration of it in the holy Supper becomes the distinguishing Christian rite, from which all other acts of worship, especially the daily morning and evening services—the antitype of the daily services of the Tabernacle—derive their life and power. All the purest and most catholic parts of all the rituals of Christendom have been gathered up and woven together, to form, with such additions as the present exigencies of the Church demand, a comprehensive and organic system of worship, at once purely Scriptural, and embodying the richest liturgical treasures of the past. Among the errors and superstitions which have been weeded out are transubstantiation, the worship of the Virgin Mary and of saints and angels, the use of images and pictures, and prayers for deliverance from purgatorial fires. But in rejecting the corruption of the truth, the truth itself has not been cast away; and the doctrine of the real presence (as a spiritual mystery involving no physical change of the elements), the thankful and reverential mention of the Mother of the Lord ("And with the holy angels, and with thy Church in all generations, we call her blessed"), and continual supplications and intercessions in behalf of the faithful departed, that they "may rest in the peace of God, and awake to a joyful resurrection," all have place in the services appointed by the apostles.
Organization and Unity of the Church.
'The unity of the Church is held as a fundamental fact, resulting from the acts and operations of God, and not from the agreements and confederacies of men. There is one Body of Christ, embracing all who have been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (though, like the unfruitful branches of the vine, many may at last be cut out and cast away); and, in the absence of the Head, the harmonious intercommunion of the members is secured by the inworking of the One Spirit, and by a ministry proceeding immediately from the Head, and having jurisdiction over all the parts. The distinction between the Church Universal and the local or particular churches which compose it, is sharply drawn in the organization which has been developed under the rule of the apostles. The apostles themselves are the great Catholic ministry, through which guidance and blessing are conveyed to the whole body, and they are assisted in their work by prophets, evangelists, and pastors.
'But each particular church, when fully organized, is under the rule of an angel, or chief pastor or bishop, with presbyters and deacons helping him in their subordinate places. It is his office to stand continually at his own altar at the head of his flock, carrying on the worship of God, cherishing and directing the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and exercising the pastoral charge over all the souls committed to his care. The threefold ministry of Episcopacy (and, in a lower form, of Presbyterianism) is here united with the central authority which Rome has wrongfully sought to attain by exalting her bishop to the place of universal headship.
The Second Coming.
'In respect to eschatology, they hold, with the Church of the first three centuries, that the second coming of the Lord precedes and introduces the millennium; at the beginning of which the first resurrection takes place, and at the close the general resurrection, with the final judgment and its eternal retributions to the righteous and the wicked. This period of a thousand years will be marked by the presence of the Lord and his risen and translated saints upon or in near proximity to the earth, then freed, at least partially, from the curse; by the re-establishment of the tribes of Israel in their own land, in fulfillment of the promises to their fathers, with Jerusalem rebuilt, to be the metropolitan centre of blessing to all nations; and by the bringing of all the families of mankind into the obedience and order and blessedness of the kingdom of God.
'The restoration of the primitive gifts and ministries, like the ministries of Noah and of John the Baptist at the close of the antediluvian and Jewish dispensations, is to prepare for the ushering in of this next stage of God's actings. The order of events is to be as follows: The immediate and special work of the apostles is to gather and make ready a company of first-fruits, described (Rev. vii. 1–8) as sealed with the seal of the living God—the gift of the Holy Ghost bestowed by the hands of the apostles (Eph. i. 13; Acts xix. 1–5)—and as organized after a twelvefold law, of which the type was given in the structure of the twelve tribes of Israel. They are sealed while the angels are holding back the winds of judgment, before the great tribulation (Rev. vii. 14) is let loose upon the earth, that in them the Lord's words may be fulfilled, and they be counted worthy to escape all the things that are coming to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man (Luke xxi. 36).
'But the taking away of the first-fruits is only the first stage of the mighty work to be done in the bringing of this dispensation to a close. It is to be followed by the revelation of the Man of Sin, the infidel Antichrist, who will be successfully resisted for a time by the two witnesses (Rev. xi. 3–12), but will at length prevail over them, and for a short time rule the nations with the tyrannizing power and lurid splendors of the pit. In the midst of the terrors of that great tribulation the harvest will be reaped, and all the faithful gathered into the garner of the great Husbandman; and thereupon will be the vintage of wrath (Rev. xiv. 15–20), and the Lord will come forth to tread the wine-press of his Father's indignation, and to cast the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire.
'They regard the failure of their labors to gather the Churches of Christendom into their communion as being after the analogy of the failures at the close of all preceding dispensations, and as furnishing no argument against the reality of their divine mission.
'The apostles do not, therefore, expect to have a large following at this stage of God's work. As a sheaf of first-fruits to the harvest, such will be the relation of the few who receive their testimony to the great multitude who will be saved out of the fiery trial of the time of the Antichrist. Nor does their faith fail because many of their brethren have been taken away by death, and it has pleased God to leave their places unfilled; for they look upon this as an indication that their present work is nearly finished, and that the Lord will soon take those who shall be found ready, to stand with him upon Mount Zion, safe in his hiding-place, while he pours out the vials of his wrath upon the earth. It would seem that the two apostolates at the beginning and the end of the dispensation form the company of the four-and-twenty elders who sit on thrones around the throne of the great King (Rev. iv. 4), partakers of his dominion, and associated with him in his work of judgment and rule.
Relation to other Churches.
'This brief statement of the position and doctrines of the "Catholic Apostolic Church" shows the grounds of their refusal to be called by any other name than belongs to the whole community of the baptized. They are a part of the one Church, differing from their brethren in being gathered under the proper ministries of the Church universal, and in being organized according to the original law of the Church as defined by St. Paul when speaking of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. xii.). They hold the one faith, the one hope, and the one baptism; and, without departing from the exact and literal teachings of the New Testament, they have added to these the larger statements of truth which have been the fruits of God's presence with his Church through all her generations.
'Having its origin among the Protestant Churches, and retaining all the great truths pertaining to the cross of Christ, for which the Reformation was a noble and successful struggle, this Catholic work has laid under contribution the rich stores of the Greek and Roman communions, and is leading the Church on into still deeper knowledge of the purposes of God contained in holy Scripture, by means of the living ministers of Christ and the revelations of the Holy Ghost, to the end of preparing her as a bride for the marriage of the Lamb.'
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