Newspaper Articles for 1909
About The Church Without a Name, The Truth, Two By Twos, 2x2s
1909, Sept 2, Pg 8 - 1st Article: "The Jesus Way. Do They Follow it?"
1909, Sept 9, Pg 5 - 2nd Article: "The Jesus Way. Do They Follow it?"
1909, Sept 16, Pg 5 - 3rd Article: "The Jesus Way. Do They Follow it?"
1909, Sept 23, Pg 5 - 4th Article: "The Jesus Way. Do They Follow it?"
1909, Sept 30, Pg 2 - 5th Article: "The Jesus Way. Do They Follow it?"
September 2, 1909, p. 8
The Tramp Preachers have said so much about what they call ‘the Jesus
way,’ which they say they follow, and which they assert all others do not,
that it may be of some interest to examine the point, to see what amount
of truth (if any) be in it. In doing so I would wish to avoid personalities
and dogmatism, to which they are so much given, and speak not as a theologian,
but as a man in the street, and talk after the manner of the modern newspaper
man instead of that of the sermonizer.
Here are a number of people, evidently sincere, like others, who boldly aver that they and no others follow ‘the way’ or manner of the Lord Jesus; and that all who either are clergy or are supporters of the clergy are going to hell. This latter assertion we may not consider—it is so transparently absurd and preposterous for anyone outside of a lunatic asylum to give attention to as a reasonable proposition; but it leads up to our starting point.
THE ‘JESUS WAY’
How shall we know ‘the Jesus way?’ We shall find it (1) in the
addresses of our Lord, and in His manner of Life; and (2) in the interpretation
of it by those whose authority and example are unquestioned, being accepted
by all parties as an authorised exponent.
(1) We find what is the Jesus way first in the most remarkable human production since the foundation of the world up till that time—the first fully reported speech of Jesus of Nazareth, which revealed a new code of ethics, such as Socrates or Plato had never dreamt of, and which the poetic mind of David had never conceived an idea of in his loveliest song flights.
Jesus had as a teacher, after the manner of the time, obtained some disciples—only four at this time, and had been teaching in what we now hear denounced as ‘clergy-houses.’ The synagogue saw Him regularly, and at that portion of the Jewish interlude when it was permitted of laymen to inquire and speak of things of God, the young man Jesus read the law (the Pentateuch) and the Prophets (the Prophetical Books) and ‘preached the gospel of the Kingdom.’
And great multitudes followed Him, so that there was no synagogue or other ‘clergy house’ able to contain them: and He healed their sick, relieved those who were in torment, and blessed those who came to Him. The blue sea of Galilee was at hand—just about the width of the broadest part of Lough Erne. He could not speak there. So the new-Teacher went up to a mountain. Overlooking the lake of Galilee, just as Pool-a-phouca overlooks Lower Lough Erne, and between Galilee and Nazareth, is mount Hattin; and here our Lord withdrew from the busy world to teach His disciples, for His address is primarily addressed to them.
Then Peter and Andrew, and James and John (the sons of Zebedee), we may presume, sat after the manner of the time, near His feet, while He saw the multitude which had come to hear the Messiah, and He spake unto them, beginning with what are called the Beatitudes.
In that marvellous sermon, we find at the beginning of the 7th Chapter of Matthew’s gospel those words—putting them into our own every day language: ‘Do not judge, that you may not be judged.’
With His great knowledge of human nature, Jesus knew one weakness of
the Jews—fault-finding, and commenting on the faults of other people without
recognizing their own. ‘Why look at the beam (or mote) in another
person’s eye when all the time there is one in your own.’ And this
trait of the Jewish character is as familiar to us Christians today as
Paul found it to be a weakness to the spread of the gospel when he warned
the Romans—(12th chap.)—
‘Let us not therefore judge one another anymore.’
This weakness of the Jews was rebuked by our Lord, and He warned them—using our every day mode of speech)—
For just as you judge others you will yourselves be judged, and the measure that you extend to others will be given to you.
Now one of the prominent features of the Tramp Preachers is that they wholly disregard this teaching of our Lord and of Paul. They pay no heed to it whatever—for the main portion of the addresses at Crocknacrieve as well as those delivered in our streets and halls have been punctuated with judging others—not merely those whom they presume to know—(and it is a great presumption)—but to judge the men of past time; and with the assurance of the fool and the ignorance of the heathen, they have the audacity to declare that they know and understand the decrees of the Almighty, and that all those people so described by them are in hell or going to hell.
I shall not delay to comment upon either the consummate ignorance and folly of any human atom daring to fathom the decrees of the Almighty, to comprehend His amazing forbearance and wonderful mercy, or the coarse brutality of the person who condemns his fellow-creature and rolls the word ‘hell’ under his tongue as if he knew all about it. I am aware that some Mr. Brazen Assurance will tell me that ‘it is not he who says it—it is God that says it,’ but God never said anything of the sort which these men rave about. Where did he ever say that Charles Haddon Spurgeon—perhaps the greatest preacher teacher of this day—would go to hell? John Wesley? Or Moody? These men show their own vacuity when [they] take a text, twist it to suit themselves, then argue, therefore—‘therefore’ it must, &c. Ay, ‘must,’ indeed! I read the story of one so low and bad as a dying thief, a criminal, and crucified on the cross—past baptism, past repentance, with the torture of the nails driving him mad, but not too late for Christ to say to him—‘This day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.’
That ‘very day!’ No purgatory, no delay, no immersion, that ‘very day.’ The Tramp Preachers would have damned that poor creature—like all of the rest of us—to the nethermost hell, for they would argue, ‘God said it,’ but this is only one instance of the daring presumption of these poor creatures to attempt to fathom God’s providence or mercy.
APPLY THEIR OWN FOOT-RULE.
Our Lord tells us then, that when others do judge us—although He warned
them not—that they will be measured by the same standard. Seeing,
then, that the Tramps will not walk the Jesus way, and will insist on judging,
let us put their own foot-rule to them and see do they walk the Jesus way?
Consider the lilies of the field,
They grow not, neither do they spin;
And yet I say unto you,
That even Solomon in all his glory
Was not arrayed like one of these.
How one would like to dwell on the consummate beauty of this thought! But we must pass on. Take those three chapters as a model sermon, and where is there one word of reviling in it from beginning to end?
Where is the mimicking of parsons and preachers?
Where are the phrases of priests in the temple repeated with a sneer to excite laughter, like ‘As it was in the beginning, is now, &c.?’
Where is the description of the Rabbis as So-much-a-week-men?
Where is the condemnation of their fellows as hypocrites?
Where is the relation of stories of one’s own family, violating the sanctity of the home hearth, to illustrate arguments and to hold up to censure?
Where is there ridicule?
Take all the speeches of these Tramps and put them beside the speech of the Great Exemplar, and O—how vast, how infinite the chasm!—as the east is from the west; one feels a sense of disgust and turns away in sorrow.
Yet they tell us that theirs is ‘the Jesus way!’ It is a libel on the Lord Jesus. Apart from the accurate report of His speech, which is there as a model, could any one conceive Him who spake as never man spake, sneering at those who followed Him, mimicking their tones and gestures, ridiculing their words, causing the multitude who hung upon His words to laugh and grin in the holding up of those who professed openly to be His followers to odium and reproach!
We have four separate accounts of the life of Jesus. We see him in all moods, as master and teacher, as family friend and as son to parent, participating in the joy of the wedding feast as well as in the sorrow of the death chamber, and where is there even one single instance of the shocking methods of these people who use His holy name as the example, forsooth, of their jeers and sneers and laughter? Not one.
W.C.T. (To be Continued.)
The points to be treated in the next chapter are ‘Hypocrites’ and ‘The Bible.’
September 9, 1909
It may be replied to me, as a justification for the hard words of the
Tramp Preachers, that Jesus Christ referred more than once to ‘hypocrites.’
He did. But He was competent to say who was a hypocrite: He
knew: He was the authority: He could read the heart.
Yet these poor mortals of Crocknacrieve, without any special gifts, claim
to be able to say who is and who is not a true disciple. I heard
one of them on one occasion, with the same presumption which characterises
other pretensions, allege that power was given to them to discriminate
between who was and who was not genuine. They actually claim to possess
part of the Divine essence.
‘Who,’ asked Paul, when rebuking the early Roman Christians for judging their neighbours:—
Who art thou that judgest the servant of another? To his own Lord he standeth or falleth.
To God alone minister and layman stand or fall, and no one who possesses ordinary intelligence and ordinary reason would arrogate to himself the pretension of right to describe his fellow-men who were and are serving their God according to a pure heart, and in obedience to what they believe to be His will, as ‘hypocrites.’
No one who differs from the Tramps that I know of has ever ascribed hypocrisy to them. They, at least, receive credit for sincerity. Thereby hangs a tale. Last year the IMPARTIAL REPORTER of August 20, speaking on the subject, said—It is folly to ignore that this new movement did obtain an impulse from the intense earnestness and burning zeal of Mr. Edward Cooney, who not only preached Christian communism but practised it. He inherited money, and he divided it with others. So also have many other good christians. He would give his coat to another man poorer than himself;—as have others, as we have pointed out, who never advertised it. But the very fact of there being a man addressing the multitude who had been an embodiment of self-sacrifice caught their fancy, and they followed.
And the proof of the ‘Jesus way’ which we had exemplified at Crocknacrieve was allowing those few words to rankle in the mind for a whole year, and then an outburst, that the speaker ‘did not want any whitewash from the IMPARTIAL REPORTER.’ No, what he wanted, apparently was not some words prompted by a kindly feeling, but the contrary, so that he might pose as a martyr, or one ‘reviled.’
What example have we in the life of our Lord of allowing a thing to rankle in the breast for a whole year, and then to reproach the author of the saying because it was friendly? Is that ‘the Jesus way?’
But as to the use of the word ‘hypocrite,’ to whom did our Lord address it? Not to His followers, not to those who professed His name, but to His opponents! And I would like to see the authority for one professing Christian to turn round and revile another equally good with a charge of hypocrisy! Yet we are told this is ‘the Jesus way!’
The Tramps do admit, however, that there are ‘hypocrites’ among themselves, according to their speeches at Crocknacrieve. But who is right in all those matters? They have no standard of interpretation of Scriptures, like the Churches. With the 29 Articles or Westminster Confession of Faith a man knows where he is: with the Tramps no one knows definitely what they believe. Mr. Wm. Irvine is the standard. Even Mr. Edward Cooney has been declared not to be sound. I am now stating what several of the Tramps know to be fact, that Mr. William Irvine rebuked Mr. Cooney several times for ‘the balderdash’—(those were the words)—which Mr. Cooney had uttered during some public addresses. Now, since Mr. Edward Cooney, one leader, be wrong, who is right? Apparently, Mr. Irvine only. He is the only one who can interpret the will of God correctly! Poor Mr. Edward Cooney, even, is not right! Is not the whole thing absurd?
Before I part from the use of the word ‘hypocrite,’ I would like to quote a few sentences from an authority—the apostle Matthew—about religion and hypocrisy:—
When you pray, you are not to behave as hypocrites do. They like to pray in the synagogues, and in the corner of the streets that they may be seen by men. There I tell you is their reward. But, when one of you pray, let him go into his own room, shut the door, and pray to his Father, who dwells in secret, and his Father, who seeth what is secret will recompense him. (Twentieth Century Testament version.)
May I ask my readers, who are they who have for the last few years prayed long and loudly at the corners of our streets, in our Diamonds, protested that they and they only are right, and proclaimed their own saintliness and sanctification? Who have declared their own righteousness in public so often that to a sensitive mind it must have become nauseous, who have exalted themselves to heaven and sent their neighbours to hell?
IS THIS ‘THE JESUS WAY?’
‘Thank God,’ said the Pharisee in his self-righteousness, ‘I am not as this publican.’ No, he was not, indeed. I heard one man who professed great sanctity at the Diamond of Enniskillen, revile his own family; and another fellow, copying his leader’s manner, professed how close he was to God, and how utterly lost was some one to whom he referred by innuendo, that he could not pray with a child which he had lost by death. This person thus referred to in such lying terms sent the sanctified one warning that if ever he dared to again refer to his sorrow in public in that fashion, that he would thrash the sanctified one within an inch of his life, and that he kept the whip ready. And he did: but there was no occasion for its use. The saint became dumb on that subject until he finally left the town without paying 20 shillings in the £!! Someone may say, was that charity on the part of him who threatened? The charity consisted in giving the liar time to repent and not repeat his sin. The burst of passion may be excused under the circumstances.
The Tramp preachers condemn the application of the title of ‘Reverend’
to the ministry. It is a small matter. Yet when they disapprove
of it, and of infant baptism, they do not join the Baptist church which
holds their own views on these points, but they create further division.
Let us examine this matter of the designation of Reverend. Jesus was described as ‘Rabbi,’ a teacher, or master. Therefore, that title would be warranted by Scriptures. That would be ‘the Jesus way.’
In the middle ages a minister was addressed as ‘Master,’ a word derived, like our word, ‘Mister,’ from the Latin magister. As the title was addressed to several individuals and not confined to one class, the need arose for some word to designate those who were given to ministering in sacred things and the word ‘clerk’ (from the Latin clericus, and the Greek kleros) came into use. It was a matter of evolution. The plural form of the word ‘clergy’ as applied to a class came from the French word clergie. The Greek word kleros (I have not Greek type and must use the Roman letters) may indicate the origin of ‘clergy.’ Kleros signifies a ‘lot,’ and was used probably because after the Christ’s death some of the apostles were elected by lot.
Whether the word ‘Reverend’ was used to conform to Paul’s advice to the Corinthians (1, last chap., 16th verse) to ‘show deference’ to such men (fellow-labourers and workers in the cause of Christ) I cannot tell, and I have not time to pursue the inquiry; but I am satisfied that these terms were used to add dignity to the office of those who were ‘set apart’ to tell God’s good News, because of the nature of the gospel itself, and to glorify it.
While the Tramps profess to confine themselves to Scriptural authority
for all their ideas (which we will develop later) they condemn to hell
the very men to whom they are indebted for their Bible. For to whom
do they owe their Bible but the clergy? Not speaking of the manuscripts
preserved and copied by the clergy, the very Bible which the Tramps now
use was translated from the original tongues for the most part by clergy,
and it is known as the Bishops’ Bible, to distinguish it from other editions
such as those of John Tyndale, Myles Coverdale, the Breeches Bible, &c.
The very book on which the Tramps place their all, according to their own
story, came to them through a polluted source, for it came from the copyists
and translators down through the ‘greasy dirty clergy,’ as they call them.
And how can the Tramps accept as true a book preserved by and translated
by and produced by damned men, damned for their sin, and children of the
devil, &c? Is it not absurd? How could a pure stream come
through a polluted channel?
Indeed, I may ask what Scriptural warrant had Tramps for reading a gilt-edged, Persian-leather-bound Bible at all? Our Lord never used one. He only read the Law and the Prophets. How is it that we do not hear a Tramp speak in this fashion?—
Brethren, we must be consistent. You must walk the Jesus way. I see you have what you call Bibles. Jesus never had a Bible: he did not know what a Bible was. Yet you take a thing printed by sinful men, going to hell, on paper made by men going to hell, bound in fine leather by men going to hell,—and actually gilt!—gilt with the gold we all despise!—gaudy with gold on the outside,—while Jesus had none. That is not the Jesus way.
Now I could understand all that, if a Tramp said it. But they neither dress like Jesus, speak like Him, nor read the Law and the Prophets like Him, nor teach like Him; and yet we hear so much of the ‘Jesus way.’ In plain speech, those who were not ashamed nor afraid to charge men like John Knox and John Wesley with ‘inventing a new church,’—(I feel ashamed to have to quote it)—just take what suits themselves out of Holy Writ to buttress up their own position, without any regard to its meaning, its context, its period, its climate, or the surrounding circumstances,—and the stranger thing still is, that there are any people found so very simple minded as to give any credence to their story.
(To be continued.) W.C.T.
The points to be treated in the next article are ‘The Clergy,’ ‘Clergy Houses,’ and ‘Sunday Schools.’
September 16, 1909, p. 5
If we are to judge of the Tramps by their public utterances the sole,
or at least main, object of their crusade is, not to preach the gospel
of life and hope to fallen man, but to discredit the clergy and close the ‘clergy-houses’ or churches.
What example have we of the Lord condemning the clergy as a class? He went to the ‘clergy-house’ day after day Himself. He fulfilled the law of Moses, which went so far as to set apart sons of Levi for the purpose of administration in the Temple. In accordance with that law Jesus must have brought His offerings and given His tenth; and so far from opposing a ‘clergy-house’ He spoke in it! That was ‘the Jesus way.’
Nay, more! The first recorded act of our Lord, after he had attained his Jewish majority, was to go to the clergy of that day, to the Rabbis, the recognised exponents of the Law and Prophets. The first awakening of the Great Teacher to his Divine mission was not in the ‘houses of the saints,’ but in God’s house, in the Temple; and it was there, in that clergy-house, built and re-built by God’s own authority, that Jesus was found reasoning with the Rabbis, and ‘speaking as one with authority’ when His anxious mother found Him. Then perhaps she realised for the first time that her Son’s vocation had come.
‘Do you not know or understand (Wist ye not) that I must be about my Father’s business?’ was His reply to her question and intimation of anxiety of His parents on His behalf. But,—mark!—he obeyed. ‘He submitted Himself to their control.’ He obeyed.
This was the Jesus way. The teaching of the Tramps is to leave father and mother without adequate cause, to break up the home, and forsake them. Let us deal now with ‘the clergy’ and ‘clergy-houses.’
Perhaps on no point are the Tramps more insistent than that there are
no clergy mentioned by the Lord Jesus Christ; and one speaker at Crocknacrieve
said that he had never met any one who could show him that they were wrong
in this contention from the Bible.
Now he might as well have said that they did not find a railway train mentioned in the Bible, or the telegraph, and, therefore, that they should not employ either. For their time had not arrived.
How could there be Christian teachers, preachers, or clergy mentioned in the Gospels? Jesus Christ had three things to accomplish when he arrived at man’s estate. He had (1) to teach the principles of His kingdom, (2) to die for the redemption of humanity, and (3) to rise again. There could not be teachers or preachers—Christian Rabbis or expounders of the new law of Jesus Christ—until He himself had expounded it, had died, and had ascended to the father; and, therefore, we cannot find any mention of them in the Gospels, and, beyond the command to go forth and preach, the thing was impossible. Men could not preach without having the new laws of the new Kingdom before them; and our Lord’s work was not accomplished until he had risen.
When we come, however, to the aftertime, we find the early days of Christian society depicted, the choice of Matthias to fill the vacancy in the Apostles, learn of the seventy; and we find that gifts were given to them of different kinds—some as prophets, some as evangelists, pastors, and teachers, to fit His people for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.
Then Paul, whose words I have just quoted, in his first pastoral letter to Timothy (3rd chapter, 20th century version), sets out the qualification for ‘a man who aspires to be a Presiding officer in the church.’ He also prescribes for the ‘Assistant officers.’ Who and what are these officers but those whom we today describe by the term ‘clergy?’ In the 4th chapter and 4th verse Paul refers to the time when ‘the hands of the officers of the church were laid on your head.’ And in the 5th chapter Paul points out that—
These officers of the church who fill their office well should be held deserving of especial consideration (double honour, Authorised version), particularly those whose work, lies in preaching and teaching.
Mark the words ‘double honour!’
And so considerate was Paul of those teachers (or clergy, as we call them, to employ a word to distinguish the class) that he reminds, the early Christians that ‘the worker is worth his wages:’
or the labourer is worthy of his hire; and so particular is he to guard against slanders being levelled at those officers of the church that he says—Do not receive a charge against an officer of the Church unless it is supported by two or three witnesses.
Paul rams home those commands with the warning that any one who teaches otherwise is puffed up with conceit, not really knowing anything, having a morbid craving for discussions and arguments.
How aptly Paul describes some people whom we know who met at Crocknacrieve! And the final paragraph contains a warning to avoid those who, while asserting their proficiency in it (theology), have yet as regards the Faith, gone altogether astray.
So if, as the Tramps complain that the clergy are ‘honoured, praised, and esteemed,’ on account of their calling, because the commands of Paul are obeyed, (and he spoke in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,) they receive that respect because of their calling and because that it is ‘the Jesus way.’
In the New Testament we have authority, abundantly, for the setting apart, of teachers or pastors, and for paying them respect. No one can presume to deny that. But if a Tramp say—‘You cannot find the particular word ‘clergy’ in the Bible, I reply—‘You cannot find the word ‘Tramp,’ or the other description, ‘Go-Preacher,’ there either: but you do find the authority for extending double honour to those ‘whose work lies in preaching and teaching.’ I may come again to the use and misuse of titles.
The Tramps themselves render respect to their teachers. It would be idle for them to deny it if they were so inclined. Have not their pastors or teachers been invited as guests to the best houses in their community? Are they not received by their own people with every consideration? If they do get beffetings outside their own circle, they at least receive ‘special consideration’ from their own brethren. Crocknacrieve is not an ordinary farm house; nor are some of the other houses of entertainment at home and far off of a rude and rough kind. The labourer is entitled to his reward, and the teacher deserves consideration, as well as courtesy.
As to ‘clergy houses’ or church buildings not being warranted by Scriptures, we may pass over the fact of the Temple and the usual synagogue having been used by our Lord, as we would be told that they belonged to the Jewish or Old Dispensation, and come to closer quarters.
It is quite true that Our Lord did not preach in a church, apart from His discussions in the Temple, as it was not possible for a church to be provided to worship a Saviour non-existent. For He was living, and had not then, as he did subsequently by His death, become a Saviour. When great multitudes followed Jesus, He spoke by the sea-shore, as the Bishop of Manchester does today (he follows ‘the Jesus way,’) or on the mountain side, for there was no need in that climate for shelter, and no house sufficiently capacious in all Gallilee to contain the multitudes, if there had been a storm. Nor would Christian churches have been permitted by the State in honour of one whom it condemned and crucified. Churches were a natural growth: just as men emerged from cave-dwellings and built houses of wattles, and then constructed larger houses of stone to contain more people, so did the meetings of Christians, after our Lord’s death, increase in size, so that small rooms could not contain them; and as the prohibition against services was removed, the demand for a large central place of meeting created the supply.
Since people must be taught, there must be a place for teaching. Fifty or 100 young Christians could be better taught by one person at one time, when teachers were few, than scattered about private houses, where rooms are adapted for a few, not for many. Centralism in a church or meeting place secured a degree of health by ventilation, as well as uniformity of teaching and doctrine; and if questions were asked by young converts, the answers instructed all at the same time. There could not possibly be any mention of a Christian church building during the time of Jesus Christ, any more than the mention of a New Testament; for the time had not arrived for it. There was neither Saviour nor Mediator while our Lord lived; just as there could be no testament, without the death of the testator.
The same absurd reasoning of the Tramps that nothing could be adopted unless it were mentioned in the Bible was urged against a Sunday school in Enniskillen for children. When it was started, the recognized leader of the schism, Mr. W. Irvine, sent word that it must be stopped, that there was no scriptural authority for it. No: no more than for his yapped-edged Bible; no more than for his use of a railway, or a bicycle. None of these things are mentioned in the Bible. Our Lord read the Law and the Prophets from scrolls. Why does not Mr. Irvine, on the same reasoning, read his Bible from scrolls and parchments? One reason is that he could not read Hebrew or Greek, even if he had the scrolls.
Our Lord observed the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. Mr. Irvine does not follow ‘the Jesus way’ in this respect either. Nor does he go barefoot or wear sandals.
I would like to know the ‘Jesus way’ or authority for separating the sexes in public assembly? Is it to show, after the Eastern fashion, the inferiority of women? Or is it, in imitation, of the division of the sexes in the ‘clergy-house’ of our Lord’s day? I frankly confess my ignorance.
In the same way I confess my ignorance of the reason why married women of the Tramps should be asked to lay aside their wedding ring? All nations, savage or civilized, have some method of indicating the married state. With some it is an arrangement of the hair on the head; with others a garment of dress; with others the ring. Civilised womanhood adopted the ring as the emblem of the married state. It is at once a protection against advances which might be quite proper if it were not worn, and gives a dignity to matronhood.
I am fully satisfied that the mother of Jesus wore her dress—(somewhat like a man’s)—after the manner of the married women of Gallilee; quite different from the time when, according to tradition, she had served the Lord in the temple as a virgin. But the Tramps tell their women to put aside the honourable circle of marriage, and if that lead to happiness in the home I will be surprised to learn it. One case was pointed out to me lately of a ‘saint’ of this kind who had ceased speaking to her husband, so great is her sanctity.
W.C.T. (To be continued in our next.)
The next article will deal with Payment of Clergy and Collections.
September 23, 1909, p. 5
At the outset of these articles I pointed out that the second method of ascertaining ‘the Jesus way’ was by receiving the testimony of an admitted authority. Paul had not been one of the Lord’s disciples, but he declared in his first letter to the Romans that it was through Jesus Christ that he ‘received grace and apostleship;’ and that statement is accepted as true and conclusive by the whole Christian church.
Now Paul was not an ignoramus, but an educated convert. He may have been ‘insignificant’ in his bodily appearance, but he certainly was powerful in logic, and rose in his rhetoric at times to great heights of eloquence. Eloquence has a great charm for me, and, therefore, I stray from my subject to quote one of his sublime passages, as it lies before me. Although Paul said that ‘he was no trained orator’ (2nd Cor. 11th chap. and 6th verse) yet he gave way at times to glorious bursts such as this (Rom. VII. 35-39, Revised edition):—
Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or anguish or persecution, or famine, nakedness, or peril, or sword? Even as it is written,
For thy sake we are killed all the day long: We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all those things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That was a peroration worthy of a great orator! That Paul knew ‘The Jesus way,’ not only from what some disciples of the Lord may have told him, but from direct inspiration, will be at once admitted. Let us then test the Tramp preachers by Paul.
The Tramp denounces teachers or clergy, among other causes, because they are paid. Why not? In the 9th chapter of his first letter to the church at Corinth Paul asks what soldier serves in the army at his own cost? and (11th verse)
If we sowed unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we shall reap your carnal things?
Then he points out that while some of the pastors have exercised that ‘right,’ that he had refrained from exercising it, for which he subsequently blamed himself; and he emphasized the point that ‘they which minister about sacred things eat of the things of the temple, and they which wait upon the altar have their portion with the altar.’
Could anything be plainer? The priests of the Temple got their tenth, and I am certain that our Lord, who observed the law of Moses scrupulously, did not go empty-handed to the Temple. And Paul quotes the Lord Himself (14th verse) in saying that—(Twentieth Century version)
Even so did the Lord ordain that they which proclaim the gospel should live by the gospel.
And though he did not himself receive a salary or accept many offerings, for he worked for his own support, and did it of his own will, in the 18th verse he again affirmed his full right to ‘charge’ or support.
The matter of payment is only one of degree. Some teachers are paid (like the clergy of the church of Rome) by offerings, without any fixed salary. This is strictly scriptural. Other teachers are paid by a variable salary within certain limits; and others by a definite salary, as the best way of settling the matter for pastors and people; and others have additional offerings also. But all givings are voluntary. The Tramps are rewarded with offerings, and do not receive a salary.
The large salaries of some English bishops open up such a big question that I need not deal with it here. These bishops are fettered by the state with large houses, sometimes demanding the assistance of private means, and it would need extra strong men to close the establishments and live in a quiet manner, like their Scotch and Irish brethren. But these bishops work, seldom having a day free from a public function. The incomes of our local Clogher bishops, Protestant and Roman Catholic, are only in keeping with their continual travelling and hotel expenses, correspondence, and other accounts, and charities. I, of course, in no sense condone exactions by clergy. I may possibly refer to this point, with others, later.
But let there be no mistake on one point. The Tramp preachers receive their support for preaching to their people. Their earthly reward may be small, but it is not smaller than that received by some Orders of the Roman Church, nor nearly as small. There are also others, not clergy, who take vows of poverty in that church. A Christian Brother must exist on £20 a year. No Tramp could surpass that figure for a year’s clothing and maintenance. How such a man lives comfortably I do not know, but I do know that I never yet saw a Christian Brother anything but thin and ascetic-looking. How could he be otherwise, to clothe, keep, and feed himself on 7s 8d a week!!
The Tramps have no monopoly of poverty or dividing their goods. I know clergy of the Church of England who give away so freely that it is almost a disease with them. I know a bishop who gives away almost all his salary. I know Church of Ireland ministers who live on extremely small incomes, much less than an English artizan would receive; and I know Methodist ministers who out of wretchedly small incomes contributed too generously to the Thanksgiving Fund to help forward a good cause. A minister cannot be a beggar, except in the eyes of a Tramp. He must not only be kept by the gospel that he preaches but he must ‘read,’ and reading means books and magazines; or be an ignorant man, out-of-touch with current thought, with the doubts and difficulties, and discoveries of the day, with the perplexities of mankind, and the helps of humanity.
I note that while the Tramp sneers at the £3 a-week preachers that the ‘dirty, greasy clergy,’ as they are described by those who are really dirty in appearance, the self-same £3 a-week preacher and the junior £1 a-week preacher have few shillings to spend on moving about or anything else. The profession is proverbially a poor one—perhaps the worst remunerated of all; and only few can envy an educated man being doomed to live on small remuneration in a rural spot, away from literary companionship or the opportunity of indulging in Biblical or other criticism, with the view of improving himself, with other educated men of similar tastes.
The Tramp, however, who boasts of his poverty has always sufficient funds to go to Keswick or Scotland, to the South of Ireland or Belfast; to Suffolk, the United States, and Canada, or South Africa. In fact he has only to say that the spirit leads him somewhere and the funds are available to send him thither; while the poor parson or preacher may not have means enough to send his family to Bundoran for a few weeks in the summer.
Poverty, like riches, is a matter of degree; and to all outside appearance, and notwithstanding all their professions, there is no real poverty among the Tramps. They see to it that ‘the labourer is worthy of his hire.’ They get their clothing and sustenance as do the clergy, only in a different way; and they are able to do what the clergy are not able to do, and are not permitted to do, to fly about from place to place, without any anxiety as to ways and means. The clergy get the money to provide the food and clothing; and the Tramps expect and accept the food and clothing; and the Tramp, because he does not get receive what the other receives in the other’s way, snarls and says there is no warrant for a paid clergy, while there is warrant in abundance. And if there never were Bible warrant, the necessities of the case would compel the provision of funds. Funds must be found to advance the gospel, and they are found by the Tramps also.
Surely, we are not all fools. These men are themselves paid or rewarded, as well as the clergy. As I have shown, the difference is only one of degree. And while it is possible that there are cases where the minister may receive more than his deserts, it is pretty certain that some of the Tramps receive more than their deserts also. In both cases, however, the donors give voluntarily; whether a man subscribes to a church fund, or entertains a Tramp and puts his donation in a bag, the donations are given by the free will of the donors; and the difference is only one of degree—and, of order and organisation.
The Tramp idea, apparently, is that (for example) a man may be worth £5 a week as a commercial traveller, but when he travels for God he is to be worth nothing—that God will not reward His servants, and that the world or the Devil may. That was not ‘the Jesus way.’ His law was that the labourer should be worthy of his hire.
What bunkum, too, a lot of the talk about suffering and privation! The Tramps have no monopoly of suffering. In how many circles it permeates; into how many homes it enters; and Tramps make a lot of suffering for themselves by their own fads and mania.
I was amused reading some of the statements at Crocknacrieve about class differences in churches. We do know, unhappily that there is too much of class distinction and I may go farther—I believe too many clergy pass it by without rebuke. For myself, I cannot tolerate it. ‘God does not recognise human distinctions.’ But the man who lives and dines at Crocknacrieve house, in the high place of his community, while the rank and file partake of food in the grass, should not speak on such a subject.
[See note at end of Fifth Article for correction of the following:] There are and there will be little social distinctions—the fewer the better. And that minister is most like his Master who regards all his people as brethren, and who sets his face vigorously against caste and class. I do admit that there is too much of this weakness in the Christian church, and that, too, notwithstanding the strong admonition in the 2nd chapter of James. As this James was a brother of Jesus Christ, it is well to quote the passage from such an authority:—Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is thus, to visit their fatherless and widows in their afflictions, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
If I were a bishop or moderator I would advise that the first half of this chapter be read once a month in every congregation, as well as the well-known last verse of the first chapter:—
Next week the conclusion of ‘Payment of Teachers,’ and Collections.
September 30, 1909, p. 2
What example did the apostle Paul himself afford of receiving money
for preaching? For if the Tramp say that he must have Biblical authority
for everything, we must look to the law and to the testimony.
Jesus, we know, worked as a carpenter before he set out on his special mission. ‘Is not this the carpenter?’ is sufficient to show that He worked with his hands at a trade, and thus dignified labour. And he may have worked during the time of His mission, but it is not recorded.
Work was ‘the Jesus way.’ I may not digress here to dwell upon the ignorance and despicable spirit of those drones and loafers of society who appear to look down upon work as degrading and trade as lowering to status in the world. Work is absolutely necessary—as a mere matter of health; and as to its dignity, Jesus worked at his trade—that is enough. Now the Tramps abandoned their trades, and we will contrast them with Paul.
Paul claimed the right of reward for those who should preach the gospel, but he declined to accept the ‘right’ in his own case, for, said he,—
I, however, have not availed myself of any of these rights. I am not saying this to secure such an arrangement for myself; indeed, I would far rather die (than do it).
And Paul gave his reasons. He declined to take a personal salary for preaching the Gospel. But he worked at his trade to support himself. In his letter to the church at Thesalonica, Paul said—
You will not have forgotten brothers, our labour and toil. Night and day we used to work at our trades, so as not to be a burden to any of you, while we proclaim to you God’s Good News.
And to the Corinthian church he wrote:— "We work hard, toiling with our own hands." Is not that plain? Paul was not a loafer; he worked at his trade. The Tramp preachers gave up their trades or business, and do not follow the example of Paul, yet Paul blamed himself for preaching ‘without payment.’ These are his own words in the 7th verse of 2nd Corinthians; and he goes on to say—
I robbed other churches by taking pay from them; so that I might serve you. Paul took pay from them; and then he goes on to say that—" I did not become a burden to any of you; for our brethren coming from Macedonia supplied my needs." And he glories in the boast— " I kept myself, and will keep myself, from being an expense to you in any way."
This is certainly not the way of the Tramps. They cannot claim that in this respect, they follow the Paul way.
If we take the word ‘expense’ of the 9th verse in the context with ‘taking pay’ of the 8th and ‘payment,’ it is abundantly clear what Paul meant. He says that he was almost wrong in not taking reward—for it would have been right to have taken it—but that he did not take it; for, as already quoted in the 7th chapter,—‘I refused to become a burden to you.’
Paul himself did accept donations from the Philippian church, for we read (chap. 4, 16 and 17) that they had ‘sent more than once to relieve his wants’ and he admitted that then he had ‘enough of everything and to spare.’
Paul went so far as to say (4th chap.) when addressing the Thessalonians, ‘to live quietly and to attend to their own business,’ ‘to work with their hands,’ as he had himself, directed, so ‘that you may not want for anything.’
Now here is the example. How do the men who speak of ‘the Jesus way’ follow it? There is no escaping the conclusion: they neither take salary nor work at a trade.
I must not be supposed to contend that a minister or teacher should work at menial labour. Not at all that a trade would lower his position, but such a man would require all his time for discharging the spiritual work appointed to him to perform. I am simply testing those who insist on following what they call ‘the Jesus way’ by their own foot-rule; and they do not follow the example of Paul in working at his trade to keep himself any more than the precept of Jesus, that they should accept reward, for the labourer was worthy of his hire (or wages).
There is a lot of ‘rot’ spoken about ‘no collections’ at Tramp meetings.
I feel strongly upon this point, because it is deceptive. One would
think from such an announcement that the Tramps had no collections at all—that
there were no demands upon their liberality.
The Tramps do receive donations from their own people, (not from the general public), and generous gifts, too. The bag which they place in the houses of their people ‘collects’ the donations, and the ‘brethren’ give freely. Does it not savour of misrepresentation or deception to convey that—(I specially avoid the word ‘hypocrisy’)—there are no collections among the Tramps to maintain their teachings, when there are collections?
Are collections wrong, that they are so decried? One of the most striking things is Paul’s second letter to his Greek friends in Corinth is his appeal for what we would call the Palestine Famine Fund (chaps. 8 and 9), when he asked them to excel in their giving as an expression of love, and according to their means. He made arrangements for the distribution of that fund (verse 21), and urged that ‘brothers’ be sent to them to complete arrangements for the gift before he went there himself, so that it would not look as if the donation were being given under pressure.
Also, in the conclusion of Paul’s first letter, after one of those bursts of glorious eloquence that mark him out as a man of great gifts, he says—
With reference to the collection for Christ’s people, I want you to follow the instructions that I gave to the churches in Galatia. On the first day of every week each of you should put by what he can afford.
Here is an express command to make a collection for Christ’s people; and if it never were given, common sense would teach that givings would not be confined to the well-to-do, but that everyone should give according to his means.
And what was done in Galatia and Corinth by Paul’s command was also done in Macedonia (Asia Minor) and in Greece, for the poor, for he writes (Romans 15th chap., verses 26 and 27)—that they have been glad to make a collection for the poor among Christ’s people at Jerusalem. Yea, they were glad to do so; and indeed it is a duty which they owe to them.
The Tramps announce that they do not make collections. The collections in our churches are mainly for the poor or for missions; and here is Paul expressly laying down the christian rule that it is a duty.
Is Mr. W. Irvine’s authority to be accepted in place of that of Paul?
The cry of ‘no collections’ as a lure or bait to draw the niggardly and attract sympathisers cannot be commended. It is a base motive, an unchristian motive, and one which must recoil on those who use it.
Is it ‘the Jesus way’ to decry a practice openly and follow it in secret? Is it ‘the Jesus way’ to repudiate that which the Apostle Paul specially commanded? It will not do for some of those men to wriggle out of the corner by saying there were no collections taken up by Jesus. No. For the Christian Church was not formed in His time. Until He died and rose again, His work was not completed; and the birth of the church—founded on his whole completed work—could not have taken place till after His ascension. The first word on the subject of collections, therefore, is from Paul, who saw our Lord, who knew Peter and James, and several of His apostles; and that command arose out of the new circumstances of the infant church—for in our Lord’s day the priests of the ‘clergy-house’ and the other needs of the temple were provided for by the law of Moses. Paul admits in the last chapter of Philippians that he received gifts to relieve his wants from Philippi, and Paul accepted some money from other churches, he said to the Corinthians, so that he did not want their money, but themselves as disciples. There is abundant proof of the giving of money, and of collections and (17th verse, 2nd chapter) that ‘many people at that time were in the habit of making a profit out of God’s message,’—but Paul was not one of these.
W.C.T. (To be continued.)
The next article will touch on ‘Jesus, a Pauper,’ ‘Uneducated Men,’ and Tramp Hymns.
CASTE IN THE CHURCH.
An error occurred at the close of W.C.T.’s article last week respecting the Tramps. The last passages should have read:—There are and there will be little social distinctions—the fewer the better. And that minister is most like his Master who regards all his people as brethren, and who sets his face vigorously against caste and class. I do admit that there is too much of this weakness in the Christian church, and that, too, notwithstanding the strong admonition in the 2nd chapter of James. As this James was a brother of Jesus Christ, it is well to quote the passage from such an authority:—
My Brothers, are you really trying to combine faith in Jesus Christ our glorified Lord, with the worship of rank? Suppose a man should enter your Synagogue, with gold rings and in grand clothes, and suppose a poor man should come in also, in shabby clothes, and you are deferential to the man who is wearing grand clothes, and say—‘There is a good seat for you here,’ but to the poor man—‘You must stand; or sit down there by my footstool,’ is not that to make distinctions among yourselves, and to show yourselves prejudiced judges? Listen, my dear Brothers. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the things of this world to be rich through their faith, and to possess the Kingdom which he has promised to those who love him? But you—you insult the poor man! Is not it the rich who oppress you? Is not it they who drag you into law-courts? Is not it they who malign that honourable Name which has been bestowed upon you? Yet, if you will keep the royal laws which run—‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thou dost thyself,’ you are doing right; but, if you worship rank, you commit a sin, and stand convicted by that same law of being offenders against it. (Twentieth century version.)
If I were a bishop or moderator I would advise that the first half of this chapter be read once a month in every congregation, as well as the well-known last verse of the first chapter:—
Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. W.C.T.