The New Testament is the worthy completion of the Old. It is the only proper end to which the Law and the Prophets could have led. It does not do away with them but enriches, in fulfilling and replacing them. It has in itself the character of completeness, presenting, not the rudimentary beginning of a new era which requires constant modification and addition to meet the needs of changing times, but a revelation suited to all men in all times. Jesus Christ cannot be made known to us better than He is in the four Gospels, nor can the consequences or doctrines, which flow from the facts of His death and resurrection be more truly taught than they are in the Epistles.
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The New Testament is the worthy completion of the Old. It is the only proper end to which the Law and the Prophets could have led. It does not do away with them but enriches, in fulfilling and replacing them. It has in itself the character of completeness, presenting, not the rudimentary beginning of a new era which requires constant modification and addition to meet the needs of changing times, but a revelation suited to all men in all times.
Jesus Christ cannot be made known to us better than He is in the four Gospels, nor can the consequences or doctrines, which flow from the facts of His death and resurrection be more truly taught than they are in the Epistles.
The Old Testament records the formation and history of Israel, the people through whom God revealed Himself in the world until Christ should come. As this body, the whole Church of Christ, cannot be seen and cannot act in any one place, since many of its members[ Page 2 : Aim of the Book]are already with Christ and others scattered throughout the world, it is appointed to be actually known and to bear its testimony in the form of churches of God in various places and at different times.
Each of these consists of those disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who, in the place where they live, gather together in His Name. To such the presence of the Lord in their midst is promised and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given in different ways through all the members Matt. Each of these churches stands in direct relationship to the Lord, draws its authority from Him and is responsible to Him Rev.
There is no suggestion that one church should control another or that any organised union of churches should exist, but an intimate personal fellowship unites them Acts The chief business of the churches is to make known throughout the world the Gospel or Glad Tidings of Salvation. This the Lord commanded before His ascension, promising to give the Holy Spirit as the power in which it should be accomplished Acts 1.
Events in the history of the churches in the time of the Apostles have been selected and recorded in the Book of the Acts in such a way as to provide a permanent pattern for the churches.
Departure from this pattern has had disastrous consequences, and all revival and restoration have been due to some return to the pattern and principles contained in the Scriptures.
The following account of some later events, compiled from various writers, shows that there has been a continuous succession of churches composed of believers who have made it their aim to act upon the teaching of the New Testament. This succession is not necessarily to be found in any one place, often such churches have been dispersed or have degenerated, but similar ones have appeared in other places.
The pattern is so clearly delineated in the Scriptures as to have made it possible for churches of this character to spring up in fresh places and among believers who did not know that disciples before them had taken the same path, or that there were some in their own time in other parts of the world. Points of contact with more general history are noted where the connection helps to an understanding of the churches described.
From Pentecost there was a rapid spread of the Gospel. The many Jews who heard it at the feast at Jerusalem when it was first preached, carried the news to the various countries of their dispersion. Although it is only of the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul that the New Testament gives any detailed record, the other Apostles also travelled extensively, preaching and founding churches over wide areas. All who believed were witnesses for Christ, "they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word" Acts 8.
The practice of founding churches where any, however few, believed, gave permanence to the work, and as each church was taught from the first its direct dependence on the Holy Spirit and responsibility to Christ, it became a centre for propagating the Word of Life. To the newly-founded church of the Thessalonians it was said, "from you sounded out the word of the Lord" 1 Thess.
Although each church was independent of any organization or association of churches, yet intimate connection with other churches was maintained, a connection continually refreshed by frequent visits of brethren ministering the Word Acts The meetings being held in private houses, or in any rooms that could be obtained, or in the open air, no special buildings were required.
The first preaching of the Gospel was by Jews and to Jews, and in it frequent use was made of the synagogues. The synagogue system is the simple and effectual means by which the national sense and religious unity of the Jewish people have been preserved throughout the centuries of their dispersion among the nations.
The centre of the[ Page 4 : Synagogues and Churches]synagogue is the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and the power of Scripture and synagogue is shown in the fact that the Jewish Diaspora has neither been crushed by the nations nor absorbed into them. The chief objects of the synagogue were the reading of Scripture, the teaching of its precepts, and prayer; and its beginnings go back to ancient times. In the seventy-fourth Psalm is the complaint: "Thine enemies roar in the midst of Thy congregations On the return from the captivity it is said that Ezra further organised the synagogues, and the later dispersion of the Jews added to their importance.
When the Temple, the Jewish centre, was destroyed by the Romans, the synagogues, widely distributed as they were, proved to be an indestructible bond, surviving all the persecutions that followed. In the centre of each synagogue is the ark in which the Scriptures are kept, and beside it is the desk from which they are read. An attempt under Barcochebas A.
But though force failed to free them, the gathering of the people round the Scriptures as their centre preserved them from extinction. The likeness and connection between the synagogues and the churches is apparent.
Jesus made Himself the centre of each of the churches dispersed throughout the world, saying, "where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them" Matt. For this reason it has proved impossible to extinguish the churches; when in one place they have been destroyed they have appeared again in others. The Jews of the Diaspora  developed great zeal in making the true God known among the heathen, and large numbers were converted to God through their testimony.
In the third century B. Equipped with this, the Jews used both synagogue and business opportunities in the good work. Thither Greeks and others were brought in, burdened with the sins and oppressions of heathendom, confused and unsatisfied by its philosophies, and, listening to the Law and the Prophets, came to know the one true God. Business brought the Jews among all classes of people and they used this diligently to spread the knowledge of God.
One Gentile seeker after truth writes that he had decided not to join any one of the leading philosophical systems since through a happy fortune a Jewish linen merchant who came to Rome had, in the simplest way, made known to him the one God.
There was liberty of ministry in the synagogues. Jesus habitually taught in them—"as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read" Luke 4.
When Barnabas and Paul, travelling, came to Antioch in Pisidia, they went to the synagogue and sat down. As the Church was first formed in Jewish circles the Jews were its first opponents, but it soon spread into wider surroundings and when Gentiles were converted to Christ[ Page 6 : Churches and Greek Philosophy]it came into conflict with Greek ideas and with Roman power. Jewish religion affected the Church, not only in the form of physical attack, but also, and more permanently, by bringing Christians under the Law, and we hear Paul in the Epistle to the Galatians crying out against such retrogression: "a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ" Gal.
Greek philosophy, seeking some theory of God, some explanation of nature and guide to conduct, laid hold of all religions and speculations, whether of Greece or Rome, of Africa or Asia, and one gnosis or "knowledge", one system of philosophy after another arose, and became a subject of ardent discussion.
Most of the Gnostic systems borrowed from a variety of sources, combining Pagan and Jewish, and later Christian teachings and practices. They explored the "mysteries" which lay for the initiated behind the outward forms of heathen religions. Frequently they taught the existence of two gods or principles, the one Light, the other Darkness, the one Good, the other Evil.
Matter and material things seemed to them to be products of the Power of Darkness and under his control; what was spiritual they attributed to the higher god. These speculations and philosophies formed the basis of many heresies which from the earliest times invaded the Church, and are already combated in the later New Testament writings, especially in those of Paul and John.
The means adopted to counter these attacks and to preserve unity of doctrine affected the Church even more than the heresies themselves, for it was largely due to them that the episcopal power and control grew up along with the clerical system which began so soon and so seriously to modify the character of the churches.
About the year 65 the Apostle Peter was put to death, and, some years later, the Apostle Paul. Later, the Apostle John brought the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to their close, a close worthy of all that had gone before, by writing his Gospel, his Epistles, and the Revelation. There is a noticeable difference between the New Testament and the writings of the same period and later which are not included in the list or canon of the inspired Scriptures. The inferiority of the latter is unmistakable even when the good in them is readily appreciated.
While expounding the Scriptures, defending the truth, refuting errors, exhorting the disciples, they also manifest the increasing departure from the divine principles of the New Testament which had already begun in apostolic days and was rapidly accentuated afterwards. Written in the lifetime of the Apostle John, the first Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians gives a view of the churches at the close of the Apostolic period. He had seen the Apostles Peter and Paul, to whose martyrdom he refers in this letter.
The persecutions they passed through are spoken of with a calm sense of victory: "women Yet even here the beginning of a distinction between clergy and laity is already evident, drawn from Old Testament ordinances. In his last words to the elders of the church at Ephesus the Apostle Paul is described as sending for them and addressing them as those whom the Holy Spirit had made overseers Acts The word "elders" is the same as presbyters and the word "overseers" the same as bishops, and the whole passage shows that the two titles referred to the same men, and that there were several such in the one church.
Ignatius,  however, writing some years after Clement, though he also had known several of the Apostles, gives to the bishop a prominence and authority, not only unknown in the New Testament, but also beyond what was claimed by Clement.
Commenting on Acts 20,  he says that Paul sent from Miletus to Ephesus and called the bishops and presbyters, thus making two titles out of one description, and says that they were from Ephesus and neighbouring cities, thus obscuring the fact that one church, Ephesus, had several overseers or bishops. One of the last of those who had personally known any of the Apostles was Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who was put to death in that city in the year He had long been instructed by the Apostle John, and had been intimate with others who had seen the Lord.
Irenaeus is another link in the chain of personal connection with the times of Christ. He was taught by Polycarp and was made bishop of Lyons in The practice of baptising believers  on their confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as taught and exemplified in the New Testament, was continued in later times. The first clear reference to the baptism of infants is in a writing[ Page 9 : Growth of a Clerical System]of Tertullian in , in which he condemns the practice beginning to be introduced of baptising the dead and of baptising infants.
The way for this change, however, had been prepared by teaching concerning baptism, which was divergent from that in the New Testament; for early in the second century baptismal regeneration was already being taught. This, together with the equally striking change by which the remembrance of the Lord and His death in the breaking of bread and drinking of wine among His disciples was changed into an act miraculously performed, it was claimed, by a priest, intensified the growing distinction between clergy and laity.
The growth of a clerical system under the domination of the bishops, who in turn were ruled by "Metropolitans" controlling extensive territories, substituted a human organisation and religious forms for the power and working of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of the Scriptures in the separate churches.
This development was gradual,  and many were not carried away by it. At first there was no pretension that one church should control another, though a very small church might ask a larger one to send "chosen men" to help it in matters of importance. Local conferences of overseers were held at times, but until the end of the second century they appear to have been called only when some special occasion made it convenient that those interested should confer together.
Tertullian wrote: "It is no part of religion to compel religion, which should be adopted freely, not by force. Born in Alexandria, of Christian parents, he was one of those who, in early childhood, experience the workings of the Holy Spirit.
His happy relations with his wise and godly father, Leonidas, his first teacher in the Scriptures, were strikingly shown when, on the imprisonment of his father because of the faith, Origen, then seventeen years old, tried to join him in prison, and was only hindered from doing so by a stratagem of his mother, who hid his clothes. When Leonidas was put to death and his property confiscated, the young Origen was left the chief support of his mother and six younger brothers.
His unusual ability as a teacher quickly brought him into prominence, and while he treated himself with extreme severity, he showed such kindness to the persecuted brethren as involved him in their sufferings. He took refuge for a time in Palestine, where his learning and his writings led bishops to listen as scholars to his expositions of the Scripture. The bishop of Alexandria, Demetrius, indignant that Origen, a layman, should presume to instruct bishops, censured him and recalled him to Alexandria, and though Origen submitted, eventually excommunicated him The peculiar charm of his character and the depth and insight of his teaching devotedly attached to him men who continued his teaching after his death.
This took place in , as a result of the torture to which he had been subjected five years before in Tyre during the Decian persecution. Origen saw the Church as consisting of all those who have experienced in their lives the power of the eternal Gospel. These form the true spiritual Church, which does not always coincide with that which is called the Church by men. His eager, speculative mind carried him beyond what most apprehended, so that many hooked upon him as heretical in his teaching, but he distinguished between those things that must be stated clearly and dogmatically and those that must be put forward with caution, for consideration.
Of the latter he says: "how things will be, however, is known with certainty to God alone, and to those who are His friends through Christ and the Holy Spirit. A great work of his, the Hexapla, made possible a ready comparison of different versions.
Very different from Origen was Cyprian,  bishop of Carthage, born about He freely uses the term "the Catholic Church" and sees no salvation outside of it, so that in his time the "Old Catholic Church" was already formed, that is, the Church which, before the time of Constantine, claimed the name "Catholic" and excluded all who did not conform to it.
The Pilgrim Church
THE PILGRIM CHURCH