To the Editor of the Chinese Recorder: Part 2

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As we are told, “the origin of the Episcopate seems lost in obscurity” (just, because it is not found in scripture); whilst it is added, that shortly after the time of the apostles it became the unifying principle of the Christian church. Yet, says he, “the unifying factor is just what is absent now.” If scripture is to be heard, and if we may reverently use the words, it is the Holy Spirit Who thus acts: and, thanks be to God, He is not “absent now,” but abides with and in us forever. This word “By one Spirit were we all baptized into one body” shows Him to be the true unifying power; and I am glad to see that all do not agree with the assumption that the “charismata” (or gifts) have all disappeared.
Another writer, it may be observed, directs our attention to 1 Cor. 14, as a “practical model for the present time.” If the saints of God followed the teaching of that Epistle, many of the present difficulties would disappear. That miracles may cease is Another matter; but Alas for us, if these gifts have all gone! “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit.” How could we possibly get on without these? The word of wisdom and the word of knowledge are vital parts of the “charismata “; but it is to be observed that these are distributed “by the Spirit.” What necessary connection have they with a divinity degree, or a mind powerful and cultivated? “If any man speak, [let him speak] as oracles of God.”
Scripture is plain, not obscure. We read in Eph. 4:88Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Ephesians 4:8), “when He ascended up on high... He gave gifts to men “: next we are told, the gifts are, “some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.” But we read in verse 13 that these gifts were given, “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” As we have not all reached this happy consummation yet, we may be sure that the δόματα (that is, the persons gifted), and the χαρίσματα (that is, the gifts received), like the Holy Spirit Himself, Who is the Giver, are still present in the church of God. But one can understand that to those who do not accept this as a present truth, on the authority of God's word, they may seem to have disappeared. As to the “apostles and prophets,” they laid the foundation so well, that it abides in their inspired writings. It does not need to be laid again. Are not evangelists, and pastors and teachers still given by the church's Head?
By the words, “the Spirit will lead you into all truth,” we are told that Christ Himself “thus foretold the progressive development of His religion!” Now is this the Lord's meaning? Is it a sound interpretation of His words? Is it not an untruth to glorify man? We must remember that these words were spoken primarily to the apostles, before the Holy Spirit was given; that they were fulfilled after Pentecost within their lifetime; and that “all truth” was committed unto them, that we might believe through their word. The faith was “once for all” delivered to the saints.
He says on page 74, “I believe God's Holy Spirit led the apostles to a clearer understanding of the teaching of Christ; but yet I cannot think that all that was apostolic (teaching, I presume) was in complete harmony with the mind of the Master.” Now, we must be allowed to claim that their teachings are the truth, they are “words which the Holy Ghost teacheth,” “they are the commandment of the Lord.” In doubting their “complete harmony with the mind of the Master,” he thus sets himself up to judge the apostles, and denies the divine authority of scripture.
Kindly bear with strong dissent from the tract in Chinese by Pastor P. Krauz, for I must testify the truth. On page 12 of its English translation I read these words, “Before Jesus there were in Judea the prophets; China had Confucius, who corresponded to the prophets of that time who prophesied of the doctrine of the world's salvation” etc. Does not this remind one of the shameless Oxford Essays and Reviews? It is indeed very true to say that the Jewish prophets prophesied of the Savior. But Confucius never prophesied of “the doctrine of the world's salvation.” The Jewish prophets burst forth into rapturous song in view of Messiah's coming glories, of righteousness and salvation too. The Spirit of Christ in them testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow. Instead of this, Confucius sorrows as those who have no hope. Were we to tell the Chinese that Confucius corresponds to the Jewish prophets who prophesied of a Savior to the ends of the earth, they would reply, and would be justified in replying, “Then the Jewish prophets must have been all wrong; for Confucius, whom you own as prophet, says nothing about such a Savior.”
Nay, this effort to humor China by installing Confucius among the Jewish prophets, is directly opposed to the divine teaching of the New Testament about the Jews and Gentiles. The Chinese are not Jews. The apostle is very clear in the early chapters of Romans as to the place God gave to the Jew. “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there in circumcision? Much every way, because that unto thou were committed the oracles of God” (Rom. 3:11What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? (Romans 3:1)). Further on, it is shown that, as to the Jews, “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
Now are the Confucian analects, etc. “the oracles, of God”? If so, the Jew has no advantage over the Chinese. Has that pastor considered where his principle of “correspondence” lands him? Besides, the tract contradicts itself; for the writer gives us no end of “mistakes” and “insufficiencies” on the part of Confucius. Surely he did not thus mean like the neo-critics to insinuate like “mistakes and insufficiencies” of Jewish prophets, did he? Logically from his tract the Chinese might look for such failures in the prophets of the O. T. Now it is taught authoritatively in Rom. 2:11Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. (Romans 2:1), that every man who has a moral judgment of right, and acts wrongly, is without excuse. “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest.” Being able to discern right from wrong, and yet doing the wrong, is to condemn ourselves. “For as many as sinned without the law shall perish also without law, and as many as sinned in law shall be judged by law.” Will it not be righteous?
Confucius might perhaps be compared to Socrates. But who can imagine Paul, or rather the Holy Spirit, saying that Socrates or Confucius corresponded with the Jewish prophets? If you compare Confucius with his nearest contemporary Jewish prophet, he was laying the foundation for the worship of the dead, while Daniel was being cast to the lions for refusing to worship idols. A few words from 1 Cor. 1:1010Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10), &c., dispose completely of Gentile philosophy, whether Greek or Chinese. “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this age? Did not God make foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” In a British Court of Law a witness is responsible before God “to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Much more responsible is every Christian preacher and teacher in China.
When the proper inspiration of the scriptures is undermined, and man's development of the church is made to take the place of God's word, when heathen philosophy is put on a level with Jewish prophecy, to the baseless and mischievous elevation of the one, and to the virtual degradation of the other, is it not time to raise a note of alarm?
I remain, Yours in the Master's Service,
Hsin Hwa,
Chinkiang. 25th Feb., 1899.