IN this discourse I propose inquiring into the question of authority. Every government has a head, and the authority is in the head. The authority of an empire is in the emperor; the authority of a kingdom is in the king; the authority of a State is in the governor; the authority in the kingdom of heaven is in the King. He is the Head of the body--the Church. When about to commission his embassadors--his ministers plenipotentiary--he said, "All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me." In view of this authority he said, "Go you, therefore, and teach all nations." The authority of our Lord came directly from the Father to him, and he gave it directly to the apostles. The Lord Jesus is the head over all things to the Church. He has, by inheritance, obtained a more excellent name than any of the angels in all the heavenly ranks; a name above every name that is named, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that he is the Lord to the glory of God. There is no other name given under heaven or among men by which we can be saved. He is the supreme--the absolute authority in the kingdom of God.
There is not one particle of divine authority among men that did not come from him, either directly or indirectly, no matter whether claimed by individuals or says, on another subject:
"Great God! on what a slender thread Hang eternal things."
Knock out this one prop, apostolic succession, and down falls the Romish priesthood, membership, and the whole papal superstructure, to rise no more. Yet not a man of them can prove that Peter was ever in Rome, much less that he was pope, specially when Paul "withstood him to the face, for he was to be blamed," and as not a whit behind the chief apostle, or that he ever performed any such functions there as the Pope now does. Instead of a succession of popes back to the apostles, there is not a trace of a pope, cardinal, or archbishop, or the Papal Church at all, in the first three centuries, except in some of the prophecies referring to the apostasy. No man need talk of a succession of popes during a period when there was no pope on the face of the earth. This is as ridiculous as to try to trace the succession when there were rival popes in war with each other for the papal crown, and when it was obtained by the force of the sword.
According to the admissions of the papal authorities, running through all their history, their debates among themselves and with other people, the entire validity of their religion, its whole authority, and their hope of heaven, hang on this succession! Yet there is nothing more certain in historic fact than that this claim to succession is as base a fiction as a pagan myth. They have no succession of office, ordinance, or Church, from the apostles.
The claim of the Greek Church is that they have a regular succession back to Peter and John in Greece--an apostolic succession from their present ministry to Peter and John. They claim to be Catholic, too. They, too, admit that their ministry, ordinances and Church rest on this succession, and without it would have no validity. If there is one link out of their chain of succession, all below it is invalid. This claim has no more to rest on than the papal succession, and there is no more in it. Yet their entire religion rests on it, and their hope of heaven!
The claim of the Church of England is that they have an unbroken succession back to Paul in England--that Paul established the Church in England, and they have an apostolic succession to him. Yet not a man in that Church can prove that Paul was ever in England, to say nothing of his establishing any Church there. Then there are long links out from the time of Paul to any account of the Church of England. That Church can pretty easily trace its history back to the Church of Rome, or trace its succession back to the Papal Church, but the traces of it become quite dim beyond that period. The arguments of that Church also carry the admission all through that the validity of its ministry, ordinances, and the Church itself, hang upon the apostolic succession. Strike that one prop out, according to their own argument, and the Church is null and void. There is no divine authority in it, and no hope of heaven. Yet these pretensions to apostolic succession are perfectly groundless.
Some Baptists have tried to sustain some kind of unbroken succession of immersionists, which they infer were Baptists, and thus make a succession of Baptists, ordinances and ministers. But every man, who has read productions devoted to this end, if a little acquainted with history, has pitied the men who have made these efforts, for they, too, run into the misty, dark and uncertain. Yet some of these men would make the validity of immersion depend on this succession, and even on the administrator, and require a man to be immersed over again because he was not immersed by a regularly ordained preacher!
These four claims to succession affect a large portion of those, who, in some form or other, profess the religion of Christ. How, then, stand these claims? There is not a Church in the world that respects the papal claim, aside from the dominion of the Pope, but all regard it as a groundless pretense. Not a Church in the world, aside from the Greek Church, respects its claim to apostolic succession in that body, confides in it or acts on it. All others treat that claim, and act in reference to it, with perfect indifference, as much so as they do in reference to the Book of Mormon. In the same way, no Church on earth respects the claims of the Church of England to apostolic succession, aside from that body, or has any regard for said claims. All others act with perfect indifference in reference to their claim, and regardless of it. The same is true in to the claim of Baptists to a succession in ordinances, ministry and churches. All churches, aside from Baptists, act without any regard to their claim to succession, and treat it with utter indifference. This is not a certain evidence that such claim, or claims, may not be correct, but it forms a reason for stopping and considering.
They can not all be correct, for they repudiate each other; at least they can not be correct only in part. It is possible for them all to be correct in repudiating the claim of each other, but they can not all be correct in their claim of succession, for the claim of each one sets aside the claim of the others. The ministry of four bodies of people could not be the successors of the apostles and not fellowship each other and recognize the claim of the others. The apostles were all of the same body--of the same communion, and each one recognized the apostolic authority of the other. Pope Pius IX. claims to be the visible head of the Church on earth--the Vice-gerent of Jesus Christ. All who reject his authority are heretics, and out of the Church. There is no salvation for them. He repudiates the entire Greek Church, the Church of England, and all the Baptists, and reject them all as heretics. He anathematizes the whole of them. They, in turn, reject and repudiate him and each other. They can not all have apostolic authority, repudiate and reject each other.
This, then, narrows us down to one of them. They can not all have apostolic authority. Has any one of them apostolic authority, and, if so, which one? Has any one of them any claim? Not by virtue of any succession of ordinances, ministers or churches. If the world can not get something clearer than any of these successions to rest the soul on, living and dying, for this world and that which is to come, all may expect to live and die in the darkness of midnight. Nothing but despair awaits the children of men. Nothing has done so much to blind the minds of men, land them in unbelief and despair, as this miserable farce of succession of any sort. Men have puzzled their minds, and made the most patient explorations through antiquity in search of successions, but found nothing satisfactory, and in the failure some of them have felt as if all were lost. One reading of the New Testament, with an eye to that matter, will satisfy any one that there is nothing there demanding any such successions as men are trying to find, and claiming that they have found. There is not a thing there to base anything of the kind on.
When we open the Book of God, we find the clear statement of our Lord, that "there shall be one fold and one Shepherd." He is called the "Chief Shepherd." The original word from which "chief" comes is the word for arch. The Lord is the Arch-Shepherd, or the Archbishop in the kingdom of God, and there is no other arch-shepherd or archbishop in the kingdom. Anti-Christ has many archbishops. The Lord, the only Archbishop, has no successors. He has no successor now on earth. The apostles were his embassadors. He specially called, qualified and sent them. He called them with his own voice, literally commissioned and sent them. They bore the signs of an apostle, and confirmed their divine claims by miracles, and were filled with the Holy Spirit, who guided them into all truth. They were chosen vessels--God's elect--through whom he delivered his last Will and Testament to man. They had no successors. There have been no other apostles, in the same sense, since them; no other embassadors of Christ. There is not the slightest intimation in Scripture of any successors of the apostles, or any need of any. All who claim to be successors are either ignorant men, who did not know what it meant to be a successor of the apostles, or impostors pretending to what they knew to be false. Not a man of them has the signs of an apostle in him, or can give an evidence of his claim. "We know those who say they are apostles and are not," says the divine Spirit. They have been proved and found "liars." When we want apostolic authority, we need not go to any men now on earth, but must go back to those whom Jesus called and sent--those whom he demonstrated to be his apostles--his embassadors--his ministers plenipotentiary. There are no others. They have the credentials from the King--"the signs of an apostle."
Hear the Lord, in his address to the Father, speak of them: "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me."--John xvi. 6-9. It will be seen here that the words the Father gave him he gave the apostles. Their commission from him required them to go into all the world and preach that word to every creature.
When the Apostle Peter for the first time stood before a Gentile audience, it was necessary for him to refer to his divine authority as an apostle, and he said: "We are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: him God raised up the third day, and showed openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead."--Acts x. 39-43. When he said, "We are his witnesses," he meant, we apostles are his witnesses, as is readily seen from his saying, "He commanded us to preach to the people and testify." They preached the words that the Father gave to the Savior, and that he gave to the apostles, and testified to what they saw and heard.
Paul, before Agrippa, found occasion to refer to his call to the apostolic office, and quoted the words following: "I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."--Acts xxvi. 16-19. This sets forth his apostolic authority, and shows how he was made a minister and a witness, and put the question to those who doubted his apostolic authority, "Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?" and called forth his statements: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus," and "the signs of an apostle." In the same strain he makes the following lucid statement: "For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me toward you: how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote afore in few words; whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."--Ephesians iii. 1-11.
This language sets out the apostolic authority. When the Apostle John concluded the Apocalypse he closed the sacred canon. Nothing was to be taken from what had gone before, and nothing to be added to it. Paul says: "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."--See Galatians i. 8. While, on the one hand, he "shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God"--"kept back nothing"--he, on the other hand, limited all preachers to the gospel already preached by the apostles, and even that must not be perverted. This is apostolic authority to other preachers, limiting them and instructing them how to preach. These other preachers were not to enforce what they preached, much less to prove it, by showing that they were in a regular line of succession from the apostles, or that they were apostles, or specially called and sent as the apostles were, but by showing that they had received what they preached from the apostles. This is the rule to this day. There is no authority in any man, or in what he teaches, only as he shows that it comes from the Lord or the apostles. John says: "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error."--1 John iv. 6. "Us," here, means the apostles. They are the authority. The authority is in no set of men now living, in no council, assembly, conference, or convention, but in the apostles of the Lamb. The Lord said to them: "Whatever ye bind on earth shall be bound in heaven." The things the apostles wrote have the authority of Christ and of God in them. They did not receive the things they wrote of man, nor of the wisdom of man, but of God.
There is no authority now in what any man on earth says, only as he can show that it came from the apostles. The apostles did not make any other men apostles, in the same sense as they were apostles, nor did any other men succeed them in the apostolic office. There is no apostolical authority in any other man or men. The apostolical authority is now in the record we have of what they preached and wrote; but what they did not preach and write has no apostolical authority, but he who writes it has an apostolic anathema. The apostolic authority is with us in the words we have from them. These are the words of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and of the apostles, and have the authority of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the apostles, in them. This word is the supreme and the absolute authority. If any speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in him.
We want no men now claiming to be apostles, or successors of the apostles, or to have apostolic authority in any sense; but men who will hear the apostles, be governed by them, learn of them, and present to the people what they have received from the apostles. This explains the liberty the apostles took in teaching uninspired men how to preach. One apostle never taught another how to preach. They all stood on an equal footing in this respect, and spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance. Jesus forbade the apostles to meditate beforehand what they should say, and promised them that the Spirit should speak in them. Jesus never commanded the apostles, and one of them never commanded the others, to give themselves to reading, to meditation, or to study to show themselves approved to God--workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth; but Paul did command Timothy to give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to teaching (see 1 Timothy v. 13), to meditate on these things; to give himself wholly to them, to take heed to himself and to the teaching, to continue in them; that in so doing he should both save himself and those who heard him.--See 1 Timothy v. 15, 16.
Hear the apostolic charge to the uninspired preacher: "I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen."--See 1 Timothy vi. 13-17. Further on, in the same chapter, he says: "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions positions of science falsely so called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith." In the second letter he says: "My son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."--2 Timothy ii. 1, 2. Here are two things: first, Timothy's authority to preach. Paul authorized him to preach and to teach. Second, what he was authorized to preach. The things he had heard of Paul, among many witnesses, he was authorized of Paul to commit to faithful men, who should be able to teach others also.
The Almighty Father gave these things to Christ; he gave them to the apostles; they gave them to such men as Timothy, Titus, Barnabas, Silas, Mark, Luke, and other evangelists, and commanded them to commit them to other faithful men, that they might be able to teach others also, and thus, by the blessing of Heaven, these things have been transmitted down through the ages to us. The authority is in these divine things which the Father gave to Christ, he gave to the apostles, they gave to the first evangelists, and they have transmitted to us in the Sacred Writings. Our inquiries are not, therefore, in reference to any succession of men, offices, ordinances, or churches, but in reference to the things that the Father gave to the Son, which he gave to the apostles, and they gave to the first evangelists, and that have been transmitted to us in the Sacred Writings. We in inquire the authority vested in no men any time since the apostles, in any succession of men, but after the divine things uttered by the inspiration of the Spirit of God in the apostles. The authority is in these divine things, and not in men at all, of any grade or office, nor in the wisdom of men, but in the wisdom of God.
Our inquiries, therefore, are to ascertain what these divine things are; to learn them, believe the truth set forth in them, obey the commandments found in them, and hope for the things promised in them. The question is not now about the authority of any man to preach, but about what is preached. Is it what the apostles preached? Is it the gospel of Christ that was preached by the apostles? If it is, the preaching is all right. Then another question comes up, What does he teach the churches, or the members of the body? Does he teach what the apostles taught? If he preaches any other gospel than that which was preached by the apostles, the anathema of Heaven falls on him. If he teaches the individual members, or the churches, anything else than that which the apostles taught, he is not to be received at all. "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed." The doctrine referred to is simply the "doctrine of Christ." See the verse preceding the one just quoted: "Whoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed."--2 John 9,10. Doctrine is teaching. Several of the late translations give us teaching instead of doctrine.
The teaching of Christ is found in the reports of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as recorded from his own lips, and as taught by the apostles in their verbal instructions to the first Christians, portions of which are reported by Luke, in Acts of Apostles, and as found in the letters of the apostles to the first churches. Christ had authority from God to give this gospel and teaching to the apostles, and they had authority from Christ to commit the same gospel and teaching to the first evangelists, and charge them to commit the same to faithful men, who should be able to teach others also. This gospel and teaching has the authority of God, of Christ, the Holy Ghost, and the apostles, in it. The man who turns away from it, and refuses to hear it; turns away from God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the apostles, and will not hear them, is an abandoned man.
This brings the whole matter within our reach. The first thing for a man to do is to examine the reports concerning Christ; consider all the testimony, and make up his mind concerning him. Is he divine? Is he what he claimed to be? Did he know all things? Did the fullness of the Deity dwell substantially in him? When these matters are settled, and Christ is recognized as the Son of God--the Infallibility--the inquiring person turns his mind into another channel, and endeavors to learn what he authorized. The next lesson is to learn the place of the apostles, their mission and work, their apostolic authority under the infallible guidance of the Spirit of all wisdom and all revelation. Here he finds are the men empowered to deliver the law of the Lord, and enabled to confirm it. From them he learns the divine things that have the authority of God in them, of Christ, of the Spirit and the apostles--all authority in heaven and on earth. No matter by whom these things are reported to us, nor how, if we got them and are assured that they are what they purport to be--from God; divine--and believe them, we have the faith, the genuine, "the saving faith," the faith that gives life through the name of Christ, without regard to the man that reported them to us, even though he should turn out to be a bad man, or it should be found that he did not believe them himself. Truth can not be turned into a lie, even if reported by a liar; nor can divine things be turned into human, no matter by whom reported. The belief of the truth can not be turned into a vain faith; even though the truth believed be reported by a bad man, or an impostor. The truth of the gospel, no matter by whom reported or preached, or even if preached through envy, or some other bad design, is still the truth--divine truth, and the belief of it is divine faith, and the impression it makes upon the human heart is a divine impression. The repentance produced by this truth, or the belief of it, is the repentance the Lord requires--divine repentance; and the confession following this belief and repentance, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, is the confession that the Lord requires--the divine confession; and the immersion following this belief of the truth, repentance and confession, "into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," is the immersion the Lord requires--the divine immersion, that brings a man to the promise of remission of sins and the impartation of the Holy Spirit.
The validity of the faith does not depend on the man that preached the truth, or any authority vested in him, or any succession he may claim to be in, any official relation to which he may refer, or even his character as a true man, but on the truth preached--the divine truth preached and believed. If the truth of the gospel is He then proceeds and consummates the divine process of turning to God, in yielding obedience to the divine law as it came from the lips of Him who had the keys of the kingdom, and as dictated by the Spirit of God, the day on which he came from heaven to guide the apostles into all truth, in the words: "And be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins," and thus comes to the promise of the Lord, "shall be saved."
The man thus saved can not trace a succession in office, in the ministry, from the mall who brought the truth to him; nor need he be very much concerned out this man, so far as his own safety in what he has believed may be concerned, nor even whether he was a good man or not. Nothing, so far as the convert is concerned, depends on the man who brought him the truth, or the gospel; nor is it a matter of any importance to the convert whether there is a succession of good men back from the man that brought him the truth to the apostles or not. His salvation depends on nothing of that kind. The matter with him is simply to know that it was the truth--the gospel of Christ. When assured that it was the gospel of Christ, he sees beyond doubt that the belief of it is the faith of Christ; the obedience of it is the obedience of Christ; the promise of salvation in it is the promise of Christ. It matters nothing to the man who believes this gospel whether he can find a succession of believers from himself back to the apostles or not. No matter to him whether a thousand links are out of the chain of believers, one link, or no link, between him and the apostles; he believes the gospel believed and preached by the apostles as those to whom it was first preached believed it, and that belief is precisely the belief the first Christians had. He yielded obedience to the gospel precisely as the first followers of Christ did, which is obedience to the same Lord, and, therefore, has the same obedience they had. He need not trouble himself about a succession of obedient men from himself back to the apostles. He has in the gospel before him the authority of the same Lord as those who turned to God in the time of the apostles, and in submitting to the same authority in precisely the same way they did, or in the same acts of obedience, he comes to God as they did, and has the same promise they had, giving precisely the same assurance of acceptance with God enjoyed by them.
This depends on no succession of churches, ministers, or ordinances, but on Christ, who had all authority in heaven and on earth, and commanded this gospel to be preached to every creature. As certainly as the Lord Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and all the fullness of the Deity dwells in him substantially, this is reliable. In this a man may have the full assurance of faith, living and dying, for this world and the world to come.
But what assurance of faith can any man have who depends on the Romish, the Greek, or the Episcopal claims to succession? It requires immense learning, reading and study, even to investigate these claims at all, to say nothing of arriving at any certainty about them, and to make the salvation of the multitudes depend on these successions, or any one of them, is to envelop the whole hope of the people in uncertainty. What would the great masses of the people do with these claims to succession? How can they decide on their merits? The very best they could do would be to guess at it. What could they do with the question of a succession of ministers? They do not know history, and, if they did, the path of ministerial succession is a dim path. The same is true of church succession, or a succession of ordinances. The clear matter of fact is, that no succession of churches, ministers, or ordinances, can be found sufficiently clear for any man to risk his salvation on it.
If a succession of churches is necessary to the validity of religion, any one can see that if there is a single link out of the chain of succession of churches, all below it is invalid. In the same way, if a succession of ministers is necessary to the validity of religion, and a single link is out of the chain of the succession of ministers, all below it is invalid. So, also, if a succession of ordinances is necessary to validity, and a single link is out of the chain of succession of ordinances, all below it is invalid. And for this there is no remedy. There can be no such thing as restoring succession. If there is a link out anywhere back, all below it is invalid, and that without remedy.
We need not theorize this or that, but must accept the facts of the situation. Let us look at some of these facts.
A large portion of the Baptists of the United States, if they were to trace a succession of their baptisms back, in a few generations would run up to Roger Williams, who received his baptism from the hands of a man who had never been baptized at all. Here the chain ends; there is not a link back of it, and yet to extend back to the apostles the long end of the chain would lie back of Roger Williams. The short end of the chain, from Roger Williams down to the Baptists in this line of succession, would appear to great disadvantage, with more than sixteen hundred years of the first end of the chain missing! Yet a large portion of the Baptists of the United States are in this line.
If the Disciples in this country were to trace up a succession of their immersions, many of them would run back to the Baptists, and back to Roger Williams, and find the succession hanging on the same hook. Many more of them would trace the chain of immersion back to the beginning of this century, or near that time, to Barton W. Stone, who was immersed by David Perviance, who had never been immersed. Here ends another line. This short piece of chain lacks eighteen hundred years off the first end. This can never be supplied.
If any one desires to look at a succession of ordinances, ministers, or churches, of any of the other parties, they can begin with the Church of England, and, tracing back through a few generations, the line runs into the Church of Rome. The Lutheran Church runs back into the same body--the Church of Rome. The Presbyterian Church runs back to the same source. All the branches of Methodists run back into the "Episcopal Methodists," so called, to John Wesley, or Whitfield, and these into the Church of England. This ends all these chains of churches, ordinances, and ministers, in the Church of Rome. Then look at the long, dark list through which any chain must pass to make a succession back to the apostles, and the dark ages through which it must pass, and the great mystery of iniquity, and put the question honestly, What is it worth? In view of this, ought we not to be thankful that the gospel of Christ requires no such succession; that it says not one word about it. We have a more sure word of prophecy to which we should take heed as to a light that shines in a dark place. We have the word first spoken by the Lord, and then confirmed to them that heard him, "with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will," and should "give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." We "are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh: for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven." "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which can not be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear."
The faith of the child of God is not in men, in the traditions, doctrines and commandments of men; nor in succession of men, officers, churches, or ordinances, but in God, Christ, and the eternal Spirit, as revealed to us in the Scriptures. "If ye believe not," said the Lord to the Jews, "that I am he, ye shall die in your sins," and "where I am ye can not come." Again he says, "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." "The words which I speak to you shall judge you in the last day." Let us hear his sayings and do them, that he may liken us to wise men; let us keep his commandments, that we may enter in through the gate into the city, and have right to the tree of life. He says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." "Hereby," says the beloved John, "we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." Let us learn more and more to adore and worship him; to learn of him and be led by him. He will lead us safely into the everlasting city, and to the fountains of living water, where there are riches, and treasures, and splendors, and sublimities, transcending all human imagination, in the presence of His Father and our Father, where we shall dwell with Him forever and ever. To the Almighty Father, through Him, be the honor and power everlasting.