The Relations Of Pastor And People -- By: Moses C. Welch

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 012:45 (Jan 1855)
Article: The Relations Of Pastor And People
Author: Moses C. Welch

The Relations Of Pastor And People

Moses C. Welch

The human heart has always been conscious of demerit and of accountability to some being higher than itself. This consciousness demonstrates the existence of a religious sentiment in man wholly distinct from the gifts of grace through Christ. The natural heart has sought to do away with demerit by sacrifices and the interposition of a priesthood. In this way all nations have attempted to make atonement with their deities. What is the essential idea of this priesthood?

There is great difficulty in forming a conception of a spirit. There is difficulty in satisfying one’s self of the actual fact of communication with a spirit. From this fact man has had recourse to some visible mode of expressing the aspirations of his heart. An altar flaming with the burning sacrifice was one of the earliest methods which man adopted. The more it struck the senses, the more it probably seemed to man to attract the notice of God. Cain and Abel were their own ministers at the altar. As population increased, one man would offer sacrifices, and become the priest of many. At first, from the relation of guardianship and authority in which a father stood to his family, he probably ministered at the altar for them, and stood, as it were, between them and God. As families clustered in communities, the gray headed patriarch would naturally assume this office, as well as the governing power, for the whole tribe. And, when his duties of government became numerous, the office of the priesthood separated itself from the governing power, and was confided to a separate class in the community. In this way, mankind have established a communication with the Deity through the mediation of a sacrifice and a priesthood ministering at the altar. The first element, then, in the idea of a priesthood, is a middle point, a mediation between God and man; a something to supply to man a sensible object of approach, to represent God to the eye. And, inasmuch as the first history of mankind was a history of action, not of thought, another primary element was a reconciliation to God by means of an outward act.

Man was not then ready for the announcement: “God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” If, from this starting point in the development of a priesthood, namely, a mediation that should strike the senses and give scope for action, we come down, we shall find the first idea variously modified. It will be sufficient for the present purpose to say, that the priest came to be considered a necessary intervention between man and his Maker, without whose offices man could not make acceptable approach to God.

Taking this to be the natural course of t...

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