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NEWS OF THE CHURCHES. The chapel at Ashdon, Essex, The following reports of MINISunder the care of the Rev. R. TERIAL CHANGES have reached us Layzell, has been reopened, after since our last issue:- The Rev. alteration and improvement. - A A. E. Seddon to the Tue Brook new chapel has been opened in Mission Church, Liverpool; the Burley Road, Leeds, for the mi- Rev. L. W. Lewis, of Cemaes, nistry of the Rev. W. T. Adey.- Anglesea, to St. Paul's Square, The chapel in Grosvenor Street, Liverpool ; the Rev. W. Davies, of Manchester, under the care of the Ebbw Vale, to Llanthewy; the Rev. C. A. Davis, has been re- Rev. T. Thomas, of Wauntrodo, to opened, after alteration.-A chapel Caerphili; the Rev. A. Brown, of the has been opened at New Malden, Metropolitan Tabernacle College, Surrey.-A new chapel has been to Fenny Stratford; the Rev. T. opened at Campden, Gloucester- Garnon, of Haverfordwest Colshire, for the ministry of the Rev. lege, to Brierley Hill, Ebbw Vale ; J. Irvine.—The memorial-stone of the Rev. W. L. Evans to Langley, a new chapel has been laid in Essex; the Rev. J. C. Forth, of Lansdowne Road, Bournemouth, Wirksworth, Derbyshire, to Carley for the ministry of the Rev. N. C. Street, Leicester, the Rev. G. Leonard, M.A.
West, of the Metropolitan Taber
nacle College, to Salem Chapel, The Rev. B. Thomas, late of Boston, Lincolnshire; the Rev. G. Penarth, Cardiff, has been recog- Deane, M.A., to Abroath ; the Rev. nised as the pastor of the church D. Morgan, of Burwell, Oxfordat Narberth; the Rev. J. Hillman, shire, to Wellington Street, Luton, of the church in the Hunslet Beds. ; the Rev. Dr. Hillier, of Tabernacle, Leeds; the Rev. C. H. Ridgmount, to Princes Risborough. Longhurst, late of Reading, of the The Rev. R. Bird has, on church at Acton, London; the Rev. account of age and infirmities, reH. Platten, late of Derby Road, signed the pastorate at RattlesNottingham, of the church in den, Suffolk, which he has held for Graham Street, Birmingham; the upwards of twenty years. The Rev. H. Dunnington, of the church Rev. L. G. Carter, of Charlotte at Hartlepool, Durham; the Rev. Chapel, Edinburgh, has accepted an J. H. Patterson, late of Truro, of invitation from the church in North the church in East Street, South- Adelaide, South Australia, and will ampton; the Rev. T. Pipe, of the sail almost immediately. The Rev. church at Hay Hill, Bath ; the J. Dunlop has resigned his pastorRev. N. Richards, late of the Man- ate at New Barnet, Herts, which chester College, of the church at he has held for upwards of three Glodwick, Oldham; the Rev. W. years. The Rev. G. B. Thomas Bathgate, of the church at Kirk- has resigned the pastorate of the dale, Liverpool; the Rev. T. H. church at Chepstow, MonmouthMorgan, formerly of Birmingham, shire. of the church at Harrow-on-theHill, Middlesex ; the Rev. G. Wil We regret to announce the death liams, formerly of Newark-on- of the Rev. J. Webb, formerly miTrent, of the church at Chesterton, nister of the church at Great Staffordshire the Rev. J. Wil- Sampford, Essex, at the age of liams, formerly of Erwood, of the seventy-one; also of the Rev. J. church at Cold Inn and Manor- Hughes, of Blaenavon, at the age pier, Penibrokeshire.
ON SOME OF THE SUBORDINATE CHARACTERS
OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
BY THE REV. WILLIAM BROCK.
II. -JOHN MARK : HIS FAILURE AND RECOVERY. WHEN Peter, freed from prison, found himself alone in the dark Jerusalem lanes, he stood, we are told, “ considering” what next to do. His natural impulse was to find out his friends, and tell them of his rescue.
Where, however, should he find them at that dead hour of night? What house in the city was most like home to him? The answer is forthcoming. “When he had considered, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John, whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying ” (Acts xii. 12). There is our first introduction to the character whose changes we propose, in the present paper, to contemplate.
“ John whose surname was Mark.” Two names, one Jewish, the other Roman; the latter adopted at first as a secondary one, and gradually superseding the former, just as "Simon "grew into " Peter," and “ Saul” became universally known as “Paul.” Thus in Acts xiii. 13 we have " John,” and in Acts xv. 37, “ John, whose surname was Mark;” but in verse 39 of this same chapter plain Mark,” and always afterwards - Mark" or “Marcus, " the Jewish name being entirely gone.
The scenes of this man's youth are not difficult to imagine. His father is never mentioned, but his mother is of note in the Christian community at Jerusalem. She has a house commodious enough to receive a number of its members when they desired to meet, and popular enough to attract them. She has servants ; the name of one of them we know, “Rhoda,” or “Rose; and the home is probably one of competence and comfort. There would meet, on various octasions, the choicest spirits of the early Church. Barnabas was Mary's nephew, and would often be her guest; and Barnabas was the leader of the more liberal section of Christians, and one of the kindliest and most generous of men. And Peter, as we saw, must have been an intimate personal friend. We find traces of these connections far on in the Epistles. “ Marcus, sister's son” (or rather cousin) “ to Barnabas,” is the designation given in Col. iv. 10; and in 1 Peter v. 13, “ Marcus my son,” no doubt in the spiritual sense, as Timothy stood related to Paul. On grounds like these Mary must have been held in high consideration; and she was withal herself a devout and courageous woman, ready, even in that time of persecution when Herod's sword was loose, with a welcome for all who loved the Lord.
VOL. XIX. N.S, IT.
A fine moral atmosphere for a youth to breathe—a godly mother, praying friends, missionaries and martyrs and apostles coming and going there ; and a bracing one withal, with the frequent winds of fierce opposition that blew around. Something it must have been to be a son in the house to which Peter came that night, with the mark of the chains fresh upon his wrists, and the light of the angel's presence still reflected from his face: something to have been in the company when cousin Barnabas brought in a stranger, insignificant in appearance and awkward in address, and introduced him as the dreaded Saul of Tarsus, changed to a beloved brother, and a fervent fellowlabourer! But, so far, we have proceeded on conjecture. Mark's recorded history begins about the year A.D. 44, the era of the earliest mission to the heathen; and in what follows we will yield ourselves to the guidance of the scattered allusions in the Scriptures.
1. Acts. xii. 25 to xiii. 5. Our starting point is Antioch, the famous commercial city of northern Syria, and the second birthplace of Christianity. A flourishing and energetic Church is gathered there. Barnabas and Paul are among its foremost teachers; and Mark, wearied we may suppose of the monotonous life at Jerusalem and eager for adventure, has come to join them. He must already have been recognised as a converted man. And now that those two friends have been solemnly set apart for mission work, it is settled that Mark shall accompany them. He is styled their “minister,” or servant. It was the excellent custom of the older men to take the younger with them ; just as in early days Moses had Joshua for his assistant, and Elisha “poured water on the bands of Elijah.” The design was to inure them to the discipline of the missionary life, and to instruct them in its duties. It was the squire learning to win his spurs in the Christian chivalry, by attendance on the knight who had won them already.
A great thing still to go together, two and two, well matched, on the errands of the gospel ! And what could be more suitable, or full of promise, than that Mark should serve his first campaign under Barnabas, his elder kinsman and friend, a man of such a noble, enterprising spirit, and yet so full of all gentleness and grace ?
2. Acts xiii. 13. Short words; but how significant, and how disappointing! What! Already weary in well-doing ? Has he had only time to visit Cyprus, to sail across to Asia Minor, and will he repent and return? After seeing the awful judgment on Elymas, and the glorious conversion of Sergius Paulus; after hearing how Paul could smite, and how Barnabas could heal; after feeling some thrill of holy emulation in his own bosom, does he now give up the Christian work? What motive can so soon have turned him back ?
Matthew Henry gives the answer in his own quaint fashion: “Either he did not like the work, or he wanted to go see his mother.” A fit of home-sickness, in fact ! A shrinking from the distance, and the danger : once up among yonder ragged highlands of Pisidia, with their perils of waters and perils of robbers, what prospect of ever see
must we say
ing Jerusalem and Mary's house again? Perhaps also Paul, himself so hardy and self-sacrificing, was a little impatient with the young man, and treated him with an outspoken severity not pleasant to bear.
But in any case it was a most unworthy desertion of duty, and we shall hear of it again. Mark was no traitor, for his heart was true at bottom; but he was at present a coward, too soft to endure hardship, and he had forgotten to count the cost. A failure, it would seem ; & hand taken from the plough ; a ship, scarcely out of dock, and already stranded on the shore ! What a sorrow to that noble mother to see her son return like this ; better he had been borne home dead
upon his shield than have cast it away in flight. A feeble, fickle, untrustworthy man,
? Yes; “he departed from us,” is Paul's indignant verdict, " and went not with us to the work."
3. Acts xv. 36-41. Five years have passed. Barnabas and Paul have accomplished their journey, and returned. The great conflict with the Pharisaic party at Jerusalem is settled.' The two missionaries are panting to be at work again. And of all men, who should appear, applying to accompany them, but the deserter Mark ?
Paul has never seen him since that unhappy parting at Perga; and he does not mean to be deserted a second time. Barnabas must do as he thinks right, but Paul will rather break their own old companionship, and go by himself. Then Barnabas will break it too. Barnabas takes the milder, more hopeful, more indulgent view; has probably heard better things of his young cousin during the recent visit to Jerusalem, and sees some new fire and fervour in the man, which he, at least, will not quench. To give him another chance is the decision of the of consolation.' Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus."
That “ other chance”-how often has it been the making of a man! Has he failed in the first charge you intrusted to him ? Try him, however, with a second. Did he desert you at the very moment when the need of him was greatest, and leave you to serve alone ? Still there may be good in him; and is it not God's own way with men to have long patience, and to prove us again and again before He gives us up?
A blank of ten years occurs here. We have lost sight of Barnabas and Mark. Barnabas must be dead; and Mark, has he failed again, and has his name disappeared from the annals of the Church ? No, it appears again, after all that long interval, and, of all places in Scripture, it appears in two of the Epistles of Paul.
4. Col. iv. 10; Philemon, 24. “Marcus,” in these verses, is clearly identified with our own Mark, by his relationship to Barnabas. But can it be the same man? Where is the useless, untrustworthy man of whom we were obliged to get rid ? Another stamp is set now upon his name by the very hand that was once ready to brand “deserter" there. “My fellow-prisoner," says Paul. He has the courage then, at least, to be that. "A comfort unto me,” a strong support, as
66 And so
Barnabas himself was wont to be. 366 My fellow-labourer," the highest praise of all from one who laboured so hard and so well; a trusty comrade, fit to go on Paul's own errand 'to the Church at Colosse !
I think our stranded ship floats again! Our fallen brother has lifted himself up, with heaven's help, and is on his own feet, and presses forward with as stout a heart as the bravest. Barnabas was right; there was the true stuff in the man after all.
5. 1 Peter v. 13. Our date 'here is uncertain; but it is probably very little later than that of the last reference. Where is Mark now? At Babylon, in the distant East; what an indefatigable traveller 'he has grown, and what a heart has he for labour! With whom is he found? With aged Peter, the 'friend of his early youth, the instrument of his early conversion, his father in the faith. And what impressions does he leave 'behind him? The best; all the warm confidence of Simon Peter's heart is in that one phrase, "and Marcus, my son.” Ay, a Christian worthy of apostolic approval; born to God under his mother's roof in far Jerusalem twenty years ago, and now a man in Christ Jesus, grown to a full stature and a masculine strength!
6. 2 Tim. iv. 10, 11. It is Paul's second term of imprisonment at Rome, closer and sharper than the first. His friends have left him ; he is cold, and he is ils
, and, with all his stedfast faith in the Divine support, he craves for a little human sympathy. Therefore let Timothy, if it may be, come quickly from Ephesus, where he is, bringing cloak and parchments, and his own filial care; and let him bring also some other tried and trusty brother, as a second source of consolation. Who, then, shall the chosen one be ? “ Take Mark, and bring him with thee;" a useful man, a "profitable" man, the very man for a minister, a servant, a friend !
Mark, the deserter ? Mark, rather than have whom in my company, we two parted, Barnabas and I? Even he; for years have passed since then, and the timid stripling has become the resolute and energetic veteran; none better now, none worthier, and few indeed so good. Yes, let me have him to tend my hard confinement, to go out with me on the day when I must die, to witness my end, and to lay my body in its resting-place!
One further reference remains, a large and a long one; for it is a whole book of Scripture," the Gospel according to Mark.” How that evangelist gathered his materials, and ordered his narrative, does not now concern us. All the early traditions agree that the writing is Mark's, that shortest life of Jesus, with its peculiar charm of graphic, pithy, picturesque representations, which the Church would not willingly let die. And we think of him at last, not as the deserter, but as himself the missionary, as the faithful companion of the chief apostles, and as one among the four evangelists.
On the northern coast of Devon there spreads a bay, up which the