Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

which it was our Saviour's will that all churches of the saints, in all ages, should be connected with each other, and sepa. rated from the world of the unbelievers.

The true Church of Christ may be known, then, by the following character. istics ; each of which constitutes a part of that unity, which we are endeavouring to illustrate.

1. It must be built upon one common foundation, even Jesus Christ's for we are positively assured that p“ other foundation

can no man lay, than that is laid:” and in another place it is declared, that the Church is 1966 built upon the foundation " of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus " Christ being the chief corner! stone." And as the foundation of every part of it must be the same, so ought the superstructure to be similar. God is not a God of confusion, but of order : since therefore the Church is called, $66 the house of « God;" cand since we are taught to be

Pi Cor. iii. 11. 11 Cor. xiv. 33.

9 Eph. ii. 20. $ Heb. iii. 6.

66

lieve, that it is tóc

a building fitly framed “ together in Christ,” that it may become

a holy temple unto the Lord;" we must believe, that the plan of the divine architect is uniform; and that this Church, wherever it is builded according to his directions, will present the same appearance, the same perfect symmetry, and due proportion of all its parts to one another, according to their dignity and use.

Wherever then a part of the true Church exists, there we reasonably expect to find that form of government which the Apostles established ; for since it is a spiritual

instituted by God, who originally set in it the different orders of men by whom it was to be ruled; where that constitution is not to be found ; where Christians are united together by any code of

mere laws, or system of government, of human invention ; there

may

indeed be an association of men serving God, and professing to believe in Christ; but can we say without a solecism that there is a Christian Church?

[blocks in formation]

2. “Another characteristic of the Church of Christ is, that it holds one common system of faith and worship; that wheresoever dispersed throughout the whole world, its members agree in believing those doctrines, which Jesus Christ and his Apostles taught; and in observing a mode of publicly serving God, in all its leading features essentially the same. Every National Church is indeed possessed of power and authority to decree rites and ceremonies for the use of its members; and is restrained in the exercise of that power by no other tie, than the apostolic injunction, that, *" all things should be done decently w and in order.” But there are certain essentials of Christian worship, which the Supreme Head of the Church has himself ordained; the observance of which is therefore every where indispensable.

Undoubtedly we should not call that á Christian Church, where the two sacraments, which Christ himself ordained as means of grace, and pledges of his favour

x 1 Cor. xiv. 40.

u See Note IX. Appendix.

and assistance, were either entirely excluded from the public devotions of its members, or not duly administered. Such then are the y marks by which every true Church of Christ must be distinguished: where these marks are found, there is a portion of the spiritual kingdom of the Lord our Redeemer established ; and by ? virtue of these, the whole body of Christ is to be accounted one ; however dispersed throughout the world, however locally divided into national churches, into archie piscopal provinces, or into episcopal dioceses, and parochial districts; however also the several national, or provincial churches of which it is composed may be distinguished from each other by their own peculiar observances; by differences in that part of their ritual, which is of human authority only; or in the interpretation of such opinions, as do not affect the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. The Church thus constituted derives its origin

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

from one common source: it is built upon the same foundation, and after one uniform model: it is subject to the same form of government, administered by persons to whom the commission, by which they act, has been regularly handed down from the Apostles: it addresses its prayers to the same God and Father of all, relying upon the merits and mediation of one Saviour, the God incarnate, for their acceptance: it professes therefore one common faith, it is solaced by one common hope, and participates in those sacraments, which bind all its members by the same condi, tions, and under the same penalties, to holiness of life and conversation; to love God with all their hearts, and their neighbour as themselves.1,10 %

1) - If we consider the effect, which the Christian Church, framed upon such principles, and adhering steadfastly to its own constitution, must have produced upon the conduet and affections of mankind, wherever it was established; it will be easily perceived, that when, our Saviour prayed, that his Disciples might be one,

[ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »