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rects our thoughts to that subject, which it is the design of the present discourse to illustrate

. If the Church be a visible society, it must have a visible form of goyernment; that form of government must be administered by certain fixed and lawful authorities, and to that government every man, who continues a member of the society, is bound to conform; and to obey the power, by which it is administered.

These propositions are assumed as the basis of the whole argument; and they lead us to inquire, what was the form of Church government which our Saviour instituted; and who were the rulers appointed by him to uphold its authority, gris That; no doubt might remain in the mind of Christians, as to the nature of that Church into which they were admitted, it is spoken of in the Scriptures under various names, which all illustrate the same truth; that it is a spiritual incorporation, of which Christ is the head. It is called the d «« kingdom of heaven,” the

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e“ dominion of Christ,” the f“ city,” the g. 6 house,” and the h“ household of “ God:' every one of these terms conveys the idea of association, and declares the head or governor of this society to be the Lord Christ's cauri tu justiesogbo

To distinguish it however from mere temporal governments, all of which may. in some sense be called the kingdom of God, since he ruleth over all; and to convince us that the sovereignty of Christ over his Church is of a more specific and par-, ticular kind, than the superintendance of God's providence over secular kingdoms; we are told in the text, and in other

parts of Scripture, that the Church is i "ther

body of Christ,” k united to him, and under his influence, as the natural body i joined to the head, and directed by it; and that by virtue of our admittance into ity is we are all become ! members of this one is body, and are therefore bound to obey himza)? and to love one another: jet dus niet

66

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e Dan. vii. 14. f Heb. xii. 22. g Heb. x. 21. h Eph. ii. 19.

i Eph. i 23. Col. i. 24, W1 - 0 See Note XIV. Appendix saed Rom. xii. 5. 61

The Church then, being a spiritual society, taken out of the world, yet existing in it; intimately connected with the temporal governments of the nations in which it is planted, yet in its spiritual character independent of them all; it was necessary for its preservation, that it should possess a form of government of its own, binding all its members together by a common rule of obedience, and training them in the duties of their new profession. Government is indeed m. essential to the very being of a society; without it men may congregate, but they cannot associate; the constitution to which they submit is the bond which unites them; and when this is dissolved, they are reduced again to the state of unconnected individuals.

This constitution was also necessary for the defence of the Church against external enemies, as well as for the maintenance of its internal peace and security. It is to be remembered, that this spiritual kingdom

m See Note XVI. Appendix. VX92941

existed for three hundred years after thes resurrection of its divine Founder, not only unsupported and unprotected by any temporal authority, but in defiance of all human power, which was exerted in vain to resist its influence, and effect its destruction. In those days of trial and persecution, Christians, wherever dispersed throughout the world, formed but none body, under one head; professing the same faith ; bound by the same laws'; obeying rulers similar in office, authority, and appointment: and this it was which enabled the Church to flourish and increase, notwithstanding all the fury and malice of its enemies. Had the kingdom been 06 divided against itself," it must have been as brought to desola* tion;" its union was its strength; and the principal bond of this union, was obedience to a common form' of government, administered by officers appointed by, and responsible to, the same sovereign Lord. - The necessity of this constitution, as the safeguard of the Church, will still further

n See Note XVII. Appendix.

o Matt. xii. 25.

appear, when we consider, that it was not composed of a few individuals only ; holding their meetings in a small confined district, and possessing a power of immediate communication with each other upon every emergency : {but that, even at this early period, it had extended itself throughout the then known world;;. that its 'congregations were to be found in every province, and in every city; that its members were confined to no one rank or order of men, but abounded in all; i that they pleaded in the courts of justice, and fought in the armies of the nations, who were leagued for their destruction; that they were conspicuous among the high and the low; that they partook in the delibera. tions of the senator, and the gains of the merchant; that they inhabited the palaces of the rich, as well as the cottages of the poor; so that an eloquent Papologist scrupled not to affirm, that, if the Christians were to withdraw themselves into deserts from the dominion of their persecutors,

P See Note XVIII. Appendix.

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