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1. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, VISIBLE.
The Church is not a mere shadowy invisibility, consisting of “all good people everywhere,” as Dissenters vainly talk, but a Visible Organization, with Priesthood, Sacraments, and Creeds, Liturgy, Laws, and Government, &c., peculiar to itself, and as easy to be taken knowledge of by the outer world, as any earthly kingdom.
Hence the Analogies by which it is usually illustrated, viz., Ark, House, Kingdom, Body, Pillar, Tree, Net, Cornfield, &c: 1 Tim. iii. 15; 1 Cor. xii. 12, &c. ; Heb. iii. 6; Eph. ii. 19; S. Matt. xiii. 7, &c.
II. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, DIVINE.
“My Kingdom is not of (from) this world,” said Christ (S. John xviii. 36), i.e., not of human origin and managed according to human ideas. It is the KupLoVOLKOS, the Kyrk, i.e., the House or Household of God, formed by Himself for Himself to rule. The Greek and Latin word for Church, ECCLESIA (Welsh, Eglwys), bears plain witness to this. For it means a collection of persons “called out” from the great mass of mankind (S. Matt. xiii. 47): called out, not by man, but by God; to form a Society, not human, but Divine; to be governed by Divine laws, and ministered to by Divinely appointed pastors (S. Matt. xxviii. 20; S. John xx. 21), in accordance with the Divine words of its first Founder to His first “ called out” Apostles : “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you." (S. John xv. 16).
III. THE “ALL DENOMINATIONS,”
CHURCHES, BUT CLUBS. When people voluntarily band together, select their own doctrines, make their own laws, appoint their own teachers, &c., - this is in reality choosing Christ instead of being chosen by Him; and the Societies so formed, being essentially Human in origin and organization, having deliberately cut themselves off from the Divine Presence promised by Christ to His Apostles and their successors, and having therefore no Divine gifts and graces to. bestow ;-these Societies, whether calling themselves Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist, Methodist, or anything else, are not, and cannot be Kingdoms, but Republics,—not Churches of God, but Sectarian Clubs. (Canons 9-11).
IV. CHURCH PEOPLE, “THE FAITHFUL.”
The Church, like a Kingdom, Cornfield, Net, &c., contains not the good only, “but the whole multitude of the Faithful” (Art. 33), i.e., all sorts, good and bad. (S. Matt. xiii. 30—47.)
(b) Art. xix. describes it as Coetus Fidelium,” "a congregation of faithful men, &c.,” which is a technical phrase of the Reformation period, signifying, not, as it sounds to modern ears, a number of good people assembling for worship in any one church or other building, but, the "Aggregate of Believers everywhere;" or, as Canon 55 has it, “Christ's Holy Catholic Church, i.e., the whole congregation of Christian people dispersed throughout the whole world," who have been made Fideles or Faithful by being added to the Faith in Baptism,
and are thus easily distinguished from Unbelievers. (1 Cor. vi. 6. Bingham's Antiquities 1–4. Johnson's
Apostolical Canons, page 9.) (c) S. Paul applies the terms Faithful,” Saints," “ Elect,” “Holy Brethren,” &c., to all Baptized persons indiscriminately; yet in the same breath rebukes them severely for various acts of wrong doing; e.g., i Cor. i. 2, 18; vi. 1, 2 ; iii. 3 ; v. i ; Eph. i. 1; 1 Tim. vi. 2 ; 1 Thess. v. 27; 2 Thess. iii. 6, 11; S. Jude 3. Vid. also Rom. viii. 24; 2 Tim. i. 9; Acts ii. 47 ; Eph. ii. 5, 8; Tit. iii. 5.
(d) Hence, in the Post Communion Thanksgiving, the Church is called "the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the blessed company of all faithful people ;" i.e., a Visible Body whose visible members have been mystically or invisibly united to Christ by Sacramental agency. The same idea runs through Arts. xix., xxvi., xxxiii; Trinity Collects, 13, 21, 25; also 15, 16, 22; and collect for All Saints'. In the Catechism, every baptized child without exception is taught to say,
me and all the elect people of God.”
(e) N.B. Mahometans give themselves the generic title of “The Faithful” (as in Art. 33) to indicate that they profess what they call the only true faith of Mahomet, and believe in the Koran as the Word of God. V. THE SIN AND FOLLY OF SEPARATION FROM THE CHURCH OF THE FAITHFUL.
Dissenting Bodies, which have Sected from the Church for the sake of “greater purity," and having "none but good people” amongst them, have sinned in the following particulars :
(a) Against God, in disregarding His ideal of a Mixed Household ; and His Commands about Unity.
(6) Against their Mother Church, by withdrawing from her ranks, and so, not only weakening her power to confront the Enemy, but diminishing her strength to remove internal defects and make reforms.
(c) Against their Brethren; hy causing divisions and bitter animosities, where all should have been cordial unanimity and brotherly love.
(d) Against their own Souls; by "renouncing," i.e., turning their backs upon, Christ's Presence in the Sacraments, and so losing the promised blessings.
(e) Against Manhood; by a base and selfish desertion of the Ship to secure their own safety (like the cowardly and treacherous sailors of Adramyttium), when their loyal abiding in it would have proved the welfare of the whole. (Acts xxvii. 30, 1).
f) Against Common Sense, which should have told them, that though zeal might keep up the appearance of superior purity and goodness for a brief space, yet evil must of necessity soon creep in, and destroy the ideal of their own fond imagining
(8) Against Light and Knowledge; by continuing still in schism, though the original grounds of quarrel no longer exist; and inventing new grievances continually, as fast as the old ones are removed, by way of justification for their conscious wrongdoing.
(h) Against Truth and Honesty; by calling themselves after their Founders' names, though well aware, that (as notably in the case of “Wesleyans”) they have uttterly deserted their Founders' principles, and taken up entirely new ground. *
(i) Against Plain Reason, which says that it is the merest absurdity for people to talk of "holding on to Christ, Who is the Head,” when they refuse to hold on to the Church, which is His Body.” (Col. i. 18; Eph. v. 23).
(k) Against History, which tells the tale of fifteen centuries without these Dissenting Bodies ; so that if they are right, the whole Çatholic Church must of necessity have always been wrong, and the Holy Ghost" also, Whose guidance was promised on purpose to lead the Church into all truth. (S. John xvi. 13).
From these and other reflections it is abundantly evident, that the Spirit which animates modern Dissent, “cometh not from above”; so that, as might naturally have been expected, its partizans form not so much Religious Sects as Political Clubs; and like branches severed from the parent stem, they have “a name to live," but no true "Life" in them. (S. John vi. 53).
VI. THE CLERGY: WHO THEY ARE.
“ Lawful Ministers” (Article 23), i.e., not merely Preachers, registered and licensed by a magistrate according to the Law of the State, but ordained by a Bishop according to the Law of the Church; Vid. Articles 23, 36, 37, and Preface to Ordinal, which distinctly insists upon the reality of Apos
Similarly, Dissenting Schools are deceitfully called “ British;" Romans call themselves “Catholics ;"
and Calvinists, “Evangelicals.”