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of whom it was said, “Let all the Angels of God worship Him,” (Heb. i. 6.);--and of whom it was likewise said, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever," Ps. xlv. 6.
I said, that our very spiritual existence depends upon our adhering to this great and fundamental truth ; and this I said not of us as individuals only, but as Members of the Church of Christ, and of that portion of Christ's Church in this Kingdom which is usually called the Church of England. It is true of us individually, as appears by the words of St. John ; “ He that hath the Son, bath life ; and be that hath not the Son of God, hath not life ;” (1 John v. 12.); by which we learn, that as long as we slight or disbelieve, or deny this sacred truth, we have no spiritual life in us.
It is also true of us, as Members of the Church of Christ, and of that portion of Christ's Church in this Kingdom which is usually called the Church of England, as appears from the
passage before us ; " Upon this rock," (i. e. upon this firm confession of faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God,) " I will build My Church ; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." For from this we learn, that the Church, and any given portion of that Church, is only then able to defy the assaults of the Devil, that she can only then look forward with confidence to get the victory, so long as she adheres firmly to this faith and belief in Christ. When she departs from that foundation, then she ceases to have a claim for the continuance of the promised aid. This is a matter which it behoves Christians at all times to place before their eyes, and to keep in remembrance ; but especially at the present time, does it behove us, who are Members of the Church of Christ in England, to do so : because of the unceasing endeavours which are being made by men who are either careless of religion altogether, or who have embraced false views of it, to overthrow our Church ; endeavours, which we have reason to regard either with fear, or not, aecording as we have reason, or not, to suppose that the Members of the Church have departed from the true faith and fear of God, and of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. If there is reason to believe that many or most of the Members of our Church are regardless of that true faith, and of the honour of Him in whom we believe, that by their lips, or by their lives, they set at nought His Majesty, neglect His sacraments, despise His Word, forsake His Worship, obey not His Voice, or look for redemption and salvation by any other means than by His Cross and Blood, then we have every reason to fear that these endeavours of our enemies will be successful; that the light of God's presence will be withheld from us; and that, as He withdrew from the Jews, when they neglected Christ, the LORD of Glory, so He will withdraw from our Nation also, and leave it to the wretchedness of its own chosen ways; to the enjoyment of those idols, the world, the flesh and the Devil, for which it will have forsaken the Holy ONE of Israel, and refused to hearken to the voice of the LAMB of God, who died to take away the sins of the world. But if not, if we have reason to hope that there are many true servants of God still to be found ; that there are many who, not with their lips only, but in their hearts and with their lives acknowledge Him the only true God, and Jesus CHRIST whom He has sent; acknowledge Him so as to obey His voice, and keep and do what He has commanded ; then may we regard the attempts of our enemies without dismay; then may we have firm and stedfast hope that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against us : that though it may please God that we should suffer for a while;—as we suffered together with good King Charles at the hands of the Dissenters ; as we suffered in the days of bloody Queen Mary, at the hands of the Roman Catholics ; as we suffered during the first three hundred years after Christ, at the hands of the Heathens and the Jews ;-yet that eventually triumph will await us; that He will bring our Church out of the trial, like gold out of the fire, more pure and of greater worth, (“ I will purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin ;" Is. i. 25.) that “all things will work together for good" to us; and that the purpose
aimed at by the affliction is, that He "may present our Church to Himself as a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." Ephes. v. 27.
It will hence appear, that it is in the power of every individual, by a holy and religious life in the true faith and fear of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, to promote not only his own salvation, but the welfare and stability of the Church of Christ; or by an unholy, careless, and irreligious life, not only to secure his own damnation, but to assist the enemies of God and man, who are purposed to overthrow that Church.
If times of confusion and trouble shall come, where can we seek for comfort but in the love of Christ, in the love of God to man for Christ's sake? But how can we then take comfort in that love, if now we take no account of it? Let me entreat you, then, Christian Brethren, while the days of peace are vouchsafed to you, to give more and more heed to all religious duties. The days may come, when your Churches will be shut up, or only filled by men who will not teach the whole truth as it is in Jesus ; when you will be deprived of Ministers of Religion; or have only such as are destitute of God's Commission. Do not, I beseech you, by your neglect now, add to your misery then the bitterness of self-reproach, when you will have to say, "I had once the opportunity of worshipping God aright, but I neglected it, and He now has withheld it from me. I had once the means of receiving the Body and Blood of my Saviour, at the hands of His own Minister ; but I refused it, and now He has placed it out of my power."
These Tracts are continued in Numbers, and sold at the price of 2d. for each sheet, or 7s. for 50 copies.
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THE SCRIPTURE VIEW OF THE
In referring to the Epistles of the New Testament for proof of the duty of submission to Spiritual Authority, we are sometimes met by the objection that the case is very much altered since the days of the Apostles, and since the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit have been withdrawn from the Church. Now it will readily be admitted on all hands, that the state of the Church is very greatly altered since these miraculous powers have ceased ; but at he same time we must not allow a general principle of this sort to set aside the authority of Holy Scripture, as far as regards our own practice, until, by a diligent and careful study of the Apostles' writings, we have found that the principle does really apply to the case in question; as, for instance, that the Apostolic Authority is grounded in Scripture upon the possession of miraculous powers, and therefore necessarily ceased when those powers were withheld. Let us then examine this point more particularly.
Have we then considered, in reference to this matter, that the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit were not confined to the appointed teachers of the Church, but were shed abroad upon
congregation at large, upon the young and the old alike, upon the servants, and upon the hand-maidens ? (Comp. Joel ji. 28, 29.) It was the promise of the Old Testament, that, under the dispensation of the New Covenant, God would write His Law in the hearts of His people, so that they should teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying ; Know the Lord, "for they shallall know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD." (Jer. xxxi. 33, 34.) This promise, we are told in the Epistle to the Hebrews, was fulfilled in the Gospel ; and St. John, in his First General Epistle, expressly acknowledges the accomplishment of the Prophet's words. He says to
his " little children,” “Ye bave an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you know not the truth, but because ye know it. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received from Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you ; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.” (1 John ii. 20, 21.27.) Such general illumination by God's Holy Spirit might seem to make any authoritative Apostolic declarations altogether unnecessary
for the converts ; but we still find St. John writing to them, and declaring his testimony to the Christian doctrine with much earnestness; and why? Let us hear his own words at the beginning of his Epistle; “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” Here we have the object of the Apostle's affectionate address fully and clearly stated. He and his Fellow-Apostles, the witnesses of their Master's Life and Death and Resurrection, had received from Him a glorious revelation to communicate to the world: they had seen and did testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world; upon this foundation they were commissioned to build the Christian Church ; and it was their holy and blessed office to “stablish, strengthen, settle" the faith of their "little children" in the Gospel; to tell them how they might keep themselves from the spirit of error, and continuing “stedfast in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship," might through them have fellowship with the FATHER and the Son, and so "rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." We now see the full force of St. John's authoritative language. He was marking the lines of " the foundation of the Apostle and Prophets," in order that his disciples might duly be built upon
their most holy faith into a temple meet for the habitation of God through the Sririt: they were God's building, and the Apostle was one of the “wise master-builders," whom Christ had appointed to build His Spiritual House. And this view of the matter will become still clearer, if we study well the prayer
which Christ offered for His Church at the solemn moment when He