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OF THE CHURCH. I. The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.a
II. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world, that profess the true religion, b together with their children ;c and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ,d the
I. a Eph. i. 10, 22, 23. That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him. And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. Col. i. 18. And he is the head of the body, the church. See Eph. V. 23, 27, 32.
II. (1 Cor. i. 2. Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours. 1 Cor. xii. 12, 13. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. Psa. ii. 8. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. See Rom. xv. 9-12.
c1 Cor. vii. 14. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband : else were your children unclean; but now are they hory. Acts ii. 39. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Gen. xvii. 7. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. Rom. xi. 16. For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. See Gal. iii. 7, 9, 14; Rom. iv.
d Matt. xiii. 31. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field. Col. i. 13. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. See Psa. lxxii.; Isa. ix, 7.
house and family of God, e out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.s
III. Unto this catholic visible Church, Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world : and doth by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.9
IV. This catholic Church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less, visible.h And particular churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them. i
• Eph. ii. 19. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. Eph. iii. 15. Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.
Matt. x. 32, 33. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Acts ii. 47. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
III. 9 Eph. iv. 11-13. And he gave some, a postles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Isa. lix. 21. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.
Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
IV. h Rom. xi. 3, 4. Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. See Acts ix. 31.
i Acts ii. 41, 42. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized : and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doc
V. The purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error:k and some have so degenerated, as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan.? Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth, to worship God according to his will.m
VI. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only head of the Church," and the claim of any man to be the vicar of Christ and the head of the Church, is unscriptural, without warrant in fact, and is a usurpation dishonoring to the Lord Jesus Christ,o
trine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 1 Cor. v. 6, 7. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven Ceaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. See Rev. ii. and iii.
V. k1 Cor. i. 2. Unto the Church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours. See 1 Cor. V. 1 Cor. xiii. 12. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. Matt. xiii. 24-30, 17. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field : But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also, etc.-Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind. See Rev. ii. and iii.
i Rom. xi. 20–22. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity ; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. Rev. ii. 9. I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and i know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are note but are the synagogue of Satan.
m Matt. xvi. 18. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. See Psa. lxxii ; Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.
VI. n Col. i. 18. And he is the head of the body, the church : who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. Eph. i. 22. And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.
. Matt. xxiii. 8-10. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your CHAPTER XXVI.
OF THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS.
I. ALL saints that are united to Jesus Christ their head, by his Spirit and by faith, have fellowship with him in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: a and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other's gifts and graces ;) and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 1 Pet. v. 2-4. Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 2 Thess. ii. 3, 4. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
I. a 1 John i. 3. 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. Eph. iii. 16, 17. That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. John i. 16. And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. Phil. iii. 10. That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellow. ship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death. Rom. vi. 5, 6. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Rom. viii. 17. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Eph. iv. 15, 16. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.c
II. Saints, by profession, are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion, in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; d as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended unto all those, who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.e
III. This communion which the saints have with Christ, doth not make them in any wise partakers of the substance of his Godhead, or to be equal with Christ in any respect : either of which to affirm, is impious and blasphemous.s
c1 Thess. v. 11, 14. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.-Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. Gal. vi. 10. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. See 1 John iii. 16-18.
II. d Heb. x. 24, 25. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love, and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another : and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Acts ii. 42, 46. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.-And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. See Isa. ii. 3; 1 Cor. xi. 20.
(1 John iii. 17. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? Acts xi. 29, 30. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. See 2 Cor. viii.; ix.
III. Col. i. 18. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 1 Cor. viii. 6. But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. See Psa. xly. 7. 1 Tim. vi. 15, 16. Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can