Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

spects, they who belong not to the society of the Reformed Church, are universally found exceedingly deficient.

XXIX. Nor should we suffer ourselves to be intimidated by the importunate clamours of the Romanists, who demand where that Reformed Church of our's was before the appearance of Luther or Calvin. This puerile question is easily answered, and requires no tedious discussion. On both sides, surely, it is admitted, that there has always been a true Church of Christ: nor will the Romanists themselves affect to deny, that a Society which sincerely and stedfastly maintains all the doctrines delivered by Christ, and by the Prophets and Apostles, must be owned to be a true Church of Christ. Now that this is done by our Church, has been long since evinced in detail from the Scriptures. If the Romanists assert the contrary, let them point out a single article in which we deviate from the pole-star of Sacred writ. This is the surest, and the most compendious method. Let the pious inquirer be directed to prove all things by the touchstone of Scripture, and not to search the unwieldy volumes of those whom they style Fathers, and all the recesses of an obscure antiquity; the investigation of which has long since worn out the patience and baffled the ingenuity of men of even the most profound erudition.

xxx. Let it not be supposed, however, that we decline this ordeal. We are prepared to show, that in all ages not only learned men, but also whole communities, bave professed the same truths with ourselves. 1st, The four first Centuries are in our favour. Jewel, Perkins, Raynolds, Mornay, Moulin, Rivet, Aubertin, Daillé, Blondel, Claude, and others, have demonstrated, by incontrovertible evidence, that the Justins, the Cle

es

ec

ses

ments, the Ambroses, the Augustines, the Jeromes, the Chrysostomes, and all the Fathers of those ages, hold, in every thing essential, the same sentiments with us. 2dly, After the Papacy began to lift up its head, and the Church to degenerate gradually, there were some who, both by their discourses and writings, protested against the prevailing errors, and boldly defended sound doctrine. Lists of these have been compiled, by Flaccius Illyricus, the Ministers of Magdeburg, * Mornay,t Usher of Armagh, ţ and others. 3dly, In the valleys of the Alps, a whole nation remained unpolluted by the devices of Antichrist, the hope and the seed of a better Church. 4thly, Where our Churches were, is asked with a bad grace, by men who so cruelly persecuted them in the Waldenses, the Leonists, and the Bohemian Brethren; and, with horrid barbarity, butchered so many myriads of holy martyrs, precious in the sight of God.68 5thly, We might advert, in fine, to the very numerous Churches in the East, who not only detested the arrogant pretensions and supercilious conduct of the Bishop of Rome, but also combated his many errors.

XXXI. But even though we may have found a true Church with which we can associate in profession and worship, the business is not yet completed. External communion with an approved Church, is not enough to sustain a solid hope of salvation. In vain do proud boasters exclaim, “ The temple of the Lord, the tem“ple of the Lord are these.”n We must see that we

* Magdeburgens. Centurice.
+ Mysterium Iniquitatis.
# De Successione et Statu Ecclesiarum.

n Jer. vii. 4.
68 See Note LXVIII.

belong to the internal and spiritual Church of Christ, and that, united to her by the secret bonds of the Holy Spirit and a living faith, we be assured in our own mind of that union. For this purpose we should examine the marks of election, the efficacy of the inward calling, the life of faith, the nature of Christian holiness, the evidences of Christ himself dwelling in the heart, and whatever other characteristics serve to distinguish the spiritual Church. These we have stated at some length in their proper places, particularly, in the Treatise on the Economy of the Covenants.

XXXII. Let but a few of them be observed here. Ist, In the mystical Church of Christ, not merely the external voice of the Gospel is heard, but also the internal voice of the Spirit; which not only strikes the ear, but reaches the heart, and bends it to the obedience of faith. On this account, they are called “the " epistle of Christ, written not with ink, but with the "Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but "in fleshly tables of the heart.” Here, too, not merely are the seals of the Covenant of grace distributed, but the grace of God itself, in which the life of the soul consists, is exhibited, tasted, and enjoyed : "If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”p Here flow those admirable waters of the Spirit, which gradually increase, till they form a river that cannot be forded ; and which, while they are constantly running, heal other waters that they touch, and give life and

vigour to a vast multitude of fishes. A right, or ac| cess, to this grace, is not obtained by a mere verbal

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

profession before men, but by that which the Apostle requires when he speaks of “ a professed subjection to “ the Gospel of Christ.”r 69

XXXIII. 2dly, The spiritual Church of Christ is truly holy,s and surpasses other societies of men, and even nominal professors, in unblemished purity of conduct, as far as the temple of Jerusalem surpassed the ordinary houses of the citizens in splendour and magnificence of workmanship. No one, therefore, can justly consider himself a member of this Church, who doth not possess in his heart, and discover in his behaviour, the superior excellence of the Christian character. t

XXXIV. 3dly, This Church is far more glorious within than without; just like the tabernacle erected by: Moses, which was covered without, with rams skins, and badgers skins; whilst within it was adorned with fine linen, purple, gold, and jewels. Our Lord aptly compares hypocrites to " whited sepulchres, which indeed “ appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead “ men's bones, and of all uncleanness.” The Spouse, on the contrary, is said to be “ like the tents of Kedar," whose appearance was mean ; but also “ like the cur“ tains of Solomon,” in which the elegance of the workmanship vied with the extraordinary magnificence of the materials. The one expression refers to her external appearance, the other to her internal beauty.70 And truly “ the King's daughter is all glorious with“ in;" and her adorning consists “ in the hidden man “ of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even

"Yxerdy9 TM; audÀeria; tuy rò Euro Auay Xe GT8, 2 Cor. ix. 13.
s Ephes. v. 26, 27.

+ Mat. v. 20. u Exod. xxxvi.

v Mat. xxiii. 27. w Song i. 5.

09 See Note LXIX. 70 See Note LXX.

“the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in " the sight of God of great price.”x

xxxv. 4thly, Here the praises of God resound, and all things are referred to his glory. “ In his temple “ doth every one speak of his glory.”, “ This people “ have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my " praise.”. Here then let every one investigate his own character, and if he find in himself the characters which have now been mentioned, he may conclude that he is a member of that Church, which is the Spouse of

Christ, and the partaker of his blessings. i XXXVI. The sacred volume abounds with eulogies

on the inexpressible felicity of the mystical Church. “ Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God.” Ist, This is a society of men, which God chose before the foundation of the world, by an immutable decree of which he will never repent, that he might be glorified and admired in them ;b and into whose mouth he puts this unspeakably delightful song : “ Blessed be " the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whơ “ hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly “ places in Christ; according as he hath chosen us “ in him, &c.”c 2dly, A society which, the Son of God, by undertaking the character of her Surety, has betrothed to himself, and to which he has betrothed himself; and which he has purchased at the expense of his own precious blood,-“having obtained eternal redemption.”d This again is the subject of a new song.e 3dly;

* Ps. xlv. 13. 1 Pet. iii. 4.

Ps. xxix. 9.
z Is. xliii. 21. Comp. 1 Pet. ii. 9.
a Ps. lxxxvii. 3. 62 Thes. i. 10.
e Ephes. i. 3—6. d Heb. ix. 12.
e Rev. v. 9, 10.

« AnteriorContinuar »