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a body having many members, of which Christ is the head. The church is a “ household” or family, of which Christ is the master, -" of whom the whole “ family is named ;" and into which being admitted by baptism, we receive the spirit of adoption, where by we are allowed and enabled to call the great Lord of heaven and earth our father. The church is also called the “ city of the living God," and Chrif. tians are said to be “ fellow citizens with the « faints :" and it is often mentioned as a kingdom, of which Christ-the King of saints is the Al. mighty Sovereign, “ to whom all power is given, in “ heaven and in earth.” In all these respects, the church must be considered as an outward and visible society, possessing all the powers and privileges, and imposing on its members all the relative duties implied in the allusions which I have now quoted. As a body, all the members must be joined to the head, and to one another, that they may receive life and motion for the discharge of their several functions. As a family, it's Almighty Father must in every thing be the guide and director of his children, appointing for them the proper teachers and masters, and training them up in the way of life, from which they must never depart. As a household, the church must not be divided against itself: That it may stand, it must be upheld in unity and order, and by submis. fion to such wholesome discipline, as in the charitable institutions of this world, is found necessary to be imposed on all who are admitted to share in the li• D2
berality of the founders. As a city and kingdom, the church must be watched over, and governed by its proper officers, deriving their spiritual power and authority from that heavenly Sovereign, who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
Such then being the light, in which we are taught to view the nature and design of that holy and heavenly fociety, which in fcripture is called the Church; let us now cast a veil over the confusions of these latter days, and set ourselves to enquire after the order and uniformity of the primitive ages of Christianity; when the doctrine and fellowship of the apofa tles were strictly and stedfastly adhered to, and Chris. tians continued most faithfully and conscientiouly " in the things which they had learned, and been “ assured of, knowing of whom they had learned " them.” And as in the course of this enquiry, it may be necessary, for the truth's sake, to speak of things as they really are, and not “call evil good, and “ good evil, or put darkness for light, and light for “ darkness;" it is hoped, that such candid and honest dealing will not be misinterpreted as the indication of an uncharitable, or illiberal mind; but justly considered as proceeding from an earnest desire to promote the salvation of men, and to join fervently in the pious wish and petition of the church, as expressed in one of her daily prayers, “ that all who “ profess and call themselves Christians may be led “ into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity
“ of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteous"ness of life.”
How then can any want of true charity, or what deserves to be called liberality, be with justice imputed to him, who, in his professional character, is doing all he can for the benefit of his fellow-christians, and is not willing that any of them should be lost, if he can help it? Will nothing serve to constitute a liberal-minded Christian, but that lukewarm indifference, which is totally unconcerned about every thing connected with religion ; which looks on all professions as alike fafe, provided men be fincere, and sees no reason why every one may not hope to “ get to heaven” in his own way? Do we judge thus in matters of less consequence, and where the interests of the present life only are concerned ? Is he applauded as a liberal-minded physician, who, seeing his patient indulging himself in every thing that tends to nourish disease and impair the constitution, flatters him, that all shall yet be well; and that he does right to go on in his own way? Is he applauded as a liberal-minded lawyer, who tells his client, that he need give himself no trouble about the laws and government of this country ; since in order to preserve the rights and liberties of a British subject, he may be as well directed in every thing by the muni. cipal code of France, or Russia, or any other country? Is the commander of armies applauded as a liberal-minded soldier, who, in the day of battle, leaves his troops without orders or instructions of
any kind, and lets them fight the enemy in the way that seems best to their own judgment ? Why then should the teacher of religion be applauded as a liberal-minded divine, whose only merit lies in “ speaking peace, where there is no peace," and leaving the people to grope for the wall of salvation, the pillar and ground of truth; when by pointing it out, through the mist of modern error and delusion, as “ a city set on a hill,” which is at unity in itself, he might direct their eyes to that which is the only sure refuge from sin and misery, the only place of safety to a guilty world, and therefore ought to be “ the joy of the whole earth.” Conscious therefore of poffefsing no other spirit than the spirit of Christian charity, and actuated by no other motive, than the desire of promoting the glory of God, and the good of my Christian brethren, I shall proceed to establish the following plain and important facts, as matters of undoubted certainty, and worthy of the most serious confideration. .
1. That the Christian religion, being, like its Di. vine Author, " the same yesterday, to-day and for “ ever," ought to be received and embraced, just as it is represented and held out in the scriptures of truth, without “ adding thereto, or diminishing from it.”
II. That the church of Christ, in which his religion is received and embraced, is that spiritual society in which the ministration of holy things is committed to the three distinct orders of Bishops,
Priests and Deacons, deriving their authority from the apostles, as those apostles received their commission from Christ. And,
III. That a part of this holy, catholic and apostolic church, though deprived of the support of civil establishment, does still exist in this country, under the name of the Scotch Episcopal Church; whose doctrine, discipline and worship, as happily agreeing with that of the first and purest ages of Christianity, ought to be steadily adhered to, by all who profess to be of the Episcopal Communion, in this part of the kingdom.