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in their example,--on which account also the younger members, being instructed in their duty, are to submit themselves unto the elder (1 Pet, v.5),—but are from time to time to excite others to the discharge of the same duties, to overlook the church, to watch each individual, “ to be instant in season and out of season, to reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine," as the apostle writes (2 Tim. iv. 2), but yet with that caution which the apostle prescribes (1 Tim. v. 1, 2), “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father, and the younger men as brethren : the elder women as mothers, the
younger as sisters, with all purity.”
OF THE INVISIBLE CHURCH OF CHRIST. Tell me now what you think of the invisible church?
The Holy Scriptures seems hardly any where to use the word Church to designate a society of truly pious men, distinct from that church which is called visible; since all who are truly pious either do now belong, or have formerly belonged, to the visible church also: though it must be confessed that this visible church is sometimes considered in such a light, that it is assumed that it discharges its duty, and truly obeys God; regard not being had to what it really is, but to what it ought to be in virtue of its profession, condition, and discipline: as also the same thing is often taken for granted in respect to individual professors
of Christian truth. Nevertheless it is possible to imagine a certain peculiar multitude of people, and their union among themselves, which it might be allowable, on account of some likeness, or metaphorically, to call a church: for the truly pious, dispersed in all directions, or concealed, --if indeed true piety can be concealed,---cannot in literal propriety of speech be designated a church, that is, a congregation assembled in one place.
Who then are the invisible church?
They are those who truly confide in Christ and obey him; and are therefore, in the most perfect sense, his body: an assembly or congregation of whom, so that we may be assured in respect to the real piety of each individual, we shall not, I apprehend, ever find or see except at the coming of Christ.
Why do you call this assembly of men invisible ?
Because at present it can only be conceived by the mind; and because those qualities which constitute this church and the members thereof are invisible. For no one is a member of this church who has not true faith in Christ and real piety; for by faith we are grafted into the body of Christ, and by faith and piety we remain in him. But true faith in Christ, and real piety, can in no way be seen by our eyes, since they both lie hidden and concealed in the inmost recesses of the heart.
Can it not be known from the external actions, who is a member of the church of Christ?
From evil external actions any one may easily know that a person is not a member of the church of
Christ; that is, that he has not a lively and efficacious
Have you any thing to add, which relates to the
I have now explained to you all that I could, in a
TEXTS OF SCRIPTURE
xi. 17, 25%
49 Exodus xxxi. 13, 16, 17 273
151 NUMBERS v.5,6, 15 206
XV. 24, 25 :. 352
xxiii. 5, 16 64
12,15,16 .. 203
-5, &c. 180, 183