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decency and lustre that attends it. And Christ himself, though he expects and requires the duty of the heart, and to be served by all persons, and in all places; yet be reserves some offices in his service for a peculiar people, more particularly dedicated to it, and vouchsafes more especially to reside in those places which are more solemnly dedicated to, and consecrated for, his worship.
Lord Clarendon's Remarks on the Scriptures.
The things here asserted by the Apostle, if duly considered, will be found to have as great influence upon our minds and actions, as any articles of our faith whatsoever. For is Christ our Saviour exalted at the right hand of God? Are all things put under his feet? What a glorious and mighty Saviour then have we in heaven! How well may we believe and trust on him for all things necessary to our salvation! Is Christ given to be head over all things to the church? How then can ever the gates of hell prevail against it, or against any sound member of it? What can we want, what need we fear, who have him that hath all things under him, always ready to supply and help us? What can he not do for us that he will ? And what will be not do for us that he can? Is the church the body of Christ," the fulness of him that is all in all?" What love and care then must Christ needs have for his church, nourishing it and cherishing it even as his own flesh! And what love should all the members of the church have for him, as well as for one another! What care to serve, honour, and obey him! How soberly, how righteously, how godly, should they live, who are so nearly related to him, who is head over all things in the world! And who would not be in the number of them?
What is the church of Christ?
A company of men and women, called out of the world to be lieve, and live in Christ; and endued accordingly with spiritual graces for the service of God; (Gal. iii. 26, 27, 28. John i. 12. and xvii. 14, 16. Eph. ii. 10. 1 Tim. iii. 15. Tit. ii. 14.) or rather, the whole number of God's elect, which are admitted into fellowship with Christ Jesus. (Eph. i. 1. and v. 23. Col. i. 2, 27.) For all these being taken together are called the church, that is, God's
assembly or congregation: which in the scripture is likened unto the spouse of Christ; (Cant. iv. 9, 10. Eph. v. 23, 25.) which in the under the title of the Holy Catholic Eph. v. 27.
creed we profess to believe,
Church. Heb. xii. 22, 23.
Do you believe in the Catholic Church?
Yes. I believe that God hath a certain number of his chosen children, which he doth call and gather to himself: that Christ hath such a flock selected out of all nations, ages, and conditions of men; (Eph. v. 23. John x. 16. Gal. iii. 28. Rev. vii. 9.) and that myself am one of that company, and a sheep of that fold.
Why say you, that you believe that there is a Catholic Church? Because that the church of God cannot always be seen by the eyes of man.
Why is this Church called holy?
Because she has washed her robes in the blood of the Lamb; and being sanctified and cleansed with the washing of water by the word, is presented and accepted as holy before God; (Rev. vii. 14. Eph. v. 26, 27. Col. i. 21, 22.) For though the church on earth be in itself sinful, yet in Christ the head it is holy, and in the life to come shall be brought to perfection of holiness.
What learn you hence?
That if ever we will have the church for our mother, or God for our father; we must labour to be holy, as he is holy, Gal. iv. 26. 1 Pet. i. 13-17. Lev. xx. 7.
What is meant by the Catholic Church?
That whole universal company of the elect that ever were, are, or shall be gathered together in one body, knit together in one faith, under one head, Christ Jesus, (Eph. iv. 4, 5, 6, 12, 13. Col. ii. 19. Eph. i. 22, 23.) For God in all places, and of all sorts of men, had from the beginning, hath now, and ever will have, an holy church. Which is therefore called the catholic church, that is, God's whole or universal assembly; because it comprehendeth the multitude of all those that have, do, or shall believe unto the world's end.
Do all these make one body?
The whole number of believers and saints by calling make one body, the head whereof is Christ Jesus; (Eph. i. 10, 22, 23. Col. i.
18, 24.) having under him no other vicar. And so the Pope is no head of the church: for neither property nor office of the head cat agree unto him.
What is the property of the head?
To be highest and therefore there can be but one, even Christ, What is the office of the head?
First, to prescribe laws to his church, which should bind men's consciences to the obedience of the same: and of such law-givers there is but one. James iv. 12.
Secondly, to convey the powers of life and motion into all the members, by bestowing spiritual life and grace upon them. For as the natural members take spirit and sense from the head; so the church hath all her spiritual life and feeling from Christ, who is only able (and no creature beside) to quicken and give life.
Thirdly, to be the Saviour of the body, Eph. v. 23. But Christ Jesus is the only Saviour of the church: whom, by this title of the head of the church, Paul lifted up above all angels, archangels, principalities, and powers. And therefore, if the Pope were the suc cessor of Peter; yet should he not be the head of the church: which agreeth to no simple creature in heaven, or under heaven.
So much of the head. Where be the members of this holy ca tholic church?
Part are already in heaven triumphant, part as yet militant here upon earth.
What call you the church triumphant?
The blessed company of those that have entered into their Master's joy, (Heb. xii. 23. Rev. vii. 14, 16.) waiting for the fulfilling of the number of their fellow-members, and their own consummation in perfect bliss. Rev. vi. 9.
Why is it called triumphant?
Because the saints deceased have made an end to their pilgrimage and labours here on earth, and triumph over their enemies, the world, death, and damnation.
Are the Angels of the church triumphant?
No. First, Because they were never of the church militant. Se condly, Because they were not redeemed, nor received benefit by
the death of Christ. And therefore it is said, that he took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham. Heb. ii. 16. What is the special duty which the church triumphant in heaven doth perform?
Praise and thanksgiving to God.
What is the church militant?
It is the society of those, that being scattered through all the corners of the world, are by one faith in Christ conjoined to him, and fight under his banner against their enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil: continuing in the service and warfare of their Lord, and expecting in due time also to be crowned with victory, and triumph in glory with him. Rev. i. 9. & xii. 11. 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8.
Are we then to acknowledge one church, or many?
One alone; as there is but one Lord, one Spirit, one baptism, one faith, Eph. iv. 4. Cant. vi, 8. Gal, iii. 28. Howsoever (as hath been said) there is a begun, and a perfect church. For the church of God is one in respect of the inward nature of it; having one head, one spirit, and one final state: but outwardly, there be as many churches as there be congregations of believers, knit together by special bond of order for the religious expressing of that inward nature; Rev. i. 11. Yet, though there be many visible churches, there is but one catholic and universal church; of which not one shall be lost, and out of which not one shall be saved. Acts ii. 47. Eph. v. 23. John xvii, 12, 20. Archbishop Usher.
From the description here given of the church, as a spiritual society, the Christian is to learn the dignity of his own character, and to conduct himself in a manner suitable to his station. He seems outwardly like other men, but inwardly he has an honourable place in the kingdom of spirits, he is in the company of angels, saints, and martyrs; he is under the dominion of God, as his king and lawgiver, he is a student of wisdom in the school that has sent out so many sons unto glory; he is within the covenant that is sealed by the blood of Christ for his purification and redemption; his name is registered in heaven, as an heir of immortality; he knows that while the mighty empires of the earth are changing and passing
away into oblivion, the kingdom of which he is a member shall never be moved. The earth shall be shaken and the heavens shall melt away; but his inhertance is secure. The same God, who is consuming fire to an impenitent world, will be to him a protector and a Saviour, if he serves him acceptably, in this short time of his probation, with reverence and godly fear. Jones of Nayland.
If such be a just representation of the church or kingdom of Christ, as it appeared in its first establishment, it is manifest that wherever we trace it in subsequent periods, we must find something that resembles it in its leading features. We shall discern a people, holding the same views of the character and work of the Saviour; owning subjection to him, as the King whom God hath set upon his holy hill of Zion; evincing their allegiance to him, by an implicit obedience to his laws, institutions, and ordinances; and rejecting the doctrines and commandments of men.
Jones's History of the Church. And as the church at Jerusalem was the first Christian church established by the ministry of the apostles, so it was designed to serve as a pattern, in its faith and order, to all succeeding churches, to the end of the world. It was constituted under the direction of the twelve inspired apostles, who, for a course of time, acted as the elders, bishops, or overseers of the flock of Christ, took up their station in it, and under divine direction gave forth the law to regulate the practices of all other churches; "for out of Zion was to go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."
This will lead us, in the next place, to inquire, what these laws, regulations, and practices were of the first primitive churches? or what was required at the hands of the Jews, Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, and Juden, Capadocia, and Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, the Cyrenes, and