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distribute, the untiring zeal with the close of the next half century. which they toil, the promises of God Our fathers, who were young men at on behalf of his word, the power of the beginning of the last, are now truth, and the efficacy of prayer, numbered with the dead. we are warranted to regard the suc- rejoice in the successes of their toil, cesses of the past as only the precur- and take courage for the future; that sors of future and even of complete when this century shall close, our triumphs, when the whole mass of children and grandchildren may see humanity shall feel the influence of the rapid and wide progress of truth, the truth, when the knowledge of of righteousness, of salvation, and the Lord shall cover the earth, as the all its collateral blessings with wonder waters cover the sea.'
and delight, and exclaim, · What hath We shall very few of us live to see God wrought.'
THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD.*
MY CHRISTIAN FRIENDS,—We are our present duty, our appeal will be assembled this afternoon to set apart not to tradition, to the fathers, to our esteemed brethren, Yates and popes and conclaves, to acts of par. Smith, as joint pastors of this church, liament, nor to the decisions of counthat they may be workers together with cils, but to the Word of God, 'to the one another, and with God, for your law and to the testimony.' Enquiredification, for the advancement of ing, as we therefore do, what saith the cause of Christ in this neighbour- the scriptures ?' we propose to solict hood, and for the promotion of the your attention to that portion of it divine glory. Such an occasion is which you will find in 1 Timothy surely one of sufficient solemnity and iii. 15, .But if I tarry long, that thou importance to render it both suitable mayest know how thou oughtest to and proper for us to attempt the vin- behave thyself in the house of God, dication of our conduct, not only with which is the church of the living God, respect to the proceedings of this day, the pillar and ground of the trath.' but also in separating from the church You will perceive that the great obby law established in this land. This ject brought before us in these words, department of the present service has is the church of the living God. Let been assigned to me. I shall proba- us then enquire what the church of bly do it so as to require your for the living God is. However, before bearance, but I will endeavour to do proceeding with our direct reply to it temperately yet faithfully, 'speakthis important question, we may be ing the truth in love.' But should permitted to observe that the Roman anything be said which sounds harsh. Catholic church has for about fifteen ly in the ears of any, we beg to re- hundred years arrogated to herself mind such that our object is to ascer- the exclusive right to be styled the tain and diffuse truth; and we hope church of the living God, the pillar you will all admit that the claims of and ground of the truth. truth are paramount and pre-eminent. pears to us, for many reasons, that It may be proper to apprize you in this claim on her part is entirely the outset, that in the discharge of groundless and inadmissible, and that
her real name and true chai acter are Introductory discourse delivered at the given, in Rev. xvii. 5,— Mystery, recognition of the Revds. T. Yates and H. Babylon the great, the mother of bar, Smith, at Hogglescote, Oct. 23rd, 1850, by lots and abominations of the earth.' the Rev. R. Kenney.
But it ap
Be it remembered, this name is writ- whence came they ??— These are they ten upon her forehead. 'I speak as which came out of great tribulation, unto wise men; judge ye what I say.' and have washed their robes and made Moreover, this audience scarcely needs them white in the blood of the Lamb.' to be informed that the Church of This is the general assembly and England, so called, demands to be church of the first-born-the whole accounted the only true church of the family in heaven and on earth—the living God in this country. With church which Christ so loved as to how much truth and propriety, we give himself for it, that he might shall endeavour to show.
sanctify and cleanse it with the washIt may be enough for us to say at ing of water by the word.' present, that we do not believe that The second purpose for which the any national establishment can be a Scriptures employ the term church, is church of Christ; much less can it be to describe a particular congregation that church solely and exclusively. of professed believers organized with We will now proceed to remark that their bishops and deacons, and statedthe term church as it is employed in ly meeting together for the worship. the New Testament appears always to of God, for the celebration of the represent an organized body as dis- ordinances of the gospel, for the tinguished from a casual or promiscu- maintenance of scriptural discipline, ous concourse. Nor does the Ephe- for the extension of Christ's kingdom, sian assembly, mentioned Acts 19th, and the promotion of God's glory. and which, in several verses of that of this description, as it appears to chapter, is styled Ecclesia, a church, us, were those churches named in the at all affect this statement; for al. | Acts of the Apostles, and in the aposthough the people then met were ex. tolical Epistles, and such we conceive ceedingly tumultuous and irregular in is the church statedly assembling in their proceedings, yet they evidently this house of prayer. 'Such a church came together in their corporate ca- is purely a divine institution, and owes pacity, to hold a judicial assembly. its existence, its increase, its stability, Bearing this in mind, we may observe and its usefulness, not to what is that the word church, as it occurs in earthly and human, but to that which numerous portions of the New Testa- is heavenly and divine; not to man, ment Scriptures, bears two significa- but to God. tions. When it is used in the first of Let us now notice who are eligible the two, it represents the entire body to be members of such a church; and of the faithful—the whole company of we shall find by reference to the the redeemed, whether on earth or in Word of God, that they are such as heaven. This glorious community have acknowledged Christ as their one consists of that great multitude which Lord, received the one faith of the the apostle John beheld in his apoca. gospel, and professed their faith by lyptic vision, but which no man could the one baptism which their Lord apnumber, of all nations and kindreds pointed; and, moreover, are habitually and people and tongues, and which corroborating their profession by a stood before the throne and before consistent and holy practice. The the Lamb, clothed with white robes, view of this important matter now and palms in their hands, and cried given, is further supported by the imwith a loud voice, saying, 'Salvation port of those titles by which the legitito our God which sitteth upon the mate members of the church are disthrone, and to the Lamb. Of this tinguished in the sacred records, from glorified throng, an elder said, in an- the men of the world. They are swer to the question, What are these designated believers, christians, saints, which are arrayed in white robes ? and I and faithful brethren, all which names are utterly and palpably inapplicable , be blameless, the husband of one wife, to the world in general; and as much vigilant, sober, &c., &c. Further, we so to nominal christians as to others. have also here an equally impressive You may satisfy yourselves of the description of a christian deacon, whose veracity of these statements by refer- office it is to serve tables, by which ence to the opening verses of Paul's are supposed to be meant the table of epistles to the Corinthians, Colossians, the Lord, the table of the minister, Ephesians, and Thessalonians. Now and the table of the poor. The duty if these are the real elements of which of the deacon, therefore, is to manage a church of Christ is composed, as the secular concerns of the church, suredly they are so exclusively, for and to aid the pastor as occasion may 'what fellowship hath righteousness require, in attending to its spiritual with unrighteousness ? and what com- state. The character which the deamunion hath light with darkness ? con is required to bear, is given in the and what concord hath Christ with eighth and five following verses of Belial? or what part hath he that this chapter, to which we therefore believeth with an infidel ?'
No refer you. From an impartial conchurch of Christ, therefore, can know sideration of what the scriptures teach ingly and confessedly comprehend respecting the constitution of a chriswithin its pale both saints and sinners, tian church, we are led to the conclu. believers and unbelievers.
sion that the presence of these two And now, having ascertained who officers is essential to the complete are the rightful members of a christian organization of every such church. church, we may properly proceed to With respect to the appointment of ask, who are its divinely-appointed these officers, it must be observed, officers ? In reply we may be permit- that the choice of them is the sole ted to state, that in order to inform and inalienable prerogative of the ourselves who these are, we have but church, as we learn from the account to refer to the former part of this given of the election of deacons in the very chapter. We read here of two church at Jerusalem, in the sixth kinds of officers in the christian chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. church, and of two only, namely, These seven men of honest report, bishops and deacons. With respect full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, to the former of these it will be requi- were evidently looked out by the site to observe that they are some- brethren from among themselves, times called elders. Indeed, the two though they were appointed by the titles are found to be used interchange - apostles before whom they were set, ably, inasmuch as their purport is and who, when they had prayed with similar. They signify an overseer or them and for them, laid their hands superintendent. From the first verse on them. In all this we perceive of the chapter before us we learn that recognized the independency of the the office of bishop or pastor is a good churches of Christ of one another, work; while from the fifth verse we and of all authority but that of their learn further, that this good work is divine and exalted head. to take care of the church of God. Permit us now to say, that in the Moreover, we are favoured here with earliest and best days of the church, a striking exhibition of the character christian pastors were designated to of a genuine New Testament bishop- office by the act of ordination, which a true pastor of a christian church, for seems to have consisted in prayer and he is not the superintendent of a dio- the laying on of hands. Indeed ordicese, or a number of churches, but of nation is described in several passages a single christian society. Of this of scripture, as 'a laying on of hands,' bishop then it is affirmed that he must the laying on of the hands of the pres.
bytery ;' and Timothy, to whom the lead us to the remark, that as ordinaepistle is addressed, is cautioned to tion is simply the designation of an lay hands suddenly on no man.' accredited minister of Christ, to office Hence, we conceive we are entitled to in a particular church, which has conclude, that the act of ordination chosen him to be its pastor, we, the was not likely to take its name at the pastors of sister churches, do not suggestion of inspiration from a cir. appear here on this occasion becumstance which constitutes no es- cause we have any authority over sential part of it.
you or any controul over your proBut now, relative to the design of ceedings, or because our attendance ordination, we wish it to be most dis- will add in any measure to the autinctly understood, that it does not thority, the efficiency, or the usefulimpart to the recipient any spiritual ness of your pastors,
-we come mere. gifts or qualification; no, nor any au- ly to assist in the solemnities of this thority beyond what he previously solemn and memorable occasion, and possessed. It is very far from being thereby to express our approval of clear that it was for any of these the choice you have made. purposes that the apostles laid hands Now let us proceed to observe, that upon the seven deacons already allu- when a religious community is thus ded to, for in reference to one of organized according to the law of them, the martyr Stephen, it is af- Christ, with its bishop, or bishops and firmed, that he was full of faith and deacons, it is constituted what is here of the Holy Ghost.' Moreover, it styled the church of the living God.' was made by the apostles an indis- This is a church which the living pensible requisite to their appoint- God has originated and founded, ment that they should be full of the which he has purchased with his own Holy Ghost and of wisdom.' Fur- blood. This is also a community ther, it may be remarked as quite which the living God has rendered evident, that when the church in vital, to which he has imparted and Antioch laid hands on Paul and Bar- in which he has deposited spiritual nabas it was not for any of these life. In it are seen the unequivocal purposes. See Acts xiii. Secondly, signs of divine vitality. Of its memwe may observe that as ordination bers it can with truth be said, and does not appear to have been insti- you hath he quickened who were tuted for the purpose of imparting dead in trespasses and sins.' They spiritual gifts, nor even to indicate have come to Christ the living stone, the possession of them ; neither is it and are in consequence made lively an appointment to the christian min- stones; they are therefore living to istry; it is not a conferring authority serve God and their generation acto preach the gospel, it is simply a cording to his will. Such a commudesignation to the office of pastor in nity God will assuredly own and a particular church. Every person bless; he will say of it, “This is my so designated is assumed to be pre- rest for ever.' In the words before viously qualified and authorized to us it will be noticed that this church preach the gospel by the Head of the of the living God is also described as church, whose he is and whom he the house of God; or, as we conceive
He therefore receives his to be intended, the temple of God. ministerial authority not from the Formerly, indeed, the tabernacle, and church but from Christ, to whom afterwards the temple of Solomon, alone he is responsible for the man- was styled the house of God, because ner in which he performs the solemn the God of Irael dwelt first in the and arduous duties of his office. one and then in the other, as was in
These observations will naturally dicated by the appointed symbol of
his presence, the shekinah resting | are its several parts united ? Our upon the mercy seat. Under the answer is, that to this great buildnew dispensation, however, no ma- ing Christ is the chief corner stone; terial edifice is called the house of he is the centre of your union, and God. This honourable title is now you are bound together as a church restricted, as in the text, exclusively by your mutual faith in Christ, love to the church of the living God. We to Christ, and devotedness to his have a striking example of this in service. This is the unity of the Ephesians ii, where, addressing the faith,' "the unity of the spirit' kept church, Paul said, “Ye are no more in the bond of peace.' strangers and foreigners, bu: fellow- Now, however, we must advert to citizens with the saints, and of the the august inhabitant of this spi. household of God, and are built upon ritual house,-he is the high and the foundation of the apostles and lofty one whom the heaven of heaprophets, Jesus Christ himself being vens cannot contain, for the Lord the chief corner stone; in whom all nath chosen Zion, he hath desired it the building fitly framed together for his habitation,' and has said of groweth unto an holy temple in the it, “here will I dwell.' Here is the Lord.'
great Jehovah represented by his In reference to this house of holy word, his ordinances and his God, let us now enquire upon what ministers; but he dwells actually in is it founded. We reply, it is based his church by the presence of his upon the truth of God as revealed in Spirit, for it is 'a habitation of God his word :—the truth, relative to the through the Spirit.' The servants of person and work of Christ, is em- this house are the pastors and deabodied in the confession of Peter, cons already alluded to. And here who when his great Master enquired, also we may make a passing al. • But whom say ye that I am ?'lusion to the provisions of this promptly replied, thou art the Christ, house : they are all the rich blessings the son of the living God,' 'On this of the new and better covenant. Of rock,' said the faithful and true wit- these, the great founder of the gospel ness,’‘I will build my church. Hence feast has said, “I will abundantly it is that this spiritual edifice is said bless her provisions. But of the to be built upon the foundation of law of this house, what shall we say? the apostles and prophets ;' that is, Why, that it is no human codeno upon their declaration and their doc- embodiment of human wisdom and trine. We have shown, therefore, that authority, but that it is the will of the true church or house of God God, the law of Christ recorded in rests not upon acts of parliament but the statute book of his kingdom, so upon God's eternal and immutable that in every thing relative to the truth. Let us now ask in reference order of this house, our enquiry must to this house of God, of what mate- be, 'what saith the Scripture ?' As rials is it constructed? It is we are an indication of the grandeur and assured, composed of lively stones importance of this house, we may who are built up a spiritual house,' mention that it was prefigured by the by which we are to understand that memorable tabernacle of witness, as it is constituted of true christians well as by Solomon's holy and beauwho have been quickened by the tiful house. Spirit, and who are therefore alive But we must now go on to notice, unto God.
that the church of the living God' Still further, however, it will be is not only styled the house of God,' come us to enquire how is this spi- but the pillar and ground of the ritual building cemented ? and how truth.' This is certainly a strong