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THE CONSTRUCTION OF SHEEPFOLDS.
The following remarks were intended to form part of the appendix to an essay on Architecture: But it seemed to me, when I had put them into order, that they might be useful to persons who would not care to possess the work to which I proposed to attach them; I publish them, therefore, in a separate form; but I have not time to give them more consistency than they would have had in the subordinate position originally intended for them. I do not profess to teach Divinity; and I pray the reader to understand this, and to pardon the slightness and insufficiency of notes set down with no more intention of connected treatment of their subject than might regulate an accidental conversation. Some of them are simply copied from my private diary; others are detached statements of facts, wbich seem to me significative or valuable, without comment; all are written in haste, and in the intervals of occupation with an entirely different subject. It may be asked of me, whether I hold it right to speak thns hastily and insufficiently respecting the matter in question ? Yes. I hold it right to speak hastily: not to think bastily. I have not thought hastily of these things; and, besides, the haste of speech is confessed, that the reader may think of me only as talking to him, and saying, as shortly and simply as I can, things which, if he esteem 'them foolish or idle, he is welcome to cast aside; but which, in very truth, I cannot help saying at this time.
The passages in the essay which required notes, described the repression of the political power of the Venetian Clergy by the Venetian Senate; and it became necessary for me-in supporting an assertion made in the course of the inquiry, that the idea of separation of Church and State was both vain and impious to limit the sense in which it seemed to me that the word “ Church” should be understood, and to note one or two consequences which would result from the acceptance of such limitation. This I may as well do in a separate paper, readable by any person interested in the subject; for it is high time that some definition of the word should be agreed upon. I do not mean a definition involving the doctrine of this or that division of Christians, but limiting, in a manner under. stood by all of them, the sense in which the word should thenceforward be used. There is grievous inconvenience in the present state of things. For instance, in a sermon lately published at Oxford, by an anti Tractarian divine, I find this sentence,"It is clearly within the province of the State to establish a national church, or external institution of certain
forms of worship:” Now suppose one were to take this interpretation of the word “Church” given by an Oxford divine, and substitute it for the simple word in some Bible Texts, as for instance, “ Unto the angel of the external institution of certain forms of worship of Ephesus, write,” &c. Or, “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the external institution of certain forms of worship which is in his house,”—what awkward results we should have, here and there! Now I do not say it is possible for men to agree with each other in their religious opinions, but it is certainly possible for them to agree with each other upon their religious expressions; and when a word occurs in the Bible a hundred and fourteen times, it is surely not asking too much of con
tending divines to let it stand in the sense in which it there occurs; and when they want an expression of something for which it does not stand in the Bible, to use some other word.' There is no compromise of religious opinion in this: it is simply proper respect for the Queen's English.
The word occurs in the New Testament, as I said, one hundred and fourteen times.* In every one of those occurrences, it bears one and the same grand sense: that of a congregation or assembly of men. But it bears this sense under four different modifications, giving four separate meanings to the word. These are
I. The entire Multitude of the Elect; otherwise called the Body of Christ; and sometimes the Bride, the Lamb's Wife; : including the Faithful in all ages; Adam, and the children of Adam yet unborn.
In this sense it is used in Ephesians v. 25, 27, 32 ; Colossians i. 18, and several other passages.
II. The entire multitude of professing believers in Christ, existing on earth at a given moment; including false brethren, wolves in sheep's clothing, goats, and tares, as well as sheep and wheat, and other forms of bad fish with good in the net.
In this sense it is used in 1 Cor. x. 32; xv. 9; Galatians i. 13, 1 Tim. iii. 5, &c.
III. The multitude of professed believers, living in a certain city, place, or house. This is the most frequent sense in which , the word occurs, as in Acts vii. 38; xïï. 1; 1 Cor. i. 2; xvi. 10,
IV. Any assembly of men: as in Acts xix. 32, 41.
That in a hundred and twelve out of the hundred and four teen texts, the word bears some one of these four meanings, is
• I may, perhaps, have missed count of one or two occurrencer of the word; but not, I think, in any important passages,
indisputable.* But there are two texts in which, if the word had alone occurred, its meaning might have been doubtful. These are Matt. xvi. 18, and xviii. 17.
The absurdity of founding any doctrine upon the inexpressibly minute possibility that in these two texts, the word might have been used with a different meaning from that which it bore in all the others, coupled with the assumption that the meaning was this or that, is self-evident: it is not so much a religious error as a philological solccism; unparalleled, so far as I know, in any other science but that of divinity.
Nor is it ever, I think, committed with open front by Protestants. No English divine, asked in a straightforward manner for a Scriptural definition of “the Church,” would, I suppose, be bold enough to answer “the Clergy.” Nor is there any harm in the common use of the word, so only that it be distinctly understood to be not the Scriptural one; and therefore to be unfit for substitution in a Scriptural text. There is no harm in a man's talking of his son's "going into the Church": meaning that he is going to take orders; but there is much harm in his supposing this a Scriptural use of the word, and therefore, that when Christ said, “Tell it to the Church,” He might possibly have meant, “Tell it to the Clergy."
It is time to put an end to the chance of such misnnderstanding. Let it but be declared plainly by all men, when they begin to state their opinions on matters ecclesiastical, that they will use the word “ Church” in one sense or the other ;That they will accept the sense in which it is used by the Apostles, or that they deny this sense, and propose a new definition of their own. We shall then know what wo aro
• The expression “House of God," in Tim. iii. 16, is shown to be used of the congregation by 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17.
I liave not noticed the word rupiunt (oiría), from which the German “Kirche," the English "Church," and the Scotch " Kirk," are derived, as it is not used with that signification in the New Testament
about with them—we may perhaps grant them their new use of the term, and argue with them on that understanding ; 80 only that they will not pretend to make use of Scriptural authority, while they refuse to employ Scriptural language. This, however, it is not my purpose to do at present. I de sire only to address those who are willing to accept the Apostolic sense of the word Church, and with them, I would endeavor shortly to ascertain what consequences must follow from an acceptance of that Apostolic sense, and what must be our first and most necessary conclusions from the common language of Scripture * respecting these following points :
1. The distinctive characters of the Church.
These are four separate subjects of question ; but we shall not have to put these questions in succession with cach of the four Scriptural meanings of the word Church, for evidently its second and third mcaning may be considered together, as merely expressing the general or particular conditions of the Visible Church, and the fourth sigpification is entirely independent of all questions of a religious kind. So that we shall only put the above inquiries successively respecting the Iovisible and Visible Church; and as the two last, -of authority of Clergy, and connection with State-can evidently only have reference to the Visible Church, we shall have, in all, these six questions to consider.
* Any reference, except to Scripture, in notes of this kind would of course ho useless: the argument from, or with, the Fathers, is not to be compressed into fifty pages. I have something to say about Hookər; but I reserve that for another time, not wishing to say it hastily, or to leave it without support.