The House of God; the Body of Christ; and the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.

J. N. Darby.

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You have asked of me some account of the historical development of a false notion on which I have often spoken, and already written briefly in the "Present Testimony." The practical importance of this notion had caused my mind to be occupied with it, and led me to entertain the thought of pursuing its history. The false notion which I refer to is the confusion of two distinct aspects of the Church, given us in scripture: that of the house of God, and that of the body of Christ. Since I first proposed treating this point, the subject has been taken up in the "Bible Treasury." But, having the wish to go farther into the statements of scripture than is there done, and, having long had my mind occupied with it, this does not hinder my pursuing it myself. The ground of the view there given, and of the following paper, I apprehend to be the same; but it will easily be seen how entirely independent they are one of another.

The thought that admission into the house conferred the privileges of the body has been the root of the systematic corruption of Christianity, which has acquired the reverence of ages, was not shaken off at the Reformation, and is now corrupting the Protestant systems, which were thought to have freed themselves from its fetters. All the members of the body of Christ are living members, quickened of the Spirit, or born of God; they are forgiven all their sins, and perfected for ever by His one offering of Himself; they have received His Spirit, and are heirs of the inheritance of glory. If the body and the house are the same thing, then all that are admitted into the house, be they adults or infants, have part in the privileges which belong to the body. On the other hand, being true members of the body of Christ secures nothing; for its true members may perish. The very idea of being born of God is destroyed; for, after having been born of God, they lose what they had, and have to be born over again, without the alleged means of being so, or they enter the kingdom of heaven, as they say, without life; the abiding efficacy of Christ's sacrifice is annulled - for they that are sanctified are not perfected for ever; and the sealing of the Holy Ghost for the day of redemption is applied to those who will never be there, and has no effectual value in this respect.

16 The first general idea, that of which we are to speak, is the Church (e ekklesia). The word, however, I shall at once drop, and employ the literal rendering of the Greek word so translated: the Assembly. Technical words obtain a conventional meaning, which introduces great confusion into people's minds; for, though the local growth of thought produces language, in moral education, words become names, and create rather than express ideas. Take, as an instance, this word Church. It is applied, as all know, to buildings appropriated to ecclesiastical services. But the church is the house of God; and the building is treated as the house of God, though God has expressly declared that, under the Christian system, He will not dwell in temples made with hands; that where two or three are gathered together in His name - the true church so far, and so called in the passage - there Christ is in their midst.

I shall speak therefore of the Assembly, the real meaning of the word. Only this is God's Assembly. Take the passage which I have referred to, and see the effect of this. If a brother trespassed against another, he was to tell it to him alone; if that were useless, to take two or three more; if that failed, to tell it to the Assembly. What has not been made out of this passage? And how many delusions are dispelled by its plain and simple language, when it is taken as it stands? It is related, that king James forbad the translators of the Bible into English to change this word "church," which, in the previous Geneva translation, had been dropped. The bearing of such a prohibition is evident enough.*

{*In this and a few other cases the charge of intentional departure from a plain translation, through prejudice, or a fear of doing mischief perhaps, cannot be escaped, in respect to the (generally-speaking) admirable translation which we possess in English. I know of none better, unless perhaps the Dutch, which, made about eight years afterwards, has evidently profited by the English; perhaps by Bengel's of the New Testament, which is done with very great care, but not in use. The reformed German translation of Piscator is a very good one. It has alas! even in the reformed churches, given place to Luther's, which is the very worst translation I know. The French are all very mediocre; Diodati's, the most exact, but old and even incorrect French; but the truth is, that the French language is singularly unfitted for the translation of scripture. It may be exact, and no doubt is; but it is the narrow exactitude of man's mind. Diodati's, being far more exact to the original, is consequently intolerable as French. I may cite as examples, not of mistaken translation, which human infirmity is, of course, exposed to, but of false. Acts 1:22, "Must one be ordained to be": ordained to be, is not the original at all. Acts 3:19, "When the times," instead of "So that." This may have been from not knowing what to make of it; but it is a false translation. 2 Thessalonians 2, The day of Christ is "at hand," instead of "is come," or, "come upon" [you]. The word is used more than once for "present," in contrast with things to come, and always for present. The whole teaching of the epistle, I hesitate not to say, here depends on it. Again, they have been afraid to put "heavenly places" in Ephesians 6:12, in the text. The avoiding the word bishops ("overseers"), Acts 20, is of the same character. I mention only such as occur to my memory at the moment.}

17 The word Assembly is one known to Old Testament language and thought. Yet it had there a very different character and foundation. Two words are there employed, which, it seems to me, give somewhat different ideas, hedah and kahal. The former seems to me to present rather the corporate unity of the congregation; the latter, the actual gathering, pretty much the difference which we might understand between an Assembly and an Assemblage. Moed is another thought; the meeting, the tent of meeting; because there they met God, and, indeed, one another; but the thought in the word is an appointed place of meeting. Israel was the assembly of God, but they were it by birth; though excluded, if not circumcised. All this for the time was set aside we may say, by the death of Christ, though the patience of God lingered, by means of the intercession of Christ upon the cross over the beloved people (compare Acts 3). The prophets had indeed spoken of all this beforehand, and he among them who unfolded the destinies of Israel, and their several causes more fully than any one, Isaiah, tells all through of a remnant that should be spared, the children and disciples given to Messiah, when all was darkness in the nation, and the testimony of God shut up, save to that remnant, thus separated from the people, while God Himself hid His face from them. This remnant would in future days return; and for their sakes Israel be spared, and the glory of the nation be established in them (see Isa. 6:9-13; ch. 8:15-18; ch. 10:21-22; ch. 65:8-9, and ch. 66). Chapter 8 shews us that, when the nation was set aside, this remnant came distinctively on the scene. They were for signs to both houses of Israel.

There were two grounds for Israel's rejection; one, viewing the people as witness of the unity of the Godhead against idolatry; the other, as visited by Jehovah in the Person of the Lord Jesus. In chapters 40-57, these two points are treated. The captivity of Babylon was the judgment of their failure as to the former: hence we have Cyrus mentioned in connection with their deliverance. Their present state is the result of the rejection of their Messiah, the time the unclean spirit, after the Babylonish captivity, was gone out of them. Still it was but a remnant, preserved and brought back. That God would not look merely at the fact that they were His people, but would distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, is also clearly stated in chapter 48:22, where the pleading on the question of idolatry closes; and chapter 57:21, where the pleading as to the rejection of Christ closes. And their wickedness, and the Lord's coming in power, and the intervening gospel-times, are then spoken of. At the end of their history, the unclean spirit, which had gone out, returns with seven others, worse; they are idolaters; and not only is Messiah negatively rejected, but they accept one who comes in his own name. The last state is worse than the first, and wickedness ripens up into terrible judgment, which will yet be deliverance for those who will have called on the name of Jehovah, who will have refused the idols, waited for Jehovah, and, in looking on Him whom they had pierced, see Him come in infinite grace for their deliverance.

18 But our enquiry now refers to the condition of this remnant, spared from the judgments of Israel, while God is hiding His face from the house of Jacob. The first witness we have is only the binding up the testimony, and sealing the law, among His disciples, and waiting on Jehovah, who hides His face from the house of Jacob, and looking for Him. But this, though all blessing be founded on the death of Christ, does not bring in His death as a matter of knowledge. The instructions in Matthew, such as the sermon on the mount, and still more, chapters 10 and 24, answer to this; though, of course, increased light is thrown on their position, both as to spiritual apprehension, and the introduction of the Father's name, which Christ as Son, as in the sermon on the mount, could do, and by the prophetic light afforded them by the Lord. Besides this, the introduction of the thought of the coming King does cast a special light on all the instruction given.

In Psalm 22, however, where the circumstances of the blessed Lord's death, and the immense truth of His enduring the forsaking of God, are brought before us, we have more definite light as to the position into which the remnant enter in virtue of it. The Lord had borne the forsaking of God, and was now heard from the horns of the unicorn. All the unspeakable and full blessing of the inshining of God's delight, when sin was put away - a delight, which, though everlasting, was enhanced by the value of that sacrifice - expressed in the names of God and Father - enjoyed as man, as Son - all burst unclouded upon His soul. This He declared to His brethren, to put them, these poor disciples that followed Him, into the same place with Himself. He can now call them His brethren, for the work of redemption is accomplished. Go, tell my brethren, He says to Mary Magdalen, that I go to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. But this was not all - He raises the song of praise in the midst of the assembly. Thus, the remnant already manifested, the disciples are set on redemption-ground, and gathered with Christ in their midst. The assembly, composed (as yet) of the remnant of Israel, takes a definite and true ground. The assembly of God was there, His presence there. We have the remnant, the brethren, gathered into an assembly (kahal, that is the actual gathering of them together), and the gathering founded on the sacrifice and atonement of Christ, and the power of His resurrection as to life. God was a Saviour-God in the power of eternal life; He was known in peace, and grace, and glory - was rejoiced in hope. The instructions of the New Testament will carry us farther than all this; but this much was laid as a foundation. For Christ died, not only to save, and not only for the nation, but to gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.

19 The first great element promised in scripture, and given after the exaltation of Jesus, was the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The assembly being now formed, the Lord added to it daily the remnant of Israel whom He was sparing from judgment. Hereafter they will form the body of Israel itself - now they were added to the assembly. The hundred and twenty were, by grace, together in practical kahal, though as yet they had no definite object which rallied them, save the consciousness of a common faith, strengthened doubtless by Jesus visiting them the day of His resurrection and following first day of the week. But the baptism of the Holy Ghost constituted them a real hedah, a corporate body, a true ohel-moed, a tent of meeting, where the Lord was. He owned it formally as His assembly on the earth. A temple there was which God yet bore with, but it was not where He dwelt. It was somewhat as when the tabernacle was at Gibeon without the ark, and the ark, by delivering grace, in Mount Zion. The title of "Assembly" became the generic name for this assembly formed amongst men. Its state or privileges, relationship with God or with Christ, be they one or various, and the dealings of God and Christ with it, remain to be searched out. We shall find that it had more than one aspect and relationship, to which God's dealings with it corresponded.

20 But the assembly of God was formed. It was not yet brought out in the faith of its members, though it were so in the counsels of God, and in that on which the assembly was founded and formed - that Jews and Gentiles should form one body without distinction. Nor did other truths connected with it make a part of their faith; but there was an assembly of God formed on the earth.

I will now consider some of the aspects in which it is presented in scripture.

First, the Lord's prediction that He is going to build it, and on what, in Matthew 16. Christ, to the end of Matthew 12, had presented Himself preaching repentance and the kingdom to Israel, not hiding Jehovah's righteousness in the great congregation; above all, He had presented Himself as Jehovah- Messias to Israel, and sought an answer and fruit in His vineyard. Then He breaks entirely with His relationship with Israel after the flesh. His disciples are His mother and brethren and sisters. The nation is judged: its state worse than all before (Matt. 13). He sows; He does not seek fruit: and, when the kingdom of heaven is set up, the field is the world, not Judaism. All this is very significant; but it only leads us on to one further point (chaps. 14, 15). He unfolds many moral points on which the rejection is founded, as indeed predicted, and shews grace bearing with and rising above the evil, as to Israel.

But in chapter 16 He elicits from Simon the confession of His own Person; which indeed the Father had revealed to him. "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." On this rock He would build His assembly in the world, in the power of divine life itself in Him as the Son of God. He existed, as Son, in the power of the life which is in God. And what should he who had the power of hades, or death, be able to do against it? Christ was the very expression of the power of the living God, and that in life, as Son: what could the power of death do? This was shown in resurrection - "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection from the dead." It was no longer to be announced that He was the Christ in Israel. This was closed: but as He was going to build the Church, He must, as Son of man, suffer and die, but rise again; and then, in the power of that resurrection which was beyond the power of death, build it. Some would see (in the transfiguration - hereafter, fully) the Son of man coming in His kingdom. Now He was to suffer, relinquishing His then Christ-relationship with Israel, and, before finally taking the kingdom in power, build the Church on the title of Son of the living God. Thus we have His three titles in this respect: Christ as Messiahship in Israel no longer announced; Christ, the Son of the living God - a title He was never given elsewhere - on this He would build His assembly: Son of man - in this He would now suffer, but afterwards be seen coming in His kingdom. He announces His death, but builds His assembly on the acknowledgment of His Person. For Son of man see Psalm 8, Daniel 7, and Psalm 80:17. The kingdom of heaven is another subject, mentioned in the chapter, but not one which occupies us directly at this moment: I may speak of it farther on.

21 Christ then declares, that upon this - that is, the truth of His being the Christ, the Son of the living God - He will build His assembly, and the gates of hades should not prevail against it. This is a remarkable statement. Over Adam innocent, over men consequently everywhere, over Israel under the law, the gates of hades had prevailed. Death and ruin had come in. Satan had gained the upper hand, as having the power of hades; but this was on the ground of human responsibility. But Christ, who, perfect in Himself when responsible, went there in grace for us, could not, as the Son of the living God, be holden of the power of death. He went there, not that the prince of this world had anything in Him, but in love and obedience to His Father; and He not only was not holden of it, but He totally broke its power, rendered wholly void the power of Satan in it. This was grace then and power - the resurrection, the completion and witness of that power, though not the full result in righteousness. It was the great proof of this grace and power in Christ, on which the assembly was built; not on responsibility and failure, as human hopes were, but, in grace and power, on the Son of the living God. Not that there is no responsibility; but the safety of the assembly, its being carried to its divinely-purposed result, is not in question in it.

22 We shall see aspects in which what is called the assembly is cast off; but not the assembly as built by Christ, that is, His own house; and He builds it for His own purposes, for our blessing, according to His own heart and His glory. This is all we have of the Church or assembly here. Remark, there are no keys to it. Christ builds it - builds - the keys are of the kingdom of heaven. Not only has Peter not the keys of the Church, but there are no keys to it. It has no keys; nor has anyone any keys of it. There are none. It is what Christ is building. Building is not done with keys. The whole thought of keys of the Church, in any and every sense, is a delusion. There are none.

But, to return. The assembly, viewed as built by Christ Himself, is built in grace and power. It is founded on the Rock of Jesus being the Son of the living God; and till that power be subdued by the power of Satan, as having that of death, it cannot be shaken; but that power of life in resurrection has been proved entirely triumphant over Satan, over the gates of hades. Hence, whatever phases, through false brethren come in, the assembly may go through, in its outward state be it so corrupt that Christ will spue it out of His mouth, His building is as secure as that on which it is built, and this is Himself He carries His work on through all that comes from man; and this is the carrying on the work and purpose of God on earth.

But, remark here, we have not the smallest notion of the body or bride of Christ, nor of the indwelling of God by the Spirit. All this is foreign to the view here taken. It is life; that is, Christ, as having, as Son, life in and from the life of the living God, life divine, life in Himself (proved in resurrection), which is the foundation and security of the assembly built by the heavenly Architect, against which he who has the power of death, Satan, cannot prevail. The result will be in assured victory over him, whatever the vicissitudes of the combat in man, according to the purpose of God. Hence, also, though there is an assembly, yet it is an assemblage of individuals, not a body, the Holy Ghost forms. Thus Peter, in full unison with this revelation, declares we are "begotten again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead"; and then, "unto whom coming as unto a living stone, ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood." They are together as stones in a building, and as a priesthood; but it is not a body growing in itself with joints of supply.

23 Thus far, however, we have the assembly as built up by Christ on the earth (though for heaven; but it is not built in heaven, nor presented as connected with a head there), in contrast with the presenting Messiah to the Jews, on the ground of their own promises, as come in the flesh, the seed of David according to the flesh. Peter (in Acts 3) proposes, indeed, to the nation to come in and enjoy the promises on this ground, and Christ would return on their repentance. This is founded on Christ's intercession, "Father, forgive them"; but they resist the Spirit, as their fathers had done; and this part of their history closes.

The assembly was formed and publicly inaugurated by the descent of the Holy Ghost: the Jews, as a nation, reject its offered blessings in the persons of their chiefs. Another truth now shines out: God accepts in every nation. There is no word of the unity of the body here yet; but Gentiles could be received. The reception of the Samaritans seems not so much to have surprised the disciples. That we can understand; they had been there with Christ: they pretended at least to Jewish privileges. The witness of the Spirit in Jerusalem is finally rejected; a saint takes his place in heaven; and Christ now can definitely sit down till His enemies (alas! the word) are made His footstool. Hereupon the assembly outwardly is dispersed. The Jewish mission of the apostles (of going from a city where the persecution assailed them) disappears; they are the only ones who remain. The action of the Holy Ghost takes a free course by whom He will in all this scene, and carries the testimony to the Gentiles. Meanwhile an event of the utmost importance takes place in connection with the ways of God. What had scattered the assembly, formed as we have hitherto seen it, brought out upon the scene, in connection with the death of Stephen, the bitterest of those rejecting enemies; and he, through sovereign grace, by a distinct and new revelation, which did not connect him with Christ after the flesh, nor make him dependent on the apostles previously called, sees Christ in heaven and supreme glory, and learns that all the saints are one with Him - are Himself. Confounded, converted, taken up by power, he becomes a witness of the great truth that Jesus is the Son of God (which Peter is never recorded to have taught, but that He was made Lord and Christ), not conferring an instant with flesh and blood. After a salutary setting aside - which man ever needs, if he is to serve - he comes forth, as we have all read, not from Jerusalem, not of man nor by man, but sent forth by the Holy Ghost from Antioch, a Gentile city, dependent on Him alone who sent him under the authority of Christ, and by the moving power of the Holy Ghost, to preach the gospel of the glory to every creature under heaven, and to be a minister of the assembly, to complete the word of God. But that assembly, he had learnt in his conversion, was one with Christ Himself in glory.

24 Hence we find, in the writings of the apostle Paul, very distinct additional light on other important aspects of God's assembly (Eph. 1:22). It is the body of which Christ is the Head, the fulness of Him who fills all in all. True Christians, viewed as a whole, are "the body of Christ, and members in particular." This is fully unfolded in 1 Corinthians 12; "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ." We are taught also how this most important truth is made good: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body." The apostle unfolds and insists on this in the following verses of the chapter. In Ephesians 4 we learn, that the body makes increase of itself to the edifying of itself in love. The mutuality of membership is dwelt on also in Romans 12. In a word, the assembly (which, remark, already existed, for Jesus had spoken to him of the saints he was persecuting) is looked at in its true living character, the body of Christ; and it is so through the baptism of the Holy Ghost. In the Ephesians, however, when the body is fully spoken of, the apostle refers to the elect saints, who are created again in Christ Jesus, and are sealed for the day of redemption; that is, he sees the assembly, when speaking of it as the body of Christ united to the Head, as God knows it; quickened, raised, and seated in heavenly places in Christ the Head. That which has wrought this unity is the baptism of the Holy Ghost, under which the elect and manifested remnant were brought on the day of Pentecost. Of course, all since called of God have their part in it; and, when the body is fully formed, will be found in it with heavenly glory. God's mind as to the assembly is, that it is Christ's body, and Christ its Head: whatever is not this is the fruit of man's work; who, when blessing from God has been committed to him, has always marred it. This my readers will have often seen insisted on. All entrusted to man, Satan being unbound, has been lost and spoiled; all will be taken up in perfection in the last Adam. Still the assembly - viewed as God's assembly, and so in the first instance it is, and ought to be, in its normal state, and as it will be hereafter - is the body of Christ. But in that body all are living indefectible members. Christ has no dead members, nor a mutilated body. The same power that wrought in Christ - this is the express doctrine of Ephesians 1 - in raising Him up, and setting Him at the right hand of God, has wrought in them. They believed also and were sealed. This it is which is always spoken of when the body is spoken of No man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it as the Lord the assembly, for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. The assembly is the gathering of the children of God on earth into one, the assembling them; but, viewed in its reality, this assembly is Christ's body; they are quickened with Him raised up, sitting in Him in heavenly places. As it is said, man is the image of God, speaking of what he is as from the hand of God, in the epistle of James, as in Genesis 1. But the state and position of man was entrusted to him on his own responsibility; and he is at enmity with God, and ruined.

25 Israel is the object of divine favour, God's firstborn in the earth; and, as touching election, beloved for the fathers' sake, yet, outcast and enemies, the branches are broken off; that is, besides that which God has set up being viewed as in His mind and thoughts, it must be viewed also in the result produced under the responsibility of man. Israel were all baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and ate the same spiritual meat, and drank the same spiritual drink; evidently referring to baptism and the Lord's supper, the outward ordinances by which Christian association, the assembly, is distinctively maintained. But, with many of them, God was not well-pleased; they were not Israel, though of Israel, as the apostle expresses it. We must examine this character of the assembly too - that is, the assembly as it is formed on earth under the responsibility and by the activity of man. And here we return to the image of the house and building, even in the writings of Paul. The members of the body are members of Christ, and livingly secured in Him. Indeed, even in the other point of view, that is, looked at as the house as established of God, the assembly cannot fail; only, as Israel did, it will give place, on the earth, to another order of things. We have already seen, that Christ declared, He would build His assembly, and the gates of hades should not prevail against it. Nor will they When the due time is come, what He has wrought will be transferred to heavenly habitations, and be the house and city of God there, as the remnant of Israel were transferred to the assembly, and the apostate body, who had made profession to be Christians, cut off, just as the body of Israel were cut off: only that with the assembly, the Holy Ghost having been there, it is a final thing (heavenly, or entire and final excision and judgment), while Israel is reserved for future dealings of grace.

26 This house we will now consider. The Lord speaks of His own building, and Peter of the stones coming to Jesus, and as living stones being built up a spiritual house. In both we get the real work of grace and of Christ, without allusion to any human failure and dispensational dealings, save the fact that the assembly has taken the place of Israel on the earth. It is viewed in its natural normal state; and so it is as to discipline in Matthew 18, where the without and the within, the heathen position, is referred to the assembly, not any longer to Israel - if he neglect to hear the assembly, he shall be to thee as a heathen man and a publican. But Paul takes us higher, and hence forces us to distinguish, and in a certain sense to descend lower. He has seen, not merely an assembly formed by Christ on earth, to which souls were adjoined and built up as a house (and holy priesthood), here on earth, which is the view of Matthew 16 and Peter, but Christ in heaven and the saints one with Him, members of His body, and a vast ingathering here below. Of these he is to tell us, as minister of the assembly, on one side, the wondrous privileges in every respect, and, on the other side, its actual earthly history as in the hands of men. Hence, in building, man is introduced in the work; he does not speak of Christ's building. It is the actual fact before him in blessing and in responsibility of which he will teach us - facts which abide in the widespread scene of Gentile profession to this day.

27 Ephesians 1 may first draw our attention. The individual saints are the first and primary object: what they are in relationship with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and, the purpose of God being revealed, what they are as sealed by the Holy Ghost, and heirs of the inheritance to come. The power that sets them in their place with God has been exemplified in the exaltation of Christ. This introduces a further point, the counsels of God in their union with Him. Christ, thus exalted, God has given to be Head over all things, but to the assembly which is His body. We get thus, in the second place, the union of the assembly with Christ, the fulness of Him who filleth all in all. It will be remarked here, that the assembly is viewed in its normal condition with the divine eye. The doctrine in hand is the exercise of the same power in a believer's quickening, as was exercised in Christ, when raised and set at the right hand of God; a power by which He shews they were quickened together with Him, raised up together (Jew or Gentile), and made to sit together in heavenly places in Him - created again in Christ Jesus; not only so, but what more directly and immediately shews it.

It is the assembly, seen as the individuals previously, as they are in the thoughts and counsels of God in full future result. The individuals are chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blame before God in love, and predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself Hence, we (believers), it is said, where present time is referred to, have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins; and the saints (Gentiles) are, after they believed, sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, for and until the redemption of the purchased possession. So as regards the assembly, God, who has exalted Christ, has given Him to be Head over all things to the assembly, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all. Now this, though faith seizes it now, is the full counsel of God as to it, when the whole body complete shall be united to the Head in His then dominion over all things - the true Eve of the heavenly Adam; Lord, not only of this lower, but of the whole, creation. It is a citation of Psalm 8. It is not yet fulfilled. He is now sitting at the right hand of God, till His enemies be made His footstool; and, as the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us, citing the same Psalm, we see not yet all things put under Him. We see Him crowned with glory and honour. Meanwhile He is gathering the Church; and those who are sealed with the Holy Ghost, brought into the unity of the body, appropriate, justly, all the privileges that belong to union with Christ, which is effectuated; though the outward results are not yet accomplished, and Christ has not yet received in fact this dominion as man over all things, while all things are His of the Father. They know they are reconciled, but that the purpose of God to reconcile all things in heaven and earth is not yet accomplished. As regards the passage, then, which occupies us, it presents to us the full result of the counsels of God on this point, when Christ shall exercise His universal dominion as man, and the whole assembly be complete; and hence looks at it as in the mind of God, not in its administration on the earth in the hand of man.

28 Allow me to present a general truth as to God's ways; not a new one, I dare say, to many of my readers, but important to notice here. That all the glories which are to meet in Christ - that is, glories which He is to take as man, not the essential glory of His Person - and all connected with them in us, have been first tried in the hands of the first Adam, and his failure proved. Adam, as man, failed: the last Adam is true Head over all things. God is glorified in Him victorious over Satan in trial, as the first succumbed. Man in Israel is tried by the law given as a proving rule of life; hereafter the law will be written in their hearts, and the statutes of God kept by them. Priesthood was set up in man, and failed: Christ will present all saved to the end by His. Royalty in David's son failed, and the kingdom was broken up. It will be set up, never to fail, in Christ. Sovereign power in rule over the Gentiles and the world failed in Nebuchadnezzar, who set idolatry up for unity of religion's sake, and consequently persecuted God's saints. It will be set up in Christ in perfectness, and in Him shall the Gentiles trust. The assembly has been set up in its responsibility, that God might be glorified in it, and a glorious Christ fully known. It has failed in this; but when Christ comes, He will be glorified in His saints, and admired in all them that believe. True redemption is accomplished; and we know the whole counsels of God founded on them, as they never were known before, because the Lord Jesus has come and laid that blessed foundation. But it is not the less true that the assembly has been set to glorify God and the Lord Jesus by the present power of the Holy Ghost, and that it has failed in its responsible place here below, and has taken a place in flesh, out of which it has been called; but the sure counsels of God will be accomplished in the assembly united to Christ in glory.

29 It is in this last way the assembly is viewed in Ephesians 1, as is the case in respect of the subjects of the whole chapter, though that which the true heirs and members of Christ possess meanwhile is doubtless stated, but only in view of this ultimate purpose of God, and not what refers to the sphere of their earthly responsibility: of that there is nothing in the chapter at all. The thoughts, purpose, and counsels of God are its subject. The beginning of chapter 2 shews that by which those once dead in trespasses and sins are brought into the blessed place which these counsels have bestowed on us. From verse 11 of chapter 2, though still addressing saints, he speaks of their actual condition and position in fact down here on the earth - their present actual place. The Gentiles were made nigh, the middle wall of partition broken down in the cross, that Christ might reconcile Jews and Gentiles in one body to God; then the message of peace sent to both, so that we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. They are fellow-citizens of the saints and of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets of the New Testament, Christ being the corner-stone, in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord, in whom they also were builded together for a dwelling-place of God through the Spirit. Now doubtless the thought here presented is the normal state of the assembly upon the earth: scripture would thus, speaking of it in principle, so describe it (it could not do otherwise); but we are here on quite other ground than in the first. We have not the purpose and counsel of God, but facts wrought and a system established upon the earth, in which men have their part, such as they are here below. Those whom he addresses were builded together to be a dwelling-place of God on the earth. The temple had been such in another way. Now it is another, a Christian dwelling-place, which God has by the Spirit.

The more Ephesians 1 and 2 (to the end of verse 10), is examined, the more it will be seen that the view there taken on every point is God's counsel and God's work, and its blessed result in us: no trace of dependence on man, or connection with man's responsibility, is found. First, His purpose as to us individually in Christ; further, we are accepted in the Beloved, and we have redemption through His blood; then His will is made known to us; and in this place, for Christ's glory, we have an inheritance according to the purpose of Him who works all things after the counsel of His own will. This, with the revelation of that will, characterizes the whole passage. He prays for them that they may know it, and the power that brings into it. This is according to the power which wrought in Christ, raised Him from the dead, and set Him at the right hand of God. The same has wrought in us (before that dead in sins), and raised us up too, and set us sitting in heavenly places in Christ. Now it is evident, that all this is, as expressed at the end of the passage, a work of God, forming the real members of the body of Christ. We are God's workmanship, sealed, after believing, by the Holy Spirit of promise, earnest of the inheritance which belongs to us in Christ through grace.

30 Now our union with Christ, as His body, forms a definite part of this work, and, indeed, that in which the positive work and power of God operating in us, as in Christ, when it raised Him and set Him at His right hand. Thus the body is composed of the true members of Christ, united to Him by the power of God and the effectual presence of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, while He is sitting at the right hand of God; and they are sitting there in Him.

In verse 11, as we have seen, the apostle begins with the dispensation of this mystery on earth. But some passages must be referred to before we enter on this. Were this all, the doctrine (current from Augustine downward) of an invisible Church would have to be admitted as the thought of God, and, consequently, no recognized body on earth, or the whole system of corruption introduced by Satan recognized as the body of Christ, and its outward administration accepted as the channels, and only legitimate channels, of grace, and all the privileges of the body itself admitted to belong to it. But this is not the case. We have still to consider the body as presented in 1 Corinthians, that is, in its outward manifestation on the earth in unity. Here we shall find the recognition of the power by which unity is formed on earth. The sign which constitutes the visible expression of that unity, and the distinct declaration that we may partake of the signs of Christian profession, or of unity and spiritual life, and yet be rejected. When he treats men as saints, he treats them as one body on the earth; but warns them, they may be outwardly incorporated into this in every way, and God reject them after all. Nor, indeed, would participation in outward power prove the contrary.

31 In chapter 12 we have the power of unity - "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body." In chapter 10 we have the outward sign of it - "For we being many are one bread [loaf], and one body: for we are all partakers of that one loaf." The baptism of the Holy Ghost forms the body in unity. The Lord's supper is the external sign of it. It may be remarked here, consequently, that the apostle addresses the sanctified in Christ Jesus - all who in every place call on the name of the Lord Jesus, theirs and ours. Thus the unity here spoken of embraces the universal body of the sanctified in Christ Jesus, yet it recognizes the local assembly of Christians - saints by God's calling - as representing locally this unity.

"The church [assembly] of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints [that is, saints by calling]." They are distinctly addressed as having the testimony of Christ, and that confirmed by the gifts of the Holy Ghost. They were waiting for Christ's coming, who would confirm them to the end, so that they should be blameless (chap. 1). So he treats them all through, though warning them (chap. 10) to see that it was real. At the end of chapter 5 this body of called saints are to put out the wicked person from among them, that they may be a new lump (in fact), as they are unleavened in their place and standing before God. There are those without, and those within; those within, judged; those without, in God's hands. The one assembly of the place, looked at as unseparated from the whole company of saints, acts as the body of Christ. In chapter 12, after clearly speaking of the whole body, he says, "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." They are placed corporately in this position, while all in Christ are included in it. There is no body but one, that of Christ; a local assembly acts as such, and can exclude none of His members.* The verse which follows clearly shews that the whole assembly is in view, as apostles and all gifts are placed in it. God hath set them in the assembly, first apostles, then prophets, etc. Apostles and prophets are clearly not in any particular assembly, as such; locally, at any given moment, they may be. Paul was acting as a member of the assembly at Corinth, yet not apart from his position at that time.

{* I am not speaking here, of course, of the exclusion of guilty ones by discipline.}

32 Further, it is proof that it is the assembly on earth. Healings are not in heaven, nor the exercise of gifts either. That of which they are members, as exercising their gifts, viewed in the true light of their place according to the thought of God, is the body of Christ; that in which they are placed is the assembly, the sanctified in Christ Jesus, the called saints.

Further, the apostle supposes the possibility of a person possessing tongues, prophecy, miracles, and being still nothing. He does not say, such are members of the body. We have thus (Eph. 1) the body according to the counsel and work of God; and (1 Cor.) the body, as formed in this world by the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and publicly manifested in its unity in partaking of the Lord's supper. In the first, Christ is Head to the assembly, which is His body; in the second, the various members of the body are wrought in by the Holy Ghost to perform their various functions, and God is said to have set them in the assembly. That is, the assembly is called the body, in Ephesians 1, in the full result of God's counsels; and the members of the body, as seen on earth, are set in the assembly, in 1 Corinthians. In the perfection of both, the assembly is said to be Christ's body. On earth, in God's mind, they are practically identified, but one is not said to be the other. But those addressed are the sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, and always viewed as such.

Other passages shew that false brethren could creep in among the rest, and apostatize from among the rest; but this, though there are warnings and hints which lead to the possibility of it, is not contemplated here. We have nothing to do here with sowing tares among the wheat. It is the kingdom which is there spoken of, and in the field - the world. In Romans 12 we have the same general idea as in 1 Corinthians. All are assumed to be true saints; the members are looked at, not in union with the Head, but in their mutual relationship and individual service. "We being many are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." It is not necessary more particularly to refer to that passage. In Ephesians, the true saints, quickened with Christ, are the body of Christ, Head over all things; in 1 Corinthians, "so also is Christ," seen on earth in us; in Romans, "we are one body in Christ."

33 I now turn to the second aspect in which it is viewed in the Ephesians. In a dispensational way, Christ builds an assembly, secure in result from the prevailing of Satan's power. In the counsel of God, the saints raised with Christ by divine power form His body. This body is formed and manifested on the earth by the baptism of the Holy Ghost. But the apostle who has given God's counsel and work, as to it and its outward formative power, will also give it to us in its actually ordered condition, and what it will become in the hands of man as existing here below. Having taken the general fact which existed in the dispensations of God, he is given of God to reveal it as it stands in the counsel of God, and as formed by His workmanship, and what it becomes in the hands of man. And here he enters upon the domain of facts, not views - facts, in the first instance, happy and pure enough, answering to God's mind; still facts taking place in the sphere of man and his condition and state here below, though God may be working in and through it, and in result securing the accomplishment of His own counsel. But we are in the sphere of facts and circumstances, not of the counsel and thought of God; nor (however, at first, the work may answer by grace, by His working in and by man) to His mind is it simply and absolutely His work. Hence, though in general the subject be the same, in general what is spoken of is not called the assembly any more than the body.

Such a way of treating leaves room for the work being by grace most blessed, and much according to God's mind; but also, man being the workman, for awful departure from it too. Still we shall see, in most material respects, God has a place in it, but another and a distinct one; we shall find no members of a body, but the sphere of work is God's in the world, and His presence is found to be there in what is built up. The apostle, in Ephesians 2, states the facts. Thus, the Gentile believers at Ephesus had, once afar off, been brought nigh by the blood of Christ, for Christ had broken down the middle wall of partition, abolishing in His flesh ordinances, to make of twain (Jews and Gentiles) one new man, and reconcile both in one body by the cross, and having slain the enmity, preached peace to the Gentiles afar off, and to the Jews nigh. Through Him by one Spirit Jew and Gentile (believers) had access to the Father. All this brings out the great principles on which the work was founded.

34 Verses 19 and 20 further describe this new position. In Christ all the building, fitly framed together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. Thus Jew and Gentile are brought together to be the temple or dwelling-place of God; they grow up to this. In this sense, it will be perfect - a holy temple. But beside this, there is the present work which was going on. They were then builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. God dwelt there by the Holy Ghost. Now the thought of God, founded on the death of Christ, was to have a holy temple, in which He should dwell; and so He will. But there was a work going on now upon earth which corresponded to this. Jews and Gentiles were builded together to be God's habitation by the Spirit. That which is definitely presented here is the dwelling of God there in the Person of the Spirit. There is no head, no union, no body. What God has to say to it is, not to animate the members and unite them in one body to the Head and one another, but to dwell there.

No doubt the house, in the mind of God and in result, will be a holy house of true Christians; nor is there a doubt that at the first it was practically so, when the Spirit took up His abode in it. The apostle addresses them as saints: the body and the house were in fact the same. They were built on the foundation; but who had built them? Of this nothing is said. Although the present fact is assumed, that the building is in its normal state, yet we do not find the work of God perfecting His counsels, but a warning following, founded on the responsibility of man, of which we read nothing whatever in the first chapter and first ten verses of the second. "I beseech you," says the apostle, "that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called … endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." On this the triple unity spoken of in a former paper; one Spirit, body, and hope; one Lord, faith, and baptism; one God and Father of all, above all, through all, and in them all. When we turn to the actual accomplishment of the work on earth presented to us in 1 Corinthians 3, it takes an aspect characterized wholly by man's responsibility, not to the exclusion of the truth that all the true work is of God, and man nothing; but that, in the work actually wrought on earth, man's working enters with all its consequences. Paul had laid the foundation as a wise master-builder. The true foundation was laid: none other could be; but every one was to take heed how he built thereon; he might build gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble. The enduring of the work depended on the materials. It would be tested. The teaching brought in souls according to its own character; and the superstructure of the building, of that which was raised up on the foundation of Christ in the world, was according to the materials. Here we have the outward result in the world; yet God's building, as to its standing and position in the world, but man building it, and his responsibility in play, and the result according to the materials employed. It has been sought to justify the evil result of man's bad building; but of this there is not the smallest trace: the very man that had so built was himself saved only as through the fire, and all his labour lost. Here I need hardly say we have nothing of the body.

35 But the instruction of the word goes farther. God has allowed and ordered, since evil was to be, that the principles of that evil should work before the eyes of those that scrutinized it with divine sagacity were closed; and if the coldness of the saints towards Christ, and the working of the mystery of iniquity pressed upon the heart of Paul; and if the flowing in E of iniquity under the garb of Christianity roused the glowing indignation of Jude and Peter; and if the departure of some to take an antichristian position awakened the warning voice of John, they have afforded us a divinely-given inspired judgment, in the word, of all that did so. False brethren crept in unawares; wickedness came in; and those not really of the Christian commonwealth went out. But Paul - that wise master-builder, who above all had the ministry of the Church committed to him - would, above all, judge by the Spirit, the bearing of this work of the enemy, and give the needed warning and direction to the saints. And so he does. One passage in particular will attract our attention, because it refers directly to our subject, and gives explicit direction for the conduct of the saints in a state of things which has so ripened since he first, by the Spirit, spoke of it; 2 Timothy 2:17, 22. Heresy had come in, and the faith of some was overthrown. Here the apostle brings out distinctly the difference of the two aspects of God's people now on the earth, of which we have spoken. The sure foundation of God standeth. And these are the two devices of the seal: the Lord knoweth them that are His (this is the sure security of God's purpose); then man's responsibility - as naming the name of Christ, they should depart from iniquity. But this is not all. The actual condition of the house, the Lord's house as confided to men, not merely its nature, is looked at. "But," the apostle continues, "in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour." We are to expect vessels to dishonour in the house. The direction of the apostle is to purge oneself from these, and to follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. The general result will be found in 2 Timothy 3, the form of godliness, but not the power; and, 2 Thessalonians 2, the falling away which introduces the man of sin.

36 These various passages of scripture give us a pretty clear insight into the way in which the assembly is contemplated in scripture. We have, first, the body according to the purpose and work of God. Its members quickened with the Head, raised up and sitting in heavenly places in Him. This, in full result, will be the body of Him who is Head over all; the fulness thus of Him that filleth all in all. Next, we have the body manifested on the earth by the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and outwardly expressed by union in partaking of the Lord's supper. Hence those doing this together are so far looked at as the body, all saints being however associated in thought. With this water-baptism has nothing to do. We are one body with an ascended Christ. Baptism never reaches ascension; it is confined, in its signification, to death and resurrection. Thirdly, we have the house in the thought and purpose of God, built on the foundation of apostles and prophets of the New Testament. It grows up a holy temple to the Lord. This embraces the whole assembly, and is not yet complete. But the union of Jews and Gentiles under the gospel in the assembly formed the habitation of God on earth through the Spirit. This is treated as a fact; but it is not said in Ephesians, what would become of it. It is - not a work of divine power, quickening individuals out of death, and then uniting to Christ by the Holy Ghost; but - new relationships formed by a divine work, which are entered into. The assembly takes the place of Israel as the dwelling-place and habitation of God. Now, doubtless, at first those who entered did so by the power of God. But it was a position on earth in which man was responsible, not union with the Head in heaven. Fourthly, we have the building of this house in fact by the labours of man; Paul, the wise master-builder; and the danger of others not building with good materials. Fifthly, we have a great house with vessels to dishonour in it, from which the faithful have to purify themselves; along with this, perilous times, when professing Christians would have the form of godliness and deny the power of it, and were to be turned away from; and, lastly, the actual apostasy (the true saints being caught up to heaven), and so the revelation of the man of sin, judgment closing all.

37 Two passages should be referred to here, 1 Timothy 3:15, and Hebrews 3:6. The latter passage refers to the care of Christ over His house, and looks on to the house being owned in its true sense, and according to the divine purpose hereafter. God would have a house, a dwelling-place, and, though the heaven and heaven of heavens could not contain Him, yet dwell with men. This dwelling of God with man reposes on redemption, by which they are made His own in a divine right, and unalterable title, not merely by creation. He did not dwell with Adam, or with Abraham; but, when Israel was redeemed out of Egypt and become His people, He dwells there - redeemed them in order to dwell there. See last two verses of Exodus 29 (compare chap. 15). When the house was empty, swept, and garnished, the Blessed One came and could say of His body "this temple." Then the Lord formed the assembly for a dwelling-place; nor does this blessed truth cease even now, any more than the other fruits of redemption. In the new heavens and the new earth, the tabernacle of God (the assembly) will be with men. Meanwhile it was formed on earth, a habitation of God, through the Spirit. In Hebrews 3, the apostle, as in all the epistles, was warning the Jewish professors against turning back and giving up the beginning of their confidence. If they did, they would form no part of Christ's house, over which He Himself was. He had indeed built all things as God, but, in a closer relationship, He had His own house; and of this, as a divine building, those who abandoned Him of course formed no part. 1 Timothy 3 views it in a somewhat different light. The point on the apostle's mind is not Christ over His own house, but the servant's responsibility in God's house. The assembly of the living God is that house. There is the place where the truth is professed, and its profession maintained in the world and nowhere else. If anything calling itself the assembly of God loses the profession of fundamental truth, it ceases to be an assembly of God. On the other hand, the servant of the Lord has to learn, when the truth is professed, how to behave himself as in the assembly of God (that is, the house of the living God). This is its character, and our responsibilities are according to this character.

38 What has been said will, I apprehend, by drawing his attention to the passages, sufficiently introduce my reader into the thoughts of scripture on this subject. Many most important consequences may be drawn; but this, as yet, I reserve. We have the general idea of the assembly of God upon the earth. This assembly, founded consequent on the exaltation of Christ on high, has a double aspect, considered in its normal state. It is the body of Christ, looking at it in its union with Christ on high; the house of God, if we consider it as the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost sent down consequent on Christ's exaltation. In these characters the Epistle to the Ephesians presents it to us; in either case it is first of all viewed as composed of true believers, and will in result be composed of such. In general the building of the assembly, viewed as going on to its ultimate result, is Christ's work founded on the power of His resurrection; and Satan's power cannot prevail against it. It is never called Christ's assembly but here (Matt. 16) (particular assemblies are, Romans 16:16), and is viewed as one built by Himself, and in result secured by His power. He considers it in its reality, without dwelling on its privileges, or what the outward temporary form of it remains in man's hands. The body of Christ is spoken of as being on earth, but always assumed to be composed of living members in whom the Holy Ghost works in power. Scripture does not say that a man may not have this power, without being a member of the body (for the scriptures, 1 Corinthians 13, Hebrews 6, and many passages analogous in the Gospels and even in the Old Testament, suppose that he may); but, in speaking of the body, the members are all supposed to be living saints. The house is first viewed according to its institution and result in blessing; but, at the same time, human building is spoken of, and in result on earth a great house, in which vessels to dishonour have their place, as well as vessels to honour; though we are called to purge ourselves from them.

39 I would refer the reader, in order to complete this review, to Ephesians 5; where the love of Christ towards the assembly, viewed as the object of divine counsels and the bride of Christ, with allusion to Eve's relationship with Adam, is unfolded: first, in its whole character and results He loved it, gave Himself for it that He might cleanse it for Himself by the word, and present it to Himself (as God did Eve, when formed, to Adam), glorious and spotless: secondly, in His tender care over it, He nourishes and cherishes it as a man would his own flesh. In chapter 4 we find the gifts coming down from Christ as Head; these gifts being represented as the members themselves ministering, first, to the perfection of the individual members; and, then, with a view to the work of the ministry and the edifying the whole body by the supply of every part. I would recall the triple unity heretofore spoken of: the body, the Spirit, and the hope; the one Lordship of Christ to which faith and baptism correspond; then, one divine being, God and Father of us all, who is above all, and everywhere, and in us all. Wonderful privilege! There remains the question, What has historically become of the assembly thus formed? and what form did the thoughts connected with it take in the minds of Christian men? Of this in another paper, the Lord willing.

In essaying to accomplish the task which I had undertaken, of giving, in its main element at least, an historical view of the doctrines progressively held regarding the Church, the assembly of God, I was, I confess, hardly aware of the poverty of the resources to which I should be reduced when once I left scripture. As doctors, I had no great confidence in the Fathers; I had consulted them, at any rate, too much for that. But I thought that, on the subject of the Church, I should find (not surely what had the truth and depth of scripture, it would have been alike unjust and wrong, but), at any rate, an energy of thought and apprehension, which, if flowing in a channel traced out by human thought, and occupied with an earthly establishment of divine things, would still rise above temporary questions and difficulties, and have an elevation not to be reached by views arising out of them; and, by which the actors of the moment sought to meet them. I judged that a corrupt and human state of things had been clothed, by a discoverable process, with titles and privileges which belonged to a divine creation. My faint recollections of Tertullian* and still more of Cyprian,** and in general of church history, coloured, perhaps, by habit and general opinion, led me to this; and to suppose that there existed at first a mere practical apprehension of the Church, as seen before them; and thereafter a gradual corruption, and larger use of now-collected scripture; a positive (soon an habitual, and, at last, a doctrinal) application of divine prerogatives to human failure, such as we see in full display in Romanism. But the Fathers are petty even in error. There is in general nothing to relieve the poverty of their local and occasional pre-occupations; and when divine life had seized, as in St. Augustine, some deep and blessed truths, which could not mingle with corruption, and gave some enlargement of view even as to ecclesiastical subjects, practical corruption was now at such a height that the whole produced a confusion, which has, at least, the moral dignity of not passing over evil, or, still worse, not seeing it so as to maintain a hierarchical system which gives importance to self, or which habit has made respectable.

{*Particularly De Praescriptione.}

{**De Unitate.}

40 Still, the Fathers will give us their own history, which I will briefly follow, and in it the opinions of active men in their day.

The present system of Romanism must be sought elsewhere. It is simply, as regards our present subject, the use made of general principles met with in these fathers, and forged passages added to their writings, to carry out, by political ability, a scheme which has connected the exclusive appropriation of the claims and privileges of Christianity with the most constant opposition to its truth, its spirit, and its practice; and made, what claims to be exclusively the Church of God, the seat of Satan's power. As to catholicity, it is well to remember that it is a simple fable. As, when the royalty of Israel became corrupt, the kingdom became divided; so, when the professing church became entirely corrupt, and the papal pretension became a definite matter of history, God took care that the Church ceased to be catholic, and the very term "Roman Catholic," for anyone who knows the use of words, carries falsehood on its face. The pretensions of the papacy revolted the Greek patriarch. What set up Rome destroyed catholicity. The most ancient churches and the imperial city became an antagonistic body to it. Roman pretensions, the political influence of Rome, were greater; its evil and unscriptural antagonism to, and supremacy over, civil power, which is ordained of God, marked it more distinctly as the seat and throne of wickedness; but Rome never was catholic. The act by which it was born, its dawn of supremacy, destroyed for ever catholicity. The providence of God has not allowed catholic corruption. At this moment the majority of professing Christians and most ancient churches are outside the so-called catholic (that is, universal) Church. No such thing exists as a catholic (that is, universal) Church. The claims of each portion of Christendom to be a church or assembly of God, must be tried, not by its own pretensions, but by scripture, and then they are easily disposed of, unless corruption and Christianity are identical.

41 But I return to the history of the doctrine. The Fathers may be divided into three classes, Apostolic, Grecian, and Western. We may also distinguish the Alexandrian, though they write in Greek; but they hardly enter into the sphere of our enquiry, though one considered such comes under the class Apostolic, Barnabas, who, however, affords us no light on the subject of enquiry. He, with Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, and Hermas, constitute, what are commonly called, the Apostolic Fathers; but, since the publication of the canon of Muratori, Origen's supposition that the latter was the Hermas mentioned by Paul is maintained by none; I shall speak of him, therefore, after Justin. Justin and Irenaeus will give us those next succeeding the post-apostolic age. Tertullian, Cyprian, and, later, Jerome and St. Augustine, may furnish us the doctrine of the Latins; and Chrysostom, instar omnium, the views of the later Eastern churches; Origen and Clement of Alexandria, philosophical Christianity; Leo and Gregory the Great, Roman views of the matter.

As regards any spiritual or elevated view of the Church of God, as we see it portrayed in the Ephesians, or even the earthly manifestation or development of it in the power of the Holy Ghost, as in 1 Corinthians, it must not be looked for. The declaration, that salvation is not to be found out of the Church, and that if a man were not in the body, he could not be connected with the Head, and the application of this necessity to a large corrupt hierarchically governed body on earth, in order to condemn all who were not subject to it, and all who separated from it, through conscience or self-will - this will be found, as schisms flowing from will, or a conscience tormented by the horrible corruption that characterized the Church, took place. But the thought of the presence of the Holy Ghost animating living members, or His unfolding the riches or fulness of blessing, flowing from living union, never crossed their minds.

42 Of the Apostolic Fathers, Barnabas, as I have remarked, furnishes us with no light. His object is to spiritualize Moses. All the ordinances of the law are mere figures; their taking even circumcision literally was all wrong. Clement does not help us much more. He refers to the Old Testament hierarchy as a motive for order in the Christian services; but does not apply the analogy to a Christian hierarchy. Still, we see how already the mind of the Church was sunk below the urgent taking, by contrast, these analogies out of earth, and raising the thoughts of saints up to heaven and heavenly things, which we find in the Hebrews, the object of which is to detach from all earthly Jewish hierarchism, and shew its fulfilment in Christ in heaven, to which the partakers of the heavenly calling belong. This is the more remarkable, as Clement was familiar with the Hebrews, to which he refers, and the present form of it in Greek was by some attributed to him.* His epistle, the best of those of the apostolic fathers, serves to shew the sudden and utter declension from spiritual apprehensions which followed the departure of the apostle of the Gentiles. It helps us thus to understand the state of the Church, though it teaches nothing doctrinally about it. It is an amiable effort to make peace at Corinth, where they had turned off some of their elders. But a heavenly, spiritual, and elevating use of Jewish forms is unknown to it. He brings us back to earth where the Hebrews had taken us to heaven, though he refers to Hebrews. I have dwelt thus much on this, because it is the true key to all that follows.

{* The epistle called of Clement is written in the name of the Church of Rome. Yet, afterwards, for three or four centuries, the Roman Church did not receive the epistle to the Hebrews.}

Ignatius next draws our attention; and some important elements of history are here afforded us to consider. And, first of all, what a proof of the propensity of the orthodox in these early days to commit pious frauds! What a mass of toil has been imposed on sagacious Ushers, very orthodox and much read Pearsons, and keen Dailles, to unravel what is genuine and is not genuine of the martyred bishop! We have universally acknowledged forgeries, longer interpolated editions, shorter stoutly defended ones, and then Syrian MSS adduced to prove that five more out of the eight, admitted by many to be genuine, are also forgeries, and that the greater part of the three genuine ones has been added by the forging hand. It is a poor foundation to build on. It is curious enough, and is to the credit of his sagacity, that Usher declared the letter to Polycarp, which is admitted to be genuine, to be spurious; the style was so very different from the others then supposed to be genuine. He saw the difference, and that both could not be from the same author; and, assuming the others to be genuine, rejected this. What the Syriac leaves of the others, as far as matter and style of thought go, does not militate against that to Polycarp. For myself, while not pretending to be learned in such matters, I do not doubt, in spite of Hefele and Jacobson, that Cureton has come to the right conclusion. The plea made, that what is found in the Syriac MSS was an abridgment made for the use of the monks of the convent for pious uses, seems to me without the smallest foundation, as there are three distinct letters and not the substance of eight or of three either, and nothing monkish in them. They are parts of the three larger, not the substance of three made a pious treatise of. I take therefore the Syriac edition as genuine. Their local origin confirms this; but for my present purpose it is not very material. In Ignatius's letters, even in those as I believe not genuine, or in the interpolated portions of the genuine, the catholic Church is not the subject, nor catholic unity, but local unity in subjection to the bishop - unity with him. He is to be viewed as God, the presbyters as Christ, the deacons as the college of the apostles. I take the strong expressions of the whole eight in the form defended by many. The point insisted on is the union of one local flock with one local bishop, and in everything. He who leaves that is outside everything. Diocesan episcopacy does not appear in Ignatius; in truth, it was unknown in that age.

43 In the epistle of Smyrna, on the martyrdom of Polycarp, the holy catholic (universal) Church in every place is spoken of the particular Church is spoken of as paroikia paroikoises, sojourning. The catholic Church which is in Smyrna (sec. 16). Christ is shepherd of the catholic (universal) Church in the whole world. Except the fact that the whole existing Church in the world is one universal one, there is little doctrinal to assist us in this epistle. It is received as genuine; how far it is to be considered free from interpolation must rest upon the general confidence which one has in these remains of antiquity, where the system of pious frauds and fabricated gospels and writings was so abundantly at work. I know of no suspicion cast upon it.

44 This is all the testimony of the apostolic fathers on the point. Polycarp to the Philippians affords no additional light. He was a connecting link in point of time between those who succeeded the apostle and the third generation of Christian writers.

First of these Justin presents himself, but he affords us little light on the doctrine of the Church; he views it as embracing men in one, in contrast with Judaism. He applies Psalm 45 to the Church (Dial. with T., 287 b), saying, that the word of God addresses her as a daughter, as one soul, one synagogue, one assembly. He quotes (Dial. with T., 261 a) Isaiah 53, according to the LXX, to a similar purpose. That all the apostles would be as one body, as is to be seen in the body with many members, all one, however, and are called and are one body, and adds, For, also, the people and assembly, many men in number, as being one thing, are called and named with one name. The "Expositio Fidei" goes farther and quotes Ephesians 2 and 2 Corinthians 6:16, speaking of the temple of Christ. But this is not of Justin. The Church in Justin is the external body or gathering on earth which he sees as one, as he does the apostles. This is the more striking, as he alludes clearly to 1 Corinthians, has it in his mind, but does not go further than the fact of one set of people on the earth called Christians.

In Hermas, in the treatise called "The Pastor," we find largely developed views on the subject of the Church. I apprehend it is pretty generally agreed that he was brother to Pius II, A.D. 164. He is, it appears, quoted by Irenaeus. His writings were read in many churches, though not exactly as scripture; yet almost quoted as such by some writers, though not of weight on such a point, as Origen, who says he considers him inspired. But the acceptance of "The Pastor" will shew whereabouts the primitive Church was. The modern professing church speaks of the earlier Christians being a guide to truth, inasmuch as they were nearer the apostolic source, because it believes as little in the need of the Holy Ghost's power and of His working as the early Church did, or less. Paul had the power of the Spirit of God: he knew by it that after his decease grievous wolves would enter, yea, and that within the Church perverse men would arise. The incapacity of the early Church to discern is plain from the reading of these visions, etc., of Hermas, and the respect in which they were held. I have little doubt that they were well-intentioned, and that there was a personal desire of godliness in the writer's soul. But they are ill-conditioned and unseemly fables, fostering the most disgraceful practices of commencing superstition and asceticism,* and teaching doctrine heretical in itself, and unworthy of all the dignity of divine things. But we shall get historically a then accepted view of the Church by their means. Passing over the unseemly introduction, the Church is for him simply a building in the world. It begins by forgiveness, not repentance (Command. 3). After that repentance is allowed once. The name of the Son of God is necessary, but all depends on conduct afterwards (Sim. 9:13-14), yet he allows people to be saved who are rejected from the Church (Vis. 3:8). But this is contradicted (Sim. 9:14). He speaks of the Church's becoming one body when purified, and the evil ones cast out. But there are one understanding, one opinion, one faith, and the same charity. The nations have believed and received the seal of the Son of God (baptism), they have all been made partakers of the same understanding and knowledge; and their faith and charity have been the same. And they have carried the spirits of certain virgins of whom he speaks, that is, of different graces, together with His name. After they agreed thus in one mind, there began to be one body of them all; however, some of them polluted themselves, and were cast off from the kind of the righteous, and again returned to their former state and became worse than they were before. Angels build the Church.

{*He is forbidden to live as a husband with his wife, but in a figurative way sanctions the system of pareisaktoi; as devil-devised a piece of infamy and wickedness as ever was called sanctity in the primitive Church, and characteristic of it. I am aware these seem harsh words; but they ought to be used for such things.}

46 I do not enter into details of green rods becoming dry, or splitting, or partly dry, getting green again; or, of rich men being round stones who must be squared and lose all their riches to be able to be put into the house, and the casting out of stones from the building, when viewed by the Lord - save to remark that the whole is a matter of outward profession, of present moral state, and of this earth: a heavenly body, or a head in heaven, or the Holy Ghost, who unites us to Him and His work, is wholly unknown to him. His doctrine is as follows. The master of a vineyard confides a vineyard to a servant, who is to stake it, and he will thereupon be set free. But he does more, and weeds it. On the master's returning to visit it, he is very content, and takes counsel with his son and with the angels how he should reward him, and, as the chosen body into which the Holy Spirit which was created first of all served that Spirit, nor ever defiled it, it was made heir with the son. He explains the son to be the Holy Spirit, and the servant to be the Son of God. Yet he explains elsewhere the rock higher than the mountain on which the house (the Church) was built by the angels to be most ancient, and yet a new door which he had become in time.

I apprehend, though not openly stated, that his doctrine as to Christ was the common patristic one of his age, that Christ though eternal, as the word-mind in God, only became a Person (prophorikos) when God was about to create the world.

Some have sought to prove him orthodox. Bad as his doctrine is, I hardly feel it needful to prove such poor and unscriptural nonsense unorthodox.

What is material to us is to see that the Church is for him a mere outward visible thing, built on the earth, into which men are brought, and often afterwards cast out, becoming worse than before. Christ is a foundation on the earth of this outward thing, He is no living head in heaven; this was wholly lost. It was not unnatural that, scriptural spirituality not being there, that wonderful thing - the new thing in the earth produced independently of Jew and Gentile, national difference, and all earthly power - should occupy and possess the mind. They saw the house, viewing it in its origin as built of God; but made no difference between the divine principle of its constitution, God's work to establish that, and man's actual work in it (on which the apostle is so distinct), seeing only the latter, confounding the human with the divine, and, in the case of Hermas, attributing it to angels.

47 Irenaeus sees the Church, in contrast with heretics, as an external thing in this world. That in which the apostles were set, the Church at Jerusalem, is that from which all churches draw their origin (3:12, 5). The Spirit dwells in it: the communication of Christ is in it (3:24, 1). They who do not receive Him, nor are nourished by the Church, do not receive that brightest fountain flowing from Christ. The Spirit of God and every grace are in the Church; but it is always the external body contrasted with heretics, particularly the Valentinians. In one place he speaks of Christ as caput ecclesiae, but only as the Father is caput Christi; shewing he has no sense of the union of the body with Him.

In pleading against the heretics, he uses the faith of the sees which the apostle had founded, as a proof of the truth they had taught; the particular churches are witnesses in his point 3 of view. It is on this occasion that he gives the list of bishops at Rome.*

{*It may not much interest my readers; but I have not the least doubt that the potiorem principalitatem (till Massuet it was read potentiorem) is hikanoteran archen, a more excellent origin, because he attributes the founding of the Church of Rome to two apostles. The use of these words in Irenaeus, connected with the context, here puts it, I think, beyond doubt.}

The fullest statement, perhaps, on the subject of the Church is in 3:25, 1, where he says, the Church has with constancy kept the faith it had received; that this office was committed to it, that all recipient members may be vivified (the Latin is excessively obscure: ad inspirationem plasmationi, ad hoc ut omnia membra vivifiantur); and that the communication of Christ (that is, the Spirit) was there.* He refers then to gifts (1 Cor. 12); adding, for where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church; and the Spirit is truth. In the Church are the gifts, apostles, prophets, doctors, and the whole remaining operation of the Spirit, of which none are partakers who do not run to the Church, but deprive themselves of life. He says, the Spirit is as an admirable deposit in a vase, always youthful, and making youthful the vase in which it is; and then goes on to speak of the life-giving office committed to it. But all this shews entire confusion on the subject which occupies us. The Spirit is in a vase, of which it maintains the youth: that is intelligible, if true; but he adds, that the recipient members may be vivified. Are they, then, members before they are vivified? And if he mean the maintenance of life, something gives it previously, not the Church, and the argument against the heretic fails. The fact is, the members have life, not the Church; but this would not do for his argument. The dwelling in a vase is all well, because the vase has not life, and his speaking of its making it youthful is a delusion. That the presence of the Spirit preserves it from decay is a question of which the affirmative cannot be assumed, save through the confusion of the living body and the dwelling-place. In man the breath of life is the life of the whole body and of all the members; and the Spirit may, in a vague way, be so looked at as corporately animating the whole body, when viewed as such in union with Christ; but then it is not that it may give them life, as the heretics cannot, because then they (the so-called members) are looked at as dead, that is, as no part of the body. Hence the figure is changed, and even so is faulty; they are not nourished as by the mother's breast unto life. Where did they get it to be nourished? and is the Church a thing apart from the members who compose it? "Where the Spirit is, the Church is," is not strictly true; for He is in individuals; but for Irenaeus's purpose it may be so taken; and where the Church is, the Spirit is. But the Church, as the body, does not communicate life; it has life, speaking in figure; for, in truth, life is in individuals. Further, the dwelling-place and the body being confounded together, no thought of the Head is in Irenaeus's mind; but the indwelling of the Spirit in the house is life. Indeed, the body, save by comparison with man's creation, is not spoken of; but the external thing taken to have the power of life in it, in virtue of the Spirit's dwelling there, in contrast with heretics. There is the conscious blessing of living faith; but by confusion of all scriptural thought of life, house, and body, or rather the neglect of this last, the ground is laid for the worst pretensions of Romish apostasy.

{*We have only a wretched Latin translation: according to this, "there" cannot refer to the Church, it may to the vase (the figure he uses for it) or office. I can only give the general idea, which is pretty plain. The inspirationem plasmationi I take to be the breathing into Adam's nostrils the breath of life; so the Church has the Spirit, the communication of Christ, that all the members may have this communication of life. It is, he says previously, the accustomed operation as to the salvation of men, which is in one faith; it may be effectual operation, as some read it. It is added, "Wherefore, those who do not participate in Him (the Spirit, who is truth) are not nourished by the mother's breasts into life, nor receive the bright fountain proceeding from the body of Christ." Here remark: Irenaeus, who is occupied with the heretics, states, that heretics are not the Church at all, and hence have not what is found in the Church; she alone nourishes into life. The good father reasons in an evident circle. The Church is where the Spirit is, and where the Spirit is is the Church; but there is the honest earnest consciousness of faith. They are not the Church, for they have not the faith; therefore, they have not the Spirit. But the faith was proved by the Church's traditions too.}

49 That the Holy Ghost keeps young the vessel in which it dwells is never thought of in scripture; indeed, the contrary is taught. That it maintains eternal life in the saints, members of the body in union with Christ, is quite true. But we see that the Church in contrast at first with heathen, and now with heretics - that is, the earthly corporation, is absorbing, in the mind of doctors, the privileges of the body, while the scriptural idea of the body and union with the Head is lost; and as the external thing was already corrupt, and soon became more so the way was laid for appropriating the privileges to the extreme of corruption. But, as I have said of all, Irenaeus does not get beyond a reference to present circumstances and difficulties; uses what doctrine he has as to the Church to meet them; and does not enter into it for its own fulness and blessing. Hence the thought of the Head is lost. That must have brought truer thoughts and ideas; but when the thought of the Head was lost, the Church had no longer the definite idea attached to it of the body of Christ. The prerogatives and privileges belonged then infallibly to the corrupt external things, and especially for him who had faith in the grant of them; and that Irenaeus, I do not doubt a moment, had. But let the reader note, that the heavenly Head of a living body does not in any way enter into the thoughts of Irenaeus; nor our being in Him, and He in us. Could the pope, for example, be that? Even in speaking of Adam, he makes Adam the Church; and the breath breathed into him is what animates. No Eve is here, no Adam to represent Christ. All these truths are lost. There is only the Holy Ghost in the external thing, and that supposed to communicate life - as to which indeed, also, all is confusion.

Clement of Alexandria treats little of such subjects: he only tells us, as respecting temples built with hands, that the Church is the congregation of the elect.* But the elect, with him, means nothing here. In a passage in the "Stromata" (7, p. 885), where he is describing the Gnostic, or Christian according to knowledge, he says, he does not indulge his flesh. The rest are like the flesh of the holy body; for the Church is allegorically the body of Christ - a spiritual and holy choir, of which those who are called only by name, but do not live according to knowledge (ek logou), are the flesh; but this spiritual body, which is the holy Church, ought not to consist with fornication … but fornication against the Church is living like Gentiles in the Church. We see thus the corruption come in, and how theoretical mysticism gets out of it.

{*It has been suggested by Montague, that it should be ekkleton, "called out," but query.}

50 In replying to heretics (p. 899), he says, that the most ancient and true Church is the one, the others recent and adulterers from it; that God approves what is only the true catholic Church, founded on the two Testaments, or rather the one in divers times, in which God by His will gathers by one Lord those who are already ordained to it (tetagmenous), whom God has predestinated, having known that they would be righteous before the foundation of the world. Before, his conscience was working; here, he is theorizing against heretics.

The baptized are washed, illuminated, perfect, etc.; and so stated in a passage which shews, as do his writings, very little respect for, or knowledge of, the Person of Christ. To say the truth, if converted at all, philosophy had far more influence over him than Christianity. In poor, wild, persecuted, but sincere Origen, we see confusion and unbridled imagination indeed; but, in spite of all, marks of genuine living faith. But Origen furnishes us with little which throws direct light on the progress of church opinion, though he may have largely influenced it. He studied scripture, and was not occupied in the government of the Church; indeed, his own diocesan would not ordain him, but drove him away. In interpreting scripture he gives on these points pretty much the contents of the text itself as it is: only the spouse in the Canticles is the Church; the tabernacle represents everything in detail; the ark is the Church; Noah was in the highest story - that is, Jesus, the true rest - at the top; ill-conditioned Christians, like the unclean beasts, at the bottom.

His spiritualizations are elaborate; and, with the simplicity, have the foolishness, of a child. He was a great stickler for free-will. On the other hand, in replying to Celsus, to prove the union of the word with man, he takes up the Church as Christ's body - He animating and giving motion to what was otherwise lifeless and inert, and each member only moving as set in movement by Him, as the life and soul of it as a whole. He calls it also the bride and the body of Christ. He applies even the temple of His body, in John, to the Church; but here he states, that it will be one when it is brought to perfection in resurrection; till then, it is, like the scattered dry bones in Ezekiel, comparatively dry, scattered in persecutions. Here also he calls it the body; and, after Peter, the house built of living stones; and then goes on to apply the numbers of overseers, builders, etc., of Solomon's temple, and dates connected with it, to mystical senses. In a word, we find a large consideration of scripture by one well versed in it, and hence far more divine thoughts flowing from it; but with this an unbridled imagination, and very little founding in, or even acquaintance with, fundamental truth.

51 These two last, with Barnabas of an earlier date, are the Alexandrian or intellectual school. We may now turn to more practical Latins, occupied with things - business, not ideas.

Tertullian and Cyprian first present themselves, and bring us back to the history of the dogma. The first, however, helps us but little as to the notion of the Church (all, as I have said, being occupied with their particular difficulties and the evils of the day). He gives no view of the Church. He once says, it is the house of God. But his great and incessantly repeated topic is the churches, not the Church; though he once says, they are one church. He dwells on the succession from the apostles, or apostolic men, securing the truth, asserting they are one in doctrine (he speaks of conferences in Greece maintaining this). When he speaks of passages in Ephesians which relate to the Church, it is only against Marcion; and uses them to shew the Creator was the supreme God, and that flesh was not despised. Some judge this treatise was after he left the body called the catholic Church in that day; as was probably another remarkable statement of his, that the authority of the Church alone had made the distinction between laymen and ordained persons; that all Christians are priests; and wherever two or three are gathered, even laymen, there is a church - they can celebrate the Lord's supper, and baptize. In sum, his teaching is the value of apostolic churches, as securing sound doctrine: it was merely a Roman legal reasoning against heretics.

52 Cyprian insists much on the unity of the Church; but it is in opposition to the schism of Novatus and Novatian. Hitherto unity had been assailed by heretics, and the defenders of catholicity had carefully denied their being of the Church, as they had not the faith which could be proved to be that of the apostles. A new thing now arose in the professing Church. Its corruption was so great (as, indeed, Cyprian himself testifies), that rigid discipline was insisted upon; and in default of it, as they judged it was called for, persons admitted to be orthodox separated from it, and the authority of the bishop was called in question. Hence Cyprian's idea of unity is simply local unity with the bishops; and of all bishops as being together one bishop, one episcopacy, he quotes the promise to Peter (Matt. 16:18). Bishops have all like honour and power; yet Christ begins from one, that the Church may be shewn to be one. The episcopate is one, of which a part is held by individuals as a part of the whole. The Church also is one, which grows out into a multitude. He compares it to light and the sun, to a tree and boughs; if one of them be broken off, it is lost or dies. Such is the Church of the Lord exclusively. Her light, her branches, extend far; but there is unity of light and of body. There is one Head, one origin, one body, one mother. ("De Unitate Ecclesiae," 106, seqq.) We are born of her, nourished by her milk, animated by her spirit; the spouse of Christ cannot be corrupted, she is incorrupt and chaste. He cannot have the rewards of Christ, who leaves the Church of Christ; he is a stranger, profane, an enemy. He cannot have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother. There is a great deal more to the same effect. He compares it to Noah's ark, Christ's vest, Rahab's house, the house where the paschal lamb was eaten. God makes men of one mind in a house. In God's house, the Church of Christ, men live in unanimity (see "Epistle to the Lapsed," 33:66). He again refers to Peter; thence, through the course and times and successions, the ordination of bishops and the principle of the Church has had its regular course; so that the Church should be founded on bishops (Ep. 49:93, 95). Cornelius, bishop of Rome, says, in the correspondence, there is one bishop in the Church; the catholic Church is shewn to be one, and cannot be split and divided. The tares are in the Church; we are not to leave, but to seek to be wheat; and he quotes 2 Timothy 2:20, vessels to dishonour, but says nothing of purging ourselves from them. The Lord alone, he says, can break the earthen ones. (On the confessor's return, Cyprian, Ep. 54:99-100.) They cannot be with Christ, who are not with His spouse and in the Church, referring to Ephesians 5:31. Still all refers to Novatus, who had separated because of loose discipline, as he judged, with the lapsed (96).

53 As the one Church is divided by Christ in the whole world into many members, so one episcopate is spread abroad by the concordant number of many bishops. Ep. 112 refers to the exhortation in Ephesians 4. The tares, he says, the apostles were not allowed of the Lord to discover; they pretend to separate (2 Tim. 2:20). They pretend to despise and throw away these wooden and earthen vessels, whereas it is only in the day of the Lord they will be burnt or broken with a rod of iron 168). The Church does not withdraw from Christ; and for Cyprian the Church is the people united to the priest, and the flock adhering to its pastor, even if the multitude go away-when, says he, thou oughtest to know that the bishop is in the Church, and the Church in the bishop; and if any are not with the bishop, they are not with the Church; since the Church, which is catholic, is one, not split or divided, but connected and joined by the glue of priests mutually adhering to one another. All this, it will be seen, is directed against Novatus at home, and Felicissimus who headed a party against him, and Novatian at Rome. He says, the Church cannot be corrupted; yet he declares, that, morally, bishops and all, it was thoroughly heathenish and worldly; so that the persecution of Decius was only a most gentle dealing of God with it: it cannot be corrupted, but it was full of tares and vessels to dishonour.

I have the rather gone into Cyprian's statements, because he is known as a great writer on the unity of the Church; and his system, for the short time of his own activity, characterized the Church at large pretty sensibly; but it died with the energy which created it. He added the idea of a united diocesan episcopacy, forming a single episcopate in many members, to Ignatius's idea of the unity of the flock to a local president. Though he uses the scriptures, the idea they give of living members united to a Head in heaven does not seem to cross his mind as a truth in itself. But he attaches the importance and claims of that of which the apostle speaks to a body which, he admits, is full of the tares of Satan's sowing, and of vessels to dishonour. But it is to be left so. That is, we have now in view outward unity, that is, really (for the clerical authority of priests who stick together like glue), the attaching the credit of Christ's spouse and body to a vast mass of admitted corruption and evil.

54 Augustine will give us another phase. Yet his views of personal religion and election involve him in the greatest contradiction and difficulty. They are, however, important; for if Cyprian has formed hierarchical views short of Romanism, Augustine has in a great measure been the source of reformed doctrines, save in the point of justification by faith, on which certainly the Reformation was somewhat clearer. But his difficulties, if they were not to be wept over for the sake of the Church, would really amuse from the way he is perplexed. Like all the rest, though searching scripture for himself as a godly man, he is occupied in his reasonings with the circumstances of the moment. In his case it was the Donatists. A quarrel having arisen in Africa as to the episcopacy of Donatus's predecessor, a very large party indeed was formed with a very considerable part of the episcopacy. It was alleged, that Cecilianus was ordained by one who had been unfaithful in Diocletian's persecution, having given up the sacred books - a traditor. They chose Majorinus, to whom succeeded Donatus. The others complained of a fanatical love of martyrdom. The Donatists appealed to Constantine; and, after two appeals from the first sentence, they were condemned and violently persecuted, which they returned by violence and, as is alleged, by assassination; so bright is the history of the primitive Church! But another circumstance must be mentioned here. Cyprian and most of the Eastern bishops had re-baptized those baptized by heretics. Rome, and those under its influence, had opposed this. Cyprian and the East, however, held good; but, in the course of time, the Roman opinion prevailed in the West, and it was orthodox to receive heretical baptism. In the East it was generally rejected for a long while after this.

I refer to this, because it was a great source of Augustine's perplexity; he received the Western view. But then he had to acknowledge, that by Donatist baptism those who were not in the catholic Church received forgiveness of sins and the Holy Ghost. This, of course, was a terrible difficulty. I will now give his statements, in which the conflict of his views will easily appear. They gave formal rise to the thought of an invisible Church. He is very fond of insisting on one text, and citing it repeatedly everywhere; thus Ephesians 5, as to the unity of the body and Head, spouse and Husband.

55 Because, therefore, a whole Christ is his head and body; therefore, in all the Psalms let us so hear the words of the head, that we may hear the words of the body (Ps. 57:754, C, D). Hence, all nations in the Church are like the day of Pentecost. It is always with him unus homo, caput et corpus, one man, head and body (Ps. 18:122, C). Hence, when statements in the Psalms do not suit Christ, as God, or even as man, he says, I dare to say Christ speaks, but Christ speaks because Christ is in the members of Christ (Ps. 30:211, A).

He says (vol. 9, Ed. Ben. 587, B) no one ever arrived to salvation itself and eternal life, unless he who has the Head, Christ; but no one can have the Head, Christ, save he who is in His body, which is the Church. Then he does not reject the Donatists for all their deeds: these would be straw, but not hurt the wheat, if they held the Church fast. Nor does he accept the Church for any good, or opinions of men. What is done right in the catholic [Church] is therefore to be approved, because it is done in the catholic [Church]. We acknowledge, he says, the Church, as the head, in the holy canonical scriptures. He insists on searching the scriptures. They speak of a universal Church. This cannot be the Donatists of Africa. He then seeks to justify persecution; when rightly used. But here, as I have intimated, he was greatly puzzled, because it had been decided that the baptism of heretics was valid. Hence, his adversaries alleged that the baptism of Donatists was accepted, and that, consequently, he must admit that they conferred the forgiveness of sins and the Holy Ghost, as was believed to be the case in baptism, and that their admission into the Church of those baptized by them was owned; that is, the Donatists were the Church too. He replies, many who are publicly outside are better than many, and good catholics. But God also knows His predestinate ones - knows what they will be. But we, who judge from present things, say, His love does not own them, and the Lord will say, I never knew you: depart from me, ye workers of iniquity. I answer, he says again, Do the avaricious or other wicked persons forgive sins? If you regard the sacrament, yes; if himself, no. We own what is of Christ, but it does not profit; but when the evil is corrected, then it will. One baptized in heresy does not become the temple of God, nor is a baptized avaricious man the temple of God either, unless he leaves the evil. (This puts one in mind of the Assembly's Catechism.) Still, he says (9:168, B. C.) they are generated to God, but by that which they (the Donatists) have in common with the catholic Church; separated from the bond of charity and peace, but found in one baptism. And not only they who are in open separation do not belong to her, but those who are mixed up with her unity are separated by a very bad life. He takes the case of Simon Magus, and says, he who has no charity (cui defuit) is born in vain, and, perhaps, it were expedient for him not to have been born (!). He is greatly puzzled, also, by "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," and that, as he quotes it, then follows "baptize all nations in the name," etc.; "and whose sins ye remit," etc. He answers by saying, "He who hates his brother abides in death," but schismatics do. And what is being re-born in baptism but being renewed from one's old state? yet he whose old sins are not put away is not so; and if not re-born has not put on Christ; and if he has not put on Christ, he is not to be considered baptized in Christ. But it was replied, as many as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ. He acknowledged one baptized in Christ has put on Christ. It was then naturally alleged that he owned their baptism; therefore, that they were regenerate; therefore, their sins put away. He answers them only by Simon Magus; forgiven, yet having no part or lot in the matter. Then 271, B, C. and foll.), in the ineffable prescience of God, many who seem outside are within, and many who seem within are outside. Of all those, he says, who, as I may so say, are intrinsically and secretly within consists that garden enclosed, the fountain sealed, etc.; but he supposes them by heretics or others baptized into the ark (218, B.). The water of the Church is faithful, saving, and holy, to those using it well, but out of the Church no man can. It cannot be corrupted; so the Church is incorrupt, chaste, pure, and therefore avaricious men, etc., do not belong to it, of whom Cyprian himself testifies, there are not only without but within (466, A). If thou groaning seest such crowds (of wicked) around your altars, what shall we say? that they are anointed with holy oil; and, as the apostle clearly establishes with clear truth, they will not possess the kingdom of God. Discern, therefore, the holy visible sacrament, which can be in good and evil - for those, for reward; for these, for judgment - from the invisible unction of charity, which belongs only to the good. But the true Church (578, A) is not covered or hidden, nor can it be (466, B); hence Donatists are not it. The Lord has compared the Church to a net. The bad fishes are not seen under the waves by the fishers, but on the floor, judgment, are manifested evil ones. So the separation of the fishes was only when the net was drawn out. Thus, before the fan is applied, they are mixed in the Church (48, C). The 7,000 did not separate from Israel.

57 According to Augustine, the Old Testament saints belong to the Church (6:454-455, 480, C; 5:25, C, D)

The confusion and contradiction are evident; and the conflict of a mind, which, having learnt what true holiness was, and the electing grace of God, had an outward system to maintain, and made the outward corrupt thing the incorruptible body of Christ, though groaning at seeing crowds of wicked around its altars. Jerome is much more vague; he holds Old Testament saints for members of the Church (Com. on Epis. to Gal. 4:1; 7 (1) 446); applies the tares to the Church, and the ark of Noah as receiving all sorts. So, 2 Timothy, gold, silver, wooden and earthen vessels in church, he uses against the Luciferians, a sect strict against Arians, more strict than the public catholic body (2:195). The day of judgment will settle it. Yet none are saved out of the Church. The Church is universal, and cannot be the Luciferians. He complains bitterly of its state. He applies Jeremiah 23:11-12, to the Church; assuming it to be Christ's house (4:999). He takes Christ, our Head, only as a common Lord; so, when he says Christ is the Head, it is Abraham, Phinehas, etc., who are spoken of.

Chrysostom affords us little; he was a preacher, eloquent, a practical man, resisting public evil with earnestness, and died in banishment, deposed from his see. The Church is Christ's body (Hom. 30 on 1 Cor.), and this is clearly developed. According to him, baptized by the Spirit refers to baptism, and so drinking into one Spirit to the Lord's table. The former he refers to regeneration, and by one Spirit, into one body. One by which, and one into which, he says; but he was much more occupied with the actual state of the Church. He complains that they have only signs or symbols of what they had at first, as, two or three speaking.

58 But, during all this doctrinal discussion, another system had been forming itself. The emperor who first professed Christianity had transferred the seat of empire to Byzantium, from him called Constantinople. This had a double effect. It left the Roman prelate in a position of far greater political consequence, which became still greater when the barbarian inroads made the imperial power evanescent in Italy; though where it remained, in Ravenna and even Milan, there was independence of Rome, with which, through Turin, historians seek to connect the Vaudois. At any rate it was for centuries independent. The other effect was the making the see of Constantinople (which had not been even metropolitan, and was not of apostolic foundation) of such public importance, that it sought to rival Rome - as the city was called Nova Roma. For the reader must understand, that the boasted primitive Church was a sea of raging politics, avarice, and ambition; the general councils - assemblies of bishops called by the emperor to quiet the violent and seditious disputes of ecclesiastical and doctrinal parties, which disturbed and tore up the empire.

Strange to say, councils, held when the Church was at liberty from the secular power, are not held to be general. In much later years the popes held them. At first the emperors alone called them; indeed, in the council of Nice, the emperor, who had had some experience of ecclesiastics in Donatist matters, managed it all. The holy fathers brought their written complaints, or libels, against their episcopal brethren, and put them into his hands: he took them, exhorted them to peace, and burnt them all; approved, we are told, those that were right; flattered them all, rather grossly indeed; exhorted them, and, bringing all but a few to agree, settled the contest, and then banished the few refractory ones. In this council, the place of Rome is very obscure; she was represented by two presbyters, perhaps by a bishop, Hosius. It is also alleged the pope was absent from old age - I suspect rather from policy; at any rate, as we find in the letters of Leo on the council of Chalcedon it was made a precedent of, but it is not to be doubted she would have had the precedency of rank (alas the word!) had she been there. It is, indeed, for this point, that I have introduced the matter. Alexandria, Antioch, Rome were (till the seat of empire was transferred to Byzantium then subordinate to the metropolitan at Heraclea) the three great ecclesiastical centres as the chief cities: Antioch, the ancient capital of the great Syrian monarchy; Alexandria, of the Egyptian, or the Ptolemies, and the most famous seat of learning and commerce in existence (Antioch withal, alleged to be founded by Peter, and to have been his see; and Alexandria, too, through his disciple Mark); Rome still more, being the metropolis of the world, and as alleged, founded by the two apostles Peter and Paul. I am not making myself answerable for all this tradition, which, in many points, is extremely doubtful, but it had full influence at the time we are speaking of.

59 As long as the emperors were heathen, the influence of these sees was increasing from various causes; but still the independence of the bishops was maintained to a very great degree, particularly in Asia Minor and Africa, where Ephesus (afterwards made metropolitan) and Carthage held respectively a large share of influence. In the matter of re-baptizing heretics these two provinces maintained, in the third century, their entire independence of Rome, and Cyprian used very strong language indeed. But Alexandria swayed practically over Egypt and Libya; and Antioch over Asia, till Jerusalem became, in subsequent times, a patriarchate. Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul, I may add, and the British Christians were also free from Rome's metropolitan sway, which extended over the suburbicarian provinces, now the estates of the Church, the kingdom of the two Sicilies, and Sardinia. But there was no great see in all the West to counterbalance Rome; and it gradually extended its influence over Gaul and Spain and Illyricum (which remained, however, a contested sphere till much later times), by appointing some leading bishopric or metropolitan in Gaul, not the regular local metropolitan, as its legate. By this, and some cleverly interpreted and extended canons of a packed Sardican council,* appended to the canons of the council of Nice, and a forged addition to the sixth of Nice itself, the influence of princes, and an unceasing practical use of good opportunities, until the West came under its influence. The almost total destruction of the British Churches (which had been founded from the East, as their way of keeping Easter proved) by the Saxons, and the conversion of these latter by persons sent from Rome, brought England under its rule, though the northern Church, which had meanwhile extended itself to middle England, only submitted to Rome e after the controversy of Whitby, between Wilfrid and Colman, about 654. It was only at the council of Trent, and with the strenuous resistance of the Spanish prelates, that the bishops were declared to derive their authority from the pope. The supremacy of a general council over him was decreed and acted on in the fifteenth century at Constance.

{*This was a very small provincial council of adherents of Rome, the remains of a larger assembly. Rome published these canons as part of those of Nice. They gave a kind of appellate jurisdiction to Rome. But the council of Chalcedon would not insert them in the received canons of the universal Church; and the African bishops, under Augustine's influence, reproved and forbade these appeals. The pope's legate pleaded the canons of Nice; they did not admit it, had authorized copies sent for and refuted it as false, and maintained their protestation.}

60 I have just run through the history of the Western or Latin hierarchical prelacy, to complete it; I return to the general history of patriarchs. The profession of Christianity by the emperor, and establishment of the capital at Constantinople, raised up, as we have seen, a rival to Rome. But the Greeks disputed about words; the Romans pursued unceasingly their end - the establishment of hierarchical supremacy; advancing a claim which no one knew; using opportunities to act in it, which others afforded them; and then making the ancient claim the proof of an ancient right.* Another circumstance favoured this. Constantinople sought to extend, and did extend, its influence over the eastern empire, by arbitrating in disputes between bishops and between metropolitans. In the council of Constantinople, Rome, as Old Rome, was allowed the first rank; but Constantinople, as New Rome, the second. At that of Chalcedon, Constantinople was given the same rank, isa presbeia, as being the emperor's city. But this pressure of Constantinople on Antioch and Alexandria, threw these rather into the arms of Rome. Leo speaks of the three sees of Peter in a remarkable manner; and, in the endless theological disputes of the East, the quiet and steady good sense of the Roman west made Rome a continual arbiter as to doctrine. This (as in the case of Leo, a really able man, and, I am disposed to think, with right intentions, but, as a true Roman, always seeking political influence) gave them a decisive weight in all these questions. In Leo's person it took somewhat the form, in his letter to Flavian, of dogmatical authority. Still Constantinople and Rome contended for influence; and one had it in the West, because there was no emperor; the other in the East, because there was. But evil bore its fruits in judgment. Constantinople, in the purpose of John the Faster, put forth the claim of oecumenical bishop, on charges brought against the patriarch of Antioch which were tried at Constantinople. Pope Pelagius annulled all the proceedings on this account; but John used it again when he acknowledged the accession of Gregory. Gregory denounced him as a forerunner of Antichrist, and then took the well-known papal title of "servant of the servants of God." Though Rome (he would have it believed, on the authority of the council of Chalcedon) had a title to be called universal pope, he refrained through humility. But it did not end here. Gregory pursued his efforts to hinder the pretensions of Constantinople, and renounced communion with it. Maurice, the emperor, who resisted the influence of Rome, was murdered with all his family, and his murderer was congratulated by Gregory in the most fulsome way. Photius, the new emperor, in return for this made a decree, that, as Constantinople had claimed to be head of all the churches, Rome should be primate of all the holy churches.

{*See note at the end of article.}

61 This recalls somewhat to mind the disputes, on a smaller scale, between York and Canterbury; which resulted in York being primate of England, and Canterbury, primate of all England. In Ireland the same question arose between Dublin and Armagh; the point being, whether Dublin could have the cross (which preceded the archbishop) carried upright within the jurisdiction of the see of Armagh! Dublin is now primate of Ireland, and Armagh of all Ireland. And this is Christianity!

To pursue the sad history: in the eighth century, the territory, called now the estates of the Church, or the greater part of them, was given to Rome by Charlemagne, though he reserved his imperial rights; and the pope became a temporal prince. At the same time, however, the Grecian or Eastern emperor took away southern Italy, Sicily (the kingdom of the two Sicilies), and Illyricum; depriving the see of Rome of vast estates it held in the former. Hence, of course, bitter animosity. In the ninth century the emperor, refusing to restore the estates and authority, the pope took up the cause of Ignatius, patriarch of Constantinople, whom the emperor had deposed, and they excommunicated each other. The emperor was murdered; and his murderer and successor recalled Ignatius. Meanwhile the pope and the patriarch contended for supremacy over the newly-converted Bulgarians, and then Rome was accused of heresy. Photius, patriarch of Constantinople, was restored on Ignatius's death, the pope agreeing, if Bulgaria was subjected to him, which was agreed to and not executed. A legate was sent from Rome to Constantinople, cast into prison, and then, becoming pope, said Photius was properly judged and degraded before. In the eleventh century, Cerularius of Constantinople charged the pope with various heresies. Leo IX excommunicated all the Greek churches. The emperor, who needed his influence in Italy, sought to heal the controversy, and papal legates were sent to Constantinople; the Greeks would not submit. The legates excommunicated the patriarch and his adherents; and the patriarch excommunicated the legates and theirs. And thus the final schism of West and East took place.

62 In this century it was that the popes, who, after the gradual increase of their power, had become infamous in their conduct - so that the Romans had deposed them, and the Emperor of Germany named new ones, and then there had been two fighting for the place - enforced, in the person of Gregory VII, called Hildebrand, universal celibacy on the clergy. It had been long nominally required; but the great body of them being, in fact, married, were now forced to put away their wives: and, though Gregory died an exile from Rome, he succeeded in depriving the emperors of the right of confirming the election of the pope, and established the celibacy of the clergy. Another very important change commenced in this century was the election of the pope by the cardinals, instead of by the whole clergy, nobles, and people. The confirmation by the emperor was however reserved, and of the people; that of the emperor was set aside by Gregory VII, indeed, by Alexander II, in whose time however there was an antipope. Gregory was chosen by acclamation, and confirmed by the emperor, and then began his work of setting the papacy above all human powers. He claimed from all kings their holding their crowns from him. William the Conqueror and others refused; some were glad to act on it, as Naples, Croatia, and, strange to say, Russia.

I am now arrived at the full establishment of the papal system resisting the imperial right to the investiture of bishops into their sees. The history of the independent Scottish Church is full of interest; it was the great evangelizer of Germany and Switzerland. But Boniface, the apostle of Germany, having put himself under the pope, and become Archbishop of Mayence, it all fell under papal influence; or, by the vast estates attached to the sees, gave occasion to the question of investiture, as they were real principalities, and held as such.

63 The Greek Church was shorn of its glory by the inroads of the Saracens, before whom Antioch and Alexandria became extinct as to influence; and the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, in the fifteenth century, seemed to close its importance too. But such was not altogether the will of divine Providence: for (the conversion of Russia to Christianity having taken place in connection with the Grecian patriarch, in the tenth century, by the baptism, first of the grand duchess, and then of the grand duke, which was followed by that of the nation) the influence of Russia is now used in favour of the Greek Church. They were first under the patriarchate of Constantinople. In the sixteenth century the Archbishop of Moscow became first a dependent, and then an independent, patriarch; and in the reign of Peter the Great, in the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Czar made himself the head of the Church as in England; and the patriarch and synod became subordinate to his power. The late Russian war had for its earliest pretext the rights of Greeks or Latins to the so-called holy places in Palestine.

Such is what is called Christianity and the Church; my object is not to pursue it as a history, or go farther into detail. The Reformation, in the great and precious mercy of God, brought the bible forth from obscurity, and announced justification by faith, delivering many countries from the yoke of the papacy; but it left, in all the national churches, the germ of the system in baptismal regeneration, from which most indisputably it was not delivered; and a clerical exclusive right to ministry, denying the sovereignty and work of the Holy Ghost, as still carried on in regeneration and gift; and (though many, very many, have freed themselves from the first error, and we see a wonderful energy now at work for deliverance from the second) that energy works to the breaking up of the system. The new wine cannot be put into the old bottles. I have only to speak briefly of the results of this rapid survey.

What I have given is practically the history of the great house, and at the close in its worst and most appalling forms - surely not of the body of Christ; yet this, in its very worst form - the papacy, it pretended to be, and that exclusively. Such was the result of confounding the building of God upon earth, placed under the responsibility of man (1 Cor. 3), with the body composed of living members united to Christ. We have seen, that the urging of unity by the various Fathers was always interested, and bore only on their own position. First Ignatius presses unity of a local assembly with its bishop: episcopal thought went no further then. Then, as the inroad of heresies took place, the same apostolical doctrine, held by all, was proved by the uniform doctrine of the apostolic sees; and, as the truth proved the Spirit and the Church, the heretics could not be it, for they had not the truth. The order of this argument is to be noted, however; for it is entirely anti-Roman-catholic: they prove the truth by the Church; while the Irenaeus and Tertullian school, the Church by the possession of the truth. The truth they find from scripture, or the continuous doctrine of the apostolic sees as a fact. This is not a fact now; for Rome has changed or added in important points, as the addition of Filioque in the doctrine of Procession, and changes of prayers for the dead to prayers to the dead, the addition of purgatory, and in many others. Alexandria and Antioch are Monophysites, that is, they hold only one nature in Christ.

64 But to return; at this time, if the Church was referred to, it was only to hold their ground against heresy. In the next struggle it was only to hold it against schism, and maintain common episcopal rights against schismatic Novatians on the one side, and arrogant popes of Rome on the other. This was the Cyprian school. Augustine's was partly the same against the Donatists; but the personal sense of divine truth in him made all confusion, and led to the invention of an invisible Church known to God. After this it was merely a struggle for the destruction of the oligarchical power of the body of bishops, first by patriarchal power; and then between Rome and Constantinople for pre-eminence; the result being, as I have noticed elsewhere, the making a Roman-catholic church a falsehood in fact, as it is in sense. For the setting up of the pope as supreme over the churches (and that by imperial power), which Constantinople had been attempting to be, occasioned an entire breach; and the Church, as an outward body, ceased to be catholic everywhere when Rome attempted to make it Roman-catholic. It was split into two great camps, the Roman and the Greek, the Roman indeed the larger, but after all dependent on the rulers of the West, as the Greek on the rulers of the East; and now unable to boast even of any superiority of numbers, for the Protestant secession has made the numbers of professing Christians outside the Roman pale greater than those within it. Rome has one thing exclusively - the apostate pretension to power, setting aside the one headship of Christ, and opposing and falsifying His word; but that is all.

65 But our concern is with doctrine; and here mark another thing. The blessed unfolding of the truth of the Church was thought of by none. Some used the idea, attributing its privileges to the outward body - the house (yet thereby denying them; for wicked members of Christ is nonsense); and they quoted some scriptural passages as to it, but merely as a means of confounding their adversaries. None, that I am aware, ever laid hold on its blessings to unfold them. They walked by sight: that which had been founded on earth was before their eyes. It was indeed the important thing - the great fact of God's sovereign intervention in the world; what belonged to Him in the earth, His husbandry, His building: but, as they did not distinguish the body from the house, this latter only, which was the visible thing, was before their eyes. The consequence was, first, the allowance of the possibility of evil in the body of Christ, which bound men to the continued walking with evil; practically sanctioning it, or forcing them to break with the body: and, next, the attributing the title of divine and spiritual power to the evil itself - all under the claim, that the Church was the body of Christ; that, if you were not member, you could not have the Head. Salvation was there alone. This was true; but it is not true that they are that body, or that Christ has dead members. Further, baptism was held to be, as the introduction into Christ's assembly (which it is) that by which we become members of Christ, and children of God. So the Romanist; so the orthodox Protestant; so, in general, even the Baptist. But baptism has nothing to do with e the unity of, and admission into, the body even in figure. It goes, even in figure, no farther than death and resurrection - the individual passage into new life, and death to Adam existence. But the unity of the body depends on the exaltation of the Head into heaven; who, when exalted, and not till then (as He Himself said, "if I go not away, the Comforter will not come"), sent down the Holy Ghost; and by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body. As Peter declares to his hearers in the Acts: "he, being exalted by the right hand of God, and, having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, has shed forth this which ye now see and hear." This was the baptism of the Spirit as we see (Acts 1:5); and it is thus by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body. In this body there are members in which the energy of the Spirit displays itself in various gifts (1 Cor. 14:11-14). The Spirit does not dwell in the body but in the house; "builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit." The stones are not as such members of Him who dwells in the building. This was all confounded by the Fathers.

66 The result is, the claims of popery, and the confusion of Protestants as to baptismal regeneration and membership of Christ, with which baptism has nothing to do,

We have noticed another terrible result - the allowance of evil, connected with Christ. The Church is the ark; no salvation out of it. The unclean beasts are at the bottom story; Christ, like Noah, at the top: this is the Origen and Clement doctrine. In a great house there are vessels to dishonour, wooden and earthen; but, with a rare confusion of thought and scripture doctrine, Christ will burn or break them when He comes: this is Cyprian. The tares are mixed with the wheat in the Church: this is Jerome and Protestantism. At last, the corruption was so great, that, as Augustine expresses it, they were groaning at seeing crowds of wicked persons surround the Church's altar: there they are to leave them! The resource of His Spirit is the predestinating prescience of God, and an invisible Church; many better outside the Church than those in; but God will settle it! They are invisibly united in the bond of charity; while those outwardly within have no real bond; such is often now the resource of high Calvinism, acquiescing in the Establishment - acquiescing in evil, because God will have it all right. Conscience makes men schismatic in form when corruption and evil characterize what is called the body of Christ; and separation from the general mass of Christianity endangers the soul's stability, and its faith in any unity; and often produces, by not seeing the house, an opposition to it, which exposes to wild doctrine and heretical associations.

67 Such is, alas! the history of the Church, and the process of dogmatical creed as to it, under the exercises which the state of things produced in connection with the current theory. If the outward assembly was in fact the body of Christ, separation from it was schism; and, as far as man's act went, ruin; but true union of the members with the Head was really not known. If the outward assembly was nothing, then the whole corporate responsibility was destroyed; and the judgment of the evil servant had no place; there was no corporate responsibility of Christendom, in virtue of the Holy Ghost having been given to the assembly on the earth. No spiritual conscience could recognize the corruption as the true body of Christ. Some would reform, some separate; and the very idea of the Church in unity was either lost on the one side, or made perfectly compatible with the grossest corruption and Satan's power, on the other; and what was so corrupt was called His body, and the claim of divine authority attached to the administration of that corruption. The notion of an invisible body was invented to conciliate spiritual conscience with such a state of things. Scripture foretells failure, yea, recounts it, and foretells its becoming yet worse; it tells of corruption and perilous times, it tells finally of apostasy. But it never speaks of a corrupt body of Christ. It does not deny a corrupt general state of things, which it compares to a great house, and enjoins a man's purifying himself from the vessels of dishonour, and walking with those who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart. It tells of a building of God in His purposes; and, in fact, at the commencement, and at the close; but it speaks with equal clearness of man's responsible building. The existing confusion is no difficulty for one who has scripture in his hand and heart, who owns its authority. The word of God makes all clear: the body united to its heavenly Head in sure and richest blessing; the corruption clearly described and judged; and, in the mixture which is to be expected in a great house, the path for uprightness, and obedience, and purity of walk, clear and distinct: the house, as it should be, well ordered; the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3): when it is filled with vessels to dishonour, as the great house, the distinct command of separation from evil and from them (2 Tim. 2). And the reader will remark, that it is in this last epistle, when the house is thus spoken of, that the word of God, the scriptures, are insisted on as the sure and effectual refuge of the soul in the perilous times of corrupted Christendom.

68 I add, as a sad but useful appendix, some facts as to the boasted primitive Church. First, as to doctrine, the statements which I have given from Hermas, whose book was read in many churches - quoted by Irenaeus and believed by Origen to be inspired - is the plainest possible proof of the gross ignorance of the primitive Church, and utter incompetency to judge of doctrine.

But, further, the doctrine of the Ante-Nicene Fathers is anything but satisfactory as to the divinity of Christ. Justin peremptorily denies that the one supreme God, the Creator, can appear as a man in this world; and the doctrine of Christ's not being distinct, as a person, till creation was about to take place, though not without an exception, no one acquainted with them can deny to be general, as expressed by endiathetos and prolhorikos. From the desire to meet the heathen's ideas, and the influence of Platonic philosophy, their teaching on the logos, or word, and what is expressed by the word Trinity is extremely loose and objectionable, to say the least. But if loose and unsound on so fundamental a point - on that which is the very truth itself, and foundation of all truth, the person of the Lord Jesus Christ - on what can we trust them? The final judgment is treated by one as a means of purifying the imperfect. And Augustine speaks of the Lord's supper as thanksgiving for the good, propitiation for the bad, and, though it cannot help the wicked dead, a comfort to the living (that is, by deceiving them): elsewhere he says, it may allay their pains in hell. As to the grace of God, it was hardly known amongst them.

The reader will remember that I am not speaking of souls and their personal faith, but of doctors. None are more untrustworthy on every fundamental subject than the mass of primitive Fathers.

Now, as to practice, Cyprian, in his treatise "De Lapsis," gives the following account of Christian morals, about two hundred years after Christ, while the empire was yet heathen. He says, "that they were treated mercifully in the persecution; so that it was an investigation or trial of them (exploratio), not a persecution; and that they must not be blind to the causes." Whereupon he then describes the state of the Church. Individuals were applying themselves to increase their patrimony; and, forgetful what believers either had done under the apostles or ought always to do, they were bent, with an insatiable ardour of avarice, on increasing their fortunes: no devout religion in priests; no uncorrupted fidelity in ministers (deacons); no compassion in works; no order in morals. The beard was plucked away* among men; the face painted among women; the eyes adulterated, after God had made them (post Dei manus); the hair coloured with falsehood; cunning frauds to deceive the hearts of the simple; a deceitful will in circumventing brethren; the bonds of matrimony joined with unbelievers; the members of Christ prostituted to heathens; not only rash swearing, but, besides, even perjury, despising those set over them with proud haughtiness; speaking evil with poisoned lip; mutual discord with pertinacious hatred. Many bishops, whom it behoves to be an exhortation and an example to others - their divine commission despised - become commissioners of secular affairs; and leaving their sees and deserting the people, wandering through other provinces, haunt the fairs and markets, trafficking for gain; no help to hungry brethren in the Church; the desire to have money largely; seizing on estates by insidious frauds; augmenting interest by multiplied usury.

{*I say plucked away, because in Ad Quir. iii. 84 (Testimoniorum) he gives it as vellendam, which in the text in Leviticus 19:27 is corrumpantur, as here.}

69 Such is the picture of Christian morals afforded by a bishop who had lived in the midst of them.

I may next give Augustine's account of saints' festivals, after the emperors were Christians. He had resisted, in a very godly and courageous way, the people coming and getting drunk in the church; having preached against it, and only few being present. There were many murmurs in the mass of people against it. Their fathers, they said, were very good Christians, and they did it; and why should it be put a stop to now? He pressed Christian precepts on them: and adds, however, lest those, who before our time either allowed or did not dare prohibit the manifest crimes of an ignorant multitude, should seem to be subjected to some reproach on our part, I laid before them by what necessity those things seem to have arisen in the Church. Namely (after so many and so vehement persecutions, when peace having arrived, lest crowds of heathens, desiring to come under the Christian name, might be hindered by this, that they were accustomed to spend festive days with their idols, in abundant feasting and drunkenness, nor could easily withhold themselves from their most pernicious and very ancient indulgences) it seemed right to our ancestors, for the time, to wait on this part of infirmity, and that other festive days, instead of those they left, should be celebrated in honour of the holy martyrs, at least, not with the same sacrilege, although with like luxury. And then he shews how they hope, by connecting them with Christ, to wean them off by precepts; that what was granted them that they might be Christians, when they were Christians, they might reject (Aug. Lit. ad Alypium, 29, Ed. Ben.).

70 It is hard to say whether the fact, or Augustine's excuse for it, is the worse. It was, however, the real motive. So we in England may justly say; as directions were given by Pope Gregory to act on that principle in converting the Saxons. See, for example (lib. g; ep. 71), his recommendation to Mellitus on going to Britain.

Nor was this way of settling saints' days local merely. Christmas was fixed at the Saturnalia - a word passed into a technical one for unbridled license - because they could not bridle their feasting, and would Christianize (?) it.* The day of purification was substituted for the Lupercalia, which had this character; and so on.

{*Nobody knows what time of the year Christ was born. There is some small probability, from the fact of the mention of the course of Abia, that it was in autumn; the Greek Church celebrates it on Epiphany.}

The following is Eusebius's account of the state of the Church, which had brought on the persecutions that preceded his time: rulers raging against rulers, and people in tumultuous conflict with people; lastly, when unutterable hypocrisy and dissimulation had gone on to the highest pitch, then divine judgment began, he says, measuredly, as it delights to do, and first with trial among soldiers. But when they went on then to act like atheists, and added one wickedness to another; when our most esteemed pastors, despising the bond of piety, burned in contentions one with another, increasing only in strife and threats, jealousy, enmity, and hatred, one against another; then, he says, according to the saying of Jeremiah, the full tide of trial broke in. Such was the primitive Church of the third century (Euseb. 8:1).

Jerome will tell us if they had improved when the empire became Christian. Here is his account of the clergy. Valentinian had passed a law forbidding the clergy getting inheritances by watching the death-beds of persons who had property Jerome gives an account of the state of things; he does not complain of the law, but of its being necessary. It shews, in truth, as all such laws do, a general public state of things "The caution of the law is provident and severe; yet, even so, avarice is not restrained. We mock at laws by means of trusts, and as if emperors' decrees were greater than Christ's; we fear the laws and despise the Gospels. It is the shame of all priests to study their own wealth. Born in a poor house and in a rustic cottage, I, who could scarce content the loud cry of my belly with millet and coarse bread, now am nice about fine flour and honey. I know the kinds and names of fishes. I am knowing as to the shore on which a shell-fish is gathered. I discern provinces by the savour of birds, etc. I hear, moreover, of the base service of some to old men and old women without children." He then describes, in language too disagreeable to translate, the disgusting servile attentions of the clergy at the bedside of the sick, and continues: "They tremble at the entrance of the physician, and with faltering lips inquire if they are better; and if the old person is somewhat more vigorous, they are in danger, and, while feigning joy, the avaricious mind is tortured within; for they fear lest they should lose their pains, and compare the vigorous old person to the years of Methuselah" (Ep. 52, ad Nepotianum).

71 Augustine, at the same epoch, complains that in his day, if anyone would live godly, he was mocked, not by heathen simply, but by professing Christians. He complains that the devil had sent so many hypocrites in monks' habits on every side, going round the provinces, sent nowhere, fixed nowhere, standing nowhere, sitting nowhere; others hawking members of martyrs, if they are of martyrs; others, etc. All exact either the expense of a gainful need, or the price of a pretended sanctity (De Opere Monachorum).

These extracts will give an idea of the state of what is called the primitive Church. Greater research and examination would only increase the evidence; and, as to doctrines, in a way calculated to distress every sober and godly mind. This does not prove there was no hidden religion, no true faith; but that the authority of what we possess of the primitive Church is worse than nothing as to doctrine, and its general practice in both clergy and laity a disgrace to the name of Christ. What I have given will give its traits. It is all I seek here, that the consciences of my readers may know what the primitive Church was, and not be under any delusion through the speciously-sounding title. There was no time when there was so little orthodoxy, as before the council of Nice (I speak of the Fathers and doctors), unless in the universal Arianism of the reign of Constans and some other emperors. For the catholic Church, pope, and all, veered round with the emperor like a weathercock. Athanasius died condemned by the council of Tyre; Arius in the communion of the universal Church: only he perished the night before he took his place - his foes say by the judgment of God, his friends, by poison.

72 I add a short note, referred to in the body of the paper, as to the epoch of the dogma of papal supremacy. The first I find, in the midst of much vague deference and admission of rank, who formally makes the pope the one and sole centre of unity, is Optatus of Milevi. In his second book* (not having his works, I quote from the Centuriatores Magdeburgici) he says, "The episcopal chair was first conferred on Peter in the city of Rome, in which he sat as head of all the apostles; whence also he was called Cephas, in whom alone the unity of the chair should be kept by all, nor the apostles lay claim each to one for himself (singulas sibi quisque); so that he would be a schismatic and a sinner who should establish another in opposition to the one single chair." But this is said in opposition to the schism of the Donatists. When the African synods, in Augustine's time, had condemned the Pelagians, they sent their decrees as usual to the bishop of Rome. Innocent I tells them they had manifested a proper sense of the submission due to the apostolic see, whence all episcopal power flowed, and must ever flow, as from one single fountain-head, to fertilize the whole world by its manifold streamlets. He had, he said, of his own authority condemned these heresies, and severed their authors from the Church. However, the following pope, Zosimus, approved the statements of Pelagius, as sent to him from Palestine, and condemned all the previous proceedings against Pelagius. But, under Augustine's influence, a council of Carthage, A.D. 418, condemned and anathematized Pelagius, and decreed that anyone shall presume to appeal beyond sea (that is, to Rome), "let none among you receive him into communion." They sent to the emperor, who condemned and banished him from Rome, and then Zosimus condemned too, what he had approved; and the Africans being content, Zosimus claims Peter's universal jurisdiction as before, and all goes on smoothly. Augustine, in his treatise on the Gospel of John, expressly declares that Christ was the rock on which the Church was built - on the rock which Peter had confessed. Elsewhere, if I remember, in his Retractations, he says, people may take it otherwise if they prefer it.

{* I do not quote the seventh, though the subject is referred to, as its authenticity is more than questionable, though it is undoubtedly very ancient.}

73 Leo, an able man, connects the two thoughts with much cleverness of manner. I quote them, as they will give an idea of the way Roman pretensions were put forward in his age:-

"For the solidity of that faith which is praised in the prince of the apostles is perpetual; and as what Peter believed of Christ ever remains, so what Christ instituted in Peter ever remains." He then quotes Matthew 16:16 in full. He continues: "The disposition of the truth therefore remains; and the blessed Peter, persevering in the received strength of the rock, has not deserted the undertaken helm of the Church. For he is in such sort placed before the others, that while he is called the 'rock' (petra), while he is pronounced to be the foundation, while he is made doorkeeper of the kingdom of the heavens, while he is set up as arbiter of what is to be bound and loosed, what is defined by his judgments being to remain in the heavens - we might know, by the very mysteries of his tides, what his association with Christ is, who now transacts more fully and powerfully the things which were committed to him, and executes every part of the duties and cares in Him and with Him by whom he has been glorified. If therefore anything is rightly done and rightly discerned by us, if anything is obtained from the mercy of God by daily supplications, it is of the works and merits of him in whose see his power lives and his authority is pre-eminent. For, beloved, that confession which inspired the apostolic heart by God the Father rose above all the uncertainties of human opinions, and received the firmness of a rock, which may be shaken by no impulses obtained thus. For in the universal Church Peter daily says, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' This faith conquers devils," etc. (Ser. 3). Again, on the assumption of Peter (Ser. 4), "All are kings by the sign of the cross, all consecrated priests by the unction of the Holy Spirit," etc. "But Peter was chosen," etc., "that, although in the people of God there are many priests and many pastors, yet Peter should as by proper title belonging to himself (proprie) rule them all whom Christ also rules as prime and chief (principaliter). A great and wonderful community (consortium) of His power, beloved, has the divine esteem (dignatio) bestowed on this man; and if it has willed that anything should be common to other chiefs with him, it never gave but through him whatever it did not deny to others." Then he quotes Matthew 16 again, interpreting thus: "As I am the inviolable rock, I the cornerstone who make both one, I the foundation besides which none can lay any other, yet thou also art a rock (petra), become identified with my virtue (that is, power and strength, as we say virtue of a medicine or herb), that what things are proper to me in power should be common to thee by participation with me." See also Ser. 62 (11 de Pass. Dom.). Again (Epist. 10 ad Episcopos per provinciam Viennensem constitutos): "But the Lord willed that the mystery of this function should so belong to the office of all the apostles, as placed by Him first and chief (principaliter) in the blessed Peter, head of all the apostles, and as being His will that from him, as from a kind of head, His gifts should flow into the body, that whoever dared to get away from the solidity of Peter should understand that he was deprived of any portion in the divine mystery; for He (Christ) was pleased that he, taken into the community (consortium) of [His] individual unity, should be called that which He is saying, 'Thou art Peter,'" etc. - " that the building of the eternal temple by a wonderful gift of the grace of God should stand in the solidity of Peter, strengthening His Church by this firmness, that neither human rashness might reach it, nor the gates of hell prevail against it."

Here I close my note. The place given to Peter speaks for itself to every Christian. As to doctrinal claim, it would be needless to pursue the papacy any farther. With its political influence I have here nothing to do; I have sufficiently given its history already.

74 A most interesting but difficult subject of research in connection with this sketch would be - How far the workings of divine light and conscience were connected with some of the heretical movements of different ages, even though the craft of Satan may have marred and corrupted the movement of these unguarded souls? And this interest would apply to various sects, so-called, which arose from the sixth century onward, at least as much as to earlier heretical bodies. But the facts are very difficult to estimate, and even to ascertain, and the greatest part of the testimony to be sifted as coming from enemies. Take, for example, as obvious instances, Tertullian and the Paulicians.