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other times, to a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered fishes of every kind.' Sometimes it is likened to a threshing-floor, or barn, in which are deposited wheat and chaff ;b and again, to a marriage feast, at which some had on a wedding garment, and some not. “ This is that ark of Noah,” says an eminent writer," borrowing the words of St. Jerome, “ in which were preserved beasts clean and unclean. This is that great house in which there are vessels not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and earth, and some to honour, and some to dishonour. There are many called, of all whom the church consisteth ; but there are few chosen of those who are called, and thereby are within the church.”

From this short view of the rise and constitution of the Christian church as it was at first planted at Jerusalem, and thence propagated over the world, it may not be improperly defined, “the whole society of those who profess their faith in all the doctrines delivered in the New Testament as a revelation from God, who acknowledge that they are under an indis

a Matt. xiii. 47, 48.

b Matt. iii. 12. c Matt. xxii. 2, 11. d Bishop Pearson's Exposition of the Creed, art. ix. The words of Jerome are, Arca Noæ Ecclesiæ typus ; ut in illa omnium animalium genera, ita et in hac universarum et gentium et morum homines sunt; ut ubi pardus et hædi, lupus et agni, ita et hic justi et peccatores, id est, vasa aurea et argentea cum ligneis et fictilibus commorantur.-Dial. contra Luciferianos.

pensable obligation to conform and adhere to the precepts which it inculcates, and who, by a participation of the holy sacraments, avow that faith, and ratify this submission.”

But this is only the most general and comprehensive sense of the term church, the delineation, as it were, of the most extensive pale of Christianity. This is that visible external church which comprehends all professors of that religion, as distinguished from Deists, Pagans, Jews, and Mahomedans. Within this, is that select and chosen body who are, properly speaking, the members of Christ, actuated by his spirit, bearing his image, “having put off the old man,

which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness," and constituting “that glorious church which he shall present to himself, not having spot or wrinkle, nor any such thing ; but that it should be holy, and without blemish.”

Thus, the visible church comprehends all the professors of the Christian faith, of whatever rank, denomination, or situation of life. Among these, however, are numbers who, for selfish or secular interests, hypocritically or ignorantly profess what they believe not, or have never taken the trouble to consider. Such “ draw near

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unto Christ with their mouth, and honour him with their lips; but their heart is far from him.” Others, through the “ deceitfulness of sin,”b and the enticements of their own corrupt passions, confine Christianity to the admission of its doctrines and precepts, merely as objects of the understanding, without their due influence on the heart and conduct. All these, while they acknowledge Jesus as their Lord, obey him not as such ; and, on the day of his power, when they shall put in their claims to be received among the number of his disciples, we have his own authority for asserting, that he will profess unto them that he never knew them. They cannot, therefore, be comprehended under that more particular signification of the term church, which exhibits that intimate connexion with Christ, represented under the highly-figured and impressive notion of his « members, his flesh, his bones."

This connexion is applicable solely to those, who not only “ hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering,”e but also, through the grace of God, “ cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God ;” and “run with patience the race that is set before them, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith ; who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." These,

a Isaiah xxix. 13. Matt. xv. 8.

b Heb. ii. 13. c Matt. vii. 23. d Eph. v. 30. e Heb. x. 23. f 2 Cor. yii, 1.

holding of the head, have, as the body by joints and bands, nourishment ministered, are knit together, and increase with the increase of God.” These “ are redeemed to him by the blood of the Lamb, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”

In the creed, commonly called that of the apostles, which, although there is no evidence that it was their composition, is both of cient date, and exhibits a concise and correct summary of the Christian faith, the church of Christ is denominated an holy catholic church. These epithets are equally applicable to the visible and external, and to the invisible and vital community of believers, both of which have been briefly described. In regard to the former, it is holy in respect of its vocation, by which it is distinguished from the rest of the world. are called,” says the apostle, “ with a holy calling.” Besides, the means of grace, sanctification, and holiness, are publicly offered in the church, and the terms of eternal salvation generally proclaimed. The gospel is indiscriminately preached, and the holy sacraments are administered to all the professors of Christianity, whose

very an

6. We

a Heb. xii. 1, 2.

b Col. ii. 19.

c Rev. v. 9.

d 2 Tim. i. 9.

lives are not notoriously profligate. Hence, it is common with the apostles to denominate saints the whole body of professing Christians, as distinguished from the rest of mankind. To those who particularly belong to the “great Shepherd of the sheep," who are the redeemed and sanctified of the Lord, and whose names, as constituting the church of the first-born, are written in heaven, the epithet holy is peculiarly applicable.

The term catholic, though used in the creed called the apostles', as well as in other early summaries of Christian doctrine, is not scriptural, and has been very differently understood, and frequently in a sense directly opposite to its original meaning. It has been employed to denote the true church, in contradistinction to others which have been represented as departing from " the faith once delivered to the saints,” and that too, by those whose doctrine, discipline, and worship are most flagrantly corrupt. But such a sense is not only incompatible with the Greek word, which furnishes the original of the designation, but was not, and could not be, contemplated by those who introduced the term. It signifies simply universal, and was applied to characterize the church of Christ, as not confined to

a Acts ix. 32. Rom. i. 7 ; xv. 25; xvi. 15. 1 Cor. vi. 1. 2 Cor. i. 1. Eph. i. 1. Phil. i. 1, and passim. Jude 3. b Heb. xiii. 20 ; xii. 23.

c Jude 3.

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