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“ the living God.”! This gathering is effected by the word of the Gospel ; for although God in some respect invites men to himself by the works of nature,' no invitation of that sort is sufficient for constituting the Church ; but the word of supernatural revelation must be added. “ For after that, in the wisdom of God, “ the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God,
by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that be“ lieve.”w The preaching employed for this purpose,
is partly that of the Law, that the minds of men may be rightly prepared : “ For Christ is the end of the law " for righteousness to every one that believeth.”x But the preaching of the Gospel is chiefly made use of: “ This only would I learn of you, Received ye the
Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of “ faith ?”y The invitation given by the Gospel is termed our Calling : “ Them he also called.”. Hence, too, the frequent designation of “ the called,” and the very word Ecclesia, the Church. This form of expression seems, however, to be taken from Prov. viii. 1. “ Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth “ her voice ?" &c. and from similar passages which elsewhere occur. This is a calling of persons out of the world of mankind; from which God first called the Israelites,a and afterwards the Gentiles, according to Isaiah : “ Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou “knowest not." The end of the calling, in fine, is a participation of the blessings of the covenant of grace, which stands fast in Christ; which are thus figurative
u i Tim. iii. 15.
Acts xvii. 27. Rom. ii. 4. w 1 Cor. i. 21.
* Rom. x. 4. 1 Εξ ακοής πίστεως. Gal. iii. 2. * Rom. viii. 30.
a Ps. cxlvii. 19, 20. b Is. lv. 5.
ly described ; “ Whoso is simple, let him turn in hi
Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the “ wine which I have mingled.”c
VII. But it ought to be carefully observed, that the form, or, if you please, the state and condition of the Church, is twofold; the one internal and spiritual, according to which God only judges with certainty concerning her members ;—the other, external and more visible, which even men are empowered to discern.
VIII. There is, accordingly, a twofold calling; the one external, merely by the word, “ For many be call
ed, but few chosen;"d—the other internal, by the Spirit, which is peculiar to the elect.
ix. In correspondence to this twofold calling, there is a twofold Faith. The one is a common faith, which may be found even in reprobates, and by which they assent to evangelical truth, and feel a kind of transitory joy, arising partly from the novelty and extraordinary nature of the subject, partly from that presumptuous hope by which they boldly arrogate to themselves, the blessings of the Gospel, while they have no interest in them. “ Then Simon himself believed also.”f The other is a saving faith, “ the faith of God's elect,”! “ faith unfeigned,”h “ faith which worketh by love.” i
X. There is also a twofold Holiness. The one is merely relative, external, federal; and consists in a person's being separated from the fellowship of the impure and profane world, numbered amongst the people
e Prov. ix. 4, 5.
d Mat. xx. 16. e Rom. viii. 30. Gal. i. 15, 16.
Acts viii. 13. Comp. Mat. xii. 20, &c. g Tit. i. 1.
1 Tim, i. 5. i Gal. v. 6.
of God, and having access to many promises. Thus the Israelites are called, “ the holy seed, who have
mingled themselves with the people of these lands, the people of the earth.”j In the same sense Paul says; " For if the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; “ and if the root be holy, so are the branches;k that is, If the fathers were in covenant with God, their
posterity are also to be regarded as in the same condition. Holiness of this sort is recognised, too, under the New
Testament; for the whole body of Christians is opposed as hoby to the heathen as unholy; and the unbelieving husband is said to be sanctified by the believing wife, and the unbelieving wife to be sanctified by the believing husband, so that the children of such a marriage are accounted holy, children of the covenant and heirs of the promises. But the other kind of holiness is internal, and absolute, peculiar to the regenerate, consisting in conformity to God, and the image of the divine purity. “ Holiness becometh thine house, “ O Lord, for ever.”n
xi. In like manner, the participation of the covenant of grace is twofold. The one includes merely symbolical and common privileges, which have no certain connection with salvation, and to which infants are admitted by their relation to parents that are within the covenant;' and adults, by a profession of faith and repentance, even though insincere. As all who make a profession of Christianity, and do not falsify it by a wicked life, do by this their profession enter into the covenant, the oath, and the curse, so they cannot be kept back from a participation of the sacraments by the rulers of the
į Ez. ix. 2.
k Rom. xi. 16.
Gen. xvii. 7. Acts ii. 39.
Church. And thus far they are really in covenant with God, and, in a certain sense, even branches ingrafted into Christ, although they do not bring forth fruit nor abide in him ;P who shall be punished not merely for the transgression of the precept, but also for the violation of the covenant, if they be found to lead a wicked life. The other participation of the covenant of grace, is the partaking of its internal, spiritual, and saving blessings, as the forgiveness of sins, the writing of the law in the heart, &c. Accordingly the Apostle makes a distinction betwixt the Jew outwardly and the Jew inwardly,—betwixt circumcision in the flesh and the letter, and circumcision in the heart and spirit;' which, by analogy, may be transferred to Christianity.
XI. From all these remarks it follows, that the Church has a twofold aspect or form ; the one visible, which is made out by a profession of faith and the performance of divine worship; the other spiritual, which owes its first origin to Divine election, and is completed by a living faith and true holiness. This distinction is suggested by John: “ They went out from us,” that is, from the external community of those who profess Christianity in common with us; “ but they were “ not of us,” they did not belong to the society of the elect and of true believers. S
XIII. If you look to the Church in its internal form, none but the elect belong to it; “ Ye are a chosen ge“ neration :”t_Those who are inwardly and effectually called ; “Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly call
ing:"__Those endowed with a true and living faith, and sanctified by the Spirit of God; “ God hath from
the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctifi“cation of the Spirit and belief of the truth :”—Those, in fine, who enjoy spiritual communion with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ; “ God is faith“ful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his “ Son Jesus Christ our Lord;"w “ That ye also may have • fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with “ the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”x
xiv. The government of the Church, viewed in this form, belongs only to God in Christ: for he only has authority and power over the minds and consciences of men, and he only can admit whom he will to a participation of saving benefits. He alone, too, searches the heart, and has a certain knowledge of all the true members of the Church. “ The Lord knoweth them “ that are his.”y Such, however, is the nature of true faith and holiness, that they evidence themselves to men by their fruits, so far as is sufficient to justify a judgment of charity regarding our neighbour.?
xv. But if you consider the external form of the Church, God has appointed Stewards over it, who are intrusted with the dispensation of external privileges according to established rules. And really, none has a right even to these privileges, who is not renewed and sanctified; for they are the signs and seals of spiritual grace, which belongs to believers only, and are consequently profaned by unbelievers who venture to receive them. It is incumbent on the Stewards to give serious and faithful warning of this, to all, and to every individual, lest by rash and unhallowed approaches,