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Churches in Macedonia. There were more than one church in Macedonia; and all of them seem to have concurred in this duty. The dedication was solemn and social; and the practice appears to have been universal.
Tii E season in which they performed this duty. This was not at their first erection. Independents have pleaded for church-covenants to constitute single churches, of no greater extent
and granted nnto his church, Jer. 1. 4, 5." "14. Now,
whereas these things, in themselves, and for the substance of them, are known gospel duties, which all believers are indispensibly obliged unto, the more express our engagement is concerning them, the more do we glorify Christ in our profestion, and the greater sense of duty will abide on our consciences, and the greater encouragement be given unto the performance of mutual duties; as also, the more evident will the warrant be for the exercise of church power. 1 j. The Lord Christ having instituted and appointed officers, riders, or leaders in his Church, to look into the discharge of all church duties among the members of it, to administer and dispense all its privileges, and to exercise all its authority, THE CONSENT AND ENGAGEMENT insisted on, is
expressly required unto the constitution of this order, and the preservation of it. 16. Wherefore, the formal cause of a church consiilcth in an obediential a»ft os believers, in such numbers as mav be useful unto the ends of the churches edification, jointly giving up themselves unto the Lord jefus Christ, to do and observe all his commands, resting on the promise of his special preiVnce therein, giving and communicating all the rights, power, and privileges of his Church unto them; and, in a mutual agreement ainon<j themselves, jointly to perform all the duties required of them iu that slate; with an especial
subjection tent than one congregation; but this was by churches already constituted; and it is extended to more congregations than one, on the occasion of their contributing to the relief of their brethren at Jerusalem. The churches of Maj cedonia consisted chiefly, if not wholly, of Gentile believers: At this time they intended a special" act of communion with the Jews. How shall they accomplish it? They dedicate their persons unto the Lord, prior to the dedication of their substance for the relief of his people.
The manner in which they performed
this duty. -They gave it a first place, as a
most proper prelude unto others j as if was a
first, or principal duty. It was unexpected.
The Apostle expected, indeed, that they should attend unto the preaching of the gospel, and
subjection unto the spiritual authority os rules and rulers
appointed by Christ in that state." "21. The fame
way for the erection of a church state, for the participation of the more excellent privileges of the gospel, and performance of the duties of it; for the substance of it is still continued, (viz. as under the Old Testament): For the constitution of such a society as a church is, entrusted with powers and privileges, by covenant, or mutual consent, with an engagement unto the performance of all the duties belonging to it,—hath its foundation in the light of nature, so far as it hath any thing in common with other voluntary relations and societies; was instituted by God himself, as the v/ay and means of erecting the chnrch state of the Old Testament; and consist eth in the performance of such duties as are expressly
required by all believers." True Nature of a Gospel
Church, chap. ii.
the the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper; but, as these churches had been lately erected, and< as their members had covenanted at their admiflion unto special privileges, he did not expect a renovation of them at this time. Nevertheless,
it met with divine approbation. It was done
ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GoD. TH E
Will Of God is the reason of duty,—a valid reason unto every conscientious person: The Will Of God is the rule and measure of duty,—even his revealed will in his word. Little, if any, of the New Testament had been written when this duty was performed: The canon of it, at least, was by no means settled. But they had abundant notice of his will, as to this duty, in the Old Testament: And they jiever dreamed but gospel churches were built upon the foundation of die Prophets, as well as that of tlie Apostles.
2.1 Have another reason for concluding that the emrasrements of Christians in the Apostolie Churches were, on proper occasions, renewed; and that is, The Testimony of Martyrs. Every martyr is, upon the matter, a covenanter. When persons were brought to martyrdom, they gave not only an explicit testimony, for which they suffered, .but their adherence was frequently repeated, and publicly avowed
DI S S E R
WHICH OBTAINED IN THE
THREE FIRST CENTURIES
OF f H E
IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE APOSTOLIG AGE.
IN the foregoing Dissertations I have been able to authenticate the facts I have narrated by inspired history. In the following, I must content myself with such evidence as can be produced from the monuments of uninspired antiquity, taken in connection with Scripture prophecy, relating to the times to which these memoirs do refer. The period under consideration has fewer monuments of the historical kind than others which might be mentioned, * Cccc indeed; imleed; but those which exist are genuine^ and less enveloped in fable, than those of the following centuries, which were forged in the dark reign of monkish superstition and falsehoods; having apostolic men, for some time, as living members; so they had a more sacred regard for apostolic institutions, and kept nigher the pattern shewed in the mount. "We have not related any of their deeds, as of equal authority with the example of inspired persons; or as of any authority at all, farther than they exemplify divine institutions. But in so far as they acted up, in any measure, unto the sacred standard, their example is worthy of our imitation. Jt becomes us to tread in the footsteps of the flock. The plan we design to pursue is,—I. To survey the Creeds, Confessions, and Covenants which took place during the time we have specified.—II. The Circumstances of the Church, which rendered these fit and seasonable.—III. The Natural and Actual tendency of fiich Transactions.
FIRST, I must survey the Creeds, ConFessions, and Covenants which obtained in the three first centuries of the Christian Church, immediately after the apostolic age. This province has been cultivated by many; but few have attended to it with that diligence and industry which the importance of the subject demands. Their labours, however, have been serviceable in this matter. I noticed already