Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

adoration to the divine majesty of the blefled Spirit. 2. To work in us an humble affection and a devout thankfulness to God for so inestimable a favour conferred upon us, such as is the presence and inhabitation, the counsel, conduct, and assistance of God's Holy Spirit in us : him we muft acknowledge the author of our spiritual life, of all good difpofitions in us, of all good works performed by us, of all happiness obtainable by us; to him we must render all thanks and praise. Therefore, 3. To excite us to defire earnestly and pray for God's Spirit, the fountain of such excellent benefits, such graces, such gifts, such privileges, such joys, and blessings unexpreffible: if we heartily invite him, if we fervently pray for hini, he will certainly come; so hath our Saviour promised, that Luke xi.13, our heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them which ask him. 4. We should endeavour to demean ourfelves well toward the Holy Spirit ; yielding to that heavenly guest, vouchsafing to come unto us, a ready entrance and kind welcome into our hearts ; entertaining him with all possible respect and observance; heark. ening attentively to his holy suggestions, and carefully obeying them; not quenching the divine light or devout heat he kindles in us; not resisting his kindly motions and persuasions; not grieving or vexing him ; that so with satisfaction he may continue and abide with us, to our infinite benefit and comfort: it should engage us to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, that we may be fit temples for so holy and pure a Spirit to dwell in, left he loathe and forsake us. 5. It is matter of comfort and encouragement (exceedingly useful and necessary for us) to consider, that we have such a guide and affiftant in our religious practice and spiritual war. fare. If our lusts be strong, our temptations great, our enemies mighty, we need not be disheartened, having this all-wife and all-mighty friend to advise and help us : his grace is sufficient for us, against all the strengths of hell, flesh, and the world. Let our duty be never so hard, and our natural force never so weak, we shall be able to do all things by him that strengtheneth us; if we

obey heat herria

will but faithfully apply ourselves to him for his aid, we cannot fail of good success,

Eph. iv. 4.

The Holy Catholic Church. THE Holy Catholic Church: in the more ancient forms it ran only, Holy Church, (the word Catholic being left out;) and in some of them it had not the same position as now, being put in the last place: and it seems in the most ancient symbols the Church was not propounded as an object of faith directly and immediately, but was mentioned obliquely, upon occasion of remiffion of fins ministered by it, of eternal life obtained in it: as we may rea

fonably deem from that notable place in St. Cyprian; Epift. ad Nam cum dicunt, (when they profess in the symbol at Magnum.

baptism,) credis remiffonem peccatorum et vitam ælernen

per Eccleßam: to which kind of expression that place in Cap. vi. Tertull. de Baptismo seems to allude, Cum fub tribus et

teftatio fidei, et Sponso salutis pignorentur, necessario adji.

citur Ecclefiæ mentio. And if we consult the most ancient Vid. lib. de fummaries of faith extant in Irenæus and Tertullian, and ad Catechu-composed by them, questionless according to the general menos. fense of their times, we shall not find this article propoundTheodoret. ed; not even in the Nicene Creed itself. It is therefore

most unprobable that this article (either in substance, or at least according to this manner of proposal and expreffion) is of a later standing than the rest; being introduced (as is likely) upon occasion of those many heresies and schisms, which continually sprang up, to secure the truth of Christian doctrine, the authority of ecclefiaftical discipline, the peace and unity of the Church, by obliging men to profess their disclaiming any confent or conspiracy with those erroneous and contentious people, (who had devised new, destructive, or dangerous conceits against the general consent of Chriftians, and drove on factions contrary to the common order and peace of the Church ;) to profess, I say, their disclaiming such heretical principles and factious proceedings; and their constant adherence to the doctrines generally embraced by the churches founded and instructed by the Apoftles; as also their per

i. 12. hift.

fistance in concord and communion with thèm; their readiness to observe the received customs and practices de rived by them from apostolical institution; their submisfion to the laws and disciplines established in them by lawful authority. This I conceive to have been the meaning of them who first inserted this article, of believing the Holy Church, into the Creed: I believe ; that is, I adhere unto, (for as we did at first observe, belief here is to be understood as the nature of the matter should require,) I adhere unto, or am perfuaded that I ought to adhere unto, that body of Christians, which diffused over the world, retains the faith taught, the discipline fettled, the practices appointed by our Lord and his Apostles.

And that men should be obliged to do thus, there was ground both in the reason of the thing and in Scripture. In reason, there being no more proper or effectual argument to assure us that any doctrine is true, or practice warrantable, to convince fectaries deviating from truth or duty, than the consent of all churches, of whom (being so distant in place, language, humour, custom) it is not imaginable, that they should foon or easily confpire in forsaking the doctrines inculcated by the Apostles, or the practices instituted by them: which argument pressed by Tertullian, Irenæus, and other ancient defenders of Chriftian truth and peace, may well, as in matters of this kind, go for a demonstration : and that sentence of Tertullian Tertul. de may well pass for a certain principle and axiom; Quod præfcript. apud multos unum invenitur, non eft erratum, fed tra-3, &c. ditum.

And for Scripture, as it foretels that pernicious here i fies thould be introduced; that many false prophets should 2 Pet. ii. 1. arife, and seduce many; that grievous wolves should come Acts xx. 39, in, not fparing the flock; and men mould arise, Speaking Matt. xxiv. perverse things to draw disciples after them; as they warn us Tii

11. vii. 15. to take heed of such men, to reject and refuse heretics, to mark those which make divifons und fcandals befide the Rom. xvi. doctrine which Christians had leamt, and to decline from ;

e De, præfcr. cap. 28. Conftat id effe ab Apoftolis traditum, quod apud Lcclefias Apoftolorum fuerit facrofan&tum.

ht

1, 2,

30.

t. iij. 10,

[ocr errors]

those w

(that i

Rom. xii. 5.

12.

4.
i Co

1 Tim. vi. them ; 'to stand off (apuotávou) from such men as do érapodin 3, 5,

Ecoxadeiv, teach things different from apostolical doctrine, and, do not consent to wholesome words, (the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,) and the doctrine according to godliness; as it teacheth us that heresies and factions are works of the flesh, [proceeding from pride and ambition ; felf-interest and covetousness; peevish and perverse humour; blindness and vanity; rashness and instability; dotage, distemper, and corruption of mind; deceit, cozenage, craft, and hypocrisy; want of good conscience and reverence to God;] so it also describes the universality of them who stick to the

truth, and observe the law of Christ; are disposed to chaEph. iv. 4. rity and peace with all those who call upon our Lord with Eph. i.-22: a pure mind; (that is, with all sincere Christians ;) to le iv. 16..., one body, knit together and compacted of parts affording 1 Cor. xii. ' mutual aid and supply to its nourilhment; and joined to, Eph. iv. 3,

deriving sense and motion from, one Head; and informed by

one Spirit; as one house, built upon the foundation of proI"phets und apofles, Christ himself being the chief cornerEph. ii. 21. stone; in whom all the building is filly framed and con5. ii. 19. * nected; as one nation or people, subject to the same law Heb. xii. and government, (used to the same language, custom, Rev. iii. 12. and conversation;) one city, one family; one flock under xxi. 2, 10. one shepherd; lastly, one church or congregation : for, as

sometimes every particular assembly of Christians, and sometimes a larger collection of particular focieties, combined together in one order, or under one government, are termed churches, (exxdyolan,) so the whole aggregation of all churches, of all Christian people in the world, is frequently called the Church ; even as the whole body of those who lived in profession and obedience to the Jewish law (which was a type and image of the Christian Church) was called 577, (Cahal,) &xxanola, the congrega

tion; from whence I conceive this name was taken; and Ubi tres as among them that word did fignify sometimes any par

i ticular assembly, sometimes the whole body of such perecclesia eft. fons, who had right and obligation to assemble for the Tertul. Exh. Caft.

*** service of God; fo correspondently was the word used in

the New Testament; sometimes for any society lefser or

13.

23.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

la

greater; sometimes for the whole body of God's new people; all the true subjects and servants of Christ; that is, for the catholic or universal society of the faithful: yet even in this latter sense there is some distinction; for sometimes it is taken in a sense, (partly extensive, partly restrained,) so as to signify all those good men, and only fuch, which in all places and all times did or shall faithfully worship and serve God; sometimes in a sense (in one respect more wide, in another more striet) for all those who at present, in any age, through all parts of the world, do openly profess the fincere faith and obedience of Christ; maintaining an external practice agreeable to that profession: according to both which senses we may interpret the Holy Catholic Church here, they being, as to the duty required of us, conjoined and coordinate: for whatever is said of the Church in Scripture, (all the characters and commendations attributed to it;) as it doth principally agree to it in the first of these senses, so it doth in some kind and measure agree to the latter: and therefore (without distinguishing) we may say that this is the Holy Catholic Church, which we believe; the Zion Pl. cxxxii. which the Lord hath chofen, which he hath depred for his 13. . habitation, where he hath resolved to place his rest and refidence for ever : The mountain feated above all mountains, Ifa. ii. 2. unto which all nations Mould flow: The house of God, Mic. iv. i.

Tou, Matt, xvi. built upon a rock, against which the gates of hell shall not 18. prevail; the pillar and firmament of truth, which it by its profession and practice in a manner supporteth and maintaineth: The new Jerusalem and city of God; the mother Rev. iii. 12. of us all; the beloved Spouse of the Lamb; the elect gene

com Gal. iv. 26.

Rev. xix. 7. ration, royal priesthood, holy nation, peculiar people : The Matt. xxii.

1 2. XXV. 10. Church which Christ hath purchased with his own blood ; Ep

ou ; Eph. V. 25, which he delivered himself for, that he might sanctify it, and &c...

1 Pet. ii. 9. cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word ; that he Acts xx. 38. might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having Eph. V. 25, Spot or wrinkle, nor any such thing; but that it might be holy and unblemished.

Holy we see it is expressly said to be in Christ's design : holy, as consisting of persons 'separated from the world,

« AnteriorContinuar »