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OF THE THIRD CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH AND SOCIETY IN
NOV. 3, 1824.
BY JUSTIN EDWARDS,
PASTOR 01 THE SOUTH CHURCH IN ANDOVER.
PRINTED BY FLAGG AND GOULD;
1 Tim. iii. 1&.
THAT THOU MAYEST KNOW HOW THOU OUGHTEST TO BEHAVE THYSELF IS
This was written by Paul to Timothy. Timothy was a minister of the gospel, and, at that time, at Ephesus. The church in that city was gathered by the instrumentality of Paul; and, like all churches gathered by him, was "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." For a time it prospered. But afterwards false teachers arose, and by preaching erroneous sentiments, endangered its welfare. Paul, being called to go into Macedonia, besought Timothy to abide at Ephesus; in order to charge those persons not to preach any doctrines, except those which he had preached. But as Timothy was a young man, and the situation in which he was placed difficult, Paul, after his departure, wrote to him this epistle. His object was to show him how he ought to behave in the church. The behaviour referred to comprehended his preaching, and practice; his whole duty as a minister. The right understanding, and faithful discharge of this, was
highly important, not only to his salvation, the prosperity of that church, and the salvation of its members, but to the prosperity of all other churches, and the salvation of future generations. Because the church was "the pillar and ground of the truth."
A pillar supports that which is laid upon it The ground is that on which it rests. These are figurative expressions, and, applied to the church, mean, that it is the instrument of supporting, and perpetuating the truth of God in the world. This is true not only of the church at Ephesus, but of the church of Christ wherever found. It was redeemed by the blood of Immanuel, and organized as a visible body on earth, for the purpose of maintaining his truth; extending it to all nations, and perpetuating it to all ages. And, if faithful to God, it will accomplish this object.
Hence arise four questions, viz.
I. What is the church?
II. What is the truth which the church supports?
III. How does the church support it?
IV. For what reasons?
In a plain, scriptural manner to answer these questions, and make a practical application, will be my object in this discourse. And may the Holy Spirit enlighten our minds, lead us into his truth, sanctify us by it, and make us wise, even to salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ
I. What is the church?
The word church is sometimes used in the New Testament for all persons who have been, or shall