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tion. He prayed that they might be led into all truth, and yet Peter and Barnabas dissembled at Antioch. And what we thus find confirmed by Scripture, we find also proved, in fact, by history; but of this we shall speak hereafter in its own
God has promised that His one Church shall be always visible, not that it shall be always internally united. The parables of the wheat and the tares, and of the good fish and the bad, are prophecies that there shall always be the elements of moral division. That these should for a time prevail is according to the nature of probation, and the experience of the Church from the beginning. A body always visibly one, though not always morally one, there shall be even to the end of the world.
“ There is no security for unity, except as the Church is declared by the promises of God, which, being built on a hill, cannot be hid.” Therefore St. Augustin urges on all good men the duty of bearing with the mixture and fellowship of the wicked, and the guilt of separating from the Church on the plea of withdrawing from evil men. It is certain that, as the mastery of disease brings on death, and the dominion of sinful habits ends in apostacy, so the absolute prevalence of internal division must terminate in a forfeiture even of the objective Unity of the Church. It is by moral decline that the churches of Christ first fit themselves for excision from the one body: in the
S. Aug. contra Ep. Parmen. lib. iii. 5. ? Ib.
end they may be left without the very being or rudiments of the Church.
Now, from all that has been said, it follows as a sort of corollary that in the objective Unity of the Church, and in no other way, is salvation offered to mankind. But as this is a subject of great extent and difficulty, it must be reserved for a separate chapter, which, in the order of this argument, will find its natural place at the beginning of the third part.
From what has been said in the last three chapters we may deduce some general conclusions, and thus bring this portion of the subject to an end. My endeavour has been to show what moral
the Church of God, and especially that particular character of it with which we are chiefly concerned, was designed to effect. Although it is unsafe to assume this or that particular result to be the end of the Divine conduct, yet the great axiom, that infinite Wisdom never acts without a purpose, is so much the more commandingly self-evident in the scheme of man's redemption, that we cannot do amiss in seeking from God Himself a knowledge of His final purposes; and this we have done by taking Holy Scripture as our guide in the inquiry. has been made evident, I trust, that in the whole institution and character of the Church, God has a complex moral end in view; that the probation of man, the recovery of the Divine image in his moral being, the restoration of the true knowledge of the one God to the world, and, through this concatenation of means, the glory of His holy Name, is the
ajm and intention of the Divine Author and Ruler of the Church. I have endeavoured further to show how this aim and intention is subserved and accomplished by the character of unity in particular.
I have the more strongly insisted upon because there is a direct tendency in the human mind to assume, almost unconsciously, that we sufficiently understand the whole scope and bearing of God's dealings as to be able to estimate the comparative importance of the several parts, and their obligation upon our consciences in the shape of duty. Hardly anything is more common than to hear men arguing that this or that portion of the Divine economy might have been otherwise, that it is an accident or non-essential, that it is separable from the moral idea of redemption, that it is the external form, the mere shell of the system. The effect of such language is to lead other minds, and, insensibly, our own, first to undervalue, next altogether to fail of seeing, the true design of God in the particular features of His dispensation : then to assume that what seems to us without a moral purpose is mutable; that it might be changed, under certain conditions; that it may be dispensed with, under the actual present conditions in which we find ourselves or others to be; and, lastly, that what may be formally dispensed with, may be, under a plea of necessity, informally broken through. Now the first fault in this accumulating error is the assumption that we so far know the mind of God as to distinguish be
tween what is necessary and what is accidental, what is moral and what is positive, what is subject to our control, and to what, by a Divine ordinance, we ourselves are subjected. I will give one pregnant instance, among many. The visible polity of the Church is called an external form: it is assumed to be an accident to our participation in Christ, and to our renewal in His likeness. It is said, indeed, that it may not be lightly changed, nor without urgent cause and necessity; but these are mere words. They only break the fall of the sound, for in reason they mean nothing more than that the positive institutions of God are subjected to the will of man, so that if he see necessity (of which necessity he is also to be the judge) he may change or reverse them. It is, in fact, the argument of those who reject the material Sacraments; and, in their mouths alone, it is consistent, and has, whether good or bad, a principle of its own. In others, who hold to the institution and absolute obligation of the Holy Sacraments on all to whom the duty is sufficiently propounded, the argument is a mere confusion and inconsistency, as I shall endeavour to show by the following reasons :
In the first place, the polity of the Church, including the Apostolical succession as its primary condition, and what is vulgarly called Episcopacy as its aspect or countenance, has been shown to be an organic part of the great phenomenon of objective unity, through which the Holy Spirit works