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uproarious múltitude; because they assembled in the place where justice used to be administered, and for the purpose, as they supposed, of also administering it. The agent of the executive government, also, is found interposing to prevent the people from imagining, that this is what they usually designate a law fully convoked assembly. And, consequently, the word is left with its proper and legitimate meaning, to designate an assembly called out, or under authority, an assembly acknowledged by the laws of the land.

If this, then, be the meaning of the expression, let us look at its application. And hence another view I shall take of the term will be found in the epistle to the Ephesians, iii. 21. We find the term signifying, the great body of Christians ; including all, excluding no one. In the twenty-first verse we have this doxology: “Unto him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." Now, in this passage, it is quite obvious, that the term “ Church" signified the whole of the spiritual members of the body of Christ. On this I do not dwell, as the case is clear. In 1 Corinthians, xii. 28, we find the term employed in precisely the same way : “God hath set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers; after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." All these are said to have been set by God in the Chine h. Now the meaning of that obviously is, that all these spiritually-gifted men were set in the whole body of the church, and scattered through it amongst all its members, for the purpose of diffusing the knowledge of the Redeemer's name. They belonged to no one particular church; they belonged to no one class of the great cominunity ; but were considered as the great moving instruments by which the power of God was applied to the whole. Here again, then, the expression “Church" signifies the great body of Christians.

If we look for another application of it, (as I have stated, I do not give you all the passages in which the term may occur in the sense which I intend; they would be too numerous ; you can refer to them at your leisure .) if we take another application of it, we find that it applies to single congregations of Christians. Hence if we look at Romans, xvi. 5, we shall find it applied in this sense: “Likewise,” says the Apostle, “greet the church that is in their house;" that is, in the house, as you will find in the third verse, of Priscilla and Aquila, who were his “helpers in Christ Jesus." Now, here it is obvious, that one particular fellowship, meeting in the house of Priscilla and Aquila, is designated a “church ;” and, consequently, no doubt will be entertained, that in this passage it applies to a single church, a single congregation. In 1 Corinthians, xiv. 23, we find the Apostle reasoning thus: “If, therefore, the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad ?" Now, here the church is said to be, an assembly in one place; and, consequently, I need not add, that this must be one congregation, one fellowship, one assembly, meeting together under their proper officers, for the purpose of enjoying the common fellowship, and the maintenance of their common principles.

Another application, however, will be found to be made of the expression. As it is used amongst us, it sometimes denotes a particular church, in a province or u nation. And hence the Galatian church, and the Roman church

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extending through all the provinces over which Rome claimed the right to ex. ercise spiritual dominion. The Church of Scotland, the Church of England, and a variety of other churches, are designated national churches. And consequently on looking into the churches that thus “ walked in the fear of God, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost,” we endeavour to ascertain whether we find anything of this kind connected, in any instance, with the application of the term “church" in the Word of Truth. Now, bere it might be observed, that we can find no instanee of any church thus designated. “But," it might be said, “ although we allow that the word "church' signifies an assembly called out-although we allow that the word .church' signifies a single congregation of faithful and believing men—and surely no one for a moment would question either the meaning of the term in the one case, or its scriptural application in the other ; yet it does not follow, that it may not be applicable to a church combining all the communities of spiritual and faithful people in a nation." And it may be said, “ the opportunity was not furnished, thus to speak of the provincial or the national churches in these days." Now, if we could not shew, that there was an opportunity furnished of alluding to such churches, had they existed—if we could not shew that there was an opportunity furnished for forming such national fellowships ; yet finding that such fellowships do not occur in the Word of God, we should refuse to admit the legal application of the term “church” to them; meaning by its legal application, its application according to the law of Christ, the Word of God. But it does so happen that we find they had various opportunities of speaking of the churches of a province and a nation in this way; and when they had these opportunities, they did not designate them the church of such a country. Hence we are furnished, from the Word of God itself, with a decided evidence, that the spiritual fellowships formed throughout provinces and nations, were never consolidated into anything like a provincial or a national body.

Let us look, for a moment, at some passages on this subject. In the first place, let me direct your attention to Acts, xv. 41 : “And he"—that is Paul"he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.” Now it does not speak of the church of Syria, nor the church of Cilicia. The passage takes these different single congregations, consisting of apostolical churches, to which I have already directed your attention; it brings them before us in their numbers, as they were multiplied into different communities; and it tells us that the Apostle confirmed not the church of Syria, and the church of Cilicia, but all the churches scattered throughout these different nations and provinces. If we look again at Acts, xvi. 5, we have the same opportunity furnished or speaking of provincial, or united, churches, if they had existed : “And so wers the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.” “The churches,” you perceive.

Now, this is not the designation of spiritual fellowship employed by national and provincial churches. The members of these do not speak of the churches of England, or the churches of Scotland; such phraseology is unknown to the adherents of these national or provincial institutions. It is the Church of England, and the Church of Scotland : and when they speak of the churches ir Scotland, they always mean the buildings; and when they speak of the churches in England, they always understand the buildings. They never think of ad plying the term as they applied it in the days when the churches " had rest"when they “walked in the fear of the Lord," and “were edified,” and enjoyed “ the comfort of the Holy Ghost.” That phraseology is utterly abandoned ; it would not be understood; nay, would be misunderstood. Under these circumstances, therefore, it does appear, that the opportunity of referring to the provincial fellowship, or the national fellowship, was afforded, had such fellowship existed: and the fact, that such fellowships were not referred to, when so clearly an opportunity of reference was furnished, is an evidence to me that they did not exist.

In 2 Corinthians, viii. 1, we have another allusion to the same subject. You will find the Apostle again furnished with another opportunity of noticing such national or provincial assemblies, had they really existed ; and you will find what appears to me another evidence of their non-existence. “ Moreover, brethren,” says the Apostle, “we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia." Now, here were the churches of a province ; and it does not appear that they formed themselves into any organized fellowship, under the influence of any settled constitution, which was to form the basis of their ecclesiastical administration and government. They are not the church of Macedonia, but the churches of Macedonia. If we take again 1 Corinthians, xvi. 1, we find the same thing brought again before us :

“ Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do yo.” Now, here is another province, the province of Galatia; but there is nothing about the Galatian Church; nothing about the church of Galatia : but a single congregation (to whom I have endeavoured to shew the term is applied in the Word of God) occurred to the Apostle, under the guidance of inspiration, tbe moment that he turned his attention and his recollection to Galatia; and he speaks of them all as the churches of Galatia.

If we look again to Galatians, i. 21—(and this is the last that I shall quote in connexion with this part of the subject)—we shall find the same phraseology employed : “ Afterwards I,” says Paul, came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ.” Not the church of Judea. Even where the Apostle so long sojourned where the apostles modelled everything for the purpose of directing the institutions of Christ's kingdom—we do not find that a church, a provincial church, existed; but here the different spiritual churches are brought before us, as “the churches of Judea."

Now, taking this view of the application of the term “church," I should say, that if I were to come to the Word of God, and look for a church, I should be able to discover nothing, either in the first meaning of the term, or in its application to the whole spiritual body of Christ-as including a vast congregation of the ransomed of the Lord—or in its application to single congregations taken separately—or in the distributive way in which it speaks of them in the plural number, when it seems to include them all in a province or a nation—I shall find nothing in any one of these applications of the term that would lead me to take any view of these churches that “walked in the fear of the Lord," and “ were edified," and enjoyed “the confort of the Holy Ghost." I should find nothing, in reference to these churches, thus examining the term,

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that would lead me to suppose for one moment that they were anything but what we designate Independent Churches. I confess I see no evidence—if I examine the matter with all the deliberate judgment which belongs to so important a question, and throw nothing into it of the passion of a polemic-an absurd passion when examining evidence, obviously, at all times-if I were to examine the passages I have just referred to, and all the others of which they are only a specimen, I could not for a single moment hesitate to say, There are here Independent churches, and nothing but Independent churches.

It may be supposed, my friends, that I may have selected these passages partially,: for upon a question of this kind, every species of motive is suspected; every description of prejudice is supposed to influence the inquirer; and every attempt to submit the truth of any investigation to a body of individuals will be found to be met with suspicion, from one or other of these quarters ; consequently, if any such suspicion is excited, (and I think the best fruit of our

, own investigation is, to find that we are putting you into the way of making the investigation for yourselves)-I think if any individual were to take a Concordance, and select every passage in the whole New Testament in which the expression “ church” occurs, he would find that the view I have taken of it, including the whole of the people of God, or including single congregations-every where prevails; and that there is not a single passage in the whole extent of the Divine Oracles, that would give any other sense to it.

If it should be said, the whole Israelitish nation in the wilderness is sometimes called the Church, I should say at once, I am not looking for that constitution which directed the movements of the Jewish nation; or else I must have their sacrifices, their ceremonies, their civil enactments, their land-marks, their distribution of territory, their agrarian laws, their poor laws, every thing connected with the whole of their administration. As I find it impossible, therefore, to touch them, without being charged with inconsistency if I do not follow out the beginning I have made, as I allow the Old Testament will not indeed prove the style of government of the Church of God-I must then come to the New Testament again, and say, that nowhere in the whole extent of the New Testament (the oracles of God belonging especially to this subject in connexion with our economy) will the word “ church” be found to have any signification but that which I have given to it. That it sometimes alludes to the Church in heaven, is an application of the term, that should not be taken advantage of against this view of the subject. That is still the general idea of whole body of the redeemed; for, whether they are in heaven or earth, the term may be fairly applied to them, as including the great whole whom the Saviour has saved.

Now then, if I were to be regulated in all my conduct, with regard to the application by a community of the meaning of the term church, by the application of the term church by all the Sacred Writers; and if I were to take the churches referred to in the text, and look to them as a model, and believing (as I must) that every thing said respecting them throughout the New Testament, made them Independent churches; I am then compelled to say, that thus far we do find the origin of Independency, in the apostolical institutions, in the meaning of the term “ church," and in all its Scriptural applications.

But this is not enough. It may be said, and very justly said, we must not

only ascertain the meaning of the term “church," we must see how the churches were constituted and governed. And if we can discover any thing in the constitution and government of the early churches, any thing that may throw farther light upon the question before us than the meaning and application of the term, we are not only warranted in taking that farther light, but we are compelled to employ it. Let us then consider, in the next place, the conSTITUTION AND GOVERNMENT OF THESB CHURCHES.

And here I would take, first of all, the admission of members for the formation of a spiritual body must begin here. If it should be said, we have no right to forbid any individual, who may make a profession of the Gospel, the enjoyment of all its blessings and privileges in church fellowship, as soon as he makes such a profession, I should then direct your attention to the circumstance of the Ethiopian eunuch, mentioned in Acts, viii. 36.

" And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized ?" This was after Philip (as we find by the preceding verse) had preached unto him Jesus. “ And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Now, here is an application made for a Christian ordinance; let us see how the applicant is received by the inspired man. Philip was directed by the Spirit to sit with the eunuch in his chariot, to go up to him, and instruct him; and he did so; and after opening to him the Scriptures, and preaching to him Jesus, and explaining the whole character of the evangelical dispensation, the eunuch asks to be baptized. Now, let it not be said for a moment, that we have not this enlarged explanation ; let it not be said we have simply the information that he “ preached Christ unto him," and that he preached to him from a certain passage in Isaiah, and that the moment this eunuch made a profession, he is at once baptized. You will observe, that, in the record given of the preaching of Philip, there is nothing said about baptism; and yet the eunuch appears to know every thing about it, and asks for it; and although Philip tells him nothing on the subject, this shews that he had explained to him the nature of baptism, although we are not previously told he had done so. It appears, therefore, that Philip had explained to the eunuch, not only the grand outlines of the economy of redemption, but that he had explained also the outward ordinances of the church of Christ : and, having explained the ordinance of baptism, we find the eunuch asking for that baptism which Philip had thus explained. But even then Philip hesitates. The conversation he had had with him appears to have convinced him of his sincerity; and that conversation would shew how far he had succeeded in informing the mind of the man; but he still urges home upon him the importance of a belief, and a belief with all his heart, in the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, this is precisely according to the Independent mode of admitting members to the church. An individual in conversation discovers that he has information, information on the great things of God; and he is only urged to the fact, that he must recollect that he should believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, before he can be admitted to the institution of the Church of Christ. The doors are not thrown open to any comer, to any individual who chooses to adopt the words of the eunuch, and make this profession. Like Philip, the

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