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From hence we fee, that the church, as it was established, that it might be (what the Apostle calls it) " the ground and pillar of the truth,” so it is preserved in the world for the sake of the truth. When that truth is turned into a lie; in other words, when the doctrine of the church becomes so corrupt, as no longer to promote the end for which the church was originally established; the candlestick, we have to expect, will be removed; the ecclesiastical edifice, originally built upon the Apostles, will be taken down; and men left in that state of darkness, in which the experience of the world tells us they must live, when the light which shineth from on high is withdrawn.
From the position here advanced then, upon the authority of the Apostle, that the church is preserved in the world for the sake of the truth contained in it; the inference is, that the truth, abstractedly considered, does not constitute the church; for, upon that supposition, the establishment of the church, as its guardian and preservative, had been unnecessary. The circumstance of their having been joined together by God leads us to conclude, that the church and the truth cannot long exist in a perfect state, independent of each other; and the experiment of sepa: rating themn has never been attempted by man,
without the evil consequences attendant upon it having been manifested in a greater or less degree.
But allowing that the Gospel may be preached out of the church, and it is not said that the removal of the light from the candlestick is always immediately followed by its extinction, still the members of the church ought not to go out of the church after it; for this appears to be doing evil that good may come of it, by making an obedience to God's ordinance give way to a supposed spiritual advantage.
It will be urged, perhaps, that, in a matter of that essential concern as the salvation of a soul, ali attention to the nature of the Christian church will be swallowed up in the grand consideration of
* “ In all the annals of the church, whether under the Law or the Gospel, there is not one instance of a schism against the priest. hood which God had appointed, but great errors in doctrine and worship did follow it. Thus the priesthood which Micah set up of his own head, and that which JEROBOAM set up in opposition to that of Aaron, both ended in idolatry. Thus the Novatians and Donatifts, who made schisms against their bishops, fell into grievous errors, though they did not renounce the faith.
" What hydra heresies, and monstrous fects, fifty or fixty at one time, flowed like a torrent into England, in the times of forty-one, after episcopacy was thrown down.
“ So evident is that saying, that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth, that we can hardly find any error which has. come into the church, but upon an infraction made upon the episcopal Authority." LESLEY.
following the sound of the Gospel, wherever it is to be heard.
Had man been left to judge absolutely for himself in this business, it might have been difficult to have found an answer to the foregoing position; but God having judged for him, the most certain provision for man's falvation will doubtless be found in the use of the means appointed by God for that purpose; and these are to be had in the church.
It is not, therefore, a consideration of fo little importance as some men imagine, by whose ministry our prayers are offered up to God, or through whose hands Divine ordinances are received: for we are assured, the blessings and graces which Christianity teaches us to expect from these ordinances, can ordinarily be derived from them, only when administered according to Christ's institution, by persons regularly called, as he has directed. Where such
be had, and we may lawfully join with them, and use their ministry; to separate from them, is to rebel against the authority of CHRIST, who appointed them.
But it is alleged by those who occasionally separate from our church, that the clergy of it possess neither that zeal nor knowledge, which ought to characterize their profession; that their preaching is not that plain preaching of the cross which it ought to be, but a species of human philosophy, which can never make the hearer wise unto salvation.
I am not more surprised that such a charge should be brought, by those who have suffered an acquaintance with the conduct of some ministers of the church, and an attachment to certain preachers out of it, to create in their minds unfortunate prejudices, than I am persuaded that the ground for such a charge, as applicable to the great body of our clergy, does not in these days exist. The truth, I believe, is, that the defect of individuals among the clergy has been industriously magnified into a general plea for separation from the church; which is, in fact, to pronounce that sentence
upon the cause, which ought to have been confined to the party, by whose unskilfulness it has been injured.
The Gospel, it shall be admitted, is røt preached exactly in the same manner in the church, as it sometimes is out of it; and God forbid it should. From the general tenour of the writings of those, to whom the ministerial office was originally committed, who, from the circumstance of their being under the immediate direction of the spirit, must be considered perfect models for imitațion; the religion of CHRIST appears to be a comprehensive system of faith and morality; the one considered as the foundation, the other the superstructure of the Christian building. Now we know that where the foundation is not firmly laid, the superstructure raised upon it, however excellent the materials of which it is compofed, must in a short time fall to the ground. But we also know, that where the whole time is spent in laying the foun, dation, the work not being carried above ground, nothing will appear to which the term building can with propriety be applied. The object, therefore, which the Christian divine ought to have in view, is so to join the two parts of the Christian edifice, that they may together form one compleat building; in other words, fo to connect faith and obedience, those two parts of the Divine scheme of salvation, that they may constitute that perfect system of Christianity, whereby -“4_man may become qualified for his hea. venly inheritance."
Whoever fees the subject in this light, and he who does not is unqualified for a teacher of Christa janity, will consider it to be his duty to pay that attention to both parts of the Christian system, which, according to his best judgment, the circumstances of those committed to his charge may require. He will