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maintain the character of an honest man, he will be led to the following obvious conclusion; that a fancied independence on spiritual authority, upon the mistaken idea that every man is at liberty to make his own Church, or to join himself to any society of Christians who may assume that name, with the view of offering up a more spiritual service than, in their judgment, is offered to God in any other way, (the plausible ground upon which all modern separations from the Church are built) whilst it renders the Apostolic writings destitute of all force and meaning, tends, at the same time, to the dissolution of that order, which Christ, for wise reasons, saw necessary to be established.
In handling this subject, we have laid down two general positions, which, it is presumed, are not to be controverted. The first is, that the Author of man's salvation was best qualified to determine the plan calculated to carry it into effect. The second, that as the salvation of fallen man is the work of free and undeserved grace, man must be thankful to accept it on the conditions upon which it is offered. The conclusion to which these positions lead seems to be this: that no man, in the ordinary way of salvation, can hope to attain the end of his Christian calling, who neglects to use the means appointed by God to lead him to it. Such is the ground upon which the argument for conformity to the Church is built. The consideration that a certain plan has been set on foot, and certain means of grace appointed by the Head of the Church, for the purpose of securing the salvation of its members, tends to render
has given us to understand,* the continuance of that spirit with us must, it should seem, depend upon our remaining in that connection with Him, which first qualified us for its reception.
We read but of "one body and one spirit."t From whence we are led to conclude, that the spirit of Christ is confined to that body of which He is the head; and that body is the Church. A separation from the Church, consequently, according to the meaning designed to be conveyed by the Apostle, must be regarded as a kind of spiritual death.
From what has been said at large upon this subject, our object has been to enable the reader to understand the figurative language of the Apostle, considered as descriptive of the mystical body of Christ; the members of which are joined together, and animated by the same spirit, derived to them from their participation in those life-giving sacraments, which Christ appointed as the means of forming and preserving to himself a Church upon earth. The Apostolic language thus interpreted, furnishes a clear and distinct notion of the Christian Church in its original and perfect form; of which the joint communion of its component members constitutes an essential characteristic. If we have been tediously particular on this point, it has been from a conviction, that a want of proper information upon it has been the cause of many wellmeaning people going out of the Church, who might otherwise have gladly remained in it. For their sakes, therefore, I still feel disposed to say + Eph. iv. 4.
Acts ii. 38.
when we argue from the appearance of an external act to the existence of an internal principle,) it will be more to our purpose to attend to the consequences derivable from it. And under this head, we cannot help remarking the unsound ground upon which a prevailing idea respecting the Divine assistance is commonly built.
In the Church, we look for the ordinary assistance of the Holy Spirit in the regular and sincere use of the means of grace appointed to convey it. The Divine promise encourages us so to do. Provided, therefore, we do not deceive ourselves in this matter, we certainly shall not be disappointed in our expectation. Separatists from the Church are frequently taught to expect the extraordinary assistance of the same Divine spirit, independent of all appointed means whatever. For the support of this expectation there is no authority, either from scripture or reason, to be produced. We are not surprised, therefore, that to minds engrossed with such an idea, all stated services of religion should appear in the light of useless forms, and beggarly elements; beneath the attention of those who are favoured with a more immediate communication from the Divine Fountain. But to prove the absurdity of this idea, considered as establishing the ground for a general position, and at the same time to set aside all pretensions to such extraordinary assistance, it requires only to be remarked, for what purpose that assistance was originally granted, and to what end it was employed....
"I will pray the Father," said Christ to his dis