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"Where the Spirit of God is, there is the church." The second is: "Where the church is, there is the Spirit of God." All organizations of the church fall into two classes, according as they express the one or the other of these principles.

According to the first of these principles, the Spirit of God is always originating and sustaining the new spiritual life, and the church is the constant and spontaneous development of this spiritual life into outward organization. The Spirit and life are primary and originant; the organization secondary and dependent. The church is not perpetuated by the cohesiveness of the organization, but by the indwelling Spirit. If Christianity is introduced into a heathen country, those whom the Spirit renews become a church through their fellowship one with another in that new life. If in any country the church becomes corrupt, any whom God's Spirit renews, withdraw from the corrupt organization and originate the visible church anew. The organization, forsaken by the Spirit, is no longer a church, but a carcass needing to be buried. The organization developed from the pre-existing life and perpetuated by the vitalizing and everpresent Spirit is subordinate to the life, and exists to promote the edification of its members and to facilitate the performance of their Christian work.

According to the second principle, the church came forth as an organization from Christ's hand to stand unchanged to the end of time. The organization is the vehicle through which God's grace and Spirit are conveyed to men. The organization is primary and originant, the Spirit and life secondary and dependent. The organization perpetuates itself by its own strength and cohesiveness. If Christianity is introduced to a heathen land, the church must be imported. If the church becomes corrupt, true believers may try to reform it; but to withdraw from it is schism. The life is subordinate to the organization. The church stands between the individual and Christ, to convey God's grace to him by its action in his behalf. And the church, speaking officially, is infallible, and its dicta binding, as the voice of God, on every individual's conscience.

The first of these conceptions of the church is from Christ. The second is historically from heathenism. The Christian church, first constituted as Christ willed, gradually took up into itself the principle of Roman imperialism and was corrupted into a hierarchy. Romanism is the logical result. Protestantism acknowledges the first principle. Yet Congregationalism is the only polity which carries out the principle, "Where the Spirit of God is there is the church," to its legitimate results.

In the light of this maxim, consider, next, in some details, what is the true idea of the church as the outgrowth in human history of the life which was in Christ and is manifested among men.

I. The Spirit acts primarily on Individuals, and the Life manifests itself primarily in them.

The divine action in redemption is directed primarily upon individuals, and not upon organizations and institutions. It is not a diffused daylight, an all-pervading electricity, acting equally and indefinitely on society as such, through institutions, public sentiment, and the spirit of the age, and lifting society in mass to a higher level. Its aim is not primarily the promotion of general culture, and refinement, and the advancement of civilization. It is the direct action of God on individuals to bring them into reconciliation with himself. Redemption aims to save souls. It is becoming fashionable in some circles to ridicule this phrase. A writer in a leading Review has even said that the idea of missions "to save souls" is becoming obsolete. The phrase, like any other, may degenerate into cant. But rightly understood it is the doctrine of Christianity, that redeeming grace is acting in human history to save souls. Christ came "to save the lost." The "faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation" is, that Christ came " to save sinners." They who are offended at this are offended at Christianity itself.

This individualism attaches to the redemptive agency in all its forms. Christ tasted death for every man the sin

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gular number, the distributive pronoun. The attraction of the cross fastens immediately on every soul, as the attraction of the sun fastens with undivided power on every planet. Every one is invited to equal intimacy with God, each in the secrecy of his own closet. Every Christian, born of the Spirit, is the child of God and not removed by any intervening agency to a remoter relationship. Justification by faith gives to every sinner free access to God without priestly mediation.

Accordingly the Spirit is represented in the Bible as dwelling in the individual, not in the church. The temple of God, which Paul admonishes the Corinthians not to defile, is not the organic church, but the body of the individual.

Thus Christianity is characterized by intense individualism. This has originated the individualism which characterizes modern political institutions. But all experience confirms, what reason teaches, that political welfare is not attainable by that one-sided individualism which prompts every one to regard only his own liberty and rights. This is an individualism which is identical with selfishness. It must be supplemented by a regard to society. And it is remarkable that, while Christianity teaches an intense individualism, it insists on individual responsibility, duty, and love, rather than individual liberty and rights. Thus, while vitalizing the grand movement of society against oppression and slavery, and in favor of equal rights, it supplies the needed check to selfishness and the needed impetus to live for others and to guard and promote the interests of society.

II. A Church is an Organized Association of Persons Renewed by the Holy Spirit.

This follows directly from the principle, "Where the Spirit is, there is the church.” When Christ's sheep hear his voice and follow him, they are thereby separated from others and united to Christ; and in their union with Christ and following of him, united also to each other. Thus the church comes into being. It is an association of persons

effectually called to Christ by his voice speaking through the Holy Spirit. They are united not by force or external authority, nor by the tie of birth; but by their own free act and covenant in the fellowship of their common faith in Christ, and the common character, ideas, and aims of their new spiritual life. Yet the church is not merely a voluntary association, dependent for its existence on the will of man. It is of divine origin, because it is the spontaneous outgrowth of the "life" that is in Christ, penetrating human history through the Holy Spirit; it exists by divine authority, because it has the reason of its existence in God's redeeming energy working always among men; it is lifted above the creations of human will, and is perpetuated and imperisha ble in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and his continued life-giving and renovating agency in the world.

The church, as an organization thus constituted, necessarily made its appearance so soon as Christianity began to prevail. And the principles thus organized in the churches necessarily tended to pass over into the constitution of the


Allusion has been already made to the intense individualism of Christianity. This is embodied in the church. The individual is the unit of the organization. This was contrary to the conception of society universally prevalent when the first Christian churches were established. The heathen conception of society emphasizes the race, rather than the individual. It begins with the race, and proceeds downwards to the individual; it begins with institutions, and proceeds downwards to the men who live under and for them. In heathen society the individual is lost in the mass; the individuals exist as the planets did when dissolved and lost in the nebulous matter diffused through space; not, as now, in the solar system, moving in their individuality harmoniously under law. It was an epoch when, in society thus constituted, the apostolic church appeared, an institution embodying the Christian idea of the worth and rights

of man an association of individuals of every caste, rank, and race, "born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." In the church the king and his subject, the master and his slave, the nobleman and the peasant, stand on a level, having equal rights in its privileges, equal vote in the management of its affairs, and equal eligibility to its offices. Such an institution could not flourish, retaining its purity, in such a state of society, without coming into conflict with it, diffusing new ideas, and gradually infusing its own principles into the constitution of the state and the usages of society.

Such has been the historical fact. In the very beginning of the propagation of Christianity we find Peter and John arraigned before the Sanhedrim declaring the rights of conscience, and announcing the principle which has ever since underlain the martyrdoms and conflicts for liberty of conscience and the rights of man against oppression. Even amid Roman imperialism, the churches retained their primitive constitution for a time. After being corrupted and consolidated by taking into itself the imperial idea, the church long retained features of its original constitution in the election of bishops, in holding its offices open to men of every degree, in its steady and successful opposition to slavery, in affording through all the reign of violence an asylum for the oppressed, in its action through the Middle Ages in the interest of human rights against the tyranny of the secular rulers, and in its attitude as an adjudicator of wrongs by an appeal to justice and law in antagonism to the brute force and bloody lawlessness of the feudal harons. People willingly appealed to tribunals that recognized law and the authority of God against lords who decided everything by the sword; and in this way the growing hierarchy was encouraged in its usurpations of authority. Even in the theological writings of the Middle Ages are found distinct traces of the modern doctrine of the rights of the people against oppressive rulers." 1

1 "A man is bound to obey secular rulers only so far as justice requires.

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