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that is, his Church-to “ a net cast into the sea, and gathering of every kind;"'* and when he de scribed the same subject under the figure of a field, in which tares were sown among the wheat.”+ But the epithet “ holy” is used with the same latitude, in which it was applied under the law to the people of Israel. Both the Jewish Church and the Christian may be called holy, in respect to the purposes of their designation, and the ends to which they point.
The term “ Catholick,” as predicated of the Church, is not found in scripture; but was introduced much later than the rest of the article, with a pious and useful purpose; however much it may have been subsequently misapplied. It signifies the same with “ whole” or “ universal;” and was designed to de. scribe the body of Christian people, professing what had been held from the beginning; and throughout the world; from sects which were local, and the maintainers of novel theories The term has become claimed by the Church of Rome, and the Churches living under subjection to her bishop; whose jurisdiction when the term was introduced, was not known beyond his provincial limits. All these Churches taken collectively, are far from compre. hending the greater part of professing Christians: and instead of professing only the truth held in all places and all times, have superadded to them many doctrines, not known in the primitive Church; although not unforetold in the age of inspiration. In proportion as any Church, in the present day, comes up to the original idea of catholicism—that of teaching what was then of universality as to time and place; without teaching any thing else, as of necessity to eternal salvation, although there may still be considerable variety, in what relates to discipline and order; such a Church deserves the name of " catholick," and stands in no need of the superaddition of the late name of Roman. Indeed, the very joining of
the two words together, occasions a contradiction in sense; one of them being expressive of universality, and the other of limitation. [See Dissertation II ]
“ The Communion of Saints.” This also is an article, not originally in the Creed; but added to it certainly not earlier than in the fourth century-to express the common interest which all sincere Christians have in the favour of God, the redemption of Christ, the aids of the Holy Spirit, and the enjoyment of Christian privileges: in respect to which, as there was no difference of Jew and Greek, nor of bond and free, according to the declaration of St. Paul; so nei. ther should there be of rich and poor; or any other discrimination, in being subjects of Christian law, and having access to the means of grace. It is also a sentiment full of edification and consolation, that there is a community of interest between saints on earth, and those separated from them by death, but looking for. ward to a reunion with them, and a joint attainment to a joyful resurrection. The idea is countenanced by the place already referred to, in its speaking of being “ already come_which can be only in the participation of a common interest," to the spirits of just men made perfect.” And as much as this seems implied in that place of the book of Revelation, * in which the souls under the altar are told to rest, until the number of martyrs should be fulfilled: which is a particular application of a general principle. The practical consequences of this article are very many; embracing not only the duty of administering to the temporal wants of those, who are fellow members with us of the household of faith; but that of aiding them with spiritual counsel, as opportunity may serve, and ability be possessed. But above all, it aggravates beyond calculation the guilt of putting a stumbling block in a brother's way, and of being the occasion of his fall.
“ The forgiveness of sin.” This was an article, from the beginning: and as the right apprehension of the sense of it is very important; we have reason to rejoice, that there is no one particular, less liable to be misunderstood; if we will be content to take the plain words of scripture, disregarding all human comments, except so far as they agree with that unerring standard; and especially as deciding in the places intended immediately of the subject.
* Ch. vi. 11.
The article presupposes, that sin renders the sinner obnoxious to the displeasure and the punishment of almighty God. Now nothing can be more evident than this. For as sin is “ the transgression of the law;"* and as a law presumes a sanction; every re. proof of conscience, being grounded on a comparing of action with a law, and the resulting consciousness of a breach of it, would be perceived, if attended to, to point to something in a future state of being, in punishment of that breach of moral order, which is punished but imperfectly, and sometimes not at all, in the present life.
But independently on revelation, there is no ground in our nature or in our condition, to presume on the forgiveness of sin. To fatter ourselves with such a benefit, in vague reasoning on the goodness of the Creator, must be pernicious: especially as the world around us manifests-not ideed a uniform economy, for the following up of every wicked act with a proportionate punishment; yet such a relation between moral evil and bodily suffering attending on it, as should make us cautious of estimating the final issue, according to our own notions of abstract fitness: formed, perhaps, on very partial views taken by us of the subject; and influenced by our ignorance of the bearing which it may have, on the moral order of the universe. As to consequences of mere repentance; we know how little is done by it, in arresting the tem. poral entailment on misconduct: and this should have the effect it is not here said absolutely to forbid the. hope; but-to prevent the confidence with which we
# 1 John, üj. 4
might wish to contemplate the presumed placability of God. What we cannot gather from nature, we are assured of by revelation-"the forgiveness of sin:” Not forgiveness in such a way, as leaves man in his sinful state; but such as redeems him from its influence, as well as from its guilt. For he enters within the pale of the new covenant, by the exercise of faith and of repentance: the former of which is the seed or principle of every virtue, and the latter is as the original word denotes*ma change of mind, or of the inward character.
But how is the boon to be assured to the indivi. dual? This is a point, on which modern errour has been very busy, at the immense cost of inspiring false hopes in some, and of occasioning needless distress and even fearful despair in others. It is called modern errour; because the primitive Church does not appear to have known any thing of the sensibilities which it excites, or of the extravagances to which it leads.
There can be no other assurance, than what is involved in the very nature of faith; of such a faith, as includes repentance or a change of inind. What is the object of this faith, but the gospel, or message of good news, which declares, that “ Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; * and that the same message, not partial in its design, speaks “peace to all that are afar off, and all that are near?”+ But some say, that besides a general faith, there is required what they have called a special faith. This must mean, either the discerning of a special interest in redemption, not indulged to all-and then it is an unwarrantable limiting of the mercies of God; or a sensibility to the interest which we possess, in common with others; and then it is true, but useless, For a general proposition includes all the particulars, of which it is affirmed. It is as if a sovereign should proclaim pardon to each and all his rebellious subjects, on the condition of their pleading of the grace thus extended; having first laid down the arms which had been carried in resistance, In such a case, and under entire confidence as well in the authenticity of the proclamation, as in the sincerity of the prince, how idle would it be in an individual subject, to exact a message addressed personally to himself. It is however such an assurance which some require, as the ground of their satisfaction, concerning their interest in the mercies of God. There is however, this difference; that, in the case supposed, the message, if sent, would at least be a confirmation of what had been received, in another form: whereas, in regard to the inward feeling, which is made the test of religious certainty, every thing of that description is much de. pendent on animal constitution; and on the operation of mechanical causes, having no connexion with any moral influence over the mind. Accordingly it is notorious, of persons under the operation of this erroneous sentiment, that they are often found -acknow. ledging concerning their certainty, that it rises and subsides, together with the changing measure of the feeling, to which they consider it as allied. And this is called God's displaying of his face, and his hiding of it alternately: all which is contrary to what we read in scripture, that “ with God, there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning;"* and that “ Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to day, and for ever.”+ In short, every thing of the sort here stated, is an addition to the terms—“ Repent ye, and believe the gospel:”! and let us be aware, lest, in adding to the terms, we make the narrow way narrower to some and broader to others, than as it is laid out in the word of truth.
. 1 Tim. i. 15.
| Eph. ij. 17.
The test here insisted on, has been the declarations of divine grace in scripture; and corresponding with this, consciousness of our being the subjects of that grace, according to the qualifying requisitions of the same scripture. But it ought not to be withheld, that,
• James i, 17.
† Heb. xiji. 8.
Mark, i, 15,