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in what is called church-communion;" and " to what is named the communion of saints, as distinguished from it, liberal,"') even John Brown himself could not altogether rid himself of the received interpretation, but, forgetting the new distinction, thus expressed himself concerning the Seceders, who left their ministers in the established church of Scotland : “ In vain you told them that their withdrawment was a breaking up of the communion of saints."
And again, “ They," the seceders, “ challenged you to
prove that Luther and Calvin's obedience to that command,” the command of God, to leave the church of Rome, “amounted to a breaking up of the communion of saints.?* But the communion from which Luther and Calvin withdrew was certainly church-communion ; therefore, Mr. Brown himself being judge, "church-communion” is “ communion of saints.” And so he has inadvertently exploded his own distinction upon which he and his brethren were acting; and upon which the secession-churches, their American descendants and some others have, for the most part, continued to act to this hour.t Let us return.
* An Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of the Secession, p. 30, 31. Glasgow. 1780. 12mo.
+ The disiinction between “church-communion,” and “ communion of saints," so as to exclude the former from the latter, is called a new
It has now been proved that the principal, the reigning idea of the term “communion of saints," from its introduction into the Apostles' creed,
one; and it is proved to be so by the preceding historical induction. The precise period of its adoption is not easy to fix. But as it never appeared, so far as the authour can ascertain, before the complete severance of the Seceders from the Scottish establishment, it seems to have been then introduced, and probably in the following manner. The Seceding brethren had been in the habit of holding communion with faithful ministers of the establishment, after the breach. But as contention between the two parties waxed hot, and they were perhaps taxed with inconsistency for holding conmunion with one part of a church, and refusing it with another, the intercourse became uncomfortable, and it was dropped. But here arose a new difficulty. The Seceders did not deny the church of Scotland to be a true church of Christ. Why then did they fly in the face of their own confession of faith, by declining all communion with her ? Especialiý as they stoutly maintained that they never renounced the church of Scotland, but only a corrupt party in it. “ Indeed! then one of two things : either expunge the article on that subject from your confession, or retread your steps.” They could do neither. Their consciences would not permit the first, nor their feelings the second. What was to be done? If under" communion of saints,” their confession treats -of " church-communion," the contradiction is palpable: there is no escape. To avoid this distress, they seem to have hit upon the distinetion as it has ever since been maintained ; and had it been a sound one, it would effectually have served their purpose. For if the chapter
communion of saints," lays down, in its second section, the doctrine of communion as it subsists between Christians in their private character merely, and not as it subsists between them in their public relations; i. e. if it does not lay down the doctrine of " churchcommunion," all was safe. The Seceders could very consistently adhere to the confession, and yet renounce communion with the church of Scotland. And thus, instead of being tossed backwards and forwards upon the horns of a cruel dilemma, they very fairly and adroitly slipped out between them. But if, as has been demonstrated,
about the fifth century, through the whole of the Reformation from Popery, and of the subsequent period, down to the sitting of the Assembly at Westminster, was precisely that of “churchcommunion.” Consequently the chapter which, in their confession, they have themselves entitled “ Of Communion of Saints,” whatever else it may include, must be interpreted, according to the known and undisputed sense of the phrase, as treating expressly and officially of Churchcommunion.
2. Let us in the next place see what light is shed on this subject by the confession itself: so that the Westminster fathers may be their own expositors.
In the Larger Catechism, which is nothing but the confession reduced to question and answer, the communion of saints” is said to be one of the “special privileges of the VISIBLE CHURCH.* But a privilege which belongs and is peculiar to her as the visible church, belongs and is peculiar to her in her church-capacity. This is so perfectly plain as to be little more than a tautology. And the communion which she enjoys in her churchcapacity is, and can be, nothing else than churchcomnunion. Therefore, the confession itself being judge, church-communion is the communion of saints.
“ communion of saints” includes “church-communion," it is worth looking after whether they are out of the reach of the horns yet. Let a remark be made without offence, as it is with unfeigned respect, that the Seceders missed their course when they rested their vindication upon any other ground than their violent extrusion from the church of Scotland. Should the writer have erred, the gain is their own; and they will pardon a mistake which, if it originates in ignorance, has at least the merit of frankness.
* QUEST, 63,
Again: The "holy fellowship and communion,” which“ saints by profession are bound to maintain,” is distributed into three parts—It is to be maintained
(1.) “ In the worship of God.” (2.) “In other spiritual services.” (3.) “In relieving each otherinoutward things.
In regard to the first of these, let the Confession itself explain what is meant by “the worship of God.”
“The reading of the scriptures with godly fear; the sound preaching, and conscionable hearing of the word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence; singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God."*
For “worship of God,” in the 26th chapter, substitute the description of that worship in the 25th ; and we have the following result
* CONF. OF FAITH. Chap. xxi. $5.
“ Saints by profession are bound to maintain a holy fellowship and communion in the publick preaching and hearing of the word-in the praises of God-and in the sacraments instituted by Christ."
If this is not “church-communion," what is ? Yet this, according to our “good confession," belongs to the communion of saints” by prosession. Whatever else belongs to it, is referrible to the second or third of the particulars enumerated above, which, either one or both, comprehends all that has been or can be assigned to the
communion of saints,” by those who oppose it to “church-communion.”
A word more. The communion of saints, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended,” says the confession, " to all those who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus."*
This clause some restrict to the relief which Christians are to give each other in temporal matters! It is really a source of grief and humiliation, when good and sensible men lower themselves to an evasion which contradicts the first principles of interpretation, and the very references of the confession itself.
The chapier treats generally of " communion of saints.” In the second paragraph it treats especially of the communion of " saints by profession." “ Which communion," it says, “is to be extended," &c. The rules of grammar, as well as the laws of interpretation, require that this expression embrace the whole communion immediately before described ; and cannot, without palpable unfairness, be re-, stņained to a single specification.
The annexed scriptures do indeed speak of communion in temporal