« 上一頁繼續 »
3. The members of this body of Christ have a common and unalienable interest in all the provision which God has made for its nutriment, growth, and consolation; and that simply and absolutely, because they are members of that body. Therefore,
4. The members of the church of Christ, individually and collectively, are under a moral necessity, i. e. under the obligation of God's authcrity, to recognise each other's character and privileges; and, consequently, not to deny the tokens of such recognition. Sacramental communion is one of those tokens: therefore, the members of the church of Christ, as such, are under the obligation of God's authority to recognise their relation to Christ and to each other, by joining together in sacramental communion. Nor has any church upon earth the power to refuse a seat at the table of the Lord to one whose
conversation is as becometh the gospel.” If she has, she has derived it from some other quarter than her master's grant: and founds the privilege of communion with her in something else tban a person's “having received Christ Jesus the Lord, and walking in him.” Let her look to herself, and see what account she shall be able to render of her usurpation.
This general conclusion, flowing irrefragably from the scriptural doctrine of the unity of Christ's body and the union and communion of its members, is illustrated and confirmed by a consideration of the tenure by which all Christian churches and people hold their Christian privileges.
None whom these pages address will pretend that there are no true Christians in the world but themselves, and no true churches but their ownthat all other professors are mere heathen; and all their churches, synagogues of Satan. The very idea of such arrogance is abhorred by those whose feelings and practice are most adverse to free communion. They profess to acknowledge and honour other churches--to rejoice in the gifts and graces of other Christians—to account them “as dear children” of God; as “ brethren beloved” in their common Redeemer: nór is there any reason to doubt the sincerity of such professions. This is all right-Christian-like-just as it should be. But does it never appear to these good men somewhat incongruous to decline taking a familymeal with any of the household of faith who do not happen to occupy the same apartment with themselves? to own them as "saints,” and “precious” saints; and yet deny them the provision which belongs to the saints ? And at the moment of greeting them as brethren, beloved brethren, to
tell them, "you shall not have, at the table where we sup, one crumb of the bread, nor one drop of the wine which Jesus, both
Lord and ours,
, has given to you as well as to us?” This is certainly an original way of expressing love !
But, to press the matter a little closer. These true churches and Christians have a right to the holy sacraments, or they have not. If not, it is a contradiction to call them true churches: the rightful possession of the sacraments being essential to the existence of a true church. They have then such a right. How did they obtain it? By a grant from the Lord Jesus Christ, unquestionably. He gave all church-privileges to his church catholic; and from this catholic grant do all particular churches derive their right to, and their property in whatever privileges they enjoy.* Other true churches, then, hold their right to all church privileges by the very same tenure by which we hold ours: and, consequently, the members of those churches have the very same right to the table of the Lord as the members of our own. By what authority, therefore, does any particular church undertake to invalidate a right bestowed by Christ himself? And what less,
* See the WESTMINSTER Confession of Faith, ch. xv. and Form of Church government, at the beginning; with the scriptural proofs.
or what else, does she attempt, when she refuses to admit Christians from other particular churches to the participation of any
ordinance which Christ has established for their common use? The sacramental table is spread. I approach and ask for a seat. You say, "No." “Do you dispute my Christian character and standing.” “Not in the least.” “Why, then, am I refused ?” “You do not belong to our church.” “ Your church! what do you mean by your church? Is it any thing more than a branch of Christ's church? Whose table is this ? Is it the Lord's table, or yours? If yours and not his, I have done. But if it is the Lord's, where did you acquire the power of shutting out from its mercies any one of his people? I claim my seat under my master's grant. Show me your warrant for interfering with it."
Methinks it should require a stout heart to encounter such a challenge: and that the sturdiest sectarian upon earth, not destitute of the fear of God, should pause and tremble before he ventured upon a final repulse. . The language of such an act is very clear and daring. “ You have, indeed, Christ's invitation to his table; but you have not mine. And without mine, his shall not avail.” Most fearful ! Christ Jesus says, do this in remembrance of me.
His servants rise to obey his command; and a fellow servant, acting in the name
of that Christ Jesus, under the oath of God, interposes his veto, and says—“ You shall not.” Whose soul does not shrink and shudder!
Place the subject in another light. Is it, or is it not the duty of Christians in all true churches to show forth the Lord's death in the sacrament of the supper? If not, then we have true churches and Christians under no obligation to observe the most characteristic and discriminating of the Christian ordinances. Here, again, is a contradiction nearly in terms. For who can acknowledge a true church without sacraments ? If it is if it would be a great corruption, a grievous sin in those churches to expel or neglect their sacraments, and consign the memorial of their Saviour's love to utter oblivion, it may be further asked-whether, in acquitting themselves of their duty, they perform an acceptable service upto God or not? If they may, and do; and that with the most evident tokens of their master's approbation, as no sober Christian will deny, how eshould an act of communion in the body and blood of the Lord,” be lawful and commanded to a person in one true church, and be unlawful and forbidden to that same person in another ? How should two persons both honour the Redeemer by communicating in their respective churches, and both dishonour him by the very