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who are believers but by the profession of their faith with a corresponding behaviour. The confession proceeds upon this fundamental rule of society, civil and sacred, that, before the tribunal of human judgment, a man is what he appears to be. It speaks, therefore, of the church of believers, as indicated by their visible profession, walk, and order, in the gospel. In no other way can she be known as a militant church-in no other way can tares be mixed with her wheatin no other way can she have “a great many particular churches upon earth, all referrible to the true Catholick church”-in no other way could she “have her institutions, and be regulated in one form among the Patriarchs before the law -in another, by the law under Moses and in a third, by Christ through the gospel ;" all which this same article most fully maintains.
To the same purport, at a still earlier period, speaks
“We believe in the holy Christian church, i. e. the communion of saints; the congregation of the faithful in spirit, which is holy, and the spouse of Christ. In which all those are citizens who confess that Jesus is the CHRIST, the lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world ; and
who demonstrate that faith of theirs by works of love.! *
The STRASBURG CONFESSION :
“Since the Saviour reigns truly, in these,” (the children of God) “ they are properly called his church,' and 'the COMMUNION,'i. e. the society of saints, as the term "church' is explained in the Apostles' creed.” [..
The BOHEMIC CONFESSION:
.We are most thoroughly persuaded, by clear indications from the word of God, that our ministers who do not overleap the bounds of evangelical doctrine, are addicted to no heresies ; but are true ministers of Christ, and in Christ's stead; and are to be obeyed, by the commandment of truth itself. Wherefore it were most unlawful to withhold the communion of saints with them; especially as we are bound thereto by this very ar
* Credimus sanctam Christianam Ecclesiam, id est, communionem sanctorum, congregationem fidelium in spiritu, quæ sancta et sponsa Christi est: In qua omnes illi cives sunt qui confitentur JESUM esse CARISTUM, agnum Dei tollentem peccata mundi; atque eandem fidem per opera charitatis demonstrant.
.. IB. p. 94. $ + In his cum vere reguet Servator, proprie ejus ecclesia et sanctorum Hoorwed, it est societas; ut in symbolo Apostolorum vocabulum “Ecclesiæ expositum est; nominantur.
Io. p. 238.
ticle of the apostles' creed; I believe in the holy Catholick church, the communion of saints."*
Who is more remarkable for nothing than for his decision-who never trims, nor shuffles, nor thinks by halves, has founded his whole doctrine of church-communion upon this very article. And in his exposition of the words “ communion of saints” thus expresses himself.
“ This article of the creed has also some respect to the external church; that every one of us may keep himself in brotherly concord with all the children of God; may yield to the church her just authority; in a word, may conduct himself as a sheep of the flock. And, therefore, there is added, the commUNION OF SAINTS—because it'excellently expresses the quality of the church: as if it had been said, the saints are gathered into the fellowship of Christ upon this condition, that they
* Persuasissimum itaque nobis est, hoc ipsum verbo Dei ut Lydio lapide indicante, sacerdotes nostros, cum septa ipsa Evangelicæ doctrinæ non transiliant, nullos hæresibus addictos, sed ministros Christi ac veros vicarios esse; quibus parendum esse ipsa veritas monet dictatque. Quo certe minus fas est, ut cum bis sanctorum communio detrectetur haberi; præsertim astringente nos ad hoc ipso Symboli Apostolici articalo, “ Credo sanctam ecclesiam, Sanctorum communionem.
PRÆF. IN conZ. BOHEM. Ib. part 2 p. 234.
mutually communicate to each other all the good things which God bestows upon them. By which, however, the diversity of his favours is not destroyed; as we know that the gifts of the Spirit are variously distributed; nor is that political order plucked up, by which every one is at liberty to possess his own wealth in his private right; as it is necessary, for the sake of preserving peace among men, that the control of property should be distinct and independent. But there is asserted such a community as Luke describes, that the multitude of believers had but one heart and one soul; and Paul, when he exhorts the Ephesians to be one body and one spirit, as they are called in one hope. For it cannot be, if they are truly persuaded that God is their common father, and Christ their common head, but that joined together in brotherly love, they will most freely interchange their privileges.”*
* Quanquam articulus Symboli ad externam quoque Ecclesiam aliquatenus pertinet; ut se quisque nostrûm in fraterno consensu cum omnibus Dei filiis contineat-Ecclesiæ deferat quam meretur auctoritatem-denique se ita gerat ut ovis ex grege. Atque ideo adjungitur SANCTORUM COMMUNICATIO: quæ particula, licet a veteribus fere prærtermissa sit, non tamen negligenda est, quia Ecclesiæ qualitatem optime exprimit. Quasi dictum esset, hac lege aggregari Sanctos in societatem Christi, ut quæcunque in eos beneficia in eos confert inter se mutuo communicent. Quo tamen non tollitur gratiarum diversitas ; sicuti scimus varie distribui Spiritus dona: neque etiam convellitur ordo
And, to put the matter beyond all question, when he is shewing that “we are in no manner to depart from the communion of saints," he “refutes the errours of the Novatians, the Anabaptists and other schismatical and idle-minded enen of the same stamp;" whose schism we know, consisted precisely in their refusing to hold communion with other churches than their
This Calvin reprobates as a violation of the “ communion of saints ;" 'and considering the unparalleled acceptance of his work with the Reformed churches, his interpretation must be regarded as their common judgment. Other reformers speak in the same strain.
From the days of Calvin and the Reformation, to the Westminster Assembly in 1643, no alteration, on this point, appears to have occurred in the sense of the religious world. Take two or three proofs.
politicus, quo suas cuique facultates privatim possidere licet; ut necesse est, pacis inter homines conservandæ causâ, rerum dominia inter ipsos propria et distincta esse. Sed asseritur communitas qualem Lueas describit, quod multitudinis credentium esset cor unum et anima una: et Paulus, quum hortatur Ephesios ut sint unum corpus, unus spiritus, siculi vocati sunt in una spe. Neque enim fieri potest, si vere persuasi sunt Deum communem sibi omnibus patrem esse, et Christum commune caput, quin, fraterno inter se amore conjuncti, ultro citroque sua communicent.
Instit. Lib. iv. cap. i. $ 8.