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Church in all her formularies to unite her children.
It is but too evident then, that men may“ profess and call themselves Christians," without being effectually “led into the way of truth.” They may therefore be formally admitted into the membership of the Holy Catholic Church ; but they may still have no fellowship with the saints in spirit, having no spiritual communion with Christ, the vital Head of his spiritual body.
Since it is from Him that that genuine spirituality proceeds which combines every real member of this Communion in one holy society, and unites and incorporates both Him " that sanctifieth”. and them that are sanctified all ” in “one.” “The mystical union between Christ and his Church,” says Bishop Pearson, “the spiritual conjunction of the members to the Head, is the true foundation of that communion which one member hath with another, all the members living and increasing by the same influence which they receive from Him."? Without a previous communion with Christ then, there can be no real spiritual communion with each other.
Hence it is but too clear that admission into the Holy Catholic Church by any external rite, and a partaking of the Communion of the saints, differ as truly as a mere profession does
1 Heb. ii. 11.
On the Creed, Article ix. p 357.
from a sincere and indisputable reality. The one bears the name, the other possesses the Spirit of Christ : the one enters the door, but proceeds no further ; the other ranges through all the delightful apartments of the mansion, and enjoys all the privileges of a child of the family.
" There were not hypocrites among the Jews alone, but in the Church of Christ many cry “Lord, Lord," whom he knoweth not. The tares have the privilege of the field, as well as the wheat; and the bad fish of the net, as well as the good. The saints have communion with hypocrites in all things with which the distinction of a saint and hypocrite can consist. They communicate in the same water, both externally baptised alike; they communicate in the same creed, both make the same open profession of faith, both agree in the acknowledgment of the same principles of religion; they communicate in the same word, both hear the same doctrine preached ; they communicate at the same table, both eat the same bread and drink the wine, which Christ hath appointed to be received; but the hypocrite doth not communicate with the saint in the same saving grace, in the same true faith , working by love, and in the same renovation
of mind and spirit : for then he were not a hypocrite, but a saint. A saint doth not communicate with the hypocrite, in the same sins, in the same lurking infidelity, in the same unfruitfulness under the means of grace, in the same false pretence and empty form of godliness ; for then he were not a saint, but a hypocrite. Thus the saints may communicate with the wicked, so they communicate not with their wickedness ; and may have fellowship with sinners, so they have no fellowship with that which makes them such, that is, their sins.”1 And by parity of reasoning, hypocrites, i.e. mere formal professors may openly and apparently communicate with the saints, but they can have no fellowship with their holiness, no communion with their graces. The Pharisee and the Publican may both go up to the same temple, but the pride of the one can have no communion with the humility of the other : nor can characters so dissimilar hold the same Head, derive grace
from the same source, or be influenced by the same Spirit.
As Bishop Pearson's name is deservedly venerable, and his work on the Creed is considered as a standard book, I appeal again to his authority, on this question. The following is the third reason he gives for believing the Church of Christ to be holy. “It is necessary to believe the Church of Christ to be holy, lest we should presume to obtain any happiness by being of it, without that holiness which is required in it. It is enough that the end, institution, and ad
1 Id. Article ix.
ministration of the Church are holy; but that there may be some real and permanent advantage received by it, it is necessary that the persons abiding in the communion of it should be really and effectually sanctified. Without which holiness, the privileges of the Church prove the greatest disadvantages; and the means of salvation neglected, tend to a punishment with aggravation. It is not only vain but pernicious to attend at the marriage feast, without a wedding garment; and it is our Saviour's description of folly, to cry, “ Lord, Lord, open to us," while we are without oil in our lamps. We must acknowledge a necessity of holiness, when we confess that Church alone which is holy can make us happy.” 1
Here, according to the Bishop, it is presumption to think of obtaining any happiness by being of the Church, without obtaining that holiness which is required in it. “The persons abiding in the communion of it should be really and effectually sanctified.” Nay he goes so far as to say, that profession without reality will prove the greatest disadvantage, and be productive of aggravated punishment. The assertion then, that “ admission into the Holy Catholic Church, by the external rite of Baptism, is that internal regeneration of the heart which evi
1 Art. ix. 350.
dences our union with the Communion of saints, only needs a plain statement of terms to prove its fallacy. External admission into the Holy Catholic Church by the rite of water-baptism, is but part of the Sacrament, “ the outward visible sign :" it is the Baptism of the Spirit, “the inward and spiritual grace” of which the water is the emblem, the means, and the pledge that constitutes that holiness, which evidences our title to the Communion of the saints, and makes the Sacrament complete.
But is it not to be expected that this very mistake should have arisen in the Church? So long as the mere natural man may be the subject of the outward dispensation, he must be expected to confound external things with things spiritual. “ The natural man, however distinguished by talents or acquirements," receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” He cannot rise above his level; which is to look at the outward appearance: he is a creature of sense and sight and reason, and can comprehend the things which are obvious to those faculties; but not having the super-added faculty of faith, he cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit, which faith alone can discern. Hence he necessarily confounds the outward act with the inward grace, the sign with the thing sig
1 1 Cor, ii. 14.