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érful enough to subdue the stubborn hearts of sinners to the Lord; Jesus nevertheless willing to have the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possessions, exerts bis power, that he may render them obedient to his word : Mark relates of the apostles, chap. xvi. 20, "that they went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them.” And thus he makes “his arrows sharp," and wounds with them “the hearts of bis enemies, so that people fall under him," Psalm xlv. 5. “ The rebellious dwell with him,” Psalm 1xviii. 18. And so “ he rules in the midst of his enemies, making them a willing people," Psalm cx. 2, 3, by which they also become inclined to "join themselves to the Lord and to his people,” Isaiah xliv. 3, 4, 5. Ivi. 3-7. And so his Calling is effectual and irresistible, since he doth not employ his word only, but also his Spirit, " the exceeding greatness of his power," Eph. i. 18, 19, 20. The Lord doth not however influence all men in this manner, but he bestows on them only a common operation of bis Spirit, through which some submit themselves feignedly, and others resist the Spirit, like the Jews, Acts vii. 51. And when this is rightly considered, we see how the calling is external and internal, resistible and irresistible; and so the opinion of the Remonstrants, that this calling can be resisted by freewill, and their objections against our doctrine, fall to the ground.
4. As God worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will, therefore the Son of God also gathers his church according to the plan of eternal election : “ The church was chosen for him to everlasting life," that he might gather her: for the Father who chose the church, gave her to the Son in the eternal covenant of redemption, that he might reveal his Father's name to her, which he hath also done, as he himself testifieth, John xvii. 6. This election is Gol's eternal counsel, by which he decreed, according to his free good pleasure, to favour certain persons with grace, and to save them by Christ, to the glory of his wisdom, goodness and power. He hath certainly not chosen all men, upon condition of their faith and conversion, as the Remonstrants imagine ; for this is not an election, which selects some from among others, but a receising; it is certainly not an election of persons, but only of conditions and qualificacions. Eternal election respects particular persons, who are singled out as it were by name, in preference to others, Rev. ix. 13, and “ written in the book of life," Luke x. 20. Philip. iv. 3, which elected persons are not the most, but the fewest in number; yea, fewer than even those who are called, Matt. xx. 16. xxii. 14. Luke xii. 32. These are elected in preference to others, not on account of their
foreseen faith and good works, as the Remonstrants and Jesuits pretend; for then man himself would make himself differ from others,” contrary to I Cor. iv, 7, but they are elected, because it was the free good pleasure of God to elect them; for “he predestidaied us to the adoption of children hy Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will," Eph. i. 5. Election is not from, but unto faith and good works, which fiow from election, as Panl showeth, Rom. viii. 29, 30. Eph. i. 4. And it is for this reason, that the Son of God gathers the elect to the church, for “ as many as are ordained to eternal lise, believe,” Acts xiii. 48.
5. Since now it hath not pleased God to bring all men into the world at the same time, but at different periods, therefore Christ also gathers his church “from the beginning to the end of the world." If time would permit, we would show how the Son of God gathered a church for himself in the families of the patriarchs before, during, and after the time of Moses, before he came in the flesh; how he did this, while he was on earth ; how after his ascension into heaven, from Jews and Gentiles, and what he will yet do, in order to gather his church. Every person who attenus to the word of God, and knows that Christ is the Head, the Lord, and King of his church, knows also that he hath never been without members, and subjects, and that he never will, nor can be without them.
6. This is still more evident, because he protects his church. The church is frequently and most grievously attacked and assaulted by her secret and open enemies; but the Son of God “defends" her. See this Psalm cxxxix. 14. Rev. xii. Ill. He is a wall of fire to her; he who toucheth her toucheth the apple of his eye,” Zech. ii. 5, 8. And he also keeps and preserves” her so, that she will remain steadfast until the end, and will be saved. She is the bush which burns, but is not consumed : “ God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved,” Psalm xlvi. 5, “ The purpose of God according to election shall stand,” Rom. ix. 11. The satisfaction of the Son cannot be frustrated : “God forgives the sins” of those who are redeemed hy Christ, “that he may declare his righteousness," Rom. iii. 25, 26. “ 'The Spirit abideth for ever" with the church, Jolin xiv. 16. “ The gifts and calling af God are without repentance,” Rom. xi. 29. “ Jesus loveth his own unto the end,” John xiii. 1. “ He gives his sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish,” &c. John X. 28, 29. “The covenant of grace, all the promises of that covenant, and the foundations of the church are immoveable, Isaiah liv. 8, 9, 10. Matt. xvi. 18. Do any fall away, they are only certain particular members, or churches of this or that
place, who evidence thus, that they never were true members of the church, as the apostle teacheth, 1 John ii. 19, but no true member of the church will ever fall away, much less the universal church.
2. Having thus seen what the church is, we must further know how we are to believe a holy, catholic, Christian church. We do not believe in the church, which consists of men, like the Romanists, who trust in the church unreservedly for their salvation : "For thus saith the Lord, Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm," John xvii. 5. But we believe the church, which we do, (a) when we assure ourselves, that the Son of God gathers such a church for himself on earth, and when we earnestly desire to join ourselves to her. So the spouse acted, when she said, Song' i. 7. “ Tell me, I thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon; for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?" (b) When we have a certain knowledge of the true church according to the word of God, so that we abide not in the true church from prejudice, or opinion, but from a discovery, that she hath the approbation of the word of God. Such was the faith of Paul, when he said, Philip. iii. 3,"l'or we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." (c) When we believe upon good and incontrovertible grounds, agrecably to the word of God, that we ourselves are living members of the church, and will always remain such. This was the faith of David, when he said, Psalm xxiii. 5. « I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.".
II. We had so much to say on our first head: we proceed now to the second, to wit, the communion of saints. Many ancient creeds did not contain this article, because the communion of saints constitutes the essence of the church, and belongs thus to the church herself. But as the communion is now mentioned distinctly in every creed, as a benefit to the church, we will also explain it, as a distinct benefit. The Lord God, since he loves his church, bestows great benefits upon her, and particularly these four, to wit, two in this life, the communion of saints, and the forgiveness of sins; and two after this life, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Of the two last the instructor speaks in the following Lord's day. The first of the benefits, which God bestows upon his church in this life, is the communion of saints.
Although the saints, to wit, the souls of the blessed and the angels, have a communion with ore another in heaven, and even the saints upon earth have also communion with those in heaven ; for Paul
saith, Heb. xii. 22, 23, that believers " are come to an innumerable company of angels, and to the spirits of just men made perfect ;" nevertheless the creed speaks of the saints upon earth, who are mema bers of the church militant; who are saints, because they are members of the holy church.
These saints have a communion with Christ, and with one another.
i The saints have a communion with Christ. We believe, as the instructor explains it, “ that all and every one who believes, being members of Christ, are in common partakers of him, and of all his riches and gifts.” For Christ is a publick person, the Head, the Lord, the Surety and Redeemer of his people, who is whatever he is for his people : which communion imports, (a) the strictest union of believers with Christ, like that of a building with its foundation and corner stone : “Upon this rock I will build my church," saith he, Matt. xvi. 18; like the union of inhabitants with their house; they dwell in him, he is an “everlasting habitation” to them, Deut. xxxiii. 27, “a sanctuary," Isaiah viii. 14, and “he dwells in them," Eph. iii. 17. They are the house" of the Son of God, Heb iïi. 6. Yea, they are united to him, as the graff is to the stock, John xv. 4, 5. Rom. xi. 17, the wife to the husband, Eph v. 32. Isaiah liv. 5, the inembers to the head, Coll. i. 18, and the body to the garments, Gal. iii. 17. (b) This communion consisteth also in that special próperty which believers have in Christ, and in all his benefits.
He hath appropriated them and all theirs to himself; “ Ye know,” said Paul, 2 Cor. viji. 9, “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich.” And thus he, and all that is his, becomes their property. The believer saith, “ My beloved is mine, and I am his," Song ii. 16. Believers being “of God in Christ Jesus, he is therefore made to them of God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption," I Cor. i. 30.
2. By this communion with Christ believers have also communion with one another : “ Ye are all one in Christ Jesus," saith the apostle, Gal. i:i. 28. This communion of the saints consists also, (a) in that most intimate union, whereby “they are all of one heart, and one soul,” Acts iv. 32. They all possess the same grace, Jer. xxxii. 39. “They are likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind,” Philip. ii. 2. Yea, “ they speak the same thing," I Cor. i. 10. They have all the same religion, the same property, the same enemies and friends; therefore they cleave to one another, as Ruth cleaved to Naomi, when she said, “ Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest; I will lodge: thy
people shall be my people, and thy God my God," Ruth i. 16. "The world knows nothing of this, and therefore wonders at it, “ dares not join herself to these persons; but magnifies them," Acts v. 15. Yea, the world, cannot oppose them, without first putting out her own eyes. To express this strict union of the saints, they are likesed to the compact stones of Solomon's temple, 1 Peter ii. 5. They are like citizens of one city, inhabitants of one house, Eph. ii. 19, table-fellows, who eat of the same bread, 1 Cor. 5. 17, and members of one body," being reconciled in one body," Eph. ii. 16. This communion consists atso, (b) in a mutual property, and a consequent actual exercise of fellowship one with another, by virtue of that union; just as one member of the body hath a property in the other members, and exerciseth fellowship with them. So Paul speaks, Eph. iv. 23. “We are members one of another.” He explains this beautifully by a representation of that mutual service and help, which one member affords to another, I Cor. xii. 14—27. And this mutual property and exercise of fellowship is manifested by asking concerning each others welfare, and by a fellow feeling for each other in difficulties. See Neh. j. 2--10. Heb. xiii. 3. Therefore they are forthwith ready to contribute whatever they can to assist each other either by supporting dejected souls with good comfortable words, or by communicating their goods to the necessitous, in which the primiLive church of Jerusalein greatly excelled, although they have not go general community of goods ; or by doing every kind office to each other. Do they understand tha: the saints prosper, they " rejoice with them that rejoice, as they weep with them who weep." See all this, Rom. xii. 4-10, 13, 14, 15. Yea, they exercise this communion not only in private, but also in publick, and they show with whom they hold. They conduct in this manner with respect to the publick administration of the word and sacraments, 1 Cor. x. 15, 17, the assembling of themselves together, Heb. x. 25, and their familiar conversation with the saints, though they be ever so mean, with Davici, 2 Sam. vi. 20, 21, 22. He was “a companion of all them who feared the Lord," Psalm cxix. 63.
III. We should now proceed 10 our third general head, to wit, the faith of Christians concerning the forgiveness of sins, as the second benefit, which God bestoweth upon his church in this life : but since we must treat of the forgiveness of sins in order, on the twenty third, twenty fourth and Gifty first Lord's day, we will omit this at presenta