Page images


'the branches ;' and they must abide' in him, in order to bring forth fruit.' The church is the body of Christ.' He is the head over all things to the church.' 'From whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love.' 'For as the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of that one body, being MANY, are ONE BODY; SO ALSO IS CHRIST. For by one Spirit we are all baptized into ONE BODY; whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to DRINK INTO ONE SPIRIT. For the BODY is not ONE member, but MANY.' ' For we are MEMBERS OF HIS BODY, OF HIS FLESH, AND OF HIS BONES.

This spiritual unity, is the basis of numerous other scripture-statements, and of many practical exhortations. Among these, are the following: ‘One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.' 'Put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in ONE BODY. 'Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace.' 'Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of

* Rev. xxi. 9. John. xv. Eph. iv. 12; i. 22; iv. 16. 1 Cor. xii. 12. 13. 14. Eph. v. 30.

the Son of God, unto a perfect man: That, speaking the truth in love, we may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.' 'Be like-minded, having the same love; being of one accord, of one mind, 'He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.' The world knoweth us not because it knew him not.' If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin. Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth.' 'The truth dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.'

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.' 'Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.'*

That, in the first churches, the truth was one and the same to all believers, we learn from the harmony of doctrine which subsists throughout the various books of the New Testament, and the identity of the Christian character which they delineate. Everywhere, in the whole empire of Christianity, the same objects, like the great lights in the firmament, commanded the attention of mankind. Those stupendous events which had moved all heaven with awe and admiration, and had filled the minds of its inhabitants with a de

* Col. iii. 14. 15. Eph. iv. 3. 13. 15. Philip ii. 2. 1 Cor. vi. 17. 1 John. iii. 1. 1 John, i. 7. Jam. i. 18. 2 John 2. John xvii. 16. 17.

sire to look into'i them, were the theme of devout wonder, and earnest conversation, among all who had escaped the thraldom of Jewish blindness, and Gentile idolatry; and had become members of the new creation. The apostles directed the minds of all, to the sublime fact of the coming of the Son of God in the flesh—the perfection of his human character-his sufferings and death-the reconciliation which he had effected between God and the apostate world—his resurrection and ascension-his session in glory, at the Father's right hand-the gift of the Holy Ghost, bestowed through his intercession--his universal and everlasting dominion_his second advent to judge the world.

In the practical reception of these great truths, the churches were one. The belief of these doctrines identified itself, as St. Paul describes, with obedience to 'that form of doctrine' into which believers' were delivered as into a mould, to be cast and formed. The baptism of the Spirit anticipated the slow, and often inoperative deductions of reason, and gave to babes in worldly wisdom, an insight into the 'mysteries of the kingdom, which no human learning could bestow. Both love and holiness flowed from obeying the truth."

11 Pet, i, 12. ? ds & tapedbONTE TÚTOV didaxîs. Rom. vi. 17. See Dod. dridge and Macknight in loc.

3 1 Pet. i. 22.

[ocr errors]


The genius of Christianity forbade that diversities of rite and custom should interrupt the course of charity, of which the Truth proved a perpetual

But apart from the doctrine of Christ,' love lost its vital warmth, and the sacred stream was frozen at its rise. Truth and love were inseparable. Truth was the animating principle of love; but error proved to love as the touch of a torpedo. On external points, there might be variety :-but if an angel from heaven' had preached ' any other gospel,' he would have been 'accursed.''

It is true that the first century had not passed away, before the Judaizing spirit, and the rising germs of Gnosticism, began to appear. Thus some pronounced the observance of the whole law of Moses necessary to salvation; while others fatally corrupted the truth, by blending the dogmas of the Oriental philosophy and Platonism, with Judaism and Christianity; maintaining opinions utterly subversive of the scripture-doctrine of the person of Christ, and his incarnation and atonement; or destructive of the morality of the gospel. These rising heresies, it is generally


Gal. i. 8. 9. • The Gnostics were so termed, (from yr@ois, knowledge,) as laying claim to superior views of truth. They appear early to have held that Christ was one of the later Æons, or emanations of the Deity; and thus that he had a beginning. He was sent, they affirmed, to reveal the

[ocr errors]

agreed, are frequently alluded to in the apostolical epistles,' and especiallyin the writings of St. John; who, in the beginning of his gospel, expressly declares “THE LOGOS WAS GOD.' In his epistles, also, he lays great stress on confessing that Jesus Christ is come IN THE FLESH;' that ' Jesus is THE CHRIST, and 'THE SON OF GOD.' Hewho rejects these truths, is said to be 'ANTICHRIST,' and a ‘LIAR.' "Whosoever abideth not in the DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, HATH NOT GOD.' 'If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house; neither bid him "God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed, is partaker of his evil deeds. In the Apocalypse, the ' DEEDS' and

DOCTRINES' of the Nicolaitanes are awfully condemned.

The above corruptions of the gospel were utterly fatal to Christian unity and love: and so

knowledge of the true God; and to repair the evil which had been caused by the Demiurgus, or creating Æon. Some denied that Jesus had a real existence, and said that he was a mere phantom. Others maintained that he had a body, but asserted that he was born of human parents; that Christ and Jesus were distinct beings; and that Christ was the Spirit which descended on Jesus at his baptism.

The origin of the name Nicolaitanes is obscure; but they are supposed to have been licentious Gnostics.

' E. g. 2 Cor. x. 5. 2 Thess. ii. 3–13. 1 Tim. i. 3. 4 ; vi. 20. Tit. iii. 9. 2 Pet. ii. iii, 16. 17.

2 John i. 1. 1 John iv.3; ii. 22; iv. 15; ii. 22. 2 John 9. 10. 11. Rev. ii. 6.15.

« EelmineJätka »