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on with so much prosperity; or if in adversity, he shall be attended with such patience and self-possession as that his very enemies shall be forced to confess, Truly this is a good man---truly he is beloved of God. The Head of the church takes himself solemnly to pledge that he will not only give him an open door, which all the power of the enemy
shall not be able to shut, but accumulate upon his head such tokens of his loving-kindness, that his very enemies themselves shall become convinced upon seeing the signs of a truly godly man wrought in him; and they who had denied Christ and bowed to Satan will, by his meek and holy and true conversation which they behold, give glory to God, and come and worship the God and Sa. viour whom he serveth in the midst of his flock before his feet. Let this comfort every faithful minister who is declaring the truth in the midst of wickedness and persecution, in the face of power and opposition, let him go on patiently and assure himself of the victory. But besides this, Christ gives him assurance that when the day of trial and temptation comes he shall be preserved from it, as Lot was in the midst of Sodom. “ The troubles that afflict the just are many, but the Lord will deliver him out of them all.” There is in the word of God not only the promise, or I would say the privilege of suffering, but likewise of preservation under it and deliverance out of it, as is declared in the xxxiv th and xcist Psalms. The inheritance of all these promises is freely given to every faithful and bold, humble and meek, minister of the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, who ought to appropriate not only the trials but also the deliverances out of them to himself. And finally, he hath given to him the assurance of a heavenly crown, which, if he abide in the same stedfastness, no one shall be able to take from him.-Such are the excellent promises to the faithful ministers of Jesus Christ, and like. wise to the flocks of all faithful ministers. For be it ever observed and borne in mind, that as the minister is, so is the flock; as the one is entreated, so is the other. Which makes it a matter of very serious concernment to those who have the power of making a choice, what flock of Christ they join themselves to, and under whose banner they fight for the Lord of Hosts.-A great subject of doctrine
opens itself here, which we cannot overtake now, but with which we will introduce the next subject. Meanwhile let every member of the flock of every faithful minister, who, by reverence of his office and obedience of his word, seals to the union established by Christ between them, be assured that the fellowship of all these blessings promised to his minister will come also unto him. This brings us naturally to the third head of our subject, which is
III.-THE SPIRIT'S PROMISE AND EXHORTATION TO THE
PHILADELPHIAN CHURCH, We have already observed, that the good Shepherd, in speaking to the angel, speaketh not to him alone, but to the church standing in him their head, as we all do stand together in Christ our common Head; and we now observe, that when the Spirit takes up the word unto the churches, he speaks to the angels as well as to the rest. For no church ordinance maketh void the personal responsibility, while it preserves the unity of many persons in one substance, which is Christ. The distinction conferred for the time upon the angel, by his having a whole church represented, and approved or censured in himself, is immediately, lest he should conceive himself something, destroyed by his being taken in along with the community of his church in the exhortation of the Holy Ghost. And again, lest any church from the specialty of its charge might presume thereupon, and exalt its head among the rest, or be affected with some other separative mood, behold it is gathered by the Spirit into the same class, and exhorted in the same style, with all the other churches. And finally, lest the one holy catholic church should at any time imagine herself to be something, or think of herself more highly than she ought to think, and take on dissocial humours and uncharitable affections towards the rest of mankind, behold, all the churches are classed and addressed, along with the whole human family as no better and no worthier than every one “who hath an ear to hear." So very careful is the great Parent and Preserver of order to prevent the necessary subordination in his church and in his world from engendering uncharitable dispositions and leading to divisive courses.
Nevertheless, while it is true that all ordinances and arrangements of God's wisdom are so managed as to teach
the co-equality and co-essentiality of every man with every other man, that no man may boast or usurp it over his brother, and that all may know, whatever be their place and office, that they are equally and alike responsible for all their personal actings, we should also be more careful to observe these various ordinances and arrangements of our Head and Lord, and to frame our walk and conversation conformable thereto, in the full assurance that in no way, save by the obedience of Christ's commandment, can we manifest our love or inherit his blessing. Now, because not all Asia Minor, nor yet all the province of Asia in which these towns and cities lay, nor the churches scattered up and down the country, but simply the churches in these seven towns are addressed, and that without one hint of dependence or subordination, the one to the other, each in itself is a complete and entire church, with its angel and its people, the elders and the deacons being included in the angel ; we who claim the office and dignity of the angel,—and I for one do claim it unto myself, and so I think ought every dispenser of word and ordinance, with the people who are gathered by the chief Shepherd into one fock, ought ever to bear in mind that we together do constitute a complete and entire church within ourselves, which doth gain no new prerogative by being connected with another, neither loseth any by being separated from others. The connexion of one such entire church with another is for many reasons desirable; and wherever the spirit of love is, there will be an unquenchable desire for union, first with every church, and then with every creature under heaven; but this confederacy and communion, be it Episcopal or Presbyterial, addeth nothing to, neither detracteth any thing from, the separate integrity of each church within itself. When such communions come to be established, as of the several sees of England, into one church, called the Church of England, or of the eral Culdee Colleges of Presbyters (for we had n bishop's see till the tenth century) into one
d the Church of Scotland, there were certa compacts for the right adminitration o But no one of these rules 'igati integrity of the several an
e defeasible, being by Di
ment for these epistles be a correct one. The confession of faith and canons of discipline, which they may adopt, for putting one common order into their churches, do not affect the constitution of the churches apart, and have nothing to do with it, save to protect it with jealousy; as the constitution of a free state doth protect the personal liberty of all the subjects of the same. And if these bands should come, by the stress of evil or the dissolution of the component parts of the state to be broken up, the integrity of each church standeth just where it did before, for it cannot by any accident be broken up. Also when the churches of Christ in England or in Scotland have received a new band of union from the establishment, by authority of the king to teach all his people the principles of Christian doctrine, and order them according to whole. some discipline; there arise new obligations to the state, new immunities, honours, and preferments. But the original platform of separate churches under their several angels is not thereby altered one îota; and in the event of the powers that be rising up against us, and stripping us of all exterior advantages, we are in no worse case than at the first, when our whole existence stood in groups of men gathered here and there, under their several angels or ministers of the word, with councils of elders and deacons, and other office-bearers, if need should be.
These observation are most important to be borne in mind, for many reasons. First, because at this time I perceive the great and noble confederacies of churches, called by the names the Churches of Scotland and of England, in peril of being broken up, by many causes : such as the disaffection of the people, the weakness of love, the bond of all union, within themselves, the unsoundness of doctrine breaking out into persecution of the truth, and the general stirring every where for the dissolution or renovation of things established. And I perceive, in the trials which are about to ensue, that the church of Christ will be preserved in those little fraternities, in those obscure churches, and unseen recesses, in which it arose at first in the various parts of the Roman empire, and in which it was propagated abroad by the labours of single persecuted converts; who planted down a banner for the truth, around which men gathered, and grew together into a church, by the force of charity and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, appointing each his place in the body. I say and affirm, that this was the way in which the church was planted; and I prophesy, that this is the way in which the church is now to be preserved. Thus also the church extricated itself from the lifeless and corrupt mass of the Papacy in our Scotland, by little knots and bands of believers, arising here and there throughout the land to justify the preaching of the Gospel; and thus I believe the church willagain extricate herself from these masses of dead formality, not to say active infidelity, which the Church of England and the Church of Scotland are hastening to produce. It will come again to be the church in this man and in that man's house, gathered together by that charity which rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth, and driven forth, because of their greater holi from the confederacy of Babylonish wickedness. If such a state of things be near to come, be just arising, it is high time that the faithful should be withdrawing their affections, from the state and pomp of that goodly fabric, which the established churches have come to, and casting their looks upon that humble, hearty, and more goodly state of insignificance and contempt from which these ecclesiastical polities arose. My own study and understanding of the doctrine laid down a year ago, in my fourth Lecture, helped and guided by the singular blessing of God's providence, enabled me and my flock, without loss of any kind, to take our place as a primitive church, when cast out for the truth's sake, from one of those associations of the churches which had been formed in the city of our habitation. And so we stand in our integrity unbroken, not a fractional part of a church, but a church all-competent under our Head, and with His Spirit, for the knowledge of all truth, and the observance of all holiness; at the same time feeling all brotherly love to all saints, and especially to all the sister churches, and desiring by all means to walk in the ordi. pances and commandments of the Lord blameless. Too soon may it be necessary for others to suffer the like deprivation of brotherly communion. Let them be prepared for it; that they may not be confounded when it comes, but may the rather rejoice because they are counted worthy to suffer for Christ's sake.