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be, born of God; and who will stand at the last day on the right hand of Christ. Thus it is used in the fifth chapter to the Ephesians;—" As Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it, with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.""
But the word church is more often used, for only a part of these persons; who are at the same time on earth, and so near, as to unite with such as profess to be like them, in supporting the worship, observing the ordinances, and obeying the commands of God. Thus we read of " the church of God, which is at Corinth ;" " the churches of Asia;" " the church of the Thessalonians, in God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."
But what was the character of these persons, such of them as were in reality what they professed to be? They were born of God. They all professed to receive Jesus Christ And " as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God." To be born of God, is a phrase used in the Bible, for that change without which a man cannot see the kingdom of heaven.
That the members of the church, in the days of Paul, if they were what they professed to be, had experienced this change, is evident from the manner in which the Holy Ghost speaks of them. 'The Lord added to the church such as should be saved.' Paul said to members of the church,1 according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.' 'The preaching of the cross is foolishness to them that perish, but unto us that are saved, it is the power of God' 'Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his purpose and grace.' Speaking of openly immoral persons, he says to members of the church, 'Such were some of you; but ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God.' 'You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.' 'God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins,' hath quickened us together with Christ' 'We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.'
Such were members of the church in the days of Paul. They were the ' household of faith.' They were 'built upon the foundation Jesus Christ;' 'in him fitly framed together, and growing up unto an holy temple in the Lord.' 'They were builded together for an habitation of God, through the spirit' 'The Holy Ghost dwelt in them.' 'They were members of Christ's body, of his flesh, and of his bones;' and were so joined to the Lord as to be " one spirit" These persons repenting of their sins, believing with the heart, on the Lord Jesus Christ, and to whom he was "the end of the law for righteousness," united together with such as professed to be like them, to support the worship, observe the ordinances, and obey the commands of God. In this united character they were the M church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." And such has been "the church of the living God," in every generation, down to the present day.
They are persons who, if they are what they profess to be, are born of God, repent of all their sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and have passed from death unto life.
H. What is the truth which the church supports? What truth did it support in the days of Paul?
The truth which Paul preached, when he 'determined to know nothing among them save Jesus Christ, and him crucified;' and' delivered unto them, first of all, that Jesus Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; and rose again for our justification, according to the scriptures ;'—when he said,' God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world; for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.' * And if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.' That the church supported this truth, is evident from the fact, that it is the truth of God, and they were converted by it 'I neither received it of man,' said he,' neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ' And ' I have begotten you through the gospel;'—' which ye have received, wherein ye stand; and by which ye are saved,—unless ye have believed in vain.'
This will not be denied. All will admit, that the church of the living God, when faithful to him, did, in the days of Paul, support the truth, which he preached. But the great question is, What is the truth which Paul preached? About this, there is a great difference of opinion; and there was, even in the days of Paul. Some said that he preached, what he said that he did not preach. Others said that he did not preach, what he said that he did. Yet Paul was one of the plainest preachers, as well as one of the best that ever lived. And had there been but one feeling about his preaching, and that of cordial approbation, there would have been but one opinion as to what it was. And it would have been to all, 'the wisdom and the power of God.'
But as there was a difference offeeling about his preaching, there was a great difference of opinion as to what it was. A similar difference of feeling, has made a similar difference of opinion ever since. After all the light which has been thrown upon it, by the dispensations of Providence, and the manifestations of grace for more than seventeen hundred years, there is now a great difference of opinion about the preaching of Paul. The Holy Ghost, seeing the end from the beginning, knew that this would be the case. He therefore directed Paul, in the next verse to the text, to tell, what the truth is which he did preach; and which the church of the living God does support. This he has done, in words which the Holy Ghost taught him. "God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."
This is the truth which Paul preached, and which the church of the living God supports; "God was manifest in the flesh." 'He who, in the beginning, was with God, and who was God, was made flesh, and d^velt among us.' 'He took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham;' 'of whom, concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever;' 'the Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace ;'—' the Alpha and Omega; the. beginning and ending; which is, and was, and is to come, the Almighty;'—' by whom all things were created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth; visible, and invisible; whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers ;'—' all things were created by him, and for him ;'—' and without him, was not any thing made that was made.' Yet 'though he was so rich, for our sakes he became poor, that we, through his poverty, might be rich.' Though he 'was God, for our sakes, he took upon him the form of a servant;—and was made in the likeness of men.' Let it be told to every being in creation; let it be echoed by every tongue in the universe; and felt by every heart to eternity, " God was manifest in the
This is the truth which the "church of the living God" supports. By this is not meant however merely the single fact, that he became a man; but this fact taken in connexion with other facts as God has revealed them. Hence said Paul not only, "God was manifest in the flesh," but " justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached to the Gentiles,