Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

heavenly Jerusalem, because k is of an heavenly nature: and it is called the Jerusalem which is above, which is free and is the mother of us all*: it is free in its nature, and cannot be brought into bondage by the persecuting powers of this world; and its members are free, because they are spiritual; and spirits cannot be bound. It \s the mother of us alls even of all the families of the earth that are admitted into it; it gives the new birth to people of all countries; it knows no distinction of Jews or Christians, and its citizens may live at Athtns, Rome, or Antioch.

Its spiritual nature is farther declared, in that it is said to comprehend an innumerable company cf angels: the whole family of heaven is included in it. The Apostle calls it the general assembly, because it takes its members from all times and all places; other assemblies are partial, composed of the citizens of one city, or the people of one nation. It is the Church of the first bom written in heaven, because its members, being Untitled to the privilege of inheritance, are therefore called first born, to whom the right of inheritance belongs. This is also spoken with reference to that custom of the law, according to which all the first bom were to be sanctified unto the Lord; and Moses was commanded to register them all, and take the number of their names* ,* with reference to which, the sons of the spiritual society are said to have their names toritten in heaven, where they are registered in the book of life. The word Church explains nothing to us in English, but in the Greek it signifies the company of those who are called out of the world to be the servants and citizens of God. Other societies have their proper judges and rulers; but here, God is the judge of all; his law is the rule of judgment, and he rewards and punishes without fear or favour. In the communion of the Church the spirits of just men made perfect are also included. It i$ a society, which admits only the spirits of the living, and as such cannot exclude the spirits of the dead: and this confirms what we said above, that the Church is a spiritual community, comprehending the dead as well as the living: for -the beBt interpretation supposes these, to be the spirits of the Martyrs, who had finished their earthly course, and were made perfect through sufferings after the example of their Saviour.

the * Gal, jv. ?6.

The Christian Church is here described by the old names, to shew that it was no new thing, but the same holy mount of God, the same heavenly city of God, to which the spiritual part of his people always belonged: and they knew they did so, because the living God. must be the head of a living society. They who were ignorant of its true nature, disputed about the place where the Church ought to be: the Samaritans contended that it was to be on their mountain; the Jews said it was to be only at Jerusalem: but, as a society of spirits, it is no where and every where; the true worshippers of God are they who worship him in spirit and in truth* ,• wherever these are, there is that Jerusalem, which is the mother of us all.

the * Numb. iii. 40.

The Church being a society of a spiritual kind, is therefore called by the same names. in all ages: Christians are said to be come unto Mount Sion, and Moses is said to have been with the Church in the wilderness. The reasonableness of which will be farther evident, if we consider the nature of its vocation: it is separated from the pollutions of the world, and called unto holiness of life. Ye shall be holy unto me, said the Lord ;for I the Lord am Itoly, and have severed you from other people that ye

should * John iv. £3.

should be mine*. For this end the Hebrews were placed in a land by themselves, that they might not be corrupted with the ways of the Gentiles. They had laws and customs of their own, all tending to secure them from the idolatrous worship and wicked manners of the heathens. We Christians, who now belong to the Church, are in like manner called out of the world. Our blessed -Saviour, speaking of the vocation of his disciples, saithf, They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

But it is now to be shewn, secondly, that as the Church of God hath always been the same in its nature, it hath likewise preserved the same form in its external ceconomy; the wisdom of God having so ordained, that the Christian Church under the gospel should not depart from the model of the Church under the law. For as the congregation of Israel was . divided into twelve tribes, under the twelve Patriarchs, so is the Church of Christ founded on the tzvelve Apostles, who raised to themselves a spiritual seed amongst all the nations of the world. They all had an equal right, to use the style of St. Paul; who speaks of his converts, as of his children, begotten by

him * Lev. xx. 26. + John xvii. 16.

him to a new life, through the preaching of the gospel: so that he and all the other Apostles are to be considered as the patriarchal progenitors of the whole Christian people. In the new Church we have twelve Apostles, in the old twelve Patriarchs; but in the heavenly society, where both are united, we find four and twenty Elders, seated about the throne of God, as it was shewn in the spirit to St. John. There the saints of all ages looked to the Lamb that was slain for the salvation of all. By some he was expected; by others he is commemorated : to those he was the end of the law; to these the beginning of the gospel; but to the general assembly of them all, he is the object of their faith and hope, and the principle of all true religion from the beginning of the world to the end of it; the Redeemer of all times, the Saviour of all nations. We have reason to believe, that the Church, even in its glorious and triumphant state, shall still be conformed to its primitive division; for Christ assured his Apostles, that when the Son of man should sit upon the throne of his glory, they also should sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel". Our Saviour, in 'choosing the number of WOL. IV. A A those * Matth. xix. 28.

« AnteriorContinuar »