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to the interests of pure religion, even than the discord, which it is their object to remove. But the devices, which the good providence of God has formerly brought to nothing, are still again resorted to, and 'in a more insinuating and seductive form. If those therefore, on whom the important charge of defending the vineyard of the Lord is hereafter to devolve, would be prepared to detect, expose, and defeat such attempts, they must learn wisdom from the experience of former times of trouble and conflict; that being fully instructed in the dangers, to which the Church has repeatedly been exposed, by the attacks of open enemies, or the insidious exertions of pretended friends, they may be enabled to e “ mark those “ who cause divisions,” whatever may be their pretext, and to “ avoid them ;” and that knowing what real unity is, they may seek
as the greatest of temporal blessings; as the best preparation for that heavenly state, where charity, the leading grace of Christianity, shall reign triumphant in every heart; when faith is absorbed in vision, and hope is swallowed
e Rom. xvi. 17.
Eph. iv. 11, 12.
And he gave some, apostles; and some prophets ;
and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers ; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of
the body of Christ. IT is impossible to read this plain statement without perceiving, that our Lord Jesus Christ intended his disciples to be formed into a society, under rulers and governors appointed by himself; for they are expressly called “ the body of Christ;" and the several a officers, by whose ministration they were to be os edified” and “.
perfected,” are said to have been “ given by 66 him.”
The Apostle does not indeed here enumerate the different orders of the priest
* See Note XIII. Appendix..
hood, as we find them afterwards established; because it was not his object to' instruct the Ephesians in the particular form of ecclesiastical government ordained by Christ; but to convince them that it was their duty to maintain the b« unity of the *** Spirit in the bond of peace.” And this he does, by shewing them that they were members of a society, expressly instituted for the preservation of unity; and for that reason provided by its divine Founder with ministers of different ranks, and separate duties; each of whom in his station was to
the peace and good order of the Church ; and to lead its members, by de., grees, to that perfection of knowledge and practice, which he afterwards calls c « the
measure of the stature of the fulness of “ .
The text therefore, speaking of the Church as a visible society. framed by Christ; and declaring that they who bear rule in it, officiate by virtue of a commission received from him ; 'naturally di
b Eph. iv. 3.
Eph. iv. 13.