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considered as constituting one church. Over these churches there was one person who presided in the word and the doctrine, and likewise in the discipline, to whom is given the name Angel; and what was his proper dignity and preferment above the rest of the church, doth best appear from considering the responsible style in wbich he is addressed by the universal Bishop in the epistles themselves. No mention is made in these epistles of the elders of the churches, though we know from the charge given to them, in Acts xx. by St. Paul, that there were several in the church of Ephesus; and we know from the charges given to Timothy and Titus, that there ought to be several in every church, and therefore we are sure there were several in every one of those churches here addressed. Forasmuch, then, as there was one angel or minister of the word in those several churches whom the Lord regards as the responsible person, we conclude that in order to the being of a church in any place, there must of necessity be a minister of the word to constitute it by word and sacrament. And seeing that the offices of elder and deacon are not bere mentioned, we ought to conclude that theirs is a dignity emanating from the former, and seen, as it were, represented therein. As the mayor of a corporation doth represent the whole members and office-bearers thereof in the presence of the king, so the angels of the churches are looked upon as representing the whole established government of that church, and is spoken to by Christ in that capacity. We are not, however, to suppose that he was the only responsible office-bearer in the church, the only delegate of the great Head, because he is the only one mentioned; for this would be to contradict the known fact with respect to the church of Ephesus, and the known ordinance with respect to all the churches, that they were furnished with both elders and deacons. But this much we may distinctly conclude from the fact of the angel being the only person mentioned, that without such an office-bearer no body of Christians can be spoken to as a church, and likewise that from him as the Head the authority of the elders and deacons is derived ; or in other words, that to him it appertains to ordain or set them in their stations. They are not necessary to the existence of a church, but they are good for its right government;


whereas an angel or minister of the word and the sealing ordinances is necessary to the existence of a church in any place.

Moreover, where a church in any place became more numerous than that they could assemble under the preaching of one ministry, or sit down together at one communion table, and it became necessary to divide it into several parts for the ends of worship and communion, then no elder might, as an elder, or presbyter, or priest, take upon himself to minister word or sacraments to such divisions of the flock upon the pain of excommunication to himself and all that should adhere to him : so sacred by the apostolical canons, and indeed all the primitive canons of the church, was the distinction between a minister of the word and sacraments, and an elder, presbyter, or bishop, and overseer of the flock. Nor was it competent to any minister of the word and sacraments to delegate that duty to any one who was not thereto set apart in the same manner as he himself had been. The selection of a person to take upon himself the ministry of the word, rested with those who already possessed that gift and office. He must be examined and tried of his knowledge and soundness in the faith, and his ability to utter by preaching the mind of Christ Jesus. They must seek for a person whom God had thus endowed, whom his Spirit in the diversity of dispensations had furnished with this gift; and such an one being found and proved by the ministers of the word, might with the assent of the people be set over them by the laying on of hands: and this done, a new church is thereby constituted, which may indeed acknowledge a certain obligation, and pay a certain deference to the church from which it came not by schism, but by consent, and for edification ; but it may not on any account give up its own integrity as a church, which now it hath in the dignity of its minister. Then it will become him to ordain elders and deacons from such of the flock as he shall find to possess the gifts appropriate to these offices, and thus from one church in Ephesus many churches will in the progress of the truth naturally arise. . At the time that these epistles were written, this had not come to pass in those seven cities, and therefore one angel is spoken to as presiding over word and doc

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-The Seven Candlesticks. 211 trine in each. But this is only an accidental circumstance, and not a substantial matter; for if, as I have argued, and shall shew more fully when I come to treat of the stars or angels of the churches, the dignity of an angel standeth in the ministry of the word and sacraments, every one who doth administer these hath a dignity, and is spoken to as the head of a church. And let every one assure bimself who reads these words, that if he be ordained to minister the word and sacraments by the church, he is, in the eye of the Head of the church, as much his vicegerent over that church for ecclesiastical affairs, as a king is vicegerent over his kingdom for civil affairs, or as the mayor of a free town is vicegerent for Christ over that community. This is a great point of doctrine, to ascertain wbat constitutes the individuality of a church ; and therefore I have been at the more pains to ascertain it from the context. The conclusion is, that the Church of Scotland, or the Church of England, hath as many integrant churches as she hath ordained ministers over appointed flocks. Not according to the number of the Presbyteries in the former, or Bishoprics in the latter, but according to the number of pulpits for preaching the word, and of communion tables for administering the sacraments. What is the precise place and office of the presbytery or prelate, is another question, which is not before us. But there ariseth the inquiry, And how is the unity of these several individual churches to be maintained ? For, as we have argued, the mystery of the number seven is not manifoldness merely, but manifoldness in unity. To have shewn therefore what constitutes the individuality of a church, is only to have unfolded half the mystery, and we now come to speak of the unity of these several parts.

“I believe in the Holy Catholic Church, and the communion of saints,” is one of the articles of the Apostles' Creed, and occupies the very next place therein to the articles of the faith of the blessed Trinity; and deservedly

It standeth before the forgiveness of sins, which, in these selfish days, hath come to absorb almost the whole creed. The Catholic Church is the universal church ; universal as respecteth time, place, and persons; and to have added locality, as the Romanists do, is to express a contradiction in terms. They say Roman-Catholic


cburch : inasmuch as it is Roman, it is not catholic ; inasmuch as it is catholic, it is not Roman. The catholic church is not the saints on earth only, but likewise the saints in glory; and not these two divisions only, but also the saints that are to be; who are one in the Father's purpose of election, one in the membership of Christ's body, one in the enjoyment of the Holy Ghost, one in the first resurrection, and one in the occupation of the throne of Christ. To this one catholic universal church these epistles are addressed; and instead of being addressed to one as the mother, and the rest as the children, they are addressed to all the seven co-ordinate and co-equal. There is, indeed, a mother in the Apocalypse; but it is the mother of harlots, Babylon the Great, that great city which ruleth over the kings of the earth; and no such city is, or ever hath been, save old Rome, since the days that the Apostle wrote. No; the Christian churches here addressed are co-ordinate, and co-equal; and their unity standeth not in the metropolitan usurpation of one, and the provincial diminution of the rest, but it standeth in the unity of the common Head. These seven candlesticks had no unity in themselves; seen alone, they would have been seven distinct objects; but with Christ in the midst of them, they have a unity as his charge, and his possession. And because his episcopal charge and lordly possession includeth all churches, we know that in these seven all are contained. If, then, there be such a vice-regal dignity in the angel of a church, as we have argued in the above remarks, and such a separate independent standing co-equal and co-ordinate in his parish, diocese, or congregation, how shall the unity be preserved without sacrificing the separate completeness of each church within itself? This is the great question, which we would now endeavour to bring to a conclusion. It cannot, as we have already shewn, be in the way of inclusion; for then the distinctness and co-equality would be swallowed up. If not in the way of inclusion, as the mystery of iniquity falsifieth, then must it be by confederation under the common Head. Two communities acknowledging one head, to whom they are in all things obedient, cannot be separate amongst themselves. In spite of diversity of place, and diversity of tongue, and all other diversities, they will come, under the same formative principle of life, to feel and to maintain a unity with one another; a unity, though not a uniformity. That mother of harlots would have uniformity of language, uniformity of dress, uniformity of rite and ceremony.

And the same craving for nniformity wrought havoc first in the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and next in the Episcopal Church of England, at the hands of one another, and hath left them in an unfriendly and unbrotherly atittude to one another. Uniformity of appearance, or even of gist, is not of the essence of unity. The 'one formative life of the body doth not shew itself in making all the members uniform in shape, or in use, but, contrariwise, all diverse ; and this diversity it is which shews the unity of the life. The life is proved not to be in the hand, by finding that it is also in the foot; not to be in the eye, by finding that it is also in the ear. But if the life exhibited itself always in one form, and in one use, then should I be led to suppose that the life lay in this visible form and particular use. And accordingly where uniformity is absolutely insisted on, the life is lost in the form, the spirit in the letter. Not, therefore, I argue, in uniformity will the unity shew itself, but rather in a diversity, all tending to the observance and obedience of the same head. Therefore bath it been ever held by the soundest and wisest divines, that forms and ceremo. nies may, and ought to change, without changing the substance of obedience, or introducing schism into the church. Any number, therefore, of churches acknowledging the common headship of Christ, will approach more and more near unto a unity of doctrine, government, and discipline, without any outward striving after uniformity of rites and ceremonies. When questions arise, as in the church of Antioch, they will submit them to the ministers and elders of the churches round, who meeting together in their co-ordinate and co-equal capacities, will take measures to remedy the evil. When the churches are deprived of their ministers, they will seek to the ministers around in whom is the gift to find one who may stand in the room of him whom they have lost. And thus by degrees out of the necessary wants of the churches, if they be regarded as co-ordinate and co-equal, must presbyterian confederation arise.

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