A Compendium of Christian Theology

By William Burt Pope, D.D.,

Volume Three

Chapter 5

The Christian Church



                 Gospel Preparations;

                    Pentecostal Establishment


               Unity One and Manifold;

                    Holy and Mixed;

                    Visible and Invisible;

                    Catholic and Local;

                    Indefectible and Mutable;

                    Militant and Triumphant;

                    Bearing of the Notes on Ecclesiastical History






                Ecclesiastical Theories as to the Sign and Seal;

                   Multiplication of Sacraments;




                   Historical and Controversial. .



                   Historical and Controversial.









                Theories of the Ministry


                 The witness of truth

               The missionary institute


The Christian Church is the sphere as well as the organ of the Spirit's administration of redemption. As a corporate body it was founded by our Lord Jesus Christ; is invested with certain attributes and notes as the representative of His agency among men; discharges its functions as an institute of worship and depository of the Faith; has definite obligations to the world as an instrument for its conversion; and, lastly, bears special relations in its temporal form to the eternal Kingdom of Christ

These several branches of the one subject must be considered in relation to Biblical, Dogmatic, and Historical Theology: from the Word of God we gather the materials for the true doctrinal statement; and make this the standard by which to test the various ecclesiastical phenomena of the Christian world. That this whole question belongs generally to the Administration of Redemption has been already shown at the outset, where the special relations of the Holy Spirit to the work of the Redeemer was the subject. It may be added that many topics connected with this department of theology must needs be distributed over several sections, especially those of the Three Offices of Christ and the consummation of the Kingdom in Eschatology


A large portion of the New Testament is occupied with the details of the establishment of the Church as Christ's new institution: more particularly, this is a prominent subject down to the beginning of the Acts. We may embrace the whole under two heads: the preparations made by our Lord in the Gospels, and its actual foundation on the Day of Pentecost


1. Our Lord proclaimed the advent in His own person of the kingdom of heaven,1 or the kingdom of God.2 His new revelation to mankind was the Gospel of the Kingdom:3 the Baptist preached its coming, as the forerunner both of Christ and of the Apostles; and the Savior made it the subject of His teaching until the day in which He was taken up.4 By this term He linked His own government with the ancient Theocracy: but not with its earthly form; for His was the kingdom of heaven,5 as such predicted, though not by that name, throughout the prophets. The new kingdom, however, was a mystery revealed: and the main secret of that mystery lay in the fact that, while it was still the kingdom of God, it was also the Messiah's, the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ,6 the kingdom of Jesus the Son Incarnate. The phrase pervades the Lord's teaching; down to the last He was speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.7 It was not however His purpose that it should be retained as the denomination of His new community. The company of His people is the sphere of His reign to the end of time; but the name and character of the dominion is held in abeyance until the consummation of all, until its final manifestation as the one kingdom of heaven and earth, of God and man, of Christ and His saints: it was of that the Incarnate Redeemer spoke, when, at the close of His ministry, throwing off all reserve, He termed it My kingdom.8 As our study here begins with this name, so it will revolve back to it at the close; and meanwhile the first prayer of Christendom is, Thy kingdom come:9 a prayer that will end only when all prayer shall cease

1 Mat. 4:17; 2 Mark 1:15; 3 Mat. 24:14; 4 Acts 1:2,3; 5 Rev. 11:15; 6 Rev. 1:9; 7 Acts 1:3; 8 Luke 22:30; 9 Mat. 6:10

2. At a memorable crisis in His history our Lord gave His institution its new name: MY CHURCH.1 Twice, and twice only, He used it; and on two occasions closely connected: both instances, be it observed, occurring in the very midst of St. Matthew's special collection of parables and discourses concerning the kingdom. In the former, it seems to be the great temple or house of prayer for all nations,2 in all ages, and for the worship of eternity; in the latter, the visible assembly of Christian people, gathered together in one place for the administration of His laws. Putting the two passages together, we have a summary of the Saviour's will concerning His future congregation. He gave it then a name that we need not yet further expound: the word ekkloosia has from that day had the pre-eminence over every other by which the fellowship of Christians may be described

No one who considers this origin of the term will consent to allow it to be displaced by any other. The abuses of it should not bring it into contempt

1 MAT. 16:18; 18:17; 2 MARK 11:17

3. It is observable that our Lord, having given this new name, and thrown a brief but effectual ray of light upon first the invisible and then the visible congregation of the future, did not again mention the word: leaving it for future use. His parables and discourses flowed on in their former channel, keeping the kingdom of God in view. But the last discourses including the last prayer give some elements of teaching concerning the future Church which are of the deepest interest. These will only be alluded to now: the fuller exposition of their meaning must be reserved for the future. Provision was made for the permanent memorial of redemption in the Holy Supper: the sacrament of His people's corporate unity with Himself and with each other as the heirs of a new covenant. Baptism, the sacramental rite of initiation, was also substituted for the ancient rite of circumcision, now virtually abolished. The new congregation or church was, as it were, formally consecrated to God by its Head in what may be called the High-priestly Prayer:1 the first Prayer in His own house.2 In it He refers to the company of believers as given Him of the Father: the suffering obedience which nevertheless purchased the gift is kept back or dimly alluded to; as kept from the would, or, as one afterwards said who heard the words, preserved in Jesus Christ;3 and to be made perfect in one, in that spiritual and eternal unity of perfection of which the highest type is to be sought though it can never be found in the interior relations of the Trinity. But it is observable that the Savior speaks of this new community, describes it, and prays for it, as future. Even after His passion, when the resurrection had put all power in His hands, and He appeared in the midst of His disciples as their glorified Head, the New Fellowship was yet in the future

He spent forty days in speaking about its history or destiny,4 and His Apostles' duty in the coming days; doubtless gave many instructions that have not been recorded; but always His Church was yet to come

1 John 17; 2 Heb. 3:6; 3 Jude 1; 4Acts 3:4

4. While it is true that the Church, in the strict sense of the word, and as a corporate institute, was not founded while the Lord was upon earth, in another sense He was laying its foundation during the whole of His ministry. He left a large body of instruction concerning it which waited only for the Day of Pentecost to disclose its fullness of meaning. The germs and principles of all that is to follow in this branch of theology are to be found in the Gospels: indeed, we may be more bold, and say that nothing on this subject, or any subject, can go beyond the meaning of the Lord's own words. He spoke of the Comforter as the future Divine Presence in the congregation; but His office was only to glorify, expound, and expand the sayings of the Redeemer Himself. We shall find that this holds true in a very remarkable degree concerning the doctrine of the new Church or Kingdom. A large part of the Saviour's teaching in the four Gospels treats of its nature, of the methods of its spread, of the character of its subjects, of its relations to the world, and of the principles of His own government in it. The development of this teaching will appear in all that the subject brings before us


The Day of Pentecost was the epoch of the foundation of the Christian Church. The prepared disciples of Christ were assembled, and upon them the Holy Ghost came down, making them the New Temple of the Triune God. Those were added whose faith received the preaching of the Finished Gospel; and the disciples were constituted into an organized and visible fellowship, to continue for ever during this dispensation under the government of the Spirit as the representative of Jesus its Head

1. The institute of the Feast of Weeks, representing the presentation of the Jewish harvest firstfruits, typified the oblation of the first-fruits of the Christian ingathering. It also, though not by Divine enactment, commemorated the giving of the Law, and had its antitype in the full revelation of the New Law of Faith. The Risen Lord appointed a meeting of His disciples in Galilee for the proclamation of His Kingdom; but bade them wait in Jerusalem for the founding of His Church. There they received, as representatives of the Saviour's old discipleship and the germ of the future body, that baptism of the Spirit which was to them, as their special dignity, instead of the baptism of water. But the Holy Ghost represented the Triune God, now fully revealed, Who took possession of this consecrated body, and made them the new Temple or Church. The Shekinah, which was the symbol of the union of God with man, appeared for the last time, and was resolved into the Personal Spirit, the Presence of God in the midst of His people, and resting upon every person present from the Apostles downward. And it sat upon each of them.1

1 Acts 2:11

2. After the wonderful works of God had been proclaimed by the many new tongues of the worshipping assembly, the one new tongue of the preaching brotherhood began the everlasting Gospel. The new Law was the proclamation of the finished work of Christ

The day of the foundation thus gives the first and perhaps the most complete exhibition of the process by which the Church is to be formed to the end of time. The ekkloosia is the company called out from the mass by the preaching of the completed redemption of the Incarnate Mediator. It is the CHURCH as gathered from the world; it is the CONGREGATION as assembled together; it is the FELLOWSHIP as replenished with common gifts. And these three ought to be one

3. This Day also began the organization of the community: that is, if we include the final words of the chapter as belonging to its history. The elements of order, prepared in the Gospels, now take their instant and permanent form. Pentecost is the typical day of the future of Christendom: in the morning the worshipping assembly, glorifying God for the accomplishment of all His purposes; in its noon the full Evangelical preaching; the rest of it given to organization and fellowship. Amidst such shaking of heaven and earth as was never known before, whilst the Christian company was in its first ecstasy of worship, and the crowd in the strong excitement of conviction, the water of Baptism begins to flow as the symbol of order and of introduction to the new fellowship. And, as the rite of initiation was remembered in honor of the Lord's final command, so the community was immediately organized within. Here first indeed we have the ekkloosia, or church, mentioned as an historical fact: the Lord added to the church daily such as were in course of salvation.1 And what was the course or process of salvation? The Apostles' doctrine:2 that is, the Great Confession of an earlier day expanded by the Apostles; their fellowship, that is, the submission to all the obligations of the society life that day begun, and the enjoyment of the blessings of the Christian covenant under Apostolical sanction; the breaking of bread, the Lord's Supper this, not the Apostles'; and, as embracing, and pervading, and sanctifying all, the prayers ordered by the new Spirit of adoption

1 Acts 2:47; 2 Mat. 16:18

4. The later New Testament—the Acts and the Epistles being interwoven into one history of the beginnings of the perfected fellowship—shows us the gradual consolidation of the economy of the Church, under the guidance of the Apostles, who were for a season all in all as Christ had been. As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.1 We see the formation of a pastoral ministry in its elements afterwards to be developed. We see the growth of the community from without by the preaching of the Word, from within by the incorporation of the children of believers. Meanwhile, orderly arrangement never fails

The new brotherhood was not molded by an esoteric influence, acting like a philosophy: the leaven leavened a lump which the Holy Spirit shaped into a body as fully and exactly organized as any known to men. Simple as are the elements of this primitive ecclesiastical polity, it is very sharply defined. The visible Jesus, surrounded by His disciples, was not more isolated and apart from the mass of the people around, than His Church is, under the influence of His Spirit, marked off and isolated from the world. And that organization, thus perfectly sketched, remains as the standard of order in the congregation for ever

1 John 20:21

5. This Day placed the Christian community under the jurisdiction and government of the Holy Ghost. What the presence of Christ was in the Gospels, the Head without a corporate body, the presence of the Spirit is, representing the Invisible Head of a body now visible. This doctrine is vital in many ways. It overturns the delusion of any earthly vicar of Christ There is one body and one Spirit.1 What the great hierarchical theory gives to the Pontiff is taken only by usurpation. The delegated headship of the Holy Ghost is the security of the infallibility and in-defectibility of the Christian Body in the conservation of the truth. The Spirit of life2 is strong against every enemy of the Church: the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.3 For He is the Giver of life: of all ecclesiastical life, as well organic as individual. He moulds its elements and fashions them as He will: being to kurion to soopoion, as defined in the Nicene Creed. There are crises in the history of Christianity when new forms are given to the outward organization, and He makes those a people who were not a people.4 This truth may be and has been perverted; but the Spirit Himself vindicates it in His own way, and the history of Christendom cannot be understood without it. More generally He is the Source of all energy and strength to the body of Christ upon earth: He is the breath of lives,5 of many lives, inbreathed into it, and Himself the Inbreather. Lastly, the Spirit is the Representative of the Lord, Whose Headship abideth ever. He acts for Christ in His one Person. As the whole Trinity generally is represented by the Spirit, and not the Father alone, so it is the whole Christ and not the Eternal Son alone. But, as the Lord's Vicegerent in His Church, Be does not exclude the Lord Himself. When the Savior declared the necessity of His going in order that the Spirit might come, He so spake as to reserve His own dignity as that of One who would be never absent. I will come to you. He shall take of Mine.6 It is not as in the case of that other Forerunner: He must increase, but I must decrease.7 The Lord Christ Himself, and not the Spirit, is Head over all things to the church.8 We know that the presence of our Intercessor is behind the veil, we know also that in the Holy Ghost He is here also: at hand as well as afar off.9 One name is common to the heavenly and the earthly Head: that of Parakleeton or Advocate. He who pleads FOR the people, our Advocate with the Father10 in words unheard, pleads IN them by the Spirit Who maketh intercession for us with groanings not spoken.11 It is time that the phraseology of the Acts introduces a great change in the Divine personality: the I is that of a Third Voice not heard before. As, passing from the Old Testament into the Gospels, we have a new Divine Speaker, so it is in the Acts. Separate Me!12 is the command of the Holy Ghost. But, as the Father sometimes is heard during the earthly dispensation of the Son, and is never absent, so the Lord Jesus in the Acts is never absent, and sometimes speaks in His own name. He is King in His kingdom: He has that universal kingship which He will surrender at the last day; He has that special kingship over His redeemed which will not really begin or be consummated till the last day. But He is in Apostolical language the Head over His Church, the Head of the Church, rather than its King. This indicates, if possible, a yet nearer and closer relation. The Incarnate Person has a union with. His Body unshared and preeminently His own. It is the Church of God13or the Lord—which He hath purchased with His own blood.14 We return to His own first word: MY CHURCH!

1 Eph. 4:4; 2 Rom. 8:2; 3 Mat. 16:18; 4 1 Pet. 2:10; 5 Gen. 2:7; 6 John 14:18;16:15; 7 John 3:30; 8 Eph. 1:22; 9 Jer. 23:23; 10 1 John 2:1; 11 Rom. 8:26; 12 Acts 13:2; 13 Acts 20:28; 14 Mat. 16:18


The Church in the later New Testament is represented passively as the Temple of God, actively as the Body or organ of Christ's manifestation: the former, as the sphere of Divine worship and holy influence; the latter, as the instrument of Christ's manifold operations on earth. To both, in their unity, there are certain attributes assigned in Scripture, the study of which brings before us the whole subject in the most complete way. These qualities are Unity, Sanctity, Invisibility, Catholicity, Apostolicity, Indefectibility, Glory. But we also find by the side of these, which generally describe the Body in its higher and ideal character, qualities in some measure their counterparts or opposites: such as Diversity, Imperfection, Visibility, Localisation, Confessionalism, Mutability, and Militant Weakness. Hence we gather that the true church of Christ is a body in which these opposite attributes unite

1. These correlative qualities of the one Church of Christ suggest a certain analogy with the Person of its Head in Whom Divine perfections and human attributes meet. It also is one organized body with two natures or modes of presentations. The concept church is not that of a Divine body and a human; but of one reality under two exhibitions, as in the case of our Incarnate Lord. But the analogy must not be pressed too far. Here there is the same reserve and the same protection that was found necessary in the higher doctrine. As the Son of God uses human nature as His body or flesh, He is the same with humanity

As He occupies it as a temple He is distinct from it. The church is the temple of Christ: it is inhabited by Him. It is His body: the complement or fullness of Himself. The higher and Divine church is in the visible and human as a temple: distinct from it. It acts and works in the human as a body: inseparable from it. We have to speak of all its attributes—higher and lower, Divine and human, temporal and eternal—as belonging to the one church. And the habit of doing this saves from much confusion

2. These attributes are in Historical Theology transformed into Notes, by which, as tests, the true Church is supposed to be known. In the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, as united, those are specified as four: One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic. The controversial theology of Borne has multiplied these Notes very abundantly. We shall adopt the method of connecting each attribute with its seeming counterpart as the ideal community is realized in the world. There will, of course, be less to be said on each series of opposites as we proceed, because each more or less anticipates those that follow. Moreover, these Attributes and Notes do not exhaust the subject, being dwelt upon only as introductory to what follows


Unity and Variety are both and alike essential to the idea of the Christian Church; and their sound combination is a test that may be applied to all ecclesiastical systems


The Scriptural doctrine on this subject will be most fully exhibited by considering, first, the universal Body of Christ of which the Christian Church is the last earthly form; secondly, the Christian Fellowship proper as an institution. As to the first, the note of manifoldness is most conspicuous; as to the second, oneness and multiplicity unite

I. Taking the largest view of the Church of Christ as the fellowship of the people of God in every age, we may affirm that unity in manifoldness has been its law of existence and development. Its oneness from the beginning is recognized throughout the Scripture as founded upon the common redemption, whether revealed or unrevealed. The Holy Company of all ages has been one in the unity of many forms and varieties of manifestation. It is the company of the nations of them which are saved;1 the Church of the Redeemed out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation;2 the unseen unity of all those of whom it is said in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him;3 the children of God that are scattered abroad,4 and gathered together in Christ. Hence it binds together the several economies: the Patriarchal Church, the Jewish and the Christian: one as the kingdom of God,5 or the Civitas Dei running its course through all ages. In this large sense it unites all the forms of the Church to which we shall refer: the Church as universal, or as in a province, or as in a city, or as in a building, or as in a house

1 Rev. 21:24; 2 Rev. 5:9; 3 Acts 10:35; 4 John 11:52; 5 Mark 1:15

II. But the Christian Church as an institution founded by Jesus is one and manifold; its unity in the Spirit of its Head being the blending of many believers in one common confession, and their participation in one common grace. The teaching of the New Testament may be viewed, first, as to the essentials of oneness and then as to the breaches of that oneness. From these we may gather the true doctrine of Scripture

1. The unity of the Church has but one ground, that of a common union with Christ; nor is there any positive reference to it which does not make that prominent. The first word on the subject is that of the High Priest, whose Unction is the bond of His people's union with Himself and with each other: that they all may be one: as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.1 The former part refers to a unity never to be seen or understood of men; the latter to such a spiritual manifestation of that holy fellowship as may suggest to all who witness its effects the secret of its bond. It was reserved for St. Paul to expound these words of our Lord, in the Epistle which comes nearest to the idea of a treatise on the Church. He speaks of unity nine times in one paragraph, and in five applications. There is one God and Father of all;2 and there is one Lord, the common Revealer of that Father and Redeemer of men; and in Him there is one faith, one baptism, or confession of doctrine. Again, there is one body and one Spirit: the mystical body visible in the world as the organ of its invisible Head, the oneness of which, let it be observed, is the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace: the oneness of all who receive the reconciliation with the Father through the Son, and its seal in the communication of the Holy Ghost. Lastly, there is one hope of your calling: the unity of that heavenly aspiration which makes the pilgrim companies one in the hope of eternal blessedness. This is the fundamental, and almost the only, text on the subject, and it gives all the elements of the direct and positive Evangelical teaching concerning the unity of the Church

1 John 17:21; 2 Eph. 4:3-6

2. If we turn to the negative or indirect teaching, we find much that is instructive on this subject. First, the omissions are remarkable. There is no prescription of a necessary uniformity according to any supposed theory: external oneness is never directly even alluded to as existing beyond an individual congregation, while, on the other hand, a certain measure of external differences and mutual independence must be assumed in order to give reality to the exhortations to unity. Secondly, the constant tone of Apostolic doctrine points to the maintenance rather of a spiritual than of a visible oneness. This appears in the figurative language used to describe the Christian fellowship, which always shows that the only unity directly aimed at in Scripture is the mystical. It is that of His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all:1 the pleerooma of Christ, whatever the precise meaning of the word may be, must signify one pure and perfect spiritual complement of this Divine-human Person, one in His unity, or in Himself. Now that is said of the Church; and that body is never spoken of as one in any external sense. In our Lord's allegory it is the Vine2 from the unity of which dead branches are cut off: that unity is in Christ Himself and belongs to a tree of life; which strictly speaking has none but living branches. The same remarks hold good of the figure which describes the universal Church as a Temple, or House. In the final sayings of the New Testament, when external organization must have been nearly complete, we read only of spiritual oneness, not of outward uniformity. Christian fellowship is with the Father and with His Son,3 and that through the Spirit, which He hath given us.4 The violations of that fellowship are doctrinal and practical: he that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh,5 and he that committeth sin.6 The former is said to have gone out from us.7 There is not a word in this final document of the unity of the outward body. In the Apocalypse the seven churches are one in the central Lord who holds them in His right hand;8 nor among their offences is their violation of external unity mentioned. The divisions condemned in the New Testament as schisms are always factious or doctrinal divisions within particular churches. The overt acts of separation, according to the modern notion of heresy and schism, are not contemplated in the New Testament. The breaches of unity are breaches rather of the spirit than of the form: of the latter there are but few traces

1 Eph. 1:23; 2 John 15:1; 3 1 John 1:3; 4 1 John 3:24; 5 1 John 4:3; 6 1 John 3:8; 7 1 John 2:19; 8 Rev. 1:20

3. Hence we may gather up these Scriptural elements into the statement that the One Church is the unity of all the congregations of believers in Christ in which the pure Gospel is preached, the sacraments duly administered, and the discipline of the Christian fellowship maintained in its purity

(1.) The basis of this unity is the common property of a sound confession of faith in Jesus. This is called holding the Head,1 or building on the one foundation.2 With this must be conjoined the unity of worship offered to the Holy Trinity through the Mediator, the Christian sacraments as the seals of admission and continuance in the Church, and the maintenance of sacred discipline

1 Col. 2:19; 2 1 Cor. 3:12

(2.) As to the expression of this oneness it is regarded in the New Testament as seen of God, and of Him only. He beholds the one great assembly and hears the secret harmony of what may seem to result from many discordant voices. As to man it is the object not of sight but of faith: " I believe in one holy, catholic church,"—not faith IN it, but faith that it exists—is the later expression of the Scriptural principle, This admits of its exhibiting the reality of oneness by manifestation in many ways: by an essential agreement in faith, worship, and discipline, witnessed of all men; by methods of combination for the express purpose of declaring union, and that not only by admissions of individual brotherhood, but also by acknowledgment of ecclesiastical relations; and by intercommunion and fellowship in all holy enterprises of Catholic Christian charity

(3.) The Scriptural ground of this unity is the general supervision of the Holy Spirit: The Lord knoweth them that are His in the great house; and this is the inscription on the seal of its security, the obverse being only this, Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness.1 In Apostolic days the presence of the Lord's inspired representatives was the bond of union among the churches; but we find no express provision for that bond after their departure. In every individual church unity is maintained by discipline, committed to the hands of responsible pastors

1 2 Tim. 2:19,20


Differences as to this attribute or note of the Church are bound up with its best and worst developments. The subject belongs strictly to ecclesiastical history; but a few hints may be noted here, having relation both to doctrine and ethics

1. It has been seen that within the Scripture there is a unity observable which is quite different from uniformity. In Israel there was indeed only one temple: no breach of unity was permitted, and the separation of the kingdoms was not sanctioned by God. The Romanist theory, fake now, was true then: the High Priest was the bond of absolute unity to the covenant people. But after the Captivity, another temple was built in Egypt; synagogues organised local centers of worship; and sects arose. Our Lord sanctioned none of the sects as such, neither did He condemn them as such: the Monachism of the Jews and the ascetic isolation of the Essenes He did not once refer to. He certainly condemned by implication the worship of Samaria, not as a violation of unity, however, but as false: ye worship ye know not what. For salvation is of the Jews.1 We naturally study with great interest all the hints of the Master's will on this most important subject; and certainly gather from some indications that it was not His purpose to bind His people in the bonds of a very rigorous uniformity. The disciples rebuked on one occasion those who followed not them; but they in turn were rebuked by their Lord. The Apostles were a bond of unity after their Master's departure. But there is no hint of a continuance of their authority as uniting the whole Church; and the council of Jerusalem was not repeated

1 John 4:22

2. Leaving the Scriptures, we find at once the tendency that has made the unity of the Church a prominent question. During the ante-Nicene and Patristic ages generally the foundations were laid of a doctrine of absolute uniformity. The growth of heresies and schisms was the first occasion of this very early idea of a mechanical unity: these two words becoming very soon fixed in their meaning as follows. HERESY is the self-willed choice of some particular error and consequent departure from the Christian Confession

Every church which renounces the fundamental doctrines of Christianity is out of the unity of Christendom: not that it must necessarily be at once cut off; the tribunal is an invisible one; and the excision is from on high. As to the outward expression of unity the violation is SCHISM: strife within the community itself, separation from it, whether by voluntary act or as cast out. In the latter case there may be a justification which shall clear the apparent breach from sinfulness. But in the Patristic age there was no thought of a justifiable schism. Three representative men may be cited as the leading exponents of these views, and of the different ways in which they were maintained. Ignatius, an Apostolical Father of the first century, laid down the principle that the one episcopate was the only bond of union: meaning, however, only that in every church the chief minister was the guarantee of order as against schism and of sound doctrine as against heresy. Irenaeus in the second century made the One Church, as the congregation of all churches under this episcopal government, the only organ of the Holy Ghost: where we have a singular combination of visible and invisible unity. Cyprian of the third century (250), in his work De Unitate, pointed to Rome as the centre of unity, though rejecting Roman jurisdiction: a position which was very generally assumed

3. The further development of the principle that internal unity must be expressed by external uniformity belongs to Ecclesiastical History. By degrees the Roman bishop of bishops assumed to be to the whole church what each bishop was to the individual church. The ecclesiastical was conformed to the civil order, the Caesar of a temporal universal empire must have for his counterpart the spiritual Caesar, or the Vicar of Christ as the centre of unity and final appeal. The spirit of protest against this began in the East, which resented both the FILIOQUE added to the Nicene Creed and the authority by which it was added. The breach between Eastern and Western Christendom has never been healed: it remains as a standing protest against the erroneous doctrine of unity. While Rome denounces the Protestant communities as out of the pale of the one body of Christ, the Orthodox Greek Church denounces Rome as the first of all Protestant dissenters, heretics, and schismatics. In the West the Protestant Reformation utterly rejected the theory of an external unity as held by both communities, whether Catholic or Orthodox

4. A few remarks may be made upon modern tendencies in the interpretation of the note of unity since the Reformation

(1.) It is generally conceded to be impracticable to aim at oneness in the visible church save in the fundamentals of faith, worship, and discipline. It must be obvious to every dispassionate mind that there has never been since the times of the Apostles any other unity than that which God alone can discern. Eastern and Western Christendom would agree that there has been none such since the seventh century: and each despairs of the restoration of union save on terms which the other cannot accept. Among Protestant communities only one judgment ought to prevail here. There are found, however, certain Hierarchical or High-Church enthusiasts who dream of a unity which a lineal Apostolical succession of orders gives to Eastern and Western Episcopal communions. But this is the most unreal of unrealities. A compromise is attempted by those who, whether Anglican with episcopacy, or Lutheran without it, give up the hope of a universal unity, but cling to that expressed by national churches in every land. This is the religious unity of race or nation or territory. But ft can never be proved that the Head of the Church divided His kingdom, or Intended that it should be divided, territorially. The Congregational theory which admits only of voluntary aggregation of churches, and neither has nor desires any guarantee for more than that, goes to an extreme but in the right direction

(2.) But this tends to the modern correction of the notions of Heresy and Schism. There are some important principles which are now generally accepted. These two violations of unity generally go together: the airesis or heresy being self-willed choice of private interpretation in opposition to Scripture, and the schisma the following of a party. Few schisms can be named which have not been the result of doctrinal error: few leading heresies which have not issued in schisms. Here, however, there is a distinction. Heresy can never be perpetuated; but the result of schisms may. Ecclesiastical schism may be taken up by Divine wisdom into the development of the kingdom of Christ: having been in fact not schism in the sight of God, or soon losing the taint. Apparent schism may be the only cure of heresy. Many minor heresies may co-exist with holding the Head. But where, on the one hand, there is such infidel subtraction from the faith, or, on the other, such superstitious addition to it, as neutralize the fundamentals, separation may be inevitable and lawful. Discipline may be so relaxed or perverted as to necessitate separations which are not schismatical: Dissent and Nonconformity are not necessarily and as such sinful. Schism may be the sin of the community left as well as of the community leaving. But all this rises to the higher principle that the Holy Spirit is the Giver of life corporate as well as individual. He quickeneth whom He will. The body is more than its raiment: any such act of the sovereign Spirit must aim at the more effectual growth of the Church. He thus prevents unity from degenerating into stagnant uniformity

He calls them His people that were not a people, in order to provoke others to jealousy

Lastly, whenever the Spirit thus goes out of His way to divide existing churches, He never fails to authenticate His own act: as Paul among the Apostles was able to authenticate his vocation and work As to heresy or self-willed and needless schism it is still one of the works of the flesh:1 condemned of itself

1 Gal. 5:19

(3.) There are two opposite errors on the whole subject which, always observable, are very prominent in modern times. One is the overvaluation of the importance of unity, as uniformity. This is rebuked by reason, Scripture, and the evidence of the fact that the Holy Ghost does administer the work of Christ by sects and divisions. Much of the progress of the Gospel, and many of its most glorious achievements, at home and abroad, may be traced to the labors of Christian Societies to a great extent independent of each other. But undervaluation of it is equally wrong. Though variety is ordained of God, the nearer to uniformity, or at least to thorough mutual recognition, the estate of Christendom can be made the better will it be for its peace and dignity and prosperity. In due time Christ Who at His first coming made both one,1 uniting Jews and Gentiles, will blend all communions into unity, and His Church shall by His presence be in all its multitude of branches made perfect in one.2

1 Eph. 2:14; 2 John 17:23


The Church, as the organ of the Holy Ghost, is necessarily holy. But its holiness as imputed is consistent with much imperfection; and as real and internal is only by degrees carried onwards to a perfection which will not be reached in this world

I. The meaning of agia, sancta, as applied to the Body of Christ, is the same which the term has been seen to bear as applied to individuals: with regard to both it signifies simply that which is set apart from the world and consecrated to God

1. The Church is spoken of as holy in the Divine purpose: the end proposed by the Creator. Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness,1 must be referred to redeemed mankind also. In this the Three Persons concur. He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.2 Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a people for His own.3 This final aim—to gather out of the world a people for His name—is ever kept in view by the Holy Spirit of God, in Whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption.4 The common design of the Holy Trinity was the new creation of a perfect humanity or body of mankind: as THE CALLED, kleetoi, from the world or mass of the unregenerate into THE CHURCH, ekkleesia

1 Gen. 1:26; 2 Eph. 1:4; 3 Tit. 2:14; 4 Eph. 4:30

2. This design is accomplished through all the means of grace. The process is spiritual and in union with Christ, Who as the Head can have only members like Himself. Hence their vocation is an holy calling.1 Of them the Lord says, I have chosen you out of the world,2 and of the Father they are accepted in the Beloved.3 The temple of the living God,4 and the temple of the Holy Ghost5 dwelling in it, the Church is sacred: its holiness is real, though its sanctification is a process at best: that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.6 The building, fitly framed together, formed by holy members and at the same time forming them, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.7

1 2 Tim. 1:9; 2 John 15:19; 3 Eph. 1:6; 42 Cor. 6:16; 51 Cor. 6:19; 6Eph. 5:26; 7Eph. 2:21

3. This design is supposed by anticipation and in prophecy to be accomplished. Always over the visible and imperfect church hovers the image of a sanctified Ideal already in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.1 Thus in the design of redemption, in the process on earth, and in the glorious result, already the congregation of Christ is before the mind and in the purpose of God holy

1 Eph. 2:6 II. More particularly, the holiness of the one church is that of an external imputation; of an internal process; and of the gradual approach of these to coincidence, never perfect in this world, but to be perfected at the coming of Christ

1. There is a relative and imputed sanctity. As holiness unto the Lord was stamped on the bells of the horses,1 so all in what our Lord called My house2 is impressed with a certain character of holiness down to its very dust. Hence all that pertains to the outward and visible community—the assembly and the building itself in which they gather, the Divine service, the table, the sacraments—are all among ta osia, the holy things.3 This is not affected by the unholiness that lingers still in the external fellowship. The Epistles are written to the companies of saints,4 among whom, however, are many whose unholiness is rebuked. Our Lord's own Catholic Epistles are written to the churches which are His and yet needed much amendment: until He removes the candlestick out of his place,5 it shines upon a holy company. Jerusalem at the worst was still the holy city.6 But this is only a relative sanctity, and avails not of itself, being alone

1 Zech. 14:20; 2 Mat. 21:13; 3 Acts 13:34; 4 1 Cor. 1:2; 5 Rev. 2:5,7; 6 Mat. 27:53

2. There is an internal and real sanctity, which inheres in the body, being derived from the sanctity of the individual members of the mystical fellowship, never wanting in any community that holds the Head. Their life, aim, and communion are holy; the sanctity of the Church is really their sanctity; and of them the Creed says: I believe in the communion of saints. This holiness is matter of faith; it is also imperfect necessarily: for whatever perfection of sanctity individual members may reach cannot be imputed to the whole body unless all share it alike

3. The internal and external are gradually becoming one, in the whole Church as in the individual Christian. Within the universal community, reckoned holy, there is going on the silent, ceaseless operation of a sanctifying grace: by love, by discipline, by melting, and by burning, the Church as a whole, and every branch and congregation, is brought gradually towards perfect purity. Hence the importance during the interval of process that we should remember St. Paul's twofold seal. The Lord knoweth them that are His:1 whatever the anomalies, while the candlestick remains we may have perfect confidence in the Divine discrimination of His own. Let everyone that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity: he that in the visible fellowship puts away sin, and lives in holiness, may also have rejoicing in himself when oppressed by the errors in doctrine and variations in practice observable in the GREAT HOUSE. We have this double watchword to fall back on. One inscription on the seal bids us remember that God discerns His own from all others. The obverse inscription tells us that we must insure our own salvation: according to our Lord's principle, What is that to thee? Follow thou Me!2 But St. Paul's large and tolerant watchword must be somewhat limited in the case of any one community. In the individual church the case is different It is not said of this, let both grow together until the harvest.3 On the contrary, an effectual discipline is appointed: pastoral oversight must see to it that disorderly members be reproved, and, if persisting in evil, put away; while the injunction is laid upon Christians, Withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly.4

1 2 Tim. 2:19; 2 John 21:22; 3 Mat. 13:30; 4 2 Thes. 3:6

III. This leads to the consideration of two currents of error which this Note of the Church detects: the exaggeration of the relative and of the absolute sanctity respectively

1. As to the former, many circumstances have had the effect of limiting the sanctity of the body to its outward fellowship. The notion of an inherent virtue in the sacraments, especially when these sacraments were multiplied so as to hedge in all life, tended to externalize the idea of religion generally, and of the ordinances of Christian fellowship in particular. So also the early and unregulated alliance of Christianity with the State had the same effect, as the perversion of what was in itself not necessarily evil. Whether the developed Roman theory, that the Church is invested with the supreme authority over the world, or the Erastian, that it is only an organ of the State, or the Latitudinarian, that the Church and State are several aspects of the same thing, the evidence of fact, multiplied into endless instances, goes to prove that the union, as it has been generally seen in Christendom, has always had this evil issue. Neglect of discipline, one of the worst results of bringing into too close relations the world and the Church, has tended the same way. The Lord's Take these things hence!1 gave a law and established a precedent too soon forgotten. The illustrations of this are endless, but they carry us too deeply for our present purpose into ecclesiastical history

1 John 2:16

2. The external sanctity has sometimes been undervalued. Some schisms in the early Church—Montanism in Phrygia, Novatianism in Rome, Donatism in Africa—were the result of undue rigor in rooting out the tares: the extremest fanaticism was the consequence

In more recent times Puritanism, whether on the Continent or in England, has pushed its high principle too far. Hence Modern Congregationalism, its lineal descendant and representative in this country, counts no sanctity of the external Church as valid to establish a Christian character or availing for membership without the profession of conscious faith. The Baptists go further, and refuse to admit that the dedication of children to God in baptism confers on them any even external relation to the Church as holy. This at least, is their principle when carried to its issues

3. The true theory seems to be that which aims at the medium

(1.) All who approve themselves believers in Christ, and who, whether as adults or as children, are baptized, belong to the external body, and are entitled to all its privileges

Due respect to the outward and visible church requires the recognition of all baptized and consistent members of it, without demanding personal testimony of conscious experience

Bat the internal sanctity of the fellowship has its rights. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the seal of the communion of saints, and their note of profession among men, must be guarded with care, its approaches being fenced in every possible way suggested by pastoral vigilance and mutual watchfulness. In some manner communicants ought to be examined and approved one by one

(2.) The method of accomplishing this has varied with every age and almost with every community. By many of the later national churches it has been too often entirely neglected: public warnings and confessions being only to a slight degree reinforced by private investigation. The CLASS-MEETING among the Methodists is their method of meeting one of the greatest difficulties of the times. It does not profess to impose a new condition of membership in the Christian Church. It is only one out of many forms— certainly the most widespread and permanent—which the Ecclesiola in Ecclesia, or the society within the Church, has assumed. No religious community has long maintained its vigor and purity without some such expedient. This one in particular honors the Church's note of external sanctity by admitting freely every anxious applicant on the sole condition that he as a baptized member of the Church of Christ is desirous to flee from the wrath to come and to find salvation in the name of Jesus. It brings everyone under pastoral supervision, direct or indirect: indirect, as the leaders of these classes are themselves part of the minister's flock, and direct, inasmuch as these little companies are under the discipline of a quarterly visitation. This institution provides the means of mutual social edification, in addition to the general means of grace, and thus does much to promote both the external and the internal sanctity of the community: the external, because it tends to give more reality and dignity to the outward fellowship of the Christian Church; the internal, because it brings all the members under the influence of an edifying mutual exhortation and prayer. Apart from its modern name, this form of fellowship may be traced almost up to the times of the Apostles


These attributes of the organic fellowship of Christ have played a prominent part in ecclesiastical controversy. But there are none which are clearer in their elementary principles

I. The Church is, as the Redeemer's mystical body, animated by His Spirit, essentially invisible. In its deepest and most comprehensive sense it is a spiritual and unseen reality; and therefore an ideal or the mystical fellowship. But, in its manifestation as the kingdom upon earth it is no other than the invisible Church taking visible form. Lastly, in its eternal consummation the invisible and the visible will be one

1. My kingdom is not of this world:1 this declared to Pilate as the representative of those outside the spiritual and super-terrestrial character of the community; afterwards, within the circle of His disciples, the Lord dwelt upon the same aspect of His fellowship. The entire strain of the Final Prayer presents before God a mystical and invisible body, with hardly an allusion to any other than that. This, in the language of St. Paul to the Ephesians, is the body of Christ, and the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.2 It is as an organic body spiritually organized and is invisible as its Head Himself is, like every faithful member, hid with Christ in God.3 1 John 18:36; 2 Eph. 4:1,23; 3 Col. 3:3

2. But this language concerning the mystical fellowship is addressed to a visible community as concerning itself. St. Paul does not speak of the Saints which are at Ephesus as distinct from the Faithful in Christ Jesus, though the whole question of visible and invisible lies in that distinction. The entire New Testament goes upon the assumption that every extant community is the earthly embodiment of the kingdom of heaven. In this the servants are faithful to the teaching of their Master, "Who taught the unity, though not identity, of the visible and the invisible communions. The only two recorded instances of our Lord's use of the word illustrate the unity and the difference of the two. Upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it:1 here is the foundation of the invisible Church which is the temple built by Christ spiritual and eternal, yet built up by human fellow-laborers with Himself: here the mystical idea is prominent though not exclusive of the other. That same Church is also shut in and the offender is in the midst, and discipline enforced, before the spiritual presence of Jesus who says: Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst:2 here the visible and concrete reality is prominent. But the two churches are one. So also the High-priestly prayer, which consecrates the spiritual temple, is uttered over a body that had just been bound together in visible sacramental unity. To return, however, from our Lord to His Apostles, St. Paul dilates upon the administration of gifts in a visible ministry, and then glides into the increase of the invisible body. So the great house is a visible one, but it has an eternal, invisible foundation; as its seal testifies, the Lord knoweth them that are His:3 and the Lord alone

1 Mat. 16:18; 2 Mat. 18:20; 3 2 Tim. 2:19,20

3. The Apocalypse gives us a clear vision of the visible and invisible reduced to final and eternal unity: mystical still, but eternally visible as one glorified organic whole, the Church is a distinct spiritual counterpart of the Lord Himself. Moreover He is the Bridegroom, and His Church the Bride adorned for her husband,1 in the last exhibition of both which the Scriptures contain

1 Rev. 21:2

II. The application of this double Note in historical theology concerns only the relative importance of the two ideas of visible and invisible. No confession has ever denied the reality of either. The differences between them have concerned only the results flowing from the undue preponderance of one or the other

1. Romanism exalts the visibility almost to the suppression of the invisibility: not, however, denying the latter. It teaches that there is " one Ruler of the church invisible, Christ; and one Ruler of the visible, the successor of St. Peter." The spiritual body has a place in its interior theology, but is not, by any means, a governing idea: its theory is constructed in entire independence of the mystical reality, which is acknowledged indeed to be its crown and glory, but only in another state and to the eye of faith. Hence, it makes one of the many notes of the true church —of which a large number is sometimes reckoned—Exclusiveness: there is no salvation beyond the pale of the one visible institution

2. The Protestant idea strives to unite the two attributes: but giving always the priority and pre-eminence to the invisibility. The Roman Dogma will have nothing to do with an invisible church apart from the visible: the Protestant rejects the thought of a visible which is not created by the invisible to be its organ. The Reformed Confessions differed from the Lutheran only so far as their doctrine of election obliged them to differ. In the former the elect are the true fellowship; but the visible church is a holy institution "to depart from which," in Calvin's words, "is to deny Christ." Calvin says, further: " God substitutes the judgment of charity, in which we acknowledge those to be true members of the Church who confess the same God with us in profession of faith, in goodness of life, and in participation of sacraments." The Lutheran and the Reformed were agreed at the outset as to the close connection between the congregation visible and the body politic; but the close alliance of Church and State is not so generally accepted by their modern representatives

3. Much of the differences between the modern communions results from variations in theory as to the possibility of bringing the visible and the invisible into coincidence or unity. Here are two opposite extremes, and a middle way between them. The Broad- Church theory holds that the distinction should never be made, except in extreme cases of apostasy and excommunication: the whole world, waiting for baptism, is as it were the visible church, and the invisible must be left with God. The stricter Congregationalist theories strive to limit it as much as possible to authenticated professors, and aim very closely at making the visible the measure of the invisible in every society. This has introduced the modern distinction between the church and the congregation. Lastly, there has been a compromise, adopted under various forms among various communities: that of the Society within the church, which is not a theory of the mystical within the visible body, but the attempt to save the general fellowship from some of the evils which are inseparable from the constitution and working of the visible fellowship as the Apostles left it: an attempt that in some form or other has been made in almost every earnest and faithful communion


The ascription of catholicity to the Christian body dates from a very early time. The term catholic means universal; and when local is added, as its counterpart, the two expressions signify that the one church of the Redeemer, His body on earth, has such a universality in its design and destiny as is consistent with the local independence of individual churches

Nothing more is meant than this; but we shall find that the word catholic has a very different application in ecclesiastical history

1. The testimony of Scripture on this subject is very simple. The ancient church, Hebrew and Jewish, was strictly local and national. All who might enter it from other lands must submit to what was a Jewish rite: retaining their own nationality as men, they must as worshippers become Jews. But the ancient Scriptures predicted a future religious fellowship which should embrace all nations, and be independent of everything national The New Testament explains what in this matter the old predictions left indistinct. In the Gospels almost all the discourses and parables bearing on this subject dwell much on this enlargement of the kingdom: it is in fact hardly ever left out down to the last commission

In the later New Testament the theory is that of a church which is to be diffused through all nations; and the labors of the Apostles are directed accordingly. But, while thus catholic, the local community meets us everywhere. We read of the church,1 that is, of Jerusalem, and the churches of Galatia. The last time the word is mentioned, it is in connection with distinct and independent branches of the one universal Fellowship: the seven churches which are in Asia2 being a sevenfold unity

1 Acts 2:47; 2 Gal. 1:2

2. The earliest use of the term Catholic, in the middle of the second century, probably introduced into it a meaning that the Scriptures do not refer to. The word was used to distinguish the one universal and faithful body from the fragmentary companies of heretics and schismatics which were therefore not parts of the catholic body. That meaning the word has never lost: the Great Majority. But, since the division between East and West, and the plain fact that the majority of professing Christians is on the side of the dissentients from the see of St. Peter, the term has been conventionally used by Rome to signify simply the one and only church, outside of which there is no salvation. The Eastern communities do not so much affect the term, preferring that of Orthodox and Apostolic

3. The Christian Church may be regarded as CATHOLIC: designed and adapted for universal diffusion; and embracing the totality of those communions which maintain the great truths in which the essence of Christianity lies. The term, therefore, ought never to be used of any particular community. The Church is also LOCAL or Particular: it exists in independent and even isolated forms, whether as it respects individual, or connexional, or national bodies; and it may, holding the catholic verities, maintain in its Confession truths that are not catholic, and adopt un-catholic usages, without impairing its catholicity. For the one church of Christ is at once adapted for every variety of mankind, and influenced in its turn by every variety of human life. It is not more certainly Universal than it is Particular


The New Testament to some extent sanctions the attribute of Apostolicity. After our Lord had chosen the Twelve—distinguished by this number whether as disciples or as Apostles,1 He declared that upon them, represented by St. Peter, and proclaiming a sound confession, He would build His church. To these He entrusted the keys, gave His commission, and promised the special effusion of His Spirit. St. Peter, the representative Apostle, was the instrument of laying the foundation of the new community both among the Jews and among the Gentiles. From the Day of Pentecost the disciples continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship.2 When St. Paul wag added to the company, he became, as they were, an absolute authority under the Lord; and it is he who says that the members of Christ's body are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets.3The same pre-eminence is given to them in the Apocalypse. Leaving the New Testament, we soon find the term Apostolic used as a note of the visible Christian body

1 Mat. 10:1,2; 2 Acts 2:42; 3 Eph. 2:20

1. At first the application of it was sound: the true church traced its institution, under God, to the Apostolical foundation, and maintained the Apostolical faith and traditions as yet un-corrupted. But gradually the theory arose which merged the authority of the Twelve in that of Peter, and the Church was regarded as Apostolic so far as it was one with the see of Rome. But the primacy of Peter, only representative in the New Testament, ceased altogether when he departed; and thus this application of the note is convicted of being unscriptural 2. The Apostolic note is applied, altogether independently of Rome, by many churches in the form, of Apostolical succession. That there is an uninterrupted succession of ministers which the Divine eye can trace up to the Apostles' times, there can be no doubt. But it is utterly impossible to prove that in any part of the world there is a ministry that can trace its orders up through episcopal hands to the Apostles. This theory of the transmission of the Apostolic authority is closely connected with a wider theory of sacramental grace, which is elsewhere examined. As belonging to the Apostolic note, the doctrine of succession has no place in sound theology: at least in its modern conventional sense

3. Another error—based on a theory curiously opposite to the last—interprets the Note thus: that the true church is one in which the Spirit, after the long pretermission of ages, has restored the Apostolate, with the original gifts and prerogatives of speaking new tongues and other miraculous endowments. But the Scripture does not make the existence of the Christian fellowship dependent on the permanence of the Apostolic office: on the contrary, St. Paul and St. John write as contemplating a state of things in which they and their prerogative would be absent

4. During the last few centuries all Evangelical communions, not in bondage to this idea of succession, have held that the Apostolical doctrine and discipline may be maintained in common by communities which on minor points, not absolutely determined by the Apostles, differ according to their various standards of confession. Hence we may lay down our dogma: the Church is Apostolic, as being still ruled by the Apostolical authority living in the writings of the Apostles, that authority being the standard of appeal in all the Confessions that HOLD THE HEAD


Both these attributes are clearly given to the one church in Holy Scripture. They refer to the perpetuity of the Christian community and of the Christian faith delivered to it

1. As to the former, it is enough to quote our Lord's words on two occasions: when He first spoke of His church, and when He last spoke of it. The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.1 He saw in the great futurity the anti-church—the kingdom of falsehood, vanity, and death, the power of Hades—striving from age to age to dissolve His kingdom, but in vain. It cannot fall; for, like the faith of every true member of it, it is founded upon a Rock.2 In His own Epistles in the Apocalypse, however, He expressly threatens Ephesus to remove thy candlestick out of its place:3 that is, to extinguish the light, and quench the existence, of an individual church. His prophecy was fulfilled. Thus we have His authority for believing that the Christian Church shall never fail, but that Christian churches may pass away

1 Mat. 16:18; 2 Mat. 7:23: 3 Rev. 2:3

2. As to the latter, the perpetuity of the Faith, it needs no special evidence beyond the assurance I am with you alway.1 Our Lord is the Truth;2 the Faith is one with Him; and He is to be glorified by the Spirit in the Church showing the things of Christ and guiding the Apostles into all the truth.3 We need no further witnesses. On the other hand, that churches may corrupt the faith, in part and in whole, and become apostate, is proved by a catena of evidence going up to the Apostolical foundations which did so corrupt it These testimonies of Scripture establish our dogma: that the Christian Church, in its unity, is at once and while it is extant below both indefectible and mutable

1 Mat. 28:20; 2 John 14:6; 3 John 16:13


1. There is no necessity for any illustration, either from history or Scripture, of these last correlative attributes. Here at length all exposition, all confessions, all communions agree. The same one body which is waging war with principalities and powers, slowly winning and hardly maintaining its conquests, is at the same time triumphant, rejoicing in Paradise with its Head in anticipation of that deeper joy, that joy of their Lord, into which all shall at once enter in the end of the days. The Church militant expects its most severe conflicts yet in the future; but the apocalyptic agonies shall at the set time be swallowed up in the song of eternal triumph. These two attributes are the most comprehensive as they are the last. And, as they belong to the one church, so in a certain sense they are themselves one. We hear the Apostles say: Now thanks be unto God, which always leadeth us in triumph in Christ!1 The warfare and the victory go on together, as we hear in the Apocalypse, where the toiling assembly below hears the doxology of the general assembly above, and all but joins in it: like the prophet Isaiah in the typical vision of the mystical temple.2 1 2 Cor. 2:14; 2 Isa. 6

2. The measure of the sympathy between the militant and the triumphant fellowship is clearly defined in Scripture; but the early Church soon began to chafe at its restrictions

From Origen onward may be traced an ever-widening current of doctrine, the issue of which was the creation of a new intermediate estate of the Christian company, not precisely militant and not yet triumphant, that of Purgatory. Connected with this was the enlargement of the article on the Communion of Saints, so as to include the good offices of prayer between the living and the departed: intercession for the dead in Purgatory on the part of saints on earth; on the part of saints in heaven, intercession both for the dead in Purgatory and the militant living. This department of theology is simply an addition to Scripture, the teaching of which, as we have seen, and shall see again, altogether repudiates it


The Church of Christ is not only His representative Body on earth, it is also the Temple of Divine service, continuing and perfecting the worship of the past. This service may be studied under two aspects, as it includes offering presented to God, and blessing received from Him. The former embraces the entire ordinance of worship, with its nature, reasons, and observances; the latter embraces the means of grace, Common Prayer, the Word, and Sacraments. These, however, are really one, and their relations to each other as one are of great importance. Both require for their realization the institution of the Evangelical ministry. We have then now before us the Divine worship, the Means of Grace, and the Christian Ministry

As to the unity of worship and the means of grace, it must be remembered that both are taken in their widest meaning. Worship includes all that belongs to the service offered by men to God, as He is the Object of adoration and the Source of blessing: including praise and prayer in all their forms. Communion with Him, therefore, is the channel of all benediction; and we may speak generally of waiting upon God in the means of grace. But this latter term (Media Gratise) has also its technical signification, as designating the appointed and specific channels through which the Divine Spirit pours His influences into the Church. Into the Church: for, while all doxology and all benediction is individual, we are now regarding them as ordinances of the congregation. Their congregational character is represented by the ministry, which must be regarded as an institution for the corporate body, affecting individuals only as being members in particular


The worship of the Christian Church may be regarded in its Divine principles and in its human arrangements. As to the former, its object is the revealed Trinity; its form is Mediatorial, through the Son Incarnate, by the Holy Spirit; its attributes are spirituality, simplicity, purity, and reverent decorum; its seasons are the Christian Sabbath preeminently, and all times of holy assembly. As to the latter, it is left to the congregation itself to determine the minor details, according to the pattern shown in the Scripture: this latitude extending to the order of worship, its set times, its forms, liturgical or otherwise, and its decent ceremonial generally


The Divine and permanent laws of the perfect economy of public worship prescribe the following general principles

1. That always and everywhere the TRIUNE GOD be its object, as now fully revealed in the Christian dispensation. All homage or adoration or gratitude must, virtually or actually, pay its tribute to the Three-One Name; and whatever acts of worship are offered to One Divine Person must be offered to That One in the unity of the Other Two. The God of the Christian temple is the Same Who in the ancient temple received the threefold Doxology and bestowed the threefold Benediction

2. That the stated form of all worship, whether of praise or prayer, must be, either informally or avowedly, MEDIATORIAL. God the Father, the Representative of the Trinity, is to be addressed only through the mediation of the Incarnate Son, Whose intercessory office, based on His one sacrifice, has special reference to our privilege of boldness to enter into the holiest.1 And through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.2 That Spirit of grace and of supplications3 alone inspires the energy of intelligent and acceptable worship; and His influence is equally present in every assembly from the least to the greatest. These are the full mediatorial preparations, in heaven and upon earth, —there through the High Priest and here through His Spirit, —for the perfect devotions of the Church below. We find this Divine order observed in all the prayers and praises of the later New Testament. In harmony with this law we arrange all our liturgical worship

And, though we do not presume to add the formula of mediatorial words to the Lord's Player, we silently present it through the name of Him Who gave it to us

1 Heb. 10:19; 2 Eph. 2:18; 3 Zech. 12:10

3. The preparations of the heart in man, also, are from the Lord.1 It is the first condition of Divine worship that it be SPIRITUAL. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must warship Him in spirit and in truth.2 This law of Christ is the law of all the Scripture; but He thus solemnly re-enacted it, as He re-enacted the law of love, to show its supreme importance: it demands the heart of man as the shrine of worship, sanctify Christ as Lard in your hearts;3 it forbids all representations of the Supreme save those which He has appointed and are spiritual in their meaning; and it reduces all externals of service to their true place. PURITY also is an essential of this worship: the pure in heart4 in His temple see God, and none really approach Him, though found in the congregation, whose motives are not sincere; without wrath and disputing.5 ORDER is another Divine law of worship: God is not the author of confusion, akatastasias. And His will is that all things be done decently and in order,6 eusheemonoos kai kata taxin. In the presence of God a sacred decorum is the rule as well of nature as of grace. Again, worship must be COMPLETE in its tribute to the Supreme: in the adoration of His name which is Praise; in the remembrance of His mercies, which is Thanksgiving; in the acknowledgment of unworthiness, which is Confession; in the expression of dependence, which is Prayer; in the oblation of Charity, which is Intercession. Lastly, worship must be INDIVIDUAL. There is in Christianity, as our Lord teaches it, no representative worship but His own; and in that we are united with Him. The devotion is the Church's devotion, but its harmony is the blending of the melodies of all its individual members not one of whom is forgotten

1 Prov. 16:1; 2 John 4:24; 3 1 Pet. 3:15; 4 Mat. 5:8; 5 1 Tim. 2:8; 6 1 Cor. 16:33,40

4. Amongst the permanent Divine ordinances of worship must be reckoned THE SABBATH as its chief and representative season. This institution was an appointment of God from the beginning of time to that end. Rest from labor was a physical design subserved in connection with a spiritual design: that man might cease from every other occupation in order to hold communion with his Creator. This was the supreme purpose of the day; and as such bound up with all the Old-Testament regulations of religious service. Christianity has retained the institution as belonging to Divine worship; but, by the same authority which gave the original law, has modified it. Its connection with the Jewish sabbatical cycle ended, and therefore its place as a covenant sign between Jehovah and the peculiar people. Its original purpose to commemorate the creation and bear witness to the government of the One God was retained; but, as the new creation of mankind in Christ Jesus had more fully revealed the Triune God, the day of our Lord's resurrection, the first day of the week, became the Christian Sabbath, or Lord's Day. The special relation of the day to the worship of the Church, apart from its place in the Moral Law, is to be found in the opportunity it affords of full public assembly, generally impossible at any other time, with which the continuance of religion in the world is vitally connected. To sum up, the Lord's Day in the Christian Church is the great season of worship and of assembling to worship; it retains its original design of commemorating creation, it adds the festival of redemption, and it periodically suspends this world's labor to anticipate the worship of heaven. Some points in this general statement require expansion

(1.) It has been doubted whether the account in Genesis asserts the institution of the Sabbath at that time: God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it1 may, it is said, be proleptical. But the obvious intention of the narrative is historical; there are also indications of the hebdomadal division of time2 throughout the early books; and our Lord's testimony is that the Sabbath was made for man.3 Hence we find the institution referred to as one that had been familiarly known before the Mosaic law was given on Sinai: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.4

1 Gen. 2:3; 2 Gen. 8:10,11; 29:27,28; 3 Mark 2:27; 4 Exo. 20:8

(2.) So far as the Sabbath was introduced into the ceremonial law, and was made the basis of a Sabbatic cycle of days; so far as it became a sacrament of the old law, commemorating the redemption from Egypt, a sign between Me and you throughout your generations;1 that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you,2 and fenced about by severe enactments; —it is abolished in Christianity. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day, or a new moon, or a sabbath day.3

1 Exo. 31:13; 2 Jer. 17:20-27; 3 Col. 2:16

(3.) The new ordinance of the Sabbath in the Gospel was given by Christ Himself, the Lord also of the Sabbath.1 Before His passion He dealt with it as with all His institutions, by preliminary indications of His future will. He condemned false interpretations, while He included it in the law which He did not come to destroy.2 By His example and precept He relaxed its severity. With His resurrection began His formal appointment of the First day, and with the Pentecost He finally ratified it. In the interim we may suppose that He enacted by word what in His majesty He had sanctioned by act. Hence we find the first day, as the Lord's Day, hallowed throughout the New Testament: the last tribute uniting the Resurrection and the Pentecost: I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day.3 To use St

Paul's word on another occasion, the law of the Christian sabbath is not of men, neither by man, not of the Church nor by the Church, but by Jesus Christ.4

1 Mark 2:28; 2 Mat. 5:17; 3 Rev. 1:10; 4 Gal. 1:1

(4.) It is, so to speak, the sacrament of holy time in the Evangelical economy. The first day of the week sanctifies all the days which follow, but it retains its symbolical meaning. It is the day of holy convocation, concerning which it is said, pre-eminently though not solely, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.1 As Baptism is a sign of the severance between the world of the unregenerate and the church of the renewed, and as the Eucharist is a standing memorial of the redeeming Atonement, and both till He come,2 so the Holy Day is an abiding memorial of the permanent obligation of congregational worship. Hence it is one of the three Dominical institutes: the LORD'S HOUSE, the LORD'S SUPPER, the LORD'S DAY, TEE KURIAKEE HEEMERA

1 Heb. 10:25; 2 1 Cor. 11:26

(5.) Lastly, this general view of the Sabbath in relation to worship connects it with the Church, though it is scarcely right to number it among the INSTITUTIONS OF CHRISTIANITY. It is an institution of the Christianity that is as old as the Creation. But this connects it with the Moral Law, where, as a positive enactment, it is of perpetual obligation in he Ethics, not of the Church only, but of all religion. The Sabbath as an ordinance for worship is the day which assembles the congregation; but in that worship itself the injunction of the Sabbath is read as one of the precepts of the eternal code of morality. What its spiritual interpretation is as a permanent law for mankind is a question of ethics, and has already been considered as such. At present we have considered it in its relation to Divine service


Public worship is left, as to its form, to the discretion of the congregation, subject, however, to the authority of the Divine laws, and guided by the usage of Scripture. The questions that here arise are not strictly included in dogmatic theology: they therefore need only slight indication

1. The rights of the laws already laid down being reserved, the Church may appoint times and seasons and places of religious service. There is no restriction: the Lord's Supper itself is not limited to any certain day. There is no hour that may not be feet apart. Daily service, and canonical hours, are not in themselves evil, save in connection with superstitions, and as tending to absorb family and private worship. Days of Thanksgiving and of Fasting have the plenary sanction of Scripture. But Saints' days have not that authority; and, although much may be said in favor of making the names of our Lord's inspired servants prominent in the service, it is expedient to abstain. There is but a step, as the history of the corruptions of Christianity shows, between this and the Invocation of Saints. As to places, there is no Temple or Sanctuary: this word is reserved for the spiritual community or body of the Church, and the regenerate spirit of the Christian. In a certain sense there is a House of God, but wherever the congregation may meet there is, in the truest sense, the House of Prayer: Whose house are we.1 1 Heb. 3:6

2. As to the arrangements of Divine service, there is the same latitude. The law of Decency and Order requires that the worship be regulated, and that no room be left for caprice. The relations of worship, and sacrament, and preaching must be arranged by the community. As to the much-vexed question of LITURGICAL PRAYER, it may, at least, be said that its use is within the prerogative of the congregation. The Savior gave the germ of it in His sacred pattern, in His sanction of the Temple and Synagogue service and hymns, and in His sacramental institutes. It has been one of the most universal usages of Christendom; its abuses do not discredit its use; it approves its value in experience, both as insuring the completeness of worship and by aiding tranquil devotion; virtually it enters into all extant services; and, as supplementing while not superseding spontaneous or rather un-liturgical prayers, it may with assurance be both practiced and defended

3. As to the superadded ceremonials of public worship, there is hardly the same latitude

The jurisdiction of the Church here, or its power to ordain ceremonies, is attended with great difficulty. We have not now to decide between the hard requirement that forgets everything but the purely spiritual nature of the worshipper and the opposite extreme that panders to all his senses. Neither of these can be right. There is a spirit in worshipping man, or he could not worship the Invisible; and he is also flesh and blood, or he could not worship in public assemblies. There is a simple aesthetical vesture of Divine service without which it ought not to appear before God, without which it cannot commend itself to man. But what is now conventionally called Ritualism must be entirely condemned; that is to say, the introduction of symbols not ordained by the Head of the Church: symbols in the architecture of the building, in the dress of the officiating minister, and especially in the conduct of the worship itself. It tends to dishonor Holy Scripture, by making ceremonials teach doctrines that the Word of God alone should teach: in fact, Ritualism is another form of the Oral Tradition which is made co-ordinate with Scripture as the teaching authority. It endangers the dignity of the Sacraments, which, as the sole elements of ritual given us in a religion that closed the ritual temple, should be rigidly guarded in their simplicity as the Savior left them: whereas the ritual superadded to them in later times teaches principles and applications never contemplated by the Founder of Christianity. And what is called the ritualistic spirit dishonors the Spirit of devotion by such numberless and ever-varying appeals to the senses as distract the soul from its one function. Concerning such additions of men's will-worship the Lord of the Temple says still: Take these things hence!1

1 John 2:16


As an institute of worship the Church of Christ has its ordinary channels for the communication of the influences of the Holy Ghost to the souls of men. These are the Media Gratiae, or MEANS OF GRACE. Though the Spirit is not bound to these, they are " generally necessary to salvation." They are not, however, equally and in the same sense necessary. The Word of God and Prayer are unitedly and severally what may be called the absolute and universal means: as such they may be first discussed. The sacraments are economical means, distinct from the former, yet entirely dependent upon them for their virtue


These are the supreme means as they are the basis of all: they give their virtue to the ordinances of the Church, including the sacraments. They are united: the Word gives the warrant to prayer and all its objects; Prayer is the instrument which makes the Word effectual. But as means of grace they may be regarded separately


The Word of God in the Scriptures contains the whole compass of that spiritual truth which the Holy Spirit uses as His instrument for the communication of every influence on which the salvation of man depends. As the revelation of God's law He uses it for conviction; as the Gospel promise He uses it for salvation; as the depository of ethical truth He uses it for sanctification through all morality and the discipline of holy life

Let us view this in the light of Scripture itself; and then glance at ancient and current divergences

I. The doctrine of the Word concerning itself is that it is the universal channel of grace; that it is not this of itself, through any inherent efficacy, but as the organ of the Holy Ghost; and that its efficacy is nevertheless in a certain sense inherent, as the Spirit's instrument, though it may be resisted. These topics have been discussed, in their application, under the Administration of Redemption. Their bearing on the Word as chief among the means of grace may, however, be briefly considered

1. The sufficiency of Scripture is declared throughout both Testaments. The praises of the law of the Lord abound in the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms. One of them expatiates on the subject by taking all the ten names given to the Law and applying them to every phase of human need and religious experience.1 In the New Testament we have not one passage only, but a pervasive testimony. What St. Paul says of the Scriptures generally, that they make wise unto salvation,2 and are profitable for every function of grace, for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,3 must be true of the supreme Scripture, the words of Christ, which are and comprise in themselves all the truth. He therefore prays, Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth.4

1 Psa. 119; 2 2 Tim. 3:15,16; 3 John 16:13; 4 John 17:17

2. The fallen estate of man forbids the thought that the mere presentation of truth should save him. He has an organ or faculty to receive it, for it is as much adapted to his soul's need as bread is to the need of his body; but the organ or faculty itself needs quickening

Hence the inherent power of the Word requires the influence of the Spirit to make it effectual. The Apostle Paul declares that his preaching was in demonstration of the Spirit and of power1 generally; but he also declares that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually judged.2 The language or alphabet of the doctrine of the Holy Ghost must be taught to him who shall understand His consecutive and general teaching

He appeals, as the Lord appealed: why do ye not understand My speech (lalian)? even because ye cannot hear My word (logon).3 A man must submit to the doctrine of sin generally, which is hearing Christ's word or testimony concerning Himself and the sinner's relation to Him, before he can receive the full exposition of that doctrine, as it is salvation

1 1 Cor. 2:4; 2 1 Cor. 2:14; 3 John 8:43

3. But there is an inherent efficacy in Scripture, as applied by the Spirit. It is the universal means of grace, though men may resist it. The Word of God is as efficacious as it is universal and sufficient. It is its inherent efficacy that detects unbelief and convicts it: it is not only effectual in saving, but in condemning also. It is the same Gospel power of God which is a savor of death unto death, and a savor of life unto life.1 The Scriptural doctrine of the Divine Word as the means of grace will not allow it ever to be made of none effect.2 It is an instrument that never fails. Regarded as the Word spoken to mankind, it cannot be without its power. The Spirit is never absent from the Word: in it He lives and moves, and through it He sheds an infinite variety of influences on all who either reject or receive it, Regarded as the means of grace within the Church, it has a sacred, specific, and always present grace accompanying every truth and every promise. The Spirit is in the Truth, as the virtue was and is in Christ: ready for impartation to every touch of faith

The self-evidencing energy of the Bible is its sure credential. No living man can say that it has utterly failed to find him out, and move his inmost being, and work upon his deepest convictions

1 2 Cor. 2:16; 2 Mat. 15:6

II. It will be enough to indicate some more or less prevalent errors belonging to two entirely opposite types

1. There has never been wanting a tendency to make the Scriptures sufficient of themselves, without any supernatural accompanying influence, to effect the salvation of men. The ancient Pelagians and semi-Pelagians regarded the Word of God as the intellectual and moral discipline which best suits the spiritual nature of man, its honest use leading sincere inquirers to perfection. As human nature retains its original elements unimpaired, its natural powers are supposed to be sufficient under the influence of truth to guide to salvation. Modern Rationalism has the same general estimate of the Word of God: not regarding it as in any specific sense the means of grace, but only as one among many instruments of moral discipline

2. The highest Mysticism of every age seeks through means to rise above means and become dead to them. To the more Scriptural mystics of every communion the Word* is to be valued by its substance of truth; which exerts its influence upon the mind, but only in order to raise it to the higher intuition of God. Meditation on the principles and truths of the Word leads to Contemplation which leaves all words, thoughts, and images behind

This is the line beyond which Mysticism becomes unsafe

3. The doctrine which makes the Divine sovereignty its supreme principle holds the Word to be the means of an absolute and irresistible grace. Whatever effect it produces is produced by the effectual operation of One who cannot be resisted. The Holy Ghost, as a personal Spirit, free in all His acts, and applying redemption only to those whose names are already written in the Book of Life, uses the Word to accomplish His purposes, or accomplishes them without it, as seemeth good to Him. When the Word is used, it is literally His CHANNEL of grace to the souls predestined to salvation

4. The doctrine which we hold combines all that is good in them, and rejects the evil. It gives a high, indeed the highest, place to the Scripture as the instrument of all grace. It pays its tribute to the Spirit Who alone makes it such. But it regards the Spirit's operation as operating not simply and alone THROUGH the Word, but also IN it and WITH it, for salvation


Prayer, or communion with God, is not generally reckoned among the Means of Grace, technically so called. It is regarded rather as the concomitant of the others. But, while it is undeniably true that Prayer is a condition of the efficacy of other means, it is itself and alone a means of grace. In many respects, it is the highest, simplest, most universal, most comprehensive, and most effectual of these means

1. It is the most universal. Wherever the creature is found, Ask and it shall be given you1 is the law that governs its relations to the Creator. The mediation of Christ, which embraces or wraps round the history of all mankind, has established this never-failing medium of communion between the Supreme and every human being. The constitution of nature is framed with reference to this law, and all the acts of Providence suppose it. No philosophical speculations can avail to disturb the original ordinance, though none can avail to explain it. In the whole compass of the Word of God the question never rises as to the difficulty of adjusting the fixed economy of things to this everlasting interference with it: in fact, this everlasting interference is part of the fixed economy. However much the question may be argued, here is the very last word on the subject. The Personal God is the Hearer and Answerer of prayer: as His existence is always postulated and never proved, so His regulation of all things on earth according to the Pre-established Harmony of petition and supply is taken for granted throughout. Prayer is the eternal medium of grace, as grace is distinguished from gifts that are bestowed independently of the creature's will: though, strictly speaking, much of that grace is independent also

1 Mat. 7:7

2. It is all-pervading. The Word by which man lives is made the channel of blessing when its promises are pleaded in prayer. Sacraments derive from this their efficacy. And it is adapted to all conditions of life; private, social, and common prayer open and keep open their several channels into the individual soul, the family, and the congregation. But, while prayer pervades all other means, it extends beyond them all. There is no moment of life, there is no occupation, nor can the petitioning spirit be found in any place, where the turning of the soul to God may not be attended by the full virtue of this everlasting ordinance

3. Hence we see the importance of uniting the Word and Prayer most closely as the abiding, pre-eminent, and essential means of grace. They do not disparage the other means; but must not by them be superseded. This will, however, appear more fully in the consideration of what follows


The Savior, who came not to destroy but to fulfill the law, has retained under new forms those two of the ancient ritual observances which were the specific badges of the old covenant as such: Circumcision, the rite by which the covenant was entered, has become Baptism; and the Passover, the rite by which it was annually confirmed, has become the Lord's Supper. These have been instituted for the perpetual observance of the Christian Church, and placed among its means of grace. As means of grace they have elements of difference, and elements in common with the other means. Their difference is that they are Federal Transactions: signs and seals of the covenant of redemption. As signs, they represent in action and by symbols the great blessings of the covenant; as seals they are standing pledges of the Divine fidelity in bestowing them on certain conditions, being the Spirit's instrument in aiding and strengthening the faith which they require, and in assuring to that faith the present bestowment of its object. Thus they are, on the one hand, objective institutions which assure the continuance of the Spirit's administration of redemption in the Church, and, on the other, subjective confirmations to each believing recipient of his own present interest in the covenant. Moreover, as the covenant is NOT OF ONE, but implies the condescension of God in entering into covenant relations with His people, the signs and seals are mutual: they are emblematic ordinances by which the Divine fidelity is pledged, and they are on our part the outward and visible token by which our faith gives its pledges to God of a cordial acceptance of His terms: both, however, by the Holy Ghost. These federal transactions as belonging to the means of grace have also their elements in common with other means. They are based upon the mediation of Him who is the supreme Means of Grace; they are appointed by the same authority; like other means, they are external notes and badges of Christian profession; and, finally, they depend for their efficacy on the Holy Spirit's power working in and through human faith. These ordinances have been from the beginning termed SACRAMENTS. Their nature, and efficacy, and number, and general relation to the means of grace are questions which have been much controverted, and given rise to some of the most important differences among the Christian Confessions

What more this topic requires will be best given in a brief view of the history of the sacramental principle in general

1. In the New Testament no designation is given to these symbols. All types, or prophecies in act, ended with Christ the universal Antitype, and all symbols, or visible prophetic representations of invisible realities, ended with the Tongues of fire on the Day of Pentecost, and therefore with the Holy Ghost, the universal spiritual reality. So for as they are prophetic types and symbols they must cease with their fulfillment. This gives deep emphasis to the fact that two symbols were retained, or rather instituted anew, for permanent observance. They are closely connected with the blessings they signify: they are also distinctly separated from them; and by plain command, which we see always obeyed throughout the New Testament, they are made perpetual. This will appear more fully in the discussion of the several Sacraments themselves

2. Very early two names were given to the sacramental institution. In the Greek Church the term Musteerion1 was used: mystery, not in the more general Pauline meaning of a secret disclosed, but in that of the profound significance of some perceptible emblem: hence it is preserved as a remembrancer of the past in the English Communion Service, " these holy mysteries." By the Western Church the corresponding word SACRAMENTUM was employed: in Roman usage the term had a wide variety of meanings, all however based on the idea of a sacred obligation. It was the oath, particularly that by which the soldier was bound to fidelity: obtemperaturus sum et facturus quicquid mandabitur ab imperatoribus juxta vires. The two ordinances were in the early Church regarded as the rites of religion through which Christians came under the most solemn obligation to do their part in complying with the conditions of grace. Baptism, however, had more of the sacramental character, the Eucharist more that of mystery. In ecclesiastical Latin the word sacramentum came to signify anything consecrated; in the Vulgate it was adopted, as the translation of musteerion; and, as the sign of a sacred thing, became the conventional name of the institute. Later diversities may be referred to the several topics of the Sign, and the Seal, and the Divine appointment

1 Rev. 1:20


As to their significatory character there has been no real difference from the beginning among those who have held fast the Sacraments as belonging to the permanent economy of the Gospel. Augustine's " aliud videtur, aliud intelligitur " or " verba visibilia," Visible Words; and Chrysostom's etera orooen etera pisteuooen, " one thing we see, another we believe," have been accepted by all Christians alike as rightly indicating the meaning of the emblems, whether of the old covenant or of the new. Here there is no discussion. It has pleased God in every age to include among His divers manners1 the method of teaching by symbol. The Savior Himself so taught: witness His records in the Gospels, from the scourge of cords down to the Feetwashing. Nor is there a word spoken in the New Testament that formally abolishes symbols generally, though the institution of the two sacraments may be fairly considered as implying that they were to stand alone in the worship of the Christian congregation

1 Heb. 1:1


Their character as seals has been the subject of much discussion and of wide discrepancy

The various theories which have predominated may be studied to great advantage in their historical order

1. In the Early Church we find the germs of every later teaching. But to one who studies attentively there can be no question that a strong tendency betrayed itself almost as soon as the Apostles departed to dwell more on the Mysterium than on the Sacramentum, and to make the whole of religion depend as it were on these two sacramental rites

2. This exaggerated estimate of the ceremonial ordinances took its final form in the Tridentine teaching, which makes the sacraments, not seals of a covenant, but depositories of grace flowing through them of necessity and through them alone: their intrinsic efficacy being supposed always to accompany the priestly administration; if performed, that is, with intention according to the mind of the Church, and on recipients who do not interpose the obstacle of mortal sin. The Council of Trent has this canon: Si quis dixerit per ipsa novae legis sacramenta ex opere operato non conferri gratiam sed solam fidem divinse promissionis ad gratiam consequendam sufficere, anathema sit. This dictum is capable of two constructions. As in the case of Justification it may be said that the faith ALONE is all that is condemned; but the common instinct of Protestantism has seen in it the foundation of the error of a necessary impartation of grace lodged only in the sacraments. This very ancient and wide-spread error, though not held by the Greek Church, has three characteristics. It elevates unduly the means, which are supposed to contain and as it were mechanically or magically discharge their grace. It makes too much depend upon the mind and purpose of the administrant. And its negative condition, the not interposing an obstacle, or the OBICEM of mortal sin, tends to the dishonor of Evangelical faith, and complicates the subject by involving with it the definitions of mortal and venial sin. The direct influence of the Holy Spirit is also omitted

3. The Lutheran and Reformed types of doctrine concerning the sacramental idea condemn the EX OPERE OPERATO, or that which makes the sacramental act efficacious per se or without reference to the faith of the recipient; but they in some other respects differ

Lutheranism lodges the virtue in the sacraments, makes it inherent in them by the ordination of Christ, but saving only to the believer: it approaches the Romanist theory as to their being the appointed and generally the only channels of salvation. Adopting a maxim of Augustine, Accedit verbum et fit sacramentum, —the Divine word added makes it a sacrament—it regards that consecrating word as conveying into the elements a grace which they must needs impart, to the evil for condemnation and to believers for their good. It makes the sacraments necessary means of grace: not merely the first, and generally necessary; but, as to the specific grace they represent, the only means. A participation in these institutes is held essential to a participation in the things they signify. Hence the sacraments are made in a certain sense the centre of the plan of salvation. This must be remembered in every estimate of Lutheranism as such

4. The Reformed doctrine lays more stress on the concurrence of the Holy Ghost: virtus Spiritus sancti extrinsecus accedens. Not the Word, as in Augustine's dictum, but the Spirit, makes the sacrament a channel of grace; and, as that Spirit is not bound to forms, He can dispense His grace without the sacraments, before them or after them. Still, though not absolutely necessary, sine qua non, they are preceptively necessary: and, as the appointed seals and pledges of the administration of redeeming grace, they must be observed. The early Socinians went beyond the Swiss Zwingli in making sacraments only signs of Christian profession, and emblems intended to exert a moral influence on the mind: a view which is extensively prevalent among the lesser sections of Christendom both on the Continent and in England

5. The early Arminian doctrine is sometimes classed with the system to which these lastnamed views belong. But let us hear the words of the Remonstrant Confession: Sacramenta cum dicimus, externas Ecclesiae caeremonias seu ritus illos sacros ac solennes intelligimus, quibus veluti foederalibus signis ac sigillis visibilibus Deus gratiosa beneficia sua in foedere praesertim evangelico promissa non modo nobis repraesentat et adumbrat, sed et certo modo exhibet atque obsignat, nosque vicissim palam publiceque declaramus ac testamur, nos promissiones omnes divinas vera, firma atque obsequiosa fide amplecti et beneficia ipsius jugi et grata semper memoria celebrare velle. These words should be carefully studied in their connection, and translated; as presenting, beyond those of any other Symbol, all the elements necessary to make up the true sacramental idea. The definition lays stress on their being Federal signs and seals: not only adumbrating the evangelical blessings of the Christian covenant, but exhibiting and applying them; while they express also our public faith, and grateful remembrance

This testimony includes all that is included in our great British Confessions; and, if it adds anything, the addition is an improvement. The Westminster Confession says: " Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace. There is in every sacrament a spiritual relation, or sacramental union between the sign and the thing signified; whence it comes to pass that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other." And in the Shorter Catechism the Presbyterian standard thus speaks: " A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ and the benefits of the New Covenant are represented, sealed, and applied to believers." Here the last expression gives additional strength to the idea of the seal: not only are blessings pledged, but they are then and there imparted. So the Article of the Church of England: " Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace, and God's goodwill towards us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our faith in Him." With these symbols —Arminian, Reformed, Anglican—our general Proposition agrees


As to the Divine institution of the sacraments there have been two leading errors. One, represented by some of the more pantheistic Mystics in earlier ages, and by the Quakers in modern times, denies the permanent obligation of these ordinances. According to the latter Baptism was intended only for the first introduction of Gentiles into the new community; the Eucharist was only the sanctification of the common nourishment of life; and, generally, the Christian economy has and can have in it no ritual. The other error has gone to the opposite extreme, and multiplied the sacramental institutions of Christianity


1. The origin of this multiplication of sacraments may be traced to the indefinite use of the term in early phraseology: it was applied to almost every mystery of the Christian Faith and almost every religious symbol. Thus Augustine, while allowing their supremacy to the Two, speaks in an uncertain and wavering manner concerning some other rites of a sacramental nature. Bernard was disposed to add the Feet-washing, and many writers before and after him mention other symbolical acts of Christ among the sacraments. The Seven Sacraments were first defined by Otto of Bamberg, A.D. 1124; these received ecclesiastical sanction at Florence, A.D. 1439, and were confirmed at the Council of Trent. They were variously illustrated and defended by the Scholastics. It was supposed that each was symbolized by or symbolized one of the seven cardinal virtues, Faith, Love, Hope, Wisdom, Temperance, Courage, Righteous-ness; they were explained by the analogy of the spiritual life with the physical, as to Birth, Growth into adult age, Nourishment, Healing, Reproduction, Instruction, Death; and so forth. The final definition at Trent admits the pre-eminence of the Eucharist: Sanctitate longe caeteris antecellit. Baptism, Confirmation, Orders were held to have an indelible character, never effaceable, and never to be repeated. The anathema is pronounced upon those who deny that the Seven were all, if not equally, instituted by Christ: admitting therefore that the appointment of our Lord is the only and final test of a true sacrament

2. It is remarkable that the Greek and the Roman communions, differing in so much besides, agree in accepting seven sacraments. Both base their acceptance on the authority of the Church as interpreting the will of Christ, and vindicate them as enfolding and hedging round and sanctifying the whole of life at its several stages: Baptism is the sanctification of birth, Confirmation of adult life, Penance of the life of daily sin, the Eucharist of life itself, Orders of legitimate authority, Matrimony of the Church's law of continuance and increase, and Unction of the departure hence. Other communions have attempted, and are attempting, to introduce the distinction between sacramental ordinances which are not sacraments and sacraments proper, but the test of our Lord's own institution absolutely forbids any addition to His two covenant institutes. "A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, ordained by Christ Himself as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof." Our Lord has chosen and hallowed two, only two; and it is vain to elevate acts which are rather benedictory or only symbolical than sacramental into sacraments proper

3. The Apology for the Augsburg Confession allowed Penance to be one of the Saviour's sacramental institutes, and Melanchthon was disposed to admit into the number Ordination. These were not retained, however, in the churches of the Reformation, although the Lutherans preserved Confession as a wholesome part of the rejected Orders

The definition in the English Article strikes the true note: the Five added by Rome " are not to be counted sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not like nature of sacraments with Baptism and the Lord's Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God." To this, however, may be added that they have no connection with the covenant character of the Gospel of Christ

Having this test to apply, we may consider the additional sacraments in their order


1. The supposed sacrament of CONFIRMATION sprang out of a rite anciently known as CHRISM or THE SEAL, which was thought to add the positive gift of the Spirit to the baptismal removal of guilt: thus early binding up with its error important truth. It was administered not before the seventh year, and only by a bishop, as succeeding to the Apostolical prerogative of imposition of hands. In its final development in the Middle Ages the imposition and anointing constitute the Matter of the sacrament; and the Form: Signo te signo crucis et confirmo te chrismate salutis in nomine, etc. The Scriptural ground for this fails before strict examination. Our Lord's baptism with the Holy Ghost has of course no relation to the question. Nor are the instances in which Apostles imparted the Holy Ghost to the Samaritans: this was a special recognition of Samaritan Christianity by peculiar and almost Pentecostal tokens.1 The baptism and anointing of John's disciples at Ephesus were simultaneous: these had not before received Christian baptism.2 Another passage commonly adduced is that in which St. Paul says that after they believed the Ephesians were sealed: here the Greek requires, when ye believed ye were sealed.3 The reception of the young by formal profession of faith into the congregation has been a laudable usage in some communions. But there is no sacramental institute for that purpose

1 Acts 8; 2 Acts 19:4; 3 Eph. 1:13

2. The system of PENANCE elaborated in the early Church was based upon the presumed necessity of making satisfaction to God for sin committed after baptism. As finally elevated into a sacrament, its Matter—to use the scholastic phrase—is Contritio cordis, Confessio oris, Satisfactio operis. The Form is the judicial act and word of absolution

The Contrition of heart is not required to be absolutely perfect. Attrition, or a sincere desire to repent, may be enough; the Confession is auricular, including omnia et singula peccata mortalia, and at least once in the year. The satisfaction supposes that the priest is a judge who, in the name of God, imposes penances as the condition of the remission of temporal punishments of the sin, which, as to the reatus culpae and its eternal consequences, is forgiven for Christ's merits' sake. These temporal penalties may be exacted in this life or in the intermediate state: both being temporal. They may be commuted for satisfactions of various kinds, fasting, prayer, alms; which, however, were connected often with the most unevangelical forms of self-discipline. On this sacrament of Penance hangs the doctrine of Purgatory, the scene where the supreme satisfaction of Christ is supplemented: as also Indulgences, based on the fund of merit stored in the Church, and granted, avowedly for the remission of temporal penalty, often, in popular acceptation, for the remission of all sin whatever. This most important institute is not based upon the Word of God: the Scriptural Absolution is the declaration of the terms of forgiveness, its Confession is not auricular and enforced, its only Satisfaction is the perfect obedience of Christ, and its only Judge and Confessor the Lord Himself

3. The sacrament of ORDERS or consecration to the priesthood is closely connected with the last: quo tribuitur potestas consecrandi corpus et sanguinem Domini, nec non remittendi et retinendi peccata. As the baptized were endued with grace by imposition of episcopal hands, so episcopal hands alone could confer the specific grace of the priesthood. But there is nothing either in our Lord's appointment of His ministers or in the Apostolical confirmation of it, that sustains such an investiture with such tremendous privileges and responsibilities. Of this more will be said in the appropriate place

4. MATRIMONY was elevated to the dignity of a sacrament mainly on the ground of the Apostle's words: This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.1 As a sacrament the ordinance of marriage is treated most elaborately in the Roman and in the Eastern Theology. It has really, however, the slenderest title of all the usurpers of the sacramental character; being only a natural relation sanctified, and honored as signifying the Saviour's union with His Church. In strange contradiction to this high character of the ordinance was its undervaluation in the celibate life, whether in or out of the priesthood

1 Eph. 5:32

5. EXTREME UNCTION rests mainly on the anointing in St. James,1 where, however, the rite had no reference to death. Its sacramental institution by Christ is supposed to be found in an allusion to a similar subject in St. Mark's Gospel,2 concerning which the same remark may be made. It is a comprehensive sacrament, the Viaticum, useful for the soul and, if God will, for the body too: effectus est mentis sanatio et, in quantum autem expedit, ipsius etiam corporis (Cone. Flor. 1439)

1 Jas. 5:14,15; 2 Mark 6:13


The opposite error, that of those who deny the authoritative; institution of sacramental means of grace, in the sense in which we understand the term, that is, ordinances which pledge or seal, as well as symbolize, to those who worthily receive them the grace of redemption, should be carefully avoided

1. There are those, as we have seen, who would honor the spiritual character of the religion of Christ by dispensing with His own express appointments. But they are surely on the way to the same error who regard our Lord as having placed in His Church two rites which are only rites, only symbols teaching the eye whether of the assistants or the spectators, and thus make Him the Founder of a purely ritual and symbolical service. Had that been His design, we should have accepted it with reverence. But it was not His design. There is nothing ordained by Him for the permanent observance of His people which is not accompanied by the Holy Ghost, and made the channel of its own appropriate grace. The rites of Christianity have their concomitant benedictions; and are never without them, save to such as bring no preparation of faith, the absence of which makes all religion a mere ceremonial. The true doctrine is between two extremes. It avoids the delusive over-statement that connects specific blessings, regeneration, and the sustenance of Christ's life, with the sacraments as their sole conductors to the soul: these are only the covenant pledges of a gift that is with and through them imparted, but not necessarily with and through them alone. And it avoids the delusive under-statement that makes sacramental ordinances mere signs that aesthetically act on the minds of those who wait upon them. This, it may be repeated, is to abolish the distinction between those symbolical actions of our Lord—such as His setting a child in the midst, blighting the figtree, washing His disciples' feet, breathing forth the Holy Ghost—which were actions that taught their lesson by symbol first and were afterwards interpreted by His words, and those permanent ceremonies which He ordained to be Means as well as signs of His grace to the believer

2. There is, however, an undervaluation of the sacraments which springs from no theological opposition or scruple, but is the result of indifference or ignorance. There are many unbaptised children whose parents are responsible for the neglect of the Saviour's command, a neglect which will not be visited on the children themselves. But the neglect is, perhaps, more striking in the case of the other sacrament It is not that it is treated with irreverence; but, for want of adequate instruction, multitudes come to regard the Lord's Supper as a religious solemnity in some way or other connected with the acceptance of religious responsibilities, and dependent for its blessing upon the vigor of faith and expectation in the communicant, but without any distinct perception of its peculiar and distinct place in the Evangelical economy. The recoil from one extreme has carried these too far in the opposite direction. It ought to be matter of solicitude on the part of Christian ministers to teach their people the right doctrine of the sacraments: especially that which lays emphasis upon their relation to the new covenant, its benefits and obligations. They are "signs and seals of the covenant of grace established in Christ: which is a covenant with promise on the part of God, and with Conditions on the part of man." Nor should they be suffered to forget the meaning of the Sacramental institute: " an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ Himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof." BAPTISM

Baptism is an ordinance appointed by our Lord to be the rite of initiation into the new covenant of grace and fellowship of its kingdom; being the sign and seal of the blessings of that covenant conferred upon those who thereby avow their acceptance of the one condition of faith in Jesus Christ with its obligations. It is the sacrament of union with Christ, of pardon and renewal through His Gospel, and of membership in His Church: being the outward and visible sign of the sealing of the Holy Ghost, Who is the interior Bond of communion between the believer and the Lord, the Agent in imparting that forgiveness and regeneration of which the washing of water is the sign, and the Sanctifier of the people of God. The nature, mode of administration and subjects of this rite are clearly set forth in the New Testament; but have been variously interpreted in ecclesiastical doctrine and practice. It will be expedient, therefore, to examine the authoritative Scripture first, and afterwards briefly to view the subject in the light of controversy


The Word of God furnishes a preliminary history of this rite as linked with the Old Covenant, through usages which are changed in the New; it gives a clear account of its institution and observance; and defines its meaning and relation to the economy of grace

These topics correspond to the teaching of the Old Testament, of the Gospels and Acts, and of the Epistles respectively

I. Many rites, ceremonies, types, symbols, and predictions pointed forward to baptism and found in this simple ordinance their fulfillment. Its special Old-Testament representative was the covenant rite of circumcision: the type of baptism as it was the rite of admission into the old covenant of grace, established first with Abraham for all nations in his Seed the Christ, and renewed through Moses with the same People now more distinguished from the rest of mankind. As given to Abraham it was the seal of the righteousness of the faith which lie had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised.1 It was as it were the baptism of the father of the faithful, and in its very origin predicted its own future abolition. As limited in Moses, it was the symbol of the sanctification of physical life and natural increase, and the seal of participation in external and limited privileges. In both respects it was ordained only till the Seed should come to Whom the Promise was made.2 Baptism took its place as the sign of the sanctification of the whole of life both of man and woman, of a spiritual birth and increase; as the seal also of internal, universal, and unending privileges. Of another order were the two great historical types, the Deluge, and salvation by its waters, and the passage of the Red Sea. Each of these is alluded to in a very significant way. St. Paul says that the circumcised people were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea:3 a solitary instance of the term baptism being carried back to the Old Testament. St. Peter gives an equally unique instance of the use of the word Antitype: speaking of the Deluge he says, the like figure (antitupon) whereunto, even baptism, doth also now save us.4 Passing by the ritual types, such as the ceremonial washings of the old law, we find a wider field in the Prophets who predicted the effusion of the Holy Ghost,5 of which Christian baptism was to be the symbol, under the similitude of cleansing waters:6 poured out, for ever flowing, and sprinkled upon the soul

The ancient baptism of proselytes from heathenism —ancient as to us, modern as to the Hebrews—probably had no foundation in the Old Testament beyond the general practice of washing before sacrificing to God. But it seems indisputable, from Rabbinical authorities, that after the captivity every proselyte was circumcised and baptized; moreover, that this baptism included the women and children of his house. This accounts for the general familiarity with the rite assumed in the Gospels. It sheds light upon the institute of John the Baptist and our Lord's baptism of His disciples. It must be borne in mind in our interpretation of St. Peter's words on the Day of Pentecost: there can be no doubt how his hearers would understand, The promise is unto you, and to your children.7

1Rom. 4:11; 2Gal. 3:19; 31 Cor. 10:2; 41 Pet. 3:21; 5Zech. 13:1; 6Ezek. 36:25; 7Acts 2:39

II. The institution of Christian Baptism has its gradual history. We have the Gospel preliminary baptisms; the Saviour's express and formal New-Testament appointment: and the occasional observance of the rite as described in the first records of the early New- Testament Church

1. The Baptism of John has a distinct significance and stands alone: to Ioannou Baptisma

It was the baptism of repentance as the preparation for Christ and the New Covenant;1 even as it was the rite of transition from the Old Testament to the New. As it belonged to the Old, Jesus Himself, made under the law,2 submitted to it; as it belonged to the New, He received it not: His New-Testament baptism was the effusion of the Holy Spirit upon His human nature, restoring to MAN in Him the Spirit forfeited by the Fall. Our Lord's preliminary act of baptizing, as administered by His disciples, was partly a continuation of the Baptist's, even as He preached over again John's repentance; partly an accommodation to the later Jewish usage of baptizing proselytes; and partly a preparation for His own final ordinance. Neither of His two sacraments was absolutely new: both were rather the sanctification of a certain remainder of past observances which linked then with the old economy

1 Acts 19:3; 2 Gal. 4:4

2. The Christian institute itself was enacted in one clear and definite injunction. It had been prepared for in act, as we have seen; doubtless also in word during the Forty Days: hence the formula was understood when finally used: into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.1 The baptized were to be dedicated by man, and consecrated by the Spirit, to the possession and service and redeeming grace of the Mediatorial Trinity. Both sacraments were appointed by Christ, to be fully interpreted by the Holy Ghost The Supper preceded the death of which it was the commemoration; Baptism preceded the Pentecost which was its fulfillment. That day declared its meaning: the One Triune Name, and the various blessings of the Persons in that name; its substitution in place of circumcision as appointed for all nations; its covenant character, as sealing the benefits of the Christian charter of privileges to all who on their part believe and observe the commandments

1 Mat. 28:19

3. From the day of Pentecost onward the rite is observed as an indispensable ordinance

There is no instance of conversion with which it is not connected: they were baptized, both men and women.1 But the full formula does not occur: baptism was in the name of Christ or of the Lord2 (epi and en as well as eis), representing the Trinity. Once, in the case of Samaria, the sacrament was supplemented by the imposition of Apostolic hands and the gift of the Holy Ghost; once, in the case of Cornelius, it followed that gift; once it was a fruitless ceremony, in the case of Simon Magus. Always it was administered by the officers of the church: those who preached thus admitted their converts into the community

St. Paul was a high exception, but he gives the reason of his satisfaction at having baptized so few in Corinth: partly, his jealousy for the name of Christ, partly his higher obligation to preach the Gospel. The households of believing persons were thus consecrated: including obviously their children, whose baptism is not mentioned because implied in the Lord's benediction of them. That they received it, however, needs no other proof than that baptism superseded circumcision, and that children are already addressed as members of the Christian Church

1 Acts 8:12; 2 Acts 2:38

III. The later Apostolic teaching on this subject remains to be considered: it will be found abundantly full and clear

1. The new ordinance is everywhere regarded as having superseded circumcision as a sign and seal of the Christian covenant. Nothing can be plainer than that the old rite was done away with. If admitted in any case, it was for reasons of expediency; if not practiced as the rite of an imperfect covenant, but only as a national usage slowly given up, it was a thing indifferent. But circumcision, as the initiatory rite of the preparatory dispensation, was lost in baptism. Negatively and positively St. Paul says: Ye are complete in Him, which is the Head of all principality and power . . . in Whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with Him in baptism.1 Let us note the points here

There is no longer any circumcision save that which is WITHOUT HANDS; but this rite, which, like the Passover, had its last observance in our Lord, revives in another ceremony: baptism is the circumcision of Jesus, and teaches the old lesson in another way. The same death of the sinful flesh which the ancient rite signified is signified also by the new one. But it was done away by being transfigured, and baptism is the sign and seal of the better covenant: bound up with it essentially

1 Col. 2:10-12

2. We may view this more generally and more particularly

(1.) All the blessings of the Christian covenant are represented as summed up in the Promise made to Abraham; that Promise was Christ, the Seed, and the blessing of Abraham, the Holy Spirit As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ:1 here is the relation of baptism to the reception of Christ and union with Him. Be baptized, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost:2 here is its relation to the bestowment of the Spirit. These connect it with the two branches of the covenant Promise

1 Gal. 3:27; 2 Acts 2:38

(2.) But this is general: we may find many references to the specific blessings which are exhibited and pledged to the believer in his baptism. Foremost is justification or the forgiveness of sins: St. Peter cries, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;1 and Ananias to Paul, Be baptized, and wash away thy sins.2 Christian Sonship, both as adoption and as regeneration, is sealed in baptism: Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.3 Naturally, however, the relation of baptism to circumcision would suggest its more frequent connection with regeneration than with adoption. After having spoken of the symbolical design of circumcision, the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, the Apostle goes on: Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through a faith in the working of God, Who hath raised Him from the dead.4 This passage makes baptism represent the dying to sin and rising to holiness: one part of the ceremony, the immersion, signifying the conformity to our Lord's death; the other, the rising out of the water, conformity with His resurrection. With this may be connected the parallel to the Romans. It was our Lord Who first connected baptism with the new birth, Except a, man be born of water and of the Spirit;5 and St. Paul winds up the long strain of Christian teaching in his words to Titus concerning the laver of regeneration.6 Less directly baptism is sometimes connected with sanctification. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body:7 where the Church is referred to as the Lord's sanctified body, of which it is said, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.8 St. Peter calls the Christian baptism the antitype of the typical salvation of the ark wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water; which, in its antitype, baptism, now saveth you also (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the inquiry of a good conscience after God);9 where justification and sanctification unite, though neither of the terms is used. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, as in St. Peter's First, we cannot but feel that the inward sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ corresponds with the outward sprinkling of water, its sign. So also in St. John's mysterious words, This is He Who came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ, not by water only, but by water and blood.10 Even if the primary allusion is to the Lord's ministerial work as begun at the Jordan, and ended on the cross, there is also a reference to the external washing of baptism and internal washing of the Atonement of which that is the sign: pardon and the new life

1 Acts 2:38; 2 Acts 22:16; 3 Gal. 3:26,27; 4 Col. 2:12; 5 John 3:5; 6 Tit. 3:5; 7 1 Cor. 12:13; 8 Eph. 5:26; 9 1 Pet. 3:21; 10 1 John 5:6

3. Now, in all these passages the sacrament of baptism is, as it were, identified with the blessings which it signifies; and in such a way as will not allow us to think for a moment of its being a mere ritual sign. St. Paul speaks of one Lord, one faith, one baptism:1 this gives the last of the three a very prominent place; as it not only makes it the badge of Christian profession, but also seems to embrace in one word all the blessings of Christianity, not otherwise mentioned In fact, the privileges of the covenant are supposed to be sealed, obsignated, imparted to true believers in connection with their baptism. This ordinance is never made the sole instrument on the part of God, nor ever the sole condition on the part of man; but it is invariably the seal of the transaction between God and the believer as in the presence of the Church. Blessings may be bestowed before the sealing transaction; and still larger blessings follow it; but in any case they are all, according to the rule certainly, sealed over and pledged to the baptized believer as one of the congregation. However looked at— whether as affusion, sprinkling, immersion, —it is a SIGN of the descent of the Spirit, and the washing away of sin. And it is a SEAL once for till given of the bestowment of the blessings of the Spirit upon the believer continuing to believe. But it must ever be remembered that, in every reference to this symbolical ordinance, we find it flanked on the one hand by the absolute necessity of faith as a condition, and on the other by the sole efficiency of the Spirit as the Agent of all good

1 Eph. 4:5

4. It must not be forgotten that the initiatory sacrament has in the Epistles a universal character, as extending and enlarging the meaning of the former rite, and adapting it to a more catholic economy. The cardinal passage has been already quoted in part: For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are oil one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.1 Circumcision here vanishes in the very nature of the case, as we need not further explain. Our Lord's sign must be on every one that is His; and baptism for all, for men and women, for adults and children, takes its place. Water everywhere flows for all the world: See, here is water.2 By this the God of the Christian covenant should sprinkle many nations:3 in a figurative view of the passage. Nothing that circumcision either signed or sealed under the old economy can be lost under the new: therefore children have their privileges in the Christian covenant sealed to them in their baptism. Accordingly, they are addressed as members of the church in every Epistle. If it be asked, What is the blessing sealed to them? the answer is, all that they are capable of receiving. As children of a race under condemnation they are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.4 Children of wrath as belonging to the lineage of the first Adam, they are grafted into the Second: their baptism is the seal of their present adoption, and the pledge of their regeneration when they are capable of it

Unholy by nature, they are sanctified through baptismal consecration to God: Christ has blessed them, their alien estate is past, and noic are your children holy.5 In the case of adults personal faith, and conscious acceptance of the terms of the covenant, are essential

Of this infants are incapable; but the Lord is their everlasting Sponsor; and when He said, of suth is the kingdom of heaven,6 He admitted them to all the privileges of His covenant, including the gift of the Spirit, to take from them the doom of the race, and to afford them all the preliminary influences of His salvation. The baptism of the children of believing parents is, therefore, a sign of the washing away of original guilt, and a seal of their adoption into the family of God; a sign of the regeneration which their nature needs, and a seal of its impartation in God's good time

1 Gal. 3:27-29; 2 Acts 8:36; 3 Isa. 52:15; 4 Rom. 3:24; 5 1 Cor. 7:14; 6 Mat. 19:14


The development of doctrine concerning this ordinance or sacrament needs to be exhibited only in broad and general outline

I. The primitive Church attached to it a very high importance as the SACRAMENT OF THE NEW LIFE. It was in the East usually termed the photismos or Illumination; and hyperbolical language abounds in the description of its virtues and privileges. The ritual of the ordinance soon began to reflect this teaching

1. Very early it was regarded as the instrument of the conveyance rather than as the sign and seal of Christian blessings; but the forgiveness it conveyed was only of past sins

Hence arose by degrees the necessity of a new Sacrament of Penance. The absolute necessity of baptism was expressed in unqualified terms; though in the case of its accidental absence only contempt was ground of condemnation. Martyrdom with its baptism of blood was supposed to supersede it or condone its absence. The Eastern Church has always preferred dipping, the Western sprinkling

2. The Catechumenate as an institution sprang out of this sacrament by an internal necessity, at first preceding adult baptism and afterwards following that of infants. With its Catechists, Catechumens, and Catechisms, it has always in some form existed in Christendom: though its early character has never been fully maintained in later years, much to the loss of, the Christian cause. In the third century the catechumens were divided, with reference to their final initiation into the mystery of the Supper, into Audientes or outside hearers of doctrine, Genuflectentes or those who prayed with the Church, and Competentes or candidates for full and determinate admission to all the privileges of Christianity

3. The ceremonial of baptism soon became elaborate: so elaborate as to form, equally with the ceremonial of the Eucharist, a perfect contrast to the simplicity of our Lord's institution. In the fourth century the water was consecrated; and Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost were the seasons of the year preferred for its celebration. Tertullian mentions the Sponsors, the Confession, and the Creed. Three immersions were usual in some parts, and a triple sprinkling, both with reference to the Trinity. Exorcism and the renunciation of Satan occupied in the rite an important place, which both in East and West they have retained. The particulars of the ritualistic development must be elsewhere studied

4. INFANT BAPTISM gradually, and of necessity, rose into ascendancy. The objection of Tertullian establishes the fact of the practice: he urged against precipitancy in performing the ceremony that its blessing once forfeited never could be retrieved or fully restored. As early as Cyprian (Cone. Carth. 253) early baptism was decreed: the third day, though the eighth was admissible. From that time it was an uncontested usage of Christendom, and that on the ground of its being an Apostolical usage. On this latter point Origen is express, and he is but one of a large consensus of authors. For instance, in the Pelagian controversy it was used as an argument in defense of Original Sin

5. In the third century heretical baptism was matter of earnest controversy. Cyprian denied its validity, on ecclesiastical principles, but the authority of the Church at Rome prevailed: resting its plea on the ground of the objective value of the rite, by whomsoever performed in the name of the Holy Trinity, II. The Romanist doctrine confirmed at Trent the doctrinal decisions and the symbolical ritual which had long been current in the mediaeval Church. It ordained that Baptism must be supplemented by Confirmation. It decreed that in Baptism " that is taken away which has the character of sin: it is not merely cut down or not imputed." Concupiscence not in itself sinful, either in Adam or in us, remains as the fomes or fuel of possible sin, and for the matter of our virtue and reward through its constant suppression. In fact all the benefits of redemption are applied to the soul. Nothing, however, so clearly exhibits the doctrine as the variety of ritual: from the blessing of the water, through exorcism, the chrism, the white garment, to the giving of the name

III. Lutheranism, in harmony with its high theory of the sacraments, makes baptism ordinarily necessary to salvation, conveying by Divine appointment the blessings of remission of sins and regeneration. Without faith, however, the adult receives no benefit; and the Spirit works in infants the receptivity of faith, about which, it need not be added, there have been endless discussions. Repentance after baptism is, as it were, a " regressus ad baptismum," a return to the baptismal position. The Reformed Churches generally make the internal effect, concur with the external act in the case of the believing elect

Infants are presumed to be elect, and the benefit in their case is only seminal and prospective. The Anglican Formularies are, taken as a whole, a combination of the Lutheran and the Reformed. They distinctly teach regeneration to be the secret virtue of baptism, in adults believing and in all infants. But there are two views of the doctrine which have always had their supporters: first, that which is more Lutheran and sacramentarian and supposes a renewal of the soul of the infant or a certain infusion of a new life; and, secondly, that which regards the new birth as in infants a change of relation only, by which they are translated into the kingdom of grace: meaning adoption rather than regeneration

IV. The doctrine of the Baptist Communities differs from that of Christendom at large in two points: they insist that baptism was appointed to be an expression of adult faith in Christ, denying the right and duty of infant baptism; and they maintain that the only valid baptism is that of immersion in water. Agreeing with them in what they hold, the majority of Churches differ from them in what they deny; but not attributing so much importance to the points of difference as they do

1. It is important to establish the validity of infant baptism, inasmuch as by degrees that becomes, in established Christian communities which admit infants to the rite, the only baptism. Moreover, the settlement of this question is bound up with the wider question of what constitutes membership in the external body or fellowship of Christendom

(1.) The Christian Fellowship is the continuation of a community in which children had always been reckoned members. The Church of God in Christ has been one through all ages: the ancients believed in the Seed that should come to Whom the promise was made,1 and were circumcised, they and their children; we believe in the Christ who has come, and are baptized, we and our children. The Gentiles were grafted into the old, the good olive-tree,2 which olive-tree is really the True Vine. The covenant with Abraham was for all the families of the earth3 in due time; and, meanwhile, the sign and seal of that covenant was impressed on children not as subjects of the Hebrew commonwealth merely, but as members of the Hebrew Church. Not a word in the New Testament indicates any change: the promise of the Spirit is unto you, and, to your children;4 households were baptized and the family still sanctified; and even the very silence of the New Testament forbids that we should take from children a birthright they had enjoyed from the beginning. From this argument there is no appeal

1 Gal. 3:19 2 Rom. 11:24; 3 Gen. 12:3; 4 Acts 2:39

(2.) The theory of the Church held by those who reject infant baptism is not a sound one

It is simply this, that none are to be admitted to membership who do not give credible evidence to the congregation of being regenerate. This principle, as adopted by the Congregationalists, allows all such professors to communicate and to bring their children to baptism for their training towards the full privileges of the new covenant. As adopted by the Baptists, it allows of no membership at all until a credible profession of living faith is made and sealed in the sacrament. These views are altogether too narrow for the spirit of the catholic Gospel. It is impossible to limit the Church, or admission to its ordinances, to the regenerate as approved by men. All who profess faith in the doctrines of Christ, who are seeking salvation, whose lives do not contradict their profession or impeach their sincerity, may be accepted to baptism; and their children with them. To such all the ordinances of religion are open; according to their faith they are dealt with, and the Lord knoweth them that are His.1 Their principle refuses to infants, who cannot consciously believe and intelligently profess the faith, a place in the congregation of the regenerate. We deny that the visible Church is limited to the regenerate. Children belong to the Christian fellowship as an institute for making men perfect Christians: they are adopted into the family of God and the household of faith; they are to be trained in the nurture and admonition of the Lord;2 they are members before they finally ratify their vows; and the gentle supposition of Christianity is that the influences of the Spirit upon them will bless their instruction amidst Evangelical ordinances to their full participation in all the privileges of both the visible and invisible fold. Meanwhile, the Lord still says, Of such is the kingdom of God.3

12 Tim. 2:19; 2 Eph. 6:4; 3 Mark 10:14

2. The mode of baptism might seem to be a less important matter in a religion which is not ritualistic. But the Baptist community thinks otherwise. In dealing with this subject we have only to show that the three kinds of baptism—by immersion, by affusion, and by sprinkling—are equally valid according to the appointment of Christ; but that the weight of the evidence is in favor of the last, or of the two latter, which in this argument may be regarded as one and the same

(1.) The equal admissibility of the two kinds, pouring or sprinkling and immersing, is proved by three considerations. First, the influences of the Spirit, of which baptism is the outward and visible sign, are described throughout Scripture in language which aptly represents both. I will pour out My Spirit;1 and then will I sprinkle clean water upon you.2 These begin the series; it is ended by the washing of regeneration.3 Secondly, the word baptize in the original Greek, whether in its classic or in its Scriptural use, is capable of both significations: then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan4 (ebaptisato). Except they wash (bap-tisontai) they eat not.5 The defiled person was sprinkled from his uncleanness,6 which in the Apocrypha is baptisomenos apo nekron baptized from a dead body; and in the Revelation bebammenon aimati describes the Saviour's vesture stained in blood,7 according to the prophet, Their blood shall be sprinkled upon My garments.8 In fact, the word in all its forms refers to the contact of water without prescribing the manner. Thirdly, the practice of the Christian Church from the beginning has allowed both, as we have seen, and this should have its weight

1 Joel 2:28; 2 Eze. 36:25; 3 Tit. 3:5; 4 2 King 5:14; 5 Mark 7:4; 6 Num. 19:13; 7 Rev. 19:13; 8 Isa. 63:3

(2.) But there are many considerations which lead us to regard affusion or sprinkling as the ordained form of the rite. The catholic design of the Gospel suggests that the simplest and most universally practicable ordinance would be appointed. Again, the most important realities of which baptism is only the sign are such as sprinkling or affusion indicates: the blood of atonement was sprinkled on the people and on the mercy-seat; and the gifts of the Holy Ghost are generally illustrated by the pouring of water and the anointing. Moreover, the multitudinous baptisms of the New Testament forbid the possibility of immersion: especially when it is remembered that whole families were baptized, and individuals sometimes, where large quantities of water cannot be supposed to have been accessible. As to the passages which describe this sacrament as burial with Christ and resurrection with Him, they must be interpreted by the analogy of those which describe it as dying with Christ and putting Him on. It may be said, further, that there are words which obviously would have been employed instead of baptism if the practice of immersion had been deemed essential. This last argument is of great force when we remember how carefully the institution of the two sacraments has been guarded in the revelation of the New Testament. As it respects the Lord's Supper, there is no room for misapprehension: every departure from the simplicity of the ordinance is self-convicted

Now, if it had been the Saviour's will that every convert and every infant throughout all ages should be immersed in the baptismal flood He would have told us so in language that could not be mistaken. But the vast majority of the Christian world has understood by baptism the pouring or sprinkling of water. It may be said that this only shows our Lord's intention to have been to allow a large latitude of observance. Be it so: of this none can complain. But it may be inferred that, if the more cumbrous and difficult rite was not ordained, the simpler one would everywhere be understood to be more in harmony with His will

V. The doctrine taught by Methodism may be said to hold the mean between two extremes as to the efficacy of this Sacrament, 1. Its authoritative standards repudiate the notion that Baptism is merely a sign or badge of Christian profession; as also that which, going a little farther, is content to make it only an impressive ritualistic emblem of the washing away of sin. The Methodist teaching on the Sacraments, seals as well as signs of the Christian covenant, will not allow that either of the two ordinances is without its accompanying grace to the recipient who complies with the covenant conditions. As to Baptism, Mr. Wesley's note on Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit1 runs thus: " Except he experience that great inward change by the Spirit, and be baptized (wherever baptism can be had) as the outward sign and means of it." 1 John 3:5

2. Those standards do not teach that Baptism is the sole ordinary appointed means of communicating the virtue of the atonement in the remission of sins and the bestowment of the new life. They reject the dogma of Baptismal Regeneration as tending unevangelically to bind together the sign and the thing signified. This term, common to all high sacramentarian theology, Romanist, Oriental, Lutheran and Anglican, expresses the principle that in the economy of grace Baptism is the sole ordained channel of the renewing Spirit. It certainly is the Divine and authoritative seal; but not the only or the necessary channel. The impartation of regenerate life may be distinct from the seal: it may accompany it, it may have preceded it, and it may, as in the case of infants, follow it

But, however viewed, its importance is great, as an integral part of the new covenant in Christ

3. Mr. Wesley was trained to believe in a possible regeneration of infants. In his sermon on the New Birth he says: "It is certain our Church supposes that all who are baptized in their infancy are at the same time born again." "Nor is it an objection of any weight against this, that we cannot comprehend how this work can be wrought in infants. For neither can we comprehend how it is wrought in a person of riper years.'" For himself he never distinctly defined this: " But whatever be the case with infants, it is sure all of riper years who are baptized are not at the same time born again." His views of the preliminary grace signified by the new birth of infants have been more fully expressed by later expositors of Methodist doctrine. Mr. Watson's summary may be accepted as giving their meaning. "To the infant child it is a visible reception into the same covenant and church, —a pledge of acceptance through Christ, — the bestowment of a title to all the grace of the covenant as circumstances may require, and as the mind of the child may be capable, or made capable, of receiving it." " It secures, too, the gift of the Holy Spirit in those secret spiritual influences by which the actual regeneration of those children who die in infancy is effected; and which are a seed of life in those who are spare!


The Lord's Supper is a rite ordained by our Lord for perpetual observance in His Church, as a sacramental feast in which bread and wine are signs of His sacred body and blood offered in one oblation on the cross, and seals of the present and constant impartation to the believer of all the benefits of His passion. In this supper the Church joyfully and thankfully celebrates before the world the sacrifice once presented in the past, until He come again without sin unto salvation. Moreover, the Lord's people partake of the elements as the symbol of a common Christian life and sustentation, as the mutual pledge of union and brotherly fellowship, with all its enjoyments and obligations. Thus this ordinance is the Sacrament, as it signifies and seals the mystical nourishment of Christ; the Eucharist, as commemorating the sacrifice of redemption; and the Communion, as the badge of united Christian profession. While most Christian people agree as to this last, there have been many and great divisions both as it respects the blessings conveyed in the Sacrament, and the nature of the Eucharistical commemoration. We shall find it useful, as in the case of the other Sacrament, to examine the testimony of Scripture, and then consider the controversies of dogma


 The statements of the New Testament are few, but exceedingly distinct. They describe the institution of a new rite instead of the Passover, and connect it especially with the ratification of the new covenant. St. Paul adds the account that he received by special revelation, and in it, a few additional points of doctrine. Besides these four records of the institution, there are sundry incidental allusions tending to complete our view of the circumstantials of the rite itself. We must glance at the doctrine and the ritual of the second sacrament, which was instituted in connection with the Passover, and to supersede it for ever

1. Now the ancient rite was an annual commemoration of the typical redemption of the Hebrew people; and the Lord's Supper is the solemn act of the Church's commemoration of the redeeming death of the Savior of the world. St. Paul's account, the last and fullest authentic statement of the institution, stamps great prominence on this. He adds In remembrance of Me1 to the giving of the bread, as well as to the giving of the cup; and, with reference to both, he appends, Ye do show the Lord's death till He come.2 Our Savior blessed the elements and gave thanks:3 offering the praise of His own atonement which His people continue for ever. Hence the rite is the great expression of the Church's gratitude for the gift of Christ, and especially for His atoning death. It is the feast of thanksgiving within the Christian assembly, and it is the feast of testimony before the world, showing4 [forth] His death. And the first word used, eucharisteésas, gives the ordinance a name: it is a thankful and glorying commemoration, or the EUCHARIST

1 1 Cor. 11:23-26; 2 Mat. 26:26; 3 Luke 22:19; 4 1 Cor. 11:26

2. The ancient Passover was also the annual ratification of the covenant between God and His people. As such it was itself a sacrifice both of expiation and thanksgiving; and summed up or represented all other covenant sacrifices. When our Lord substituted His Supper, He used language that included all, and specially referred to the solemn covenant transaction in which Moses divided the blood of atonement into two parts: half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar,1 to denote the propitiation of God; with the remainder he sprinkled all the people, to signify to them the Divine favor, and the book of the covenant2 also, to signify the ratification of the covenant of which that book was the record: This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.3 These words of Moses our Lord connects with the new passover of His new covenant: Drink ye all of it; for this is My blood of the New Testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins.4 Obviously, the blessings of the better covenant, symbolized by the bread and wine, deliverance from guilt and life in Christ, are pledged and sealed to all who receive these tokens in faith. He who truly discerning the Lord's [sacrificial] body in the emblems, and shall examine himself as to his submission to the terms of the covenant, and then eateth and drinketh not unworthly,5 has his faith confirmed by this sacred pledge: can set to his own seal that all the blessings of redemption are his always and his while he thus receives the seal of the covenant. The Holy Spirit uses the sacramental ordinance for the assurance of faith: hence the meaning of the term SACRAMENT as applied to this solemnity

1 Exo. 9:19; 2 Heb. 9:19; 3 Heb. 9:20; 4 Mat. 26:17,28; 5 1 Cor. 11:28,29

3. But the ancient Passover was the rite that kept in annual remembrance the birth of the people as such and their community life in the bond of the covenant. When our Lord ordained His Supper, He distributed to each and laid emphasis on the ALL. So St. Paul makes this the external bond of unity: For we being many are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread. And this follows the declaration that the cup is the communion of the blood of Christ,1 and the bread the communion of the body of Christ. The Supper is the sacrament of union with Jesus the True Vine; and of union with one another in Him: hence it might seem that the elements represent not only the sacrificed body of Christ, but the spiritual body itself saved by that sacrifice and made part of Himself. The real bond of union, however, is not the bread and wine; it is the common participation of life in Christ by the Spirit. But the sacramental eating and drinking together is the outward and visible sign of that union. The Supper therefore is the perfect badge of common discipleship: the mutual pledge of all the offices of brotherly love. It is guarded by the most solemn sanctions. All who profess faith in Christ's atonement, who desire His salvation, and are willing to keep His laws, are invited to come, forbidden to remain absent. But God is the Judge. He was provoked to jealousy by those who partook of both the Lord's table and the table of devils.2 He smote with condemnation those who did eat and drink unworthily.3 The Church also must watch over the ordinance of its holy fellowship, and the individual must judge himself. After all vigilance is used the Lord's Supper in this world will never be without its Judas: it is the typical and imperfect feast of a fellowship that will one day be perfect. Meanwhile, as the sacrament of unity in Christ and with Christ, it is termed by us, with Apostolical sanction, the COMMUNION

1 1 Cor. 10:16,17; 2 1 Cor. 10:21; 3 1 Cor. 11:27

4. The notices scattered through the New Testament give us plain indications of the ritual of this ordinance. The elements, or constituents, are bread and wine:1 common bread and unadulterated wine. These elements were consecrated; the bread was solemnly broken, and the cup was blessed. The ordinance was called the breaking of bread,2 as if the distribution to each from one common loaf was preserved symbolically. The consecration was the setting apart to the most sacred possible use; the express thanksgiving for redemption commemorated by the bread and wine; and invocation of the grace signified

Each element was received separately, and by the act of each recipient. The communion was frequent:3 at first daily, certainly every Lord's Day. It is obvious that there is no precept on this subject, though there are two extremes which the language of the New Testament shuts out. Annual, or very occasional, celebration does not comport with the words As often as ye eat this bread,4 interpreted as they are by the signs of frequent communion in the early part of the Acts. On the other hand, St. Paul says, when ye come together into one place,5 or the congregation; which implies a formal assembly that could not be of daily recurrence. The ceremonial was simple: not for eating and drinking simply,6 but sacramental and symbolical. It was indeed connected sometimes with a preceding feast, the abuses of which are noted in the Epistle to the Corinthians, It was celebrated by the minister as Christ's representative: the bread which we break, the cup which we bless. But there was nothing priestly in the ministerial act, nor was the Lord's Supper, the Kuriakón deipnon, in any sense the one central act of worship:7 they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers.8 Lastly, it was observed as an ordinance perpetually binding: the Corinthian community was no exception to a general rule

11 Cor. 10:15-17; 2Acts 2:42; 3Acts 2:46; 41 Cor. 11:26; 51 Cor. 11:20; 61 Cor. 11:20-34; 7 1 Cor. 11:20; 8 Acts 2:42


The history of doctrine on this subject may be broadly viewed as falling under four heads: first, the Patristic period, when germs of error are seen growing up in teaching and ritual; secondly, the controversies which issued in the Tridentine doctrine of Rome; thirdly, the different formularies of the Reformation; and, lastly, the present aspect of the question throughout Christendom generally and especially in English theology

I. In the Patristic age, down to the first great controversy on the subject in the ninth century, we mark in every school of doctrine the signs of coming development. That development took two forms which afterwards united: respecting the sacramental presence in the Communion, and the sacrificial offering in the Eucharist, 1. As to the former, there was always much difference in expression. The earliest Fathers, while using very ambiguous language, never went beyond the figurative presence. So even Cyprian alludes to the Calix, quo sanguis Christi ostenditur. They speak of the Eucharist as being the body of Christ, and the heavenly food, but only as they speak of the Gospel and faith being the same. Down to Chrysostom there is no hint of the conversion of the substance, though Ignatius and Justin use the term meta-boloo. But both Ambrose and Chrysostom strike the note of future transubstantiation, though generally using the language of a purer faith: the latter declares that the priest held in his hand what was the most adorable in heaven, and the former, Hoc quod conficimus corpus ex virgine est

2. The sacrificial idea was added to the Eucharist in the third century, though it entered furtively. At first it was an oblation of gratitude for the gifts of God in life as crowned in redemption: the people brought the bread and wine themselves: part was consecrated for the Eucharist proper, the remainder was left for the lovefeast and the use of the ministry

This resemblance to the ancient oblations soon went further. Even Tertullian speaks of sacrifices for the dead; and Cyprian of the priest as offering in the place of Christ, Sacerdos vice Christi vere fungitur. Then the Greek Fathers refer to the unbloody sacrifice, and even the sacrifice of propitiation. Cyprian and Augustine are content with the Sacrificii peracti memoria: but Chrysostom and others delight in representing the Eucharist as a repetition of the great oblation, though in such terms as only suggest the error of the future: suggesting it however in the plainest manner

II. During the Middle Ages this sacrament had the concentrated attention of the Schoolmen fixed upon it. There were two crises of controversy, and then the dogmatic construction of Mediaeval materials went steadily onwards towards Trent

1. In the middle of the ninth century Paschasius Eadbertus wrote a treatise in which the idea of Transubstantiation was first expressed: " that the earthly substance of the bread and wine, sacrificed by the virtue and consecration of the Spirit, are converted into the selfsame body and blood which the Blessed Virgin by the virtue of the same Spirit conceived and brought forth: only the corporeal appearance and taste remain for the exercise of faith." Eatramnus opposed him, asserting only the symbolical and denying the actual change and use of the elements

2. Precisely two hundred years later (1030) Berengarius wrote a treatise asserting the spiritual participation of the whole Christ, and the logical contradiction of the other theory. His protest was vain, and Gregory VII. compelled him to recant

3. Ecclesiastical sanction was given to the theory of TRANSUBSTANTIATION, as elaborated by Thomas Aquinas and Hildebert, by the fourth Lateran Council, under Innocent III, 1215. But the dogma took various forms. Aquinas supposed that the Divine power retained the accidents without any substance behind: thus the substance was not so much changed as annihilated, or there was a simple substitution instead of change; others adopted the notion of what is called IMPANATION: the unity of Divine and. human, following the analogy of the Incarnation. The consequences rapidly followed: the dogma of CONCOMITANCE, as laid down by Aquinas, was made the ground for withdrawing the cup from the laity, the blood being in the body and the bread sufficient; the sacrilege of which had been protested against from Leo the Great downwards. The feast of the Adoration of the Host, Hostia, or sacrifice, was established in 1264. The Mass—probably from the " Ite missa est" of the Western Liturgy—was decreed as the bloodless repetition of the one sacrifice for the benefit of quick and dead, at the same time with Transubstantiation, in 1215

4. The Council of Trent fixed the Roman dogma: it boldly affirms that the substance is gone and the accidents only remain, in the emblems; it teaches that the presentation to God of the elements is a propitiatory offering, and includes the body, soul, and Divinity of the Redeemer, though the transubstantiation itself is only of the bread and wine into the body and blood. Moreover, masses were sanctioned for the living and the dead, and for particular individuals, their effect being to remove the temporal consequences of sin; and the private masses of the priests were permitted. The connection between Transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass governs all the sacramental acts: the Elevation, the Adoration, the Reservation, the Circumgestation or procession which presents the Adorable Presence to the worship of all beholders

5. The Greek Church differed in some points: retaining Transubstantiation it imposed unleavened bread, gave the cup to the laity, and always administered to children, which last peculiarity the Western Church had gradually abandoned

III. Protestantism was mainly a revolt against this teaching: first against its abuses and then against its fundamental principles. We must glance at the forms it assumed after the Reformation

1. Lutheran Protestantism abolished—that is in its final form and standard, for the abolition was very gradual—the Sacrifice of the Mass, with its concomitants. It retained the Sacramental Presence of the body and blood of Christ, but not in the form of Transubstantiation: the sacramental union was the basis, and expressed by sub, in, and cum pane, under, in, and with the elements. Hence the term Consubstantiation, which required the doctrine of Ubiquity, or the presence everywhere of the glorified body of Christ, after a Divine and celestial manner. The reception of the elements is by all who partake the receiving of the corporeity of Christ: but to the advantage of believers only, as the sign and seal of remission of sins; to the unbeliever for condemnation. The impartation of Christ's glorified humanity is moreover for the benefit of the whole nature of man: for the nourishment of his soul and for the sustentation of the germ of the resurrection in the body. This view of the Lutheran doctrine is much developed in its later theology. The basis of the whole system is the assumption that the words of institution must be taken literally, not figuratively: This is My Body; this is My blood.1 And the Lutheran formularies elevate the sacrament to the very highest point as a means of grace: for the impartation of the forgiveness of sins; the strengthening of faith; union with Christ and each other; and all other benefits of the Passion. But the real distinction in the doctrine is its element of Consubstantiation; the very presence of the glorified body and blood of the Lord in, with, and under the elements, these still remaining only elements however, received by the communicants

1 Mat. 26:26

2. Reformed Protestantism diverged widely from the doctrine of Luther. It altogether gave up the Lutheran manducatio oralis, and substituted the manducatio realis sed spiritualis; it gave up therefore the hyperphysical or physical presence. It insisted that This is My body meant This SIGNIFIES My body;1 and that the sacrament was the sign and pledge of a spiritual union with the Head of the Church. But there were certain decided differences among the Reformed communions themselves

1 Mat. 26:26

(1.) Zwingli represented the view that tended towards the merely commemorative design; but his doctrine went beyond that: Christ to the contemplation of faith is not only subjectively but objectively present; and that spiritual eating of His heavenly body which is the appropriation of His atoning grace is a sacramental eating or receiving of the signs and seals of a present Savior. He rejected the " IN pane et vino," but would retain the "CUM pane et vino," and with this a specific sacramental blessing

(2.) Calvin went much nearer to Lutheranism. What the elements symbolized was to him the Person of the Redeemer as well as His atoning work; and His body as part of His person. This is received spiritually, but not the less on that account really: the communicant is lifted up by faith to heaven, and his soul is as surely invigorated by the spiritual body of Christ as his body by the emblems. With these views perhaps the Presbyterian Confession and certainly the Anglican substantially agree

(3.) The Remonstrant Arminians leaned rather to Zwingli than to Calvin; and perhaps laid more stress than either upon the commemorative design of the ordinance. But that they ought not to be classed with the Socinians and their descendants, who make the sacrament only a memorial of the death of Christ, whatever value that death may have, will appear from these words of the Remonstrant Confession: " The holy supper is the second sacred rite of the New Testament, instituted on the night of His betrayal, to celebrate the eucharistical and solemn commemoration of His death; in which believers, after they have duly examined themselves and tested their true faith, eat the holy bread publicly broken in the congregation, and at the same time drink the holy wine publicly poured out, to show forth with solemn thanksgivings the bloody death of Christ undergone for us (by which, as our bodies are sustained with meat and drink, or bread and wine, so our souls are nourished up into the hope of eternal life), and to testify publicly before God and His Church their own vivifying and spiritual fellowship with the crucified body and shed blood of Christ (or with Jesus Christ Himself crucified and dead for us), and with all the benefits obtained through the sacrifice of the Redeemer, as well as their mutual charity towards each other." It is true that the covenant seal is omitted; but we must remember what has been already adduced as to the Arminian doctrine of the sacraments generally

IV. It remains that we refer to certain modern tendencies

1. Protestantism has renounced altogether the perversion of the Eucharist into a propitiatory sacrifice or mass; as also the perversion of the mystery of the spiritual presence into the sacrament of the impartation of the whole Christ through material elements that are only the accidents, or bread and wine without the substance. The Tridentine dogma is a fundamental violation of the symbolical and covenant character of the ordinance, and is refuted in its two main elements by all that has been shown to be the New-Testament doctrine

2. But the doctrine of the REAL PRESENCE—not the reality of His presence, accepted by all, but His PRESENTIA REALIS— is held by the Lutheran Church: which, however it may guard the doctrine by limiting the corporeal presence of our Lord to the elements in their use only, and denying any local circumscription of that presence, still errs against the truth of Scripture, that the Sacred Body is in heaven, and that the whole Christ, and not His glorified flesh only, is imparted spiritually through a sacramental union with Him by the Holy Spirit

3. The Anglican Church retains in her formularies nothing that favors the Romish error; but many of the elements of Lutheran, Calvinistic, and Zwinglian doctrine are combined

The Twenty-eighth Article, however, ought to be decisive, that " the body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper only after a heavenly and spiritual manner: and the means whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is faith." The modern theory of comprehension in the English Church allows all types of doctrine to be held: but by no just interpretation can the article of the Real Presence be attributed to that Church as represented by her authoritative formularies. The Presbyterian teaching of the Westminster Confession is substantially the same, and conformed to the Scripture. But the notion that the sacrament is only a commemorative and representative rite is held by many of the religious communities of England

4. The true doctrine generally is that which bears in mind the design of the ordinance to be a sign to the believing Church of all the blessings purchased by the oblation of the one sacrifice for sins, and a seal to the believer of his constant and present interest in those blessings. Whatever other ends it subserves, as a perpetual memorial of the life and death of Christ, as a badge of union among Christian people, and as a sacred service in which all holy affections and purposes are quickened, it is also the abiding exhibition to the eye, in sensible emblems, of the blood of atonement and the bread of life, and a sure pledge to those who accept the propitiation, as it is offered to penitent and believing faith, of their present, and constant, and eternal heritage of life in Jesus, Each of the terms SIGN and SEAL must have its full meaning preserved, while they are made one to the eye and hand and experience of living faith. That which the sign represents and the seal pledges is a benefit proceeding from Christ which must not be separated from Christ Himself. It is the Spirit's function only as He is the Spirit of Jesus, —of His person as well as of His work, —to take the sacramental emblems and show their meaning to believers


For the discharge of the offices of worship towards God, and for the administration of the means of grace, an order has been set apart: men called to this function by the Holy Ghost, approved of the Church by its representatives, and ordained to office by their brethren in the same order. The history of this institution in the New Testament is very simple, and may be thus summed in its results. First, the ancient ministry of the Temple and priesthood was entirely abolished. Secondly, an irregular vocation appeared in ministerial gifts and functions which were transitional, adapted to the days of the foundation, yet patterns also for future extraordinary vocations according to the Spirit's wisdom and the exigencies of the Christian society. Lastly, the established constitution takes its final form as an Episcopal or Presbyterial body described not so much by name as by office, and in some respect conformed to the model of the Synagogue: its function being ministerial, in the Divine service; pastoral, in the spiritual care of the flock; and ruling, in the government of the Church. But, simple as the Scriptural arrangements are, they assume in historical theology the widest variety of developments


The ancient Temple, with its typical offerings, having been done away in Christ, an entire change takes place in the ministry of the congregation. There is one High Priest, who hath passed into the heavens; the whole Church is a spiritual temple; and all its living members are a sacrificing priesthood. Whatever the New Testament says concerning sacrifice in the new worship either has reference to the priestly character of all true believers, or is figuratively applied to the functions of the ministry. The universal priesthood of Christianity is, however, only the New-Testament fulfillment of the typical priesthood of the entire congregation of Israel. Its fundamental principle is most important, as teaching the true dignity and essential equality of individual Christians, and the corporate sanctity of the Church whose inalienable prerogatives are represented by its ministry. But it has been perverted to the undermining of a distinct ministerial order, and therefore requires qualifications and guards

Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation:1 this word spoken to the ancient people is the foundation of what may be called the doctrine of the universal priesthood. Israel after the flesh was separated from the rest of the world as much as the sons of Levi were separated from the rest of the Israelites. So the spiritual Israel in union with Christ are unitedly and singly taken out of the world; and it is in them that the type has its perfect accomplishment. All the Apostles rejoice in this truth, the influence of which pervades their language. St. John feels it when he says: Ye have an unction, chrisma, from the Holy One.2 St. James also when he calls religion a threeskeia,3 which alludes to a ceremonial service. St. Paul and St. Peter call upon believers to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable,4 and to regard their whole life as spent in a spiritual house, where they offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ:5 their devotions and almsdeeds and good works being their priestly oblations. The doctrine thus established, guards against one abuse, and must itself be guarded from another almost equally perilous

1 Exo. 19:6; 2 1 John 2:20; 3 Jas. 1:26,27; 4 Rom. 12:1; 5 1 Pet. 2:5

1. There is no separated order of priesthood in the new service: one is our Priest even Christ, and all we are priests through fellowship with Him, presenting through Him as our Representative our spiritual sacrifice.1 The sacerdotal theory of the Christian ministry is a dishonor to our Lord, and is specially condemned by the tenor of the Epistle to the Hebrews. We have an altar:2 but that altar is the Cross, which He hath consecrated that it may sanctify all our gifts. We all have it and surround it and may habitually minister before it

1 1 Pet. 2:5; 2 Heb. 13:10

2. Yet there is a separated ministry in the New Testament representing the universal priesthood. While the offices of religious worship are more or less common to all, in private and social and public assemblies, there is provision made for the responsible presentation of the Church's religious acts of service and discharge of the Church's teaching function. After St. Paul and St Peter have bidden all believers to present their living sacrifices,1,2 they go on both of them, and in the same passage, to speak of the ministries of prophecy, and teaching, and eldership. The Epistle to the Philippians illustrates the whole subject of the Apostolic use of sacerdotal language. At its close the pecuniary offering of that people is said to be a priestly sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God;3 in the beginning the bishops and deacons4 are representatives of the people; and in the middle St. Paul speaks of the Apostolic devotion of his own life as a priestly libation upon the sacrifice5 of their faith. The ancient Levitical service supplied figures for the new ministry; but the new ministry was an ordained function equally defined with that of the old priesthood which it superseded

1 Rom. 12:1; 2 1 Pet. 2:5; 3 Phil. 4:18; 4 Phil. 1:1; 5 Phil. 2:17


Christianity was founded by the instrumentality of an extraordinary body of agents, preeminently endowed and authenticated. Their ministry was transitional; and, as such, continued for a season the various extraordinary administrations of the Holy Ghost under the old economy, not one of which passed away without being consummated and glorified in the service of the New Faith. While their function was designed to be transitory, it was at the same time to exhibit the types of an irregular vocation for special service according to the will of the Free Spirit in all ages wisely guiding the destinies of Christendom

References to all these extraordinary agents are dispersed through the Acts and the Epistles; but there are certain passages in which St. Paul enumerates and describes them

Comparing his words to the Ephesians with those to the Corinthians we gather that God set, that Christ gave1 as the fruit of His ascension, and that the Spirit divided to each,2 these several functions. We find the whole in an inverted order in these words: Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord; and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.3 While all are the energeemata of the One Triune God, they are the diakonaiai, or ministries of the Lord Jesus, and the charismata of the Holy Ghost. They are distinguished also as gifts of individual knowledge and faith; gifts of devotional utterance in new tongues; gifts of miraculous acts of healing; and gifts of administration in office. It is with these last, as including the others and yet surpassing them, that we have to do; and we must consider them first severally, and then in their common transitional character

1 Eph. 4:11; 2 1 Cor. 12:11; 3 1 Cor. 12:4,5,6

1. There are three orders of this original and extraordinary service: Apostles, Prophets, and Evangelists

1. The APOSTOLIC office was pre-eminently a ministry ordained of the Lord Himself. He chose twelve, whom also He named Apostles.1 St. John, who never mentions the Apostles as such, save symbolically in the Apocalypse, gives nevertheless—as in regard to the sacraments, and the Ascension, and some other matters—the best definition of what he omits. As the Father hath sent Me, even so send I you:2 the idea of mission or embassage, which has its highest meaning in Christ and in the Holy Ghost,3 is attached to the Apostolate, but descends no lower. Apostles were ambassadors to the world; their credentials were a direct mission from the Lord in person, confirmed by miraculous powers. Their office was to preach the Gospel to all men, in the name of the Risen Lord, whose resurrection they proclaimed; and everywhere to lay the foundation of churches, or to sanction the foundation laid by others, to be the models for all the future. As the Spirit was the invisible representative of the Lord, so the Apostles were the visible. Their absolute authority is indicated in two ways: first, as teachers of Christianity, by word and writing, they had the gift of inspiration; and, secondly, as founders of the Church, they had the power of the keys, of binding and loosing, that is, of uttering the unchangeable decrees of ecclesiastical government. Their sway everywhere is seen to be uncontrolled, and from their word there is no appeal. They had, and could have, no successors: they form a body of men chosen to lay the foundation of the universal Church, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets,4 and to commit to it the final documents of Scripture. A succession of such men would not have been in harmony with the known will of Christ, which we may interpret as purposing to leave a Fellowship with a settled organization, and a finished doctrine, and a natural development under the supreme guidance of the Holy Ghost. But being dead they yet speak in their writings, which are the only representatives of the Apostolical company in the visible community. It is from St. Paul, the one Apostle of the Gentiles, that we gather our fullest information concerning the Apostolical prerogative

1 Luke 6:13; 2 John 20:21; 3 Heb. 3:1; 4 Eph. 2:20

2. The PROPHETS occupy a large place in the New-Testament history. They spoke, like the Apostles, under the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost: not necessarily, or chiefly, predictions, but always utterances distinguished from ordinary teaching. Their function was a fulfillment of the Pentecostal promise: And on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy.1 These words teach us to expect an abundant effusion of this gift; and we find it accordingly. The Epistle to the Corinthians shows that it was common to men and women, that it was occasional and not the special endowment of an order, and that it sometimes pervaded the service of the congregation.2 But when St. Paul tells the Ephesians that they were built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets,3 he allows us to infer that there was a well-known body of men whose ordination was directly from the Spirit; to whom, though not as a permanent class uttering revelations which were to be preserved, the truth was immediately revealed. This high prerogative of the new order is confirmed by the remarkable words of the same Epistle: As it is now revealed unto His holy Apostles and Prophets by the Spirit.4

1 Acts 2:14-18; 2 1 Cor. 14:3,24,25,20; 3 Eph. 2:20; 4 Eph. 3:5

3. The link between Prophets and EVANGELISTS is given in the account of Timothy's ordination: According to the prophecies which went before on thee;1 and, Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy.2 Timothy is the type of this third order: the last charge to him of St. Paul, his superior, is: Do the work of an Evangelist, euangelistou, make full proof of thy ministry, diakonian.3 That ministry was the performance, in subordination to the Apostles, of the Apostolic offices of preaching everywhere the Gospel and founding churches. It was strictly subordinate, as is testified in the Acts by the Apostles' confirmation of their work through the bestowment of the Spirit, and by the plenary instructions given to Timothy and Titus by the Apostle who appointed them.4 It was an office that vanished with the apostolate on which it depended

In due time the name was given to the writers of the Gospels which the first Evangelists preached: Eusebius seems to have been the first to give it this application, and it has been accepted by the consent of Christendom

1 1 Tim. 1:18; 2 1 Tim. 4:14; 3 2 Tim. 4:5; 4 Acts 8:14,15

II. The transitional character of these offices suggests their connection both with the past and with the future

1. By them the Old Testament was linked with the New. The human instruments in the foundation of both economies are men extraordinarily appointed and supernaturally endowed. The Apostles in the New Law answer to Moses in the Old; the Prophets have risen again, having begun at the advent of Christ and not ceased until the foundations of His kingdom were laid; and the Evangelists correspond with those great men who anciently combined the legislative and prophetic functions. But there is the difference which the universal mission of the Gospel introduced: the publishers of the Evangelical glad tidings were only predicted in the Old Testament

2. In their relation to the future, these offices have, in the strictest sense, passed away

The Apostles have no successors. Their number was sealed: Twelve to represent the tribes of Israel, Matthias having been most solemnly added to complete their body when Judas fell from it; and One supernumerary introduced to represent the Gentile world. If others, such as Barnabas, seem to bear the name, a careful examination of the texts will show that they receive it only in an accommodated sense, or as appendages of the true Apostles. The prophetic office also has been withdrawn. And in the full meaning of the office there are no longer Evangelists, or men endowed with a delegated apostolical authority. But, though they passed away, their relations to early Christianity cannot be studied without leaving the impression that the same Spirit Who set them in the Church may reproduce their extraordinary influence without their names and without their miraculous endowments. We need no other Apostles, for the Apostolic body rules over us still; we need no Prophets, for the prophecy is sealed; but Evangelists, in the spirit and power of Apostles and Prophets, though not in their Spirit, —that is, not with their vocation—will always be needed while the earth is anywhere covered with the darkness of heathenism


The New Testament, especially in its latest documents, makes it certain that a regular and uniform ministerial constitution was appointed for the service of the Church after Apostolical supervision should be withdrawn. This ministry was divided into two offices: one, having more particularly the care of the spiritual interests of the flock, and the other more particularly that of its temporal or quasi-temporal affairs. The former is the Pastorate, the latter the Diaconate; and these two have been generally retained, though with different names and varying functions, by most bodies of Christian people

The term Ministry, diakonia, is the most comprehensive that can be used. It is sanctified by its application to the Lord Himself, Who announced that He came to minister,1 and was once called a Minister of the circumcision;2 it is used by St. Paul of the ministry generally; while it descends to the lowest office, to serve tables.3 The origin of the word is obscure; most probably it is to be derived from an obsolete diako or diooko, to run, connected with dioko, to hasten after. Conventionally it is limited in modern times to the pastoral office, or the ministry of the Word; which is only one of many instances illustrating the remarkable freedom with which the original terminology of ecclesiastical government has been dealt with in later ages. Generally it may be said that no one function as described in the New Testament finds its precise and unvaried representative in the modern Churches: a fact which should tend to lessen the confidence and mitigate the asperity of controversy concerning ecclesiastical principles

1 Mat. 20:28; 2 Rom. 15:8; 3 Acts 6:2


The terms employed to denote the ordinary spiritual office-bearers of the Christian community are in their English equivalents Presbyters or Elders, and Bishops or Overseers or Superintendents. These, however, constitute one order in the New Testament. The functions assigned to them are those of ministering the Word, and watching over the flock, and ruling the churches: they are accordingly called Teachers or Preachers, Pastors, and Rulers


The only official names of a permanent character are presbuteroi, and episkopoi: the former being far the more common

1. The New Testament uses these terms interchangeably for one and the same order of spiritual officers. The passages which prove this will also throw light upon the functions of this undivided order. St. Paul sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church, tous presbuterous,1 and at the close of his charge bids them take heed to the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers or bishops, episkopous. In the Pastoral Epistles also the two names signify one order. Titus was left in Crete for this among other obvious and undeniable reasons, to ordain elders in every city;2 and as the first qualification of these elders his Superior says, A bishop must be blameless.3 So St. Peter affirms that the duty of the elders is to feed the flock, episkopountes, or taking the oversight.4 Hence, writing to the Philippians, the Apostle mentions only two orders of spiritual officers, the bishops and deacons,5 as also in his former Pastoral Epistle to Timothy

1 Acts 20:17,28; 2 Tit. 1:5,7; 3 1 Pet. 5:1,2; 4 Phil. 1:1; 5 1 Tim. 3:1,8

2. The differences between the terms are obvious. That of Elder had reference to age or dignity, and was derived from Judaism; that of Bishop to office, and was derived from the Greeks. There is therefore no office of eldership as such, but there is of course an episkopoo: this is mentioned once in a sad connection,1 and once as an object of desire.2 It is remarkable, however, that no Episcopate is alluded to, in the sense of a collective body of bishops; but once at least we read of a Christian Presbytery, as having ordained Timothy,3 after the pattern of the Jewish: pan to Presbuterion, all the estate of the elders,4 literally THE WHOLE PRESBYTERY. The Elders of Judaism were seniors in age, chosen as assessors in the Sanhedrim with high priests and scribes. The Elders of Christianity formed a body, generally but not always seniors in age, who presided over the Christian community as the only directing and governing authority. The term Presbytery, therefore, runs up to the most reverend antiquity, and is invested with a dignity quite unique

1 Acts 1:20; 2 1 Tim. 3:1; 3 1 Tim. 4:14; 4 Acts 22:5

3. There are some traces of a pre-eminence given to one member of the Presbyterial body. During the New-Testament age the Apostles themselves were absolute in all churches and over all their affairs: the Evangelists representing their authority where it was delegated. But every corporate governing body must have a head, at least as Primus inter pares; and in the Apocalypse that one representative of the presbytery seems to be pointed out in the ANGEL who is addressed in each of the Epistles to the Seven Churches

The term Angel is symbolical, probably like Stars, though in another sense: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.1 It may be said that this would be making the stars symbols of symbols; that the angels therefore must represent something more real than an ideal guardian of the flock. Allowing this, there are those who say that it symbolizes the ministry collectively, which is exceedingly probable; yet even then the individual term Angel, though not the name of an office, suggests the Divine sanction of an arch-presbyter within a single limited pastoral charge. But there is no clear and distinct indication of the appointment of any such authority as pertaining to a distinct order, such as we have seen revived in the present century; and certainly not as bearing the name of Bishop

1 Rev. 1:20


The three functions of dispensing the Word of doctrine, watching over the flock, and ruling in the congregation, are distinctly laid down especially in St. Paul's Pastoral Epistles, to which in this connection it may be sufficient to refer as containing the sum and substance of New-Testament teaching on the subject

1. The ministration in Divine service includes the ordering of worship, administering the sacraments, and preaching the Word. Here the term Minister is especially appropriate: as angels are ministering spirits, so pastors are ministering men: but both as offering their liturgical service first to God and then from God. The responsibility of the due celebration of worship rests with the Ministry: the service, that is, whether of prayer or praise, which has been already described. As the representatives of the Divine will to the congregation, the duty of these spiritual officers is to administer the Sacraments, to preach the Gospel for conversion, and to teach the souls by their instrumentality converted. All this is in their commission, and for all this they must seek every Divine and human qualification. In the Gospels and Pastoral Epistles these endowments are, as might be expected, amply described

2. The responsibility of the pastoral care springs out of the former. The feeding of the flock is the instruction of its members, old and young; but it is also the vigilant distributive attention to all its interests in the whole economy of life. The undershepherds must imitate the Archipoimoon Who calleth his own sheep by name.1 For the general and particular care of the church the elders are responsible. But in this, as in the dispensation of the Word, and indeed in all their functions, they have the ministries of the whole congregation at their disposal, and cannot dispense with them. Among the gifts bestowed on the Church were the helps or antileémpseis2 and the New Testament exhibits Christians of all classes as being employed in the services of prayer, preaching, and care of the sick. But in all and over all the Presbytery have the supreme responsibility

1 John 10:3; 2 1 Cor. 12:28

3. This pastoral relation passes naturally into what we have Scriptural authority for calling the spiritual government of the Church. Its ministers are called hagoumenoi, rulers or proestotes, presidents, and all its members are bidden to obey them that have the rule.1 This authority may be viewed under two aspects: first, as committed to them by the Chief Shepherd, to Whom alone they are finally responsible as representing Himself; and, secondly, as representing the authority of the congregation committed by its own formal delegation to its representatives

1 Heb. 13:7

(1.) Such rule as they have is ordained of Christ, and the solemn sanctions of their responsibility are connected with the great day when they must give account to Him who now walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks and holdeth their seven stars in His right hand.1 The extent and objects of this authority are to be measured by the degree in which the Presbytery are the representatives of the ordinary ministerial authority of the Apostles, in governing the Church by maintaining and guarding the doctrines and laws of Christianity, by exercising discipline as to receiving and excluding the members of its fellowship, and by the general regulation of its affairs. That government of the body which was committed to the Apostles, they committed through Evangelists to faithful men,2 who should discharge their ordinary ministerial function when the guidance of inspiration ceased

1 Rev. 2:1; 2 2 Tim. 2:2

(2.) Their jurisdiction may be said also to be representative of that of the congregation itself. Though there is no power but of God, and the government of the ministry is included as ordained of God,1 there is a sense in which it is only the authority of the whole Church delegated to its ministers. The three Mediatorial offices are committed to the entire body of His people who are said to have received an unction from the Holy One,2 that is, the Christly anointing from the Christ: they have the doctrine of truth and know all things and can try the spirits;3 they are invested with the priestly function, so far as they have an altar and offer up spiritual sacrifices;4 and they are kings, a royal priesthood.5 But all that the Church has received as a corporate body from its Head it lodges again in a certain sense with its ministers: all, literally and without deduction. The body of the people have resigned to them the right to teach; they have deputed their elders to that office. As a congregation their priestly functions are in the hands of their ministers; though in discharging them these are no longer priests. And the rule of the flock they have given over by the Lord's will to their ministerial superintendents

1 Rom. 13:1; 2 1 John 2:20; 3 1 John 4:1; 4 Heb. 13:10; 5 1 Pet. 2:5,9

4. This Presbyterial government is one and not divided. Distinctions between a Teaching and a Pastoral or Ruling Eldership have been established in various communities, as will be hereafter seen; but the Scripture does not sanction them, for it generally speaks of ministerial teaching as a necessary part of pastoral duty. Remember them that had the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God.1 That a bishop be didaktikos, didactic, or apt to teach,2 was spoken of by St. Paul as indispensable. Afterwards the Apostle says: let the elders that rule WELL be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and teaching.3 Very earnest elders must be doubly honored, with a doubtful side-glance at their ample sustenance: doubly if their excellence is in ruling, and still more if also in teaching

1 Heb. 13:7; 2 1 Tim. 3:2; 3 1 Tim. 5:17

5. Lastly, these offices of the Presbytery have relation not only to individual churches but to congregations of churches. Neither in the Old Testament nor in the New is there anything to favor the supposition that a congregation was ever regarded as isolated and independent in its government. The unity of the churches as representing the one Church appears everywhere: whether in our Lord's use of the term—first, My church1 universal, then, tell it unto the church2 local—or in the Acts or in the Epistles or in the Revelation, where the seven churches which are in Asia3 refer to variety in unity. Everywhere we find Apostles representing the church, then pastors and teachers representing the congregation. The Ecclesiastical government of the future was sketched in the New Testament. We do not find the exact pattern shown us, but sufficient to indicate that there was in every region a bond of unity among the churches, and that, supposing the Apostles withdrawn, that bond was the Presbytery. In the Acts we have the first council at Jerusalem, and the assembly of elders at Miletus. With respect to the former we read: as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the Apostles and Elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established.4 With respect to the latter, St. Paul sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.5 When they had come he proceeded to speak to them as representatives of Asia: Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia. An entirely isolated or independent Christian community is unknown in the New Testament

1 Mat. 16:18; 2 Mat. 18:17; 3 Rev. 1:11; 4 Acts 16:4; 5 Acts 20:17,18


The first officers whose appointment is mentioned after Pentecost were set apart as helpers of the Apostles in the service of tables: the feasts and charities of the Church. The Seven originally designated were in all respects an extraordinary creation; but in due tune a distinct order is mentioned by the name of Deacons, whose vocation was, first, to assist the Presbyters in their several offices generally, and, secondly, as their assistants, to take charge of the sick and the poor. To the Deacons corresponded a much less prominent order of Deaconesses

1. The Seven were to the subsequent deacons what, as we have seen, the extraordinary ministers were to the ordinary. Their appointment was one of the results of the transitory community of goods; a temporary expedient out of which a permanent institution grew

An outpouring of love altogether new and peculiar to the Christian fellowship demanded a service of which the ancient economy, temple or synagogue, had no type. Hence the men appointed to assist the Apostles were scarcely below them in spiritual endowments; and indeed added to these new functions the offices of preachers and evangelists and prophets. Certainly nothing in their duties corresponded with the Minister,1 hupeerétee of the Synagogue. As we read often of THE TWELVE, and more than once of THE SEVENTY, so once we read of THE SEVEN.2

1 Luke 4:20; 2 Acts 21:8

2. The later New Testament mentions the office and qualifications for the office in such a manner as to show that it was mainly though not exclusively secular: the deacon is not required to be apt to teach, and the good degree1 he is said to purchase is simply the higher more distinctively pastoral office to which the lower ministries sometimes led

They were an order common to all. Their first care was for the sick and poor; they dispersed the alms of which the Presbyters were the treasurers: and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.2 They were employed to serve tables:3 that is, to take order for the love feasts which at first were daily connected with the Lord's Supper. This, however, became gradually a less onerous service, and allowed more time for private and public instruction; so that they were by degrees intermediaries between the elders and the people, just as the elders were intermediaries between the individual church and the churches elsewhere. St. Paul describes their duties in the vivid sketch he gives of their qualifications, among which are that they be grave, not double tongued, and holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience,4 these pointing to the offices of private instruction in smaller assemblies or classes and local preaching as connected with the function of the deacon. The service is often in modern times rendered without the name

1 1 Tim. 3:13; 2 Acts 11:30; 3 Acts 6:2; 4 1 Tim. 3:8,9

3. The deaconesses constituted a distinct order, originating in the necessity of the female portion of the congregation, especially among the Greeks. The office was strictly like that of the deacons so far as concerned the care of the poor and private instruction: it allowed women to minister in countless ways to the good of the saints under the direction of the elders. These seem to be referred to when St. Paul says: let not a widow be taken into the number—katalegesthoo, be enrolled—under threescore years old,1 though this limitation of age was not regarded as imperative and was afterwards relaxed. The other qualifications show how important was the office in the Apostle's judgment; and generally how extreme was the care taken as to the character of the women who discharged any functions in the congregation. But the deaconesses were more limited than the deacons as to public teaching. Let the women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak,2 lalein. There is nothing more severe in St. Paul's writings than what follows: it is a shame, aischron, for women to speak in the church

Natural decorum was the ground of his interdict, which would apply, however, only to the more public assembly

1 1 Tim. 5:9,10; 2 1 Cor. 14:34,35


To this ministry there is a Divine vocation, of the Spirit; and a human, of the Church

And this vocation is, in the New Testament, generally sealed by Ordination, through laying on of the hands of the Presbytery


To every service in the Christian fellowship there is a vocation: the ministerial, whether pastoral or more administrative, is connected with a special call, more emphatically marked than any other on account of its greater spiritual importance

1. The Divine call is supposed throughout the New Testament. As in the old economy no man taketh this honor unto himself but he that is called of God,1 so in the new our Lord chose the Twelve and the Seventy; He also gave His special sanction to the twelfth Apostle Matthias, and the thirteenth Paul. Of the ordinary elders it is said, all the flock, in the which the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops.2 The Scripture gives no specific indication of the way in which the secret vocation of the Spirit shows itself; save that the person called must be one who has a spiritual experience of the Christian religion, must have the requisite gifts for the office to which he is called, and must purchase to himself his degree by the usefulness of his preparatory service, these being the fruits meet for his candidature. GRACE, first: Who reconciled us to Himself by [Jesus] Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;3 GIFTS, secondly: the elder must be apt to teach; FRUIT, lastly: he must have used the office of a deacon well, or, literally, have ministered well.4

1 Heb. 5:4; 2 Acts 20:28; 3 2 Cor. 5:18; 4 1 Tim. 3:2-13

2. The vocation on the part of the church is much more expressly dwelt upon. Generally, the body of elders or ministers pronounces the call of the congregation: the Apostles set apart the deacons; the prophets and teachers1 announced their specific call to Paul and Barnabas; Timothy and Titus evidently had the same function as the representatives of the Apostles and of the Church. Obviously, this implies the consent and ratification of the people, though not their initiative: in the case of the deacons, the judgment of the congregation was naturally more relied on and had more weight than in the case of the elders. But in neither case was the approval of the community omitted; though we are without the means of judging how in many instances their suffrages were obtained or their consent shown

1 Acts 13:1


What is now called ordination took place generally by imposition of the hands of the Presbytery. This ceremony was borrowed from Judaism, being the symbol and medium of the appointment to office, and the pledge of all requisite grace for its discharge

1. It was the designation to the sacred business of their lives. They on whom hands were laid were set apart as the act of the congregation representatively performed. Hence it was the pledge on the part of the Church of the maintenance of those thus enrolled. Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel:1 an appointment of Christ which explains the Apostolic injunction to elders, that they feed the flock not for filthy lucre2 and that they must be given to hospitality.3

1 1 Cor. 9:14; 2 1 Pet. 5:2; 3 1 Tim. 3:2

2. On the part of the body of elders it was the formal admission of the ordained into their own number: With the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery.1 Over this body Timothy himself presided when others were ordained: lay hands suddenly on no man.2 In this case Timothy, like Titus, was the representative of the Apostle, who, however, seems himself to have presided over the Presbytery which ordained Timothy: stir up the gift of God, which is in thee through the laying on of my hands.3 From which it follows that in this function the Apostle was only the chief or President of the body, and did not supersede them

1 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 1 Tim. 5:22; 3 2 Tim. 1:6

3. On the part of the Spirit it was the pledge of His bestowment of grace for the discharge of the duties of the office: that gift, namely, which St. Paul speaks of as latent or inherent in Timothy. The laying on of the hands of the Apostles was never without a specific blessing: specific as to the blessing, specific also as to the Apostolic hands. But in every subsequent age the ministerial GIFT is imparted: not as a present mysterious virtue, or grace, or sacramental gift, but as the pledge in the soul of all needful strength and guidance for every emerging duty


The development of ecclesiastical opinion as to the function and authority of the Ministry, or the Power of the Keys, has been bound up inseparably with the development of the idea of the Church itself. A few leading points only will require attention here: much of the subject belongs to Ecclesiastical history

I. The ante-Nicene distinction between Clergy and Laity contained the germ of the latter Hierarchy, with most of its accompanying errors, but with some striking peculiarities

1. The Apostolical Fathers began the development very early. The first of them, Clement of Rome, speaks of the laikos anthropos, the LAYMAN. Another, Ignatius, distinguishes bishop, presbytery, and deacon; and makes the bishop the centre of catholic unity. In the third century the ministry were called the CLERUS or CLERICI: both as the lot or portion of God, after the analogy of the Levitical tribe, and as the elect guides of the people

Their rank was an ORDO SACERDOTALIS or ECCLESIASTICUS; and here we have the origin of Clergy and Ecclesiastics. There were in this order two departments: the Ordines Majores, comprising the diaconate, the presbyterate and the episcopate, of Divine institution; the Ordines Minores, comprising all the lower functions from the sub-deacon to the door-keeper. During that period celibacy was optional. The consent of the people to the appointment of their pastors or bishops was required. Laymen were permitted to teach, though not in the presence of the clergy or without their consent. The episcopal institute as that of a distinct order sprang from ecclesiastical custom, based upon the necessity of continuing the Apostolic bond of unity. It became universal in the middle of the second century: but Irenaeus and Cyprian did much in the third to exalt the office to its highest dignity. The hierarchical idea, with its full complement of gradation in its train, was only by slow degrees fully developed. The Chorepiscopi, or country-bishops, were the lowest in episcopal rank The Metropolitans were the bishops of the leading cities: Antioch being the see for all Syria: Alexandria for Egypt; Rome for Italy and the West, In the fourth century the term Patriarch was attached to these, and to Constantinople and Jerusalem. the five ecclesiastical and political centers of the Roman Empire. To this system the East has adhered. The West has passed on to the Pontificate: the unity and consummation of all lower spiritual orders

2. These beginnings of error are to be traced in another direction. Almost every doctrinal deviation from the faith as a whole had its specific influence on the theory of the Christian ministry and its relation to the sacrifice of Christ. So far as Judaizing prevailed it brought back the sacrifice and the sacrificing priesthood with the sacrificial altar. The notion of a necessary external unity pointed to the supremacy of the bishop as the bond of union in the individual church, according to Ignatius; and of the supremacy of one bishop to secure the unity of all the churches. Even the wholesome doctrine of Catholicity, in opposition to schisms and heresy, tended the same way. The Power of the Keys, which originally guarded the purity of the fellowship, became to the clergy a great temptation; and tended, together with the exaggerated notion of the mysteries of which they had the keys, to invest their character with an unevangelical prerogative. In the second century two views predominated on this subject: one which made the binding and loosing identical with retaining and forgiving sin; and another which made it refer more generally to all ecclesiastical authority. Both, however, took a high stand on this subject. Cyprian asserted that the power of the keys was entrusted first to Peter and then to the other Apostles: making that difference between the two on which so great a superstructure has since been raised. The prescriptions of penance for Peccata Mortalia, or sins which threatened spiritual life, with the excommunication and reconciliation or reception into the Church again by absolution, did not before the time .of Augustine give the priest more than the authority of intercession as the representative of the congregation. Leo the Great did much to exalt the priestly independent power as his own official prerogative

Confession was not as yet made to the priests under obligation; and, while the binding and loosing had some reference to Divine forgiveness, it had more to certain ecclesiastical privileges. Public expulsions from the church on Ash-Wednesday, and public receptions afterwards on the Ascension Thursday, were usages of Rome in the fifth century. These gave place during the Middle Ages to private penance and private absolution

II. From the time of Constantine to the Reformation—twelve hundred years—there was a steady development of the germs of error observable in the first centuries. The main points only need be here noted: to follow them out into their details belongs rather to ecclesiastical history

1. Though some of the highest authorities—Jerome, Chrysostom, Theodoret—asserted the original identity of bishops and presbyters, the episcopal order came to be regarded as representative of Christ and the Apostles, the special organs and instruments of the Holy Ghost. The bishops assumed the sole right to ordain, and in the West to confirm: their hands alone being supposed to communicate the sealing grace of the Gospel

2. When Christianity was made the religion of the empire the ministry of the Church became in the strictest sense a HIERARCHY. After A.D. 395, the Empire being divided into East and West, this Hierarchy had two heads: the Patriarchs of Rome and Constantinople

These long contended for the mastery; but Rome finally gained the victory. ROMA LOCUTA EST became the standard of judgment. The bishop of Rome claimed to be PAPA, POPE or PRIMATE of the whole Church, and to possess a dignity beyond that of all other bishops, though in order still only a bishop. Rome was the only Sedes Apostolica in the West, and was therefore the Latin Patriarchate. But the patriarchal system was oligarchical, not monarchical; and the four (Ecumenical Councils, —of Nicsea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon—made the bishop of Rome only PRIMUS INTER PARES among the patriarchs and bishops, just as every bishop was only Primus inter Pares among the presbyters. The separation of the Greek Church from the Latin is proof that the claim was never conceded. But it was reserved for the Reformation to bring the only good argument— that of Scripture—against the Hierarchical system, which as such seemed naturally to require a head. It is historical fact that Leo I., called the Great, who died A.D. 461, laid the firm foundations of the modern Papacy; and that Gregory I., who died A.D. 604, consolidated the system which culminated with Gregory VII. and Innocent III. in the Middle Ages

3. The Jewish priesthood and worship had gradually become the model of the Christian service. Ordination was accompanied with oil: this being to the special priesthood what baptism was to the universal priesthood, and, like baptism, having a Character Indelibilis

By slow degrees every trace of popular election and confirmation passed away; and the clergy virtually became the church. Their sole administration of the sacraments, the number of which gradually increased, gave them more than the ancient Jewish priestly ascendancy. The central service of the Unbloody Sacrifice was waited on by priests clothed in vestments surpassing those of the Temple service in variety of symbolical meaning, and concentrated on them all the confidence and awe which the Levitical priesthood inspired

4. Seminaries of ministerial instruction—of which the Catechetical School at Alexandria was the model—abounded in the East from the fourth century. In the West there were many such schools privately set up by the bishops: such as the Monasterium Clericorum of Augustine. But the majority of the clergy were found to be profoundly ignorant as ages rolled on; although their ignorance was not so universal as is sometimes represented

5. The history of Monasticism is only indirectly connected with that of the ministry

Asceticism marked the private life of many of the clergy from the beginning; in the fourth century this became Anchoretism or hermit life separated from the world (anachoreo to retire, erouia a desert); thence came the coenobite or cloister life, or monasticism proper, the ascetic life organized (koinos bios vita communis, common life); and in the middle ages the monastic orders were the climax. The vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience undertaken by them all were not of themselves ministerial. The monks were Religiosi but not therefore necessarily Clerici until the tenth century

6. The Mediaeval doctrine of the Keys underwent much development; and was finally completed by Thomas Aquinas. He distinguished between the Potestas (and the Clavis) Ordinis and the Potestas (and the Clavis) Jurisdictionis: the former opening heaven directly, the latter through the excommunication and absolution dispensed in the ecclesiastical forum. The sacramental power of the Keys became the centre of the sacrament of penance. Absolution, according to the final doctrine, procures forgiveness of sins. The opus operans of the penitent's repentance is followed by a pardon ex opere operato. But as judge in foro Dei, the priest can give absolution only as passing judgment on the reality of the penitence. This must after all, even in this doctrine of the Keys, be left conditional and with God alone

7. The full Roman Catholic doctrine places the administration of grace in the hands of an Ordo Sacerdotalis; an ecclesiastical hierarchy jure divino—with its Clerus Minor rising to the Clerus Major—which in its stricter sense the bishops really form, culminating in one visible Head, the successor of St. Peter and the representative of Christ on earth. The Church is represented by general councils, consisting of the collective episcopate summoned and presided over by the Pope, who has the Suprematus Jurisdictionis over all bishops. By the same Divine right the Church—the authority of which the Vatican Council of 1870 has really vested in its Head—has the Potestas Ordinis, magisterii and ministerii, the ordering of all doctrine and worship; the Potestas Jurisdictionis, that is the Potestas Clavium or Power of the Keys, the authority to dispose of all the treasures of the grace of Christ; the Potestas Regiminis, or religious authority over the world, which however is an authority always, to a greater or less extent, in conflict with the Potestas Saecularis

III. The general principle introduced by the Reformation was this, that the living church is the subject and source and centre of all power: that the Potestas Clavium, or Power of the Keys, was committed by Christ to the Apostles as His representatives, and through them to the universal body. The ministerial function or office is of Divine appointment; but its various forms and names are of human arrangement. As human and Divine at once, the ministry is representative of the whole Church, acting through it and in it and devolving upon it its rights

1. The Lutheran doctrine was higher than that of the Reformed. It connected the ministerial office more expressly with the KEYS. Its Ministerium Yerbi et Sacramentorum assigns to the pastor authority to preach the Gospel and remit sins. The following sentences from the Formularies will further explain: " Wherever the (true) Church is there is the right of administering the Gospel. Whence it is needful that the Church retain the right of calling, choosing, and ordaining ministers." " No one ought to teach in the Church or administer sacraments unless duly called." The connection between the Divine and human call is left indefinite: but "by Divine right bishops and rulers in the Church are to be obeyed. But if they teach or ordain contrary to the Word of God the Divine command forbids obedience." The Power of the Keys was regarded as consisting in preaching the Gospel or the terms of forgiveness; but both Luther and the Lutheran Standards and doctors left much room for confession and personal absolution of the minister

2. The Reformed type of doctrine was more rigorous. It laid more stress on ecclesiastical discipline, which it reckoned among the notes of the true Church; and rejected private confession and absolution altogether. It introduced a more stringent theory of the equality of pastors. By the side of the Ministri Docentes it placed the Ministri Ministrantes or Layelders who represented the Church in another sense and in matters of economy and discipline: set apart, and generally ordained, but not to teach

3. The Anglican doctrine of the Ministry, established at the Reformation, differed in some respects from both these. It retained Episcopacy with the name of Bishop and its special prerogatives: which Lutheranism disguised under the name of Superintendents and reduced it to a mere human expedient. It retained the Hierarchy, as adapted to a territorial and national religion. It went further than the other bodies in its interpretation of the Power of the Keys: using language as to the private absolution of the minister which at least in some of its services is more than merely declarative and significative. The presbyter is also styled priest by an equivocal abbreviation of the word. And, lastly, the Anglican doctrine assumes a special gift and influence of the Holy Spirit in ordination: though the strictly sacramental character of orders is denied, it lays much stress, and rightly so, on the express provision of grace provided for every ministerial function

IV. It will suffice to indicate the theological points involved in these several tendencies: as they affect, that is, doctrine concerning the Christian Ministry

1. The Hierarchical tendency has reached its natural consummation in the dogmatic definition of Papal Infallibility in 1870. The Pontiff, or Bishop of Rome, or Pope, speaking ex cathedra, that is, avowedly pronouncing the mind of the Church, or of the Spirit in the Church, is the infallible oracle of truth. Thus the long controversy as to the meaning of the Keys being given to St. Peter before they were given to the Apostolic company, seems to be settled, though in a manner inconsistent with other parts of the New Testament. It is forgotten that the special authority given to Peter, that of first opening the kingdom of heaven to Jews and Gentiles, and decreeing what was binding on the Church, and declaring the terms of forgiveness, —the Power of the Keys— was never arrogated by him for himself alone, or even as superior to the rest; and that he declared only that God made choice among us that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel,1 but no more. Moreover, Simon Peter is the only Apostle whose fallibility is expressly afterwards declared: he was to be blamed;2 and not a word is said of his primacy among the living Apostles being transmitted in any way whatever

1 Acts 15:7; 2 Gal. 2:11

2. From the time of the Reformation there has been a reaction against the Hierarchy which has in some communities gone to extremes. The QUAKERS, as a branch of the mystical family, swept away the ministry with the church and the sacraments: substituting, however, a secret and distinct influence of the Holy Ghost on His own selected organs for the benefit of the assembly. Thus the ministry in their teaching is a perpetual creation instead of a separated order. Their ecclesiastical government is simply the government of a society on principles of human expediency. More recently the PLYMOUTH BRETHREN, or BRETHREN, have arisen as the English branch of a community the principles of which are found in other lands and have never been unrepresented in the Church. This sect denounces the denominations of Christianity, falls back upon the Word of God, retains the sacraments, but rejects the separated pastorship, whether as a body or represented by an individual. The order of the ministry is renounced; and the teaching of the Brotherhood is left to the Spirit's supply of gifts or charismata of teaching. This system utterly lacks the consistency of that of the Quakers. Both these Brethren and those Friends, however, are condemned by the Pastoral Epistles

3. The Catholic Apostolic Church strives to combine almost all the theories already alluded to. Its ministry is one of charismata, or gifts, restored according to the pattern in the Corinthian Epistles, and the Epistles of the Revelation. Its Power of the Keys is very similar to that of the Romanists. Its priestly service seeks to go back to the early ages; but halts midway

4. The importance of the Laity or general body of the congregation has been in modern times steadily more and more acknowledged. The abuse of terms which made the church and the clergy synonymous has passed away to a great extent; though its effect is not nor is it likely to be entirely removed. It is more and more generally acknowledged that laymen may act as Evangelists towards the world, and even as teachers within the church; that they may be employed in instruction of children, or as catechists; that they may read the Scriptures, publicly and privately; that they may sustain manifold offices more or less spiritual; that they may mainly direct the financial affairs of the community; and that they ought to be representatives in many ecclesiastical courts of the economics of the Church

There are excesses in this direction, which go to the extreme opposite of the hierarchical excesses. Such is the lay power which is retained by the constitution of the established church as a final appeal. Such is the lay-representation in the Presbyterian government proper: ruling elders, chosen for life, in the presbyteries, synods, and general assemblies

These presbyters—laymen in all other respects, and representatives of the lay element— have a voice in matters which affect the ministerial jurisdiction as such. This applies also to several of the minor Methodist bodies not professedly Presbyterian. In the congregational system the power of the Pastor as such is reduced to a very slight element in comparison with that of the body of the laity

5. Methodism is in regard to its doctrine and practice on this subject eminently high at once and free. It is Presbyterian as to the basis of its theory: its ministers are of one order only, its Conference being composed of representatives of the Presbytery of the body of Societies or Churches forming the Connexion. It is episcopal, after the earliest type

Augustine says (de Civ. xix. 19): Episcopatus nomen est operis, non honoris. Graecum est enim, atque inde ductum vocabulum, quod ille qui praeficitur eis, quibus praeficitur, superintendit, curam eorum, scilicet gerens, epi quippe super, skopos, intentio est: ergo, episkopein latine SUPERINTENDERE possumus dicere. Hence the Superintendent in English Methodism occupies precisely the position of early episcopacy and of episcopacy in some parts of Lutheranism. The name Bishop is retained in America, Methodism employs the laity in every diaconal function; though it does not retain the name deacon. It has its Leaders, Local Preachers, Poor Stewards, and Society Stewards, generally of the laity, male and female. It uses the service of women in private ministries, as catechists or teachers in Sunday-schools and leaders. It more carefully than most other religious bodies distinguishes the functions of the pastorate and of the laity: reserving for the final ministerial jurisdiction all questions that affect the Power of the Keys as left by Christ in His Church, The Methodist doctrine is that our Lord left the Keys—the general government of His body, the special binding and loosing of authoritative decrees, and the reception and expulsion of its members—to the Church itself, as represented, however, by the men whom the Spirit would raise up with concurrence of the congregation to represent its authority


The Church of Christ, at once visible and invisible, exists to continue and perfect the work which He began. It is His organ for the preparation of His final kingdom. As such it has a twofold relation to those without: first, to maintain itself, in the midst of the world, as the depositary and witness of saving truth; secondly, to win the world to the obedience of Christ, as a Missionary Institute

Some of the topics here indicated have been already more or less fully discussed. Some of them must be reserved for Eschatology. But the view or the Administration of Redemption would not be complete without some general remarks here on the three branches of this subject


The Church, as an organization in the world but not of it, is the depositary and guardian and witness of the truth. The truth which it has received is the standard of its faith and discipline; as it respects both individual Churches and union of Churches on whatever principles united

1. One of the chief prerogatives of the ancient people was that unto them were committed the oracles of God.1 The last declaration of St. Paul was that the house of God was the pillar and ground of the truth:2 a final testimony of the Apostle which, taken in all its large context, gives a most impressive view of the prerogative, responsibility, and dignity of the visible Church. These words go back to our Lord's which declare that the Spirit of the truth should abide with His people: the promise was not, by the very terms, limited to the Apostles. In this, as in all, they were representatives of the entire community for ever; representatives also of its permanent Ministry as a whole; besides being as Apostles a unique and pre-eminent class. The Church universal is the guardian of Scripture. There was a company of disciples prepared by the Word SPOKEN to receive the Word WRITTEN

To show that the cause of God was not absolutely dependent on the complete Canon, that canon took centuries for its determination. But it was completed for the long future; and no individual church is faithful which either adds to or takes from the collection of the sacred oracles. Further it is also the guardian of the truth which is derived from Scripture

One end of its existence is contradiction of error as it arises: hence, the variations of dogmatic definition in Creeds and Formularies, The THREE CREEDS were, until the Reformation, a protest against all the errors of the world and of the Church itself. Since then it has pleased the Spirit that various communities should have their various STANDARDS, ARTICLES, or CONFESSIONS OF FAITH

1 Rom. 3:2; 2 1 Tim. 3:15,16

2. The individual churches have been raised up to bear witness to sundry and several neglected elements of the truth: it being manifestly the mind of the Spirit that the denominations should act as mutual restraints and excitements. It was not His will that there should be uniformity in the Confessions of Christendom: when that uniformity existed for a season corruption was at the door. He administers the Work of Christ by unity in essentials, and mutual antagonism in things of less moment 3. But it is also the doctrine of Scripture that even the truth as it is in Jesus is not in this world to be revealed in all its fullness. For we know in part.1 A perfect church on earth is not one of the promises or predictions of Scripture. Nor is a finished and rounded scheme of Christian Theology to be expected. Before the exact text of Scripture shall have been determined, and all errors eliminated out of the confessions, and a perfect system of doctrine unfolded, He will have come Who is Himself the truth and will not give His honor to another

1 1 Cor. 13:9


The Church of Christ exists for the sake of the spread of the Gospel through the world: it is in virtue of its original commission a missionary body. Its obligation rests upon all individual Societies and all their members. With the fulfillment of this commission the functions of the Church will cease: the kingdom of Christ will more and more fully be revealed; until by His coming it will be translated from a kingdom of grace to a kingdom of glory

The doctrine of Vocation has brought out the distinction of the Christian Church, that it has received a commission for all nations: partly, in contradistinction to the limitation of the Theocracy; partly as the term and goal of its own mission

1. Hence the preaching of the Gospel was the revelation of the mystery1 that the Gentiles should be called. And it is declared by our Lord that the Gospel is to be preached for a witness unto all nations,2 before He Himself should come: only for a testimony, however; for shall He find faith on the earth?3 It is true that in the history of the New Testament we find both principles only by degrees established. The admission of the Gentiles was very slowly acknowledged: not Jerusalem but Antioch was the missionary centre. The universal preaching of the Gospel was too soon assumed to have prepared for Christ's return

1 Rom. 16:25; 2 Mat. 24:14; 3 Luke 18:8

2. No truth concerning the mission of Christianity has been so unfaithfully dealt with by the Church itself. Until the Roman Empire became Christian, missions, the record of which are lost, were vigorously conducted. But from that time down to the Reformation they were affected by two evils, which however did not hinder the spread of Christianity. The faith was propagated to a great extent by the agency of the civil power; it was diffused in its corrupt form, and sometimes by heretics: but the foundations were everywhere laid on which a better superstructure was afterwards upreared. The Reformation was not mindful enough of the missionary obligation: the English Church organized her missions only for the sake of her colonies in the seventeenth century; the Lutheran Church made energetic beginnings in the Danish mission; but it was the Romish Propaganda that showed most vigor

3. With this century began the Missionary era proper, after the preparations of the last century. It is now acknowledged by most Christian communities that the churches exist as such in order to the preparation and diffusion of the kingdom of Christ among men

MISSIONARY SOCIETIES have everywhere sprung up, and are the glory of the present age

In strange contrast with this is the fact that there are some communities, and many individuals in other communities, who believe that the diffusion of the Gospel is a subordinate matter; and that the destruction of His enemies and the establishment of His kingdom must be effected by the visible reappearance of the Lord, Who will for a thousand years before the end reign upon earth. But the uniform tenor of the New Testament declares that this Gospel is to be preached in all the earth, to every creature, and that Christ's presence with His missionary Church will continue always to the end of the world. This subject will return in the last section, that of Eschatology


The New Testament ends as it began, with the Kingdom of God and of Christ. That kingdom is the kingdom of heaven, as being in its origin not of this world. It is the kingdom of heaven on earth, as the spiritual authority that is already pervading human society. It is the kingdom of heaven also as the final form into which all the individual Churches of Christ upon earth shall melt. It is the kingdom absolutely as it is the one manifestation of Christ's mediatorial rule, which had its earlier Old-Testament stage of preparation in Israel, its New-Testament fulfillment among Israel and the Gentiles, and will have its glorious consummation at the Coming of the Lord

1. The one basileia, or Kingdom, was established in Israel and as a THEOCRACY; which was really a CHRISTOCRACY in disguise, as the rulers in the ancient economy were types and representatives of Christ, Who in all ages and in all economies has ruled virtually or actually in the house of God

2. The kingdom of grace coincides with the Church, as it has been exhibited in its united visibility and invisibility, good and evil combined. The kingdom, during the interval until the coming of the Lord, is, however, mainly regarded as invisible. Our Lord speaks of it as already come: behold, the kingdom of God is within you;1 entos umon, among you invisibly. He that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he,2 John the Baptist. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence—or is gotten by violence—and the violent take it by force.3 Concerning this, and some other similar passages, it is to be remembered that our Lord speaks by anticipation, as well as with reference to the present, and that His words are of prospective and abiding significance. Verily, I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.4 This does not refer to the final Parousia, or the Redeemer's visible coming in His kingdom, but to the invisible coming in the kingdom of grace. This was the outpouring of the Spirit, the founding of the Church, and the revolution which laid waste the old Theocracy and its holy city. In this period of grace the Redeemer is KING OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,5 KING OF PEACE: His metropolis being Jerusalem, the city of the vision of peace

1 Luke 17:21; 2 Luke 7:28; 3 Mat. 11:12; 4 Mark 9:1; 5 Heb. 7:2

3. The kingdom even now has in some respects the preeminence. It is the subject of most of our Lord's parables. Many of the prerogatives and privileges which are too often assigned to the Church really belong to the Kingdom. It is, for instance, the supreme good which must be sought and purchased, at the cost of all that we have: the treasure hid in a field, and the one pearl of great price.1 Whatever differences are here, the kingdom stands for Him who is the inestimable treasure in it: for you therefore which believe He is precious.2 The Benedictions of our Lord's commencement are the enjoyments of this kingdom; they begin and end with it: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.3 It is not said of the Church that it is righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.4 The Evangelical proclamation is this gospel of the kingdom:5 one of the largest and most comprehensive sayings in the New Testament

Whatever glorious things are said of the Church, it after all carries with it a reference to the evil world whence it came: a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.6 The kingdom is also mixed, for they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend;7 but the predominant idea in it is that of the sphere of Christ's supreme sovereign manifestation

1Mat. 13:44,46; 21 Pet. 2:7; 3Mat. 5:3,10; 4Rom. 14:17; 5Mat. 24:14; 6Eph. 5:27; 7Mat. 13:41

4. It is this kingdom that is an everlasting kingdom.1 It is now not yet revealed; and of it St. John, after having spoken of his apostleship to the Churches, says: I, John, who also am your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience in Jesus [Christ].2 We are all fellows in the patience of the kingdom in Jesus: en tee basileia kai hupomonee en leesou

1 Dan. 7:27; 2 Rev. 1:9