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the society of such people is not a church, but an assembly holding heterodox opinions, which is governed by the spirit of division, and not by the Spirit of God. Even at the present time, to the offence of Christians, we behold three chief sects or parties in Christianity; Papists, Lutherans, and Calvinists. They are mutually in opposition to one another. Popery, exclusive of its being filled with the most pernicious superstitions, and the edicts of Popes, in contradiction to the word of God, blindly holds the tenet in regard to the proceeding of the Holy Ghost above-mentioned, and explains it in opposition to the clear testimony of Holy Scripture. It has also taken away from the common people the cup in the communion, and the reading of the Holy Scriptures. It has further devised some sort of a purgatory fire, has appropriated to itself a power unknown in the gospel, and undertakes to convert gainsayers by -fire and sword.
The Lutherans and Calvinists dissented not long ago from popery, under Luther and Calvin, whom passion, more than any thing else, excited to this novelty. They, in avoiding popish superstitions and superfluities, threw away, together with them, the holy apostolical traditions of the first churches. Notwithstanding they hold the same opinion with the Romanists in regard to the
proceeding of the Holy Ghost. But exclusive of this, they teach, what is contrary to scripture, respecting the mystery of the communion and the other mysteries. The Lutherans, moreover, attach to the body of Christ omnipresence, which is an attribute peculiar to God, alone, and the Calvinists draw upon men's actions an inevitable kind of predestination: But our Greeko-Russian church proves its genuineness by incontestible evidences; for, from the very time of the apostles to the present day, it has preserved inviolate, the faith preached by them, and the ancient traditions of the first churches. Greece was converted to the faith by the apostle Paul himself, and the truth which she received from him she preserved inviolate throughout all the suc ceeding ages; and if there happened to be sometimes heretical and pernicious doctrines taught, yet they were always condemned in the general and particular councils.
With this faith, thus preserved in all its purity, it pleased God at last to enlighten Russia. And as in Greece, so in Russia, there never has taken place any change in the faith; such, for instance, as took place among the Papists in the time of Luther; yet amongst those who hold to our church, there may exist a certain kind of superstition and abuse; but our church does not justify such improprieties; she
rather mourns over them, reproves and corrects them. And the erroneous opinions of a few, founded on ignorance of the truth, can never, in justice, be imputed to the whole church. Hence, it is evident, that our orthodox church is not only the true church, but that it is one and the same from the very foundation of the world. From the very foundation of the world, I say; because it agrees with the Greek church, and the Greek church never departed from the primitive apostolical church. Again, the apostolical church was not different in the essence of faith from the Old Testament church; and the Old Testament church was founded upon the saving truth, which, with stedfast faith, was held both before and after the flood by the holy patriarchs, even from the very foundation of the world. Hence the evangelical orthodox faith of our church refers for its foundation to the very beginning of the world, and shall remain, as the Holy Ghost hath assured us, to the end of time.
Why is the Church Holy?
2. The church is denominated holy, First, because all true believers are sanctified by the blood of Christ. Thus the apostle writes to the Corinthians, 1 Eph. vi. 44; "And such were some of you; (that is, such as all unclean hea
thens are;) but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God." Secondly, because all true Christians strive, through the assistance of divine grace, to conquer sin, to subdue their corrupt passions, and labour by the exercise of virtue to be united with an infinitely holy God. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world," Tit. ii. 11, 12. And though in the church there be sinners, yet those who confess their faults before God, through true repentance, and stedfast faith in Jesus Christ, graciously receive forgiveness; and the hardened and impenitent do not belong to the church at all.
Why is the Church called Catholic?
3. The church is Catholic, otherwise called general and universal. By this we are to understand the society of true Christians, scattered over the whole world. True believers, whereever they are, and in whatever age they live, belong to the society of the universal church of Christ; because they are all governed by the law of the gospel, they all fight under one stand
ard-that of Christ, and they are all hastening towards one blessed end. In such a church, according to the doctrine of the apostle Paul, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for they are all one in Christ Jesus," Gal. iii. 28. Thus the properties of the Christian church are different from those of the Jewish, which was confined to one people only. From these narrow bounds, our Redeemer said that he would set his church free. "The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father; for they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth;" John iv. 21-24. This we are to understand as extending to every place; for his kingdom ruleth over all.
Why is the Church called Apostolical? The church is called apostolical, because it preserves inviolate the doctrines of the apostles, both written and traditionary, consequently of the prophets also, with whom the apostles' doctrine agreed. The apostle Paul bears testimony to this, who teaches, that true Christians," are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief oorner 'stone." Eph. ii. 20.