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struction is subservient to worship; its end in the Christian assembly is to inspire devotion. The Puritan conception of the church tends to exalt the sermon at the expense of devotion; the sermon consequently is apt to degenerate into a lecture, and the congregation becomes a mere audience. The Episcopal conception, on the other hand, tends to exalt worship at the expense of the sermon, and to make the service a mere formal ritualism. Undoubtedly, the fundamental idea of the New Testament church service is social, united worship, as inspired by instruction in the truths of the gospel.
2. The perpetuation and diffusion of the gospel by the public proclamation of its truths, the observance of its ordinances, and the illustration of its divine purity and power in the holy lives of its confessors. The church is “ the pillar and ground of the truth,” as divinely appointed to support and proclaim the gospel. For this its ministry are called and qualified by Christ, and its spiritual forces are quickened and developed by the Spirit. It is the divine institution for the conversion of the world.
3. The sanctification of its own members. It is a school of instruction and discipline, in which souls are prepared for heaven. The church, thus comprehensive in its scope, looks upward to God, outward upon the needs of a lost world, and inward to the processes of sanctification in the souls of its own members; and the neglect of any one of these grand objects of its organization imperils its whole design.
A church, therefore, is a permanent organization with a definite design and a mutually obligatory compact; and it differs from an ordinary assembly of Christians in that it is organized under a divine constitution and according to a divine model. Otherwise, any Christian organiza
tion—as a missionary society-would be a church. The compact naturally consists of a covenant or pledge to maintain together the duties of a church, and of a statement of the fundamental truths of the gospel as received by them.
The covenant and articles of faith should be distinctly expressed in written or printed form, and be accessible to the church and the community. For, 1. Church creeds, while claiming no inherent authority, are a definite statement or interpretation of those truths of the gospel which the church deems fundamental; and in the present conflict of opinion as to the import of Scriptures, it seems the part of frankness and honesty for each church to define its views on fundamental principles. 2. The discipline of a church must be seriously embarrassed without such a statement, as the offender might plead that when he entered the church he had no means of knowing that the views or practices with which he is charged were condemned. 3. The want of a definite creed, in almost all instances, results in an actual departure from the gospel, while it imperils the security of church property. Edifices and endowments, given for the advancement of evangelical religion, have often been perverted to the use of heresy because the intention of the original donors was not clearly defined. 4. A creed is often necessary to vindicate a church from the misconstructions and perversions of its enemies and place its real principles in their true light before the community.
THE CHURCH: ITS ORGANIZATION.
Three distinct forms of the church exist, differing from each other in the fundamental principles of their organization: 1. The Episcopal, in which the hierarchical idea is dominant, ecclesiastical power belonging to the priesthood in three orders, bishops, priests, and deacons, who constitute a hierarchy or priestly government. To this form belongs the Roman Catholic Church-in which the pope is supreme bishop—the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, and the Methodist Episcopal Church; in which last, however, the bishops differ from presbyters, not as a distinct order, but only in function. With all these the chief power resides in the clergy, who constitute 'a self-perpetuating body, distinct from and virtually independent of the individual local congregation. 2. The Presbyterian, in which the reception of members and the discipline are committed to the session, composed of the pastor and elders elected by the congregation ; but all ecclesiastical acts are subject to revision before higher church courts, composed of pastors and elders from many other congregations. The church, according to the Presbyterian conception, consists of many distinct congregations assembled representatively, by pastors and elders, in one body, with which body resides all ecclesiastical power. Hence, there is a gradation of courts--the session, elected by the individual congregation; the presbytery, composed of delegates from the several sessions; the synod, a local body composed of delegates from several presbyteries; and the general assembly, composed of delegates from all the presbyteries, and constituting the court of last appeal. All officers appointed and all acts performed by the individual congregation may be set aside by these higher church authorities. 3. The Congregational, in which all ecclesiastical
is exercised by each local church, assembled as a congregation; and the decisions thus made in the individual church are subject to no reversal by any other ecclesiastical body. To this class belong, with slight difference in details of organization, the Independents of England, the Congregational churches of America, and the Baptist churches throughout the world.
THE DIVINE CONSTITUTION OF THE CHURCH CONGRE
The position is here maintained that the constitution of the church, as delineated in the New Testament, is congregational, since the following vital powers of the organization are plainly given to the entire assembly of the church.
I. THE POWER OF RECEIVING, DISCIPLINING, AND EXCLUDING ITS MEMBERS. Christ, in prescribing the treatment of private grievances, directs, as the ultimate step (Matt. xviii. 17): "Tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican;" and as the term church is always elsewhere used to denote the whole assembly of disciples, and not merely the officers, such must be its meaning here. The final appeal, therefore, of the aggrieved party is to the church as a congregation. Paul, in the case of the incestuous man, referred both the exclusion and the restoration to the whole church (1 Cor. v. 1-5; 2 Cor. ii. 4,5). He directs the Corinthian church, when "gathered together," to "put away from among themselves that wicked person;" and afterward this punishment, "which was inflicted of many," was to be remitted by the same when the offender had repented. Thus, also, he directs the Roman church to "mark them which cause divisions and offences” and “avoid them, and the church at Thessalonica to "withdraw themselves from every brother that walketh disorderly” (Rom. xvi. 17 : 2 Thess. iii. 6). The Lord, in the epistles to the seven churches of Asia, clearly holds each church as a whole responsible for its doctrine and discipline; but had these churches been organized Episcopally or Presbyterially, the rebukes for unsound doctrine and life would have been directed to the session or the presbytery or the bench of bishops, and not, as they are, to the congregation. But it is evident that the right of discipline, exclusion, and restoration, thus clearly given to the whole assembly of the church, involves also the right of admission. For no church could rightfully be held responsible for its own character and acts if it did not control the door of entrance.
II. THE POWER OF ELECTING ITS OWN OFFICERS. Several examples of the choice of officers are given in the New Testament, in all of which the election was by the people. 1. The election of the apostle Matthias (Acts i. 15-26). This, whether the choice was by vote or lot, was by the action of the whole body, not by the eleven only; for Luke, when saying "they appointed two,” “they prayed,”
“ “they gave forth their lots," is clearly speaking of the one hundred and twenty disciples. Indeed, the “lots” " may have been ballots, as the verb employed is not the one usually denoting the act of casting lots. 2. The election of the seven (Acts vi. 1-6). The apostles, in directing the appointment of these men, said to “the multitude of the disciples,” “ Look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” “The whole multi