Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

that nation were rebellious to him which called them, and void of all true inherent and actual sanctity; yet because they were all in that manner separated, they were all, as to the separation, called holy. In the like manner those of the New Testament writing to such as were called, and had received and were baptized in the faith, give unto them all the name of Saints, as being in some manner such, by being called and baptized. For being baptism is a washing away of sin, and the purification from sin is a proper sanctification; being every one who is so called and baptized is thereby separated from the rest of the world which are not so, and all such separation is some kind of sanctification; being, though the work of grace be not perfectly wrought, yet when the means are used, without something appearing to the contrary, we ought to presume of the good effect: therefore all such as have been received into the Church, may be ip some sense called holy.

But because there is more than an outward vocation, and a charitable presumption, necessary to make a man holy; therefore we must find some other qualification which must make him really and truly such, not only by an extrinsical denomination, but by a real and internal affection. What this sanctity is, and who are capable of this title properly, we most learn out of the Gospel of Christ; by which alone, ever since the Church of Christ was founded, any man can become a Saint. Now by the tenor of the Gospel we shall find that those are truly and properly Saints which are “sanctified in Christ Jesus :” (1 Cor. i. 2.) first, In respect of their holy faith, by which they are regenerated; for “whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God;” (1 John v, 1.) by which they are purged, God himself “purifying their hearts by faith,” (Acts xv. 9.) whereby they “are washed, sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus,” (1 Cor. vi. 11.) “in whom also after that they believe, they are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” (Eph. i. 13.) Secondly, In respect of their conversation : for “as he which hath called them is holy," so are they“ holy in all manner of conversation :” (1 Pet. i. 15.)

adding to their faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience brotherly-kindness, and to brotherly-kindness charity, that they may be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. i. 5-8.) Such persons then as are called by a holy calling, and not disobedient unto it; such as are endued with a holy faith, and purified thereby; such as are sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God, and by virtue thereof do lead a holy life, “perfecting holiness in the fear of God;" (2 Cor. vii. 1.) such persons, I say, are really and truly Saints; and being of the Church of Christ (as all such now must of necessity be) are the proper subject of this part of the Article the cominunion of Saints, as it is added to the former, the holy catholick Church.

Now as these are the Saints of the Church of Christ, from whence they were called the Churches of the Saints ;” (1 Cor. xiv. 33.) so there was never any Church of God but there were such persons in it as were Saints : we read in the Psalms of “the congregation of the Saints” (Psal. lxxxix. 5. cxlix. 1.) and “the assembly of the Saints;" (Psal. Ixxxix. 7.)* and Moses assured the people of Israel, that “all the Saints of God were in his hand :” (Deut. xxxiii. 3.) we read in the prophets of “the Saints of the Most High:” (Dan. vii. 18. 22. 25.) and at our Saviour's death “the bodies of such Saints which slept arose.” (Matt. xxvii. 52.) Where again we may observe that they were Saints while their bodies were in the grave; as Aaron in the time of David kept the name of the Saint of the Lord.” (Psal. cvi. 16.) Such as are holy in their lives do not lose their sanctity, but improve it at their deaths; nor can they lose the honour of that appellation, while that which gives it doth acquire perfection.

Hence grows that necessary distinction of the Saints on earth, and the Saints in heaven; the first belonging to the militant, the second to the triumphant Churcb. Of the first the prophet David speaketh expressly, “Thou art my Lord; my goodness extendeth not to thee, but to the Saints that are in the earth :” (Psal. xvi. 2, 3.) of these do we read in the Acts of the Apostles; to these did St. Paul direct his Epistles. Of the second doth the apostle make that question, “Do ye not know that the Saints shall judge the world ?” (1 Cor. vi. 2.) And all those which were spoken of as Saints then in the earth, if truly such, and departed so, are now, and sball ever continue, saints in heaven.

Having thus declared what is the sanctity required to make a Saint, that is, a man of holiness; having also distinguished the Saints before and under the Gospel (which difference is only observable as to this exposition of the CREED), and again distinguishing the same Saints while they live here with men on earth, and when after death they live with God in heaven; having also shewn, that of all these those Saints are here particularly understood who in all ages lived in the Church of Christ : we may now properly descend to the next consideration, which is, who are those persons with whom those Saints have this communion, and in what the communion which they have consists?

First then, The Saints of God living in the Church of Christ, have communion with God the Father; for the apostles did therefore write that they to whom they wrote might have communion with them, “ that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us”+

• Dwup Spa LXX. iv tex.noia Sanctos ejusdem fuisse meriti cujus àywv, DWP TID3 év Bovlộ ảyiwv, nunc Christiani sunt ?' S. Hier. adv. Vulg. Latin. in ecclesia et in con- Jovinian. I. ii. col. 197. cilio sanctorum. Quis ignorat sub

+ Κοινωνία μετά του Πατρός. altera dispensatione Dei omnes retro

[ocr errors]

(saith St. John in his First Epistle, i. 3.) and did at the same time declare that their communion was “ with the Father.” Wherefore being all the Saints of God under the Gospel receiving the doctrine of the apostles have communion with them; being the communion of the apostles was the communion with the Fatber: it followeth that all the Saints of God under the Gospel have a communion with God the Father.

As we are the branches of the vine, so the Father is the husbandman; and thus the Saints partake of his care and inspection. As “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to bim for righteousness, and he was called the friend of God;" (Jam. ii. 23.) so all which are heirs of the faith of Abraham are made partakers of the same relation. Nor are we only friends, but also sons; for behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” (1 John iii. 1.) Thus must we acknowledge that the Saints of God have communion with the Father, because by the great and precious promises given unto them, they became “ partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Pet. i. 4.)*

Secondly, The Saints of God living in the Church of God have communion with the Son of God: for, as the apostle said,

our communion is with the Father and the Son;" (1 John i. 3.) and this connexion is infallible, because “he that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son;" (2 John 9.) and our Saviour prayed for all such as should " believe on him through the word of the apostles, that they might be one, as the Father is one in him and he in the Father, that they also may be one in both : I in them (saith Christ) and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” (John xvii. 20--23.) This communion of the Saints with the Son of God, is, as most evident, so most remarkable. He hath taken unto him our nature and infirmities; he hath taken upon him our sins, and the curse due unto them; while we all “have received of his fulness grace for grace;” (John i. 16.) and are called to “the fellowship of his sufferings,” that we may“ be conformable unto his death.” (Phil, iii. 10.) What is the fellowship of brethren and co-heirs of the bridegroom and the spouse; what is the communion of members with the head, of branches with the vine; that is the communion of Saints with Christ. For God “hath called us into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. i. 9.)+

Thirdly, The Saints of God in the Church of Christ bave communion with the Holy Ghost: and the apostle hath two ways assured us of the truth thereof, one rhetorically, by a seeming doubt, “if there be any fellowship with the Spirit;" (Phil. ii. 1.)I the other devoutly, praying for it,“ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.” (2 Cor. xiii. 14.) The θείας κοινωνοί φύσεως. .

Η Κοινωνία Πνεύματος. . + Κοινωνία του Υιού.

*

Saints are therefore such, because they partake of the Holy Ghost; for they are therefore holy because they are sanctified, and it is the Spirit alone which sanctifieth. Beside, the communion with the Father and the Son is wrought by the communication of the Spirit; for hereby do we become the sons of God, in that we have received the “Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father;"(Rom.viii.15.) and thereby do we become co-heirs with Christ, in that“ because we are sons God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father ;" so that “ we are no more servants, but sons ; and if sons, then heirs of God through Christ.” (Gal. iv. 6,7.) This is the communion which the Saints enjoy with the three persons of the blessedTrinity; this is the heavenly fellowship represented unto entertaining Abraham, when“ the Lord appeared unto him, and three men stood by him :" (Gen. xviii. 1, 2.) for our Saviour hath made us this most precious promise, “If any man love me he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him.” (John xiv. 23.) Here is the soul of man made the habitation of God the Father, and of God the Son; and the presence of the Spirit cannot be wanting where those two are in babiting; for“ if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Rom. viii. 9.) The Spirit therefore with the Father and the Son inhabiteth in the Saints; "for know ye not(saith the apostle), that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you ?" (1 Cor. iii. 16.)

Fourthly, The Saints of God in the Church of Christ have communion with the holy angels. They who did foretell the birth of John the forerunner of Christ, they who did annunciate unto the blessed Virgin the conception of the Saviour of the world, they who sung a glorious hymn at the nativity of the Son of God, they who carried the soul of Lazarus into Abraham's bosom, they who appeared unto Christ from heaven in his agony to strengthen him, they who opened the prison-doors and brought the apostles forth, they who at the end of the world shall sever the wicked from among the just, and gather together the elect of God, certainly they have a constant and perpetual relation to the children of God. Nay, “are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation ?” (Heb. i. 14.) They have a particular sense of our condition, for Christ bath assured us that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke xv. 10.) And upon this relation the angels, who are all the angels, that is, the messengers, of God, are yet called the angels of men, according to the admonition of Christ, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. xviii. 10.)

Thus far have we considered the communion of Saints with

such as are distinguished from them by nature as they are men; the fellowship which they have in heaven with God, and his holy angels, while they are on earth. Our next consideration will be, what is the communion which they have with those who are of the same nature, but not partakers of the same holiness with them.

Fifthly therefore, The Saints of God, while they are of the Church of Christ on earth, have some kind of communion with those men which are truly Saints. There were not hypocrites among the Jews alone, but in the Church of Christ many cry, “Lord, Lord," whom he knoweth not. The tares have the privilege of the field, as well as the wheat; and the bad fish of the net, as well as the good. The Saints have communion with hypocrites in all things with which the distinction of a Saint and hypocrite can consist. They communicate in the same water, both externally baptized alike; they communicate in the same CREED, both make the same open profession of faith, both agree in the acknowledgment of the same principles of religion; they communicate in the same word, both hear the same doctrine preached; they communicate at the same table, both eat the same bread, and drink the wine, which Christ hath appointed to be received: but the hypocrite doth not communicate with the Saint in the same saving grace, in the same true faith working by love, and in the same renovation of mind and spirit; for then he were not a hypocrite but a Saint: a Saint doth not communicate with the hypocrite in the same sins, in the same lurking infidelity, in the same unfruitfulness under the means of grace, in the same false pretence and empty form of godliness; for then he were not a Saint but a hypocrite. Thus the Saints may communicate with the wicked, so they communicate not with their wickedness; and may have fellowship with sinners, so they have no fellowship with that which makes them such, that is, their sins. The apostle's command runneth thus, “ Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness ;" (Eph. v. 11.)* and again, “ Be not partakers of other men's sins :" (1. Tim. v. 22.)+ and a voice from heaven spake concerning Babylon, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of ber sins.” (Rev. xviii. 4.)I To communicate with sin is sin, but to communicate with a sinner in that which is not sin, can be no sin; because the one defileth, and the other cannot, and that which defileth not is no sin.

Having thus considered those who differ from the Saints of God; first, In respect of their humanity, as they are men;

* Μή συγκοινωνείτε τοϊς έργοις. tatis vel approbationis adjungitur. + Μή κοινώνει ταίς αμαρτίαις. Hoc ergo admonens Apostolus ait,

1 "Iva uri ovykolvwvhoate raig åpap- Nolite communicare operibus infruTiais. “Duobus modis non te maculat ctuosis tenebrarum, magis autem et redmalus, si ei non consentias, et si arguite. S. August. de Verbis Dom, redarguas. Communicatur enim, Serm. 18. al. 88. . 19. quando facto ejus consortium volun

[merged small][ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »