BLTC Press Titles


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Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett


The Characters of Theophrastus

Theophrastus


Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman


History of the apostolic church

by Philip Schaff

Excerpt:

CnRisTuxiTT, which, as the absolute religion, holds this central, ruling , position in history, and on which depends the salvation of the human race, exists not merely as something subjective in single pious individuals, but also as an objective, organized, visible society, as a kingdom of Christ on earth, or as a church.* The church is in part a pedagogic institution to train men for heaven, and as such destined to pass away in its present form when the salvation shall be completed ; in part the everlasting communion of the redeemed, both on earth and in heaven. In the first view, as a visible organization, it embraces all, who are bap- , tized, whether in the Greek, or Roman, or Protestant communion. It) contains, therefore, many hypocrites and unbelievers, who will never be entirely separated from it until the end of the world. Hence our Lord compares the kingdom of heaven, Matt. 13., to a field, where wheat and tares grow together until the harvest; and to a net, which "gathers of

'The word church, like the Scotch kirk, the German kirche, the Swedish h/rka, the Danish kyrke, and like terms in the Sclavonic languages, must be derived, through the Gothic, from the Greek nvpiaxov, (i. e. belonging to the Lord.) sc. du/ta, or KvptaKij, sc. oUia, Dominica, as Basilica from paoileic, Regia from rex. It may signify the material house of God, or the local congregation, or, in the complex sense—which is the original one (Matt. 16: 18), and in which it is used in the text—the organic unity of all believers; but it always involves etymologically the close relation of the church to the Lord as its head, by whom it is ruled, and to whom it is consecrated. Some derive the word, with less probability, from the old German kutrtn, kieten, to elect, to call, Then it would nearly correspond to the Greek term, fat?.j/<jia, (the Hebrew i~p), an assembly or congregation, legally called or summoned, used in the N. T. mostly in a religious sense, to denote (1) the whole body of believers, (Matt. 16: 18. 1 Cor. 10: 32. Gal. 1:13. Eph. 1 : 22. 3:10. 5:23,24,27,29,32. Phil. 3: 6. lTim.3: 15. etc.); (2) a part of this whole, a particular congregation, as that at Jerusalem, or at Antioch, or at Rome, (1 Cor. 11 : 18. 14: 19,33, h ■naaaic rale iKKlriaiaic Tuv ayiuv. Philem. 5 : 2, etc.). In both cases, it involves the idea of a divine call and election to the service of the Lord, and to eternal life.

every kind." The true essence of the church, however, the eternal com^munion of saints, consists only of the regenerate and converted, who are united by a living faith with Christ the head, and, through him, with one another.

Though the church is thus a society of men, yet it is by no means on that account a production of men, called into existence by their own invention and will, like free-masonry, for instance, temperance societies, and the various political and literary associations. It is founded by God himself through Christ, through his incarnation, his life, his sufferings, death and resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Glwst, for his own glory and the redemption of the world. For this very reason, the gates of hell itself can never prevail against it. It is the ark of L Christianity, out of which there is no salvation; the channel of the con'tinuous revelation of the triune God and the powers of eternal life.

St. Paul commonly calls the church the body of Christ, and believers the members of this body.1 As a body in general, the church is an organic union of many members, which have, indeed, different gifts and callings, yet are pervaded by the same life-blood, ruled by the same head, animated by the same soul, all working together towards the same end. This is set forth in a masterly and incomparable manner, particularly in the twelfth and fourteenth chapters of the first epistle to the Corinthians. As_the bm\y^o{-Ch-ful, the church is the dwelling-place of Christ, in which he exerts all the powers of his theanthropic life, and also the organ, through which he acts upon the world as Redeemer; as the soul manifests its activity only through the body, in which it dwells. The Lord, therefore, through the Holy Ghost, is present in the church, in all its ordinances and means of grace, especially in the word and the sacraments ; present, indeed, in a mystical, invisible, incomprehensible way, but none the less really, efficiently, and manifestly present, in his complete theanthropic person. "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am 7,"—not merely my spirit, or uiy word, or my influence, but my person—"in the midst of them" (Matt. 18: 20). "Lo, I am with you"—the representatives of the whole body of saiuts—"alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28 : 20). Hence Paul calls the church " the fulness of Ilim, that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1: 23).

"We may justly say, therefore, that the church is the continualion~aL_^ thfiiife and work of Christ upon earth, though never, indeed, so far as men in their present state are concerned, without a mixture of sin and error. In the church, the Lord is perpetually born anew in the hearts

■Rom. 12:3. 1 Cor. 6:15- 10:17. 12:80,27. Eph. 1: 23. 4:12. 3:23, 30. Col. 1: 24, etc.


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