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they were, it is useful from time to time to recur to these ancient records, and to ask what the church of the New Testament was in its internal organization; in its relation to the world; and in the relation of its members one to another. I propose to state some of those things. With the New Testament before us, and throwing ourselves into apostolic times, let us inquire what the Christian church is.
I. First, it is a community separate from other communities. It has an organization of its own, and that organization is complete It has its peculiar laws for its own internal regulation, and for the regulation of all its members in their intercourse with each other, and with those that are "without.” It recognizes no dependence on any other society for the promotion of its objects, and allows no foreign influence to come in and attempt to control it. It asks no patronage from the state ; no support of the civil arm or purse; and it sues for no toleration. Its right to be in the world, and to pursue its own independent movements, is original and independent of the state, and is not a tolerated right. Though surrounded by other communities, it is independent of them all ; and, in a most important sense, separate from them all. There is a sense which is not merely methaphorical and constructive, in which every member of that church separates himself from the world, and regards himself as no longer pertaining to it. This idea in regard to the church is found in such expressions as the following: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." --John xvii. 16. “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”—John xv. 19. “The friendship of the world is enmity with God; whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”. James iv. 4. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world ; if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.-- i John ii. 15. “We are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.”—John v. 19. “Ye are dead, and your life is bid with Christ in God.-Col. iii. 3. “How shall we who are dead to sin live any longer therein."-Rom. vi. 2.
• Reckon ye yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive unto God.”—Rom. vi. 11. So the church is described not only as a community nnlike that which constitutes the world, but as in an important sense, separate from it, or having no fellowship with it in its peculiar aims and plans. “What fellowship bath righteousness with unrighteousness? what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial ? And what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols ? Wherefore come out from among them. and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daugh. ters, saith the Lord Almighty." --2 Cor. vi. 14. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues : For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." —Rev. xviii. 4. “And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”—Rom. xii. 2.
I have selected these passages, out of many more of the same kind that might be referred to, to show that the primitive idea of the church was that of a community distinct from the world, and in an important sense separate from it. In exactly what sense, and to what extent, it is to be separate, is not now the question before us, and there would not be time now to answer the question. The general idea is, that it has its own laws and regulations, and that the world has no right to interfere with them; that it is governed by different principles, and has different aims from all other communities; that for its own principles and aims those of the world are never to be substituted ; that its spirit is to be unlike that of the world, and that though its members of necessity mingle mueh with the world, there shoud be such a marked difference that there need be no difficulty in distinguishing one from the other.
II. In the second place, the church, according to the model of the New Testament, is a community characterized by mutual love among its own members. My meaning is, that love is to be the distinguishing badge ; the thing by which the members of the church are to know each other, and to be known; and the thing by which eminently they are to impress the world with the belief of the reality of their religion. Other societies have pledges and badges of their own. In some it is a secret sign, known only to the initiated, but which will be understood all over the world, and will be a passport to the confidence of a brother of the same craft everywhere. In others it is some peculiarity of speech or dress ; come catch-word, rosette, or ribbon. In others it is some mystic sentence of a learned language, the initials of whose words only are exhibited to the world. In others it is in a written constitution, and in subscription to its articles. In others it is a common seal or banner. In others it is a cut of a cap, or the tonsure of the hair. Now it is remarkable that the Saviour and his Apostles prescribed no such external badge of membership or office, either for the officers or members of the society which they originated. This is the more remarkable be cause, perhaps every society then, as now, could be known by such an outward badge. The Jew would be known everywhere by his broad phylacteries and the borders of his garments; and, it was probably the case, that the Greek who had been introduced into the Eleusinian mysteries had some outward method of expressing that fact to the world everywhere. Nothing would have been easier than for the Saviour to have appointed some such badge for his own followers, for the great facts of his religion would have furnished striking emblems in abundance. His ministers might have been directed, when they ufficiated, to encircle their brows with a crown of thorns ; or the figure of a cross wrought with imperishable dye in the skin, like the mark which the Roman soldier often adopted, or worn near the heart, made of gold, bestud with diamonds, would have constituted such a badge. Some peculiarity of dress ; some stereotyped and inconvenient fashion, soon to be ridiculously antiquated and singular, might have characterized his members; or some gorgeous vestment, often changed, might have made known the ministers of his religion. But you , will search the records of his religion in vain for even the slightest hint which justifies the adoption of any such badge of distinction. There is not the most distant intimation that either his people or his ministers are to be so distinguished; nor, to meet all that there is in the New Testament, are they required in the slightest degree to deviate from the decencies and proprieties of ordinary social life. No one can fail to admire the beautiful simplicity of the New Testament arrangements in this respect; or perhaps to wonder that the founder of this new society did not imitate all others, and adopt some external badge by which to distinguish it members.
But was there no badge ; no mark of distinction ? I answer, yes--and one that was as beautiful, appropriate, and distinguishing, as it was original. It was LOVE. See how this is repesented by the Master himself, and his apostles. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.—John xiii. 34, 35. “ We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren."-1 John iii. 14. “This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he ga ve us commandment.” -1 John iii 23. “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”—1 John iii. 14. “ If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar ; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen ?”1 John iv. 21). “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour prefering one another.”—Romans xii. 10 * As touching brotherly love ye have no need that I write unto you for ye yourselves are taught of God to love another."-1 Thess. iv. 9.
Such are specimens only of the New Testament language on the subject. Who can fail to be struck with the force of the first one quoted, and which was evidently the germ out of which all that is elsewhere said in the New Testament has sprung: A new commandment I give unto you that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ve also love another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another,"
I have said that this was as beautiful, appropriate, and distinguishing, as it was original. The Pharisee was known by his external rites of religion, and the peculiarity of his dress? the military man by his cloak, his sword, or by the mark of favour which a grateful country permitted him to wear ; the Essene by his squalid habiliments and his contempt of the proprieties of life ; the member of a secret society by some mystic sign or mark. In none of these cases had love for each other been the distinguishing and peculiar badge by which they were to be known. By no such badges, however, were the members of the Christian society to be known. Nor was it to be by any distinction of wealth, learning, or fame! by any peculiarity of speech, any outrage of the laws of grammar, any customs of dress that would shock the decencies of life, or by any affected prettiness or gorgeousness, in the apparel of its members or ministers. They were to be distinguished all over the world, and in all ages, by tender and constant attachment for each other. This was to surmount all distinction of country, of colour, of rank, of office, of sect. Here they were to feel that they were on a level, that they had common wants, had been redeemed by the same blood, were going to the same heaven, and were in every respect brethren. There was to be something about this love so original, peculiar and universal, that it would serve to distinguish Christians all over the world.
Was it possible that this could be? It would hardly seem so if we were to judge of the church as it is now. Was it ever sufficient to constitute such a distinguishing badge? Yes it was, and the time has been when the attachment of Christians for each other has been such as to impress the world with the reality of their religion, and with the fact that they belonged to the family of the redeemed. They were once persecuted. “See,” said the Heathen, "how these Christians love one another, and how ready they are to lay down their lives for each other.” Is there still a lingering doubt how love could be the badge of discipleship, and could prove that they were of the same family of the redeemed? Can Tove, then, never be the indication of kindred, of relationship, of our belonging to the same community ? Crowds of the young and old press on the bank of a river, and a little child falls in. Amidst the multitudes on the shore, is it difficult to ascertain who is the another ? A youth is led to the stake and chained, and the faggots are piled up, and tar and oil are poured on to make the flame quicker and hotter. There comes an old man, tottering and trembling, says, "release that youth, and let me die ; I am old and decrepid, and can no more benefit my family or the world. He has a sister, and a mother, and a aged sire, who are dependent on bim. Let these withered limbs of mine feel the flame, but let him sive. Disciples of the same Lord, I might die as well as he, and I pray that I may be permitted to lay down my life for my younger Christian brother. Would there be any doubt what flame burned still on the warm heart of that trembling old man? And if, as has been, when one was doomed to die for his religion, crowds pressed forward and asked that they might die; if, as has been in such scenes, the young, the beautiful, and the accomplished-those nursed in the lap of ease and affluence-pressed forward and asked that they might die to save a Christian friend, would there be any doubt that love might be a badge of religion? You will say, perbaps, that it is not so now. I answer, for anything that you can tell, if persecutions were to arise, these scenes might be acted over again. But if there is not religion enough in the church to do this, I answer further, that in this discourse my aim is not to describe the church as it is, but as the New Testament model represents it.
III. In the third place, the church, as represented in the New Testament, is a community characterized by peculiar sympathy for those of its own members who suffer. The members of the church are indeed expected and required to have sympathy for all who are afflicted, but the idea is, that it is their duty in a peculiar manner to sympathize with each other, and that what affects one should affect all. It is supposed that Christians will be exposed to the same kind of afflictions as others, and that they will also have many sources of sorrow peculiar to themselves. They are liable to sickness and bereavement, and poverty, like others; they are exposed to persecntions and trials, on account of their religion, and they have internal conflicts and struggles, unknown to other men. They have also peculiar joys, as they have peculiar sorrows; and alike in the one and the other, it is supposed they will find cordial sympathy anong their brethren. It is supposed that they are one body, and that in whatever part of that body there is joy or sorrow the whole will sympathize with it.
This idea occurs so often in the New Testament, that it cannot be expected that I should adduce all the passages which refer to it. A few must suffice. My text, in the connexion in which it stands, is one of the most prominent of those passages. “As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. And whether one member suffer, all the inembers suffer with it; or one member bo honored, all the members rejoice with it." The application of this to the human body is obvious. Such is the frame--so delicatelv constituted is it-such is the formation of the nervous fibres, and the tissues, that pain in one part affects the whole frame; that jos in one part ditiuses itself over all. A pain in the heart, the side, or in one of the limbs, does not confine itself there, leaving the rest of the body in a state fitted for its usual Employments, but every part sympathises with that which is affected. And so the pluasure which we receive from beauty, as sccn by the eye, or from the melody and harmony of numbers as perceived by the car, is