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The Christian Church, Its Rise and Progress
by H. M. Riggle


Part 1 of 15

PREFACE...

In presenting this work to the reading public, I think it proper to state that in its preparation I have not gleaned extensively from the archives of history, but have treated the subject more from a Scriptural than from a historical standpoint. There are other works that treat the subject historically, some presenting a narrative of the church, others a mere compilation of historical facts and evidences.

The author has endeavored to unfold some of the grandest and most beautiful truths contained in Holy Writ. Questions that are agitating the whole religious world have been treated. The church of God in all its magnificent splendor is portrayed in simple language. It is traced from its conception in the divine mind to its eternal home with God. Thus the reader is enabled to discern the church in its embryo state at the foundation of the world; to trace it through the four thousand years during which it was "a hidden mystery," "not made known to the sons of men," except in the types and shadows of the law; to see it when. at the >advent of the Savior, it descended to earth as the heavenly Jerusalem, to be the golden city of a golden age and to become the light of the world, flee joy of the earth; to follow it in its varied fortunes throughout all the centuries of the Christian era; and at last to behold it a bloodwashed, white-robed throng dwelling in the eternal city of the new earth, that "better" and "heavenly country."

The book is really a Biblical trace of the church. With reference to the church, the Christian dispensation is properly divided into four distinct minor ages—the morning light age, the papal age, the Protestant age of sects, and the eveninglight age. We are now living in the fourth epoch—the closing days of this world's history. The fulfillment of some of the most important prophecies of the Bible is upon us. The pen of inspiration has given us data by which to calculate our whereabouts in the stream of time.

By the application of prophecy and revelation, I have endeavored to disclose the path of time and to trace the Christian church throughout the centuries of the Christian era. The subject treated is comprehensive, but I have endeavored to epitomize and present much truth briefly.

The author has a deep sense of gratitude to God, who by his Holy Spirit has guided him, and whose sweet, comforting presence has been much felt in the preparation of this work. Believing that my humble efforts will not be fruitless, I now leave it in God's hand for the accomplishment of good.

In Christian love, I am, Yours in the Master's service, H. M. Riggle...New Bethlehem, Pa, Jan. 2, 1911.

INTRODUCTION...

The Bible record of the origin of man is unsurpassed by any other history of origins, either in artless simplicity or in scientific accuracy. Modern science has over and over again corroborated and confirmed the revealed account of the solidarity of the human family. Her best exponents have conceded the sublime fact that all men, notwithstanding their perplexing diversities, social, intellectual, and physical, must have originated from one single pair. In the similarity amongst ancient languages, philology has discovered historical monuments which prove not only that the different nations sprang from a common origin, but also that their forefathers must have gazed at the same sky, tilled the same soil, and lived under the same roof, and spoke the same language.

How beautiful and simple the inspired record which reveals to us that God made of one every nation of men (Acts 17: 26) ! Not only do we read that all men proceeded from one original pair, but the Book of God tells us that even the material substance of the woman was taken out of the man. This simple account unfolds the sublime purpose of God, who is the God of order and whose nature and character is love. He loves harmony and peace, and therefore he created the woman out of man—a part of himself—so that they twain might be one not only by relation and attachment but also by nature. Thus children born of such union, where nothing but unity, harmony, and love could be expected, would of necessity love one another and live in harmony and peace, so that there would be only one great universal family in the whole world. But alas! sin destroyed the harmony and sowed the bitter seed of enmity and jealousy even between the first two brothers. What followed is too sad for narration. Enmity and hatred, jealousy and envy, division and strife, have checkered the pages of the history of the human family since the first innocent blood of a brother was shed by a brother's impious hand.

But the purpose of God in creation, though for a time thus obstructed, could never be frustrated. True, the human family was rent asunder by social, political, and religious factions, and seemingly became irreconcilably estranged from one another; but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. In due time Christ, by his vicarious suffering on the cross of Calvary, bridged t h e chasm between human hearts, ever abolishing the enmity, and thereby destroying the very seat of the trouble. He broke down the middle wall of partition and made both the Jews and the Gentiles one, and by the supernatural power of his blood created of the two a new man, thus making peace. He restored the broken harmony and reestablished unity on the divine and unshakable foundation of love. This new family or brotherhood is called "The Household of God," in which all the children have access to the Father through the one Spirit, and are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. Eph. 2 :11-22.

This unification of the dispersed human family and the gathering together of the scattered children of God was the manifest mission of the glorious incarnation of the Son of God (John 11:52), and this sublime, divine purpose seems to underlie the whole plan of salvation and is interwoven throughout the Inspired Record. Unlike the eminent philosophers and the renowned moral teachers of Greece and Rome that preceded him, Jesus conceived from the beginningþ of his mission the formation of a brotherhood of his disciples on the strong foundation of his divine personality as a leading factor recognized and confessed through the preaching of his gospel. Socrates and Plato taught ethics and philosophy, and made many disciples too; but neither of them conceived the idea of forming his disciples into a community or brotherhood. There was no solidarity among their followers. But Jesus of Nazareth, being imbued with the one family idea of the Bible, revived the hidden purpose of God in restoring the broken unity and harmony of the human family. His was a mission as original as divine— original as regards human wisdom, divine as regards the inspired ideal. He was conscious of his mission when he claimed the august title of "The Light of the World" (John 8:12) and announced that he had "other sheep" which were not of the Jewish fold, and that them also he must bring, so that there might be one fold and one shepherd (John 10: 16).

This mission was to be carried on after his death by his apostles, to whom the Holy Spirit revealed the long forgotten mystery that the (Gentiles were to be the fellow heirs and fellow members of the body and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Eph. 3: 6). The early disciples caught the fire of their Master and began building upon his foundation. The result is the Christian ecclesia of the New Testament, having one faith, one baptism, one Spirit, one Lord, and one God, and all one in matters pertaining to life and godliness. This was realized, in the embryo, the original and eternal purpose of God in creation (Eph. 3: 11). Thus in Christ was the lost paradise regained.

Nor is this idea a stray thought in the Revealed Volume, a thought originated in the mind of some eccentric fanatic. The symbols and types are too numerous and the analogies too plain to be misunderstood After the creation of the first family when the natural relation and the ties of flesh and blood had given away to the inroads of the wild and unruly nature of sin, God destroyed the whole world with a flood; and by a remarkable coincidence, as it were, the only human survivors of the catastrophe consisted of a single family. This measure also failed to preserve the unity and harmony of the human race. Then God, so to speak, adopted a different plan. He chose Abraham, a faithful man, desiring to establish through him one whole family again (Gen. 12: 1-3; 18: 18). Later the Lord raised up another man to be a lawgiver and a national leader, whom he instructed to build a sanctuary according to the pattern shown him by revelation. This was to serve as a bond of national unity. The erection of an altar on the other side of the river was condemned with great vehemence as violating the divine ideal of one people, one sanctuary, and one altar. Any possible occasion of division in the camp was not to be tolerated with indifference (Josh. 22: 11-34). This temple was designed to be a symbol of the people of God indwelt by his Holy Spirit. The symbols of the bride, the body, the fold, and the household all clearly indicate the same plan. To conceive division and faction in the ecclesia as compatible with the divine purpose is to ignore the whole trend of revelation and to misinterpret the mind of God and his design for the highest good of man as revealed in His gracious dealings with humanity throughout the ages.

But when the unsophisticated reader of the Bible looks around him for the Biblical ecclesia, the divine church, the household of God, his unprepared mind is bewildered at the unpleasant sight of sects and divisions that have rent Gentile people of God for centuries. The Biblical conception of one family and the sublime ideal of a loving brotherhood is all but lost in modern Christendom. Nor does the study of ecclesiastical history help him very much. To him the existence of Christian sects is a strange phenomenon, deep shrouded mystery. The crystal flow of the celestial river that was seen sparkling down the granite bed as it was descending towards the plain seems entirely out of sight. Instead there is a turbid stream, which now appears on the surface, now disappears in the sand, and whose contents are a strange admixture of various impurities gathered from the soil of its banks. There is a sense in which the stream, though lost at times to human observation, is still flowing underground; but to regain its original purity the water must be percolated through an effective filter.

To explain and unfold the divine plan and pattern, to elucidate the origin and development of the ecclesia, to trace its gradual degeneration into corruption and its final reappearance in glory—such are the objects of the following pages. An honest effort has been made to render a sincere apology for the church of Clod and to explain some of the most perplexing questions of modern theology and ecclesiastical polity.

We earnestly invoke the divine guidance and wisdom upon the reader, that he may understand the deep mystery of God revealed to his church by his Spirit. May the same Spirit that conceived the plan and developed it into the divine ecclesia reveal it to his people. Amen.

John A. D. Khan.

ISRAEL'S NIGHT...

As a result of the fall of man into sin back at the foundation of the world, Adam and Eve lost Paradise, holiness, eternal life, and the companionship of God, and reaped sorrow, misery and death. Moreover, all their posterity faced the same result, and the whole world was enshrouded in darkness and sin. In this period, we are told, "death reigned;" that is, spiritual death, which came as a result of universal sin. Man stood in the attitude of a guilty violator of God's holy and infinite law, and hence was under an infinite penalty. Since the broken law was eternal, the penalty for its violation was eternal. The justice of God demanded that man suffer for his disobedience. God's immutability demanded that the penalty of his law be executed. To lift the penalty, he would have been obliged to abolish his law; but since that law was "holy, just and good," he could not abolish it and yet be the God of law and order. Thus man seemed eternally and hopelessly lost.

But mercy rejoiced against judgement. The infinite love of God for lost humanity brought his infinite wisdom and knowledge into action. That wisdom, which is far beyond our comprehension, yes "past finding out," schemed a way of escape, a plan of salvation. It was by providing an atoning sacrifice in the person of his own Son. This secured deliverance from the awful penalty and made the salvation of a lost world possible.

Long ages before that plan was fully revealed and opened to mankind in the coming of Messiah, the Lord cast its shadow upon earth. It takes a substance to make a shadow, and the substance must exist before the shadow. In this, the substance was the wonderful plan of salvation and redemption then hid in the wisdom and knowledge of God - a "mystery hid from generations and ages," hid in God, "kept secret since the world began;" a mystery "which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men," but "now is made manifest" "in Christ Jesus our Lord." Its shadow was the law, its tabernacle, sacrifices, blood and service. The "law was a shadow of good things to come." God selected the literal seed of Abraham - Israel - to be his chosen people. To them he delivered the law and all the blessings of his kingdom in figures and shadows. The giving of the law was the ushering in of a day of good things to Israel. In type, "they all drank of that spiritual Rock" - Christ. That dispensation and law had some "glory" (2 Cor. 3:7-11). Yes, brilliant rays of light from heaven shone upon earth. Through priests and prophets man could converse with his Creator and make his desires known. This was a blessed privilege enjoyed by Israel; a day of preparation for the ushering in of a still more glorious day.

But that people, to whom God delivered the lively oracles, forsook the God of their fathers and, as a nation, drifted into darkness and idolatry. This brought the wrath of God upon them, and he answered them no more through prophets. The last prophet through whom God definitely spoke to Israel was Malachi. Then came an awful night of about four hundred years upon that favored people, in which no prophet's voice was heard. This was foretold by the prophet Micah as follows: "Thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets...Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God." Micah 3:5-7. Midnight darkness filled the earth. No prophet spoke; there was no answer from God. This was the period from Malachi to the ministry of John the Baptist. Men sought in the darkness of that night to find the word of the Lord, but could not find it. Thus was the prophecy of Amos fulfilled: "They shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst." Amos 8:11,12.

THE GOSPEL DAY FORETOLD...

With prophetic eye the seers of old foresaw a better day—a day of salvation. That which they enjoyed in type and shadow was to reach the substance in Christ, who would usher in the most propitious age of grace and glory the world would ever see. Thus Isaiah foretold it: "In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee." Isa. 49: 8. Paul, after quoting this language of the prophet, makes the application. "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." 2 Cor. 6: 2. This great day of salvation was ushered in by the coming of Messiah to save the world; and its end will be when Christ is revealed from heaven to judge the world.

Since the beginning of time one long age has followed another, in which God " at sundry times and in divers manners in time past spake unto the fathers by the prophets," but in "these last days" hath "spoken to us by his Son" (Heb. 1:1, 2). These days, then, which go to make up the gospel age or day are the "last." This is why Paul denominates the gospel age "the dispensation of the fullness of times" (Eph. 1:1()); that is, the dispensation when time is full. "Little children it is the last time.... We know that it [the present age] is the last time." 1 John 2: 18. Time is a measured portion of duration.

The gospel age is frequently in Scripture termed a day. The prophets in speaking of things that were to occur in the current dispensation said, "It shall come to pass in that day." they foretold the coming of Christ, the setting up of his everlasting kingdom, his glorious reign of peace, and the beauties of his great salvation. Even Abraham foresaw these things. As Jesus expressed it, "your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was Glad. " John 8: 56.

THE MORNING LIGHT IS BREAKING...

While the world was shrouded in darkness, and no prophet's voice could be heard; while Israel with a few individual exceptions, was engulfed in sin and idolatry, forsaken of Cod; while the then known world was under the rule of pagan Rome, and heathenism held sway in the hearts of men everywhere—suddenly there appeared "one crying in the wilderness" and saying, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. " After four hundred long years of silence, a prophet appeared, yea, more than a prophet. John, the looked for Elias, the harbinger of a new day, was now preparing the way for Messiah to begin his ministry. " There was a man sent from God whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light." John 1: 6, 7. Of John and his work, the angel told Zacharias this: "And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:16, 17. Zacharias said of him, "And thou, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins." Luke 1:76, 77.

This was the dawning of a new day, the breaking forth of earth's most glorious day— the day of salvation. The prophets foresaw this, and spoke of it as a clear morning. Isaiah foretold it in these words: " The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come." Isa. 21: 11, 12. Dumah signifies silence. This was the time of silence from Malachi to Christ. The inquirer asks, "What of the night?" namely, What time of night is it? The watchman cried, "The morning cometh. " This morning was the clear morning of the Christian era. "For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. " Isa. 60:2, 3. This time of darkness was the night of Judaism. But it was foreseen that the Lord would arise and that his glory would be seen. This refers to the ushering in of the better dispensation. The coming of Christ was to be a beautiful sunrise, and the Gentiles were to come to the brightness of his rising. "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. " Mal. 4: 2.

THE PRISTINE GLORY--THE USHERING IN OF A CLEAR DAY...

In fulfillment of these predictions, Christ came the Sun of righteousness, and ushered in a clear day. "Weeping may endure for a night; but joy cometh in the morning." Nineteen centuries ago a babe was born in the stable of an inn, in the Roman province of Judea. At this time Caesar Augustus was an absolute sovereign. With unlimited power, he ruled over three hundred millions of people, comprising the Roman empire. Such power no mortal ever swayed before. Little did this proud ruler of all the world then known dream, as he sat upon his throne in gorgeous apparel, that a new born babe who was slumbering in a manger, in the town of Bethlehem, in far off Syria, and whose infant cries were mingled with the braying of donkeys, the lowing of cattle, and the bleating of goats—little, I say, did this mighty sovereign dream that this lowly infant was destined to establish a religion and kingdom before which all the glory and power of the proud Caesars would fade away. But, dear reader' it was so. At the birth of that babe the bells of heaven rang and all the angels worshiped. The glad news was at once wafted from heaven to earth that this was the "Savior, . . . Christ the Lord." Shepherds on the Judean hills heard the angels sing the glad refrain, " Glory to God in the highest. "

" Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring [sunrising -margin] from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." Luke 1: 78, 79. The advent of the Savior was a beautiful sunrising. "The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. " Matt. 4: 16. Christ himself was that light. He said, " I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. " Christ was not the light of one nation only, Israel, but the light of "the world." Yes, he was the "salvation" which God "hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel" (Luke 2: 25-32). "For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth." Acts 13: 47.

Surely this was a glad morning to the inhabitants of earth, who for long centuries had sat enshrouded in the night of sin. Brilliant, transplendent light broke forth in the earth, salvation waters began to flow, and thousands were made to rejoice in a Redeemer's love. They could say, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. " Rom. 13: 12. The gospel message was like "a light that shineth in a dark place"; and as people accepted it, Christ entered into their life, like a beautiful "day dawn" and "day star" (2 Pet. 1:19). Oh, how beautiful, clear, and bright was the dawning of the gospel day!

The gospel of salvation that Christ preached penetrated the dark places of sin and idolatry, like sun rays driving back the darkness of night. Wickedness in the hearts and lives of men gave way to grace and truth. Christ established his church. True holiness adorned her fair brow Unity and purity were her chief characteristics. Of her it is said, "Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee." S. of Sol. 4:7. And again, "My dove, my undefiled is but one." S. Of Sol. 6 : 9. Unity and purity are inseparable; one can not exist without the other. Holiness is the mainspring of all gospel truth. It is a golden thread which runs all through the New Testament. As long as the people of God possessed true holiness, they were one and were fortified against all apostasy. We read of the believers assembled on the day of Pentecost, "They were all with one accord in one place." After the church had multiplied to thousands, "the multitude of them that believed were of one heart, and of one soul" (Acts 4: 32). The reason of this was that "they were all filled with the Holy Ghost" and that "great grace was upon them all. " Judgment went forth against sin with such authority that " of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them." "And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things." Acts 5:11. "And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one." Acts 5: 12-16.

Such was the church of God in her primitive glory. Clothed with the authority, power, light, salvation, holiness, and truth, of Christ, her great head, she went forth against the combined kingdoms of sin and darkness. The church shone in the earth, because it reflected the light of Christ to sin darkened souls. "Ye are the light of the world," he said to his disciples. Truly, in those days her light shone as the bright morning sun.

THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH...

As we stand on the summit of present truth and point our telescope back over the mists and clouds that move along at our feet, and over the twelve hundred and sixty years of utter darkness that extend far beyond, even into the third century, we behold, on the mountains of God's own holiness, the temple of God, resplendent with the morning light of his own glory. With admiration we view her; and, behold, she is "fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners." She is " all fair," the city of the great king. That golden city is the primitive church.

As set forth in the oracles of God, her prominent attributes are the following: Divinity, Organization, Visibility, Oneness, Unity, Catholicity, Exclusiveness, Holiness, Unchangeableness, Indestructibility, and Perpetuity. These we shall consider in their order.

THE DIVINITY OF THE CHURCH...

She is of divine origin. Her inception is coeval in the mind of God with that of the plan of salvation. Her origin, being the immediate result of redemption, was inseparable from it. Since, therefore, in tire counsel and good purpose of Cod, Christ was a "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8), the church redeemed through his blood also stood before the divine mind parallel with the gift of his Son. Of that holy institution, he cast a beautiful shadow upon the earth, in the form of the temple and all its contents. And after "Moses verily was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after," in due time "Christ, as a son over his own house," appeared and built this beautiful church of the living God. He adorned her foundations and walls with the pure gold of his heavenly love, and set them with the precious stones of his graces and gifts; he adorned her pillars with the robes of his righteousness; and he shed in her the light of his own glory. She is from heaven. Along with Christ her builder, she is the gift of infinite love. She is "God's building," chosen of him for his own dwelling place; and here he spreads a continual feast of love for all his heaven born children. As the "true tabernacle" of present divine testimony, the Lord pitched her and notman (Heb. 8: 2). As the house of God, he that builded all things in her is God (Heb. 3:4). As the beloved city, she "hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11: 10). Her foundation is Jesus Christ the divine Savior. "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." her life and light is the "eternal Spirit."

Her creed is the pure Word of God. Thus spake God by the mouth of his servant Moses: "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not harken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him." Deut. 18: 18,19. This is fulfilled in his Son, as the apostle testifies (Acts 3: 22, 23). God here announced that he would put his words in the mouth of this prophet; and when he came, he testified, saying, "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." John 14: 10. Therefore "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son. " Heb. 1: 1, 2. This adorable (Christ came into the world and delivered the perfect laws of his kingdom, and when about to finish his mission on earth he said, "I have given unto them the words which thou gayest me; and they have received them. " John 17: 8. And when he sent forth his ministers to preach his gospel to every creature, he commissioned them to make disciples in all nations, " baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19, 20). Thus we see that Christ Jesus spoke all the words that the Father "put into his mouth," and all that he had commanded him to speak; and the Son likewise commissioned his apostles to publish all that, and only that, which he gave them. Therefore, "All Scripture divinely inspired, is indeed profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for that discipline which is in righteousness; so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly fitted for every good work." 2 Tim. 3: 16, 17, Emphatic Diaglott.

God the Father, then, is the source of this new covenant, and Jesus Christ the mediator. Its objects are the "conviction" of men in sin, and the teaching and discipline in righteousness of all the saints of God. The result is that God's people are perfect. As divinely inspired discipline, it corrects every error and teaches every obligation of righteousness in all our relations to God and to man.

By means of this perfect law the man of God —every man of God—may be perfect, thoroughly furnished in all that pertains to a life of righteousness, and fully instructed in every good work. So if the Scriptures of divine truth are unsuited or insufficient as a discipline for any people, it would indeed appear that such are not men of God. The creeds that men have multiplied in the earth testify against themselves and in favor of this divine Book of discipline. They very generally admit that the Word of God is the only inspired and infallible rule of faith and practice, " so that whatever can rot be read therein nor proved thereby, it is not necessary to receive or believe." So they say, and yet they impose upon their unwary joiners heaps of forms, traditions, and rules having no place in the inspired discipline of the divine church. God's church is a "spiritual house," and to her was given a spiritual law; but earthborn associations, even though called churches, are earthly in their tendency, and therefore they can not be governed by a spiritual law. For this reason they make their own laws, and amend them according to their own option. But the divine and heavenly law of the Lord, perfect in all its doctrines and ordinances, is well suited to be the discipline of his holy church.

Her government is divine, not only in the legislative department, as we have just seen, but likewise in its judicial and executive departments. " The government shall be upon his shoulder." Isa. 9:6. "And thou, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion." Micah 4:8. "He is the head of the body, the church, . . . that in all things he might have the preeminence." Col. 1:18. A divine government in the highest sense: a theocracy not only appointed by but administered of God. Even "one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. " Eph. 4: 6. "It is the same God which worketh all in all." 1 Cor. 12: 6. He chooses men for elders and deacons, as "governments" and "helps" but these, as well as all the members of the body, have no right or power to act, except as "it is God that worketh in them." If, therefore, they teach or exhort, it is by his Spirit dwelling in them; if through them judgment is dealt out, it is not "man's judgment," but his that dwelleth in them. So her government is indeed all divine; yea, it is a government of God, working all things in all the members.

Her walls are salvation (Isa. 26: 1; 60: 18). "Behold, God is my salvation. " Isa. 12: 2. Therefore her walls are also divine. She has a divine door, even Jesus Christ himself (John 10: 7, 9).

Having been purchased, founded, and built by God, he claims in her the exclusive right of proprietorship. She is not "our church," but "Cod's building," divinely owned, and his glory he will not give to another.

Her members are all the sons of Cod and bear his holy image.

She is even divinely named. "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." Eph. 3: 14, 15. And let not men or devils presume to characterize her by blasphemous names which they invent. Behold, she is all divine.

THE CHURCH IS AN ORGANIC STRUCTURE...

Therefore when men charge us with discarding all organizations, they either ignorantly or willfully misrepresent us. As the Word teaches, so we teach. The church that Jesus purchased with his own blood, he also "built" (Matt. 16: 18); that is, organized. "In whom [Christ] all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord." Eph. 2:21. These scriptures and many others clearly set forth the church of God as a symmetrical and perfectly organized structure. Of this fact there is no question; but with regard to who holds the prerogative of organizing the body, not all so well agree.

The general teaching in sectarian theology is that God only saves and gathers men out of the world into a general mass and that it is the duty of ministers to form the material thus provided into organic form. But our teaching is that God not only saves men into his church, but also forms them in due order and really organizes the church itself. In order to show which position is correct, we will now appeal to the Word. A few texts will be sufficient to settle the question. The church, as we have seen, is a building, a house; that is, an organic structure. Now, it must be apparent to all that whoever is the architect and builder of a house is also its organizer. But "he who hath builded the house hath more honor than the house." And "he that built all things is God." Heb. 3:3, 4. "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased hire." 1 Cor. 12:18. "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles," etc. Verse 28. To furnish with organs, "built," "compact," "fitly framed together," and to "temper the body together" cover all that is included in the word "organize." And "all these worketh that one and the self same Spirit." 1 Cor. 12:11. Yea, "it is the same God which worketh all in all." 1 Cor. 12: 6. He, then, through the Spirit, is the organizer of his own church.

As we view the pure church in her morning glory, we see her a perfect organized body. She had law, discipline, and government. This was all contained in the gospel—the New Testament. The law of Christ being a perfect rule of faith, the church needed no other, and it needs no other today. There is no excuse for the modern creeds of men. Modern sects are of human origin; hence they need man made rules and discipline. The Church God is divine; hence the divine law is sufficient for its government.

Moreover, the Lord calls, qualifies, and sends forth by his Spirit certain ones for the ministry. Among these are evangelists, pastors, and teachers. They prove their call by their ability to minister. Such are acknowledged by the church, and by the direction of the Lord are ordained by the imposition of hands to the important work to which the Lord has called them. This is all done by the direction of the Holy Spirit, without voting into office. In every congregation saved out of the world by the blood of Christ, the Lord calls certain ones and by his Spirit qualifies them to be elders or overseers. Others he calls to the work of deacons. "He sets the members every one in the body as it pleaseth him." The ministry recognize these calls and by the laying on of hands, just like the apostles and ministers of old, dedicate to the various kinds of work those whom the Lord has chosen and qualified. This is called ordination. These officers of the church are in authority, and execute his word. They are called " overseers. " They are not made so by man, but "the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers " (Acts 20: 28). The church is commanded thus: "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves." Heb. 13:17.

So before the advent of any of the modern sects God's church was a perfectly organized structure; and we are happy to say that since we have come out of and discarded these sects of human origin, and have been abiding only in the church divine, we have the same government, rule, discipline, officers authority, and organization that the primitive Christians had.

THE VISIBILITY OF THE CHURCH...

"But these people," it is alleged of the saints of the most high God, "do not believe in a visible organized church.'' This again is an untrue statement. We teach that there are both an invisible and a visible phase to the church of God. Since it is the Lord who "works all in all the members, " this work being accomplished through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit, the church must be invisible. Thus through the Holy Spirit, God organizes, builds, and adds members to the church, calls and qualifies its officers for their responsible work. As regards its living head, its door of entrance, its eternal foundation, the spiritual life that animates it, the operation of the Spirit in the distribution of its gifts, and in many other respects, the church is invisible. We are glad to say, however, that this glorious temple built by an invisible God is a visible church. She is " the light of the world," "a city that is set on a hill" (Matt. 5: 14). As the wind, though an invisible power, produces effects that are perceptible to the eye; so the hand of God, though invisible to man, builds and organizes a church that is seen of all.

Salvation constitutes us members of God's church; and while, as before stated, the operation of the Spirit in salvation is invisible, the effects produced in the individual will be visibly manifested in his life. All who become members are new creatures, walk in newness of life, and serve him in newness of spirit. This great change is seen by all. The saved man is a living epistle, "known and read of all men," a "gazing stock," a "spectacle [theater] unto the world, to angels, and to men." Others "see his good works." Such individuals are visible to all men as real Christians—as members of the church of God. Thus the membership in the divine church is visible membership. Every member is known by his fruits. Though organized by the invisible Spirit, the church is composed of men and women who are as visible now as they were when they were in the kingdom of darkness.

While the kingdom of d is substantially the same as is the church, the former relates only to the spiritual leaven and unseen power of God that transforms the hearts of men into righteousness and fills them with "all joy and peace in believing. " Hence it " cometh not with observation." The church, on the contrary, is the assembly of the saved, the household of God. It includes the body no less than "the hidden man of the heart." "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ ? " 1 Cor. 6: 15 "Christ, " "his body, " and "the church" are all identical in 1 Cor. 12: 12, 13, 27, 28. It is in our physical bodies that we compose the assembly of God. This shows that she is a visible ecclesia. A house, a vine, a family, an army with banners, a light, the moon, the mother, and a city set on a hill—these are the most common figures of the church; and all these denote visibility.

The saints forsake not the assembling of themselves together. Wherever a number of people fully accept Christ, whether in a country place or in a city, they assemble together for worship. These assemblies constitute local churches, geographically distributed throughout t h e world. All such assemblies are visible. Surely Barnabas and Paul, who assembled a whole year with the church at Antioch (Acts 11: 26), did not gather together with something they saw not— with unseen spirits. Saints, as an assembly, worship God. This worship consists in prayer, song, exhortation, testimony, praise, and preaching. All such meetings and public devotions are visible.

The saving effects of the gospel ministered through the church are visible. God calls and qualifies certain persons to preach this gospel. Their preaching produces joy, comfort, and peace in the hearts of believers. They express this in song, praise, and spiritual worship. Sinners are melted and under pungent conviction fall at the public altar, cry for mercy, and find deliverance. All this is visible.

God is a God of order. Through the Holy Spirit he organizes every local assembly raised up through the preaching of the gospel. He sets the members in the body as it pleases him. As before stated, this work is invisible, but these members who constitute the body are visible. Its ministry—evangelists, pastors, and teachers —are visible. They feel the call of God upon them and exercise in their respective callings. Their call and work is recognized by the church in which they labor, and they are publicly ordained by the laying on of hands. Whether they be classed as local or traveling elders—called pastors and evangelists—their work is visible. Deacons are chosen and ordained to look after the temporal affairs of the church. Their work also is visible.

Then again, the ministry are placed in authority. They are ambassadors for Christ. The chief shepherd and governor of his people has placed "governments" in this church (1 Cor. 12: 28). These are vested in the holy ministry. As ensamples to the flock, they teach, warn, admonish, rebuke, and execute his Word. To them he says, " Hear the Word at my mouth and give them warning from me. " " Them that sin, rebuke before all. " To the church the following charge is given: "Remember them that have the rule over you, men that speak unto you the Word of God. " " Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourself to them. " Heb. 13: 7, 17, R. V. This is government, and it is visible.

And again, in the exercise and manifestations of the gifts placed in the church there is visibility. The Lord has placed in he church many spiritual gifts—gifts of exhortation, preaching, wisdom and knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, discerning of spirits, tongues, etc. All these are visibly manifested.

So the church of God stands out before us the most beautiful, visible institution on earth.

Sects, then, are not necessary to make the church visible. In this respect they are worthless. This theory is generally circulated by sectarians in defense of their own rival organizations, that the constitution of sects is essential to the visible manifestation of the church. A sect is a portion "cut off." Is there any sense, reason, or divine truth in the teaching that an invisible body is made visible by cutting off a portion of it: None of the present sects came into existence until the third century. Was God's church an invisible thing on earth for nearly three hundred years? Who can affirm that the multitude of sects have made visible the church of God, from which they are severed by their particular creeds? We affirm in the presence of the Judge of all men, with a clear consciousness of his truth to support our proposition, that the creation of the sects of Christendom have had exactly the opposite effect. Their traditions have made "the Word of God of none effect." Their confusing creeds, heaps of rubbish, and interminable machinery have utterly subverted and wellnigh hidden the church that Jesus builded. As the historian D'Aubigne says, in the third century an "earthly association," "an external organization," was gradually substituted for " the interior and spiritual communion which is the essence of the religion of God." Then, says the historian, "the living church retired gradually within the lonely sanctuary of a few solitary hearts "; that is, the real church of God was almost hidden from view by the over- spread pomp of the false. So, then, men's sects do not make visible God's church, but, on the contrary, obstruct her life and obscure her glory. These are facts of the history that no honest and intelligent man can deny.

The Babel of human sects long obscured the sight of the church of the first born. Until the evening light revealed the true church as she shone out in the morning of the dispensation, everybody looked upon manmade substitutes as the divine church; and the body of Christ, which only is the church, was scarcely discerned at all.

Visibility is a natural characteristic of the church of God. Thus the church of God did not become visible by the organization of sects; for in the days of primitive Christianity none of the modern sects existed. Those who speak of God's invisible church and can see it visible only in sect organizations hold a superstition of the Dark Ages. Babylon theologians teach that God takes members into his invisible church, while they admit members into the visible. In this they are without any Scriptural support. It is true that the world can not see the head of the church, as do the Christians, for he manifests himself unto the latter as he does not unto the former; but all can see the children of God, and they are the body of Christ, the church. "Whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. " This again explains why the masses of sect members do not discern Christ nor his church. It is because they are sinners, and Satan blinds their eyes to their condition by telling them that Christ and his church are invisible.

Again, the class book of God's church is not here on earth nor seen by natural eyes. But, notwithstanding this, the spiritual "read their title clear" and know their names are written there.

So the church, without any tampering by man, is a glorious and visible city of God on earth, yea, so very visible that it is even the light of the world.

ONENESS OF GOD'S CHURCH...

As there is but "one God, and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all"; so likewise there is but "one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling." It was the purpose of God to save both Jews and Gentiles through the gospel of his Son. Now, between these two classes was a great gulf of prejudice and vast separation in sentiment and education, so that it might very reasonably be thought that characters so remote from each other could never be blended together in one body and enabled to live agreeably under one faith. Did, therefore, the Lord indulge their alienation from each other, and their extreme peculiarities, by providing separate folds ? He did not. Said the Great Teacher, "Other sheep I have [Gentiles], which are not of this fold [not Jews]: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. " John 10: 16. These antipodes of humanity, if saved at all, had to be brought together into one fold. Which class, then, was required to surrender its position to the other? The answer is, "He put no difference between us and them." "But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin." The apostle confessed that the Jews were no better than the Gentiles. Neither class had to come over to the other, but both to God through Christ Jesus; and here is the beautiful result: "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace." Eph. 2: 1416.

Then, for all the saved of the nations of the earth God has provided but "one fold." In it are peacefully blended together men of the most widely conflicting idiosyncrasies, and races of the most opposite customs and religions. Since, therefore, the infinite grace of God is manifestly sufficient to mold all men into one harmonious body, there is need of only one church. Every description of the church shows that it is but one. Every relation that she sustains to her God demands that she be one. Accordingly, we are told that Christ " is the head of the body, the church." As there is but one head, there can be but one body. "For 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. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. But now are they many members, yet but one body." 1 Cor. 12:12, 13, 20. "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." Rom. 12: 4, 5. "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful." Col. 3:15. These and many similar scriptures declare in the most positive terms that God acknowledges but one body. There is but one true church or assembly, just as there is but one true God. Since Christ calls us into one body, the call to join various bodies must proceed from antichrist. There is absolutely but one body and one Christ its head.

Again, the church, or divine congregation, sustains in some respects the relation to Christ that a wife does to her husband. "And I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord." "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." 2 Cor. 11: 2. "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom." John 3: 29. " For thy maker is shine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called." Isa. 54: 5. "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." Rev. 19:7, 8. Here are five texts establishing this beautiful relation between Christ and his church. To admit, therefore, the idea of more than one church would impute to Christ the sin of polygamy. A shocking blasphemy!

But again, we find the divine ecclesia recognized as his own family, his household. "Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." Eph. 3:15. "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." Eph. 2: 19. Since no man can rightly have two families, God has but one church, which is the holy family.

"Why, then," some one may ask, "do we read of 'churches' in the Bible," It is true the word "church" frequently appears in the plural; but a little attention to the word will convince any honest mind that the church of God is plural only in its diversified geographical location, but in a variety of faiths and orders, never. Accordingly, the word never occurs in the plural except when the writer is speaking of God's assembly located in several cities or in various localities throughout a country or province. For examples:

"Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified. " Acts 9: 31.

"And he went through Syria and Cilicia confirming the churches. " Acts 15: 41.

"As I teach everywhere in every church." 1 Cor. 4:17.

"As I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye." 1 Cor. 16:1.

"And so ordain I in all churches." 1 Cor.: 17.

"The churches of Asia salute you." 1 Cor. 16: 19.

" They returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch: . . . and when they had ordained them elders in every church." Acts 14:21, 23.

In all the above instances except the last the word "churches" refers to the congregations of God located at various places throughout one or more countries. In the last the reference is to the congregations in three cities. That these churches were not separate sects is clear from the fact that they were all combined under the same ministry. One inspired apostle enjoined rules upon them all; but we all know that no bishop of one sect has jurisdiction over another ecclesiastical order. By means of any complete concordance you may see that " church " is never once used in the plural number when referring to the disciples of Christ in any one city. No matter how large the city and how numerous the believers, there is but one church of God in it. This church, however, may have had several places of assembling on account of not all the members being able to meet in one place. This evidently was true of the church at Antioch, where the believers numbered thousands. Yet when all these were spoken of, they were termed "the church that was at Antioch," or "the church of God which is at Corinth. " 1 Cor. 1: 2. " The church of the Thessalonians." 1 Thess. 1:1. "Unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea." Rev. 1: 11.

Thus you see that there was only one church in one city and that the seven churches of Asia, so often appealed to in apology for men's sects, were not seven sects in one town, but God's one community located in seven cities. There is, we repeat, not a single instance in the New Testament of more than one church of God in one place or city; not one case where the word "churches" does not mean a plurality of locations, and not a plurality of denominations. Indeed, according to every characteristic of the divine church, she is but one body in heaven and on earth, composed of all those who are saved; and but one in her manifestation in any one place, composed of all in that place who are saved in Christ Jesus. And though under the apostasy there are today many bodies, many towering steeples and rival altars in every city, God's Word is just as true today as when written by the inspiration of the apostles, and there is but one body in Christ (Rom. 12: 4, 5). Yea, there is but one body universal, and but one body in Chicago, New York, or in any other city on earth. Therefore, if " God be true and every man a liar," it follows that the multitude of ecclesiastical bodies seen in these last days are not in Christ, not the one body of Christ. However, we admit that individuals who, through erroneous education, dwell in these manifold factions, and also sincerely abide in Christ, are in the one body of Christ, notwithstanding their sect relation. This, however, they are always ready to abandon when they properly discern the divine body into which God set them and the rival character of the sect into which they were taken by man. The church of God is one in heaven and on earth; hence she is necessarily one holy family wherever she appears on earth.

ONENESS OF GOD'S CHURCH...

As there is but "one God, and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all"; so likewise there is but "one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling." It was the purpose of God to save both Jews and Gentiles through the gospel of his Son. Now, between these two classes was a great gulf of prejudice and vast separation in sentiment and education, so that it might very reasonably be thought that characters so remote from each other could never be blended together in one body and enabled to live agreeably under one faith. Did, therefore, the Lord indulge their alienation from each other, and their extreme peculiarities, by providing separate folds ? He did not. Said the Great Teacher, "Other sheep I have [Gentiles], which are not of this fold [not Jews]: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. " John 10: 16. These antipodes of humanity, if saved at all, had to be brought together into one fold. Which class, then, was required to surrender its position to the other? The answer is, "He put no difference between us and them." "But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin." The apostle confessed that the Jews were no better than the Gentiles. Neither class had to come over to the other, but both to God through Christ Jesus; and here is the beautiful result: "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace." Eph. 2: 1416.

Then, for all the saved of the nations of the earth God has provided but "one fold." In it are peacefully blended together men of the most widely conflicting idiosyncrasies, and races of the most opposite customs and religions. Since, therefore, the infinite grace of God is manifestly sufficient to mold all men into one harmonious body, there is need of only one church. Every description of the church shows that it is but one. Every relation that she sustains to her God demands that she be one. Accordingly, we are told that Christ " is the head of the body, the church." As there is but one head, there can be but one body. "For 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. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. But now are they many members, yet but one body." 1 Cor. 12:12, 13, 20. "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." Rom. 12: 4, 5. "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful." Col. 3:15. These and many similar scriptures declare in the most positive terms that God acknowledges but one body. There is but one true church or assembly, just as there is but one true God. Since Christ calls us into one body, the call to join various bodies must proceed from antichrist. There is absolutely but one body and one Christ its head.

Again, the church, or divine congregation, sustains in some respects the relation to Christ that a wife does to her husband. "And I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord." "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." 2 Cor. 11: 2. "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom." John 3: 29. " For thy maker is shine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called." Isa. 54: 5. "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." Rev. 19:7, 8. Here are five texts establishing this beautiful relation between Christ and his church. To admit, therefore, the idea of more than one church would impute to Christ the sin of polygamy. A shocking blasphemy!

But again, we find the divine ecclesia recognized as his own family, his household. "Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." Eph. 3:15. "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." Eph. 2: 19. Since no man can rightly have two families, God has but one church, which is the holy family.

"Why, then," some one may ask, "do we read of 'churches' in the Bible," It is true the word "church" frequently appears in the plural; but a little attention to the word will convince any honest mind that the church of God is plural only in its diversified geographical location, but in a variety of faiths and orders, never. Accordingly, the word never occurs in the plural except when the writer is speaking of God's assembly located in several cities or in various localities throughout a country or province. For examples:

"Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified. " Acts 9: 31.

"And he went through Syria and Cilicia confirming the churches. " Acts 15: 41.

"As I teach everywhere in every church." 1 Cor. 4:17.

"As I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye." 1 Cor. 16:1.

"And so ordain I in all churches." 1 Cor.: 17.

"The churches of Asia salute you." 1 Cor. 16: 19.

" They returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch: . . . and when they had ordained them elders in every church." Acts 14:21, 23.

In all the above instances except the last the word "churches" refers to the congregations of God located at various places throughout one or more countries. In the last the reference is to the congregations in three cities. That these churches were not separate sects is clear from the fact that they were all combined under the same ministry. One inspired apostle enjoined rules upon them all; but we all know that no bishop of one sect has jurisdiction over another ecclesiastical order. By means of any complete concordance you may see that " church " is never once used in the plural number when referring to the disciples of Christ in any one city. No matter how large the city and how numerous the believers, there is but one church of God in it. This church, however, may have had several places of assembling on account of not all the members being able to meet in one place. This evidently was true of the church at Antioch, where the believers numbered thousands. Yet when all these were spoken of, they were termed "the church that was at Antioch," or "the church of God which is at Corinth. " 1 Cor. 1: 2. " The church of the Thessalonians." 1 Thess. 1:1. "Unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea." Rev. 1: 11.

Thus you see that there was only one church in one city and that the seven churches of Asia, so often appealed to in apology for men's sects, were not seven sects in one town, but God's one community located in seven cities. There is, we repeat, not a single instance in the New Testament of more than one church of God in one place or city; not one case where the word "churches" does not mean a plurality of locations, and not a plurality of denominations. Indeed, according to every characteristic of the divine church, she is but one body in heaven and on earth, composed of all those who are saved; and but one in her manifestation in any one place, composed of all in that place who are saved in Christ Jesus. And though under the apostasy there are today many bodies, many towering steeples and rival altars in every city, God's Word is just as true today as when written by the inspiration of the apostles, and there is but one body in Christ (Rom. 12: 4, 5). Yea, there is but one body universal, and but one body in Chicago, New York, or in any other city on earth. Therefore, if " God be true and every man a liar," it follows that the multitude of ecclesiastical bodies seen in these last days are not in Christ, not the one body of Christ. However, we admit that individuals who, through erroneous education, dwell in these manifold factions, and also sincerely abide in Christ, are in the one body of Christ, notwithstanding their sect relation. This, however, they are always ready to abandon when they properly discern the divine body into which God set them and the rival character of the sect into which they were taken by man. The church of God is one in heaven and on earth; hence she is necessarily one holy family wherever she appears on earth. [End of Part 1 ]




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