« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
unable rightly to care for it now in its ruin.
Here I must remind my reader, that the church is spoken of in a twofold way in scripture, namely, as the house of God, and as the body of Christ, and it is very essential that we shoulıl comprehend it in these two aspects. In the house aspect, it is the habitation of God through the Spirit, and as such it was committed to man's responsibility. It was the sphere where sins were remitted. The true building is Christ's own work. He says (Matt. xvi.), “I will build my church.” Each living stone is put into its true place by Christ Himself. This is the church or assembly in its executive character here on earth; and as such, it was committed to the hands of His people here, the pillar and ground of the truth." the other hand, the house of God has become like a great house, where there are vessels, “some to honour and some to dishonour.” (2 Tim. ii.) Through the subtlety of Satan and the remissness of the saints, “ certain men
a pure heart."
have crept in unawares." It is still the house, but when it has reached the state of a "great house," the one caring for the church purges himself from the vessels to dishonour, not to pursue a solitary or isolated path, but to “ follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of
Thus it, is here intimated that there would be always in the house those who preserve what is due to God in His own house; and any one who does not comprehend this course, and act according to it, could not truly care for the church. Further on, I hope to refer to the twofold character of the Shepherd's care for the flock, but before entering on that part of my subject, it is needful to say a little on the church in its aspect as the body of Christ.
In its essential state the church is baptised by one Spirit into one body. Christ is the Head of it; but as the house of God, there is individual responsibility, though that action, when of the Spirit, cannot be independent of
the other members of the body. The body is never visible, the act of the. individual is; and therefore the assembly, as a habitation of God, is the place where the concerns of Christ, in connection with this scene determined, while the essential state (that of the body), upholds and strengthens each individual in acting for the Lord, though visibly he is only a unit. The house is Christ's council during His absence; and everyone built thereon by Himself is a member of His body, and has essentially a corporate position of the highest order, to which each individual, as he is in the Spirit, must defer; because Christ is the Head, and one cannot defer to the Head, without embracing every member of the body for its good. In like manner when he fails, he disregards the Head, and all the members suffer. If a saint does not understand the church in these two aspects, he cannot on the one hand see it in its unchangeable nearness and value to the Lord Jesus Christ, as God's present object on the
earth: and on the other, if he does not see how it has become like a “great house," and how the name of God has been dishonoured in His own house, as it was in Israel of old, he cannot rightly care for it, because he does not apprehend the nature of the position which the faithful must adopt in such a crisis. In the one case he does not see the unceasing interminable flow of grace, from the Head to the body, ever and always, whenever and wherever, the members of His body seek Him, and own His rightful and natural place in relation to them. It is an unfailing consolation to everyone caring for the church, that Christ's heart is the same towards it now, as it was when He uttered John xvii., and that He is the same Head to it as ever He was. If one did not know this, where would one's resource be in a day like this? While if one did not see the house, though in ruins, to be God's dwelling, how could one rightly consider for His glory, or promote the “holiness” which "becometh thy house, O Lord, forever"? Having learned what the church is in the mind of God, next, as directed by Him, and in communion with Him, there are two things in many varied branches which will engage the one who cares for the church. The first is food, or teaching ; the second, discipline. We cannot fail to see that these two are closely connected, and that the growth and blessing of our brethren, is the one object common to both. We start with this, that we are to love one another as Christ has loved us, and “this also we wish even your perfec
Once we ascertain the great principles which are to guide us in caring for the church, it will be comparatively easy to determine the special service of each.
“ Meat in due season” is necessary for growth; "As new born babes desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby;" and discipline in its full scope,
necessary to check the budding or activities of the flesh. The one is to promote the advancement of the "new-born babe;" the other to remove