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V I z.
cially in such a divided State of the Church, be a
necessary Duty, Incumbent on all Christians. II. Whether Constant Communion be a necessary Duty,
where Occasional Communion is Lawful. III. Whether it be Lawful to Communicate with two
Churches, which are in a State of Separation from each other.
The Second Edition,
the White Horse in Ludgate-street. 1683.
N order to state such cases as particularly relate
to Church-Communion with all possible clearness,
it will be necessary to premise a brief explication of some words, which must be used in questions of this nature, but are not so commonly understood. As, 1. What is meant by a Church, and a Christi
an Church. 2. What Church Communion is. 3. What is meant by Fix't Communion and by
Occasional Communion. First, What is meant by a Church. Now the plai, nest description I can give of a Church is this, that the Church is a Body or Society of Men separated from the rest of the World, and United to God, and to theme selves by a Divine Covenant. I shall briefly explain this
description to fit it to the meanest understanding.
1. Then a Church is a Body or Society of Men, for I speak only of the Church in this world, and therefore shall not enter into that dispute, in what sense Angels belong to the Church.
And when I call the Church a Body or Society of Men, I oppose a Body to single Individuals, or particular Men, and to a confused Multitude , without any order or Union among themselves. For tho the Church consists of particular Men, and when their Numbers are encreased, of great Multitudes, yet the Church consists of such particular Men, not considered in a private and separate capacity, but as United into a regular Society, which is called a Body, in allusion to the natural Body, in which all the parts and members are United in an exact Order, Eph.4 16, 1 Cor. 12.15,16,&c. For God is not the Author of Confusion, but of Peace, as in all the Churches of the Saints. And if the meanest Societies cannot subsist without Order wherein their strength and beauty and usefulness consist, much less the Church of God, which is a Society Instituted for the most spiritual and SupernaturalEnds,
And therefore we find, that God ordained a most exact Order and Government in the Jewish Church which for the greater strength and Unity he formed into a religious Common-wealth: And our Blessed Saviour ordained the Apostles, and committed the Government of his Church to them, and their Succesfors, with a promise to be with them to the end of the
World. And the Christian Church with respect to the Eph. 2. 21,
firm and close Union and orderly Disposition of all its Parts, is not only called a Body, but a Spiritual Building, and Holy Temple, and the House of God.
1 Tim. 3•
But then the Church is a Body, or one Body, in opposition to many bodies, for Christ has but one Body, and one Church, and he is the Saviour of this Body. The Jewish Church was but one, and therefore the Christian Church is but one, which is not a new diItinct Church, but is grafted into the Jewish stock or Root. Believing Jews, and Christians being United into one Church, built upon the foundation of the Apoftles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief Rom. 11. corner stone : Who unites Jews and Gentiles into one Church, as the corner stone unites both sides of the House, and holds them together.
Upon the same account the Church is called the Building, the House, the Temple of God, and we know the Temple was but one, and was to be but one, by the express command and Institution of God. And for the same reason Christ tells us, that there should be but one Fold under oxe Shepherd.
And indeed it is extreamly absurd and unreasonable , John 10. to say, that the Christian Church, which is built upon the same foundation, which worships the same God and Saviour, which professes the same Faith, are Heirs to the same promises, and enjoy all priviledges in common, should be divided into as distinct and separate bodies, tho of the same kind and nature, as Peter , James and John, are distinct Persons, tho they partake of the fame common nature. That is, it is very absurd to say, that where every thing is common, there is not one Community.Peter,and James, and John, tho they partake of the fame common nature,
yet each of them have a distinct effence and subsistence of their own (as it must be in natural Beings, otherwise there could be but one Man in the World) and this makes them distinct Persons:But where the very nature and essence of a Body or Society consists in having all things com