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The Communion of Saints.
Episcopalians, the Catholic Church comprises not simply one denomination of christians, but the whole body of believers throughout the world. All true believers are united to Christ, their spiritual head : they are built on the same foundation—they embrace substantially the same faith-theyreceive the same sacraments—they are called in one hope of their calling—they are in the most important and essential things, of one mind—they acknowledge Christ as their Lord. In fact, they have one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, and therefore they are virtually one people, and constitute one church—the Catholic Church.* Yes, Episcopalians do believe in the Holy Catholic Church, the mystical body of Christ, which is the blessed company of all faithful people.'t And they also believe in the Communion of Saints.
What a delightful subject is here brought to view? If all true believers constitute one body, and are united to Christ their spiritual head, they must all have one spiritual life flowing from him. “And, as Leighton remarks, this communion holds not only on earth, and in heaven apart, but even betwixt heaven and earth. The saints on earth make up the same body with those already in glory.'! This idea is beautifully expressed in one of our hymns.
“What an argument does this consideration present to lead us to cultivate a kindly intercourse with our fellow christians' What expansion, and elevation of thought does this whole subject impart ?
“ Let us follow out the ideas contained in these two clauses of the creed, · The Holy Catholic Church'- The Communion of Saints.
“Every baptized follower of the Lamb, who with us, acknowledges Christ •Lord of all,' of whatever name, or nation he may be, is a christian brother, belonging to the
* See Bp. Pearson on the Creed, 2d vol, p. 236—240, Also Archbishop Leighton, vol. 2. p. 312.
+ Communion Service of the Episcopal church, * Leighton's works, vol, 2. p. 312,
The Saints in glory. Catholic Church, and one whom we should bid God speed. What a great and glorious family does the universal church consist of! A part of its members are already in heaven, holding the harps of glory in their hands! A part of them are still in the wilderness, journeying onward amid toils, and trials, and weariness, steadily looking unto Jesus, the duthor and finisher of their
faith! This is the company which you propose to join. Another portion is to be gathered from those pagan lands, over which now broods more than midnight darkness. By and by, when God has gathered together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him
• When the saints of all ages in harmony meet,
When on Zion's glorious hill, shall stand the whole num. ber of God's elect—when the last blood-bought sinner of our race, shall have turned to God, and have come to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven', then, if we are so happy as to be among that number, we shall begin fully to understand how much meaning is conveyed in these terms, • The Holy Catholic Church• The Communion of Saints !”
Here the manuscript abruptly terminates.
The reader will distinctly perceive that it has not been the intention of the Author in these pages, to represent the Episcopal Church as absolutely free from every imperfection and defect. It has been his intention however, to show, that this church possesses at least so many of the essential elements of the primitive church set up by the Apostles acting under the express authority of Christ, as clearly to indentify it with that church-and therefore to warrant us to conclude and affirm that this is truly the church of Christ. How far he has succeeded in making out this point, the reader must judge. His object has not been to un-church other denominations but simply to show, that the Episcopal Church, is built on the holy hill of Zion. If others can from the testimony of scripture and the light of ecclesiastical history, establish the same thing in reference to the ecclesiastical or. ganizations with which they are connected, he has no controversy with them. On this subject he would say, "let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
The author is of the opinion that it is the duty of christians Unity and Love. to look to themselves—and not to their neighbors in relation to this matter ; to be principally concerned with the question, whether they themselves, not whether others, are going right.
It has been the Author's earnest desire, and that which he has sincerely sought in all this walk, to follow the guiding pillar of eternal truth. That pillar of heavenly fire, he de. sires from his inmost soul to follow, guide him where it may. The only exhortation that he would address to the reader, who has accompanied him so far on this walk, is Come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord. Every other light; will prove but the sparks of our own kindling—a mere ignis fatuus that will lead us astray—a momentary blaze that will go out when we most need its illumination. Let us then walk in the light of the Lord. Let us follow the honest convictions of our understanding. Let us
not be afraid to see the truth—nor be unwilling to embrace it. Upon this one point, let us be fully satisfied, that we have verily entered the gates of Zion, and are numbered with her blessed inhabitants. Having examined the matter and looked at it with honest and sincere intentions to know the truthand being fully persuaded that we have verily entered the city of the great King, we can look up to him and say
“ Thy guardian fire-thy guiding cloud,
But alas ! with whatever church we are connected, I fear we shall see much to humble us-much to lead us to confess in deep grief and bitterness of spirit,
“ Too oft within this camp of thine
We wish to detain the reader a few moments longer to take one more look at Zion before we separate.
It has always appeared to us, that among the most unerring marks, that ought to characterize that body which Christ left to represent him on earth and to extend his kingdom over our sin-desolated world—are unity and love. The
The causes of Disunion. very office which christianity proposes to perform for the proud unregenerate sinner, is to bring him to submission to the divine government—to transform his nature, to infuse into his heart the mild gentle spirit of Christ, and to fill his soul with love to God and his fellow men. The object which christianity places before every converted, transformed sinner, is to renounce himself and live and labor for the glory of God.
We should naturally suppose that a company of men, thus renewed in their minds, and acting upon such holy principles would be a band of brothers—among whom there would be but one heart, and one mind. It was so in the early ages of christianity. The pagan persecutor, who trod the disciples of Jesus down into the dust, was often forced to exclaim in wonder and admiration-see how these christians love one another.'
It was the design of Christ that this spirit of unity and love should ever characterize his followers. Hence in his last in. tercessory prayer, the earnest petition was offered up
" that they all may be one."
But alas how often have those various religious bodies claiming to be the church of Christ-how often have they exhibited to an unbelieving world, scenes of division and strife -and of angry contention, which have scared and driven far away the angel of peace.
In our view there have been two causes that have contributed to this sad result.
1. The one has been the admission of men into the fold and to a participation in the counsels of the church who were not under the influence of true godlinesss. The influence of worldly men who have identified themselves with a party, and breathed into the church the spirit of the world, has done a great deal to promote strife among brethren. Such men have been able to marshall talent, and wealth and worldly influence on their side—to carry their measures by the wisdom that is from beneath, and overrule the counsels of meek. ness and love.
2. There is another cause however which we think has often interrupted the peace and harmony of religious bodies a defect in their organization.
We shall not attempt to lay our hand on those defects