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The Glory of a True Church- What tends to the Glory and Beauty of a true Gospel Church

What tends to the Glory and Beauty of a true Gospel Church

That which Primarily tends to the Glory of a Church is the Foundation on which it is Built, which is Jesus Christ. Now this is a blessed and glorious Foundation.117

I. In respect of God the Father, who laid this Foundation in his eternal Purpose, Counsel, and Decree; Behold I lay in Sion:118 and this is as the result of his infinite Wisdom, Love and Mercy to his Elect.

II. In respect had unto Christ himself, who is this Foundation.

(1.) He is a Suitable Foundation.

1st. In respect to the Glory of God in all his Attributes.

2ly. In respect to our Good; the answering all our wants, who are united to him, or built upon him.

3ly. In respect of the preciousness of Christ, as a Foundation; a Stone; a precious Stone.

4ly. In respect to the Durableness of it, i.e. a tryed Stone; a sure Foundation.119

Brethren, a Foundation of a House must of necessity be laid; no House can be built without a good Foundation, that will stand firm, and unmovable; it is the strongest part of the Building, and it beareth all the weight of the whole Superstructure: So doth Jesus Christ.

III. The Beauty and Glory of a true Church, consists in the true and regular, or right Constitution of it; nothing being wanting that is Essential to it, upon this account.

IV. It consisteth in the Excellency, Glory, and Suitableness of the materials ’tis Built with, answering to the Foundation, all precious Stones, lively Stones; all regenerated Persons.120

V. In that all the Stones be well Hewed and Squared; all made fit for the Building, before laid in. Were it thus, there would not be so great a Noise of the Hammer and Ax, in Church Discipline, as indeed there is. It was not thus in the Type, I mean in Solomon’s Temple.121

VI. It’s Beauty and Glory consisteth in that all the Stones being not only united by the Spirit, to Christ the Foundation, but also to one another in sincere Love and Affection. In whom all the Building, fitly Framed together, groweth up unto an holy Temple in the Lord.122

VII. It consisteth in the Holiness and Purity of the Lives and Conversations of all the Members: Be ye Holy, for I am Holy.123 Holiness becomes thy House, O God, for Ever.124

VIII. It consisteth in the sweet Union and Concord that ought to be in the Church; all like the Horses in Pharoah’s Chariot, drawing together:125 Endeavouring to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace.126 By this shall all Men know ye are my Disciples, if you Love one another.

IX. In their having the divine Presence with them: Or when the Glory of God fills his Temple.127.

X. In keeping out all unsanctified, or unclean Persons, or if they get in, to purge them out by a strict and holy Discipline, or else it will soon lose its Beauty.128

XI. In that Zeal and Equality that should be shewed in all to keep up the Honour, Peace, and Comfort of the Church, and the Ministry thereof.129

XII. In the Administration of right Discipline; to see no neglect nor delaying of Justice, thro carelessness, or Partiality: (1.) No ways partaking of other Mens Sins; which may be done by Conniving at it; (2.) By Lessening or Extenuating of it (3.) By Countenancing, or any ways Incouraging any in Sin. (4.) By not Restoring a Brother, that confesses his Sin when overtaken. (5.) Not bringing in a just Charge against an Offender, nor rebuking him; and yet have Communion with him.

2ly. Not to wrest Judgment, out of it’s true and right Channel: Nor to inflict a greater censure than the Law of Christ requires on any.

3ly. Timely to acquit, and discharge a penitent Person.

4ly. Not to do any thing out of Prejudice, but in Love, and Bowels, of affection; and to do all in Christ’s Name, or by his authority.

XIII. To Sympathize with the Afflicted, Succour the Tempted, and Relieving the Poor and Distressed: Rejoicing with them that Rejoice, and Mourning with them that Mourn.

XIV. To speak evil of no Man; not only speaking no evil of their Brethren, but of no Man, to his hurt or injury, detracting from his Worth and Honour: See Sirach, Whether it be to Friend or Foe, talk not of other Men’s Lives; and if thou canst, without Offence, reveal them not.130 We must not discourse his Faults, unless in a Gospel-way; and that too, to amend the Person, and not out of Passion, or Prejudice to expose him, but out of Love to his Soul. Yet we may speak of the evils of others, (1.) When called to do it, in a Legal or Gospel way; and it is a Sin then to conceal his Crime. (2.) Or when it is to prevent another, who is in danger to be Infected by his Company, or ill Example. (3.) Or in our own just Defence and Vindication. Moreover, consider the evil of Reproaching of others.

First as to the causes why some do it.

I. One Cause is from want of Love: Nay from Malice; and Hatred.

1. From the Baseness, ill Nature, and Cruelty of the accusers Disposition.

2. ’Tis occasioned from that itch, of talking and medling in the Affairs of other Men.

3. Or perhaps to raise their own Esteem and Honour, some Degrade their Brother; which is Abominable.

Consider it is theft, or Robbery; nay, and ‘tis worse than to Rob a Man of his Goods, because thou takest away that which perhaps thou canst not restore again.

Moreover consider, That such who reproach others, lay themselves open thereby to Reproach.

4. Moreover know, he that Receives, or Hearkens to the Scandal, is as Guilty as the Accuser; he is like a person that receives Stolen Goods, and so is as bad as the Thief.

This being one of the Grand and Notorious Evils of these Days I speak the more to it.

If you abominate this evil, and avoid it, you will shine in Grace and Vertue the more clearly.

Alas, in our days, some that would be thought to be great Professers stick not to vilifie Christ’s Ministers, even some of the best of Men; and are so full of Malice, they care not what wrong they do to their Brethren, nor to the truth it self, or interest of God, and so expose themselves to a lasting shame, and their Spirit, and Practice, to an abhorrance;131 they are like cursed Cham who discovered his Fathers nakedness;132 these persons violate all Laws, both Humane and Divine.

3ly. When they bear one anothers Burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ:133 And that you may do this, consider where is that Church in which there are no Burdens to be Born.

[Motives thus to do.]

1. Consider what a Burden Jesus Christ hath born for thee.

2. What a Burden thou hast to bear of thine own.134

3. Mayst not thou in some things be a Burden to thy Brethren?

4. Wouldst thou not have others bear thy Burden.

5. May not God cause thee to bear a more heavy Burden; because thou canst not bear thy Brother’s?

6. ’Tis a fulfilling the Law of Love, nay the Law of Christ.135

XV. The Glory and Beauty of a Congregation, is the more manifest, when the Authority of the Church, and the Dignity of the Pastoral Office is maintained. How great was the Evil of the gain-saying of Corah?136 The Apostle speaks of some that are Selfwilled Presumptious, who are not afraid to speak evil of Dignities.137

God has put a Glory and high Dignity upon the Church and in it’s Authority and Power; Whom ye bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven.

Moreover, the Pastoral Office, is an Office of Dignity; they are called Rulers, Angels, Fathers.138 For any therefore to cast contempt on the Church, or Pastor, is a great evil, and a reproach to Christ, and tends to Disorder and Confusion.139

Lastly, When Holiness, Righteousness, Charity, Humility, and all true Piety is prest upon the Consciences of every Member, and appears in the Minister: also that all strive to excell therein, with their uttermost Care and Diligences.140

Benjamin Keach- The Glory of a True Church, And its Discipline Displayed (1697)

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