Home > Covenant Theology > The Covenants-Chapter 9h- The Teachings of the Covenant

The Covenants-Chapter 9h- The Teachings of the Covenant

It may be instructive to mark the precise point of time at which the church of Christ became a visible organization. To do this we must ascertain what it is exactly, which places the church in this visible state. It is as you will at once see, upon reflection, not spirituality, nor orthodoxy, nor both these together, but external form. Without spirituality, and orthodoxy, there can certainly be no true church. They are essential to its very existence. Yet these alone, do not constitute its visibility, since in that case it would have been visible long before the days of Abraham. And there are many men eminently pious, in the present day, who whatever may be their devotion to God, are not literally connected with the visible church; which could not be the case if spiritual qualities only, were necessary to that union. What more is required then, to make these good men members of the church? They must, I answer, be baptised, and receive the Lord’s supper. These ordinances, therefore, mark the line of separation between the church and the world. In the truth of this statement, we have, happily, the concurrence of every denomination of Christians. They all teach that those who are baptised, and received at the Lord’s table, are thus united with the church, and that those who are not so baptised, and received, whatever may be their piety, or excellence in other respect; are out of the visible church. These ordinances, doubtless, do not draw the line of distinction between the church and the world, exactly where God will place it at the last day, because they are administered by fallible men, who are liable to mistake the claims of those who receive them. Many, we have reason to fear, are in the visible church, who will not, at the last day, be found on the right hand of the Judge; and many are probably, not in the visible church, who will have a place then in the church triumphant. It is, nevertheless, true, that the ordinance, usually called sacraments, mark the established boundaries between the world and the visible church.

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

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