Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The London Confession, 1644 (Part 8)

The confession now moves on to speak of the church. It is interesting to note the emphasis upon the visible nature of the church.

XXXIII JESUS Christ hath here on earth a spiritual kingdom, which is His Church, whom He hath purchased and redeemed to Himself as a peculiar inheritance; which Church is a company of visible saints, called and separated from the world by the word and Spirit of God, to the visible profession of faith of the gospel, being baptized into that faith, and joined to the Lord, and each other, by mutual agreement in the practical enjoyment of the ordinances commanded by Christ their head and king.
Matt.11:11; 2 Thess.1:1; 1 Cor.1:2; Eph.1:1; Rom.1:7; Acts 19:8,9,26:18; 2 Cor.6:17; Rev.18:4; Acts 2:37,10:37; Rom.10:10; Matt.18:19.20; Acts 2:42, 9:26; 1 Pet.2:5.

XXXIV TO this Church He hath made His promises, and giveth the signs of His covenant, presence, acceptation, love, blessing, and protection. Here are the fountains and springs of His heavenly graces continually flowing forth; thither ought all men to come, of all estates, that acknowledge him to be their Prophet, Priest, and Kingdom, to be inrolled amongst his household servants, to be under his heavenly conduct and government, to lead their lives in his walled sheepfold, and watered garden, to have communion here with the Saints, that they may be made to be partakers of their inheritance in the Kingdom of God.
Matt.28:18, etc.; 1 Cor.11:24. 3:21; 2 Cor.6:18; Rom.9:4.5; Ps.133:3; Rom.3:7,10; Ezek.47:2.

XXXV AND all His servants are called thither to present their bodies and souls, and to bring their gifts God hath given them; so being come, they are here by Himself bestowed in their several order, peculiar place, due use, being fitly compact and knit together according to the effectual working of every part, to the edifying of itself in love.
1 Cor.12:6,7,12,18; Rom 12:4,5,6; 1 Pet.4:10; Eph.4:16; Col. 2:5,6,19; 1 Cor.12:12 to the end.

XXXVI BEING thus joined, every church hath power given them from Christ for their better well-being, to choose to themselves meet persons into the office of Pastors, Teachers ["pastors" and "teachers" were omitted in later editions], Elders, Deacons, being qualified according to the word, as those which Christ hath appointed in His testament, for the feeding, governing, serving, and building up of His Church; and that none have any power to impose them, either these or any other.
Acts 1:23,26,6:3,15:22.25; Rom.12:7,8; 1 Tim.3:2,6.7; 1 Cor. 12:8,28; Heb.13:7,17; 1 Pet.5:1,2,3, 4:15.

XXXVII THAT the ministers lawfully called, as aforesaid, ought to continue in their calling and place according to God's ordinance, and carefully to feed the flock of God committed to them, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.
Heb.5:4; John 10:3,4; Acts 20:28,29; Rom.12:7,8; Heb.13:7.17; 1 Pet.5: 1.2,3.

XXXVIII THAT the due maintenance of the Officers aforesaid, should be the free and voluntary communication of the Church, that according to Christ's ordinance they that preach the Gospel should live on the gospel and not by constraint to be compelled from the people by a forced Law.
1 Cor.9:7,14; Ga1.6:8; Phil.4:15,16; 2 Cor.10:4; 1 Tim.1:2; Ps.110:3.

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