Saturday, September 24, 2011

Diversity of Congregations Part 2

"Now let me draw your attention to another most important consequence of this same principle, viz., to the multiformity of denominations as the necessary result of the differentiation of the churches, according to the different degrees of their purity. If the Church is considered to be an institute of grace, independent of the believers, or an institute in which a hierarchial priesthood distributes the treasury of grace entrusted to it, the result must be that this hierarchy itself extends through all nations, and imparts the same stamp to all forms of ecclesiastical life. But if the Church consists in the congregation of believers, if the churches are formed by the union of confessors, and are united only in the way of confederation, then the differences of climate and of nation, of historical past, and of disposition of mind come in to exercise a widely variegating influence, and multiformity in ecclesiastical matters must be the result. A result, therefore, of very far-reaching importance, because it annihilates the absolute character of every visible church, and places them all side by side, as differing in degrees of purity, but always remaining in some way or other a manifestation of one holy and catholic Church of Christ in Heaven" (Lectures on Calvinism, pp. 63-4).

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