The Church Essentially Spiritual -- By: Archibald Fleming

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 012:48 (Oct 1855)
Article: The Church Essentially Spiritual
Author: Archibald Fleming

The Church Essentially Spiritual

Rev. Archibald Fleming

Respecting the outward affairs of the church of God, there has been no lack of history and discussion. But respecting its inward life, and particularly the relation which that life bears to the forms of its outward manifestation, it must be confessed that the attention and the treatment which these fundamental topics justly demand, have not always been given to them. It has been too much forgotten, or beforehand disbelieved, that the church of Christ in this world is not a kingdom of this world; but is the kingdom of God and of heaven, making itself visible in the work of human redemption.

Just ideas on any subject can be had only from a just point of view. The position assumed as the true point of view on the subject of this Article is, that the religion and church of Christ are essentially spiritual. From this point of view, it is believed, just ideas may be obtained respecting the true character of the church of God, its outward organization, forms, and usages. Some such views it is proposed to set forth in the following propositions;

First. The existence of the church of God in this world is a necessary result of the work of saving grace among men.

Here, let it be remembered, that all mankind are by nature dead in trespasses and sins, estranged from God by wicked hearts and wicked works, and evermore, with the evil heart of unbelief in them, departing from the living God. But, by the manifestation of Divine truth to men’s consciences, some are awakened to a sense of guilt, and by the life-giving spirit of God are made alive in Christ Jesus. Henceforth they walk in the Spirit and in newness of life. New hopes and fears, new joys and sorrows, and the manifold experience of the Christian life, so utterly alien from the life of the world, now animate their hearts and lives. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.

Now, even were there no other and higher principle at work

in them than the mere social instinct of human nature, it is manifest that, in such a case as this, the mere synthetic power of human sympathy would gather together and combine all such in a sacred community, or communities, as circumstances might permit.

And in point of fact it is so. These social sympathies of our nature, redeemed from sin and sanctified by Divine grace, have both a predisposing and an actual influence in bringing converts together and into the church. And rightly so. To do otherwise on their part, would be to do violence to human nature in them, to resist the Spirit in his work sanctifying their social affections, and to deprive their ...

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