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September 01, 2005

Ch. XXIII. Q. 129. How is the Church holy?

THE CHURCH is holy (a.) by nature and endowment: (b.) because of her destiny: (c.) in her work, which is to sanctify sinners. Palmer on the Churchy I. vi: XIII. 3: Pearson on the Creed, Art, IX. pp. 606- 610: Forbes' N. Creed, 277-299: Schouppe, El. Th. Dog., III. 235-248: Maclear, Introd. to the Creeds, 236-229: Mason's Faith of the Gosp.,VI II. 3: Churf on's Foundation of Doc. pp. 76-80: Hammond's Christian Church, ch. IV, XI, XV. v, XVII, XVIII.

2. By nature the Church is the Body of Christ, and for that reason participates in the holiness of Christ, her Head. The Holy Ghost dwells in her, sanctifies her, and makes her the source of holiness to her members (Q. 126. 2).

3. The destiny of the Church is to enjoy eternal blessedness in the presence of her Lord, as the Bride of the Lamb. And it is prophesied, that, as a necessary prerequisite to such glory, she shall be cleansed so as to be holy and without blemish, "not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing" (Ephes. V. 26, 27). Pearson, 607- 610: Hammond, 149, 150.

4. The chief work of the Church is to gather in the elect in order to sanctify them. She has been established, not only to teach righteousness, but that she may be the medium and immediate source of sanctifying grace in Christ to her members. This is not true of humanly devised sects. Their preachers do not claim to convey sanctifying grace; and whatever holiness may appear in such bodies is that of individuals simply, and is derived from their Baptism and from special mercies of the Holy Spirit. Such bodies have no corporate sanctity, and the holiness of a sectarian is of less glorious nature than that of a Catholic saint. Mason: Hodman's Apostolical Succession, 72, 73: Hammond, IV. iii: XI. iv.

5. The nature of the Church's work is such that her earthly membership is made up of sinners, for whose sanctification she is working. This work is not completed in this life, so that the Church Militant must ever contain and cherish sinful men. She cannot reject them unless they openly repudiate the way of progress towards perfection which she sets before them; and she is often obliged to tolerate what she does not sanction, for fear of rooting up good wheat with the evil tares. In short, the presence of sinners in the Church is a proof, not of the Church's lack of holiness, but of her perseverance in the work of calling sinners to repentance, and of providing them the means of recovery from sin Q. 127. 5: St. Matt. XIII. 24-30, 37-43, 47-50: XXII. 10-14: II. Tim. II. 20: cf. I. Cor. I. 2 w. III. 3, V: 1, and VI. 1, 0, 7: Acts II. 47). Peason, 607-610: Palmer, I. xiii: Schouppe, III. 48, 176-182: Hammond, pp. 31-34: XI iii: pp. 243-246: Hooker's Ec. Pol. III. 1. 7 e.t seq.

Posted by Trevor at September 1, 2005 12:49 PM


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