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CHAP. XX. On Civil Government.
On the external Means or Aids by which God calls us into
Communion with Christ, and retains us in it.
ARGUMENT. THREE parts of the Apostles' Creed, respecting God the Creator,
Redeemer, and Sanctifier, have been explained in the former books. This last book is an exposition of what remains, relating
to the Holy Catholic Church, and the Communion of Saints. The chapters contained in it may be conveniently arranged in three grand divisions:
I. The Church.
III. Civil Government.
contains many particulars, which, however, may all be referred to
four principal heads. 1. The marks of the Church, or the criteria by which it may
distinguished, in order to our cultivation of union with it
Chap. I. II.
1. The order of government in the church-Chap. III.
the Papacy-Chap. V. The primacy of the Pope-Chap.
power-Chap. VII. III. The power of the church-Chap. VIII-XI.
1. Relating to articles of faith, which resides either in the
respective bishops-Chap. VIII.-or in the church at large,
represented in councils-Chap. IX.
IV. The discipline of the church-Chap. XII. XIII.
1. The principal use of it-Chap. XII.
2. The abuse of it-Chap. XIII. The Second Division, relating to the Sacraments, contains three
parts. I. The sacraments in general-Chap. XIV. II. Each sacrament in particular-Chap. XV. XVIII.
1. Baptism-Chap. XV. Distinct discussion of Pædobaptism
Chap. XVI. 2. The Lord's Supper-Chap. XVII.and its profanation
1. The magistrates. 2. The laws. 3. The people.
The true Church, and the Necessity of our Union with her,
being the Mother of all the Pious. THAT by the faith of the Gospel Christ becomes ours, and we become partakers of the salvation procured by him, and of eternal happiness, has been explained in the preceding Book. But as our ignorance and slothfulness, and, I may add, the vanity of our minds, require external aids, in order to the production of faith in our hearts, and its increase and progressive advance even to its completion, God hath provided such aids in compassion to our infirmity: and that the preaching of the Gospel might be maintained, he hath deposited this treasure with the Church. He hath appointed pastors and teachers, that his people might be taught by their lips; he hath invested them with authority; in short, he hath omitted nothing that could contribute to a holy unity of faith, and to the establishment of good order. (a) First of all, he hath instituted Sacraments, which we know by experience to be means of the greatest utility for the nourishment and support of our faith. For as during our confinement in the prison of our flesh, we have not yet attained to the state of angels, God hath in his wonderful providence accommodated himself to our capacity, by prescribing a way in which we might approach him notwithstanding our im
(a) Epbęs. iv. 11. 16.
mense distance from him. Wherefore the order of instruction requires us now to treat of the Church and its government, orders, and power; secondly, of the Sacraments; and lastly, of Civil Government: and at the same time to call off the pious readers from the abuses of the Papacy, by which Satan has corrupted every thing that God had appointed to be instrumental to our salvation. I shall begin with the Church, in whose bosom it is God's will that all his children should be collected, not only to be nourished by her assistance and ministry during their infancy and childhood, but also to be governed by her maternal care, till they attain a mature age, and at length reach the end of their faith. For it is not lawful to “ put asunder” those things “ which God hath joined together;” (6) that the Church is the mother of all those who have him for their Father; and that not only under the law, but since the coming of Christ also, according to the testimony of the apostle, who declares the new and heavenly Jerusalem to be “the mother of us all.” (c)
II. That article of the Creed, in which we profess to believe THE CHURCA, refers not only to the visible Church of which we are now speaking, but likewise to all the elect of God, including the dead as well as the living. The word BELIEVE is used, because it is often impossible to discover any difference between the children of God and the ungodly; between his peculiar flock and wild beasts. The particle in, interpolated by many, is not supported by any probable reason. I confess that it is generally adopted at present, and is not destitute of the suffrage of antiquity; being found in the Nicene Creed, as it is transmitted to us in ecclesiastical history. Yet it is evident from the writings of the Fathers, that it was anciently admitted without controversy to say, “I believe the Church,” not“ in the Church.” For not only is this word not used by Augustine and the ancient writer of the work“ On the Exposition of the Creed,” which passes under the name of Cyprian, but they particularly remark that there would be an impropriety in the expression, if this preposition were inserted; and they confirm their opinion by no trivial reason