civilized world is longing.? In their loftiest moods of inspiration, the Catholic Thomas ■ Kempis, the Puritan Milton, the Anglican Keble, rose above their peculiar tenets, and above the limits that divide denominations, into the higher regions of a common Christianity. It was the Baptist Bunyan who taught the world that there was ?a common ground of communion, which no difference of external rites could efface.? It was the Moravian Gambold who wrote: ?The man That could surround the sum of things, and spy The heart of God and secrets of his empire, Would speak but love. With love, the bright result Would change the hue of intermediate things, And make one thing of all theology.??
(b) The church, in this large sense, is nothing less than the body of Christ, the organism to which he gives spiritual life and through which he manifests the fullness of his power and grace. The church therefore cannot be defined in merely human terms, as an aggregate of individuals associated for social, benevolent or even spiritual purposes. There is a transcendent element in the church. It is the great company of persons whom Christ has saved, in whom he dwells, to whom and through whom he reveals God ( <490122>Ephesians 1:22, 23).
<490122> Ephesians 1:22, 33 ? ?the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.? He who is the life of nature and of humanity reveals himself most fully in the great company of those who have joined themselves to him by faith. Union with Christ is the presupposition of the church. This alone transforms the sinner into a Christian and this alone makes possible that vital and spiritual fellowship between individuals, which constitutes the organizing principle of the church. The same divine life, which ensures the pardon and the perseverance of the believer, unites him to all other believers. The indwelling Christ makes the church superior to and more permanent than all humanitarian organizations; they die but because Christ lives, the church lives also. Without a proper conception of this sublime relation of the church to Christ, we cannot properly appreciate our dignity as church members or our high calling as shepherds of the flock. Not ?ubi ecclesia, ibi Christus,? but ?ubi Christus, ibi ecclesia,? should be our motto, Because Christ is omnipresent and omnipotent, ?the same yesterday, and today, yea and forever?
( <581308>Hebrews 13:8). What Burke said of the nation is true of the church: It is ?indeed a partnership, but a partnership not only between those who are living but between those who are living, those who are dead and those who are yet to be born.?
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