Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.—1 Peter 2.17.

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David Dickson’s

Truth’s Victory Over Error

Chapter XXV.

Of the Church.

QUESTION I.

DOTH the Catholick, or Universal Church which is invisible, consist of the whole number of Elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ, the head thereof?

Yes.  Eph. 1.10,22,23.  Eph. 5.23,27.  Col. 1.18.

Well then, doth not the Popish-Church err, who deny any Catholick invisible Church, consisting of the Elect only, effectually called: who maintain, the Catholick Church, to be absolutely visible, and as visible a Society, as the Republick of Venice, or the kingdom of France: and that it consists no less of reprobates, unbelievers, great and manifest sinners, void of all inward and true grace, than of the Elect effectually called?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, we profess to believe, according to the Creed, that there is a Church Universal, namely such a one, as we have now described: but what we believe must be invisible; Heb. 11.1.  (2) Because, the internal form of the Church (namely her effectual calling by the Word and Spirit; 1 Peter 2.9) is invisible; 2 Tim 2.19; 1 Cor. 2.11.  (3) Because, the glory of the King’s daughter (that is of the Universal Church, as the Adversaries themselves confess) is internal, and therefore hidden and invisible; Psalm 45.13.  (4) Because, the Word tells us, that there is a Church, even the number of those, whom Christ hath loved; for whom he gave himself to the death; whom he hath sanctified, and washen and cleansed, and redeemed, with his own blood, and whom at last, he will glorify; Eph. 5.25-27.  (5) Because, the Scripture tells, that there is a Church, which is the mystical body of Christ (and therefore invisible to the eyes) which by a most mystical, and most marvelous union, is conjoined, and united straitly with him; Eph. 1.10,22,23.  (6) Because, the Church Universal, as to its internal form, is a spiritual house, built of lively stones, in Christ; 1 Peter 2.5.  (7) Because, the members of the Church Universal, considered as to their internal state, and condition, are united, and conjoined together in one body, by one Spirit, and by one Faith; 1 Cor. 12.13. Eph. 4.4,5.  (8) Because, the members of the Church Universal, considered the former way, are the lively members of Christ, which he himself doth cherish with a lively, and quickening nourishment, Eph. 5.29,30.

Quest. II. “Is the Visible Church, under the New Testament, Catholick and Universal?”

Yes.  1 Cor. 1.2, and 1 Cor. 12.12,13.  Psalm 2.8.  Rev. 7.9.  Rom. 15.9-12.

Well then, do not the Independents err, who maintain, there is no Visible Church, under the New Testament, except what may meet in one place, and may perform all their holy services in a private Church?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, in very many places of the New Testament, the word Church (to wit Visible) is so largely taken, that it cannot be restricted, to any particular Congregational Church; Acts 8.3; Gal. 1.13; Acts 2.47; 1 Cor. 10.32; Eph. 3.10; 1 Cor. 12.28; 1 Tim. 3.15.  (2) Because, it hath been foretold, in many places of the Old Testament, that the Catholick Church shall be Visible; Psalm 22.22, 23, 25, 27, 28; Psalm 72.8-11; Psalm 86.9; Isaiah 2.2-4; Zech. 14.9.  (3) Because, the Donation, or the gift of the kingdom (that is of the Church Universal) made by the Father to the Son, is Universal, and of all the World; Psalm 2.8; Psalm 72.8; Isaiah 49.6; Dan. 7.14.  (4) Because, the Gospel of the Kingdom, is Universal; and according to the style of the Scripture, worketh the visible conversion of the whole world, and therefore the Church visibly converted, and gathered together, is Catholick and Universal; Matth. 26.13; Mark 14.9; Col. 1.16.  (5) Because, the Visible Charter, which constitutes the Church is Universal: and therefore since one Charter, constitutes one Polity, or Government, all the Visible particular Churches, which are constitute by that one Catholick Charter, are one Church Universal; Matth. 28.19; Eph. 3.6.  (6) Because, if there be Officers of a Church Visible Universal, there must be a Church Visible Universal itself: but the first is true, since the Donation of the Ministry, and the giving of it in a gift, is made to the Catholick Church; 1 Cor. 12.28; Matth. 28.19.  (7) Because, there is a general outward call, and a general outward covenant into which all Christians enter outwardly, by virtue whereof all of them are knit, and tied together; Acts 2.39.  (8) Because, that same individual System, and Body of external Laws, proceeding from that same Authority, in which all particular Churches are equally concerned, and by which they are ruled, is Universal; 1 Tim. chap. 3, and Titus 3 chap.  (9) Because, that external union of brotherhood, which is amongst all the Visible Christians in the world, is Catholick, and Universal; Acts 15.23. Acts 24.14. Gal. 5.14.  (10) Because, the initial Visible seal, admittance, and enrolment, are things Catholick, and Oecumenical.  For he that takes up his freedom in a whole Corporation or Kingdom, is free of the whole, and in every part thereof, and hath right to all the general privileges and immunities thereof.  There is a Patent for Baptism, Go and baptize all Nations, and by virtue of the Privileges thereof, they that are baptized in any one Church, are accounted visible subjects of Christ’s Kingdom, in all places of the Christian world. Matth. 28.19.  (11) Because, all Churches are one Body; Rom. 12.5.  (12) Because, Peter writing to the strangers scattered abroad throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia calleth them all one Flock; 1 Peter 5.2.  (13) Because, all the Churches of the World are one sheepfold; John 10.16.  (14) Because the Visible Church is one great house; 2 Tim. 2.20.

Quest. III. “Doth the Visible Church consist of all those throughout the world that profess the Christian Religion, together with their children?”

Yes.  1 Cor. 1.2.  Psalm 2.8.  1 Cor. 7.14.

Well then, do not the Donatists, Anabaptists, and Puritans of old so truly named, err, who affirm the visible Church to consist of those only, that are pious and holy?

Yes.

Do not likewise the Independents err, who think, none ought to be members of the Visible Church, save those, who in the judgment of men very spiritual, and discerning, are esteemed true believers, and saints: who have given sufficient proof of their knowledge in the fundamentals of Religion: who have reported in order, and given a good account of the experimental work of their conversion, and effectual calling; who have shewed their conversion in the world, to have been without the omission of any known duty, or commission of any known fault, and that for a considerable length of time.

Yes.

Do not lastly the Quakers err, who think the only visible Church of GOD on earth, to be themselves; and all others not of their profession, and practice, to be unregenerate, and wanting the Spirit?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, the Visible Church, is compared to a Garner, in which there is not only Wheat, but Chaff mixed with it.  To a Field, in which Tares, and Darnel, are mixed among the good Corn.  To a Net, in which both good Fishes, and bad, are taken; Matth. 13. chapter.  To a great House, wherein are not only vessels of Gold, and Silver, but of Wood, and of Earth; 2 Tim. 2.20.  (2) Because, Christ will answer some at the last day; who will say to him, Lord, have not we Prophesied in thy name, and in thy name casten out Devils, and have we not eaten and drunken at thy table, I know you not.  This evidently shews, that many have been members of the Visible Church, whom Christ will not own at the last day; Matth. 7.22,23.  (3) From the Parable of the ten Virgins, five whereof were foolish, five wise; Matth. 25.1.  (4) From the Parable of the Banquet, where one was found at the Table without a Wedding Garment; Matth. 22.11.  (5) Because, many are of the Visible Church, who are not of the Invisible Church; 1 John 2.19.  (6) Because the Apostle calls the Church of Corinth, the Church of Christ, notwithstanding of their gross enormities; 1 Cor. 1.11.  1 Cor. 3.3.  1 Cor. 5.1.  1 Cor. 6.7.  (7) Because, Moses did acknowledge, even those then to be members of the Visible Church, to whom yet he knew, the Lord had not given ears to hear, nor eyes to see, nor a heart to understand, the great and wonderful miracles which he wrought in their sight; Deut. 29.10-13, compared with the verses 2-4.  (8) Because, John the Baptist did admit many thousands into the communion of the Visible Church, without making a narrow search of their true grace, and conversion; Matth. 3.[1-6.]  (9) Because, the Apostles did instantly, and without the delay of one day, baptize all those that professed the Christian Religion; Acts 2.38,41. Acts 8.12. John 3.26.  (10) Because, the preaching of the Gospel, is appointed by God, as an ordinary mean, no less for the Conversion of men and women, than for the advancement of those in grace that are converted; Prov. 9.3,4.  2 Cor. 5.18-20,  2 Tim. 2.24,25.  (11) Because, we are forbidden by the Apostle, to judge the spiritual state and condition of our neighbour, Rom. 14.4.  (12) Because, Christ did acknowledge Judas the Thief, and Traitor, as a member of his Visible Church, whom yet he foresaw to be the son of perdition; Matth. 26.23.  (13) Because, Christ had a visible church on earth many hundred of years before ever there were such cattle as Quakers in the World, Unless they will allege that the primitive Christians and all the Saints, since the Apostles’ days, have been their Predecessors, and claim kin to them, as the Samaritans did to Jacob, who were truly descended of the heathen; who were brought thither out of Assyria, as the Quakers are descended from the Enthusiasts in Germany, about 160 years since, as Nicholas Stork, John Matthias, and John of Leyden, notorious Hereticks, blasphemers, and bloody Murderers.

But how quite different the Quakers are to the primitive Christians, and holy men of God then, and since, will evidently appear hence, that they did not contemn these two great ordinances of God instituted by Christ, to wit, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  They had Bishops and Deacons to govern, and instruct them, who were ordained to their functions by prayer and imposition of hands, whom they did not revile, with the ugly names of dumb dogs, and hirelings.  These primitive Christians had not in their assemblies Women-preachers as the Quakers have, which is down-right contrary to Paul’s injunctions, 1 Cor. 14.35.  Neither were silent meetings ever heard of among the primitive Christians.  Nor did they ever out of contempt call churches, places appointed for the publick worship of God, “Steeple-houses,” but resorted to them for performing their devotions, and service to God, as did our blessed Saviour, and his Apostles, John 18.20.  Luke 4.16. Acts 3.1. Acts 13.5.

Do not likewise the Papists and Lutherians err, who will have none members of the Visible Church that are unbaptized?

Yes.

Do not lastly the Anabaptists err, who will have no infants members of the Visible Church?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, that God commanded infants, and little ones, should stand before him; should enter into covenant with him; Deut. 29.10-13.  (2) Because, infants are called the people of God, no less than men and women come to age; Deut. 29.11-13.  (3) Because, the promise of Grace belongs to children as well as to the parents; Acts 2.39.  (4) If children be no members of the visible church, they must be members of the visible kingdom of the devil, for there can be no midst, Eph. 2.12,13.  And so there shall be no difference between the children of Believers, and the children of Turks and Pagans.  (5) Because, infants under the Old Testament, had right unto the Covenant of Grace, Gen. 17.7,12.  And children of Believers under the New Testament have lost no right to that covenant of Grace, which children under the Old Testament had; seeing the covenant of Grace, now under the Gospel, is no more strictly and sparingly administered, than long since under the law, Heb. 8.6. Rom. 11.12.  (6) Because, infants are commanded to join themselves to God’s ordinances; Joel 2.16.  (7) Because, if Christ, while an infant, was head of the visible church, then infants may be his members.  But the first is true, from Isaiah 9.6, Therefore the second must be true also.  (8) Because, they whom the false Apostles would have to be circumcised, after the manner of Moses (and therefore infants) were called Disciples, Acts 15.10.

Quest. IV. “Is there any ordinary possibility of Salvation out of the Visible Church?”

No.  Acts 2.47.

Well then, do not the Enthusiasts, Quakers, and Libertines err, who affirm, that any man, may be a true christian, and be saved, though he live within no Visible Church?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, the Lord JEHOVAH, in his visible Church (ordinarily) commands the blessing, even life for evermore, Psalm 133.3.  (2) Because, the visible church, is the mother of all Believers; Gal. 4.26.  By Jerusalem which is above, I understand the true Christian Church, which seeketh its salvation, not by the first covenant of the law, namely by the works of the law, but by the second of the Gospel, namely by the merits of Christ, embraced by a true Faith, which hath its original from heaven, by the powerful calling of the Holy Ghost.  (3) Because, they that are without the visible church, are without Christ; Eph. 2.12.  (4) Why are men and women joined to the visible church but that they may be saved? Acts 2.47.  (5) Because, they that are without the visible church, are destitute of the ordinary means of life and salvation; Psalm 147.19,20.

Quest. V. “Hath Christ given to this Catholick-church-visible, the Ministry, Oracles, and Ordinances of God, for the gathering, and perfecting of the Saints in this life, to the end of the World?”

Yes.

Shall there be always a church on earth, to worship God according to his will?

Yes.  1 Cor. 12.28.  Eph. 4.11-13.  Matt. 28.19,20.  Matth. 16.18.  Psalm 72.17.  Psalm 102.28.  Isaiah 59.21.

Well then, do not the Socinians, Anabaptists, and Libertines err, who affirm that the visible Church may fail, and perish out of the world?

Yes.

Do not likewise the Scepticks commonly called Seekers err, who affirm, that the whole universal church, which hath been upon the earth: and all religious worship, all external and outward preaching of the Word, all administration of Sacraments, and the use of all other religious things have perished a little after the Apostles’ times, and are not to this day restored, until Christ from Heaven, shall send new Apostles with an extraordinary commission, for restoring, and raising up again the visible church?

And that in the mean time, no man hath right or power, to dispense the Word, or administer the Sacraments, or perform any Ecclesiastical duty: and that they who are now called the preachers of the Gospel are not so?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, the Lord hath promised, that his church shall endure, so long as the ordinances of heaven shall continue, Isaiah 66.22.  (2) Because, Christ hath promised that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against his church; Matth. 16.18.  (3) Because, there is no end to be put to the kingdom of Christ, Luke 1.33.  And therefore no end to his church, Isaiah 9.7.  (4) Because, glory will be to him, in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all Ages, world without end, Amen, Eph. 3.21.  (5) Because, Christ who hath given power to his Ministers, to teach his church, and to administer the Sacraments, hath promised to be with them to the end of the World; Matth. 28.19,20.  (6) Because, the Lord hath promised to preserve a people to himself, to the end of the world which he shall rule, and govern, by his Word and Spirit, Isaiah 59.20,21.  Isaiah 9.6,7.  (7) Because, the Lord hath chosen Zion: he hath desired it for his habitation, where he will rest, and dwell for ever, Psalm 132.13,14.  (8) Because, Christ hath given some to be Pastors, and Teachers for the perfecting of the Saints, till we all come into the unity of the Faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, Eph. 4.11.  And he hath appointed a Ministry to cominue even after the Apostles’ days, as is evident from 1 Tim. 3 chapter.  From Titus first chapter, where the Apostle sets down the ordinary qualifications of Ministers, and the Rules for calling them to the Ministry.  (9) Because, there is a general Rule set down, for the government, and discipline, of Christ’s church: which discipline and order, is to continue in it, to the end of the world; Matth. 1.18.  (10) Because, the Lord commands that we forsake not the assembling of ourselves together; and hath promised to bless after a special manner, any that are gathered together in his name, anywhere, but our assembling for hearing the word of God is done in the name of Christ, Heb. 10.25.  Matth. 18.20.  Matth. 28.20.  (11) Because, the death of Christ, in the last supper, is to be shewed till he come, 1 Cor. 11.26.  (12) Because, by the Word (even preached Rom. 10.17,) we are born again, 1 Pet 1.23.  James 1.18.  By Baptism we are ingrafted into Christ, Rom. 6.3,4.  Gal. 3.27.  In the Lord’s Supper, we have communion with Christ, 1 Cor. 10.16.  See more to this purpose, chapter 21, Question eight.

Quest. VI. “Hath the Catholick Church been sometimes more, sometimes less Visible?”

Yes.  Rom. 11.3,4.  Rev. 12.6,14.

Well then, do not the Papists err, who affirm, that the church hath been, is, and shall be most gloriously Visible to all the whole world far and nigh?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, the church of GOD, in the Prophet Elijah’s time was brought to that pass, that he thought none remained but himself, 1 Kings 19.10.  Rom. 11.2-4.  (2) Because, for a long time Israel was without the true GOD, and without a teaching Priest, and without the Law; 2 Chron. 15.3.  (3) Because, the Lord often complains, that his church and people have forsaken him, have not known him; that the faithful city hath become a harlot, that scarce a man could be found to do justice, and follow truth; all which is inconsistent with that glorious condition of the visible church, which the Papists dream of, Isaiah 1.3,4.  Jerem. 2.29.  Jerem. 5.1.  (4) Because, in the time of the ten Persecutions, the visible church was much obscured, and darkened.  And after these storms were over, arose the Arians, who did much trouble the church of Christ, as is clear from History.  (5) Because, two wings were given to the Woman, that is to the Church of GOD, two wings (I say) of a great Eagle, that she might flee into the wilderness, to hide herself, Rev. 12.14.  (6) Because, the Apostle Paul did foretell that general defection, and apostasy of the visible church mentioned in 2 Thes. 2.3.  (7) Because, Christ hath foretold, that before his second coming, he shall scarce find Faith on the Earth, Luke 18.8.  (8) Because, the church of GOD is always liable to trouble, and persecution while it sojourneth in this world.  But troubles and persecutions do much obscure the brightness, and splendour of a visible church, Luke 21.17.  John 16.2.  Psalm 129.1-3.

Quest. VII. “Are the purest churches under heaven subject both to mixture and error?”

Yes.  1 Cor. 13.12.  Rev. chapters 2 & 3.  Rev. 18.2.  Rom. 11.18-22.

Well then, do not the Papists err, who affirm, that the church cannot err, neither in matters absolutely necessary, neither in other things, which it proposes to be done and believed by us?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, the visible church, under the Old Testament, oftentimes made defection to Idolatry, Exod 32.8.  Judges 3.7.  (2) Because, as long as we are here, we know but in part; and therefore we are subject, and liable to mistakes, 1 Cor. 13.9,12.  (3) Because, the seven churches of Asia to which John did write, are accused of mixture, and errors, Rev. 2.4,5.  (4) Because, while Christ was on earth, the Disciples dreamed of a worldly kingdom; and for a time, even after his resurrection they did believe it, Acts 1.6.  (5) Because, before the day of Christ be at hand, there shall be a falling away of the visible church, from the true Orthodox Faith to Antichristianism, which in great part is already come to pass, and more than is to come between this time and his second coming: 2 Thes. 2.3.  Rev. 13.3.  (6) Because, one of the chief differences between the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant is this, that the one can err, but not the other: 1 Cor. 13.9,10,12.  (7) Because, Christ hath foretold, that there shall arise false Christs and false Prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, in so much, if it were possible they shall deceive the very Elect, Matth. 24.24.  (8) Because, when the Son of man cometh, he shall scarce find Faith on the earth, Luke 18.8.  (9) Because, the converted Jews erred, in being zealous for the Law, thinking that the Ceremonial Law ought yet to be observed, not understanding that the same was abolished by Christ, Acts 21.20.  So did the Galatians err, in admitting circumcision, Gal. 1.6.  And the Corinthians, in their abuse of the Lords Supper, 1 Cor. 11.18.

Quest. VIII. “Is there no other head of the Visible Church, but the Lord Jesus Christ?”

No.

Can the Pope of Rome, in any sense be the head thereof?

No.  Col. 1.18.  Eph. 1.22.

Well then, doth not the Popish-Church err, who maintains, that no only Christ, is the universal head of the Church, but that there is another visible head under him, who (say they) is the Pope of Rome, Christ’s Vicar, or Deputy under him?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, as not many husbands, but one only, is head of the wife, so Christ only is head of the Church, Eph. 5.23.  (2) Because, the Church is espoused to one only, namely to Christ, 2 Cor. 11.2, 1 Cor. 11.3.  (3) Because, the Church is the body of Christ only, Eph. 1.22,23.  (4) Because, among all the Ecclesiastick orders instituted, and appointed by Christ, we do not read of such a creature, as an Universal Vicar of Christ, Eph 4.11.  (5) Because, the Church is one body only (unless it be a monster) but one body, cannot have two heads, Rom. 12.4,5.  (6) Because, Christ only, can inspire, or breath in vigour, sense, motion, and spiritual life into his members, Eph. 5.29,30.  John 6.48,50,51.  John 15.1,2.  (7) Because, there must not be Lordship and sovereignty among them, that are under Christ their head and Lord, Luke 22.25.  1 Peter 5.2,3.  (8) If the Pope be not so much as a Bishop of a particular Church, he cannot be universal Bishop.  The first is true, because he doth not perform the office of a Bishop, which is set down, 1 Tim. 3.2.  Titus 1.7-9.

Do not likewise the Erastians, and others as Arminians err, who make the Supreme Magistrate head of the Church?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, the Protestant Religion, as it is contained in the Harmony of Confessions, especially in the Confession of Faith, recorded in the first Parliament of King James the sixth, lately ratified, and confirmed, doth not acknowledge any Supreme Head, or Governor of the Church, neither Angel, Man, Pope, Prince, nor Potentate, save the Lord Christ, from whom alone, all subordinated power and authority is derived, to the officers, of his own Church.  (2) Because, if the Supreme Magistrate be a church officer he must derived his power from Christ, and must be a Spiritual, and Ecclesiastick head and Governor, and not civil only.  And if such then Christ hath devolved his own place and office upon him, which is without Scripture proof.  (3) Because, if the Supreme Magistrate be head of the church, he must have a right to this Title, either by human Law, or by a divine warrant.  Laws of a Nation, cannot make him head of the church, because such laws cannot make him an Ecclesiastick and Spiritual officer.  There is no divine warrant, or commission from Christ, as is clear from Matth. 18.17; From the Epistles to Timothy and Titus; From Eph. 4.11.  Rom. 12.7,8; And from 1 Cor. 12.28.

Quest. IX. “Is The Pope that Antichrist, that Man of sin, and Son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church of God against Christ, and all that is called God?”

Yes.  2 Thes. 2.3,4,8,9.  Rev. 13.6.  Matt 23.8-10.

Though this be denied by the church of Rome, yet the true description of Antichrist agrees to him.

(1) Because, he is not one single man, but an order, and race of men, succeeding to one another, in that same state, and office, which you will see, by comparing 1 John 4.3,  2 Thes. 2.7,8, together.  (2) His coming, is after the manner of Satan, 2 Thes. 2.9.  (3) As to his name, he calls himself a Christian, but in very truth [is] an Adversary to Christ: and by consequence, one that denies Jesus to be the Christ, Rev. 17.14.  Rev. 19.19.  2 Thes. 2.8.  1 John 2.23.  (4) He sitteth in the Temple of GOD, as GOD; 2 Thes. 2.4.  (5) He ruleth in the great city, and exercises dominion over the Kings of the earth. [Rev. 17.18.]  (6) He deceiveth them, that dwell on the earth, with lying wonders, and miracles, 2 Thes. 2.9.  Rev. 13.14,15.  (7) He causeth all sorts of Persons to receive his mark, on their right hand, or on their forehead, Rev. 13.16,17.  (8) To him agrees, what Paul says: and now ye know what with-holdeth (namely the Roman Emperor) that he might be revealed in his time, 2 Thes. 2.6,7.