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The catholic or universal Church which is invisible, consists of the whole
number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under
Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of Him that
filleth all in all.(a)
(a) Eph. 1:10, 22, 23; Eph. 5:23, 27, 32; Col. 1:18.
Confession 25.2. The visible Church, which is also
catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation as before
under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the
true religion;(b) and of their children:(c) and is the kingdom of the Lord
Jesus Christ,(d) the house and family of God,(e) out of which there is no
ordinary possibility of salvation.(f)
(b) I Cor. 1:2; I Cor. 12:12, 13; Ps. 2:8; Rev. 7:9; Rom. 15:9, 10, 11, 12.
(c) I Cor. 7:14; Acts 2:39; Ezek. 16:20, 21; Rom. 11:16; Gen. 3:15; Gen. 17:7.
(d) Matt. 13:47; Isa. 9:7.
(e) Eph. 2:19; Eph. 3:15.
(f) Acts 2:47.
Confession 25.3. Unto this catholic visible Church
Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the
gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world:
and doth by His own presence and Spirit, according to His promise, make them
(g) I Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11, 12, 13; Matt. 28:19, 20; Isa. 59:21.
Confession 25.4. This catholic Church hath been
sometimes more, sometimes less visible.(h) And particular Churches, which are
members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the
Gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship
performed more or less purely in them.(i)
(h) Rom. 11:3, 4; Rev. 12:6, 14.
(i) Rev. 2 and 3; I Cor. 5:6, 7.
Confession 25.5. The purest Churches under heaven are
subject both to mixture and error:(k) and some have so degenerated, as to
become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan.(l) Nevertheless, there
shall be always a Church on earth, to worship God according to His will.(m)
(k) I Cor. 13:12; Rev. 2 and 3; Matt. 13:24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 47.
(l) Rev. 18:2; Rom. 11:18, 19, 20, 21, 22.
(m) Matt. 16:18; Ps. 72:17; Ps. 102:28; Matt. 28:19, 20.
Confession 25.6. There is no other head of the Church,
but the Lord Jesus Christ;(n) nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head
thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that
exalteth himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.(o)
(n) Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22.
(o) Matt. 23:8, 9, 10; II Thess. 2:3, 4, 8, 9; Rev. 13:6.
Confession 26.1. All saints, that are united to Jesus
Christ their Head by His Spirit and by faith, have fellowship with Him in His
grace, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory:(a) and, being united to one
another in love, they have communion in each other's gifts and graces,(b) and
are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do
conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.(c)
(a) John 1:3; Eph. 3:16, 17, 18, 19; John 1:16; Eph. 2:5, 6; Phil. 3:10; Rom.
6:5, 6; II Tim. 2:12.
(b) Eph. 4:15, 16; I Cor. 12:7; I Cor. 3:21, 22, 23; Col. 2:19.
(c) I Thess. 5:11, 14; Rom. 1:11, 12, 14; I John 3:16, 17, 18; Gal. 6:10.
Confession 26.2. Saints by profession are bound to
maintain a holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God; and in
performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual
edification;(d) as also in relieving each other in outward things, according
to their several abilities, and necessities. Which communion, as God offereth
opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon
the name of the Lord Jesus.(e)
(d) Heb. 10:24, 25; Acts 2:42, 46; Isa. 2:3; I Cor. 11:20.
(e) Acts 2:44, 45; I John 3:17; II Cor. 8 and 9 chapters; Acts 11:29, 30.
Confession 26.3. This communion which the saints have
with Christ, doth not make them, in any wise, partakers of the substance of
His Godhead; or to be equal with Christ, in any respect: either of which to
affirm is impious and blasphemous.(f) Nor doth their communion one with
another, as saints, take away, or infringe the title or propriety which each
man hath in his goods and possessions.(g)
(f) Col. 1:18, 19; I Cor. 8:6; Isa. 42:8; I Tim. 6:15, 16; Ps. 45:7, with Heb.
(g) Exod. 20:15; Eph. 4:28; Acts 5:4.