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THE SIGNS BY WHICH BOTH CHURCHES MAY BE KNOWN.
ALTHOUGH I think, kind reader, that the difference between both churches may be fully perceived in the foregoing comparison, yet I will, for the sake of greater clearness, briefly present the following signs by which the one church may be known from the other, that truth may be the more fully testified and manifested.
The first sign by which to distinguish the church of Christ is the salutary and unadulterated‑doctrine of his holy and divine word. God commanded Israel to abide by the doctrine of the law and not to deviate there from, neither to the right hand nor to the left, Dent. 5:32. Isaiah admonished them to conform themselves to the law and its testimony, or they would not receive light, Isaiah 8:20. Christ commanded his disciples, saying, " Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," and "teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." The prophets testify on every hand that they spoke the word of God, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, they say; again, the mouth of the Lord says; again, thus speaketh the Lord God who has led you out of the land of Egypt, and other like testimonies. Paul also says, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed," Gal. 1:8. In short, where the church of Christ is, there his word is preached purely and rightly; but where the church of anti‑christ is, there the word of God is adulterated; there we are pointed to an earthly and unclean Christ and to means of salvation which are strange to the Scriptures; there we are taught a broad and easy way; there the great are flattered, truth perverted into falsehood; there easy things are taught, such as the poor, ignorant people will gladly hear. In short, there they are consoled in their unhappy state, that they may underrate it, and say, " Peace, peace, when there is no peace," Jer. 8:11. They promise life to the impenitent, while the Scriptures say, that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God, 1 Cor. 6:10; Gal. 5 21.
The second sign is the right and Scriptural use of the sacraments of Christ, namely, the baptism of those who, by faith, are born of God, sincerely repent, who bury their sins in Christ's death, and arise with him in newness of life; who circumcise the foreskin, of their hearts with the circumcision of Christ, which is done without hands; who put on Christ, and have a clear conscience, Tit. 3:5; Rom. 5:4; Col. 3:11; 1 Pet. 3:21. Again, the dispensing of the Lord's Holy Supper to the penitent, who are flesh of Christ's flesh, who seek grace, reconciliation and the remission of their sins in the merits of the death and blood of the Lord, who walk with their brethren in love, peace and unity, who are led by the Spirit of the Lord, into all truth and righteousness, and who prove, by their fruits, that they are the church and people of Christ.
Where baptism is practiced without the command and word of Christ, as those do who not only baptize without faith, but also without reason and consciousness; where the power and representation of baptism, namely, dying unto sin, the new life, the circumcision of the heart, &c., are not only not upheld, but also quite hated by those of mature age; and where the bread and wine are dispensed to the avaricious, pompous and impenitent; where salvation is sought in mere elemefits, words and ceremonies, and where a life is led contrary to all love, there is the church of anti‑christ; this all intelligent person' must admit. For it is manifest that they reject Christ, the Son of God, his word and ordinance, and place in its stead their own ordinance and works, and thus establish an abomination and idolatry.
The third sign is obedience to the holy word, or the pious, christian life which is of God. The Lord says," Ye shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy," Lev. 19.:1. Christ says, "Ye are the light of the world." Paul says, "Be blameless and 81harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of .a crooked and perverse nation, among whom, ye shine as lights in the world," Phil. 2:16. John says, "He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked," 1 John 2:8.
But how holy, the church of anti‑christ is, how her light shines, how unblamably and purely they. walk, and how their life conforms to Christ's life, may, alas, be educed from their words and works, on every hand.
The fourth sign is the sincere and unfeigned love of one's neighbor, for Christ says, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another," John 13:35. Yea, reader, wherever sincere, brotherly love is found without hypocrisy with its fruits, there we find the church of Christ. John says; "Let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love," 1 John 4:7, 8.
But whether the church of anti‑christ is not there where brotherly love is rejected, where they hate, defame, strike and beat each other, where every one seeks his own interest, where they treat each other deceitfully and faithlessly, curse, swear and slander, where they defile their neighbors' maiden, daughters and wives, deprive each other of honor, possessions and life, commit all manner of recklessness, abominations and malice against each other, as may, alas, be seen on every hand, all intelligent persons may judge according to the Scriptures.
The fifth sign is, that the name, will, word and ordinance of Christ, are unreservedly confessed, in spite of all the cruelty, tyranny, uproar, fire, sword and violence of the world, and that they are upheld unto the end. Christ says, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven," Matt. 10:32. "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels," Mark 8:38. Paul, also, says, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation," Rom. 10:10.
But what kind of a church is found, where they are papistic, when with the papists; Lutheran, when with the Lutherans, &c., now build up, and anon demolish and act the hypocrite to suit the magistracy, every one may judge who is enlightened by the truth, and taught of the Holy Spirit.
The sixth sign is the pressing cross of Christ, which is taken up for the sake of his testimony and word. Christ says unto his disciples, " Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake," Matt. 24:9. "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution," 2 Tim. 3:12. Sirach says, "My .son if thou come to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation. Set thy heart aright, and constantly endure, and make not haste in time of trouble. Cleave unto him, and depart not away, that thou mayest be increased at thy last end. Whatsoever is brought upon thee, take cheerfully, and be patient when thou art changed to a low estate. For gold is tried in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity," Eccl. 1:5. Also read, Matt. 5:10; 10:23; 18:24; Mark 13:13; Luke 6:22; John 16:2; Acts 14:18; 2 Tim. 2; Heb. 11:37; 12:2.
That this very cross is a sure sign of its being the church of Christ, has been testified not only in olden times by the Scriptures, but also by the example of Jesus Christ, of the holy apostles and prophets, by the primitive and unadulterated church; and also, by the present pious, faithful children, especially ‑in these our Netherlands.
On the other hand, the ungodly, heathenish, lying, hating, envying, upbraiding, blaspheming, and. the unmerciful apprehending, exiling, robbing and murdering, as may be witnessed in different localities, are plain signs of the church of antichrist. For John saw that the Babylonian "woman was drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus," Rev. 17:6. He also saw that to the beast which arose from the sea, a mouth was given, speaking great things and blasphemy against God and his holy name, and his tabernacle or church, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto 82him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them, Rev. 13:5, 6, 7. 'lea, dear reader, this is the proper way and work of the church of anti‑Christ, To hate, persecute and put to the sword those whom she cannot enchant with the golden cup of her abominations.
O Lord!, O, dear Lord! grant that the wrathful dragon devour not entirely thy poor, small number; grant that we, by thy grace, may, in patience, conquer by the sward of thy mouth; and may leave an abiding seed, which shall keep thy commandments, preserve thy testimony, and which shall eternally praise thy great and glorious name. Amen, dear Lord, Amen.
Herewith I will ‑abbreviate the doctrine of the churches, and conclude this subject with the following questions and answers, which, I trust, by the grace of God, will enlighten the diligent reader considerably.
Quest. What is the church of Christ?
Ans. A community of saints.
Q. With whom did she originate ?
A. With Adam and Eve.
Q. Of whom is she?
A. Of God, through Christ.
Q. Of what kind of servants is she begotten?
A. Of those who are unblamable, in doctrine and life.
Q. Whereby do they beget her?.
A. By the Spirit and word of God.
Q. For what purpose do they beget her ?
A. That she shall serve, thank and praise God.
Q. Of what mind is she?
A. Of Christ's mind, in weakness.
Q. What kind of fruits does she bring forth?
A. Fruits which are conformable to the word of God.
Q. What is the church of anti‑Christ?
A. A community of the unrighteous.
Q. With whom did she originate?
A. With the first ungodly.
Q. Of whom is she?
A. Of the evil one, through anti‑Christ.
Q. Of what kind of servants is she begotten ?
A. Of such as are blamable in doctrine and life.
Q. Whereby do they beget her?
A.. By the spirit and . doctrine of anti‑
Q. For what purpose do they beget her l
A. That she may despise, forsake and
Q. Of what mind is she g
A. Of an earthly, carnal, and devilish
Q; What fruits does she bring forth?
A. Fruits contrary to the gospel.
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