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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Of the Nature of the Catholic Church in General

By The Cambridge Platform

Drawn up and adopted by the New England Synod in 1648.

[A Platform of Church Discipline. 1649.]

CHAPTER II.—1. The catholic church is the whole company of those that are elected, redeemed, and in time effectually called from the state of sin and death unto a state of grace and salvation in Jesus Christ.

2. This church is either triumphant or militant. Triumphant, the number of them who are glorified in heaven; militant, the number of them who are conflicting with their enemies upon earth.

3. This militant church is to be considered as invisible and visible. (II. Tim. ii. 19; Rev. ii. 17; I. Cor. vi. 17; Eph. iii. 17; Rom. i. 8; I. Thess. i. 8; Isa. ii. 2; I. Tim. vi. 12.) Invisible, in respect to their relation, wherein they stand to Christ as a body unto the head, being united unto him by the Spirit of God and faith in their hearts. Visible, in respect of the profession of their faith, in their persons, and in particular churches. And so there may be acknowledged an universal visible church.

4. The members of the militant visible church, considered either as not yet in church order, or walking according to the church order of the gospel. (Acts xix. 1; Col. ii. 5; Matt. xviii. 17; I. Cor. v. 12.) In order, and so besides the spiritual union and communion common to all believers, they enjoy moreover an union and communion ecclesiastical, political. So we deny an universal visible church.

5. The state of the members of the militant visible church, walking in order, was either before the law (Gen. xviii. 19; Exod. xix. 6), economical, that is, in families; or under the law, national; or since the coming of Christ, only congregational (the term independent, we approve not): therefore neither national, provincial, nor classical.

6. A congregational church is by the institution of Christ a part of the militant visible church, consisting of a company of saints by calling, united into one body by an holy covenant, for the public worship of God, and the mutual edification of one another in the fellowship of the Lord Jesus. (I. Cor. xiv. 23, 36, and i. 2, and xii. 27; Exod. xix. 5, 6; Deut. xxix. 1, and 9 to 15; Acts ii. 42; I. Cor. xiv. 26.)