Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?—Proverbs 20.6

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David Dickson’s

Truth’s Victory Over Error

Chapter XXVI.

Of the Communion of Saints.

QUESTION I.

ARE the Saints bound by profession, to maintain an holy fellowship, and communion in the worship of GOD, [and] in performing such other spiritual duties, as tend to their mutual edification?

Yes.  Heb. 10.24,25.  Acts 2.42,46.  Isa. 2.3.  1 Cor. 11.20.

Well then, do not the Donatists of old, and Separatists now err, who maintain, that Hypocrites and wicked men, do pollute, and defile the worship of God, not only to themselves, but also to others that worship with them: and that therefore, we must separate from Communion in the worship of God, because of them?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, the Church of the Jews in Christ’s time was very corrupt, Matth. 15.7-9. Mark 6, 7, 8; And yet both by his practice, and his command, he would not have his hearers to separate from it.  For he both observed the feasts, and preached in their Synagogues, John 8.1-2.  Luke 4.15.  John 10.22.  And he commands his hearers to observe what the Scribes and Pharisees bade them do, Matth. 23.2,3.  (2) Because, the Apostle is so far from commanding separation from the Church of Corinth, that he praises their meetings, (1 Cor. 5.4.  1 Cor. 11.20.  1 Cor. 14.23,) notwithstanding of the many gross scandals, which were among them; 1 Cor. 1.11-13.  1 Cor. 5.1,2.  and 1 Cor. 15.12,13.  (3) Because, the Apostle calls the Galatians, the Church of Christ, brethren, and the children of God, who were yet in some measure removed from GOD, to another Gospel.  Nay, says Paul, O foolish, (or senseless,) Galatians, who hath bewitched you, (that is, so blinded the eyes of your understanding, that ye cannot see the right truth; as the Juglars [Magicians] bewitch the outward eyes, that men think they see that which they see not,) that ye should not obey the truth, Gal. 3.1.  And yet since it was a constitute true Church, it was his judgment, there should be no separation from it, notwithstanding of all the foresaid faults.  (4) Because, the Church of Ephesus was a true Church, though they made defection from their first love.  So was the Church of Pergamos, though there were in it who held the doctrine of Balaam.  So was the Church of Thyatira, notwithstanding that they suffered Jezebel, that called herself a prophetess, and taught the servants of Christ to commit Fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to Idols. [Rev. 2.]  (5) If we must separate from the Communion of the Church in things lawful, for the faults of others, or for the faults of Ministers, and if their sins pollute the worship of God to others, then, we must not keep communion with any Church: seeing there can hardly be a Church where there are not some hidden Hypocrites.  — Nay, where there are not some, who are known to be such by the Minister.  Yet such are not to be excluded, as Christ himself teaches, Matth. 13.24-31.  See the 47th and 48th verses of that same chapter.  (6) If the worship be polluted to some, for the faults of others, with whom they worship, then must the Word and Sacraments, have their efficacy and worth from the Persons that worship, and from the dispensers of them, which is absurd.  (7) Because, wicked and evil men, do not pollute the worship to others, but to themselves only; as it appears from the man that wanted the wedding Garment, Matth. 22.11.  And from those who did eat and drink unworthily at the Lord’s Table.  Such do not eat and drink damnation to others, but to themselves, 1 Cor. 11.27,29.

Quest. II. “Doth this Communion, which the Saints have with Christ, make them in any wise partakers of the Substance of his God-head, or equal with him in any respect?”

No.

Is there a mixture of the Divine Essence, with the Substance of all the Creatures, because the Divine Essence is infinite, and every where present?

No.

Doth every regenerate man, that is united with God, by virtue of this union, become God the maker of Heaven and Earth?

No.

Are all the Acts of a man’s will, and all his actions, even his most cursed and wicked actions, wholly Divine, which to resist, and contradict is rebellion against God?

No.  John 1.14.  Col. 1.18,19.

Well then, do not the Familists err, who teach, that the Saints are made God, and Christ, by an Essential and Corporal Union with them?

Yes.

Do not likewise the Manicheans err, who blasphemously taught, that the Divine Essence, was mingled with soul and body of every man, and that therefore all his Actions were wholly Divine?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, the personal union is given to none, but to Christ only; John 1.14. The Word was made Flesh, that is, a true man like unto us in all things, yet without sin.  (2) Because, in him dwelleth all the fulness of the God-head bodily.  Namely by an essential inhabitation of the Son of God in the human nature, by the uniting of his Divine Nature with the Human, in the unity of his Person.  Bodily, that is Personally, Essentially, and Truly.  (3) Because, the union of the Saints with Christ is by Faith, not indeed by a personal Union; Eph. 3.17.  (4) Because, there is no man that sinneth not; 1 John 1.8,10.  (5) Because, God’s Essence, is most simple, and single, and infinitely above and beyond all creatures; Exod. 3.14.  (6) Because, holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God of Hosts; Isaiah 6.3.  (7) Because, Solomon in his prayer says, behold the heaven of heavens, cannot contain thee, how much less this house which I have builded to thy Name; 1 Kings 8.27.  (8) Because, the Prophet Isaiah says, behold the Nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are as the smallest dust of the balance esteemed; chap. 40.15.  (9) Because, the Manichean error, is the outmost stretch of Satan’s invention, beyond which he is not able to go.  They deserve not confutation, but to be looked upon, as Devils incarnate.

Quest. III. “Doth the Communion of Saints, which they have one with another, take away or infringe the Title, or propriety which each man hath in his own goods, and possessions?”

No.  Acts 5.4.  Exod. 25.1-4.  Eph. 4.28.

Well then, do not the Anabaptists err, who affirm, that the goods and possessions of the Saints ought to be common?

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, in the time of the primitive Church, no man was obliged out of necessity to deliver his goods.  Neither did believers lose their right and property which they had to them, Acts 5.4.  (2) Because, the eighth commandment, [Exod. 20.15,] which is of perpetual use to all men, supposeth a distinction, and propriety of Goods.  For if all goods were common, it were impossible to steal.  (3) Because, there should be no giving of Alms: there should be no Hospitality, which is contrary to the Apostle; Eph. 4.28.  Heb. 13.2.