There is nothing new in the following pages; except it be that they call popular attention to facts which have been commonly recognised only by scholars.
But I am aware that their contents will appear novel to many; and to remove this idea some extracts are here given from the Commentaries in general use.
1. Bishop Wordsworth on S. Matt. xiii.3; |This chapter may be described as containing a Divine Treatise on the Church Militant here on earth.|
2. Dean Alford on S. Matt. xiii.52; |The seven Parables compose in their inner depth of connexion, a great united whole, beginning with the first sowing of the Church, and ending with the consummation.|
3. The Speaker's Commentary on S. Matt. iii.2; |It -- the Kingdom of Heaven -- signifies the promised Kingdom of the Messiah. Hence the expectation of the Messiah is spoken of as a waiting for the Kingdom of God. Our Lord, adopts the expression and frequently employs it to denote His Spiritual Kingdom the Church.|
4. Bishop Walsham How (S. P. C. K. Commentary) on S. Matt. iii.2; |It -- the Kingdom of Heaven -- is generally used to signify the Kingdom of Christ on earth, the Kingdom of the Gospel, the Church of Christ.|
I desire also to remove by anticipation a fear that some may feel, lest, in regarding the Gospel as being the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven, the great doctrine of the Atonement should be forgotten. Such an idea is refuted by the words of Holy Scripture. For not only is the Preaching of our Blessed Lord, before He suffered, thus described -- see S. Mark i.14 -- but also the teaching of S. Paul, in later years, who gloried in knowing only |Jesus Christ and Him crucified| -- see Acts xx.25.
My object has been to provide an answer to two questions.
1. What did our Blessed Lord teach about His Church in His discourses?
2. What is meant by the words of the Creed, |The Holy Catholic Church; the Communion of Saints?|
May these pages help men to gain an intelligent knowledge of that Kingdom, into which our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has called us. May they lead many to desire the fulfilment of His last prayer for us before His Passion, |That they all may be one.| And may every word in this little book, which is not in accordance with God's will, be pardoned, and overruled to His Glory.
BACKWELL, August 1879.