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Preservation

Of the Divine Service of the Church

The state and divine service of this church have varied from the beginning according to the different periods in which it existed and flourished. From Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to Christ, from Christ to the end of the world, God ordained, for each of these periods . . .

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The Succession of the Church of God, Personal Succession, and Succession of Doctrine

From the Latin word saccedo, that is, to go under, or to take the place of one, is derived the word, succession, which we, though improperly, have mixed into our Dutch language. The various branches proceeding from this root, that is, the numerous words taking their origin from it, together with their significations, we leave untouched; in general we understand by it, to follow any one in his place, right, or reign.

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Personal Succession

As a great building, house, or castle, can be considered, firstly, with regard to it as a whole, and, secondly, with respect to its different parts, so also the whole church of Christ can properly be considered: firstly, in the whole or in general, as comprising all the congregations in the whole world, which have in common the most holy faith, and the practice, which, according to God’s holy Word, must follow therefrom; secondly, in any particular part of the same, as, this or that church which is in accord with it, as for instance, the church at Amsterdam, Harlem, Dort, etc.

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Succession of Doctrine

Here the words of Tertullian are applicable. He says: “The Christian church is called apostolic not just because of the succession of persons, but on account of the kinship of doctrine, since she holds the doctrine of the apostles.” Lib. de praescript, etc.

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We have traced the Baptists by their principles, and have found them existing, under different names, but holding to the same doctrines, from the days of the apostles to the present time. It is not necessary for the preservation of their history, to show a continuation of churches during all this time, for the principles which characterize these people could not have been perpetuated without existing organizations at the same time. One of the most important principles of Baptists is the belief that a church of Christ is a body of believers. . .

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