Excerpt About the Position and Unity of the Body
from the writings of C. H. Mackintosh

The church, as the body of Christ, united to her living and glorified Head in the heavens, by the presence and indwelling of the Holy Ghost, can never, by any possibility, fail-never be smashed to pieces, like Paul's ship, by the storms and billows of this hostile world. It is as safe as Christ Himself. The Head and the body are one-indissolubly one. No power of earth or hell, men or devils can ever touch the feeblest and most obscure member of that blessed body. All stand before God, all are under His gracious eye, in the fullness, beauty and acceptability of Christ Himself. As is the Head, so are the members-all the members together-each member in particular. All stand in the full eternal results of Christ's finished work on the cross. There is-there can be no question of responsibility here. The Head made Himself responsible for the members. He perfectly met every claim, and discharged every liability. Nothing remains but love-love, deep as the heart of Christ, perfect as His work, unchanging as His throne. Every question that could possibly be raised against any one, or all of the members of the church of God, was raised, gone into, and definitively settled, between God and His Christ, on the cross. All the sins, all the iniquities, all the transgressions, all the guilt of each member in particular, and all the members together-yes all, in the fullest and most absolute way, was laid on Christ and borne by Him God, in His inflexible justice, in His infinite holiness, in His eternal righteousness, dealt with everything that could ever, in any possible manner, stand in the way of the full salvation, perfect blessedness, and everlasting glory of every one of the members of the body of Christ the assembly of God. Every member of the body is permeated by the life of the Head; every stone in the building is animated by the life of the chief corner-stone. All are bound together in the power of a bond which can never, no never, be dissolved.

And, furthermore, let it be distinctly understood that the unity of the body of Christ is absolutely indissoluble. This is a cardinal point which must be tenaciously held, and faithfully confessed. But, obviously, it cannot be held and confessed, unless it is understood and believed; and, judging from the expressions which one sometimes hears, in speaking on the subject, it is very questionable indeed if people, so expressing themselves, have ever grasped, in a divine way, the glorious truth of the unity of the body of Christ-a unity maintained, on earth, by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.

Thus, for example, we sometimes hear people speak of "rending the body of Christ." It is a complete mistake. Such a thing is utterly impossible. The Reformers were accused of rending the body of Christ, when they turned their backs upon the Romish system. What a gross misconception! It simply amounted to the monstrous assumption that a vast mass of moral evil, doctrinal error, ecclesiastical corruption, and debasing superstition was to be owned as the body of Christ! How could any one, with the New Testament in his hand, regard the so-called church of Rome, with its numberless and nameless abominations, as the body of Christ? How could any one, possessing the very faintest idea of the true church of God, ever think of bestowing that title upon the darkest mass of wickedness, the greatest masterpiece of Satan the world has ever beheld?

No, reader; we must never confound the ecclesiastical systems of this world-ancient, medieval, or modern, Greek, Latin, Anglican, National or Popular, Established or Dissenting-with the true church of God, the body of Christ. There is not, beneath the canopy of heaven, this day, nor ever was, a religious system, call it what you please, possessing the very smallest claim to be called, "The church of God," or "The body of Christ." And, as a consequence, it can never be, rightly or intelligently, called schism, or rending the body of Christ, to separate from such systems; nay, on the contrary, it is the bounden duty of every one who would faithfully maintain and confess the truth of the unity of the body, to separate with the most unqualified decision, from everything falsely calling itself a church. It can only be viewed as schism to separate from those who are, unmistakably and unquestionably, gathered on the ground of the assembly of God.

No body of Christians can now lay claim to the title of the body of Christ, or church of God. The members of that body are scattered everywhere they are to be found in all the various religious organisations of the day, save such as deny the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot admit the idea that any true Christian could continue to frequent a place where his Lord is blasphemed. But, although no body of Christians can lay claim to the title of the assembly of God, all Christians are responsible to be gathered on the ground of that assembly, and on no other.