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TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.
Or, let us turn to the passage in the eighteenth chapter, in which the name of "the Church" occurs again, and the promise made to St. Peter is incidentally confirmed to the whole Apostolic body. Our blessed Lord is there teaching His disciples how we are to deal with our brethren when they offend us, and how oft to forgive them. "If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother; but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee two or three more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and as a publican. Verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven." In this passage, taken by itself, we must understand by the term ἐκκλησία, as has been observed, a visible body: but let us look at it again in its connexion with the series of passages in which we have seemed to trace the idea of "the kingdom of heaven" as the fulfilment of that elder visible church, which was established by the ministry of Moses. The repetition of the promise before made to St. Peter connects this passage closely with that in chap. xvi.: there the power of the keys was promised by our Lord; here the principles and rules are given for its exercise. For these our blessed Lord refers to the spirit of the Mosaic law. The first step to be taken towards an offending brother breathes the general spirit of the Mosaic law, and closely agrees with the injunction specially given, "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart; thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy brother, and not suffer sin upon him" (Lev. xix. 17.). The next step is in exact fulfilment of the command in Deut. xvii, 6. "At the mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death." And the final rejection of the brother that "will not
we too, unto whom, through the covenant made with Simon, the son of Jonah, the blessed Chieftain of a blessed company, it has been revealed of the Father which is in heaven, that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God."