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Daily Thoughts  

The One Church
by William Law

Religion, or church communion is in its true nature, both external and internal, which are thus united, and thus distinguished; the one is the outward sign, the other the inward truth signified by it: the one never was, nor ever can be, in its true state without the other. The inward truth, or church, is regeneration, or the life, spirit, and power of Christ, quickened and brought to life, in the soul. The outward sign, or church, is that outward form, or manner of life, that bears full witness to the truth of this regenerated life of Christ, formed or revealed in the soul. The inward truth gives forth its outward proper manifestations of itself, and these manifestations bring forth the true outward church, and make it to be visible, and outwardly known.
As thus, everything in the inward life, spirit, and will of Christ, when it becomes living, dwelling and working in the spirit of our minds, or inward man, is the inward church, or kingdom of God set up within us: and everything in the outward behavior, and visible conversation of Christ, whilst dwelling amongst men, when practiced and followed by us, in the form and manner of our life, makes us the members of that outward church, which he set up in this world. Inwardly nothing lived in Christ, but the sole will of God, a perpetual regard to his glory, and one continual desire of the salvation of all mankind. When this spirit is in us, then are we inwardly one with Christ, and united to God through him. For as Christ was God and man, come down from heaven, for no other end, but fully to restore the union that was lost betwixt God and man, so church unity is, and can be nothing else, but the unity of this, or that man, or number of men with God, through the power and nature of Christ. And therefore it must be the truth, and the whole truth, that nothing more is required, nor will anything less be able, to make anyone a true member of the one church of Christ, out of which there is no salvation and in which there is no condemnation, but only and solely his conformity to, and union with the inward spirit, and outward form of Christ's life and behavior in this world. This is the one fold under one shepherd; though the sheep are scattered, or feeding in valleys, or on mountains ever so distant, or separate from one another.

taken from A Collection of Letters by William Law