Reflect first that a Church exists.
What a wonder this is!
It is perhaps the greatest miracle of all ages that God has a Church in the world… Always a Church!
When the full force of the Pagan Emperors came like a thundering avalanche upon her, she shook off the stupendous load as a man shaketh the flakes of snow from his garment, and she lived on uninjured.
When papal Rome vented its malice yet more fuioursly and ingenuously; when cruel murderers hunted the saints among the Alps, or worried them in the low country; when Albigenses and Waldenses poured out their blood in rivers, and dyed the snow with crimson, she lived still…
…and never was in healthier state than when she was immersed in her own gore.
When after a partial reformation in this country, the pretenders to religion determined that the truly spiritual should be harried out of the land, God’s Church did not sleep or suspend her career of life or service.
Let the covenant signed in blood witness to the vigour of the persecuted saints.
Hearken to her psalm amidst the brown heath-clad hills of Scotland, and her prayer in the secret conventicles of England.
Hear ye the voice of Cargil and Cameron thundering among the mountains against a false king and an apostate people; hear ye the testimony of Bunyan and his compeers who would sooner rot in dungeons than bow the knee to Baal.
Ask me, “Where is the Church?” and I can find her at any and every period from the day when first in the upper room the Holy Ghost came down even until now. In one unbroken line our apostolic succession runs; not through the Church of Rome; not from the superstitious hands of priest-made popes, or king-created bishops (what a varnished lie is the apostolic succession of those who boast so proudly of it!), but through the blood of good men and true, who never forsook the testimony of Jesus; through the loins of true pastors, laborious evangelists, faithful martyrs, and honourable men of God…
…we trace our pedigree up to the fishermen of Galilee and glory that we perpetuate by God’s grace that true and faithful Church of the living God, in whom Christ did abide and will abide until the world’s crash.
The chief wonder is that she abides perfect.
Not one of God’s elect has gone back…
Not one of the blood-bought has denied the faith…
Not one single soul which ever was effectually called can be made to deny Christ, even though his flesh should be pulled from his bones by hot pincers, or his tormented body flung to the jaws of wild beasts.
All that the enemy has done has been of no avail against the Church. The old rock has been
and washed again by stormy waves,
and submerged a thousand times in the floods of tempest, but even her angles and corners abide unaltered and unalterable.
We may say of the Lords’s tabernacle, not one of the stakes thereof has been removed, nor one of her cords been broken. The house of the Lord from foundation to pinnacle is perfect still: “The rain descended and floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house and it fell not”; nay, nor a single stone of it, “for it was founded upon a rock”.C.H. Spurgeon The Forgotten Spurgeon, pgs. 31-32