Samuel Rutherford on the elect church and the gates of hell

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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
If believers as giving Peter’s confession, and as builded upon the rock, Christ, by this place made a ministerial Church, by Christ, and gifted with the power of the keys, then the Ministry & official power of preaching and binding and loosing should be made as stable and firm from defection, as the Church of elect believers, against whom the gates of hell cannot prevail: now besides that this is most untrue since, visible Churches do fall away, as these seven Churches in Asia, the Church of Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, Thessalonica may prove, when as it is impossible that the elect Believers in Christ can fall away, it shall also give good warrant to Papists, to make such use of this place, as they do, that the Church may err in points of conversation and life, but cannot fall from the rock, nor be overcome by the powers of Hell in the definition of Articles of Faith.

So Gretser, Bellarmine, Suarez, Gregor, de Valent, Cardi, Hosius, Turrecremata, reason from this place; and the connexion must be good, if the Ministerial power not only be given to the Church as to the Object, that is, for the good and salvation of the Church, but also to the Church as to the Subject, who hath all the power of the Keys, and may use it also, because they are believers and builded upon the rock Christ; nothing hindereth, but Ministerial power should be as stable and free from being overcome with the ports of Hell, as the Christian state of perseverance in grace. Now we see, these who have Ministerial power, abuse it, and fall from the rock and perish eternally; which we cannot say of these, who by Faith are builded upon the Rock Christ Jesus.

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I’m not sure I understand what he’s saying.
He’s saying, the words “upon this rock shall I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” cannot be applying to the visible church, or to the ministry of the church, in the way it clearly does apply to the invisible church.
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