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subsisted to the coming of the Lord. Before the first Advent, “a prophet, and more than a prophet,” the greatest among them that were born of women, arose in John the Baptist, to prepare the way of the Lord : and to prepare the way for the second Advent, a voice hath gone forth, crying from the desert, “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come.” The Apostles, like Moses, had gathered a people, and given laws to the church. Apostles had been sent from time to time, like the prophets of the former dispensation, to recal men to the good old paths of truth and safety; the church had been cast into Babylon, and thence delivered at the Reformation ; and Elias is either come, or coming, to "restore all things; to turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”
All the disorders in the Jewish church are attributable to their neglect of the prophet's voice, and to God punishing them in kind, by withdrawing his contemned voice. When there were no prophets, the people did not what was right in the
eyes the Lord, but every man that which was right in his own eyes ; and the Book of Judges, and the latter Books of Kings, are records of the woful consequences. And a similar judgment for a similar sin is often predicted of the last days, and in the Chris, tian church;: on people who draw near to the Lord with their mouth, and with their lips do honour him; while they have removed their heart far from him, and their fear of him is taught by the precept of men. Among this people he will do a marvellous work and a wonder, for “the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid : and in that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book; and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness; the meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel; for the terrible one shall be brought to nought, and the scorner shall be consumed, and all that watch for iniquity shall be cut off.” (Isai. xxix. lix.)
In another, and still more important office, the apostle of the New Testament answers to the prophet of the old, as the living expositor of the word of God. This office is constantly needed, and the want of it instantly felt : without it, the law became a dead letter, and the Christian church loses its edification; both dispensations necessarily run, as the consequence, into the disorder and darkness to which we have already alluded, from which they can only be recovered by the revival of the prophetic and apostolic offices, in their full authority.
The law though given by God, and therefore perfectly holy and just and good, was, by the depravity and perverseness of man, continually turned to sin: this the prophet counteracted continually, by becoming its expositor and enforcer. And the like office is Šlled by the apostle in the Christian church, who should expound its laws, and enforce its discipline, and counteract that tendency to disorder and corruption into which man, left to himself, is sure to run. This tendency nothing can effectually resist, but the authority of God vested in his ordained ministers. Let ministers know it, that they may take their true standing ; let people know it, that they may yield them due respect. The prophet stood in the place of God to the people, uttering no doubtful uncertain words of a man, but proclaimed with authority, “ Thus saith the Lord.”. The apostle must stand in the place of Christ, if he will be his minister: he must teach as one having authority, and not as the scribes; he must say, “ These are the laws of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by his authority committed unto me, I command you to obey them.” 3:1 But the authority of the apostle is not only as great, but greater than that of the prophet, inasmuch as he hath a greater charge and a higher responsibility. The prophet had the charge of things seen, and earthly, and transient; the apostle has these, and also the oversight of things unseen, heavenly, and eternal, of the spiritual, as well as the temporal.
Let not the minister of Christ shrink from this greater charge and higher responsibility; let him not at his peril; and let not those who are spiritual, refuse to yield obedience in spiritual things, as well as in externals, but rather let them count him worthy of double honour, as ruling well and labouring in the word and doctrine.
These things are pressing upon our attention in an especial manner at the present times : and we must now make a firm and determined stand for the truth in this matter; for it is assailed all around and from the most opposite quarters, and nothing but the firm footing of that rock which is the pillar and ground of the truth can enable us to stand. Against the dangers from heresy and schism the church has long been on her guard, against those arising from dissent and infidelity she is already warned; but a danger growing out of spirituality, faith, and reverence, is now appearing, against which there can be no security but in that wisdom which cometh from above, the full exercise of the mind of Christ which is given by the Holy Spirit.
This heavenly wisdom, this mind of Christ, should be specially seen and exercised in all its fulness by the apostle or minister, who represents the Head of the church ; but in its controul and the willing obedience which is produced, it is seen and exercised in all the members. The apostle is the representative of Christ in the church; the visible Head of the visible body; and to him as the Head are given in a more eminent degree all the endow
ments and privileges of the body, to controul and guide each several member for the good of the whole. To the members are given their several endowments which they must exercise in subordination to the head, or all will run into disorder. To the apostle was given, by Christ in person, his plenary authority over the church; and those, who hold with us apostolic succession, recognise the same authority as still subsisting in every ordained minister. For the exercise of this authority by the head, and its recognition by the members, full power and capacity was given in the bestowal of the Holy Ghost, the other Comforter, by whom Christ is present in his church always, even to the end of the world; without whose presence there can be no membership, by whom all the members are kept in their proper places, and who teacheth all things, bringeth all things to remembrance, and leadeth into all the truth, needful for the whole body, by taking of the things of Christ and shewing them to all, and bringing all alike to be of one mind with the mind of Christ Jesus.
This oneness of mind with Christ is what we specially need to seek after; the Apostle to exercise authority after the example of Christ, the members to be obedient, and humble, and diligent, and charitable, according to the same example. And now, that God is restoring power to the church by reviving the primitive endowments, it is especially needful for the ministers to know their authority and standing over the church, and for those who may be endowed to know their subordination to the ordained head of the church. Ordination flows from Christ, and may not be disjoined from him. The Apostle Paul, though born out of due time, was an Apostle not of men but of Christ Jesus; and the Lord appeared to him for this end. A person receiving a gift is not thereby ordained ; and if he take upon himself the ministerial office in consequence, he transgresses by taking an office to himself without being called : he runs before the Lord, if he is not even guilty of schism.
The apostolic or ministerial office cannot be dispensed with in the church: for its want the greatest abundance of gifts will not compensate ; they did not in the primitive church, they shall not to the end of the world. The Corinthian church was planted by Peter and Paul, and watered by Apollos ; but for want of a resident apostle they fell into all those disorders and contentions which called for such sharp rebuke from St. Paul. These disorders we do not find in such churches as were under the continual oversight of an apostle; and this circumstance should always be borne in mind, both in accounting for the disorders, and in enforcing the necessity of apostolic oversight in every church. Wanting a representative of Christ, they fell into contentions and strife; one saying I am of Paul, another of Apollos, another of Cephas, another of Christ; which would have speedily become schism but for the instant application of the only remedy,
by shewing that into Christ alone were they baptized, that Christ is not divided, and that if members of his body they are all one in Christ Jesus. Great sin had also arisen among them, which must be instantly put away; but as this could only be done by the church complete and the Corinthian church was incomplete without a minister for its head, -Paul, though absent in body, reckoning himself present in spirit, commands them, “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ” (i Cor. v. 4), to excommunicate the offender. Abuses had also arisen in the public worship, in the administration of the Lord's Supper, and in the exercise of the gifts of the Holy Ghost; in all which Satan, by the absence of the Apostle, had found occasion of temptation, and great irregularities had sprung up. The women had become regardless of the comely practice of covering the head in public worship; which neglect of modesty the Apostle reproves, not as a sin, but as a departure from decorum and from the customs of the church ; saying, “ Judge in yourselves :" is it comely (in the sight of the church) that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you this ? But if any man say that he cannot discern it to be uncomely, let the practice of the church suffice to forbid it, says the Apostle;
we have no such custom, neither the churches of God” (1 Cor. xi. 16), as that women should worship in public with the head uncovered. In the same chapter he corrects the irregularities which had arisen in the Lord's Supper during his absence, as far as it could be done by letter, concluding his directions by saying, “ The rest will I set in order when I come.” But it was in the exercise of the gifts of the Spirit that the chief irregularity arose; these especially needing the continual oversight of an apostle or head, and to correct this as far as he could, by admonition and reproof, he devotes the remainder of the Epistle. Upon this we need not enlarge; the Apostle having so very largely opened it, and shewn that the gifts, though so greatly to be desired, were unprofitable unless exercised in the way of charity or love: that charity must pervade every one of them at all times, or they will bring neither glory to God nor profit to the church: that as faith without works is dead, and works without faith are profitless, so are charity and the gifts : and that though we should covet earnestly the best gifts, as those which exalt the soul and bring it into nearest communion with God, yet the edification of the church is a still more glorious object than self-exaltation ; and therefore prophecy should be rather desired in order to edify the church. The state of the Corinthian church strikingly exemplifies the import+ ance of the apostolic office, and teaches us the practical lesson of taking care that we allow not the gifts and endowments of the church which are now reappearing to break in upon
ministerial authority. But, on the contrary, every church must be careful, as the gifts increase, to increase their vigilance that subordination be preserved. The apostle or minister of the church must keep his place as the head'; the members of the church, however gifted, must bear in mind that they are members still, and must support and not encroach upon the authority of the head. The head should direct and govern all, through the instrumentality of the members: the members should act in submission to and with deference towards the head. Neither should act independently of the other; neither in their individual, but all in their collective and united capacity; so shall all be done decently and in order; so shall the blessing of God attend them. But if any church fail in either point, fail from the weakness of the head, or from the insubordination of the members, that church shall not prosper. Though it were endowed like the church of Corinth, though it were planted by another such as Paul; yet if its head be removed, or if it refuse to be in subordination to its head, disorders like those in the Corinthian church shall arise, which, if not instantly remedied by the restoration of God's ordinances for government, shall fail into anarchy, schism, heresy, and utter apostasy from the truth.
The root of this and every other practical doctrine concerning the church, will be found to consist in a right apprehension of the great fundamental, and all-inclusive doctrine of the Trinity -the threefold actings of the One indivisible God: The Father's will standing represented in the unseen, undefined election; the Son's administration represented in the ordained head of a church; the Holy Spirit's in-working represented by the diversity of gifts in certain of the members, by conformity to the mind of Christ in them all. And as Christ is the Administrator of all things from the Father, and doeth nothing of himself, but revealeth from the Father, and worketh by the Holy Ghost; so the apostle or minister of the church, standeth not alone, nor acteth alone, but holdeth of the invisible Head, Christ Jesus, on the one hand, and of the visible members of the body of Christ on the other : he learning from Jesus, whose servant he is, and the members of Jesus expecting to be taught in all things by Christ's representative in the church. But all these divine ordinances in the church are carried on through the Holy Ghost, whom every member of the body of Christ is privileged to pray for, and expect, in the same fulness of endowment as the apostle or minister of the church. Every member of Christ must have the Holy Spirit, it is the universal life which pervades the whole body, and without it no one is a living member. Every one is privileged to pray for any gift or endowment which God has ever bestowed upon the church, but always in submission to the sovereignty of God, who giveth to every member its several office according to His