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considered as even characteristic of the age; and multitudes of the sincerest friends to the Established Church, of those who would not willingly be thought to question or neglect any one of the institutions of their Saviour, would, I apprehend, if their sentiments were strictly analyzed, be found to regard the Clergy in a light little consistent with the dignity of "ambassadors for Christ"," and to attend their ministrations with little of that faith in their practical efficacy, which his positive appointment warrants, or, more properly, demands. Nay, I fear that even charity itself must admit, that some even of these "ambassadors for Christ" are themselves but faintly impressed with the consciousness of their divine commission, have no lively sense of the treasure which they are appointed to bear, of their actual authority to bless, to absolve, and to dispense the means of grace, as the especial delegates of Heaven.
Now, as it will be recollected that one of the leading arguments for the necessity of the episcopal succession was derived from
d 2 Cor v. 20.
the importance of the Christian priesthood, which, however, the limits of my discourse, as well as the case then more immediately under review, permitted me rather to allude to than to establish; and as it should appear that there is amongst us a numerous class with whom this argument must in a greater or less degree lose its force, according to the degree in which their convictions on this important point are vague and defective, it has become necessary to the general object of these Lectures, to give this branch of the subject a more particular consideration. But, on the other hand, if it can be shown that it has always from the earliest times been the method of Almighty God to dispense his spiritual favours to mankind by the hands of particular individuals commissioned by himself, and that the divine commission is still indispensably necessary to the validity of the ministerial functions, it will be satisfactory to recollect, as a point already, it is presumed, distinctly ascertained, that our excellent Church still enjoys the inestimable benefit of this commission in its fullest
extent and most undoubted legitimacy, together with the means of continuing it, by the divine blessing, to the end of time.
I. From a variety of facts recorded in the Scriptures of the Old Testament it appears, even from the remotest period, to have been the ordinary method of the providence of God, to communicate his blessings and inflict his judgments by the intervention of human agents deputed to act in his name. long antecedently to the established priesthood of Aaron, Noah blessed Shem and Japheth, and pronounced a curse on Canaan; and Isaac blessed Jacob, to the exclusion of Esau -Thus, too, in the instance of Abimelech, notwithstanding the known" integrity of his heart," the intercession of Abraham was necessary for his recovery. "And God said unto him, he " is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, ❝ and thou shalt live.... So Abraham prayed " unto God, and God healed Abimelech" Again, when the wrath of God was kindled
Thus in the patriarchal times,
e Genesis ix. 25-27. g Genesis xx.
f Genesis xxvii.
against Eliphaz and his two friends, their burnt offering could not obtain their pardon without the prayer of Job;-" My ser""vant Job shall pray for you; for him will "I accept1." Advancing to the period of the Mosaic dispensation, we read, “The "Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak "unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On "this wise ye shall bless the children of "Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless "thee, and keep thee, &c...........And they shall "put my name upon the children of Is❝rael, and I will bless them." And again, "The priests the sons of Levi shall come ❝ near; for them the Lord thy God hath "chosen to minister unto him, and to bless "in the name of the Lord." In short, to cite the various passages which might be produced to illustrate the exclusive authority of the Levitical priesthood would be an endless task.
But a réference to those awful instances which mark the peculiar wrath of God against the unauthorized usurpation of the
h Job xlii. 7-10.
k Deut. xxi. 5.
i Numbers vi. 22-27.
priestly functions, is too decisively calculated to illustrate the subject before us, to allow of its being omitted. When Saul, urged by the distressed condition of his troops, and the immediate expectation of the attack of the Philistines, had at last ventured to offer a burnt offering himself without waiting for the return of Samuel, this was the solemn denunciation of the Prophet; "Thou hast done foolishly: thou "hast not kept the commandment of the "Lord thy God, which he commanded "thee: for now would the Lord have "established thy kingdom upon Israel for "ever. But now thy kingdom shall not " continue." Thus also when the heart of king Uzziah, after a long series of victory and prosperity, was " lifted up to his "destruction," and he "went into the tem
ple of the Lord to burn incense upon the "altar of incense," and obstinately resisted the remonstrances of the priests, "while he was wroth with the priests, the "leprosy even rose up in his forehead be"fore the priests in the house of the Lord,”
k 1 Sam. xiii, 6-14.