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of the Christian Church throughout the world: Although it is implied, that the matter affirmed of the universal Church, is predicable of every local Church, to which the recited circumstances belong.
The next authority to be produced, is the Twentythird Article, which says" It is not lawful for any man to take on himself the office of publick preaching, or ministering the sacraments in the congregation; before he be lawfully called, and sent to exe. cute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work, by men who have publick authority given to them, to call and send ministers into the Lord's vineyard."
This article is partly negative, and partly positive. It denies, in as express words as could have been used, the right of any man to take on himself the exercise of the ministry: So that no pretended call, in his own mind, is conceived of as a warrant to that effect. But as to the true source of this, which is the positive part of the article, it is not precise; but merely refers to competent authority, without unfolding through what channel it is to come. Accordingly this Article, like a portion which has been recited from another, is to be explained by a com. parison with any provisions, in which the Church may have been more explicit.
A part of the Thirty-fourth Article is as follows: "Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, or abolish rites or ceremonies of the Church, ordained only by man's authority; so that all things be done to edifying."
The only reason for the introducing of this pas sage from one of the Articles, is its affirming of the independency of every local Church, as to all foreign domination; and therefore its rejection of the claims of the Church of Rome, who calls herself the mother and the mistress of all other Churches. Although the words quoted have been objected to by some communions of Protestants, who have ima
gined that the Article arrogates to the Church a greater power than any given to her by Jesus Christ; yet I shall not now consider them with a reference to that question. They are here introduced, merely as a rejection of the authority claimed by the bishop of Rome; which will necessarily make a part of the present subject. The same sentiment is sustained in many other of the Articles-as in that which affirms "the Church of Rome hath erred in matters of faith"-in that concerning purgatory-in that requiring the publick devotions to be in a tongue understood by the people-in that on the number of the sacraments-in that levelled at the errour of transubstantiation-in that, claiming for the laity the administration of the communion in both kinds-in that affirming the unity of the oblation of Christ on the cross, in contrariety to the affirmed sacrifice of the mass-and finally in that claiming to the clergy the right to marry. In all these particulars, and in others, our Church declares her dissent from the Church of Rome: thereby rejecting the authority of her bishop; who exacts assent to them, as essential to a communion with him; and as due to the authority which he claims over the whole of Christendom.
We may pass to the Thirty-sixth Article which says "The book of consecration of bishops and ordering of priests and deacons, as set forth by the general convention of this Church in 1792, doth contain all things necessary to such consecration and ordering. Neither hath it any thing that, of itself, is superstitious and ungodly. And therefore, whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to said form, we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered."
This is another Article of our Church, which has been much applauded for its liberality, and at the same time, not with a friendly design; it being done to lead to the inference, that in framing the -Articles of the Church of England, of which ours is
a copy, with accommodation to local circumstances, no more was intended than to offer an apology for the difference between Episcopacy and Presbytery; on the ground of human institution, not in itself sinful. This is an entire misconception of the enlightened views of the English reformers: Of whom we may freely confess-it agreeing with their conduct in a variety of ways that in laying down articles' of faith, they had no design of condemning other Protestant Churches, on a point of discipline: While yet, being governed in practice by their own sense of the original difference between the two higher orders of the ministry, they have precisely marked it in the preface, and in some of the devo tions of the Ordinal. These, being the subject of the Article, must be supposed to assist in the interpretation of it.
An express tendency to this effect presents itself to our notice, in the first sentence of the preface; which says "It is evident unto all men diligently reading Holy Scripture and ancient authors, that from the apostles' time, there have been these orders of ministers in Christ's Church-bishops, priests and deacons." Here is an appeal to scripture, for the discrimination of order in the time of the apostles; and to ancient authors, for its prevailing from that time downwards. Evidently, the framers of this preface knew of no deviations from the original institution, until the then recent times immediately subsequent on the reformation. Consistent with this, are three prayers in the three several services, for the ordaining of deacons, for the ordaining of priests, and for the consecration of a bishop. Each of the forms acknowledges, that "by divine appointment, there are divers orders of ministers in the Church;" and then prays-the first for the persons called to the office of deacons; the second, for the persons called to the office of priesthood; and the third, for the person called to the work and ministy of a bishop. There could hardly have been a
more significant declaration, that each of the noticed orders made a distinct branch of the original constitution of the Church: And the sentiment derives an immense increase of solemnity, from its being made in an appeal to Almighty God.
It may be proper in this place, to guard against a misconstruction, which might have an evil influence on the conceptions to be formed of the tenour of this lecture. The misconstruction referred to, would be the supposing, that under the term "Priest," the Church understood the like character, with that known by the same term under the law: That is, the offerer of a real sacrifice. That the Church of England and this Church have a very different apprehension of the subject, was shown in the fifth lecture.
There has been laid before you, from the institutions of our Church, all that is judged necessary to the present design; which is to ground on it and to establish the three following positions, concerning the ministry of the Christian Church. First, It is of divine institution: Secondly, In every local Church, it is of right independent on all foreign authority or jurisdiction: And thirdly, As instituted by Jesus Christ and his apostles, it includes the three orders of bishops, priests and deacons.
First, the ministry of the Christian Church is of divine institution. This proposition is to be maintained, in opposition to those, who make the right to the ministerial character dependent on an incitement in the mind. In opposition to this, we affirm the necessity of succession from the apostles. The commission from them was by a personal act, performed on those whom they admitted in the beginning, to a copartnership with them in their authority, and in their labours. But it is evident, that succession was the only way, in which there could have been a transmission of the same, from age to age.
It is confessed, that the first preachers of the
pel received their commission from our blessed Lord in person. These were the eleven apostles; and their commission is"Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."* When the place of Judas was to be supplied; it was under the influence of illumination, that Matthias was chosen into the number of the twelve. Of all the subsequent preachers of the gospel, the only instance on record, of a commission received without its passing through the medium of human discretion and designation, is that of St. Paul; who received it, like the eleven, from the Lord himself in person.
Of the former plan of administration, there is abundant evidence in the New Testament. We read of Paul and Barnabas in their travels that"When they had ordained them elders in every Church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed." The former apostle, in his first Epistle to Timothy, speaks of his having received the gift of the ministry, "by the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery:" A term, which must be considered as applicable to the higher order; since the term "Presbyter" is used with such a latitude, even to apostolick men. In a company of such men, however, in the act of ordaining Timothy, the same apostle must have presided; because in his second epistle to the same Timothy, speaking again of the gift of the ministry, he says" Which is in thee, by the putting on of my hands." That Timothy, thus ordained by St. Paul, was to ordain others, appears from the numerous directions given in the third chapter of the first epistle, and in the first
* Matt. xxviii. 8. 19 & 20. ↑ Acts, xiv. 23. Ch. iv. 14. . Ch. i. 6.