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** For we being many are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of one bread
and of one cup."
18, ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD.
A VINDICATION OF THE VALIDITY AND ORDER OF THE
CONGREGATIONAL MINISTRY.* The clergy of the episcopal church in this realm, now, for the most part, assert that they only are true ministers of Christ ; that they only have authority to preach the Gospel ; that Christian institutions are valid and efficacious only when administered by them. They found these assertions and claims on the episcopacy and apostolic descent of their church, not on its establishment by the Supreme secular authorities of the country. They therefore, on the same grounds, admit the validity of the priesthood, and ministrations of the Roman Catholic clergy, and of those of the Greek and Eastern churches. The question is treated as one simply ecclesiastical. The question of the establishment of this church by law is regarded as quite subordinate, and comparatively unimportant. It is reckoned not to affect at all the point of ministerial character.
These representations are also now as strongly made in their negative as in their positive application. The clergy employ them as much to condemn and annul the ministry of others, as to exalt their own. Their assertions are as frequent and strong, that all ministers not episcopally ordained, are false teachers, and unauthorized usurpers of the sacred office, as that they themselves hold a commission immediately from Christ.
For this seems now to be regarded by them as no question for silence, forbearance, or charity. They appear to act under an urgent sense of duty to proclaim their views upon it; to press vigorously their exclusive
* The particular attention of the members of the Congregational Union of England and Wales is respectfully requested to the following paper, as their opinion upon its merits will probably be asked at the next meeting of that body.
N.S. VOL. VI.