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excite them to give all diligence that they may be found of him without spot, and blameless; that so, when he shall appear, they may have con
, fidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. But, as I have said, there is consolation also; for they that have continued faithful in the service of their Lord, shall soon be called to receive the reward of their diligence. When the night, which is even now drawing on, arrives, and their work is finished, it shall be theirs to rejoice in this, that there remaineth a rest for the people of God. And though for a time their bodies shall slumber in the repose of the grave, yet, at the coming of their Lord, they shall be raised incorruptible and glorious ; and then shall they have their perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul, in his eternal and everlasting glory.
And in order that we all may be partakers of that blessedness, let us impress most deeply upon our minds these truths; that through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the kingdom of heaven has been opened to all who believe and obey the Gospel ; that to profit by this, God requires the renunciation of every sin which separates us from his favour ; that to enable us to overcome them, the Holy Spirit is freely given to all; that if we truly serve God, by obeying, to the best of our power, his sacred guidance, we shall make our calling and election sure; but that if we continue to neglect the great salvation, and resist the operation of the Spirit upon our minds, we must inevitably perish. Lastly, and especially, let us remember, that the time given to each one among us to decide and to act is short, and rapidly passing away; for “the night cometh, when no man “ can work."
The Episcopal Constitution of the Ministry.
TITUS i. 5.
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order
the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.
THE visible Church of God, being that kingdom on earth in which he would gather together in one, and prepare for his kingdom in heaven, the pious and faithful of every clime, must of necessity be conducted by human agency, and distinguished by a visible and authorized ministry. From no other source than Jesus Christ, its Supreme Ruler and Head, can authority or power be derived to minister in this Church in his name; and therefore it is declared, “No man taketh this honour
unto himself, but he that is called of God, as “ Was Aaron.” Now such a call from God can be only in one of two ways; first, by immediate derivation from him; and secondly, by the act of those to whom he has given power to convey it.
In the first case, the thing itself involving a miraculous agency, we may well require to have it evidenced by the possession and manifestation of miraculous gifts. In the second, the agents being human persons, exercising a known and acknowledged authority, this miraculous proof is no longer necessary; and all that can be demanded, in addition to such authority and power on their part, is the exercise of it agreeably to their trust. Of the possession of power in the Church, as derived immediately from its Divine Ruler and Head, the apostles were instances; and their authority was manifested, and their commission verified, by supernatural evidence; “God also bear
ing them witness both with signs and wonders, " and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy « Ghost."
Upon the firm establishment of the Church, this miraculous evidence became unnecessary, and was accordingly withdrawn; and the powers of the ministry being committed by the apostles to their immediate successors, with charge to commit them to faithful men, who should be able, in their turn, to teach others also; the Church has been preserved and maintained in being, and at this very day exists, by virtue of the providence of God, and agreeably to the promise made to its first minister, “Lo, I am with you alway, even 6. unto the end of the world.”.
The succession of the ministry being thus made by him who is the God of order and not of confusion, the designating mark and badge of his Church, the chain by whose unsevered links he has bound it together from age to age, and will continue to do so to the end of time, it becomes a matter of the first importance that the form which he has given to that ministry, and the subordinations under which he has seen fit to establish it, should be distinctly understood, and sedulously maintained. To suppose that no particular rule was laid down, by which the ministry was to be organized, and its authority conveyed; to imagine, as some have done, that piety of disposition, and holiness of life, were a sufficient commission, exclusive of any delegated power, or outward call; thus, or in any other way, to give sanction to the opinion that qualifications and fitness alone were required in order to impart a right to the exercise of office in the Church, would be to open the door to the wildest confusion, and to admit a principle which, if introduced and acted upon in civil society, would occasion the destruction of all order, and produce universal anarchy.