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eminent; though, if we were indeed disposed to do so, we might find the best security for the correctness of our belief in the candour and moderation, in the extensive learning, and the fearless pursuit of truth, which marked the reformers of the English Church. Their opinion on this subject is expressed, in the preface to the ordinal, in this decided language, “It is evident unto all

men, diligently reading holy Scripture and an“ cient authors, that from the apostles' time there “ have been these orders of ministers in Christ's “ Church, bishops, priests, and deacons ;” and after stating that these offices were evermore had in reverend estimation, they enjoin, “that no man “ shall be accounted to be a lawful bishop, priest,

or deacon, in this Church, or suffered to exe“ cute any of the said functions, except he hath “ had Episcopal consecration or ordination." Here this constitution of the ministry is referred to the apostles' time, thus ascribing its origin to them, and giving it an authority coeval and coextensive with their commission; and so far from regarding this distribution of power in the Christian Church as unimportant, or from imputing it to mere human invention and expediency, it is expressly asserted in the collects for the ordination of deacons and priests, that the appointment of these divers orders of ministers in the Church is by the divine providence of Almighty God; that it is the result of the inspiration of the Holy


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Spirit. Moreover, since, agreeably to our nineteenth article, to constitute a branch of the visible Church, it is necessary, not only that the pure word of God be preached, but also that the sacraments be duly administered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same, this question of the ministry is one which, as they conceived, involved that of the Church itself.

Such being the importance of the due constitution of the ministry, and of the order in which its prerogatives were to descend, it is unreasonable to suppose that mere assertion should be permitted to decide the question, or that any other proof should be appealed to, or admitted, than the very highest which the subject will allow. Than holy Scripture and ancient authors, there can be no higher authority; and to these our Church fearlessly refers her members: the first, as showing the original depository of power ; the second, as testifying to the manner of its exercise. Fully to elucidate this proof in the compass

of a sermon, cannot be expected. It is ample in both its parts, and as often as it has been questioned, has been manfully and triumphantly sustained. To a hasty reference to each of its branches I shall devote the remainder of this discourse.

A presumptive argument has been drawn from

the oneness of the Church under the Jewish and Christian dispensations. And as in this former there were, by Divine appointment, three orders of the ministry, so it has been reasonably concluded that the same rule was intended to hold in the latter dispensation. And it is the language of Jerome, and of other fathers, that which Aaron, and his sons, and the Levites were in the temple, let the bishops, presbyters, and deacons, claim to themselves in the Church. A similar argument might be founded upon that temporary ministry which existed while Christ was yet on earth; in which, holding himself the highest power, he

appointed, first the twelve, and then the seventy disciples, to go forth and to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. This ministry, however, was merely preparative. “The Church

• “ could not be organized under the new dispen“ sation, until the Jewish form ceased; and that

could not cease till the Messiah had finished “ transgression, made an end of sin, and made “ reconciliation for iniquity, by the sacrifice of “ himself. Accordingly, he did not give his apos“tles their high commission until after his resur“rection; and they did not so much as attempt "to act upon it till, as he had promised, they “ were endued with power from on high by the “ descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pen“ tecost. Then they were able to speak in the “ name of a Master who was set on the right “hand of the Majesty in the heavens. And then, “ and not till then, did the Church put on her “ New Testament form.*"

This is the concession of a living opponent to our Church, in his own words; and while it affords abundant reason to perceive why we do not find, in the Gospels, any minute and formal account of the constitution of the Christian ministry, it shows us where we are to look for it; namely, in the model set up by the apostles, during the actual exercise of their commission, in the order of the churches which they founded, in their instructions contained in the Epistles which they penned, and in general, in the primitive organization which they established. And this gives additional weight to the other branch of evidence to which I am presently to refer--the testimony of ancient authors. Indeed there is one remark which is applicable alike to the government of the Church and the morality of the Gospel; that neither of them is systematically laid down. We are not, however, to suppose from the silence of the Gospels, that no directions were given to the apostles, or that they were left to organize the Church without the Divine illumination and guidance. They had the gift of the Holy Spirit, and knew the mind of Christ; for it is expressly declared of him, that he, through the Holy Ghost,

• Dr. Mason's Christian Magazine, vol. i. p. 338.

gave commandment unto the apostles whom he had chosen ; that “he showed himself to them “ alive after his passion, by many infallible proofs, “ being seen of them forty days, and speaking of “ the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:" by which expression he most frequently designated the Church which he came to establish. Here, then, we have sufficient grounds to argue that what the apostles did, in reference to that Church, they did agreeably to his will; that if they established divers orders of the ministry, they did so by the divine providence of Almighty God, by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit.

Now, that the narrative of their acts, and the Epistles which they wrote, continually recognise two distinct orders inferior to the apostles; one of which was called bishops or presbyters indiscriminately, and the other deacons; every reader of the New Testament knows. The whole history of the apostles is extremely brief, and records but a small part of their proceedings in converting and evangelizing the world. But in letters to the churches which they founded, we find them addressing, not only the saints in Christ Jesus, but the bishops and deacons. The Epistles to Timothy and Titus describe what a bishop ought to be; and likewise, what are the qualifications for the office of a deacon. They are addressed to individuals possessing a similar power with the apostles, and co-workers with them; and VOL. II.


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