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of all the redeemed, why should He have caused Malachi to predict that His Son, when He came amongst us, should purify, not all Israel only, but, in an especial manner, the
sons of Levi,” Levi being only one tribe of the Holy people, specially set apart above bis brethren to give attendance to the altar.
III. We now come to the dispensation of the One True Priest and One True Sacrifice. Did our Great High Priest ordain any ministry? If He did, What position in His system and what power or functions did He assign to it ?
If He assigned to His ministers that they should dispense the benefits of His Atonement either by word of mouth or by significant acts, such as Sacraments, then these men were as much priests in reality as any Jewish or Patriarchal priests. For, as I said, we have not to do with names but with things.
In looking to the Evangelic narrative we find that, next to the prominence given to the All-gracious Person of the Saviour Himself, our attention is fastened by the Holy Ghost on this fact, that the Saviour chose out of the remainder of His disciples twelve men, whom He associated with Himself, and whom He identified with Himself in every way. He constituted these men His ministers, His fellow-workers, and His representatives. He employed them to do the things which He Himself did; and, after His crucifixion, He gave them a commission from Himself similar to that on which He had Himself acted :-“As My Father sent Me, so send I you.” (John xx. 21.)
Let us see to the Scripture evidence for this.
Our Lord must have had a very large number of disciples in addition to those whom He attached to Himself as Apostles. We read continually of many believing on Him.” (John iv. 39, vi. 60-66, vii. 31, viii. 30.) We
read of His appearing after His resurrection to "five hundred brethren.” (1 Cor. xv. 6.) Out of all these followers He chose twelve. The account of this in St. Luke (vi. 13) is, “ He called unto Him His disciples, and out of
) them He chose twelve, whom also He named Apostles.” Then follows a list of the mere names of these twelve. And it is a fact very significant of the official position of the Apostles in the system, that the Holy Ghost has seen fit to cause four lists of the mere names of these men to be recorded. (Matt. x. 1; Mark iii. 14; Luke vi. 13; Acts. i. 13.)
The call of four of them is the first event of our Lord's ministry recorded by St. John. (John i. 35-43.) The call of the same four, or of thrce of them, is the first event recorded by St. Matthew. (Matt. iv. 18—22.)
If we are to gather anything respecting the principles of the Kingdom or Church of God from Christ's own deeds, then ministerial agency, as distinguished from the action of the rest of the Church, must be a leading principle of that kingdom.
This is still more manifest from the position assigned to these men. They are, as a rule, distinguished from the rest of the disciples, as " the twelve.” When one of them falls from his high standing, the rest are called “ tho eleven." : When the number is filled up, they are again “ the twelve.”: When they were insufficient for the work, our Lord appoints additional labourers, but these are carofully distinguished from the twelve. The words are, " The Lord appointed other seventy also.” (Luke x. 1.)
Our Lord identifies Himself with the twelve in very extraordinary terms. “I appoint unto you a Kingdom, as
· Matt. xxvi. 20, 47; Mark xiv. 20; John xx. 21.
My Father hath appointed unto Me." (Luke xxii. 29.) To one of them He said, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” (Matt. xvi. 19.) On another occasion He gives in the same words) the same binding and loosing power to all. (Matt. xviii. 18.) It is not now my purpose to explain these passages;
I would only remark in passing, that such extraordinary words from the Eternal Son of God must be intended to convey something more than the power to deliver a mere message.
If the asserters of ministerial authority had found no words in our Sacred Books to give colour to their pretensions, and had desired to foist in words to serve their purpose, they could hardly have invented stronger.
Such a power, of course, can only be subordinate and ministerial, and is to be exercised in accordance with Christ's word, and in trembling subordination to His ratification; but that there is some real room for its exerciso we must allow, if we believe that Christ would not have ordained what is superfluous, or ensnaring.
To realise how our Lord would raise these men up to the true greatness of the position which He designed for them, the reader must examine the Gospels for himselfextracts or references to texts can give but a very inadequate idea of the truth on this point. I would, however, direct his attention to the accounts of the two sister miracles of the feeding of the multitudes in the wilderness as illustrating somewhat the position which the Apostles occupied. (Matt. xiv. 15, xv. 32.)
These two miracles are so very much alike in all their leading circumstances, that we can assign no reason why the Holy Spirit should have given to us accounts of the one and two of the other, except this, that such a miracle is especially a typical one, foreshadowing some great and gracious dealings of Christ with His Church. Now, in each account of these miracles we have it especially recorded, that Christ gave the bread to the disciples (or Apostles), and they to the multitude.
If, then, the multitudes represent the Church, and the feeding of these multitudes represents the feeding of that Church, either by doctrine or Eucharist, what can the distribution by the hands of the Apostles foreshadow, except a system of ministerial agency; and this agency not superseding Christ's own acting or obscuring His grace, but rather magnifying both ?
It is quite clear, then, that Christ set apart certain persons to be His ministers, and put them into a remarkable position betwixt Himself and the rest of His followers.
We have now to consider the functions which these persons were deputed to exercise.
Did their powers exceed, or come short of, the powers of those men who, in former dispensations, had been called priests?
If Christ assigned to His Apostles any power of showing forth the One Atonement, and applying its benefits to the members of His Church, then He constituted these
priests” in His Church. It matters not a straw whether the name of priests were given to them; the thing itself, the power, the function, which men usually attach to the name and office of priest, was theirs, if it was theirs to dispense to their brethren the benefits of the One Atoning Sacrifice.
Now, Christ commissioned His Apostles to do four things: to preach-to baptize-to administer the Lord's Supper-and to absolve.
Let us first take the power to baptize. Christ, on two occasions, after His Resurrection, commissioned His
Apostles to baptize. This commission was not given to the whole body of believers. Christ did not give it to the one hundred and twenty, or to the five hundred, but only to the eleven, by this stamping it as a ministerial act. (Matt. xxviii. 16—18, 19; Mark xvi. 14, 15.)
Now (if we are to believe St. Paul) when an Apostle, or minister commissioned by an Apostle, administered baptism to a convert, he there and then caused that that man should be buried with Christ;" i.e., he made the convert, in some sort, a partaker of Christ's death; or, in modern phrase, an “interest in Christ's death” was made over to him through the ministration of the Apostle or minister.
Again, even such a man as St. Paul was bid to “wash away his sins” in baptism (Acts xxii. 16); and he, in his turn, makes mention of this Sacrament as the means by which Christ cleanses His Church (Ephes. v. 26).
Of course, such things can only accompany Baptism because God has ordained it as a means by which He makes men partakers of the benefits of His Son's Atonement, for no one ever supposed that such a thing can cleanse of itself.
When, then, an Apostle baptized, he did a saccrdotal act of a far higher character than any act which Aaron was commissioned to do; for, concerning no act which Aaron had power to perform was it ever said that men were in it“ buried with Christ,” or “ born again of water and of the Spirit.” 1
1 All this is quite unaffected by the question of the validity of lay Baptism. The principle for which I am conter.ding is, not that God rigidly confines the grace of the Sacraments to those who receive them through authorised ministers, but that He has ordained a system of regular ministration in His Church. If He has done this, we cannot but expect that He will be with His own institution to insure the validity ministrations.
How far, and in what cases, under excepticnal circumstances, the