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“Let us not deceive ourselves by the thought that a low view of the meaning of such words, said by such an One, under such circumstances, is the safest for our own souls, or the most deferential to our Saviour. The Man who spake the words was God in our nature—God manifest in the flesh, The Word made flesh.' He was deed, Our Lord and our God. In that frame, pierced though it was with spear and nails, dwelt the fulness of the Godhead. His very breath was sacramental—the outward visible sign of the transmission of the Spirit.
“ And He had become what He was for the sake of the trembling sinners whose hearts He was then reassuring, and for the sake of] those who should believe on Him through their word. In and through them He was on the point of setting up His Church. This Church was to be His fulness, so that even He did not reckon Himself complete without it.
“Of that Church collectively, it is said that it is · His body.'
“Of the various individuals composing this Church it is said in Scripture, that they are each one in particular His members; nay, even 'members of His body-of His flesh and of His bones.'
“Of the ministers of this Church it is said in Scripture, that they are ambassadors for Christ,' 'stewards of God's mysteries,' and from 'Christ as the Head,' by them as 'joints and bands, the whole body having nourishment ministered and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.'
“Such was the state of things on the eve of being established-heavenly and supernatural from beginning to end. Not a system of opinions, but a Divine organism; not a mere religion, but a KINGDOM OF GRACE ! And these words are its inauguration.
“They are wonderful words—surpassingly wonderful; but so is Ho Who spake them; so was the occasion on which they were spoken; so is the Church which they created. They are almost beyond belief; but they are in keeping with the whole character of that dispensation in which man is saved by the Son of Man, and in which sinful men are made the brethren of the Only Begotten ;' called by Him His friends; united to Him as His members; associated with Him as His fellow-workers; and, hereafter, if they abide in Him, to be raised by Him to His throne.”
The ministry, then, which these words inaugurate, is the New Testament ministry; and, though the men who originally received the commission have long gone to their rest, we have Christ's own word that it is to exist in their successors till He come again.
If our Ordinal is Scriptural it must embody these words, and be the instrument for transmitting the commission contained in them.
An Ordinal is a service to be used at the time when Christian ministers receive their solemn commission.
I cannot see how we can honestly avoid stating, in such a document, the nature of this commission, and for what it makes them responsible, just as is the case in the deeds by which men are empowered to exercise any
An Ordination Service which did not embody the substance of these words would be as unscriptural, in its way, as a statement which professed to give the glories of Christ, and omitted all mention of His Godhead, would be
in its way.
If we had an Ordinal not recognising or embodying these words, we should have one deliberately framed to come short of the words of Christ; and, by using it, we should as good as assert that we put from us the highest view of the Christian ministry, and that the words of Christ inaugurating His ministry have literally “passed away.”
The Ordinal of the Church of England assumes that the ministry which Christ established will subsist, in its integrity, till His Second Coming, and that He will be so “ with it” by His Spirit, that every ordinance for the salvation or restoration of souls which He committed to its keeping is as efficacious now as it was at the beginning.
We will first examine the office for the Consecration of Bishops.
This office commences with a collect, every line of which implies that the present ministry is a continuation of the Apostolic. “Almighty God, who by Thy Son Jesus Christ didst give to Thy Holy Apostles many excellent gifts, and didst charge them to feed Thy flock; give grace, we beseech Thee, to all Bishops, the pastors of Thy Church, that they may diligently preach Thy word, and duly administer the godly discipline thereof,” &c.
In accordance with the contents of this collect, there is a choice of three portions of Scripture as the Gospel for the occasion. The first of these (John xxi. 15) containing the account of our Lord earnestly commanding the
It may be well here to call attention to the fact that the Ordinal is specially recognised in the Thirty-nine Articles. The Thirty-sixth Article declares “That the Book of Consecration of Archbishop and Bishops, and Ordering of Priests and Deacons, lately set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth, and confirmed at the same time by Act of Parliament, doth contain all things necessary to such consecration and crdination: neither hath it anything that, of itself, is superstitious and ungodly." No other part of the Prayer-book except the thrne Creeds has such an imprimatur.
Apostle St. Peter to feed His lambs and sheep. The second (John xx. 19) containing the Apostolic commission, “ As My Father sent Me, so send I you," &c. The third containing the Apostolic commission, as we have it in St. Matthew xxviii., “ All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore," &c.
From the Church having chosen these places as the Gospels to be read in order to stir up our faith in the presence
power of Christ, it is evident that she considers that none of the words of Christ, which they contain, have passed away, but that all have a full present application.
Before the Litany there is a short address by the Archbishop:
“ Brethren, it is written in the Gospel of St. Luke, that our Saviour Christ continued the whole night in prayer, before He did choose and send forth His twelve Apostles. It is written also in the Acts of the Apostles, that the disciples who were at Antioch did fast and pray, before they laid hands on Paul and Barnabas, and sent them forth. Let us therefore, following the example of our Saviour Christ and His Apostles, first fall to prayer, before we admit and send forth this person presented unto us, to the work wherсunto we trust the Holy Ghost hath called him."
After this the Bishop elect is consecrated to his ministry with the words :
“Receive the Holy Ghost, for the office and work of a Bishop in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the imposition of our hands; In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. And remember that thou stir up the grace of God which is given thee by this imposition of our hands : for God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and goberness."
The reader will recognise the last sentence as the charge of the Apostle St. Paul to Timothy (2 Tim. i. 6, 7). The Archbishop adopts the words of St. Paul as his own : assuming that God confers through his hands the same ministerial grace which He conferred through St. Paul hands.
In the words, “ Receive the Holy Ghost, for the office and work of a Bishop,” we have a recognition of the great Scripture truth that the Holy Ghost is the Author, not only of all spiritual and moral ministerial influenco, but also of all official authority in the Church of Christ. I cannot
express this great truth better than in the words of Hooker (Eccles. Pol. v. ch. lxxvii. 5):
“We know that spiritual gifts are not only abilities to do things miraculous, as to speak with tongues which were never taught us, to cure diseases without art, and such like, but also that the very authority and power which is given men in the Church to be ministers of holy things, this is contained within the nuinber of those gifts whereof the Holy Ghost is Author, and therefore he which giveth this power may say without absurdity or folly, • Receive the Holy Ghost, such power as the Spirit of Christ hath endued His Church withal, such power as neither prince nor potentate, king nor Cæsar, on earth can give.'”
Again, William Law, in his second letter to Bishop Hoadley, has some words ås forcible and as much to the point on this matter as even those of Hooker :-
“ All sacerdotal power is derived from the Holy Ghost. Our Saviour Himself took not that ministry upon Him till He had this consecration. And during the time of His ministry, He was under the guidance and direction of the Holy Ghost. Through the Holy Spirit He gave commandment unto the Apostles whom He had chosen, When He ordained them to the work of the ministry, it was with these words, • Receive the Holy Ghost.' Those whom the Apostles ordained to the same function, it was by the same authority. They laid their hands upon the elders, exhorting them to take care of the flock of Christ over which the Holy Ghost hai ciade them overseers. Hereby they plainly declared, that however this office was to descend from man to man, through humav hande,