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this responsibility; that he neither can nor may surrender it to any power on earth, without betraying the trust reposed in him by Jesus Christ; and that no power on earth may dare to take it from him, without insurrection against, and invasion of, the dignity of Jesus Christ. As a king, however, hath counsellors to assist him in judgment, and magistrates to assist him in executing judgment, who receive their authority from and execute their com. mission under him, so hath the minister of the church a power, yea, and he is provided with an ordinance for the appointment of elders and deacons, who may assist him in the discharge of his onerous office. Yet withal, unto him Christ looketh for the right ordering of the whole church; or else, if he did not, why in these seven instances address himself to bim only, censure him only, approve him only, threaten him only? This question cannot be answered otherwise than by saying that he, and he only, is held responsible for all that is said and done. This is a great point, and I touch it often because it is little apprehended. God knows, it is not vanity; for every additional view which I take of my office overwhelms me, and condemns me only the more. If I durst be unfaithful to my office as an interpreter, the thing from which I would shrink would be to tell out to my own conscience and to the church, which knows my weakness, the requirements which the great Shepherd expecteth at my hand. But I must forget myself, and the church of which I am a minister, and every inferior interest whatever, when I set my face like flint to interpret God's word. But in all this, right glad am I that I speak the constitutions of the Church of Scotland whereof I am a sworn and bounden minister ; for while by her constitutions the body of the people are treated as subjects, and not as rulers, --whereby she is distinguished, from all dissenting churches, wherein the people rule themselves, their minister, and all, -and yet treated as free men, without whose call no minister ought to be ordained over them, whereby, again, she is distinguished from the practice, at least, if not fron the canons, of the orthodox and true church established in England;---while, I say, the body of the people are represented in the rulers, the minister, elders, and deacons; and these again are represented in the minister, in all the higher acts of the church, such as prayer, laying on of hands, preaching, and so forth. Now as God
hath no artificer in his word, which doth ever represent the course of his Providence, we certainly conclude, that the church must look up to its minister as the immediate and only channel through which, as a body, they do receive benefits from Christ ; and they ought, therefore, to be in continual acts of faith, hope, and charity; of prayer and thanksgiving, on his account. And be likewise, feeling that the prosperity of so excellent a thing as Christ's church dependeth on him, ought also to feel how needful is every grace to him, how perfect he should be in knowledge, in wisdom, in patience, in suffering, wanting nothing, seeing so much dependeth on him; seeing his sins and shortcomings bring judgment and Divine wrath, not upon bimself only, but upon his people. I confess for myself, that the study of this aspect of Christ as the Universal Bishop, while it hath filled me with the most exalted ideas of my calling, and delivered me, upon the one hand, from popular influence, and, on the other, from the slavish bondage of ecclesiastical polity, into the true liberty and largeness of my office; it hath, upon the other hand, impressed me with an inexpressible sense of the importance of personal completeness, blamelessness, faithfulness, watchfulness in doctrine, in discipline, in speech, in temper, in every thing personal as well as official; because I see that, without such diligent perseverance, my flock must suffer loss, the church of Christ bear scandal, and my Lord himself underlie reproach in the house of his friends.
Now I am willing to confess, that this doctrine concerning the dignity of the angel, minister, pastor, or bishop, were dangerous doctrine, and ready to pass into abuse, just as the doctrine of kings reigning under Christ hath passed into the abuse of brutal power and passive obedience, were it not defended and prevented by the third part of these epistles; which is an address, not from Christ personal, but from the Spirit of Christ, unto the churches. This is the counterbalancing principle in the constitution of a church; that while Christ's voice is to be expected through the minister, and in him Christ's person is to be honoured, the Spirit of Christ is equally to be honoured as answering in the churches. For with the same constancy with which Christ speaketh to the angels and to them only, with the same constancy doth the Spirit speak unto the churches. These are co-ordinate, co-equal,
and co-essential principles in every church ; to wit, a preacher speaking with the authority of Christ, a church answering with the witness of the Spirit. If the water and the blood, the two sacraments, be two of the witnesses upon earth, then is the Spirit also a third witness (John v. 6-8); of which witnesses the first two dignify the ministerial office, and the last doth dignify and consecrate the church. With what consideration, therefore, the minister asketh and demandeth, yea, and insisteth upon, the privilege of his office,-and he is not worthy of his office who would not die, rather than yield its prerogatives to prince or to people,-even with that same consideration ought he to respect, and reverence, and wait for, and assure himself of receiving the witness of the Spirit from the body of the church. And when there is harmony between these two co-equal and co-essential testimonies, you have the only guarantee of truth which is to be had in this nether world. Happy, happy is the church that rightly preserveth the balance of these two mutually dependent and mutually corrective authorities. When either preponderates, evil ensues ; when either is suppressed, there is no limit to the extent of the evil that will ensue; but when both are suppressed, the church is gone utterly apostate. Now I freely admit, that in the first ages of the church, when the memory of Christ and his apostles, and the apostolical men, and the other first preachers, was fresh and vigorous in the church, the tendency was, to give too much weight to the ministers of the word, and too little to the witness of the Spirit in the people; and so, by degrees, was matured that form of error in church government, which advanceth one man to a monarchical power over several ministers of the word and sacraments : which I can bear with, if it be merely for preservation of the church's union; but if it be for constituting a distinct order of men, essentially above the ministers of the word, to come between them and Christ, I protest against it as a subversion of the foundations. This invention arose in the allowance, I will say, rather than the establishment of it, in the third and fourth centuries of the church; anterior to which, no bishop might have within his diocese two communion tables, or altars, as they were called; for it is thus written in the xxiv th Apostolical Canon, “If any priest (which word signifies Presbyter or Elder), if any elder, despising his bishop, gather a separate congregation and erect another altar, being not able to convict his bishop of any thing contrary to godliness and righteous. ness, let him be deposed, as one that affects dominion; for he is an usurper : as also all the clergymen that are his accessaries (by clergymen was understood all office-bearers in the church, of whatever name and degree]; and let the laymen be suspended from communion. Let these censures be passed after a first, second, and third admonition from the bishop." Upon this state of things, which exactly representeth my standing, and the standing of all ministers of the Church of Scotland, there gradually supervened the method of prelates and metropolitans, which, as I said above, I can bear with being constituted, as in the Church of England I believe it is, for maintaining unity in the church; but if for establishing an order above my own, to controul my own, I never will cease to lift up my voice against it. But it cannot be that it is so regarded by the Church of England, seeing the bishop is ordained by the hands of common ministers; and in right of that ordination preaches, baptizes, and ministers the sacrament. Moreover he dares not to go beyond the rubric in exercising jurisdiction; and when a bishop lately would have introduced a set of questions of his own, it was regarded as unconstitutional.- It may be thought that I should not meddle with these things; but it is a great comfort to me to see the constitutions of a sister church not inconsistent with the canons of the word of God. I desire unity, and I seek it diligently where it may be had in practice, without sacrificing the unity of truth; and therefore I meddle with these matters, not to provoke, but to prevent schism; not to divide, but to restore unity where division hath too much prevailed. This is indeed the truth, as my conscience beareth me witness. -But in process of time, when the bishop of the Roman church began to assert, first his metropolitan, and then his papal supremacy, the bishops of the church contended against him, and asserted their co-equal and coessential dignity; and thus the matter stood in controversy, until at length Justinian, by his Pandects, put all the bishops of the western Roman empire under the au. thority of the pope, making his verdict final in all matters ecclesiastical; by which act Justinian consummated the
imperial apostasy, in daring to subvert the foundations of the church, and originated the long career of the pope, which ended in the subjugation of the empire also. But when monk Augustine, the pope's tool, came to claim this supremacy over the bishops of Britain, they rejected with indignation every such interference with the liberties of the church in Britain ; and so also, at a later date, did the Culdees of Scotland : and from this time forth, the churches in these lands, with less or greater strenuousness, maintained a protestation against that usurper. At the Reformation, the Scriptures being interpreted and preached unto the people, the witness of the Spirit arose in the churches : and in the Church of Scotland, with whose constitutions I am best acquainted, after some years of a transition state, all the great principles presented to us in these epistles were reconstituted. The ministers of the word and sacraments were put upon a level with each other, in equal dignity under Christ; and the unity of the churches and of the doctrine was preserved, -in the first instance by means of superintendents, and afterwards by means of Presbyteries. At the same time, while the supereminent dignity of the minister of the word and sacraments was thus maintained, the answer of the Spirit in the churches was most diligently preserved ; for, although the ministers of the word might have found the gift of preaching in some one, he was not permitted to be set over a church, until the Spirit had witnessed in that church to his doctrine. The people must first hear him, and, having heard him, must call him to be their minister, and promise him all duty, obedience, and provision in the Lord, before the Presbytery would take it upon them to set him apart by the laying on of hands. If I understand any thing, this is as essential to the health and prosperity of the church as is the dignity and prerogative of the ministers. And I do honour much that race of Scottish churchmen, who
rough the long cold and bleak winter of the last century, more disastrous to the church of Christ, perhaps, than any century before it, did fight the battles of the church, contending against those false churchmen and shallow politicians who would impose ministers upon a people without a call, resisting not the rights of the