Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ance.

[ocr errors]

On the Church, Thirdly, The next power is that of admitting members into the Church by baptism. This is expressed in the commission which our Lord gave to his apos üles just before his ascension: Go, teach all nations, baptizing them. (w). Yet was it never understood to be so strictly appropriated to them, but that it might lawfully be exercised by inferior ministers. For we find that Philip... the Deocon, baptized the Samaritans and the Ethiopian sunuch. (2) Hence, though the power of baptism belongs chiefly and primarily to the Bishops, yet it belongs also to the Presbyters, who are the bishop's assistants in the care and government of the Church; and may lawfully be committed to Deacons ; but neither Presbyters nor Deacons ought to baptize without the Bishop's allow

Fourthly, Another power wbich our Lord has left to his Church, is, that of consecrating the eucharist or Lord's Supper. The first eucharist was consecrated by our Lord himself a litile before his passion. At the same time he gave his apostles commission to do, as he had done; Do this, said he, in remembrance of me. (y) Yet this office was not so strictly appropriated to the aposiles, but that it might be lawfully executed by the ministers of the second order ; whence we tind, that the eucharist was consecrated in the Church of Corinth, when no minister above the order of Presbyters, who were next below the apostles, was there. The reason why Deacons were not allowed to consecrate the Lord's supper, was, because this sacrament was always believed to succeed in the place of sucrifices; and as none beside the high priest, and inferior priests, were permitted to offer sacrifices under the Jewish law, so none but Bishops and Presbyters, who alone are priests in the Christian sense, of that name, consecrated the Lord's supper.

fiftily, A further power which belongs to the Church is that of imposing hands on persons baptized, commonly called confirmation: The Scripture gives us the following account of the exercise of this power:. When Philip, the Deacon and Exangelist, had converted and baptized the Samaritans, the apostles which were at Jerusalem sent unto them Peter and John, who having prayedund laid their hands on them, they received the Holy Ghost, who was before fullen upon: none of thein : only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (2) When the twelve disciples at Ephesus had been baptized by Timothy, or some other of St. Paul's assistants, Paul laid his hands on them, and the Holy Ghost came upon them. (a) From which passages these two thing, appear: First, That the end and design of this office was to confer the gifts of the Iloly Ghost upon, persons !ately baptized. Secondly, That it was 80 strictly appropriated to the apostles, that it could not ordinarily be performed even by inspired men, and workers of miracles, who were of no interior order. And that it was not a temporary institution, but one which was fundamental to Christianity, and consequently lasting and perpetual, is plain from its being called a principle and foundation ; and joined with some of the most essential duties and articles of the Christian religion. Learing the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God, of the doctrine of baptism, and of laying on of hands, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

Sirthly, Another power mentioned as belonging to the Church is that of ondaining ministers. “It having been shown that there must always be ministers of dirterent orders in the Church; and that no man can ordinarily exercise any ecclesiastical office, or function, who is not lawfully called to it; the next inquiry is, from whoin this call or commission must be expected.?

Now, the original of this commission is from God, the Father, by whom our Lord was sent into the world to mediate between God and man, as he himself witnesseth. As thou hast sent me into the world, saith he to the Father, even so hare I also sent them into the world ; (b) and to his apostles, As my Father sent me, even so send ! you. (c) So that the whole power of erecting the Christian Church, and of governing it since it was erected, is derived from the Futher.

But then the person by whom this power is immediately conferred is the Holy Spirit, the third person in the blessed and undivided Trinity. He it was, (20) Mat. xxviii. 19. (x) Acts ix. (y) Luke xxii. 19. (2) Acts viii. 14, 17,

(a) Acts xix. 6. (b) John xvii. 18. (c) John xx. 21.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

On the Church. boy whose anointing our Lord was invested with his mediatorial office.Whence he is said to have preached by the Spirit; (d) through the Holy Spirit - he gave commandments to the apostles whom he had chosen. (e), By the Spirit, of God he cast out devils. Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself to God, (D) and the authority and special grace, whereby the apostles and all churchofficers execute their respective functions, are in the same manner ascribed to the Spirit. This was expressed in the very form of the apostles' ordination, Receive ye the Holy Ghost : whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted ; anit whosesoever sins retain, they are retained. (8) Where the authority to remit and retain'sins is made a consequence of their receiving the Holy Ghost. And St. Paul ascribes to the same Spirit both the offices of the apostles and other ministers, and their abilities to discharge those offices. (h) So that all ecclesiastical authority is the gift of the Holy Spirit. But the question is, What persons God has entrusted with authority to ordain ministers in the Church ?

And if we may be allowed to reason from the constitution and universal practice of civil societies, we must conclude, that the power of ordaining iniiristers belongs to the Bishops, who are the chief governors of the Church, because the power of constituting subordinate magistrates belongs to the supreme governors of all civil societies: and it is contradictory to reason, that they who exercise any authority, whether in the Church or in the state, should derive their authority from any but those in whom the supreme authority is lodged.

Accordingly, we find in the Gospel, that whilst our Lord lived on earth, he reserved the power of ordaining ministers to himself. He gave the apostles and the seventy disciples a commission to preach, but never allowed them, while he continued among them, to communicate that commission to any other. Afterwards, when the apostles were the chief visible governors of the Church, they ordained Ministers. All the Apostles together ordained the seven Deacons in the Church of Jerusalem. (i) Paul and Barnabus ordained Elders in every Church which they visited. (k) In the same age, this authority was exercised by others whom the apostles had ordained to be chief governors of Churches. Timothy and Fitus ordained ministers in their respective diocesses of Ephesus and Crete : but that no inferior order had this power is evident. · St. Paul tells Titus, that for this cause he left him in Crete, that he might ordain Elders in every city (1) But this could be no cause of leaving him there, if the Presbyters or Elders had the power of ordination lodged in them : for that island had been converted to Christianity long before this epistle was written, and before Titus çame thither : and no doubt there were many Presbyters among them. The same may be said of Timothy's being sent to Ephesus. To what purpose was he sent thither, if the Presbyters there before had power to ordain? So that it appears from Scripture, and from the nature of the episcopal office, that none bụt Bishops have authority to ordain Ministers in the Church ; and, consequently, none but those who are ordained by them, can be truly said to have a divine commission, or any authority to minister in the Christian Church.

Seventhly, The next power to be mentioned, which the Church exercised in the primitive ages, was that of making canons, or làws for the behaviour of its members in spiritual affairs. Whereby it is not meant, that the Church has authority to change any of the divine laws, or inipose any article of faith, or rule of moral duty, or to prescribe any condition of salvation, which is neither expressly centained in the Scriptures, nor can certainly be concluded from them ; but only that she is invested with power in all such things as relate to the outward peace and order of the Church. And if it appears that things of this kind are left undetermined by the Scriptures, and also that it is necessary they should be determined, then we cannot doubt but that Christ has entrust-ed the Church with authority to determine them. Now, that these are not particularly determined by Scripture, is very evident. For the rules of Scripture are all general. · We are coinmanded to assemble together to worship God; but the times and places are not expressed. We are commanded to follow such things as make for peace and edification, and to do all things docently, and in order ; but the particular methods whereby order must be main. (d) Luke iv. 18. (e) Acts i. 2. (f) Heb. ix. 14. (g) John xxii. 22,

23 (1) 1 Cor. xii. 1, 31. Eph. iv. 7, 8, 11. (1) Acts vi: 3, 16.

(k) Acts xiv, 23, (1) Titus i. 5, 9,

[ocr errors]

On the Church. tained, and edification promoted, are no where set down. Timothy, and a other Bishops with him, are commanded to lay hands suddenly on no man; but the previous trials of such as are candidates for holy orders, and the time and methods of examination into their abilities and behaviour, are left undetermined. But it is necessary that these things should be determined; for otherwise nothing but disorder and confusion would be seen in the Church, and therefore Christ has certainly left the governors of his Church authority to de termine them. And, accordingly, if we inqure into the practice of the apostles, and other primitive governors of the Church, we shall find, that, besides the standing rules of the Gospel, they established many regulations, as the several occasions of the Churches under their care required. In many of St. Paul's episties, especially in those to the Corinthians, he prescribes particular rules for the decency of divine worship, the 'avoiding of scandal, and other things which were not determined by Christ; and he speaks of customs which he himself and other apostles established and the Churches observed. (m) There is, and ever will be the same necessity of prescribing rules for the peace and good government of the Church, and the order and decency of divine service, that there was in the apostolic age : and, consequently, there is the same reason why this authority should be trasmitted to the Bishops in all ages, as in any other part of the apostolical office.

Eighihly, From the power of making laws, we proceed to that of jurisdiction, or executing the laws; that is thc power of judging anda censuring of fenders. That our blessed Lord has entrusted the Church, and particularly the gorernors' of it, with authority to censure offenders, and to exclude them from its communion, will appear, if we consider the Church, first, as a society for this authority is exercised by all societies whatever. And as in civil societies this authority is necessary for securing men's lives and properties, which is the chief end for which it pleased God to institute these societies-; so in the Church or spiritual society, the same authority is equally necessary to attain the ends for which the Church was founded ; namely, to maintain the purity of divine worship, to secure men from the pollutions of the world, and train them up in virtue and piety now, in order to make them happy for ever; all which cannot be effected if the Church has not power to exclude from its communion such unworthy members as endeavour to oppose these ends, by promoting vice, superstition, and infidelity.

Secondly, As a Society, the privileges` whereof are conditional ; for none must be admitted into the Church by baptism, who do not, by themselves, or their sureties, profess the faith, and vow obedience to the laws of Christ; and if these conditions are necessary for men's admission into the Church, they must be so for their continuance in it. For no reason can be shown why men should be obliged to vow faith and obedience in order to their becoming members of the Church, which does not equally hold for their exclusion from it when they notoriously break that vow : so that the power of excommunication is a manifest consequence of the baptismal covenant, and committed to the gevernors of the Church, who have the dispensation of the sacraments.

Thirdly, As it has received this power from our Lord's institution. Upon Peter's contessing our Lord to be the Son of God, he declared first, that upon this rock he would build his Church, against which the gates of hell should never prevail; and then added, I will give unto thee (that is, to Peter, and wiih him to the rest of the apostles) the keys of the kingdom of heaven.; and chutsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in hearen ; and whatsoever. thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaten : (n) the meaning of which promise iş manifestly this, that the apostles and their successors should be chiet governors of the Church under Christ, and as such, should have author ity to admit and exclude, to condemn or absolve, whom they judged convenient, which is certain from another passage, where our Lord, having cautioned his disciples that they should not offend others, proceeds to instruct them how to behave themselves when others should offend them. That first they should privately admonish the offender; if this did not bring him to repentance, they should then reprove him before two or three witnesses; but if this also proved Lisuccessful, their last remedy should be to tell it to the Church ; and if the of fender still neglected to hear, as their authority was wholly spiritual, and they (m21 Cor. xi. 16.

(m) Mat. xvi. 19.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

On the Church cauld act inflictrangeittikpunishntent on him, all thatonr Lord directs them to da is, thatithey should account the obstinate offender as an heathen or a public aan, ro) they should look on him no longer as a member of the Chureh, but place him among infidels, and other profligate men, whose conversation tliey used to shun.

That this authority, was exercised and held to be of divine right by the Apost tles and their successors, the Bishops of the primitive Church, is clear; from the case of Ananias and Sapphira, when it pleased God to attest the apostolic authority of retaining sins, by enabling Peter to strike both the offenders withi prosent death: (P) and from the case of the incestuous Corinthian, (9) whom

St. Paul delivered to Satan, excluded from the Church of Christ, from thie crime of incest, and afterwards received again to communion upon repentance. Ardithis.pawer was not confined to the apostles, but was to be continued 10 their successors: We find it was committed to Timothy and Titus, whom St. Paul set over the Churches of Ephesus and Crete. For he writes thus to Tinothy: Against an Elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses; (r) and if he had power to receive accusations and hear witnesses, he must have had authority to pas some censure upon them, if they were found guilty. And the same apostlewrites thus to Titus: A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject. (s), The like, power had the angels of the seven Churches in the Revelation. For the Bishop of Pergamus was severely reproved for having the Nicolaitans in his communion, (t) and the Bishop of Thyatira for suffering that woman Jezebel. rv). Which mania festly implies, they had authority to exclude them from the Church, for others wise they could not have been blamed for permitting them to remain in it.

Ninthly, Lastly, another right of the Clergy is that of deinanding a competent maintenance from the people committed to their charge. It is certain that God has an absolute right to dispose of all we have in the world; and since it has appeared, that he has appointed an order of men to attend continually on his worship and service, we cannot doubt but that he requires so much of our worldly substanceto beseta part for their support, as may enable them to discharge the duties of their function, and such as may express the just respect which is borne to their office and character. Our Lord himself, with his retinue of Apostles and Disciples, was maintained by charitable contributions ; for we read that many ministered unto him of their substance. (u). When he sent forth his Apostles to preach, he gave them this instruction, Procide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass, in your purses, for the workman is worthy of his meat. (w) Whence it is manifest, that our Lord accounted it the duty of those to whom the Gospel was preached, to give a competent maintenance to them that preached it. When the apostle St. Paul puts the Thessalonians in mind, that he had maintained himself, he at the same time asserts his right to require maintenance of them: Not (says he) because we have not power. (x) And to the-Corinthians he says, That as they who wait at the altar, are partakers with the altar; even so hath the Lord ordained, that they who preach the Gospely should live of the Gospet: (Ý) Where it is plain, that the Ministers of the Gospel have authority to require a competent maintenance from the people committed to their care; and as the privileges of the Gospel certainly are not less than those of the . law, and the Apostle has inferred, that the Ministers of Christ ought to lite of the Gospel, because the Jewish priests lived of the alp tar, we may reasonably conclude, that their maintenance must not be less in proportion than that which the Jewish priests enjoyed.

IV. As it appears that the Church is a complete society, wherein some govern, and others are governed, the next thing to be determined is, What ober dience is due from the private members of this society to their governors :That all lay-christians do owe some obedience to their spiritual rulers, is evident from our Lord's command to hear the Church, (z) and the injunction of the Apostle, Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls, as they that must give an account. (á) The Church which we are to hear, is to be known from the foregoing description of it; (0) Mat. xviii. 15, 16. 17, (p) Acts y. 12. (9) 1 Cor. v. 1. (r) 1 Tim. v. 19. (6): Tit. iii. 10. (t) Rev. ii. 15, 16. (v) Rev. ii. 20. (u) Luke viii. 2, 3, (w) Mat. X. 9, 10. (x) 2 Thess. iii. 8. (y) 1 Cor. ix. 6. (z) Mat .xviii. 17

(a) Heb. xiii. 17.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

all things that are in the world may be divided into good, bad, and indifferent. 22

Questions and Answers, and the ralers to whom we are to yield obedience, and submit ourselves, are they who derive their commission by an uninterrupted succession from Chris and his Apostles. Wherein this obedience to our fulers consists, and what are the limits of it, we may learn from the nature and extent of their

power;

for so far as they have a right to command, so far are we bound to obey. Now The good oblige by their own nature, and the command of God; in these things the authority of our governors is of no force ; for whatever is enjoined by the positive command of God, we are bound to do, whether they require it or not. The evil are by the same forbidden, and we are obliged not to obey our governors, if they should command them. So that it is the indifferent only whereto their authority reaches ; and the things which are indifferent in themselves are all those which relate to the outward peace and order of the Church ; which are not enjoined by the express word of God, but yet are in no respect contrary to it, in no wise forbidden by it. This authority was exercised by the Governors of the Church from the beginning (as hath beeni shown,) and it undoubtedly belongs to them ; for as they are evidently invested with some spiritual authority, and they can command in nothing at all if not in indifferent things, in all such things as are indifferent they certainly have a-right to command. And as is their authority, such is to be our submission, So that the obedience we owe to our spiritual governors consists in observing all their injunctions, that are contained within these bounds of their commission; in submitting to that discipline, which they shall inflict, either to recover us from a state of folly, or to preserve us from falling into it ; in attending their public administrations at such times and places as they shall appoint, and upon such occasions as they shall judge proper, to increase our piety and devotion ; and in submitting to such regulations as they shall think conducive towards the.edifying of the body of Christ. This is our duty ; for things which are indifferent in their nature, when commanded by lawful authority, are no longer inditferent to us, but become necessary in their use; and in disobeying them that have the rule over us, we disobey God, who has commanded us to be subject for conscience sake ; and therefore all this we are to do, from a sense of that right which they have to command, intrusted to them by God our Saviour, and of that great penalty to which we are liable by our contempt; for he that despiseth them, despiseth him that sent them.

SOME ECCLESIASTICAL Terms EXPLAINED, BY WAY OF QUESTION

AND ANSWER, Continued from No. 1st, page 6. Q. Why is the Lord's day called Sunday, which was so called by the Heathens ?

A, The Heathens gave it that name from the sun in the firmament: but Christians use it to denote the rising of the Sun of righeousness out of the grave.

Q. What is Christmas-Day. ?
A. The day of our blessed Saviour's birth.
Q. What is Innocents day ?

A. The day on which we call to mind the slaughter of the infants of Bethlehem by King Herod, who intended hereby to have stain our blessed Lord in his infancy.

Why is the time of our Saviour's circumcision made a feast of the Church? A. To bless God that he hath freed us from the burthensome, and painful ceremonies of the law of Moses : and to beg' of God the circumcision of the Spirit, in the mortification of our worldly and carnal lusts.

Q. Why do the Church observe the twelve Holy-Days of Christmas in preference to any other number of days ?

d. Because there are always twelve days from Christinas to the feast of the Epiphany. Q. What is the Epiphany ?

À. The word Epiphany is derived from the Greek Epiphaneia appearance. It is a festival of the Church, celebrated on the twelfth day after Christmas, In commemoration of our Saviour's being manifested to the Gentile world, by be appearance of a uniraculous star.

Q.

« ZurückWeiter »