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the same spiritual design. The law was indeed a darker dispensation : It was but a shadow of good things to come, Heb. xx. 1 : there was a vail upon the face of Moses, 2. Cor. iii. 13, 14, an obscurtity upon the system he dispensed, so that it could not be clearly disa cerned in all its parts. But wherever this vail could be seen through, it discovered the Christian Church; and the shadow, which the Apostle mentions, was exactly conformable to the reality. The law of Moses exactly represented the gospel of Christ. This then be, ing the case, let us look at the Jewish priesthood. It always consisted of three orders, the High Priest, the Priests, and the Levites. There must of course be something in the Christian priesthood answerable to these three orders. If there is any such thing as a regular ministry in the Christian Church, scripture and reason tell us sufficiently plain, that it must be exactly after the pattern of that among the Jews. It must consist of the same number of ranks or orders, in due subordination to one another.
The force of this reasoning cannot be evaded, unless by declaring that the Christian ministry is not a distinct order of men from the Laity ; and that this part of the Jewish law corresponded with some other part of the Christian system. But it is impossible to find any other part of Christianity answering to the Jewish orders of priesthood; and it is hoped there are few Christians who would presume to say, that the ministers of Christ are not a different order of men, and invested with different powers from the LaityFor if that is the case ; if Christ's ministers are not invested with different powers from other Christians, then every house may be a Church, every man may be his own priest, may baptize his own family, and administer all the gospel ordinances for himself; which would completely destroy Christian fellowship, and produce such confusion as the followers of Christ can never wish to see in his Church. And in opposition to such a principle, we may say with St. Paul, 1. Cor. xii. 28 ; that God hath set some in the Church; first, Apostles; secondarily, Prophets ; thirdly, Teachers. We may also, well exclaim, as he does in the next verse ; are all Apostles? are all Prophets? are all Teachers? Are all Bishops? are all Priests ? are all Deacons ? As there is, therefore, a regular priesthood established under the gospel, as well as under the law, we must reasonably expect that it would be of the same form. The exact analogy of the two dispensations; the similarity there is between them, sufficiently teaches us, that this was to be expected. Let us then look into the New Testament, and see if we cannot find strong reasons for believing, that this plan and this form were really adopted.
It is acknowledged, that while our Lord himself was upon earth, his Church confined to Judea, and no ministers sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, he appointed no Bishops; but in his own person took the whole charge of ordaining and sending out the inferior clergy. Thus he chose twelve disciples, afterwards called Apostles, who were at that time appointed to the second order in the ministry : so that when he made converts to his religion, he himself baptized not, but committed that business to his disciples. And besides these, he also ordained other seventy, and sent them forth
by two and two, and gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and disease among the people. And thus far, he himself acted and performed the office of chief Bishop, and had two orders of ministers under him ; neither of which, as far as we can learn, had power to ordain ; though they had other ministerial powers. In this form the Church continued until after his death and resurrection. But then, in order to perpetuate a succession of ministers, he committed the power of ordination to his Apostles. For when he appeared unto them as they were assembled together; among other things, he said ; As my father hath sent MB, even so send I rou, &c. By this is not meant that he gave them all the power he possessed : for that would be impossible. But he gave them every power which related to the outward gove ernment and regulation of his Church; to be exercised by them in no other way than what was consistent with the gospel plan. As his Father sent him to rule and preside over the Church, and ordain ministers in it, so he, when he was about to leave the world, sent them to do the same. And as he had thus a right given him by his father, to confer the power of ordination ; so he gave them the right to confer it upon others, that it might go on from one generation to another, and always abide in them and their successors, as he promises directly after: Lo, I am with you, (with your commission or succession,) always, 'even unto the end of the world. This agrees with what St. Jerome, a few ages after the Apostles, declared to be the general opinion in his time : « There is no one but what knows that our Saviour did constitue Bishops in the Churches : for before he ascended into Heaven, he laid his hands upon the Apostles, and ordained them Bishops.”
And now, they being raised from their former rank, and invested with full ministerial authority, soon began to exercise it in the Church. When the multitude of the disciples was increased, seven Deacons were chosen, and were ordained by prayer, and laying on of the Apostles' hands; and the business of these Deacons, was not only to serve tables, but also to preach the gospel. For Stephen and Philip, who were of the number, went forth and preached and baptized. Still, however, they did not possess full apostolical power. Though they are said to have been full of the Holy Ghost, and of wisdom, and were even able to work miracles, yet still they were inferior in authority to the twelve Apostles. This is evident from the case of Philip's converting and baptizing the Samaritans; and the Apostles, Peter and John, being sent to confirm them. For the whole labour of sending these two Apostles, would have been useless, if Philip's ministerial power had been equal to theirs.
About this time the disciples were scattered abroad upon the persecution which arose about Stephen, and they went forth and preached the gospel in other countries. And in the Church which was now formed at Antioch, where the disciples were first called Christians, it is said, (Acts xiii. 1.) there were certain prophets and teachers; which shows that there were two orders of ministers, Presbyters and Deacons, already constituted, inferior to the Apostles. Also when the Apostles departed from Jerusalem, they left St. James to be
Bishop of that place, as we are frequently told in ecclesiastical his. tory, with a number of Presbyters or Elders, to assist him in the care of the Church. Thus we find, that in the time of the famine, which happened in the days of Claudius Cæsar, the Christians at Antioch, and probably at other places, contributed according to their ability, to the relief of the brethren in Judea, and sent it to the Elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. And whereas before this time there is no mention of any at Jerusalem besides Apostles and Brethren, except the Deacons in the 6th chap. of Acts ; yet after this the Elders are constantly spoken of, sometimes with the Apostles, when any number of them was there, and sometimes only with James their Bishop, and are represented as men of authority in this Church. Thus (Acts xv. 2.) the disciples came from Antioch to Jerusalem to consult with the Apostles and Elders, whether the converts from hea. thenism should be circumcised? These disciples are said, ver. 4th. to be received by the Apostles and Elders. And, ver. 6th. we are told that the Apostles and Elders came together to consider of this matter. When the controversy was decided, it pleased the Apostles and Elders, with the whole Church, to send chosen men to Antioch, ver, 22, wliere the same difference is made between the Elders and the Church, as between the Apostles and Elders. And the decree that was then passed was in the name of the Apostles, and Elders, and Brethren. In the next chap. ver. 4th. the same decree is mentioned as being ordained by the Apostles and Elders at Jerusalem, without any mention of the rest of the Church. Afterwards, Acts xxi. 18, when St. Paul, who had been preaching the gospel in foreign parts, returned to Jerusalem, being desirous to give an account what things God had wrought by his ministry among the Gentiles, the day following he went in unto James, all the Elders being present; James as the chief, the Elders as next under him, pastors or ministers of the Church in that place. Thus it is plain and evident, that within a short time after our Lord's ascension there were Deacons and Pres. byters in the Church at Jerusalem in subordination to St. James the Bishop.
[To be continued.]
ON CHRIST'S CURING THE BLIND MAN, When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay with the spit
lle, and anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay; and said unto him, go wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation sent.) He went his way therefore and washed, and came seeing.
WE have here an account of the manner in which our Lord performed a signal miracle, that of giving sight to one who was born blind. And when we consider the means he used, it may be asked, why did not he who could command all things, say the word, and it should be done, as he did on many other occasions? Why did not he whom the elements, the winds and storms obeyed, give commandment that his eyes might be opened, as he healed the centurian's
son? Why did he send the man a considerable distance for the recovery of his sight, when the means were at hand in his Almighty power? To these questions perhaps it might be deemed a sufficient answer to say that he who had all wisdom, as well as power, saw fit so to do, while at the same time there is another reason which may be assigned, which looks highly probable, if not certain ; it was in tended to instruct us in the nature of religion. Our Lord came into the world to heal not only bodily infirmities, but those also of the soul. And how did he go to work to effect these ends? Sometimes indeed he said the word, and men were made whole of whatsoever disease they had; but at other times he directed them to the use of means; and always we find him requiring some testimony of faith, on the part of those who were to be healed. Believest thou that I am able to do this? he often asked ; and when he directed them to the use of means, they were always such, as in themselves were not at all likely to effect the end proposed; as particularly in the case before us. What human probability was there, that clay made of spittle, and washing in water, however medicinal for common diseases, should open the eyes of one born blind? In such case then, they who obeyed his directions, did it from faith in his divine power, that whatever means he should direct them to, however unlikely in themselves, would be blessed to their cure. And just the same direction he gives for the cure of our spiritual infirmities; and also requires of us the same faith. He directs us to the use of means; and expects we will take his word ; that those means shall be effectual, if used in faith and sincerity. The transaction under consideration is a striking comment or explanation of the nature of religion; it points out in the clearest manner how we ought to have faith in the means of grace, and diligently apply to them. Had the blind man neglected, or refused to go to the pool and wash, on the pretence that he did not see how it could restore his sight, can we suppose he would have been restored? We surely cannot ; he would have wanted faith, without which we cannot be cured of our spiritual defects and infirmities. This transaction further illustrates, how it is God's will and pleasure to appoint means through which he will communicate his spiritual blessings. Our Lord could have given the man his sight by a word, but he chose to appoint means. So God could communicate to us all the influences of bis Holy Spirit, and renew within us his image defaced by sin, and that by the bare determination of his will. But he has chosen to say we shall make use of means on our part, and that in and through them he will communicate with our souls; and if we will not have faith in his appointments, we must not expect to be healed, but remain sick, and lame, and halt, and deaf, and dumb, and blind. This appears to be the nature of that religion taught us in the bible, and which is happily islustrated by the conduct of our Lord in the case before us.
Let us then attend more minutely to this idea, and enquire whether men in general act as though they were sufficiently aware that such is the nature of the religion they profess, by the confession of all we are diseased in ‘soul. Sin and depravity have produced divers and great disorders : We are sick and blind; nay, we are born blind; and
that no human means can restore us. Now God promises in the gospel to heal all these defects; but does he promise to do this by the mere word of his power, without any visible means on our part, or any testimony of our faith? No, certainly. He says, repent and be baptized ; and wash away your sins. He says, go wash in the pool of baptism, and ye shall return seeing; your sins shall be forgiven; and your moral turpitude cleansed. Not indeed that these efforts will take place without faith and sincerity on our part, any more than we can suppose the blind man would have come seeing, had he gone and washed without any faith in our Lord's word, that he should see, if he would obey. But he washed in faith, and by faith was he made whole. Instead of this we very often observe people doubting the efficacy of God's appointment, because they cannot see how it should have any effect. Particularly with regard to the baptizing of children, doubts and scruples are entertained, because we cannot see any immediate benefit to them, as is proposed. But our being able or unable to see how, is nothing to the point. If God has appointed this method of receiving fallen creatures into covenant mercies with him ; it is not our business to ask him why it does not become us to doubt his word. Faith is our part ; such a faith as shall produce obedience to his commands; such a faith as the blind man had, who went and did what he was ordered, and received the benefits of his faith. No one will surely dare to say, that God cannot make use of any means he pleases to effect his purposes; nor is it any way unjust in him to require of us the use of means, in order to be made partakers in his promises. The washing or sprinkling with water may as well cure spiritual infirmities as natural, if God has so appointed. That he did so appoint and so cure a natural infirmity, (faith operating with his appointment) we learn in the passage of scripture under view; and that he has so appointed to cure our spiritual infirmities, we learn in various parts of his word; where baptism is called regeneration, where it is said to be for the washing away of sins; and that so many as have been baptized into Christ, have frut on Christ. All this and much more that might be cited, surely must make it apparent, that it is intended to serve as a mean, by which God communicates spiritual blessings; and nothing but our own want of faith in the promises and power of God, can prevent its being effectual. [To be continued.]
*** * [The sentiments and opinions of celebrated men, whether deemed true or false, on the great points of Christian doctrine, must be interesting to most readers ; for this reason the following extract is inserted, which will be followed by others.]
JOHN CALVIN, ON ORIGINAL SIN, ............ “ AND to remove all ambiguity and uncertainty from the subject we treat of, let us define original sin. In doing which however, I do not propose to lay down any one of the many definitions to be found in scripture ; but shall offer such a one as seems to to me best to accord with the truth. Original sin then appears to be