Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

o late.

pus, or whoever were the writers of the acts of his martyrdom. * They attended him on his journey from Antioch to Rome, at which

time, they inform us that the churches and cities of Asia honoured the holy man by their bishops, presbyters, and deacons. This deserves full credit, as the authors were eye-witnesses of what they re

This and the testimonies from Ignatius, are of immense • weight. Had you any thing to counterbalance them, I should cer

tainly renounce episcopacy as a divine institution, and retain it merely as the most prudential mode of government.

We shall now, Sir, step into the apostolic age ; and after considering a passage or two, in an epistle of Clemens, bishop of Rome, and comparing the evidence for episcopacy, with that for the canon of scripture, we shall give the most serious attention to the holy scrititures, and then, after some miscellaneous observations, close this important controversy.

But this letter is sufficiently extended. I shall therefore conclude it with a summary of what has been said. I have shewn from the writings of several learned presbyterians, that they allow the Church to have been every where episcopal, in the middle of the 2nd century, and some of them allow it to have been so, even in the apostolic age. It follows then, that episcopacy was either of apostolic institution, or that a change of government took place soon after the death of the apostles. I do think, that I have demonstrated from the well known principles of human nature, and from the circumstances of the Church at that uime, that no such change could have taken place; and from the silence of all antiquity, which affords a strong presumption, and the positive testimonies of the ancient

fathers to the apostolic origin of episcopacy, to a moral certainty, I have demonstrated that no such change did take place. The legitimate inference then is, that episcopacy is of apostolic institution. But I shall not rest the matter here, (although I think I might do it with great safety) but proceed upward, step by step, to the great source of sacerdotal authority.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

FOR THE CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINB.

THOUGHTS ON THE CREATION OF THE WORLD. in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth....Gen. i. 1.

GRAND exploits should be recorded by capable historians; and the more important the subject, the more perfect ought to be the description. It is therefore an unspeakable satisfaction to all those who meditate upon the works or revelation of God, that the great Architect of heaven and earth, has vouchsafed to give an account of his own labours; that infinite wisdom has engaged in discribing the works of infinite power. The creation of the world is one of the most stupendous exertions of power and skill, which more, tals have beheld ; and the history of it, dictated by the spirit of God, is replete with majesty of thought and expression, which can be found in no other book. And so sensible have learned men been of

Vv

ITI SIKIa berrible death rather

I be secural for you when LIISI I See such manner as the

BTS cei testimony to episcoTHIS SITER to be in his senses, is III IX seis he truth, virtuous and

SE Tezcaps I am wrong in the ZIE I CESSES of scripture; nay, at hanc esse ad just principles of ISI1* xoa 23 al being. Mine is ZITH TXISTE.T; Lis testimony is

I 33 20, or a kaave, he could Stras VIIx:ke Apostles, under 1:55:31: he heard with his ID: U te Larcourse to them when

. Her he might therefore have 3:2r. Meksa a any doubt about it,

• De masse funds of the presbytery," Tai: bez utterly inconsistent

T5.2. ce se cier of us, must be

TISST will be at no loss to S z les se med suppose) that would

222 mei sa isi candid reflection SEDspect.

St. Cort noce of determining, -505092e. or Dot; I mean, con

T.23** to episcopacy. You ITT:ssere genuineness, only in the

EIT:1::--Certa; for they will, with---KIxpats. This is arbitrary

is a so good as to read these in a wh relate to the govern

get but cisjointed senXXX. Ios. Even the opinion, :=722aces ascribed to him, (un

SIS SUSRs. But on this subject, ET ITTe are in full posses23:1-IVe ci

ciszz, and you can try 12vroere. I." Nazxraries Philo and Agatho

ng as the sessible Dr. Chandler.

3 pun mengons, either their credit **** razne bole, sophistically evaded: siere e utenside of the writings, and perlians

zed And when an obstinate op * me fustest,ce spleen sad malignity

* 23 same case of the holy bible, but that The AR Du sme to their regutation Taras Sie mic de copoetica St Ign

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

pus, or whoever were the writers of the acts of his martyrdom. They attended him on his journey from Antioch to Rome, at which time, they inform us that the churches and cities of Asia honoured the holy man by their bishops, presbyters, and deacons. This deserves full credit

, as the authors were eye-witnesses of what they rekate. This and the testimonies from Ignatius, are of immense weight. Had you any thing to counterbalance them, I should certainly renounce episcopacy as a divine institution, and retain it merely as the most prudential mode of government.

We shall now, Sir, step into the apostolic age ; and after considering a passage or two, in an epistle of Clemens, bishop of Rome, and comparing the evidence for episcopacy, with that for the canon of scripture, we shall give the most serious attention to the holy scritte tures, and then, after some miscellaneous observations, close this important controversy.

But this letter is sufficiently extended. I shall therefore conclude it with a summary of what has been said. I have shewn from the writings of several learned presbyterians, that they allow the Church to have been every where episcopal, in the middle of the 2nd century, and some of them allow it to have been so, even in the apostolic age. It follows then, that episcopacy was either of apostolic institution, or that a change of government took place soon after the death of the apostles. I do think, that I have demonstrated from the well known principles of human nature, and from the circumstances of the Church at that time, that no such change could have taken place; and from the silence of all antiquity, which affords a strong presumption, and the positive testimonies of the ancient

fathers to the apostolic origin of episcopacy, to a moral certainty, I have demonstrated that no such change did take place. The legitimate inference then is, that episcopacy is of apostolic institution. But I shall not rest the matter here, (although I think I might do it with great safety) but proceed upward, step by step, to the great source of sacerdotal authority.

[graphic]

this truth, that it has been usual for masters of eloquence to cite the history of the creation, as the model of fine writing, and the most perfect specimen of sublime composition. The language impresses upon the mind a great degree of that awe and veneration which would naturally result from witnessing the scene it describes. The simple creation of the world, however, or the single chapter in which it is recorded, presents to a cursory observer, but a small part of the beauty and majesty which the subject involves. Much more is implied in them both, than is openly expressed. To comprehend the harmony of parts, the justness of proportion and the convenience of arangement, throughout the structure of the world, it is necessary to take into view the purpose for which it was made, and the nature of the beings who were to possess it. And the same observations should be made in reference to the book of Revelation ; a single portion of which, like a disjointed part of a complicated machine, might seem useless and unintelligible alone, but discovers its importance and propriety on being taken into connexion with the whole.

The designof the creation, so far as can be gathered from the conformation of the earth, the subsequent laws and regulations by which it has been governed, seems to have been for the habitation of intelligent beings; to exercise their various affections, and to educate and train them to the use of nobler faculties, and a more exalted sphere of action. Revelation has assured us of the same thing; t is the business of meditation and philosophy to see how far this de. sign has been answered. That one object of creation was the trial of men's affections, and the exercise of their faculties, appears from the temptation to sin, which was placed in view of the first pair, and the severe menace of punishment in case of transgression.

To shew that they were not to live in a state of inactivity neither in mind or body, they were placed in the happy garden, to dress and 10 Keep it. Even in that state which we are apt to imagine the summit of felicity, they were not without their trials and temptations, their weaknesses and their wants : An evident proof that they were designed for probation, before they were placed in their eternal mansion. Had they indeed been originally created fit inhabitants of heaven, no good reason can be assigned, why they were not placed there at first, rather than in a station so much inferior ; and their subsequent transgression shews the impropriety of their having been exposed to still greater crimes and severer penalties. After the fall and degeneracy of our race, the mode of their probation was reduced to a level with their capacities, and proportioned in some degree to the guilt and depravity of their nature. To affect their gross and sordid passions, the earth was cursed with ruggedness and sterility. The land must now be laboured with patient industry, and watered with the sweat of fatigue and sorrow, in order to extort an unwilling plant, or procure a temporary relief from want. Those delicious fiuits which once sprang spontaneously from a generous soil, have now retired beneath the covert of the earth ; and even when a laborious process has brought them to the light, they are curbittered in tasie and degenerated from their former salubrity. The objects around us, and the whole face of nature, socis to have

changed their appearance, according to the fallen condition of 'man. The elements are commissioned alternately to profit and annoy us; now allaying our fears, and again punishing our temerity. Those charming scenes which once environed the abode of innocence, and which attracted the admiration and inspired the songs of angels, have given place to barren desarts and a deadly atmosphere : Our means of life and dearest enjoyments are mingled with pestiferous ingredients ; the poisonous serpent lurks beneath the fairest flower, and our choicest viands contain the seeds of death. Satan too has changed his mode of temptation in accommodation to our vitiated desires. Refined enjoyments and a tree of knowledge, to fallen man, have lost their charms; hence he allures them with the gratification of depraved affections and the vilest passions. All parts of creation both in their primeval perfection, and subsequent degeneracy, hence appear admirably calculated to prove the virtue and felicity of mankind.

Another motive for the creation of the world, in so much beauty and grandeur, seems founded in a desire to excite in every intelligent creature, a knowledge and veneration of the all-wise and powerful Creator. The fabric ofthe earth is a monument of the goodness, the wisdom and the power of God. His goodness is eminently displayed in the profusion of blessings which he has extended to every living thing upon the earth ; providing food and raiment and every means of life for all his creatures, according to their several wants; and dispensing his gifts more liberally to those, which have the least ability to provide for themselves. And it is worthy of remark, that those helpless animals, which nature has clothed, are accommodated with a variety of dress, according to the vicissitude of seasons, and difference of climate. They are clad in a cool and light garb, when the severities of heat require it, which is exchanged for one more warm and impervious to resist the exiremity of frost. Their proper food chiefly abounds in those parts where it is otherwise convenient for them to live, and they are endowed with suitable arms to procure their sustenance or resist an assault. The instinct or natural sagacity of animals, is another blessing and phenomenon, which defies all investigation, and is of too great extent to be brought into discussion on this occasion. Sufficient that their knowledge and faculties are equal to their wants, and that no property is given them in vain.

The mysterious construction of the human body, exhibits the wisdom and munificence of our Creator. We have not a limb, not a bone, not a joint without its use. Justly therefore has the Psalmist exclaimed, we are fourfully and wanderfully made. And considering the abundant supplies of sustenance provided for our use, we cannot reject the inference of the Apostle, that the very heathen ought to know and praise God for the general display of his benevolence; blcause he has not left himself without witness ; in that he does us good and gives us rain from heaven, and fruitful season8, filling our hearts with food and gladness ; or with the poetic and beautiful expression of the Psalmist, Thou openest thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing." And although the beauty and grandeur of creation may have degenerated along with the creatures for whose use it

« ZurückWeiter »