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but still retaining an invigorating principle, which in God's time shall again produce life and animation.
Are you perplexed with doubts and difficulties on this subject, because you cannot discern precisely the manner how it is to come to pass? Do you hesitate in believing this great and enlivening truth, because it is not in all points level to your limited understanding? because you cannot see as a God of infinite perfections ? Then go and survey yonder field, into which has been cast the winter seed. Consider that seed before it was sown ; how dry, lifeless, and to all appearance as void of any vegetative principle as the grain of sand under your feet. Behold it already frozen into the ciod of the valley, and soon going to be covered deep in the driven snow, then drenched by the torrents of rain that will descend when the wintry skies shall dissolve in the milder breeze of spring, and the icy fetters of the soil shall be unbound; what will then be the consequence you know. The tender blade will come forth, then the stalk, and soon the ear will follow. But how do you know all this? Not certainly by being able to explain the manner of it, but because you have been taught it by experience; because you have time and again seen it come to pass ; not because you can here dive into the wonder-working power of God, any farther than he has seen fit to unfold himself to your view; but the siinple fact is all you know. The seed does contain a germinating principle which at the time appointed ·by the wise author of nature shoots and grows, and decorates the
field in waving beauty. From a small particle of something, we know not what, arises a rich harvest to crowrr our board, and nourish our decaying bodies. The field now in appearance altogether barren and unfruitful, does contain embosomed this wonderful germ of life, which in time will unfold itself, and to our very great admiration, if it were not an event so common. Had we not seen it frequently repeated, we could form no conception that it would come to pass; and familiar as it is to observation, we know not how it is performed ; it defies.the penetration and sagacity of the most acute en. quirers into natural things; it is beyond the reach of human skill to explain.
Why then should we doubt in a case so similar? Why hesitate because difficulties mect our minds? That they are difficulties arising from our own want of capacity, and not from the nature of the thing we may, nay, we must see by considering the case of vegetation, to which we are now referring for illustration. Be it then, that by the changes which all things on and near the surface of the earth are undergoing, the mouldering dust of many human bodies is dis. persed to the four winds, yet the germ of reanimation may remain. It certainly does remain, to be again unfolded when God shall so ordain. In the scriptures of truth, however, we are no where required to believe that the resurrection body will be the same, or consist of just the same particles of matter as composed the one . which is laid in the grave at death. Nay, the expressions used by the Apostle imply that it will be something different ; for he says, thou sowest not that boily that shall be. And again, it is sown a 70tural body, it is raised a spiritual body. It is enough that we beliere
the principle of animation remains which shall be quickened into a real, though spiritual body in the last great day, by the mighty power of God who worketh all things, who maketh the seed to grow, and who with the same ease can raise our vile body, and make it pertake of his own glorious perfections of spirituality and incorruptibility, that it may flourish in immortal and unfading bliss.
This doctrine, so consoling to the human heart, especially in the day of calamity, on a bed of sickness, and when death approaches, must be fondly cherished by every considerate person. Every argument therefore that can illustrate its nature, or strengthen and confirin our faith in its truth and certainty should be eagerly embraced and thoroughly considered. Read then in every sown field an argument for your consolation. Those fields are now covered, or soon will be in the grave of winter; but look when spring shall return, and how surprising will be the change. With what beauty and ma;esty will they then be adorned ! So shall it be in the spring time of · the resurrection. Not to take notice of instruction thus forced upon our observation would be the heighth of folly. Not to be thankful that God hath thus impressed on the works of his hands, in this material world, an argument of our future destination, would be a mark of supreme stupidity as well as ingratitude.
Are these things so? Certainly they are. Art thou then called to behold a fellow mortal laid in the dust, consider the body as sown for the resurrection, and not as a mere lump of inanimate matter that cannot be quickened into new life. Banish infidel doubts and fears, and sorrow not for those whoare asleen, even as others who have no hofte: but be comforted concerning them, knowing they are destined to an eternal existence far beyond this fieeting scene which has now closed over them, and for a time laid them in night and silence. He who cannot Ik hath assured us that the time is coming in which this corruptable shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall be clothed upon with immortality, and death shall be swallowed up of victory. The Lord shall descend with all his mighty angels, and the shout of añ host : The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall awake : They shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and come forth of their graves; the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened ; and the whole assembled universe shall see and know that God reignis and will do all his pleasure : That by his power the mouldering body of man shall have triumphed orer death, and escaped his
Wherefore comfort ye one another with these words. While the cold blasts of winter are gathering strength, and roaring around your dwelling: While the air is growing more and more comfortless and piercing without; when the business and toils of the day are over, and you are scated by your cheerful fire-side, muse in silent admiration on these great and glorious truths that have been brought to light by the Son o 1 God; or talk of them with your family and friends. Waste not the long evenings in dozing and idleness. Spend them not in thinking or talking of the present world's unsubstantial goods; or what is worse, in frivolous pastime, or wanton and unliallowed pleasures. A time so suited to seriousness and solemnity of thought should some of it, at least, be dedicated to the
momentous concerns of eternity. This life is short enough for the accomplishment of so great a work as that of preparing for another. No part of it should then be thrown away which may be appropriated to this end. We should seize every opportunity that presents, every minute that can be spared from other avocations to think and meditate upon our eternal existence. When we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up, it should be upon our minds. If we would thus do, at every turn of thought we should be ready to bless our God that our lot has been cast where the light of the gospel shines, by which we are assured that we are not brutes to perish everlastingly; but, if we are not wanting in duty to ourselves, to our immortal nature, by surviving the grave, we shall Aourish in eternal youth, when times and seasons shall be no more.
A SERIES OF LETTERS, Addressed to the Author of the “ MISCELLANIES,” published in the
year 1805, in the Albany Centinel.
LETTER III. IN my last, I proposed to consider in the first place, a passage or two in one of the epistles of Clemens.
Clemens, it is well known, was bishop of Rome. This apostolical man, the companion of St. Paul, has, in his undoubted epistle to the Corinthians, the following passage. “ For the chief priest has his proper services; and to the priests their proper place is appointed, and to the Levites appertain their proper ministers, and the layman is confined within the bounds of what is commanded to laymen."*
In a comparison preceding this quotation, Clemens inculcates upon the Corinthians, obedience to their spiritual rulers, exhorting each rank to keep within its clue limits, upon the same principles of expediency and necessity; which are essential to the regularity and good order of an army. But in the passage under debate, he inculcates the same subordination and obedience, upon a nobler principle ; that of duty to the Lord. The chief priest, [in the Christian Church, for it is of that he is speaking] has his proper services; and to the priests, their proper place is appointed, [by the Lord) and to the Levilcs appertain their proper ministries, [made proper to them by the same authority,) and the layman is confined within the bounds of what is commanded [by Jesus Christ] to laymen.”
This is the plain, easy, and natural interpretation of the whole passage ; and it speaks home to the point.
This testimony from a bishop, who was contemporary with the Apostles, is so decisive, that it was found necessary to fancy something by way of a set off to it. Accordingly, another passage is produced from the same author, to show that there were but two orders in the Church, in the apostolic age. “The Apostles went abroad
* Ed. Col. p. 169.
publishing that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preach ing throughout countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits of their conversions to be bishops and deacons, over such as should after. wards believe, having first proved them by the spirit.” From this passage you infer, that there were but two orders in the Church in the time of Clemens ; but we think it proves that there were three ; the Apostles, who were the ordainers; the bishops or presbyters, (the title of bishop being not yet appropriated to the first order) and the deacons. Now the Apostles either were, or were not superior to the bishops, or presbyters; if they were, then you must necessarily admit three orders ; if they were not, then the apostolic office and that of a presbyter are the same; and consequently if your favourite notion be true, that the former was to cease with the lives of the Apostles, the office of presbyter also ceased, and then the Church of Christ has no existence ; for with the order of piesbyters, all sacerdotal authority expired. Take, Sir, which side of the alternative you please.
We now see what becomes of your assertion, that Clemens Ronanus mentions only two orders in the Church. But if Clemens will not answer your purpose, perhaps Polycarp will; he also, you tell us, mentions but two orders.
Polycarp, by all antiquity, is called bishop of Smyrna; à city which contained a great number of Christians, and of course, a great number of congregations, over which, with all their clergy, Polycarp presided, if history is to be credited. The very introduction to the epistle marks the superior character of the writer, Polycarp, and the presbyters that are with him, to the Church of God which is at Philippi."* These circumstances are certainly not in your favour; their aspect is more favourable to episcopacy than to pariiy. But perhaps you will say, “this is not material; the evidence in our favour arises from Polycarp's total silence about the bishop of the church of Philippi; for in the epistle he mentions but two orders, presbyters and deacons ; we therefore infer that, there could have been no bishop over that Church.” Then your inference is mere presumption. Reason, Sir, (if it can be called reasoning) in the same way in the following instance. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage; wrote letters to the presbyters of the Church of Rome, without taking notice of any ecclesiastical superior over that Church; would you . thence infer, that the Church of Rome was not episcopal? Perhaps you will answer, “ No, I would not; because we know from history, that the bishop was dead, and that the Church remained a long time without a suferior." Well, Sir, we know also from histoły, that the
If the author of this epist!e had not been distinguished by a superior dig. hity of office, we could hardly suppose it consistent with his inodesty and selfdenial, to have named himself only, and made no mention of his brethren, but by the general name of presbyters ; a circumstance, which obliged even Blondel to make the following remark.-"Id tamen in S. Martyris epistola pecu. liare apparet, quod eam privatim sudet presbyterorum nomine ad Philippensium fraternitatem dedit, ac sibi quandam supra presbyteros uperocheen reservasse videtur, ut jam tum in Episcopali apice constitutum reliquos Smyrnensium presbyteros gradu superasse conjicere liceat."...Apol. p. 14. Skinner's defence,
church of Philippi was episcopal. St. Paul, styles Epaphroditus the apostle of the Philippians. But I suppose it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and companion in labour, and fellow soldier, but your apostle. Accordingly, Jerome observes, " By degrees, in process of time, others were ordained apostles by those whom our Lord had chosen, as that passage to the Philippians shews,” &c.f [By the way, this is the man, “whose words by every fair 'construcuon, militate against episcopacy."] And Theodoret upon the place gives this reason, why Epaphroditus is called the apostle of the Philippians. “ He was entrusted with the episcopal government as being their bishop."
Thus we have proof from scripture and antiquity, that the Church of Philippi was, like all other Churches, of which we have any account, episcopal in the apostolic age. Of this Church, subsequently to that period, we have no accounts whatever. Neither Eusebius, nor Socrates, nor Sozomen, nor Theodoret, says a word about it. But to conclude from their silence, that a Church episcopally founded, did not continue to be episcopally governed, is assuming instead of proving. Men must be hard pushed indeed, when they can notice such shadows, and insist upon them as proofs of ministerial parity.
We have seen Sir, that the most learned adversaries of episcopacy have conceded, that shortly after the apostolic age, the Church was universally under the government of diocesan bishops. This concession must have proceeded from a conviction, that it would be fruitless to contest the point after that period. Fruitless indeed it would be! For it was, beyond all reasonable controversy, the opinion of all the subsequent writers, of all the provincial and general councils, that episcopacy was founded on apostolic institution. Now Sir, on this unanimous testimony of the primitive Church, I rest this assertion, that the evidence in favour of episcopacy is, to say the least, equal to that in favour of the canon of scripture.
I shall exhibit the evidence for the gospel according to St. Matthem, as it is stated by Dr. Campbell, and the same evidence will answer for the other Evangelists. I choose Dr. Campbell's statement in preference to any episcopalian's, for a reason too obvious to be mentioned, St. Matthew's Gospel.
Episcopacy. “ Barnabast the companion of Paul, Clemens of Rome clearly distin. Clemens of Rome, and Hermas, have guishes the three orders in the Church, clear references to some passages of and was himself a bishop, by the unani. this history—“ Observe, there is no mous voice of antiquity.$ name mentioned, and of course, no Barnabas has no reference to epis. ascription of this gospel to St. Matcopacy. Hermas but little. He sin. thew."
gles out Clemens from his presbyters, “Very early in the 2nd century, Ig- and directs his book to be sent to him. natius in those epistles which are gene. This seems to imply superiority; but rally acknowledged to be genuine, I lay no stress on it. [mark this] and Polycarp, of whom Ignatius has much more than allu.
* Phil. ï.25. 7 Gal. i. 19. It is generally agreed among the lear,ied, that it was not written by that Barnabas.
Blondel acknowledges this : Plerique Latinorum (Hieronymo teste) secundum post petrum fuisse putaverunt, ut ante annum Domini 65 ad Romanæ eccles. clayum sedisse necesse sit.