« AnteriorContinuar »
by means of such ordination, the office of the priesthood has been delivered down in succession from the times of the Apostles, indeed from Christ himself.
Let me request your attention to the following considerations.
When our Lord gave his commission to the Apostles, he said, “ As my Father hath sent “me, even so send I you; and he breathed “ on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy “ Ghost: Whosesoever sins ye remit, they “ are remitted unto them, and whosesoever “ sins ye retain, they are retained." The particular office on which they were sent by him was, to preach the Gospel to all people; to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to administer the Eucharist. Our Saviour adds, “ And “lo I am with you always, even to the end “ of the world?.". Does not this promise of our Lord imply the necessity of a continued succession in the ministry? The Apostles themselves in the course of nature could not very long survive their divine Master; “they were not suffered to continue by rea" son of death.” This promise of Christ's John XX. 21, 23.
Matt. xxviii, 20,
66 As my
presence therefore was made, not to them alone, but to them and their successors in the ministry to the end of time. So again; “ he that despiseth you despiseth me, and “ he that despiseth me despiseth him that 66 sent mes.” This is not to be understood of the Apostles alone, but also of their successors in after-ages.
Let us now consider in what manner the succession was continued. “ Father hath sent me," says our Lord, “even so send I you.” The power which he himself had to send labourers into the vineyard, that power hegave to his Apostles. And as Christ appointed them, even so they appointed or ordained other faithful men, to direct and govern the Churches which they founded, and also to ordain men to the work of the ministry. Thus we find St. Paul, who had himself in the exercise of his apostleship ordained elders in every city, left Timothy at Ephesus, and Titus in Crete, with powers similar to those exercised by bishops now.
We dispute not about the precise meaning of the words elder, (or presbyter,) or
& Luke x. 16.
bishop, as they occur in the Epistles ad. dressed to these holy men. What we maintain from these Epistles is, that Timothy and Titus received from St. Paul the office and power of a bishop; the power to ordain, and to bear spiritual authority in the Church of Christ. Timothy, for instance, « is admonished to lay hands suddenly on « no man; therefore, he had power to or66 dain; and he is likewise admonished not " to receive an accusation against an elder « or presbyter but before two or three wit“ nesses; therefore he had a judicial au“ thority over that order. Directions are
given with respect to the deacons of the 6 same Church; therefore, in the first “ Church of the Ephesians there was a 6 bishop, with elders, (or presbyters,) and 6 deacons under him b."
From the early history of the Church, and from the writings of the primitive fathers, we find that the same manner of ora dination generally prevailed immediately after the times of the Apostles: and it seems to be clear, that for fifteen hundred years after Christ, with only one or two accidental
Jones's Essay on the Church.
and trifling exceptions, there was no Christian Church without a bishop, and that holy orders have been handed down by episcopal ordination to the present time.
If however the ministers of the Church of England are well and rightly ordained, then they are ministers of Christ, and the various passages in the New Testament, relating to the ministers of Christ, are applicable to the clergy of our Church. And if this be so, they not only may, but ought to say to the people committed to their spiritual care, “Let a man so account of us, as 6 of the ministers of Christ, and stewards • of the mysteries of God;" they may and ought to say, “ Obey them that have spiri“tual rule over you, and submit yourselves, " for they watch for your souls as they that “ must give account:they then have a right, though with all humility and selfabasement, to apply to themselves the words of Christ, “ I am with you always, even unto “the end of the world : he that despiseth
you despiseth me, and he that despiseth “ me despiseth him that sent me." As men, in our personal character and deportment, we can hardly be too humble. The
sense of the nature of our office, and of the awful responsibility attached to it, increase this feeling of self-abasement, and induce us to exclaim, Lord, who is sufficient for these things ! But still we must not suffer an affected humility to prevent us from “ magnifying our office," from asserting its dignity, its claim to attention and respect.
My friends, let me. beg of you to consider well what has been said. I speak not now of those who have been brought up as dissenters from their youth ; but I address you as members of the Church of England, that Church which takes care of you from the cradle to the grave;
which baptizes you in infancy; which confirms you when arrived at years of discretion; which unites husband and wife in wedlock; which ministers to you in sickness; and which attends you with prayers and holy offices to the mansions of the dead. As such you were long since taught to submit in spiritual things to your spiritual pastor--the clergyman of the parish in which you reside and must: recollect, that the sacred office which he bears has a claim to your respecton the authority of Christ himself. The obedi