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truth, he set apart the whole tribe of Levi to minister in holy things, investing with the high office of the priesthood Aaron and his sons. And our blessed Lord, when founding his Church, against which the gates of hell will never prevail, ordained his Apostles to bear chief authority; and in addition to them appointed other seventy also, to teach and preach the Gospel of salvation. And now that his religion is established in great part of the known world, there does not appear to be less occasion for a distinct order of men to preach the Gospel to the people; to assist them in the interpretation of the Scriptures; to lead and direct public.wor. ship; and, above all, to admit members into the Church by Baptism; and after they are thus admitted to administer to them spiritual sustenance in the Lord's Supper: to act, in short, “ as ministers of Christ, and “ stewards of the mysterieş of God."
But who are they who are to be considered as invested with this sacred character? Who are to be regarded as the ministers and priests of the Christian dispensation? Can we suppose that any man, who, without any authority but his own, sets
up himself as a preacher of the Gospel, is to be regarded as the minister of Christ? When Jeroboam caused the fatal schism in the Church of the Jews, and made priests of the lowest of the people“, were they to be regarded in the same lightwith the priests of God's appointment? And now, when any man, actuated whether by zeal, or by personal vanity, or by any other motives, without any regular ordination, constitutes himself a preacher and teacher, is he immediately to be regarded as a minister of Christ, and steward of the mysteries of God? Has any one, who chooses, power to administer the sacraments, and to guide the public devotions of the people? I am persuaded, that you all acknowledge the force of the apostolical rule; “ No man -“ taketh this honour unto himself but he
" that is called of God, as was Aaron." Many of the self-constituted teachers are, I doubt not, men of sincere piety; but piety alone does not give them a right to take upon them this holy office. Personal piety and excellent qualifications of every description were in our Saviour in the
* 1 Kings xii. 31. Heb. v. 4.
highest degree ; for in him was no spot of sin, and “ the Father gave not the Spirit “ by measure unto him:" but even he did not enter upon his ministry until he was outwardly appointed to it. “ Christ glo“ rified not himself to be made a high “ priest; but he that said unto him, Thou “ art my Son, this day have I begotten “ thee.” Men may believe that they have an inward call, but that does not give them a right to exercise the office of the priesthood, unless it be accompanied either by the power of working miracles, or by an outward appointment and ordination. The power of working miracles has long since ceased to be conferred on men, An outward appointment or ordination appears then to be necessary to constitute a minister of Christ, an ambassador and messenger of God; “for how shall they preach except 56 they be sent? The question then is, What kind of appointment is valid ?' The Church of England maintains, that ordination by bishops is most agreeable to the practice of the Apostles, and to that of the Churches which they established, and that
- Heb. v. 5. in * Rom. x. 15.
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 6 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 rea56 son of death.” This promise of Christ's
* John XX. 21, 23. Matt. xxviii. 20.
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 6 he that despiseth me despiseth him that 6 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. " As my 6. 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 he gave 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.