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the hand of our presiding ministers. .... We sign our forehead with the cross whenever we set out and walk, go in or out, dress, gird on our sandals, bathe, eat, light our lamps, sit or lie down to rest, whatever we do. If you demand a scriptural rule for these and such like observances, we can give you none; all we say to you is, that tradition directs, usage sanctions, faith obeys. That reason justifies this tradition, usage, and faith, you will soon yourself see, or will easily learn from others; meanwhile you will do well to believe that there is a law to which obedience is due. I add one instance from the old dispensation. It is so usual among the Jewish females to veil their head that they are even known by it. I ask where the law is to be found; the Apostle's decision of course is not to the point. Now if I no where find a law, it follows that tradition introduced the custom, which afterwards was confirmed by the Apostle when he explained the reason of it. These instances are enough to show that a tradition, even though not in Scripture, still binds our conduct, if a continuous usage be preserved as the witness of it.” — Tertullian de Coron. § 3.
Upon this passage it may be observed, that Tertullian, flourishing A.D. 200, is on the one hand a very early witness for the existence of the general doctrine which it contains, while on the other he gives no sanction to the claims of those later customs on our acceptance which the Church of Rome upholds, but which cannot be clearly traced to primitive times.
Basil, whose work on the Holy Spirit, $ 66, shall next be cited, flourished in the middle of the fourth century, 150 years after Tertullian, and was of a very different school ; yet he will be found to be in exact agreement with him on the subject before us, viz. that the ritual of the Church was derived from the Apostles, and was based on religious principles and doctrines. He adds a reason for its not being given us in Scripture, which we may receive or reject as our judgment leads us, viz. that the rites were memorials of doctrines not intended for publication except among baptized Christians, whereas the Scriptures were open to all men. This at least is clear, that the ritual could scarcely have been given in detail in Scripture, without imparting to the Gospel the character of a burdensome ceremonial, and withdrawing our attention from its doctrines and precepts.
“Of those articles of doctrine and preaching, which are in the custody of the Church, some come to us in Scripture itself, some are conveyed to us by a continuous tradition in mystical depositories. Both have equal claims on our devotion, and are received by all, at least by all who are in any
respect Churchmen. For, should we attempt to supersede the usages which are not enjoined in Scripture as if unimportant, we should do most serious injury to Evangelical truth ; nay, reduce it to a bare name. To take an obvious instance; which Apostle has taught us in Scripture to sign believers with the cross ? Where does Scripture teach us to turn to the east in prayer ? Which of the saints has left us recorded in Scripture the words of invocation at the consecration of the bread of the Eucharist, and of the cup of blessing? Thus we are not content with what Apostle or Evangelist has left on record, but we add other rites before and after it, as important to the celebration of the mystery, receiving them from a teaching distinct from Scripture. Moreover, we bless the water of baptism, and the oil for anointing, and also the candidate for baptism himself. .... After the example of Moses, the Apostles and Fathers who modelled the Churches, were accustomed to lodge their sacred doctrine in mystic forms, as being secretly and silently conveyed. ... This is the reason why there is a tradition of observances independent of Scripture, lest doctrines, being exposed to the world, should be so familiar as to be despised..... We stand instead of kneeling at prayer on the Sunday; but all of us do not know the reason of this. .... Again, every time we kneel down and rise up, we show by our outward action, that sin has levelled us with the ground, and the loving mercy of our Creator has recalled us to heaven."
The conclusion to be drawn from all that has been said in these pages is this :—That rites and ordinances, far from being unmeaning, are in their nature capable of impressing our memories and imaginations with the great revealed verities; far from being superstitious, are expressly sanctioned in Scripture as to their principle, and delivered to the Church in their form by tradition. Further, that they varied in different countries, according to the respective founder of the Church in each. Thus, e. g., St. John and St. Philip are known to have adopted the Jewish rule for observing Easter-day; while other Apostles celebrated it always on a Sunday. Lastly, that, although the details of the early ritual varied in importance, and corrupt additions were made in the middle ages, yet that, as a whole, the Catholic ritual was a precious possession ; and if we, who have escaped from Popery, have lost not only the possession, but the sense of its value, it is a serious question whether we are not like men who recover from some grievous illness with the loss or injury of their sight or hearing ;-whether we are not like the Jews returned from captivity, who could never find the
rod of Aaron or the Ark of the Covenant, which, indeed, had ever been hid from the world, but then was removed from the Temple itself.
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THE PEOPLE'S INTEREST IN THEIR MINISTER'S
And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. (Matt. xvi. 19)
In these words our blessed Lord delivers to St. Peter, the same commission, as we find Him, in chapter xviii. of the same Gospel, giving to the rest of the apostles; the commission, power, and authority of chief shepherds, or pastors to the Church ;—the commission to be the keepers and guardians of the revealed word of God, and to have authority to teach the people out of it, what they must do to be saved, what course of faith and duty will admit them to heaven, through the sacrifice of Christ: and what will exclude them from all claim to the salvation which He has purchased for man. It is to this part of the commission that St. Paul alludes when he says, 66 As we have been allowed of God to be put in trust with the Gospel, so we speak not as pleasing men, but God which trieth our hearts, (1 Thess. ii. 4.); and again
we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us.” (2 Cor. v. 20.)
But something beyond the ministration of the Word, is committed to the care of the pastors, when our LORD speaks of " the keys of heaven,” viz. the ministration of the sacraments. The sacrament of Baptism, by which souls are admitted into covenant with God, and without which none can enter into the kingdom of heaven, (John iii. 5.); the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, by which the souls of the faithful are strengthened for their Lord's service, and brought into union with Him, (1 Cor. x. 16.) and, without which they are, ordinarily speaking, cat off
from union with Him, from communion with the faithful, and cast out of the Kingdom of Heaven. For it is expressly said,
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you." (John vi. 53.) St. Paul also tells us, that the ministration of these sacraments is entrusted to the pastors of the Church by this commission, when he says, “ Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (1 Cor. iv. 1.)
This commission, which you find in chapter xvi. given to St. Peter, and in chapter xviii. given to all the Apostles,—which is made mention of in St. Luke's Gospel, where our Saviour says to them, “ I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me,” (Luke xxii. 29.) and again in St. John's, where Christ says,
“ As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you,” (John xx. 21.);--this commission, I say, was left by the apostles to their successors, viz, those apostles or bishops whom they appointed to be their helpers in governing the churches during their life-time, and to occupy their place when dead. And it has been handed down, by the laying on of hands, from bishops to bishops, and will so continue to the end of time, according to that promise, whereby our LORD engaged to continue with them always in the exercise of it, when He said to the apostles, Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. xxviii. 20.) By virtue of this commission, each bishop stands in the place of an apostle of the Church ; and discharges the important trust reposed in him, either in his own person, or by the clergy whom he ordains and gifts with a share of his authority.
Herein is the difference between the ministry of such persons as have received this commission from the bishop, and of those who have not received it ;--that to the former, Christ has promised that His presence shall remain, “ Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world :" and that when they minister the Word and Sacraments (which are the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven), what they do upon earth, in His name, according to His will, shall be ratified and made good in heaven, " Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven." But to those