Obrazy na stronie

tolic Succession, and the necessity of Episcopal Consecration in this Apostolic line, to ensure the validity of Clerical Ministrations, i.e., to ensure the connection of “Inward Grace” with 6 Outward Sign” in Sacraments and Sacramentals.


(a) “From the Apostles' times there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church,Bishops, Priests, and Deacons,"—&c. (Ordinal Preface).

In other words, the Apostolic Succession is not a matter of private opinion, but of Historical Fact; not an open question, but an established certainty ; being a. ladder of 18 century steps, down which the original Commission or Royal Warrant of the Great King (S. Matt. xxviii. 184 20) has descended in a regular and unbroken series of network links, from generation to generation of successive Bishops in every branch of His Kingdom, the Holy Catholic Church ; and up which, as the only appointed means of Sacramental Communication with Him, the Clergy of to-day reach out to Christ, their Head, to bring down His promised grace and blessing. (S. Matt. iii. 16; xvi. 19; S. John xx. 21–3 ; 2 Cor. v. 20; Heb. iii. 1 ; v. 4).

(6) “No Church without a Bishop,' has been a fact as well as a maxim since the time of Irenæus and Tertullian. After we have passed the difficulties of the first century, we find the Episcopal Government universally established, till it was interrupted by the republican genius of the Swiss and German Reformers." (Gibbon, cap. xv).



(c) This being a matter of such vital importance, we are well assured that each generation in turn, if only for its own sake, took as much jealous care as we do now, to have its Ordinations, like its Bible copyings, unimpeachable. And accordingly, the Apostolic descent of the Archbishop of Canterbury is as well ascertained as the pedigree of the British Sovereignty from the first founder of the reigning dynasty. This was true 300 years ago, as our Reformers emphatically assert; and men of the greatest learning and research among Roman theologians have repeatedly acknowledged it, however loudly the little curs of controversy may yelp a negative.

(d) Christ promised to send the Holy Ghost to guide the Church into all truth. (S. John xiv. 26; xvi. 13).

Now the Dissenting Clubs, which numerous at the present time, had no existence before the Reformation; in other words, the Church was the only Christian organization in the world for 1500 years.

Hence arises this plain and simple consideration. If Christ did not fulfil His promise, the Church may have been wrong for fifteen centuries, and Dissent may be right after all, in spite of its novelty. Or again : If Christ did fulfil His promise, but the Holy Ghost either could not or would not fulfil His Mission, then also Dissent may be right and the Church wrong ; but not otherwise.

(e) “Christ's Commission and Authority,” then, handed regularly down, like the Bible, from age to age, is the only warrant for meddling with sacred things (Acts iii. 12, 16), and is quite independent of personal character. (S. Matt. xxiii. 2, 3; S. John vi. 70).

(f) Hence Dissenting “Ministers,” however good and well meaning, are merely “ Imitation Clergy,” i.e., Sacrilegious Laymen. And as (1) the whole value of Sacraments depends upon the promise of Christ's Presence with the Minister, and as (2) that promise was certainly not given to Laymen, much less to “Imitation Parsons,” the Sacraments in Dissenting hands must of necessity be, merely “Imitation Sacraments”—just as fictitious as the “Ministers” themselves, i.e., no Sacraments at all, and as much a mockery and delusion as Grace without meat, a Shell without a kernel, or a Knife without a blade.

(8) Upon this Sacerdotal Principle and the Apostolic Succession is based the Sacramental System of the Church, as developed in the Book of Common Prayer ; which may be called the system of right reason and plain common

For in spite of unbelieving “philosophers " and dissenting orators, whose occupation would be gone if the idea were generally adopted; in spite of all such and such like opposition, it must be sufficiently obvious to any one who will only stop to think it over quietly, that though Faith may come by hearing sermons, Salvation will not, unless, as it was cynically said of old, “ we are to be pulled up to heaven by the ears; in which case God would certainly have made men with asses' heads, and all the preachers to be women. No! something else is “


necessary to salvation." And Christ tells us what that is, when He says that the fallen humanity of the First Adam can only be sanctified by union and communion with the Divine Humanity of the Second. (S. John iii. 5 ; vi. 53.) But who can impart this Divine Principle to the craving suppliant ? Certainly not the Dis

senting preacher, whose own assurance of an inward call,” or a mock-ordination by men like himself, is his only warrant for assuming the character of a “ Reverend” ambassador for Christ, and ministering in sacred things. His zeal may be commendable, and God may doubtless be pleased to honour His labours with a certain amount of blessing. (Phil. i. 15; Rom. x. 2 ; 1 Tim. i. 13.) But his very position and attitude of hostility to the Holy Catholic Church are a standing protest against Christ's prayer for visible unity; his position has confessedly not been attained by entering through the door, but by climbing up some other way; and thus he is obviously not one of those with whom Christ promised to be present, nor is he tall enough to reach up to Heaven without that promise, and bring down the Divine Spark so as to kindle “outward signs," and make them the conveyancers of “inward grace" to perishing souls. All the various Sects are in the same vitally defective condition, from the Presbyterian “ Kirk” of Scotland downwards, to the very latest offspring of those fruitful Dissenting progenitors, Ignorance and Ill-Temper, or Self Will.



(a) Had God chosen, He might have made each successive human being out of dust, like Adam, so that each should be independent of every other; and might have supplied all things necessary for soul and body by direct transmission from heaven.

(6) Instead of this, He has chosen to make men dependent upon each other for everything,

and to do everything for them mediately, i.e. through human agency or interposition.

(c) Thus the curse of " Original Sin” (Peccatum Originis), i.e. a Depraved Nature, has come to us through the medium of birth from the First Adam ; and it is God's Will that the removal of that curse, with an Exalted Nature, shall come to us through the medium of birth from the Second Adam-a new birth effected by the agency of His ambassadors, or representatives, human beings like ourselves, Christ being, as it were, the Father, and His Church the Mother. (Art ix.)

(d) As Parents are the "medium," or interposed agency, through which God gives life to children; Teachers, the medium of instruction; Bakers, &c., of food; Doctors, of health, &c.; as Pipes convey gas or water, and Wires the electric current from head-quarters to the various recipients ;—so are the Clergy the Divinely appointed "medium," or channel, through which spiritual gifts and graces flow from God to man.

(e) This is no interference with, or forgetfulness of, the “One-Mediatorship of Christ between God and man,” any more than human Priesthood is an interference with “ The Great High Priest of all.” It is but one of the many modes in which that Divine Mediation is applied, by human intervention, to the special needs and necessities of fallen man, in accordance with Christ's own delegation of power at the outset, and His promise of its assured transmission to the end of time. *

* S. John xx. 21–3 ; S. Matt. xxviii. 20; Acts iji. 12, 16..

« PoprzedniaDalej »