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ON ARGUING CONCERNING THE APOSTOLICAL

APOST

SUCCESSION.

MEN are sometimes disappointed with the proofs offered in behalf of some important doctrines of our religion; such especially as the necessity of Episcopal Ordination, in order to constitute a Minister of CHRIST. They consider these proofs to be not so strong as they expected, or as they think desirable. Now such persons should be asked, whether these arguments they speak of are in their estimation weak as a guide to their own practice, or weak in controversy with hardheaded and subtle disputants. Surely, as Bishop Butler has convincingly shown, the faintest probabilities are strong enough to determine our conduct in a matter of duty. If there be but a reasonable likelihood of our pleasing CHRIST more by keeping than by not keeping to the fellowship of the Apostolic Ministry, this of course ought to be enough to lead those, who think themselves moved to undertake the Sacred Office, to seek for a licence to do so from it.

Gilbert & Rivington, Printers,
St. John's Square London.

It is necessary to keep this truth distinctly in view, because of the great temptation, that exists among us, to put it out of sight. I do not mean the temptation, which results from pride,-hardness of heart, a profane disregard of the details and lesser commandments of the Divine Law,-and other such like bad principles of our nature, which are in the way of our honestly confessing it. Besides these, there is a still more subtle temptation to slight it, which will bear insisting on here, arising from an over-desire to convince others, or, in other words, a desire to out-argue others, a fear of seeming inconclusive and confused in our own notions and arguments. Nothing, certainly, is more natural, when we hold a truth strongly, than to wish to persuade others to embrace it also. Nay, without reference to persuasion, nothing is more natural than

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to be dissatisfied in all cases with our own convictions of a principle or opinion, nay suspicious of it, till we are able to set it down clearly in words. We know, that, in all matters of thought, to write down our meaning is one important means of clearing our minds. Till we do so, we often do not know what we really hold and what we do not hold. And a cautious and accurate reasoner, when he has succeeded in bringing the truth of any subject home to his mind, next begins to look round about the view he has adopted, to consider what others will say to it, and to try to make it unexceptionable. At least we are led thus to fortify our opinion, when it is actually attacked; and if we find we cannot recommend it to the judgment of the assailant, at any rate we endeavour to make him feel that it is to be respected. It is painful to be thought a weak reasoner, even though we are sure in our minds that we are not such.

Now, observe how these feelings will affect us, as regards such arguments as were alluded to above; viz. such as are open to exception, though they are sufficiently strong to determine our conduct. A friend, who differs from us, asks for our reasons for our own view. We state them, and he sifts them. He observes, that our conclusions do not necessarily follow from our premises. E. g. to take the argument for the Apostolical Succession derived from the ordination of St. Paul and St. Barnabas (Acts xiii. 2, 3), ĥe will argue, that their ordination might have been an accidental rite, intended merely to commission them for their Missionary journey, which followed it, in Asia Minor; again, that St. Paul's direction to Timothy (1 Tim. v. 22), to "lay hands suddenly on no man," may refer to confirmation, not ordination.

We should reply (and most reasonably too), that, considering the undeniable fact that ordination has ever been thought necessary in the Church for the Ministerial Commission, our interpretation is the most probable one, and therefore the safest to act upon; on which our friend will think awhile, then shake his head, and say, that "at all events this an unsatisfactory mode of reasoning, that it does not convince him, that he is desirous of clearer light," &c.

Now what is the consequence of such a discussion as this on

ourselves? not to make us give up the doctrine, but to make us afraid of urging it. We grow lukewarm about it; and, with an appearance of judgment and caution (as the world will call it), confess that "to rest the claims of our Clergy on an Apostolical Descent is an unsafe and inexpedient line of argument; that it will not convince men, the evidence not being sufficient; that it is not a practical way of acting to insist upon it," &c.—whereas the utmost that need be admitted, is, that it is out of place to make it the subject of a speculative dispute, and to argue about it on that abstract logical platform which virtually excludes a reference to conduct and duty. And indeed, it would be no unwise caution to bear about us, wherever we go, that our first business, as Christians, is to address men as responsible servants of CHRIST, not as antagonists; and that it is but a secondary duty (though a duty) to "refute the gainsayers."

And, as on the one hand it continually happens, that those who are most skilled in debate are deficient in sound practical piety, so on the other it may be profitable to us to reflect, that doctrines, which we believe to be most true, and which are received as such by the most profound and enlarged intellects, and which rest upon the most irrefragable proofs, yet may be above our disputative powers, and can be treated by us only with reference to our conduct. And in this way, as in others, is fulfilled the saying of the Apostle, that "the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us, who are saved, it is the power of God ... Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?... The foolishness of GOD is wiser than men; and the weakness of GOD is stronger than men."

ON RELUCTANCE TO CONFESS THE
APOSTOLICAL SUCCESSION.

If a Clergyman is quite convinced that the Apostolical Succession is lost, then of course he is at liberty to turn his mind from the subject. But if he is not quite sure of this, it surely is his duty seriously to examine the question, and to make up his mind carefully and deliberately. For if there be a chance of its being preserved to us, there is a chance of his having had a momentous talent committed to him, which he is burying in the earth.

It cannot be supposed that any serious man would treat the subject scoffingly. If any one is tempted to do so, let him remember the fearful words of the Apostle. "Esau, a profane person, who for one morsel of meat, sold his birthright."

If any are afraid, that to insist on their commission will bring upon them ridicule, and diminish their usefulness, let them ask themselves whether it be not cowardice to refuse to leave the event to God. It was the reproach of the men of Ephraim, that, though they were "harnessed and carried bows," they "turned themselves back in the day of battle."

And if any there be, who take upon them to contrast one doctrine of the Gospel with another, and preach those only which they consider the more essential, let them consider our SAVIOUR'S words, "These things ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."

[NEW EDITION.]

These Tracts are continued in Numbers, and sold at the price of 2d. for each sheet, or 7s. for 50 copies.

LONDON: PRINTED FOR J. G. & F. RIVINGTON,
ST. PAUL'S CHURCH YARD, AND WATERLOO FLACE.
1839.

GILBERT & RIVINGTON, Printers, St. John's Square, London.

THE VISIBLE CHURCH.

LETTERS TO A FRIEND.

No. III.

You have some misgivings, it seems, lest the doctrine I have been advocating" should lead to Popery." I will not, by way of answer, say that the question is not, whether it will lead to Popery, but whether it is in the Bible; because it would bring the Bible and Popery into one sentence, and seem to imply the possibility of a "communion" between "light and darkness." No; it is the very enmity I feel against the Papistical corruptions of the Gospel, which leads me to press upon you a doctrine of Scripture, which we are sinfully surrendering, and the Church Rome has faithfully retained.

How comes it that a system, so unscriptural as the Popish, makes converts? because it has in it an element of truth and comfort amid its falsehoods. And the true way of opposing it, is, not to give up to them that element, which God's providence has preserved to us also, thus basely surrendering "the inheritance of our Fathers," but to claim it as our own, and to make use of it for the purposes for which God has given it to us. I will explain what I mean.

Gilbert and Rivington, Printers,
St. John's Square, London.

Before CHRIST came, Divine Truth was, as it were, a pilgrim in the world. The Jews excepted, men who had portions of the SPIRIT of GOD, knew not their privilege. The whole force and current of the external world was against them, acting powerfully on their imagination, and tempting them to set sight against faith, to trust the many witnesses who prophesied falsehood (as if) in the name of the LORD, rather than the still small voice which spoke within them. Who can undervalue the power of this fascination, who has had experience of the world ever so little? Who can go at this day into mixed society, who can engage in politics or other active business, and not find himself gradually drifting off from the true Rock on which his faith is built, till he begins in despair to fancy, that solitude is the only safe place for the Christian, or, (with a baser judgment,) that strict obedience will not be required at the last day of those who have been engaged in active life? If such is now the power of the world's enchantments, surely much greater was it before our SAVIOUR came.

Now what did He do for us, in order to meet this evil? His merciful Providence chose means which might act as a counter influence on the imagination. The visible power of the world enthralled men to a lie; He set up a Visible Church, to witness the other way, to witness for Him, to be a matter of fact, as undeniable as the shining of the sun, that there was such a principle as conscience in the world, as faith, as fear of God; that there were

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