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damnation, but to assist the enemies of God and man, who are purposed to overthrow that Church.

If times of confusion and trouble shall come, where can we seek for comfort but in the love of Christ, in the love of God to man for Christ's sake? But how can we then take comfort in that love, if now we take no account of it? Let me entreat you, then, Christian Brethren, while the days of peace are vouchsafed to you, to give more and more heed to all religious duties. The days may come, when your Churches will be shut up, or only filled by men who will not teach the whole truth as it is in Jesus; when you will be deprived of Ministers of Religion; or have only such as are destitute of God's Commission. Do not, I beseech you, by your neglect now, add to your misery then the bitterness of self-reproach, when you will have to say, “I had once the opportunity of worshipping God aright, but I neglected it, and He now has withheld it from me. I had once the means of receiving the Body and Blood of my Saviour, at the hands of His own Minister ; but I refused it, and now He has placed it out of my power."

OXFORD.

The Feast of the Epiphany.

[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 PLACE.

1839.

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

THE SCRIPTURE VIEW OF THE APOSTOLIC

COMMISSION.

In referring to the Epistles of the New Testament for proof of the duty of submission to Spiritual Authority, we are sometimes met by the objection that the case is very much altered since the days of the Apostles, and since the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit have been withdrawn from the Church. Now it will readily be admitted on all hands, that the state of the Church is very greatly altered since these miraculous powers have ceased; but at the same time we must not allow a general principle of this sort to set aside the authority of Holy Scripture, as far as regards our own practice, until, by a diligent and careful study of the Apostles' writings, we have found that the principle does really apply to the case in question; as, for instance, that the Apostolic Authority is grounded in Scripture upon the possession of miraculous powers, and therefore necessarily ceased when those powers were withheld. Let us then examine this point more particularly.

Have we then considered, in reference to this matter, that the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit were not confined to the appointed teachers of the Church, but were shed abroad upon the

congregation at large, upon the young and the old alike, upon the servants, and upon the hand-maidens ? (Comp. Joel ii. 28, 29.) It was the promise of the Old Testament, that, under the dispensation of the New Covenant, God would write His Law in the hearts of His people, so that they should " teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying; Know the LORD: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.” (Jer. xxxi. 33, 34.) This promise, we are told in the Epistle to the Hebrews, was fulfilled in the Gospel; and St. John, in his First General Epistle, expressly acknowledges the accomplishment of the Prophet's words. He says

VOL. I.

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Gilbert & Rivington, Printers,

St. John's Square, Lo idon.

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to his "little children," "Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received from Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you ; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.” (1 John ii. 20, 21. 27.) Such general illumination by God's Holy Spirit might seem to make any authoritative Apostolic declarations altogether unnecessary for the converts; but we still find St. John writing to them, and declaring his testimony to the Christian doctrine with much earnestness; and why? Let us hear his own words at the beginning of his Epistle; “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly OUR fellowship is with the FATHER, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." Here we have the object of the Apostle's affectionate address fully and clearly stated. He and his Fellow. Apostles, the witnesses of their Master's Life and Death and Resurrection, had received from Him a glorious revelation to communicate to the world: they had seen and did testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world ; upon this foundation they were commissioned to build the Christian Church; and it was their holy and blessed office to “stablish, strengthen, settle” the faith of their "little children" in the Gospel; to tell them how they might keep themselves from the spirit of error, and continuing "stedfast in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship," might through them have fellowship with the FATHER and the Son, and so "rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." We now see the full force of St. John's authoritative language. He was marking the lines of “the foundation of the Apostle and Prophets," in order that his disciples might duly be built upon their most holy faith into a temple meet for the habitation of God through the Spirit: they were God's building, and the Apostle was one of the “wise master-builders,” whom CHRIST had appointed to build His Spiritual House. And this view of the matter will become still clearer, if we study well the prayer which Christ offered for His Church at the solemn moment when He was just about to purchase it to Himself by the shedding of His precious blood. We there find our Blessed LORD, having first declared that His work was finished on earth, and having earnestly besought the Father now to glorify Him, proceeds to pray for His Apostles, that His Father would preserve them in unity, and truth, and holiness. He says, "I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world; I have given unto them the words that Thou gavest Me, and they have received them ; Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one as We are. Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth. As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." Thus did Christ lay the foundations of His One Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church ;-In the remainder of His prayer He intreats like blessings for all who should be built on this sure foundation, that they might be so joined together in unity of spirit by the Apostles' doctrine, as to be made a holy temple acceptable to God through Him. (Collect for St. Simon and St. Jude,) " Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one, as Thou Father art in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me." Accordingly, we read that when, on the day of Pentecost, three thousand were brought to believe on CHRIST through St. Peter's word, they were baptized into that holy communion," and they continued stedfast in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship," (according to a text already quoted,) and the LORD daily added fresh members to this Church. And in later times, when false teachers were gone abroad seducing the disciples, the Apostles wrote to them, declaring and reminding them what the Apostolic doctrine was, that they might have the joy fulfilled in themselves of knowing that they were in the unity of the Apostolic Church, one in Christ and in the Father. And so St. Paul explains why he wrote to the Corinthians, “not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy; for by faith ye stand.(2 Cor. i. 24.)

St. Peter, again, in his Second Epistle, uses exactly the same Janguage with St. John ; He writes as a servant and an Apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us; according as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness ; exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine nature :" i.e. he does not draw any line of difference between himself and his brethren, as if he had miraculous powers which they had not; but rests his teaching on the plain fact of his being commissioned, and commissioned with the simple object of communicating the doctrine which had been disclosed to him. He addresses his converts just as St. John does, not as though they were ignorant or unmindful of the truth, but in order to strengthen their conviction of those holy facts and doctrines to which he and his brother-Apostles were commissioned to bear witness. “I will not be negligent,” he says, " to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance. Moreover, I will endeavour that after my decease ye may have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-wilnesses of His Majesty, .... and this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the Holy Mount." Again be says, " This Second Epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance, that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy Prophets, and of the commandment of us the Apostles of the LORD and Saviour." For by adherence to the commandment of the Apostles, and the doctrine of the Prophets, it might be known that Christians were building themselves up on the only true foundation, even Jesus Christ.

But it is in St. Paul's writings that we shall find the fullest and clearest view of Apostolical Authority; and it is well worthy of our observation, that the Church upon which the Apostle most strongly enforces that Authority, is the very Church which is most distinguished in the New Testament for the abundance of its Spiritual gifts ; so that clearly it was not an exclusive possession of miraculous powers, which constituted the distinction between Apostles and private Christians. He begins his First Epistle to the Corinthians by thanking God on their behalf " for the grace of God which was given them by Jesus Christ, that in every thing they were enriched by Him in all utterance and in all knowledge, so that they

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