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ciety. Further; the same sentiment enters into whatever is said concerning the sacraments: One of which is initiatory to that body; while the other is, the act, in which they the most emphatically exhin bit the tie of their association.
At our introduction, by that former ordinance, to the benefits of the Christian dispensation; there was put up in our behalf the petition to the throne of grace, that our reception into the Church of Christ might have a spiritual benefit, similar to the temporal benefit accompanying the Ark, which saved Noah and his family from perishing by water.it
It has been intimated already, that if we are to conceive so highly of the character of the Church of Christ; a proportionate estimation must be due to the ministry, by which the Church was insti. tuted; and by which, transmitted in succession, it is continued to the present time. And the religious use of the sentiment, is well-expressed in that Collect, in which we prayi to God, that “as he has built the Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone;" he would“ grant to us, so to be joined together in unity of spirit, by their doctrine, that we may be made a holy temple, acceptable to him, through Jesus Christ."* : It is my design, to state and to explain what our Church has delivered on the present subject; with the view of afterwards grounding on her decisions some propositions, with their proofs.
The first document which shall be offered, is part of the nineteenth article" The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly ministered, according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite for the same.” The only use to be here
Collect for St. Simons' and St. Judas day.
made of what has been recited, is the noticing, that it presumes a preaching and an administration of sacraments; and therefore calls for an explanation of the sense of the Church, as to the qualifications of those who are to preach and to administer. Ac. cordingly, there are to be taken into view her provisions, relatively to this subject; which must be presumed to be, in her estimation, agreeable to evangelical order; although to pronounce them essential to it in all points, might be carrying of the matter further than she designed.
However liberal, then, this definition of a Church and God forbid, that we should wish to narrow it-there is reason to believe, that it sometimes has the mistaken praise, accommodated to the notion of a laxity, which other of her institutions will not suffer us to admit. The place defines the Chris. tian Church at large, under its essential circumstances. More precise ideas of these circumstances, are left to be gathered from other places; although it would be very alien from the spirit which the Church evidently wished to cherish and to mani. fest, on the present subject; were we to torture any place to the expression of a degree of precision, which she appears to have avoided.
Perhaps the abuse of the liberty of our Church here alluded to, has been rendered the easier, by the use of the word “Congregation,” to denote the whole body of Christian people throughout the world; the same being applicable to the portion of them, who inhabit any state or district. It could never have entered into the minds of the compilers of the Articles, to encourage every collection of per. sons, worshipping in a particular house, to set up their assembly as a distinct and independent Church. And yet such an idea is very much countenanced, by the use of the word in question; according to the sense to which modern custom has confined it.
But this notion of a Church is so far from conforming to the definition in the Article, that it speaks of the Christian Church throughout the world: Al. though it is implied, that the matter affirmed of the universal Church, is predicable of every local Church, to which the recited circumstances belong.
The next authority to be produced, is the Twentythird Article, which says" It is not lawful for any man to take on himself the office of publick preaching, or ministering the sacraments in the congregation; before he be lawfully called, and sent to exe. cute the same. And those we ought to judge law. fully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work, by men who have publick authority given to them, to call and send ministers into the Lord's vineyard."
This article is partly negative, and partly positive. It denies, in as express words as could have been used, the right of any man to take on himself the exercise of the ministry: So that no pretended call, in his own mind, is conceived of as a warrant to that effect. But as to the true source of this, which is the positive part of the article, it is not precise; but merely refers to competent authority, without unfolding through what channel it is to come. Ac. cordingly this Article, like a portion which has been recited from another, is to be explained by a com. parison with any provisions, in which the Church may have been more explicit.
A part of the Thirty-fourth Article is as follows: “Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, or abolish rites or ceremonies of the Church, ordained only by man's authority; so that all things be done to edifying."
The only reason for the introducing of this pas. sage from one of the Articles, is its affirming of the independency of every local Church, as to all foreign domination; and therefore its rejection of the claims of the Church of Rome, who calls herself the mother and the mistress of all other Churches. Although the words quoted have been objected to by some communions of Protestants, who have imaa
gined that the Article arrogates to the Church a
This is another Article of our Church, which has been much applauded for its liberality, and at the same time, not with a friendly design; it being done to lead to the inference, that in framing the -Articles of the Church of England, of which ours is
a copy, with accommodation to local circumstances, no more was intended than to offer an apology for the difference between Episcopacy and Presbytery, on the ground of human institution, not in itself sinful. This is an entire misconception of the en: lightened views of the English reformers: Of whom we may freely confess-it agreeing with their conduct in a variety of ways-that in laying down arti. cles' of faith, they had no design of condemning other Protestant Churches, on a point of discipline: While yet, being governed in practice by their own sense of the original difference between the two higher orders of the ministry, they have precisely marked it in the preface, and in some of the devotions of the Ordinal. These, being the subject of the Article, must be supposed to assist in the interpretation of it.
An express tendency to this effect presents itself to our notice, in the first sentence of the preface; which says—"It is evident unto all men diligently reading Holy Scripture and ancient authors, that from the apostles? time, there have been these orders of ministers in Christ's Church-bishops, priests and deacons.” Here is an appeal to scripture, for the discrimination of order in the time of the
apos. tles; and to ancient authors, for its prevailing from that time downwards. Evidently, the framers of this preface knew of no deviations from the original institution, until the then recent times immediately subsequent on the reformation. Consistent with this, are three prayers in the three several services, for the ordaining of deacons, for the ordaining of priests, and for the consecration of a bishop. Each of the forms acknowledges, that“by divine appointment, there are divers orders of ministers in the Church;” and then prays-the first for the persons called to the office of deacons; the second, for the persons called to the office of priesthood; and the third, for the person called to the work and ministwy of a bishop. There could hardly have been a