Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

deemer pledged Himself that His assistance should never be wanting to the end of time.

Wonderful indeed is the providence of God, which has so long preserved the unbroken line, and thus ordained that our Bishops should, even at this distance of time, stand before their flocks as the authorized successors of the Apostles ;-as armed with their power to confer spiritual gifts in the Church, and, in cases of necessity, to wield their awful weapon of rejection from the fold of Christ;-as commissioned, like Titus, to bid, on heavenly authority, no man despise them, and to point out to those who, as a class, as Bishops of the Church, do despise them, the solemn words, “ He that despiseth you, despiseth Me ; and he that despiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me.”

The mode in which new candidates for the episcopal station have been presented to existing Bishops for consecration, has differed in different ages and countries. They have sometimes been chosen by the laity, sometimes selected by other Bishops, and sometimes by civil magistrates. In our own country the latter mode has for some centuries prevailed, and the King of England has presented to the Prelates of its Church persons for their approval and consecration.

As the King and Legislature were the pledged defenders of the purity and integrity of that Church, this was perhaps a mode as unobjectionable as any which could have been substituted for it, and it possessed the advantage of being free from the turmoil and party feeling which have always been generated by proceedings in the way of popular election.

The mode, however, in which this presentation is made is, after all, of minor importance, it being understood that it is upon the responsibility of the Bishop himself that the solemn rite at last takes place. No earthly authority can compel him to lay his hands

upon what he may conceive an unworthy head, or can presume to dispense with his concurrence, and arrogantly assume to itself the power to confer the Holy Ghost. The solemn words in which the offices of Bishop, Priest, and Deacon, are respectively conferred, are annexed to these pages, and from their perusal it will be seen how impious it would be, in any one but the deputed minister of Heaven, to utter them over a fellow-mortal, or to conceive that he, whatever his earthly rank or station, could bestow, or even aid in bestowing, the gifts imparted thereby.

Many ages ago the civil rulers of our country recognised the principle that a Christian nation should, as such, consider itself a branch of the Apostolical Church of Christ; they therefore acknowledged, and gave temporal dignity, and a voice in the general councils of the State to her ministers; privileges which they to the present day enjoy. And the Church, on her part, the above principle having been adopted by the State, acknowledged the head of that State, the King, to be her temporal head; investing him with that general supremacy in ecclesiastical affairs, which he already possessed in civil. But we are not thence to infer that she gave, or that she could give, to an earthly monarch, or to his temporal legislature, the right to interfere with things spiritual, with her Doctrines, with her Liturgy, with the ministration of her Sacraments, or with the positions, relative to each other, of her Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.

When corruptions, prevalent among the professedly Christian world, render it necessary for her to state the substance of her faith in articles, (as was done in A.D. 1562,) or when circumstances appear to require any change or variation either in the forms of her Liturgy, or in her general internal government, the King has the constitutional power of summoning the houses of convocation, a sort of ecclesiastical parliament composed of Bishops or Clergy, from which alone such changes can fitly or legally emanate.

Such are the circumstances under which a branch of Christ's Church is domiciled among us, and claims over us, while acting according to His Spirit, the delegated authority of her Founder. She makes no pretensions to that immediate inspiration of the Spirit which, by positively securing her ministers from error, would clothe her decisions with absolute infallibility. She puts the Bible into the hand of every member of her communion, and calls upon him to believe nothing as necessary to salvation which shall not appear, upon mature examination, to be set down therein, or at least to be capable of being proved thereby; but showing, at the same time, her authority as its appointed interpreter, she cautions him not rashly, or without having fully weighed the subject, to dissent from her expositions, the results of the accumulated learning and labour of centuries. She warns him not, without cause, to

one.

run the risk of incurring the fearful sin of schism, or unnecessary separation from, and violation of the unity of Christ's fold; a sin of which, surely, none can think lightly, who remembers the Saviour's affecting and repeated prayer, (see John xvii.) that His followers might be one, even as He and His Almighty Father were

She bids him in that Bible itself read her credentials ; she there exhibits, in the recorded indications of her Lord and Master's will, the rock on which she is built ; the foundation which, whatever changes may convulse the globe around it, is to abide, unmoved and immoveable, till time shall be no more.

The duties which our knowledge of these things, Brethren of the Laity, makes incumbent upon us, are almost too clear to need recapitulation. Filial love and affectionate reverence toward the collective Church, and toward those, her Pastors and Masters, who are set in spiritual authority over us; a zeal for the inculcation of her

pure doctrine and the extension of her heavenly fold; a determination in evil report and in good report to stand by her, and to approve ourselves her faithful members and children ; these, and such feelings as these, are, by our bond of communion with her, peremptorily required of us; these let us make it the business of our lives to cultivate and comply with ; and if tempted, as any one of us may be, hastily and needlessly to forsake her hallowed pale, let us reply to the temptation by addressing her in words somewhat similar to those of Peter to his Divine Master, “ To whom “ shall we go ? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we be“ lieve and are sure that Thou art the” Minister and Representative of “ Christ, the Son of the living God.”

APPENDIX.

THE following are the words addressed respectively to Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, when their offices are conferred upon them by the laying on of hands.

TO A BISHOP. “ Receive the Holy Ghost, for the Office and Work of a Bishop “ in the Church of God, now committed unto Thee by the Impos sition of our hands ; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, " and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. And remember that thou stir “ up the grace of God which is given thee by this Imposition of

our hands; for God hath not given us the Spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and soberness.”

TO A PRIEST. “ Receive the Holy Ghost for the Office and Work of a Priest “ in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposi• tion of our hands. Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are for

given ; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained. And “ be thou a faithful Dispenser of the Word of God, and of His

holy Sacraments ; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, 6 and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

66

TO A DEACON. “ Take thou authority to execute the Office of a Deacon in the “ Church of God committed unto thee; in the name of the Father, “ and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

These Tracts may be had at TURRILL'S, No. 250, Regent Street, at 3d. per sheet, lfd. the half sheet, and 1d. per quarter sheet.

W. KING, PRINTER, ST. CLEMENT's, OXFORD.

[ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »