« AnteriorContinuar »
without receiving authority so to do, from an higher power. The act would be so far from beneficial, that it would be treasonable. If an army were to raise itself without commissions, what would such an army be but a company of banditti, leagued together to plunder and destroy the hqnest subjects of an established community?
Nothing therefore is plainer, on these considerations, than that the Church neither is, nor can be from man. It is no human institution; and as it acts under God, if it acts at all, it must act by his authority and appointment. It is properly called the Church of God, (of the living God, in opposition to the profane societies self-erected for the worship of dead idols) and mankind might as reasonably presume to make God's World as to make God's Church. i
Farther enquiry will shew us that the Church is no confused multitude of people, independent of one another, and subject to no common rules: but a regular society, like to other societies, in some respects, and unlike them all in others. It is called a body, a family, a city, a kingdom. A body is a regular structure, the limbs of which being joined together, are subordinate and subservient to one another, and are animated by the same soul or spirit. So saith E E 4 the the Apostle,/or by one spirit we are all baptized into one body. 1 Cor. xii. 13. It being also called a family, the members of it must have some common relation to one another: being called a city, it must be incorporated under some common laws; and being a kingdom, it must have some form of government and magistracy. Families, cities, and kingdoms are societies; and the Church, being represented by them, must be a regular society. But in this the Church differs from all other societies, because the,y belong to this world, and their rights and privileges are confined to it: whereas the Church extends to both worlds, the visible and the invisible, and is partly on earth, and partly in Heaven. In its earthly members it is visible; in its rulers,, it is visible; in its worship, it is visible; in its sacraments, it is visible. But being also a spiritual society, it hath a life which is hidden, and in the inward and spiritual Grace of all its outward ordinances it is invisible. As a kingdom in.which God is Judge, and Christ is a Mediator, and Angels and Saints departed, are members; it takes in the heaven itself, and is the heavenly Jerusalem, which is the mother of us all; insomuch, that when we are admitted into it, our conversation is in Heaven, and the Angels of Heaven are our fellow-servants; all making one great family under Jesus Christ, in whonv all things are gathered top ether in one, both which are in Heaven, and which are on earth: on which consideration, what is rightly done in the Church on earth, stands good in Heaven, as if it had been done there; and the Apostles of Christ received from him the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, with a power of binding -and. loosing, which extends to Heaven itself: and when Christians go to Heaven, they are not carried into a new society, for they are already, by the grace of God, translated into it by baptism; whence the Apostle speaks of their translation, not as a thing expected, but even now brought to pass. He hath translated us, Kc. Col. i. 13. •,
The Church doth also differ from other societies,, in that it is catholic or universal; it extends to all places, and all times, and is not confined, to the people of any nation, or condition of life, but takes in Jews, Greeks, and Barbarians, the rich and the poor, the bond and the free; and is therefore properly signified in one of our Saviour's parables by an inn, where all that offer themselves are accepted. The commission of Christ to his Apostles, was to teach and baptize all nations.
The Church being a kingdom, not of this
world, world, is of a spiritual nature, and in that capacity it is invisible ; but as a kingdom in this world, it is visible, and must have a visible administration. To know what this is, and whence its authority is derived, we must go back to the gospel itself. Jesus Christ was sent from Heaven by the Father, and invested with the glory of the priesthood by an actual consecration, when the spirit descended upon him. As the Father hath sent him, so did he send his disciples, and gave them authority to send others: so that the . Church which followed, derived its authority from the Church which Christ first planted in the world; and the Church at this day must derive its authority after the same manner, by succession from the Church which went before; the line extending from Christ himself to the end of the world: lo, said he, I am with you always, unto the end of the world: certainly, not with those very persons, who all soon died, but with those who should succeed, and be accounted for the same ; for a body corporate never dies, till its succession is extinct”.
* “Take away this succession, and the Clergy may as well be ordained by one person as another: a number of women may as well give them a divine commission;–but they are no more Priests of God, than those who pretend to make
Our Saviour at first ordained his twelve Apostles according to the number of the tribes of the Church of Israel. Afterwards he ordained other seventy, according to the number of the Elders, whom Moses appointed as his assistants. When the Church in Jerusalem was multiplied, seven deacons were ordained, by the laying on of the hands of the Apostles, to preach, and baptize, and minister, in distributing the alms of the Church. Here then we have three orders of men, each distinct from the other; the twelve Apostles, the seventy Disciples, and the seven Deacons; and by these the first Christian Church in Jerusalem was governed and administered. The Apostles were superior in office to the Disciples •, because, when Judas fell from the apostleship, one was chosen by lot out of the Disciples into the apostleship: the Deacons were inferior to both; and it appears that they were appointed by the laying on of the hands of the twelve Apostles; for it is said, A£ts vi. 2, "the Twelve called the multitude of the Disciples unto them," &c.—
make them so. If we had lost the Scriptures, it would ba very well to make as good books as we could, and come as near them as possible: but then it would not only be folly, but presumption, to call them the word of God." See the ttcmtd Letter te tie Biibof of Bangor; Postscript.