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external restraints) in order that their freedom of choice may be maintained; for without this their reformation, by the choice of what is good, would be impossible. Any internal restraint upon the choice of, and indulgence in, evil, would be to the same extent a restraint upon the choice and practice of good. After death, these “good things” (so called) are at an end; and those who revelled in them with a licentious freedom, become “ tormented” by the loss of that freedom, and the succession of slavery in its place. The “evil things” which the good receive in their life-time, are the pains arising from the restriction upon their ruling love of good, owing to the secret influence, or open assaults, of the evils which they hate, and which are in process of removal, and are brought forth to their perception for the purpose of rejection. So far as these “evil things” are present and active, the good things of charity and faith are driven back, and the pure delights thereof are either diminished or suspended, giving way, for the time, to the really “evil things” of evil and falsehood, which are felt by the good as things most undelightful and detestable; so that the internal sensations they occasion inflict the keenest anguish, and sometimes lead even to states of desperation, upon which the temptation is terminated and the sufferer is comforted. But after the life of the body has been succeeded by the life of the spirit, the “evil things," with the good, are at an end, and they are comforted” in heaven by the Lord, with the consolations of everlasting life and blessedness.“ These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more ; neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, or any heat; for the lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them; and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters : and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." (Rev. 7.)
ON THE CONSTITUTION AND NATURE OF THE
AMONG the signs of the times," as regards the controversy now agitating the Christian world, the conflicting claims of the various branches of the Christian ministry occupy a conspicuous place. On the one hand, we behold the high pretensions of the Episcopalian clergy, led on by the Oxford Tractarians; and on the other hand, the claims of the great body of Christian ministers not episcopally ordained, including, in our own island, not only the dissenters of every name, whether Methodists or otherwise, but all the clergy of the Established Church of Scotland. The Tractarian party pretend, that the English bishops are the direct successors of the Apostles, the sole depositories in Great Britain (with the exception of the Romish priesthood) of apostolic power; that they, and they only, have the truly scriptural power of conferring ordination on a Christian minister; and on account of the validity of their ordination, such episcopally ordained ministers become endowed with a mystic grace, which confers validity on the sacraments when administered by them. That by the same means they become endowed with what is called the “power of the keys;" that is, the power of opening or shutting heaven, by the administration or refusal of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper; or, as they prefer to call it, the Holy Eucharist.
The whole of this tremendous clerical power and authority rests upon the single pretension, that the bishops are the lineal and spiritual successors of the Apostles, and, as such, endowed with apostolic power and authority. Their opponents require proof, and strong proof too, of their mighty claims; and they declare, and declare truly, that no such proof exists. The Tractarians affirm, that “the fact of an apostolical succession is too notorious to require proof; and that every link in the chain is known, from St. Peter to our present metropolitans.” And yet, when their well-informed opponents allege, that “there is no sufficient evidence of a personal succession of valid episcopal ordinations ;" one of the learned apologists for this really Romish theory replies: “ If nothing will satisfy men but actual demonstration, I yield at once.” A pretty fair avowal of the value of their historic pretensions; and hence we may see, why they assert the necessity of believing “on authority antecedent to proof!"
In fact, not only is there no substantial proof of such direct succession, but if there were, it would be of no real value; it would merely shew, that correct inferences were drawn from false premises. For there is not a shadow of proof in the New Testament, that the apostles ever possessed or laid claim to such a personal power as their boasted successors maintain they possess; still less that they conferred this power on any of their cotemporaries, with the intention, and for the purpose, of its being directly perpetuated.
“ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” exclaims the apostle ; not “Receive ye baptism and the holy eucharist from my apostolical hands.” These things were not neglected by the apostle, but were justly esteemed by him of secondary importance to preaching the gospel, and the reception of true evangelical faith ;—that "faith which worketh by love," being united with heavenly charity.
Such are the pretensions of the high episcopal party to the validity, the sole validity, of their ordinations, and such the powers asserted to be conferred by it. The other great party of Christian ministers rest the validity of their office on what is styled, “ Presbyterial ordination;" -the “laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” But as some readers may not exactly understand the precise import of these terms, we offer a short explanation. In the New Testament, we read of “bishops and elders.” The word “bishop" we derive through the Anglo-Saxon from the Latin word episcopus, (whence comes our word episcopal,) which word is a Latinized form of the original Greek word (ETIXOTOS-episcopus), literally meaning an over-looker, one who takes the over-sight or direction of any affair. Hence it is used in the New Testament, to signify the pastor, leader, or minister of a Christian church, or assembly, which, the word translated “church” (Exxanoiaekklesia), really means. The word “ presbyter,” (Ilgeo Butecos-presbyteros,) literally means “ an elder.” The name, presbyteroi, or “elders,” was given to members of the Jewish Sanhedrim, and afterwards to the serious, grave individuals, selected to bear office in the Christian church. But besides 66 bishops and elders,” we read of “ deacons” also; and, in the course of time, we find existing, in the Christian church, a threefold order of ministers : “ bishops," "presbyters," or (as now called by the Romish and Anglican churches)" priests," and “deacons." We do not propose to enter into the history of the rise and progress of this “order," but merely state that such was the case, perhaps two centuries after the apostles. Now, the episcopalians contend, that the “ bishop" was the sole immediate Christian minister, by direct succession from the apostles; and that he, by ordination, made the body of presbyters, or priests, and conferred upon them, equally with himself, the power to administer the sacraments and preach the Word; and
upon the deacons a more limited power, reserving to himself the sole power of perpetuating the ministry. The Presbyterians, dissenters, and Methodists contend, on the other hand, that the apostolic power resided in the whole body of the presbyters, priests, or ministers, and that the bishop was but the ruling or chief presbyter. The right and power of perpetuating the Christian ministry was thus in
herent in every presbyter alike; and “the laying on of the hands of the presbytery,” or of one or more of the presbytery, raised the individual so ordained to a participation in all the rights, powers, and privileges, attached to the presbyterial or ministerial office. Hence both parties rest the validity of their claims on their ordination, and consider themselves as endowed, more or less, with a power or fitness not possessed by an ordinary layman; but they differ as to where this ordaining power resides, and the extent of the efficacy conferred by it.
It is true, that dissenters and others require something more in their ministers than the mere imposition of hands. Thus, in a Wesleyan Tract for the Times, just published, four previous requirements are stated. 1. Personal holiness. 2. Soundness in the Faith. 3. A divine call. 4. Suitable ministerial endowments, as regards talents and education. But these qualifications are equally demanded by the episcopalians; and, perhaps, with the exception of the first, quite as rigidly as among the Methodists. Thus, as to “soundness in the faith :” one professes his adherence to the writings of Mr. Wesley, and the other to the Articles and Homilies of the Establishment; and thus both equally satisfy their superiors, while both may be equally uninformed respecting the uncontaminated faith of the gospel. Then, as to a divine call;" every one acquainted with human nature knows how often the “ wish is father to the thought;" and that hence the desire and expectation of ministerial employment may easily be mistaken for the moving of the holy ghost.” And as to the last qualification, the academic acquirements of the episcopalian clergy, are, on the whole, superior to those of the dissenters or Methodists, but the latter appear to have the advantage in native talent. But neither party professes that the possession of all these qualifications is sufficient to constitute a man a minister, without the actual and formal ordination and consecration to that office, by persons in whom an ordaining power resides.
As regards the Conference ministers of the New Church, they stand in a sort of middle position. The previous requirements of the candidate for the ministry are set forth and determined by the General Conference, consisting both of ministers and laymen. If approved, the candidate is referred to a particular class of ministers, called Ordaining Ministers, and by one of them he is inaugurated into the office of the ministry. The Conference professes to have no power to confer the ministerial office; that is said to reside in the ordaining ministers only ; and the orderly and lawful administration of the sacraments is considered by many to belong exclusively to such ordained ministers. In
each of these three cases it is often assumed, that ordination confers validity on the ministerial office, and that the ministerial dispenser confers validity on the sacraments.
Now it is respectfully submitted, that, although certainly not in degree, yet in principle, we have in each of these cases a departure from the simplicity of the New Testament and the perceptions of sound reason. Putting out of view the monstrous pretensions of the Tractarian Episcopalians, let us examine the working of the system adopted by Methodists and the New Church. These two bodies are named because they possess similar machinery for carrying on their religious operations. Both among the Wesleyans and in the New Church, two distinct orders of religious teachers are found,-ordained preachers and ministers, and unordained preachers, the latter class being more numerous than the former; but both are alike invested with the power of dispensing the Word of life by public preaching. Looking at the case with the light derived from the New Testament and common sense, the public ministry of the Word appears a much more important and onerous duty than the mere performance of a religious rite :-The first requires for its efficient performance, talent, study, and a variety of mental acquirements; the latter merely the facility of reading decently. Of course, in both cases, personal piety is supposed. Yet custom leads people to imagine, that the sacrament, if administered by a recognized preacher only, is not validly and efficiently dispensed. Custom only can be urged for this anomaly; for if it is admitted that the efficiency of the sacrament depends upon the person who administers it,--that admission leads to Puseyism and Romanism, with all their concomitant priestcraft. Between the Church and Methodism, it may be a struggle between two rival priesthoods; but in the New Church there is sufficient light to guide us to a proper determination of the matter.
To enable us rightly to decide, we must consider in what the efficacy of the sacraments really consists. Guided by the light of the New Church, it is declared, in their being divinely appointed CORRESPONDENCES, representing certain divine and spiritual things, states, and feelings; and which, when devoutly celebrated, are the means of inducing those states or feelings on the mind of the worshiper. The efficacy of the sacrament, considered as a rite, or correspondence, does not at all depend upon the “priestly orders” of the administrator, but upon
the state of mind of the participator. Were it otherwise, a divinely appointed rite, of universal obligation and application, would depend for its efficacy on human contingency! The true nature of the
N. S. No. 32.-VOL. 3.