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Surely, if we do not do this, we are clearly defrauding the religious, for the sake of keeping close to the wicked.
Here we see the common course of things in the world. We omit a duty. In consequence our services become inconsistent. Instead of retracing our steps we alter the Service. What is this but, as it were, to sin upon principle? While we keep to our principles, our sins are inconsistencies; at length, sensitive of the absurdity which inconsistency involves, we accommodate our professions to our practice. This is ever the way of the world ; but it should not be the way of the church.
I will join heart and hand with any who will struggle for a restoration of that "godly discipline," the restoration of which our Church publicly professes she considers desirable ; but God forbid any one should so depart from her spirit, as to mould her formularies to fit the case of deliberate sinners! And is not this what we are plainly doing, if we alter the Burial Service as proposed ? we are recognizing the right of men to receive Christian Burial, about whom we do not like to express a hope. Why should they have Christian burial at all ?
It will be said that the restoration of the practice of Excommunication is impracticable ; and that therefore the other alternative must be taken, as the only one open to us. Of course it is impossible, if no one attempts to restore it; but if all willed it, how would it be impossible; and if no one stirs because he thinks no one else will, he is arguing in a circle.
But, after all, what have we to do with probabilities and prospects in matters of plain duty ? Were a man the only member of the Church who felt it a duty to return to the Ancient Discipline, yet a duty is a duty, though he be alone. It is one of the great sins of our times to look to consequences in matters of plain duty. Is not this such a case? If not, prove that it is not; but
from consequences. In the mean while I offer the following texts in evidence of the duty.
Matth. xviii. 15–17. Rom. xvi. 17. 1 Cor. v. 7–13. 2 Thess. iii. 6, 14, 15. 2 Tim. iii. 5. Tit. iii. 10, 11. 2 John, 10, 11.
do not argue
THE PRINCIPLE OF UNITY.
Testimony of St. Clement, the associate of St. Paul, (Phil. iv. 3.) to the Apostolical Succession.
The Apostles knew, through our Lord JESUS CHRIST, that strife would arise for the Episcopate. Wherefore having received an accurate foreknowledge, they appointed the men I before mentioned, and have given an orderly succession, that on their death other approved men might receive in turn their office. Ep. i. 44.
Testimony of St. Ignatius, the friend of St. Peter, to Episcopacy.
Your celebrated Presbytery, worthy of God, is as closely knit to the Bishop, as the strings to a harp, and so by means of your unanimity and concordant love Jesus Christ is sung. Eph. 4.
There are who profess to acknowledge a Bishop, but do every thing without him. Such men appear to lack a clear conscience. Magn. 4.
He for whom I am bound is my witness that I have not learned this doctrine from mortal man. The Spirit proclaimed to me these words : “ Without the Bishop do nothing." Phil. 7.
With these and other such strong passages in the Apostolical Fathers, how can we permit ourselves in our present practical disregard of the Episcopal Authority? Are not we apt to obey only so far as the law obliges us? do we support the Bishop, and strive to move all together with him as our bond of union and head; or is not our every-day conduct as if, except with respect to certain periodical forms and customs, we were each independent in his own parish ?
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ADHERENCE TO THE APOSTOLICAL SUCCESSION
THE SAFEST COURSE.
We who believe the Nicene Creed, must acknowledge it a bigh privilege, that we belong to the Apostolic Church. How is it that so many of us are, almost avowedly, so cold and indifferent in our thoughts of this privilege ?
Is it because the very idea is in itself overstrained and fanciful, apt perhaps to lay strong hold on a few ardent minds, but little in accordance with the general feelings of mankind ? Surely not. The notion of a propagated commission is as simple and intelligible in itself, as can well be; is acted on daily in civil matters (the administration of trust property, for example); and has found a most ready, sometimes an enthusiastic, acceptance, in those many nations of the world, which have submitted, and are submitting themselves to sacerdotal castes, elective or hereditary. “ Priests self-elected, or appointed by the State,” is rather the idea which startles ordinary thinkers; not “ Priests commissioned, successively, from heaven."
Or is our languor rather to be accounted for by the want of express scriptural encouragement to the notion of a divine ministerial commission ? Nay, Scripture, at first sight, is express; whether we take the analogy of the Old Testament, the words of our LORD, or the practice of His Apostles. The primitive Christians read it accordingly; and cherished, with all affectionate reverence, the privilege which they thought they found there. Why are we so unlike them?
I fear it must be owned, that much of the evil is owing to the comparatively low ground which we ourselves, the Ministers of God, have chosen to occupy in defence of our commission. For many years, we have been much in the habit of resting our claim on the general duties of submission to authority, of decency and order, of respecting precedents long established; instead of appealing to that warrant, which marks us, exclusively, for God's AMBASSADORS. We have spoken much in the same tone, as we might, bad we been mere Laymen, acting for ecclesiastical pur
poses by a commission under the Great Seal. Waving the question, "Was this wise ? was it right, in higher respects ?”I ask, was it not obviously certain, in some degree, to damp and deaden the interest, with which men of devout minds would naturally regard the Christian Ministry? Would not more than half the reverential feeling, with which we look on a Church or Cathedral, be
gone, if we ceased to contemplate it as the house of God, and learned to esteem it merely as a place set apart by the State for moral and religious instruction ?
It would be going too deep into history, were one now to enter on any statement of the causes which have led, silently and insensibly, almost to the abandonment of the high ground, which our Fathers of the Primitive Church, i. e. the Bishops and Presbyters of the first five centuries, invariably took, in preferring their claim to canonical obedience. For the present, it is rather wished to urge, on plain positive considerations, the wisdom and duty of keeping in view the simple principle on which they relied.
Their principle, in short, was this: That the Holy Feast on our Saviour's sacrifice, which all confess to be “generally necessary to salvation," was intended by Him to be constantly conveyed through the hands of commissioned persons. Except therefore we can show such a warrant, we cannot be sure that our hands convey the sacrifice; we cannot be sure that souls worthily prepared, receiving the bread which we break, and the
of blessing which we bless, are partakers of the Body and Blood of Christ. Piety, then, and Christian Reverence, and sincere devout Love of our Redeemer, nay, and Charity to the souls of our brethren, not good order and expediency only, would prompt us, at all earthly risks, to preserve and transmit the seal and warrant of Christ.
If the rules of Christian conduct were founded merely on visible expediency, the zeal with which those holy men were used to maintain the Apostolical Succession, might appear a strange unaccountable thing. Not so, if our duties to our Saviour be like our duties to a parent or a brother, the unalterable result of certain known relations, previous to all consideration of consequences'. Reflect on this, and you will presently feel what a difference it makes in a pious mind, whether ministerial prerogatives be traced to our Lord's own institution, or to mere voluntary ecclesiastical arrangement. Let two plans of Government, as far as we can see, be equally good and expedient in themselves, yet if there be but a fair probability of the one rather than the other proceeding from our Blessed Lord Himself, those who love Him in sincerity will know at once which to prefer. They will not demand that every point be made out by inevitable demonstration, or promulgated in form, like a State decree. According to the beautiful expression of the Psalmist, they will consent to be" guided by" our Lord's “ eye?;" the indications of His pleasure will be enough for them. They will state the matter thus to themselves : “ Jesus Christ's own commission is the best external security I can have, that in receiving this bread and wine, I verily receive His Body and Blood. Either the Bishops have that commission, or there is no such thing in the world. For at least Bishops have it with as much evidence, as Presbyters without them. In proportion, then, to my Christian anxiety for keeping as near my Saviour as I can, I shall of course be very unwilJing to separate myself from Episcopal communion. And in proportion to my charitable care for others, will be my industry to preserve and extend the like consolation and security to them.”
1 Butler's Analogy, part ii. c. 1.
Consider the analogy of an absent parent, or dear friend in another hemisphere. Would not such an one naturally reckon it one sign of sincere attachment, if, when he returned home, he found that in all family questions respect had been shown especially to those in whom he was known to have had most confidence? Would he not be pleased, when it appeared that people had not been nice for inquiring what express words of command he had given, where they had good reason to think that such and such a course would be approved by him? If his children and dependents had searched diligently, where, and with whom, he had left commissions, and having fair cause to think they had found such, had scrupulously conformed themselves, as far as they could, to the proceedings of those so trusted by him; would he not think this a better sign, than if they had been dexterous in devising exceptions, in explaining away the words of trust, and limiting the prerogatives he had conferred ?
Now certainly the Gospel has many indications, that our best Friend in His absence is likely to be well pleased with those who do their best in sincerity to keep as near to His apostles as they
1 Psalm xxxii. 9.