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ingly furnih us with proper and pertinent matter
for our ensuing meditations. • “Men and brethren, children” of the holy
stock, sacred to God by defcent, nor only from Christian parents at large, but from Christian priests also; who were, in a higher degree than others, “ holy to the Lord,” even as the Levitas, among the frws, had greater fanctity than the rest of the tribes; to you, in a particular manner, apperuineth this fcripture, and the comfortable a lurance given in it, that “ if the firit-fruit be “ holy, the lump is also holy; if the root be holy, « so are the branches. Permit me therefore io apply it, after the same manner that I have explained it, by contidering,
I. The great privilege, honour, and advantage, of our descent from the Christian prieithood.
II. The obligations we are under of adoraing our facred parentage by an antwerable sanctity of life and manners; and of distinguishing ourselves as much by an inherent and habitual, as we are a ready distinguished by an external and relative holiness.
III. The blesings, we may justly expect will befal us, as they have already, I doubt not, befallen us, on buih these accounts.
I The priesthood hath in all nations and all religions been held highly venerable ; chiefly in that nation which God selected to himself, and that religion which he prescribed to them. Now
the Leviticul priesthood was only typical of the Christian; which is so much more holy and honourable than that, as the institution of Christ is more excellent than that of Mofis. If therefore the “ prefent ministration be more glorious” than the former, the ministers more holy; fome advantage must needs redound to the offspring from the dignity of the parents. “Marriage, and a “ bed undefiled, is honourable in all men," and the Chriftian priesthood is of all others most bonourable; and therefore a descent from the mar. riage-beds of those, who were vested with this character, cannot but be honourable.
I am sensible, we live in a time, no ways favourable to these pretensions; a time, when our order, which ought “ highly to be esteemed in “ love, for its works fake,” is, on that very account, disregarded; when we are fo far from being encouraged to speak of our profession in those high terms of respect wherewith the faithful of the first ages, and even good princes and emperors themselves, always treated it, that the usual titles of distinction, which belong to us, are turned into terms of derision and reproach, and every way is taken by profane men, towards rendring us cheap and contemptible; when the divine authority of our mission, and the powers vested in us by the “ High Priest of our profession, Christ Jefus," are publicly disputed and denied, and the sacred ' rights of the Christian church’are scornfully trampled on in print, under an hypocritical pretence of maintaining them.
However, let not these indignities discourage us from asserting the just privileges and pre-emi.
nence nence of our holy function and character; Let us rather imitate the couragious example of St. Paul, who chose then to magnitv his frice, when ill men conspired to lefsen it. Shall the sons of Behel set themselves to decry our order, and by that means to disgrace our birth ? and shall not the Sons of Levi vindicate both by ireiking the truth in Christ, though they may be thought to “ speak « as it were foolishly in the confidence of boaste « ing?"... . . · If then others may be allowed to glory in their birth, why may not we? whose parents were called by God to attend him at his altar? were entrusted with the dispensation of his sacraments, with the ministry of reconciliation, with the power of binding and loosing? were set apart to take beed to the fuck of Christ, Acts xx. 28. “ over « which the Holy Ghost made them overseers, « and to feed the church of God, which he pur. “ chased with his own blood ? to hold forth the « word of life, to speak, to exhort, and to rem
buke with all authority?” Tit. ii. 15. If any station, any employment upon earth, be honour. able, theirs was ; and their posterity therefore have no reason to blush at the meinory of such an original. . The fountain of all temporal honour is the crown; but the fountain of the regal power and dignity itself, is God: From whom also our fa. thers according to the flesh received their priestly authority and character, by the intervention of men, in like manner authorized by God for that holy purpose; and under him, and them, were the minifters of the spiritual kingdom; wherein
we, their descendants (and many of us called to the like administration) “ do rejoice, yea and it will rejoice.” :
If thofe, who stand before earthly princes, in the nearest degree of approach, who are the immediate representatives of their persons, dispenfers of their favours, and conveyers of their will to others, do, on that very account, challenge high honours to themselves, and reflect some part of their lustre on their children and famia lies : Shall not they, who bear the like relation to Christ in his spiritual kingdom, and discharge the like ofhces under him, and of whom it may be as truly said as it was of the tribe of Levi, thać God “hath separated them from the congrega« tion, in order to bring them near to himself;" Numb. xvi. 9. Thall not they also deferve honour froni men on the account of their high station and trust; and derive some small share to those who descend froin thein!
If ample powers granted by the rulers of this world, add dignity to the persons entrusted with those powers; behold the importance and extent of the facerdotal commission. "As my Father " hath sent me, even so fend I you. Whoseso" ever fins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; « and wholesoever fins ye retain, they are retain«e:1," John xx. 21, 22.
If antiquity and a long track of time enoble families, those, from whom you come, can trace their fpiritual pedigree up even to Him, who was the founder of “ the church of the first-born" and “ of whom the whole family in heaven and “ earth is named." Let others justify their misVol. II.
sion, as they can: We judge not those without ; but are sure, we can justify that of our fathers, by an uninterrupted succession, from Christ him. felf; a succession, which hath already continued longer than the Aaronical priesthood, and will, we doubt not, still countinue, till the church militant, and time itself, shall be no more.
But our further boast is, brethren, that we have our rise, as from the clergy of Chrift; fo particularly from those of the church of England; a clergy, that for foundness of doctrine and depth of learning, for purity of religion and integrity of life, for a zeal in things pertaining to God, that is, according to knowledge, and yet duly tempered with candour and prudence (which is the true notion of that much talked of, much misunderstood virtue, moderation) I fay, a clergy, that on these, and many other accounts, is not exceeded, if to be paralleled, in the Christian world.
Ye are the sons of a clergy, whose undissembled and unlimited veneration for the holy Scriptures hath not hindered them from payingan inferior,buť profound regard to the b ft interpreters of Scripture, the primitive writers ; in whofe works as none have been more converfant than they, so none have made a better use of them towards reviving a spirit of primitive piety in themselves and others. And their searches and endeavours of this kind have been blessed with a remarkable success. For, as to the earliest and most valuable remains of pure antiquity (such as those of Barnabas, and Clement, and Ignatius, and Polycarp) I may safely venture to say, that the members of this church have done more towards either bring