Page images

From the epistle to the Trallians. "It is therefore necessary, that as ye do, so without your bishop you should do nothing; also be ye subject to your presbyters, as to the apostles of Jesus Christ our hope; in whom if we walk, we shall be found in him. The deacons also, as being the ministers of the mysteries of Jesus Christ, must by all means please all." S. 2." He that is within the altar is pure; but he that is without, that is, that does any thing without the bishop, and presbyters, and deacons, is not pure in his conscience." S. 7.

From the epistle to the Philadelphians The proem. "Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the church of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, which is at Philadelphia, in Asia; which has obtained mercy, being fixed in the concord of God, and rejoicing evermore in the passion of our Lord, and being fulfilled in all mercy through his resurrection: which also I salute in the blood of Jesus Christ, which is our eternal and undefiled joy; especially if they are at unity with the bishop, and presbyters who are with him, and the deacons appointed according to the mind of Jesus Christ; whom he has settled according to his own will in all firmness by his Holy Spirit." "For as many as are of God, and of Jesus Christ, are also with their bishop. And as many as shall with repentance return into the unity of the church, even these shall also be the servants of God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ. Be not deceived, brethren: if any one follows him that makes a schism in the church, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God." S. 3." Therefore let it be your endeavour to partake all of the same holy eucharist. For there is but one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ; and one cup, in the unity of his blood; one altar; as also there is one bishop, together with his presbytery, and the deacons my fellow servants; that so whatsoever ye do, ye may do it ac

cording to the will of God." S. 4."I cried whilst I was among you; I spake with a loud voice; attend to the bishop, and to the presbytery, and to the deacons. S. 7.

From the epistle to the Smyrneans. "See that ye all follow your bishop, as Jesus Christ, the Father; and the presbytery, as the apostles. And reverence the deacons, as the command of God. Let no man do any thing of what belongs to the church, separately from the bishop. Let that eucharist be looked upon as well established, which is either offered by the bishop, or by him to whom the bishop has given his consent. Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people also be; as where Jesus Christ is, there is the

catholick church. It is not lawful without the bishop, neither to baptize, nor to celebrate the holy communion ; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing unto God; that so whatever is done, may be sure and well done." S. 8." It is a good thing to have a due regard both to God and the bishop; he that honours the bishop, shall be honoured of God." S. 9.

From the epistle to St. Polycarp, bishop of the church at Smyrna. Speaking to the church through Polycarp, Ignatius says, "Hearken unto the bishop, that God also may hearken unto you. My soul be security for them that submit to their bishop, with their presbyters, and deacons. And may my portion be together with theirs in God.” S. 6.*

From the foregoing statement, it appears that, during the life of the apostles, the three orders of the ministry, bishop, presbyter, and deacon, existed in the church, as they do at this day. It likewise appears to be a little inconsistent, to disbelieve one of the most distinctive characteristicks of an author's writings, when those

• Archbishop Wake's translation of the Apostolical Fathers.

writings are acknowledged to be genuine, and to deny a matter of fact of which he must be allowed to be a competent witness. It is not treating the holy martyr with the respect due to his character, for one party to cull from his writings what will suit their turn, and reject the rest; for another to take part of what the first refused, and others something else that will serve their purpose, and to set down all they do not approve, as good for nothing. What then would become of the integrity of his works, of his faith, of his truth, of his testimony to the matter of fact for which he died! As the smaller epistles are acknowledged by the learned of all denominations, to be the genuine writings of Ignatius, we should, to be consistent, believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, and in the apostolical origin of Episcopacy, as well as in the testimony which he bears to the genuineness of the scriptures, because each of them is most explicitly declared in his writings.





NIAL CONVENTION OF THE EASTERN DIOCESE, SEPTEMBER 25, 1822. LUKE ix. 6.—And they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.

In this and the succeeding chapter, we have an account of the mission of the twelve, who were called apostles, and of the seventy, who were called disciples, to preach the gospel. In the charges given, and in the powers delegated to each of them by our blessed Lord, there is a strong resemblance. The import of their respective directions, is indeed, nearly the same; and so are the consequences stated as attending the reception or rejection of their mission. They were

alike directed to make no temporal provision for their journey, and to abide in the same house, in which they should first receive a hearty welcome; they were both authorized to act in his name, and as his representatives, and were charged to warn the people of the fatal consequences of rejecting their embassy, by shaking off the dust of their feet as a testimony against them. The account of this mission, and the directions given on this interesting occasion, afford matter for much useful reflection, adapted to the occasion, on which we are now convened.

In the first place, we learn that the twelve apostles and seventy disciples were sent. They did not undertake the embassy in their own name, or on their own responsibility. They did not run, before they were sent. They did not presume to preach the gospel, till they were divinely commissioned; nor to act as the representatives of the Lord Jesus, till they were invested with proper authority. They were called, sometime previous, to be apostles and disciples, but waited for a special warrant, before engaging directly in the work of the ministry. There were many who believed at this time in Christ, and heard him gladly; but out of this number, twelve only were chosen to be apostles, and seventy to be special messengers or heralds, to proclaim the advent of his heavenly kingdom.

Hence we derive a plain rule of action for our guidance in conducting the affairs of the church, at the present day. In laying the foundations and framing the original constitution of his spiritual kingdom, Christ proceeded according to rules of order; and, with an eye to the future condition of his church, pursued such a course as would, if followed, be most conducive to its prosperity. If, then, the observance of rules of order and regularity was needful, while the great Head of the church himself was on

earth, it has become much more so, requisite qualifications, and that the since his departure. As a kingdom, the sanction of this authority must be nechurch must have a particular organiza- cessary to a regular investiture with tion; as a government, it must have office? To me, this conclusion appears an appropriate discipline; as a socie- too plain and obvious to stand in need ty, composed of true believers, it must of any laboured arguments. It is a be constituted of regular officers and self-evident proposition, that regular suitable agents to administer its con- authority is necessary to the well being cerns; and as a body, of which Christ of the church; for its interests cannot is the head, its various members must be promoted, nor the rights and privihave their distinct spheres of action. leges of individual members be mainAll good men are not called to the tained without it: the conclusion, ministry, or to superintend the con- therefore, appears to be irresistible, cerns of the church. Its prosperity, that wherever certain qualifications like that of all other publick institu- are specified, there must be discretions, depends. under the will of God, tionary powers, lodged in some suitaon the wisdom and discretion with ble person or persons to decide upon which its internal concerns are managthem. These considerations afford ed. Its divine Head has never pro- strong ground for the belief that Christ mised to crown with success measures left not his kingdom without a regular dictated by the spirit of anarchy, or organization, and a regular form of devised in the councils of folly or government for the administration of madness. On the contrary, describ- its concerns. ing the qualifications of those who are to take the lead in its affairs, he says that they must be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves." Two important qualifications are here distinctly marked out, as necessary to those who are to occupy distinguished stations in the church, viz. wisdom and integrity. And who is to be judge in this case? Is each individual to decide on his own qualifications? and is every one who fancies himself to be wise, just, and prudent, therefore authorized to assume the functions of the sacred ministry, and invest himself with ecclesiastical authority? Does not the very specification of certain qualifications, particularly those which are of a very delicate nature, and of which the individual himself is least capable of judging, plainly imply the existence of some regular tribunal, by which ques tions of this description are to be decided ? If uncommon wisdom and unimpeachable morals are stated as essential qualifications for an office, does it not follow, as a necessary consequence, that authority must be lodged somewhere to examine as to the

But the sacred oracles do not leave us to the mere deductions of reason, on this subject. Not only the fact is asserted in them, that certain offices were ordained by God for the government of the church, but the requisite qualifications are described, together with the source of authority, and the mode of conveying it. Thus St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians xii. 23, God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdiy teachers.

In the same chapter, the church is compared to the human body, as exhibiting the same symmetry and harmony in all its parts, and is represented, at the same time, as having been thus constituted by its divine Head. Again, the same apostle in his address to the elders (or priests) of the church of Ephesus, as recorded in Acts xx. 28, speaks of their appoint. ment to office as having been made by divine authority. "Take heed to the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers." If we understand the apostle here to mean merely that the Holy Ghost had designated those persons to office, it must be taken

for granted that the office already exist ed; and such an appointment, made by the Holy Spirit, must be a sanction to the office, equivalent to divine institution. And finally, all those passages, directing provision to be made for the support of the ministry, plainly imply that the office already existed, and that it received divine favour and approbation. In addition to provision for its maintenance and perpetuity, the qualifications for it are explicitly stated. The scriptures teach to this effect. that "No man taketh this power to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron:" and the superintendents of the church are instructed, in the selection of suitable candidates, to have regard to their moral characters as well as to their aptness to teach. And the mode of investing men with the office, after their qualifications had been duly tested, was by the laying on of hands. Thus clear are the scriptures on these points, and thus powerful and incontrovertible are the arguments in favour of a gospel ministry of divine appointment.

II. When duly qualified, these messengers were sent to preach the gospel; or, as in the original, to evangelize. Wherever they went, they evangelized, i. e. proclaimed good tidings. It was the characteristick feature of the Christian embassy, that it was a proclamation of good tidings from God to man, a communication of joyful news from heaven to earth. When the angel first announced the birth of Christ, to the shepherds on the plains of Bethlehem, he announced it, as "good tidings of great joy which should be to all people." The heavenly host, like wise, which descended on this joyful occasion, exclaimed, on beholding the development of the glorious plan of salvation, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men." Our Saviour himself likewise, in commissioning his first messengers, directed them to announce

to their hearers the fact, that the king. dom of God was come nigh unto them. St. Luke informs us also that at a former period, Jesus "went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God," Luke viii. 1; or according to the idiom of the original, evangelizing the kingdom of God. The same form of expression occurs again in the epistle to Romans, x. 15, where St. Paul quotes an ancient prophecy, "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" or, that evangelize peace and evangelize good things.

These expressions help us to correct ideas of the nature of the message, which the apostles were sent to deliver. The tidings to be published were cheerful and pleasant. It was not their message which subjected them to ill treatment, so much as the ap parent inconsistency between their personal appearance and their high pretensions. What then must have been the peculiar character, the prominent feature of their preaching? It certainly would not have consisted in moral essays, or in delineating a system of theology, or in alarming appeals to the passions of the multitude, or in attempts to excite terrifick emotions. But their object was to announce a simple fact, and to prepare the minds and hearts of men for the accomplishment of an important event; it was, to carry tidings which would excite a lively interest, and to communicate intelligence which would be received with joy. They were to an nounce to the expecting Jews that "the kingdom of God was come nigh unto them," and in confirmation of the truth of the declaration, they were to heal diseases, and to cast out devils! This to the Jews was most welcome intelligence, intelligence in which were centered their highest hopes of tem poral and eternal felicity. It was not the design of this mission to proclaim

Jesus to be the Messiah. This was a discovery to be gradually made by evidence to be afterward presented; but a full disclosure was not to be made, till after his resurrection. His spiritual kingdom on earth was not in fact to be fully organized and established, till the great expiatory sacrifice was about to be offered on the cross for the sins of the whole world; when he publickly announced himself to be the Messiah, the king of the Jews. After his resurrection, when he had obtained a victory over sin and death, he directly commissioned the apostles, to preach the gospel to every creature; which commission, according to St. Matthew, was conveyed in the following words, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach [or disciple] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Or, according to St. Mark, thus: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Both of which commissions are of the same import. The apostles were authorized by them to evangelize all nations, or proclaim to every creature the good news of the advent and establishment of Christ's kingdom; inviting every one to flock to it and become members of it by receiving the initiatory right of baptism, with the promise that all who complied and obeyed, should be saved, and the threat that all who disbelieved, should be damned.

It is by no means to be supposed that the apostles confined themselves after the establishment of the church to a mere annunciation of the advent of the kingdom of God. They undoubtedly enlarged on the importance of receiving it, and the danger of reADVOCATE, VOL. II.


jecting it; and on several occasions, reasoned and proved from the holy scriptures, that Jesus was the Christ, or the Messiah. After having proclaimed the tidings, and made converts to the belief of them, they instructed the disciples or converts in the doctrines, the discipline, and the precepts of Christ's spiritual kingdom. But from the reasons now given, the inference must be plain, that to evangelize, or to preach the gospel, or to do the work of an evangelist, is not to inculcate hard sayings, cr to dispense paradoxes; nor is it to dazzle by eloquence, to confound by metaphysical subtleties, or to brandish the weapons of polemick theology. The chief duty of Christian ministers consists, after the work of evangelizing is accomplished, in instruction and disci pline. They are to enlighten the ignorant, to confirm the wavering, to reclaim the wandering, and to nourish the faithful disciples of Christ. word, they are to" feed the [evangelized] flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers;" to water, nourish, and cherish the plants, which have been placed under their immediate care, in the vineyard of the Lord.

[ocr errors]

In one

III. These messengers were authorized, as representatives of Christ, to treat with men,to act in his behalf, and to speak in his name. This idea is almost explicitly asserted in the instructions given on this occasion. He that heareth you, heareth me, and he that despiseth you, despiseth me, and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me." From this nothing can be plainer, than that the ministers of Christ are to act as his representatives; and that those who hear them, hear Christ, and those who despise them, or treat the office with contempt, are guilty of despising Christ and despising God. A similar view of the elevated nature of their station is given by St. Paul in his second epistle to the Corinthians, v. 20. "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we therefore

« PreviousContinue »