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and the head of all authority. And in the grant of authority given at the still he appointed ministers under him ordination. of different grades.
He chose the To possess the keys of any commutwelve who were his constant atten- nity is expressive of the right of addants, and to whom he sometimes ex- mission into that community; and to plained in private, doctrines which he bind and loose, in Jewish phraseology, taught the people only in parables. He meant to decide upon acts, whetber also appointed the seventy: These they were lawful or unlawful. And were under his special and immediate should it be contended, that from the
authority conferred at ordination the But when his time was drawing to- apostles had any official right to forgive wards a close and his work was nearly sins, it will plainly appear from their finished, he fixed the great outlines of conduct that they laid claim to no sách that spiritual community which was to right. To govern the chureh, to adinclude all his followers. After this mit members, to declare the terms of solemı declaration, “as my Father pardon, and to exclude offenders, was hath sent me, even so send I you, he all they pretended to. breathed on them, and saith unto them, In the same solemn manner were the receive ye the Holy Ghost." This apostles commissioned that they had the church has viewed as the ordina. been ordained. “ All power,” said tion of the apostles : and two inferens our blessed Lord, “is given unto me ces flow froin it of great importance. in heaven and in earth ; go ye thereThe first is—as - the authority derived fore and teach all nations, baptizing from his Father included the right to them in the name of the Father, and of ordain others ; so this right of ordaining the Son, and of the Holy Ghost ;
was conveyed to them. teaching them to observe all things The second is--the Holy Ghost was whatsoever I have commanded you, given unto them, that is, the gift of of- and lo, I am with you always even unto fice was bestowed ; for until the day of the end of the world.” In this short Pentecost miraculous powers were not commission, there is a great deal inconterred. Still, to understand these cluded. In the first place, they were things fully, we must, as in the former to convince the world that Jesus Christ case, refer to the meaning annexed to was the Messiah-that he had atoned them by the apostles, and the manner for the sins of men. They were then in which they carried them into effect. to explain the leading doctrines of the
He then added, “whosesoever sins Christian religion, particularly repenye remit, they are remitted unto them: tance and faith, and their converts and whosesoever sins ye retain, they they were to place by baptism, under are retained:” Before this, he told the authority, direction, and influence Peter, in allusion to his name, upon
of God the Father, of God the Son, and this rock, I will build my church, and of God the Holy Ghost. And having the gates of hell shall not prevail thus received them into the holy comagainst it, and I will give unto thee the munity of Christians, they were to inkeys of the kingdom of heaven: and struct them more particularly in all the whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, minute points of Christian doctrine, shall be bound in heavey, and what- and by a salutary and spiritual discisoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall pline to bring them on,
till they be loosed in heaven."
should attain that holiness, without whatever it was, was not confined to which no man shall see the Lord.” St. Peter, for it was afterwards con- We come next to the institution of ihe ferred upon all the apostles. And we sacraments. may well suppose tbat it was included The sacrament of the Lord's supper
was instituted before the crucifixion. they were to be received into that holy And from its reference to the Jews' community, which was designed by passover, inasmuch as our Saviour was the Faiher, established by the Son, and the Lamb of God-as he declared the preserved and sanctified by the Holy bread and wine to be bis body and Gbost. blood, and required bis followers to Thus far then did our divine Mas. receive them in remembrance of him ; ter fix the principal arrangements of his we should suppose that the nature of holy church, before he ascended into this sacrament could hardly have been heaven. He ordained his apostles, and misunderstood.
constituted them the governours of his The passover was instituted in church. He commissioned them to memory of the Lord's passing by the preach the gospel, and to adinivister bouses of the Israelites, when he smote the sacraments. But before they should the first-born of the Egyptians. The enter upon this bigh and arduous work, sacrifice was a lamb without blemish, a in a world full of idolatry and of sin, male of the first year. The Christian he told them to wait in Jerusalem till passover is kept in memory of that they should receive power, “after that sacrifice, wbich consisted of the Lamb the Holy Ghost was come upon them.” of God, that once for all atoned for the Upon the day of Pentecost, this prosins of the world. And it would really mise was literally fulfilled ; and imseem that there was not the slightest mediately the apostles began to exeground for that tenet which bas long cute their sacred conimission. Under held a prominent place in the creed of this commission tben, and vested with a large portion of the Christian world, spiritual powers, let us see how they that the bread and wine were actually proceeded ; and first, with regard to the body and blood of our Lord. It the sacraments. anight as well be contended that our Wben St. Peter had made a powerSaviour was literally a lamb. The ful appeal to the Jews, and convinced figures are both of the same kind, and a large number of them, that Jesus, both highly characteristick of the na- whom they crucified, God had made ture of eastern language.
both Lord and Christ, while their Upon the part of those who receive hearts were pricked with remorse, and this sacrament, it implies a renewal of tbey manifested the most anxious sotheir repentance, and their faith in the licitude for their condition, he told atonement: and while these are the them, “ repent and be baptized, every erms as they regard the recipients, one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, the thing secured is a renewed appli- for the remission of sins, and ye shall cation of that atonement for the pardon receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." of their sins.
And this was uniformly the way purBaptism was not a new institution. sued with all adults. A conviction that The Jews baptized their proselytes, Jesus Christ was the Messiah, repenJohn baptized his penitents, and our tance of sin, and faith in the atonement, Lord his followers. . And he explicitly were always required before baptism. declared that the way to enter into his And when these requisites were found, kingdom was by being born of water it was never questioned, but that the and of the Holy Spirit. The initiatory baptized stood" justified from their forcharacter of this sacrament then is un- mer sins, and placed under the graquestionable. And when it was com, cious direction and influence of the manded that the apostles should bap- Holy Spirit, For even independent tize their converts in the name of the of the declaration of St. Peter, no Father, and of the Son, and of the other meaning could be annexed to Holy Ghost, it must have meant, that the expressions of the commission.
It is true, the Holy Ghost fell on sideration that infants are capable of Cornelius and his company before bap- receiving covenanted blessings and tism). These were, no doubt, the ex- knowledge. Nor was it easy for the traordinary gifts, but still baptism was first Christians to fall into any material commanded and practised ; and no man errour with regard to the benefits of can baptize a person in the name of baptism, while they were explicitly the Holy Ghost, without believing that taught to bring up their children in the such person is put under his gracious nurture and admonition of the Lord. influence, and holy keeping.
When irregularities had crept in, But it has been supposed, that a dif- particularly among the Corinthians, ficulty arises in the case of those, who with regard to the sacrament of the have been baptized in hypocrisy, pro. Lord's supper, the apostle Paul refer. fessing a faith which they did not hold, red them to the original institution of and pretending to a repentance, which that ordinance by our Saviour himself; they had not effected. With regard and taught them, that unless they viewto ministers, no difficulty exists, be- ed the bread and wine as symbols of cause they are never to baptize, with- the body and blood of Christ, and unout a profession of faith and repen- less they received them in rememtance. And in the case of hypocrisy brance of him, the sacrament would at baptism, or a falling away after- only be to them a ground of condemnawards, the 'course is clear they are tion. to admonish them to repent and to To these, the apostles added another pray to God for pardon. No instance, ordinance, not indeed of the high chahowever, is recorded of a second bap. racter of a sacrament, but still as a tism, from which the inference seems mean of grace, resting on apostolick to be clear, that they were vested with institution, and highly calculated for the privileges of the Christian cove. spiritual edification ; I' mean, confirmanant, although they were either not in tion. a condition to apply these privileges, We now resume the Christian minisor afterwards abused them. And cer- try, under the apostles. They first tainly, it is far from being the case, ordained deacons ; and although the that a baptized sinner stands in the reason assigned for their appointment same situation with one who was never was to relieve the apostles from the baptized. He is in the dreadful state care of the charities of the church, still of those unhappy persons to whom the qualifications required, and the somuch has been given, and of whom lemnity of their ordination indicated, much will be required ; or of those to that they were destined for higher whom a valuable talent has been com- purposes. That they should have been mitted but they have kept it without pious and honest men, was certainly improvement, and of course, they will right. But they were required to be be cast into outer darkness, where full of the Holy Ghost, and of wisdom: there will be weeping, and gnashing and this surely implied higher gifts of teeth.
than were necessary for mere tempoNor can it be doubted, that the com- ral concerns. Besides, the direction. mand'to baptize all nations was under- given by St. Paul to Timothy with restood to include infants, because the gard to the qualifications and characapostles baptized' whole families. ters of deacons, fully show, that they And in this construction, they were were an order of the ministry; and supported by the practice of the if in that station they conducted them. Jews, who circumcised infants-by our selves correctly, they would be raised Lord's declaration, that of such is the to a higher grade. Still, however kingdom of beaven--and by the con- strong these considerations may be, the
matter does not rest here ; for we find into that spiritual community that we that Philip, one of the deacons, both are baptized, and over it the Holy Spipreached and baptized, although he rit shed his sanctifying influence, and proceeded to no other ministerial act. not over any or every association form
They next ordained elders in every ed by the wisdom or the caprice of church. Now, the word translated to men. ordain, means to appoint to office by The next inference that we draw the laying on of hands. And this ac. from this view of the formation of the companied by prayer and fasting, Christian church is, that its constitumarks the solemnity and importance tion can never be changed, inasmuch of the act. Such spiritual officers too as the Christian seems to be the last being appointed in every church, im- dispensation. It has been fixed by plies that the charge of these churches our Saviour, and by his apostles, was committed to them by the apos- whom the Holy Spirit led into all truth; tles.
and of course, it is not the offspring Thus, then, we have three orders of of human, but of divine wisdom. ministers, apostles, elders, and deacons. To form a constitution for the civil And on this plan, the church of Jeru- government of a country, requires the salem was constituted.
highest exertions of human wisdom. We might proceed in delineating And when these exertions are applied, the different duties assigned to these even under the most favourable circumdifferent orders; and to some other stances, still it is the work of cominon parts of the constitution of the Chris- men, and by common men it may be tian church. But the limits of a ser modified or changed. But who would mon will not admit that we should far- venture to modify or change a work ther pursue the subject.
of divine wisdom ! Consequently, when In addition to the inferences occa- we are asked, where is the command sionally drawn from this view of the to continue this form of government, formation of the Christian church, we we may justly reply, that such a comshall add two. The first is, there must mand was rendered unnecessary by be a regular succession in the Christian the very nature of the thing. As well ministry. However much this point might we pretend to improve the doc. has been misunderstood, even in an trines of the gospel, as to change the age laying claim to high attainments, constitution of the Christian church. It it is an attribute of every government, is too perfect for human wisdom to civil as well as ecclesiastical ; nay, of improve, and whenever this has been every organized association. When a attempted, the result has been deforgovernment is once formed, all things mity and confusion. must proceed agreeably to its provi- The kingdom of God is not of this sions. And under the government of world. The church of Christ can exist, the United States, a senator can no under all governments, and in every more appoint an ambassador, than un- state of huinan society. der the government of the Christian It is true, we make canons, and. church,
a presbyter can ordain a minis. form rules for the regulation of our ecler. Authority of every description clesiastical concerns. But to borrow -rights of every kind, must remain terms from civil affairs, the constituwherever they have been lodged, tion of the church is the great Christian while the constitution continues un- charter, and these canons changed. Besides, it is of the Chris. by-laws. tian church that our Saviour is the head: While this great plan of salvation it was to it that he promised his pre- manifests the goodness of God in the sence to the end of the worldamit is highest degree, the manner in which
it was displayed to the world, and has
To the Editor of the Gospel Advocate. been preserved and applied, is also an illustrious proof of his tenderness and The author of the letter in your last compassion to the sons of men. For number, “ on the nature and evidences the whole, originated in pure love, was of conversion," appears to me to have conducted by divine wisdom, and misapprehended the opinions of the stands fortified by divine power. And great body of those wbo hold to the docwhat was the object of all this ? Not to trine of sudden conversion. I do not excite wonder, or to show authority, indeed pretend to any extensive ac. but to save fallen man ; to enlighten quaintance with this subject as a conhim by its doctrines--to destroy the troverted doctrine in theology. I can power of sin by its influence, and to only say, that almost the wboie of my reinstate man in the family of God. life has been spent among those who be
“ God so loved the world, that he liere conversion, as they understand the gave his only begotten Son, that whoso- term, to be the immediate effect of the ever believeth in him should not perish, operations of the Holy Spirit ; but I but have everlasting lite. When have never heard any one speak of it, as were yet witbout strength, in due time being such a change, as the author of Christ died for the ungodly.”. And the letter supposes, from a state of sia the establishment of the church, and to entire holiness and perfect obedience. the appointment of the ministry, were The mistake seems to have arisen from "s for the edifying of the body of the circumstance that the same word Christ, till we all come in the unity of is used in a very different sense by difthe faith, and of the knowledge of the ferent classes of Christians. The auSon of God, unto a perfect man, unto thor of the letter acknowledges, the measure of the stature of the ful- there may be instances in our day of ness of Christ.”
persons being suddenly brought to see With regard to us, my right reve. their wickedness, and to turn from it, rend and reverend brethren, in what a yet without any miracle wrought for responsible situation are we placed ! their reformation ; such, for instance, As men, we must feel terrified at the as those who all their life long have very thought of our being intrusted lived in the practice of gross vices. with such a dispensation ! As ambassa.. Their repentance, however, is but the dors for Christ, our sufficiency is of commencing-point of their reformation ; God. Our high commission, we must they must still go on perfecting holizealously and conscientiously execute. ness in the fear of God."
Now this, The duties of our office, we must faith. I believe, is precisely what a great fully discharge. And while we are number of Christians in this country engaged in the work of our divine call.conversion, or regeneration. They Master, the man with all his little tur. speak of conversion as the “ commencbulent passions must disappear, and ing-point" of the Christian character, not the minister of Jesus Christ, animated its completion; and they would perfectly by his Spirit, must stand conspicuous. agree with the author of the letter in the
Then will our church continue to be necessity of persevering in the way of a model and a light to the world ; and holiness. There may, perhaps,
be thus shall we be the happy instruments some few enthusiasts, who believe that of extending the kingdom of Christ; an entire change of heart is sometimes of fixing it permanently upon the ruins suddenly wrought from sin to perfect of that of satan, and of saving many a holiness ; but if there are such, the soul : and when our ministry shall be number is small; and those who hold ended, we shall receive a crown of a very different doctrine, surely ought glory.
not to be confounded with them, mere