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has committed his church upon earth, are called upon by the Apostle, not only “ to speak and exhort, but also to rebuke with all authority, and to let no man despise them.”

Where authority is committed, it is certainly with the intent that, so far as the exercise of this authority properly extends, it ought to be obeyed. In the case before us, then, we do not hesitate to say, that in proportion as the authority of the church is disregarded, the pillar of truth is shaken, and the cause of Christianity suffers. • In consequence, indeed, of the abuse that has been made of the spiritual authority, many have thought it not possible to be too much upon their guard against it. To steer clear, therefore, of the impositions of the Romish priesthood, they have hastily determined to pay no attention to that sacred office at all. But this, surely, is to correct one error by running into its opposite; by exchanging a blind credulity for a contemptuous disregard for a Divine institution.

Without encroaching, then, upon the right of private judgment, which, to a certain degree is acknowledged, we may venture to say in support of ecclesiastical authority, that if Christ hath appointed certain persons in his church, distinguished by their

station and office to be teachers and guides, it is the duty of the members of that church to be taught and guided by them, so far as their teaching and guidance conform to the revelation which they have in commission to publish. When the teaching or die rection of these appointed guides appears, not in the mere private opinion of the party, but upon evident and substantial reasons, to be contrary to the revealed will of God, they can no longer be a proper rule of duty; in such case the member of the church exercises the right of private judgment. But it must be remembered, at the same time, that though the private Christian be justified in the light of God for withholding active obedience from any rule or practice, which in his conscience are inconsistent with the laws of CHRIST, for he is to obey God rather than man; yet if in this case, instead of patiently submitting to the penalties denounced against his disobedience, he openly resist the authority of his appointed governors, by a conduct in direct opposition to their injunctions; he thereby renders himself accountable to God for rebellion against the established government of his church.

Upon this subject, then, we make the revealed will of Gop the fole standard of judgment, and call

for no submission to the clergy that may

be proved to be incompatible with it; but in doubtful cases, upon which a difference of opinion prevails, we claim that degree of deference to the determination of the appointed guides and teachers of the church, which a respect for their station demands, and the end for which their office was instituted, absolutely requires.

With less authority than this, it is not to be conceived, how it is possible for ministers of the church to execute the duties of their station. For if, in doubt, ful cases, where no positive law of God is to be found for the direction of the conscience, or where the law produced is differently interpreted, the opinion of the ruler and guide, of him who is appointed by God to teach in the church, is not to overrule that of the party to be taught; we havea government instituted without any authority annexed to it. For in this case every private Christian is left in a state of independence, to judge and determine for himself; upon which plan, the church, as a visible society, (the very being of which implies an authority to command, and an obligation to obey) could no where exist.

Subject to the above limitations, the ecclesiastical authority is no abridgment of Christian liberty. Under these limitations, therefore, we feel ourselves

justified in supporting its cause against the right of private judgment; taken in that unlimited sense, in which its zealous advocates are disposed to consider it.

Whilst, therefore, we protest against the Popish extréme, of leading men blindfold in their Christian profession, as inconsistent with the character of reasonable beings; we at the same time do not scruple to affirm, that every man is not qualified to form a judgment for himself in religious matters, much less to set up for a teacher and guide to his brethren. Were this the case, the pastoral office had been an useless one; and God, who does nothing in vain, would never have delivered a commission to particular persons, which might, with equal advantage, have been exercised indiscriminately by all: much less would He have thought it necessary to have furnished those persons with extraordinary powers for the discharge of it.

It was a complaint made by one of the primitive writers of the church, “ that the sense of the scriptures was the only piece of knowledge, which every one thought himself a competent judge of, without pains or study, without the help of a guide or instructor:” a presumption, which the levity and thoughtlessnefs of the age have tended to increase. But whilst

there are things hard to be understood in the fcrip, tures, which unlearned and unstable men did in the Apostles' days wrest to their own destruction; the notion that any man, without the aid of study or learning, is qualified to be an expounder of the word of God; “ rightly to divide the word of truth,” . as the Apostle expresses it; seems calculated not fa much to serve the cause of religion, as that of folly, enthusiasm, and imposture.

If men, therefore, are determined to exercise this boasted right of private judgment, at all events, upon the idea that Christian liberty authorises every man to worship God in his own way; they should at the fame time remember, that if through pride, or self, conceit, they despise instruction; and by turning their backs upon those pastors whom God has appointed to direct them, they fall into error, or prove the means of leading others into it; they must thank themselves for the consequences.

Supposing it possible that men might err with the church, they would have this plea in their favour; that they had followed those, whom, according to the constitution of the country in which God had placed them, they had been taught to look up to as their guides. Whereas if they have left the church,

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