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But if any man, independent of all regular appointment, is to take upon himself the discharge of an office, for which he may feel himself disposed, or think himself qualified; the society having no longer any security for the proper management of its concerns, the end for which it has been collected being thereby frustrated, its consequent 'diffolution must ensue.
This mode of reasoning, so far as temporal affairs are concerned, we readily admit. Let it be applied, as it ought to be, to the case of the church, confidered as a fociety, formed by God under a particular government calculated to promote the end of its institution; and we shall conclude in one case, as in the other, that personal qualifications furnish no dispensation for an outward appointment to an office of trust; because this is the only security which the members of the church can have against imposture; it being the only criterion by which they can judge, who are the ministers of the church, and who are not.
We do not say that the personal qua lification of the minister in fpiritual matters, is not requisite to the proper discharge of his facred office; because it confessedly is so to a certain degree, and on that account truly desirable: but what we would be un.
derstood to say is, that in the administration of an outward facrament, which is to be considered as the appointed means of spiritual communication from God to man; nothing is to be regarded as absolutely necessary, but the lawfulness of the commiffion by which it is adininistered. For it is the commission which secures to us the Divine ĉonfirmation of the ministerial act, and not the personal qualification of the minister; that the eye of the faithful máy directed to the proper object, and God, not man, receive the glory.
JUDAs received a commission from our Saviour to baptize, no less than the other Apostles. And there can be no doubt, but that the baptism adminiftered by him was equally effectual with that administered by any other Apostle. Yet we read that this Judas was a devil. JOHN vi. From whence it is to be observed, that the power of Divine grace, happily for mankind, is not limited by the poorness of the instrument appointed to convey it; and that a ministerial act performed by proper authority, may be valid to the parties to whom it is applied, be the performer of it ever so unworthy.*
* “ Sacramentum non ex ejus manu estimandum esse a quo ad ministratur, fed velut ex ipsa Dei mand, a quo haud dubie profectum
“ For this cause," says ST. BARNABAS, in his Catholic epistle, c. 5, “ did Christ choose men who were exceeding finners, to be his apostles; to shew the greatness of his power
put the inestimable treasure of his Gospel into earthen vessels, that the praise might be to God, and not to
The idea of the personal sanctity of the minister being necessary to the effectual administration of his office, constituted one of the earliest errors in the Christian church; and has accompanied it through every stage of its progress. The effect of it, whereever it has prevailed, has been uniformly destructive of peace and unity; by fixing the eye of the Christian worshipper upon the man,
rather than upon the office; by which means the persons of ministers being held in admiration, the commission by which they have been authorised to act in the ministry has become an object of inferior consideration.
But it should be remembered, that there is an holiness of office, independent of the holiness of the
eft: inde colligere licet nihil illi afferri vel auferri ejus dignitate per cujus manum traditur.”-Calv. Inftit. lib. iv. c. 15.
† Such, we should remind the reader, is the principle laid down by our Church in her 26th Article.
minister; the former, being essential to the validity of the ministerial act, is on that account not to be dispensed with, whilst the latter only recommends and adorns it.
That these two qualifications should always meet together, is doubtless a circumstance most devoutly
to be wished; but as, through the infirmity of hu· man nature, this will not always be the case, it ought
to become an object of primary concern with us in our judgment upon this point, that the greater confideration be at no time facrificed to the lesser one.
Where the inward call of the Spirit is therefore pleaded as a warrant for undertaking the facred office, we have a right to expect that it should be accompanied with the outward call, or a regular appointment to that office; because reason tells us, that the end for which the church, as a society, was instituted, requires that thus it should be; because, moreover, where there could be no possibility of deception in the party, as in the case of our blessed SAVIOUR, (a circumstance which challenges particular consideration) this conformity to order was judged necessary to be observed. And if our blessed SAVIOUR condescended to regulate his public exercise of a facred office by this rule of order, with the view, doubtless, that it fhould become obligatory upon every succeeding minister in his church; we need not hesitate to call it something worse than presumption in man, upon the ground of any qualia fication whatever, to plead an exemption from it.
What zeal soever, therefore, a man may feel, and what qualification foever he may possess for the service of God; still God, to be served acceptably, must be served in his own way. Well-meaning people (and I wish to speak of them with respect, for we may honour their principle at the same time that we condemn their practice) should consider, that good intention and regular practice are two very different things; and that the former can never make amends for the disorder occasioned by the defect of the latter. On this account it is, that the intention of the agent is never admitted as a fanction for the irregularity of his a&t. Uzzah, it is probable, meant well, when he put
forth his hand to hold the ark.” But UZZAH was struck dead on the spot, for invading the office of the priesthood. i Chron. xiii. 9. Sául, it is presumed, meant well, wien, in the absence of Samuel, he offered the burnt offering. But the sentence pronounced against him was, that in fo doing “he “ had done foolishly; that he had not kept the com