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to that word, through which the definers for the most part impofe on themselves and others; excluding themselves by the fallacy of words, from the apparent commiffion of that fin, which at the fame time actually attaches to their cafe.

The first and most general plea advanced upon this occafion refpects the holiness, or fpiritual qualification, of the party who undertakes the office of the ministry. This is neither more nor less than the plea of KORAH revived. The popular argument in the mouth of KORAH was, that "AARON took too much upon himself; feeing that all the congregation was holy:" the inference from which feems to be, that the people had no need of the ministration of AARON, but could minister unto themfelves. Upon this plea, the offspring of spiritual pride, KORAH and his company gathered themselves together against Moses and AARON; and the fixteenth chapter of the book of Numbers has recorded the fatal event that termi nated the conteft.

But had we no leffon of experience upon this head to draw from the Jewish hiftory, that of our own has taught us to view this plea with a very fufpicious eye; because it has been minifterial to the greatest calamities. We remember, that it was in the reign

of the Saints, as they were then called, the invaders of the priesthood in those days of confufion, that the Conftitution of this country was completely overturned in the last century; when preaching, and fasting, and praying, were made ufe of as convenient cloaks for rebellion, facrilege, and murder. We are therefore afraid, when we hear talk of gifted men, left an increafe of their number should lead to a repetition of the fame difmal scenes.

But granting that the boliness of the party, on whofe account many feel themselves justified in separating from the church, was really fuch as they think it to be; it does not authorise the poffeffor of it to take upon himself an office to which he has not been regularly appointed.

Our SAVIOUR, it will be allowed, poffeffed holinefs in a fuperlative degree; for" to him," we read, "the Spirit was not given by measure." JOHN iii. 34. But our SAVIOUR " glorified not himself to be made an high-prieft;" but He that faid unto him "Thou art my fon." Heb. v. "This honour (fays the Apostle) no man taketh unto himself, but he that is called of GOD, as was AARON." Now AARON was called by an outward call from GOD, communicated to him through the medium of Moses; fram

whom, as God's prime minifter, he received a formal appointment to his high office before all the people. EXOD. xxviii. And from the circumftance of our blessed SAVIOUR delivering the commiffion for collecting and governing his church, not to his difciples at large, but to his eleven. Apostles, purpofely convened by him on the occafion, (as we read, MATT. xxviii. 16;) the conclufion may be drawn, that it was the defign of the Divine Founder of the church, that the facred office of ministering in it fhould be fubject to that control and direction, which was beft calculated to give effect to his Divine inftitution. Upon this idea have the governors of the church uniformly proceeded, in the discharge of that com miffion, from the days of the Apostles down to the prefent time.

Thus ftands the fact; a fact not to be controverted; and reafon teaches us, that the wisdom of Gon has been manifested upon this occafion.

The church, as it has already been obferved, is a fociety; and every fociety is distinguished from the general mass of the community by its order and government. To the establishment of order and government, a regular appointment of chofen men to the administration of particular offices is effential

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 fociety having no longer any security for the proper management of its concerns, the end for which it has been collected being thereby fruftrated, its confequent diffolution must enfue.

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 cafe of the church, confidered as a fociety, formed by GoD under a particular government calculated to promote the end of its inftitution; and we shall conclude in one cafe, as in the other, that perfonal qualifications furnish no difpenfation for an outward appointment to an office of truft; because this is the only fecurity which the members of the church can have against imposture; it being the only criterion by which they can judge, who are the minifters of the church, and who are not. We do not say that the perfonal qualification of the minister in fpiritual matters, is not requifite to proper discharge of his facred office; because it confeffedly is fo to a certain degree, and on that account truly defirable: but what we would be un

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derstood to fay is, that in the administration of an outward facrament, which is to be confidered as the appointed means of fpiritual communication from GOD to man; nothing is to be regarded as abfolutely neceffary, but the lawfulness of the commiffion by which it is adminiftered. For it is the commiffion which fecures to us the Divine confirmation of the ministerial act, and not the perfonal qualification of the minifter; that the eye of the faithful may be directed to the proper object, and GoD, not man, receive the glory.

JUDAS received a commiffion from our SAVIOUR to baptize, no less than the other Apostles. And there can be no doubt, but that the baptifin adminif tered by him was equally effectual with that adminiftered by any other Apostle. Yet we read that this JUDAS was a devil. JOHN vi. From whence it is to be obfèrved, that the power of Divine grace, happily for mankind, is not limited by the poorness of the inftrument appointed to convey it; and that a minifterial act performed by proper authority, may be valid to the parties to whom it is applied, be the performer of it ever fo unworthy.*

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"Sacramentum non ex ejus manu eftimandum effe a quo ministratur, fed velut ex ipfa Dei manu, a quo haud dubie profectum

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