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to that word, through which the definers for the most part impose on themselves and others; excluding themselves by the fallacy of words, from the apparent commission of that sin, which at the same time actually attaches to their case. The first and most general plea advanced upon

this occasion respects the holiness, or spiritual qualification, of the party who undertakes the office of the mi ry. 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; seeing that all the congregation was holy:” the inference from which seems to be, that the people had no need of the ministration of AARON, but could minister unto themselves. Upon this plea, the offspring of spiritual pride, Koray 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 terminated the contest,

But had we no lesson of experience upon this head to draw from the Jewish history, that of our own has taught us to view this plea with a very suspicious eye; because it has been ministerial 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 confusion, that the Constitution of this country was completely overturned in the last century; when preaching, and fasting, and praying, were made use of as convenient cloaks for rebellion, facrilege, and murder. We are therefore afraid, when we hear talk of gifted men, lest an increase of their number should lead to a repetition of the same dismal scenes,

But granting that the boliness of the party, on whose account many feel themselves justified in separating from the church, was really such 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, possessed holi. ness in a superlative 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 said unto him “ Thou art my son.” Heb. v. “ This honour (says the Apostle) no man taketh unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” Now AARON was called by an qutward call from God, communi. ated to him through the medium of Moses; fram whom, as God's prime minister, he received a formal appointment to his high office before all the people. Exod. xxviii. And from the circumstance of our blessed Saviour delivering the commiffion for collecting and governing his church, not to his disciples at large, but to his eleven. Apostles, purposely convened by him on the occasion, (as we read, MATT. xxviii. 16;) the conclufion may be drawn, that it was the design 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 best calculated to give effect to his Divine institution. 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 contro verted; and reason teaches us, that the wisdom of God has been manifested upon this occasion.

The church, as it has already been observed, is a fociety; and every society 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 chosen men to the administration of particular offices is essential.

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 frustrated, its consequent dissolution 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, confi. dered as a society, 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 qualification of the minister in spiritual 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 commision by which it is administered. For it is the commission which secures to us the Divine confirmation of the ministerial act, and not the personal qualification of the minister; that the eye of the faithful may be 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 administered 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 minifterial 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 effe a quo

ad. ministratur, sed velut ex ipfa Dei manu, a quo haud dubie profectum

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