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« 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 thew the greatness of his power

and

put the inestimable treasure of his Gospel into earthen vessels, that the praise might be to God, and not to

grace; and

men.+

The idea of the personal fanctity 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."-Caly. Instit. 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 human 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 lefser 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 in. stituted, 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 para ticular confideration) this conformity to order was judged necessary to be observed. And if our blessed Saviour condescended to regulate his public exercise of a sacred 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 qualification whatever, to plead an exemption from it.

What zeal foever, therefore, a man may feel, and what qualification foever he may poffefs for the fervice of God; still God, to be ferved 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 sanction 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. Saul, it is prefumed, meant well, when, in the absence of SAMUEL, he offered the burnt-offering. But the sentence pronounced against him was, that in so doing “ he " had done foolishly; that he had not kept the com

K

mandments of the LORD his God, and that there. fore his kingdom should not continue.' I Sam. xiii. 8. There is not a more common deception than that which arises from the persuasion that the act is justified by the fincerity of the agent. Sincerity, it is to be observed, generally speaking, signifies nothing more than that a person is earnest in the pursuit of his object; that he really believes as he professes, and acts as his best judgment directs. But this fincerity may conlist with the most irregular practice, and the most unchristian disposition. A man,

for instance, may believe his own lie; and act upon it with the same confidence that another acts upon the truth: he may have a zeal for God's service, but not according to knowledge; he may earnestly purfue a wrong object, or a right one, by irregular means. In all such cases the scripture has furnished us with a general rule of judgment, where it tells us,

that “a man is not crowned, except he strive lawfully.And, " that there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." “ There are excellent works,” says Bifhop RexNOLDS, “ which being done without the call of God, do not edify but disturb the body. The way for the church to prosper and flourish is, for

every member to keep in his own rank and order; to remember his own measure; to act in his own sphere, to manage his particular condition and relations with spiritual wisdom and humility; the eye to do the work of an eye, the hand of an hand.”

In short, whatever ideas of serving God we may form to ourselves, God is not to be served by a breach of his commands. And this we may der upon, that God will be best served, when the attention of every person in his own order, shall be confined to the discharge of the duties appropriate to his particular station.

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