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length led to their captivity and dispersion. It was also when there was no king in our' Israel, and when, in consequence of the Apostolic government of the Church being superseded among us by an overbearing faction, every man did what was right in his own eyes; that fixty different sects prevailed in this land, presenting such a motley religion, as left the greater part of its inhabitants without any found notions on the subject. It stands moreover upon record, that Dury, one of the leading and most zealous patrons of presbytery, and Melvill's principal instrument in establishing that form of Church government in Scotland; as if twenty years' experience had furnished him with full conviction of the truth of Jerom's affertion, that bishops were originally placed at the head of the Church, that the feeds of schism might be taken away, ( ut schismatum semina 'tollerentur;") left the following testimony on his deathbed in favour of the original Apostolic government. When some brethren came to visit him, he requested them to tell the Assembly as from him, “ that there was necessity of restoring the ancient
government of the Church, because of the unruliness of the young ministers, who would not be advised by the elder fort, nor kept in order. And since both the state of the Church did require it, and the King did labour for it, he wished them to make no trouble therefore, but only to insist with the King, that the best minifters, and of greatest experience, might be preferred to
places." And there is a curious circumstance in favour of Episcopacy, not perhaps generally known, recorded by Mr. Jones in his life of Bishop Horne, informing us, that JOHN WESLEY, a semi-separatist from the Church of England, and the founder of a numerous sect, invested two ministers with the Epifcopal character, (at least so far as he was capable of so doing) and in that capacity sent them over to America. The reason for this conduct, according to his own acknowledgment, was “ to prevent disorders and confusions among his poor people (as he called them) in America, now all religious connexion between this country and the colonies was at an end.” An anecdote, which fully proves, that unity had, in Mr. Wesley's opinion, been preserved among his people by their relation to the Episcopacy of the Church of England; from which neither he nor they did ever profess themselves to be in a state of separation. And although Mr. Wesley had not himself profited by the opinion delivered by the celebratedMr. Lawt on the eccentricity of his enthusiastic un
* SKINNER'S“ Ecclefiaftical History of Scotland;" vol.ii.p.236.
of When John and CHARLES WESLEY began their new ministry, one of them went to consult with Mr. Law, as a person of profound judgment in spiritual matters; and when the case had been opened, and the intention explained, Mr. Law made answer,“Mr. WESLEY, if you wish to reform the world, and spread the Gospel, you must undertake the work in the same spirit as you would take a curacy in the Peak of Derbyshire; but if you pretend to a new commission, and go forth in the spirit and power of an Apoftle, your scheme will end im Bedlam."-Jones's Life of Bishop HORNE, p. 187.
dertaking, he was still wise enough to see that the establishment of the Episcopal Church government was the only plan, by which the irregularities of a licentious ministry were to be prevented.
But exclusive of the conclusion to which the foregoing considerations will, if permitted, lead the intelligent reader, there is one circumstance, admitting it to stand on firm ground, which ought to shut up all controversy on this subject.
The commiffon, by virtue of which the Apostles and their successors became governors of the Church, originally proceeded from the head of the Church: it consequently conveyed an investiture of authority from the only Fountain, from whence authority, in spiritual matters is to be derived. “ As my father fent me, (said Christ to his disciples, the Apostles) so send I you.” And from the circumstance of the original delivery of the Apostolic commission being accompanied with a declaration, which plainly imported the continuance of it to the end of the world; the Church has reasonably and universally concluded, as might be proved from the most unanswerable evidence, that it was the Divine intention, that this fame commission, for the accomplishment of the same divine object, should accompany the Church through every stage of its progress. In conformity with this admitted and established principle, the governors
of the Church of England have uniformly proceeded in their authoritative delegation of the ministerial office. Either then this commission, thus regularly handed down to us, is still in force, or not. If it be, all authority in the Church must continue to be derived from it. If it be not, it is incumbent on those who act on this presumption, by assuming a ministerial office in the Church, independent of
any authoria tative appointment, to inform us, at what period this commission determined; because, if it be determined, the Church and its ministry are determined with it.
God, it is certain, can be bound only by himself; or by persons deputed and commissioned by him to engage in his name. The Sacraments are the seals of that covenant, in CHRIST by which God hathi thought fit to be bound. The administration of them Christ formally committed to his Apostles, and their facceffors, for the benefit of his Church to: the end of time. The validity of these seals depend ing, therefore, on the commision of the administering party, it follows, that where this commiffion, originally delivered by our Saviour, and by his authority successively, continued in the Church, does not aétu. ally subfift, there the facraments administered are not seals of the Divine covenant, but must be considered in the light of human ordinances.
This circumstance of the stewardship of the Divine mysteries being vacated, whereby the regularly-establidhed administration of the Evangelical covenant comes to an end in the world, is a circumstance, that should weigh down all the comparative trifling con
fiderations, which are suffered to distract the minds of difsenting Christians at any period. In all churches are to be found speculative opinions, concerning which a layman, who is not obliged to subscribe the public confeflion of faith, need give himself very little trouble to enquire, whether they are true or false. But a defect in the mission of the ministers of the gospel invalidates the facraments, affects the purity of public worship, and can therefore be no fubject of indifference, 'as points of doubtful opinion are generally concluded to be; but a subject of primary and effential importance to every Christian professor. It has been faid indeerl, with a view, it is presumed, to that accommodating fyftem which the Church of England is now persuaded to adopt, on the principle of every thing being doubtful concerning which a difference of opinion exifts, (whether the subject under consideration has been fairly examined, or not;) that " when numbers are against the Establishment, the scale will turn; and if we do not buttress up our Establishment with those who are separated from it, the fabric must fall.” This language we certainly understand, when made use of with reference to the representation of his nation in a British House of Parliament; but when applied to the Church of CHRIST, we as certainly do not: because, with the constitution of the Christian Church numbers can have nothing to do. And it must be to a want of information sufficient to distinguish between the Church of Christ as a spiritual