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ovation of the evangelical institution in its native purity, and for the careful transmission of it to after ages.” And, when there were such strong reasons for the original adoption of a “certain external model of government,” it may well be presumed, that the apostles, supposing them to have been only possessed of common judgment, without the benefit of inspiration, could not fail, as governors of the church, to take the most effectual steps for the future establishment of what was so necessary to be adopted. Nay, so much was even Dr. Campbell convinced of the necessity of such an apostolic institution of government, that he pronounces “any presumptuous encroachment on what is evidently so instituted, to be justly reprehensible in those who are properly chargeable with such encroachment, as is indeed any violation of order, and more especially when the violation tends to wound charity, and to promote division and strife.” Happy had it been for the church in this kingdom, if what is here observed had been duly attended to by those from whom the author of this just remark derived his ministry.—Yet, as if afraid that he had gone too far in censuring such presumptuous encroachment as justly reprehensible, he immediately adds—“But the reprehension can affect those only who are conscious of the guilt; for the fault of another will never frustrate to me the divine promise given by the Messiah, the great Interpreter of the Father, the faithful and true Witness to all indiscriminately, without any limitation, that he who receiveth his testimony hath everlasting life.” ** * * There is a sense, in which part of this reasoning may be received as well-founded; but we cannot so easily perceive the connection, by which the following conclusion is drawn from it. “I may be deceived,” says the author, “in regard to the pretensions of a minister, who may be the usurper of a character to which he has no right. I am no antiquary, and may not have either the knowledge, or the capacity necessary for tracing the faint outlines of antient establishments, and forms of government, for entering into dark and critical questions about the import of names and titles, or for examining the authenticity of endless genealogies; but I may have all the evidence that consciousness can give, that I thankfully receive the testimony of Christ, whom I believe, and love, and serve.” * ... But surely this all-sufficient consciousness must arise from some source or other: and where there is a want of the “knowledge or capacity necessary” for such inquiries as are here alluded to, there must be an implicit reliance on the skill and fidelity of those teachers or spiritual guides, who ought to serve as “eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame,” who seem to be particularly pointed out for that purpose in the authoritative direction delivered to God's people in these words—“Thus saith the Lord, stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”t There were many, no doubt, in the days of Jeremiah, who might have availed themselves of this plea, that “they were no antiquaries, and had neither the knowledge nor capacity that was necessary” for such laborious and useless investigation. Yet the command is general, and sufficient instruction given how to proceed in discharging the duty enjoined. There is a “good way” pointed out for walking in, among the “old paths,” which are to be found out by “asking,” with earnestness and circumspection.—“Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths.”—“Asking” implies some person or thing, of whom inquiry may be made; as where the children of Israel were commanded to “ask their fathers,” and to “ask of the days that were past,” for such information as was necessary for directing their conduct. The same instructive information may still be obtained, if we are at due pains to apply for it, and do not trust too much to that inward “consciousness,” which often promises rest to the soul, without the trouble of any outward inquiry about “coming” to that Saviour, in the way and manner which he has prescribed, who alone can bestow this inestimable blessing, and “give rest to the soul that is weary and heavy laden.” • * Having, therefore, already considered his holy religion, the only way in which we can “come to him” for spiritual 'rest and comfort, as, like himself—“the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;” and being, I hope, well convinced, that it ought to be received and embraced, just as it is re“presented and held out in the scriptures of truth, without “adding thereto, or diminishing from it,” we shall now proceed, in consequence of what has been said, to establish another no less evident and important fact, which shall be the subject of the following chapter. s
* Vol. i. p. 87.
The Church of Christ, in which his Religion is received and embraced, is that spiritual Society, in which the Ministra...tion of holy Things is committed to the three distinct Orders of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, deriving their Authority ..from the Apostles, as those Apostles received their Commissian from Christ. * WHEN the converted Hebrews received this command from an inspired apostle—“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls;” they were thereby put in mind, not only that they had souls to be “watched for,” but also that the power or authority, which these watching rulers had over them, was of a spiritual nature, and such as had relation to that spiritual life, which, after being begun on earth, was intended to last for ever in heaven.—This single observation presents us with a just view of the difference between these two sorts of government, which have the things of earth, and the things of heaven for their several objects: A distinction which St. Paul, in another place, seems to point out as worthy of our notice, when he tells us, “the first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.”f Our earthy man must, therefore, be ruled and directed by such means and instruments, that is, by such forms or modes of government, as are suited to the various situations of things on this earth; where we are placed for a while, as in a school of instruction, to fit and prepare us for a more pure and permanent state in that heaven, from which came the second man, the Lord-the Almighty Restorer of our nature, to establish a government suited to the gracious design of his coming, and most admirably calculated to qualify and dispose his happy subjects for the possession of that unfading inheritance reserved for them in “his everlasting kingdom.” * Looking forward, with prophetic eye, to the establishment of this spiritual kingdom, and to the solemn inauguration of its heavenly King, the inspired Psalmist might justly say of it; “This is the Lord's doing, and it is marwellous in our eyes.” The setting up a pure and spiritual kingdom in the midst of a carnal and wicked world, and in spite of all the opposition which the prince of this world could make to it; the founding this spiritual building on a rock, “against which the gates of hell should not prevail.” was surely an astonishing exertion of divine power, and such as evidently showed the hand of that Almighty Lord, who can do what he pleaseth both in heaven and in earth. The “doings” of men are sometimes a little “marvellous in our eyes,” when we see them not only pulling down and destroying those venerable fabrics of civil government, which have stood for ages, the pride of human policy,” but even attempting to subvert the foundation of that ecclesiastical system, which, resting on the solid ground of divine institution, is not to be altered or new-modelled, as the work of human device, or in conformity to the manners, the prejudices, or civil constitutions of the different nations, in which the Christian church has obtained a settlement, Here we cannot but observe a remarkable difference between the “doing of the Lord,” and that of man, with regard to the nature of their respective works.-What the former does, is done at: once, and produced in full persection, according to the nature of the work, and the design which God has in view by producing it. It has therefore been justly observed, that “God never made his works for
* Heb. xiii. 17. + 1 Cor. xv. 47.