« AnteriorContinuar »
ing natures must derive the blessing of immortal glory. The holy sacraments are the instituted means by which God conveys to the penitent and faithful those spiritual and immortal blessings, for which repentance, faith, and obedience, are necessary qualifications. “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.” “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” We must sincerely repent of our sins; we must heartily believe the Gospel; we must walk in the paths of holy obedience; we must also enter into covenant with God by baptism; and ratifying our vows of allegiance and duty at the holy sacrament of the supper, commemorate the meritorious sacrifice of Christ. The sacraments are the means by which we receive the inestimable blessings of redemption --the pledges by which they are assured to us.
O ALMIGHTY GOD, who in thy wise providence hast appointed ordinances to be the memorials of thy love, and the pledges and channels of thy grace and mercy to a fallen world, teach me humbly to adore thy sovereign will, and reverently to submit to thy institutions. Ever cherishing a profound sense of thy almighty power, and of my own weakness, guilt, and dependence, may I repress the arrogance which would lead me to arraign thy dispensations, or to neglect and contemn the instituted means of grace. Thy infinite condescension and
goodness, O God, in setting forth and conveying, by ordinances and rites, the blessings of salvation, demand my sincere and lively gratitude. May I devoutly magnify thy name, that, by lively symbols addressing and engaging my senses, thou dost powerfully impress on my understanding the awful and affecting mysteries of my redemption, and dost awaken the affections of my soul in thy love and service. Ever mindful that thy almighty power can give efficacy to the most humble instruments, may I discern, by the eye of faith, under the outward and visible signs of thy holy sacraments, the inward and spiritual grace which they signify and are designed to convey. Save me, O God, from the guilt and presumption of endeavouring to separate what thou hast inviolably connected; of presuming to claim thy grace and mercy, while I neglect or contemn the means and pledges by which they are conveyed and assured to me. To the holy sacraments and ordinances of thy church may I ever have recourse, as the divine seals by which thy mercy is conveyed to my soul—the channels by which quickening, purifying, and refreshing streams flow from the fountain of thy grace. And while I thus reverence thy holy ordinances, and by steadfastly and constantly partaking of them, keep up my communion with thee, my God, may I ever remember that their inestimable blessings are fully conveyed only to the humble, the penitent, and the faithful. Teach me, therefore, O God, sedulously to cherish those virtues of humility, of penitence, and of faith, by which alone I can be a worthy partaker of thy holy sacraments, and expect to receive in them the communications of thy grace and love. O be thou pleased ever to guide and aid me in my preparation for thy holy ordinances. Let thy preventing grace quicken my penitence, confirm my faith, and awaken my
gratitude and love; that thus partaking of thy ordinances under a lively sense of my unworthiness, and with earnest desires for thy grace and mercy, they may seal to my soul the blessings of redemption, and reinstate me in thy everlasting love and favour. Hear me in these my humble supplications, O merciful God, and grant that the ordinances of thy church establishing in my soul celestial graces and virtues, may prepare me for admission into thy heavenly kingdom, where my soul shall drink at the fountain of immortal pleasure, and be satisfied with the fulness of glory and bliss, through Jesus Christ my Mediator and Redeemer. Amen.
MEDITATION. The mode by which authority to administer the Sacraments is to be deris
ved froin Christ, the Divine Head of the Church. CONSIDERING the sacraments as means and pledges of divine grace and mercy, it must be evident that their efficacy depends not on any inherent virtue, but on the power of God which accompanies them. Hence results the important truth, that in order to be effectual, to be acknowledged by God, and accompanied by his power, they must be administered by those who have received a commission for the purpose from him. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, to ascertain with whom God has vested authority to administer those sacraments which derive all their efficacy from being administered according to his appointment.
The Son of God, as the Redeemer of mankind; was constituted by his Almighty Father
the 6 Head of the church.” To him, as the King and Ruler of this spiritual kingdom, “ all power was given in heaven and in earth." From him, therefore, must emanate all authority in the church. The fanatic or enthusiast, who, invading any of the ministerial functions, pretends that he has received immediately from God a divine commission, cannot claim the confidence of mankind, unless, like the apostles, he proves, by the exercisc of miraculous power, that God is indeed with him. Every claim to the ministerial function, in the present day, founded on an immediate commission from God, must be rejected as false and impious. There remains, therefore, no way in which spiritual authority can be derived from the divine Head of the church, but through the agency of a set of men originally deriving their authority from Christ, and successively transmitting on it to the end of the world.”
In inquiring concerning the constitution of the Christian ministry, we would certainly be authorized in supposing, that in its orders it would resemble the Jewish priesthood. The Christian dispensation was only the glorious development and consummation of that divine system of grace and mercy, the outlines of which had been traced in the types and shadows of the Jewish ritual. As the types and shadows of the law were not abolished, but all gloriously fulfilled in the Saviour, and · in the ordinances of his spiritual kingdom, the presumption surely is not unwarrantable, that
as the Jewish priesthood subsisted under the three orders of high priests, priests, and levites, so the Christian ministry would be constituted under three orders resembling these. Accordingly, the notion was prevalent among the primitive fathers, that the orders of bishops, priests, and deacons, in the Christian church, were instituted in conformity to the three orders of the priesthood in the Jewish church.
That Christ transferred all spiritual power in the church to the apostles, is evident from the commission which he gave them. “As my Father sent me, even so send I you.” The Father sent him, the Prophet, the Priest, and Ruler of the church. The apostles, therefore, were commissioned to be the prophets, the priests, and the governors of the church.
That this commission was not temporary, and to die with the apostles; but, on the contrary, was to be perpetuated in the church, is evident from the concluding words of the commission: “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.” The apostles and their successors, therefore, were commissioned to promulgate the terms of salvation, to teach and enforce its doctrines and duties. They were also commissioned to intercede for and bless the people, and to present in the holy eucharist the commemorative sacrifice of the death of Christ. They were further commis·sioned to govern the church, to admit into and to exclude from its communion, to enact its laws, and to administer its discipline. And