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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 repre“ hensible in those who are properly chargeable “ with such encroachment, as is indeed any viola. « tion of order, and more especially when the vio“ lation tends to wound charity, and to promote di« vision 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 repre. hensible, he immediately adds-" But the repre« hension can affect those only who are conscious of " the guilt; for the fault of another will never frus“5 trate to me the divine promise given by the Mes. “ fiah, the great interpreter of the Father, the 66 faithful and true Witncis to all indiscriminately, s 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 follow'. ing conclusion is drawn from it. "I may be de. “ceived,” says the author, “in regard to the pre66 tensions 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 know“ ledge, or the capacity necessary for tracing the
faint outlines of ancient establishments, and forms s of government, for entering into dark and criti"s cal questions about the import of names and titles, " or for examining the authenticity of endless genea. “ logies; but I may have all the evidence that con“sciousness 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 faith the Lord, stand “ye in the ways and fee, and ask for the old paths, “where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye “ shall find rest for your souls.”+ 1 here 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 P
6 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 fee, and ask for the old
paths."-"Asking” implies some person or thing, of whom enquiry may be made; as where the children of Israel were commanded to “ ask their fa. “ thers," and to “alk 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 “ fame yesterday, to-day, and for ever ;” and being I hope, well convinced, that it ought to be received
and and embraced, just as it is represented 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.
* St. Mat. xi. 29.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, IN WHICH HIS RELIGION
IS RECEIVED AND EMBRACED, IS THAT SPIRITU. AL SOCIETY, IN WHICH THE MINISTRATION 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 COMMISSION FROM CHRIST.
W HEN the converted Hebrews received this command from an inspired apostle" Obey them “ that have the rule over you, and submit your. “ selves; for they watch for your souls ;"* they were thereby put in mind, not only that they had fouls to be “watched for," but also that the power or authority, which these watching rulers had over
* Heb. xiii, 17.