Project Canterbury










Delivered at the Convention of the Church in the said State,
in Trinity Church, in the City of New-York,
on Tuesday, October 3d,
A. D. 1815


Assistant Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of New-York,



No. 100 Pearl-Street,



Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2008



THE delivery of Charges to the Clergy is a duty resulting from the nature of the episcopal office, sanctioned by immemorial usage, and contemplated by the canons of our Church. The addresses at the opening of the Convention present a view of the state of the Diocess, and afford an opportunity for remarks on the subject of ecclesiastical affairs. It is the design of episcopal charges to explain and to enforce whatever relates to the Christian ministry--its constitution--its distinct grades--their general and particular powers and duties--their qualifications, literary, theological, and ecclesiastical--the responsibility of their office--its difficulties, its aids, and its rewards. In fine, as to the ministry is committed the administration of the doctrine, the sacraments, and the worship of the Church, there is no point immediately or remotely connected with these subjects which may not be embraced in an episcopal charge. From the variety and the importance of these topics, it is easy to infer how instrumental [3/4] these charges may be in exciting and aiding both him who delivers them, and those to whom they are addressed, in the faithful, diligent, and zealous execution of the duties of the ministry.

In the Church from which we are descended, these charges are delivered at the visitations of the Bishop to the Clergy collected on these occasions. With us there appears no opportunity for them more suitable than at the meetings of the Clergy in annual Convention. On these occasions, indeed, we are happy in the presence of our brethren of the Laity, whom it has not been usual to address on any topics connected with religion and the Church in the form of a charge, but of a pastoral letter. It would be impossible, however, to form a charge to the Clergy on religious or ecclesiastical subjects, in which the Laity would not have an interest.

I have thought that our attention, at this time, would be profitably directed to the nature of the Christian ministry, particularly as set forth in the offices of ordination prescribed by our Church, and which we have derived from the Church to which we trace our origin.

It is evident, from these offices, that our Church considers the ministry, in the various orders of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, with their appropriate powers, as of divine institution.

Before she enters on these offices she announces this truth in the preface to them: "It is evident unto all men diligently reading Holy Scripture and ancient authors, that from the Apostles' times [4/5] there have been these orders of Ministers in Christ's Church, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons." In the office of making Deacons, in that of ordering Priests, and in that of consecrating Bishops, she solemnly declares the same truth in the supplications to Almighty God, whom she addresses, as having, "by his Divine Providence and Holy Spirit instituted divers orders of Ministers in his Church;" and Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, are enumerated as these orders. She considers an external commission conveyed by episcopal consecration or ordination as necessary to constitute a lawful ministry; declaring, that "no man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, in this Church, or suffered to execute any of the said functions, unless he has had episcopal consecration or ordination; and vesting the power of ordaining, sending, or laying hands upon others, in the Bishops only."

[* Footnote: It may be said, that the association of Priests with the Bishop in the laying on of hands in the ordering of Priests, is evidence that our Church does not consider Bishops alone as competent to ordain. This opinion cannot be more conclusively refuted than in the words of Hooker. "Here it will, perhaps, be objected, that the power of ordination itself was not every where peculiar and proper unto Bishops, as may be seen by a Council of Carthage, which showeth their Church's order to have been, that Presbyters should, together with the Bishop, lay hands upon the ordained. But the answer hereunto is easy; for doth it here upon follow that the power of ordination was not principally and originally in the Bishop? Our Saviour hath said unto his Apostles, With me ye shall sit and judge the twelve tribes of Israel; yet we know that to him alone it belongeth to judge the world, and that to him all judgment is given. With us, even at this day, Presbyters are licensed to do as much as that Council speaketh of, if any be present. Yet will not any man thereby conclude that in this Church others than Bishops are [5/6] allowed to ordain. The association of Presbyters is no sufficient proof that the power of ordination is in them; but rather that it never was in them we may hereby understand; for that no man is able to show either Deacon or Presbyter ordained by Presbyters only, and his ordination accounted lawful in any ancient part of the Church; every where examples being found both of Deacons and Presbyters ordained by Bishops alone oftentimes, neither even in that respect thought unsufficient." Ecclesiastical Polity, Book vii. sect. 6.]

[6] It is not my intention, brethren, to detain you with a minute exhibition of the evidence of these truths, thus explicitly and solemnly declared by our Church. It is doubtless evidence which is familiar to you. But the view which I have proposed to take of the Christian ministry, as set forth in the offices of our Church, would be imperfect, if no notice were taken of truths so prominently displayed in them.

Apart, indeed, from its divine origin, the office of the ministry is connected with the very existence of religion. There never was, there never can be a religion without a priesthood.--Christianity consists of doctrines, of precepts, of sanctions, and of rites and ordinances. There must be, therefore, an order of men set apart for the purpose of explaining its doctrines, of enforcing its precepts, of unfolding its sanctions, and of administering its rites and ordinances. The origin, therefore, of the Christian ministry must have been human, if it had not been divine.

But it is the characteristic of the Christian Church that it is not an human institution. It is a society constituted by that divine personage who purchased it by his blood, and who still [6/7] presides over and governs it as its Almighty head. By him, therefore, must the officers of this Church be established and commissioned. Accordingly, when he ascended up on high, to take upon him the office of the invisible Head and Ruler of his spiritual kingdom, he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. He had previously vested the twelve disciples with full power to organize his Church, and declared that he would be with them, and with the ministry constituted by them, to the end of the world. This is the origin of the Christian ministry, and the establishment of that principle of succession by which this ministry is perpetuated.

Its powers are conferred by an external commission. This commission is contained in the words "take thou authority to execute the office of a Priest;" or, in the words which our Saviour employed, "receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a Priest;" that is, receive not the ordinary or the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost, but that gift of office, that power of ministering in the Church which the Holy Ghost confers.

The necessity of this commission results from the divine origin of the ministry, which can be derived only from the Head of the Church, by an external commission conferred by those who, in succession from his apostles, are empowered to convey it. Listen on this subject to the inimitably forcible language of the author of the Ecclesiastical [7/8] Polity, the judicious Hooker--"No man's gifts or qualities can make him a minister of holy things unless ordination do give him power." [* Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, Book v. sect. 78] "The ministry of things divine is a function, which, as God did himself institute, so neither may men undertake the same but by authority and power given them in lawful manner. They are, therefore, ministers of God, as from him their authority is derived, and not from men. In that they are Christ's ambassadors and his labourers, who should give them their commission, but he whose most inward affairs they manage? Is not God alone the Father of spirits? Are not souls the purchase of Jesus Christ? What angel in heaven could have said to man as our Lord said to Peter, "Feed my sheep; preach; baptize; do this in remembrance of me," &c. What think ye? are these terrestrial sounds, or else are they voices uttered out of the clouds above? The power of the ministry of God translateth out of darkness into glory; it raiseth men from the earth, and bringeth God himself from Heaven--by blessing invisible elements, it maketh them invisible grace; it giveth daily the Holy Ghost; it hath to dispose of that flesh which was given for the life of the world, and that blood which was poured out to redeem souls. When it poureth malediction upon the heads of the wicked, they perish; when it revoketh the same, they revive. O, wretched blindness, if we admire not so great power; more wretched, if we consider it [8/9] aright, and notwithstanding imagine that any but God can bestow it!" [* Ecclesiastical Polity, Book v. sect. 77.]

It is the express declaration of the apostle--"No man taketh this honour to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." More forcible still to the same point is the example of Christ himself, who, though "the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person, glorified not himself to be an high priest, but he that said unto him--"Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." Surely there must be great presumption and great guilt in assuming, without a valid external commission, the office of ministering in the things pertaining to God, when the Son of God himself did not enter on his ministry until he was visibly commissioned from on high. "This is the crime, (I use the words of one whom the Church will long venerate for his eminent piety and talents, [* Bishop Horne]) for which the leprosy once rose up in the forehead of a monarch, and Korah and his company, holy as they all thought themselves to be, went down alive into the pit."

In the exercise of the full power which the Apostles received of organizing the Church and constituting its ministry, their history records that they ordained Elders or Presbyters in the churches which they founded. But in whom did the Apostle vest the power of ordination, by which the ministry was to be perpetuated? Not in these [9/10] Elders, but in a distinct order. [* "The power of ordaining both Deacons and Presbyters, the power to give the power of order unto others, this also hath been always peculiar unto Bishops. It hath not been heard of, that inferior Presbyters were ever authorized to ordain." Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, Book vii. p. 136.] Of this the cases of Timothy and Titus furnish irrefragable proof, and on these cases we may rest the scripture evidence on this point. In Ephesus and Crete the Apostles had ordained Elders. Is there any evidence that the power of ordination was conferred on these Elders or Presbyters? Do we find epistles addressed to them, giving them singly, or as a body, power to ordain, or directions concerning the exercise of this power? No--but Timothy and Titus are sent to these churches with the full power, and for the express purpose, of laying on hands, of ordaining to the ministry. [* 1 Tim. v. 22. Titus i. 5.] The conclusion is irresistible, that the Elders constituted in these churches did not possess this power. "Will they say that every Pastor there was equal to Timothy and Titus in these things? If they do, the Apostle himself is against it, who saith, that of these two very persons he had made choice, and appointed in those places them for performances of those duties; whereas, if the same had belonged unto others no less than to them, and not principally unto them above others, it had been fit for the Apostle, accordingly, to leave directed his letters concerning these things in general unto them, all which had an equal interest it them; even as it had been likewise fit to have [10/11] written those epistles in St. John's Revelation, unto whole Ecclesiastical Senates, rather than only unto the angels of each Church, had not some one been above the rest in authority to order the affairs of the Church." [* Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, Book vii. sect. 4.]

It is in vain to say that Timothy and Titus enjoyed this power as extraordinary officers, in the character of Evangelists. Presbyters and Deacons, in Apostolic times, were also Evangelists, proclaiming the glad tidings of salvation to the world. And if the superior powers of Timothy and Titus ceased with them, because they were Evangelists, so ceased for the same reason, the powers of Presbyters and Deacons. Thus, in demolishing Episcopacy, this argument subverts the Christian ministry.

But how happens it that Elders or Presbyters are styled in Scripture Bishops? [* In the general use of the term Bishop, it extends to all spiritual governors and overseers. In the restrained and peculiar acceptation of the word, "A Bishop is a minister of God, unto whom, with permanent continuance, there is given not only power of administering the word and sacraments; which power other Presbyters have; but also a further power to ordain ecclesiastical persons, and a power of chiefty in government over Presbyters as well as Laymen, a power to be by way of jurisdiction a pastor even to pastors themselves." Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, Book vii. sect. 2. vol. iii.] To Presbyters was entrusted, in subordination to the Apostles, and to the higher order of the ministry, the oversight of the flock. They were, therefore, styled Overseers or Bishops. But superior to them were the Apostles and others, as Timothy at Ephesus, and Titus at Crete, and the angels or messengers [11/12] of the seven Asiatic Churches. And to those who succeeded the Apostles in the supreme power of ordination and government, the title Bishop became appropriated, and Presbyter remained the distinguishing title of the second order of the ministry. [* "Churches apostolic did not know but three degrees in the power of ecclesiastica1 order; at the first Apostles, Presbyters, and Deacons; afterwards, instead of Apostles, Bishops. Concerning the signification of the word Bishop, it is clearly untrue that no other thing is thereby signified but only an oversight in respect of a particular Church and Congregation. For, I beseech you, of what Parish or particular Congregation was Matthias Bishop? His office scripture doth term Episcopal; which being no other than was common unto all the Apostles of Christ, forasmuch as in that number there is not any to whom the oversight of many pastors did not belong by force and virtue of that office; it followeth that the very word doth sometimes, even in Scripture, signify an oversight, such as includeth charge over pastors themselves. And if we look to the use of the word, being applied with reference unto some one Church, as Ephesus, Philippi, and such like, albeit the guides of those Churches be interchangeably in Scripture termed sometime Bishops, sometime Presbyters, to signify Men having oversight and charge without relation at all unto other than the Christian laity alone; yet this doth not hinder, but that Scripture may, in some place, have other names, whereby certain of those Presbyters or Bishops are noted to have the oversight and charge of Pastors, as out of all peradventure they had whom St. John doth entitle Angels." Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity. Book vii. sect. 11. vol. iii. p. 171.] It is proper here to remark, that the term Priest is also applied in the offices of our Church to this order; agreeably to the practice of the primitive fathers, who call usually the ministry of the Gospel priesthood, a title which implies the offering of sacrifice, because this ministry offers that which the Gospel hath, proportionable to sacrifice, the communion of the body and blood of Christ. [* Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, Book v. sect. 7.]

[13] It cannot be necessary for me to detail the proof from ancient authors, on whose testimony also, our Church rests the apostolic institution of Episcopacy. There is one fact, however, which must be familiar to every person, which seems to determine the point that Episcopacy prevailed in the first ages of the Church. There is no ancient ecclesiastical writer extant who does not speak of certain individuals as Bishops of particular Churches; for instance, Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch; Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna; Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage; or who mentions as contemporary with them in their particular Churches any other Bishops. This acknowledged uniformity of appellation in all ecclesiastical writings is unaccountable, except on the supposition that there was in each of the primitive Churches, some one individual, supreme in the powers of ordination and government, on whom was bestowed the title of Bishop.

[* An argument to the same purport is thus stated by Hooker. "Another argument, that the regiment of Churches by one Bishop over many Presbyters hath been always held Apostolical, may be this. We find that throughout all those cities where the Apostles did plant Christianity, the history of times hath noted succession of Pastors in the seat of one, not of many (there being in every such Church evermore many Pastors), and the first one in every rank of succession we find to have been, if not some Apostle, yet some Apostle's disciple. By Epiphanius the Bishops of Jerusalem are reckoned down from James to Hilarion, then Bishop. Of them which boasted that they held the same things which they received of such as lived with the Apostles themselves, Tertullian speaketh after this sort: Let them, therefore, show the beginnings of their Churches; let them recite their Bishops one by one, each in such sort succeeding other, that the first Bishop of them have had for his author and predecessor some Apostle, or at least some Apostolical [13/14] person, who persevered with the Apostles. For so Apostolical Churches are want to bring forth the evidence of their estates. So doth the Church of Smyrna, having Polycarp, whom John did consecrate. Catalogues of Bishops in a number of other churches (Bishops, and succeeding one another) from the very Apostles' times, are, by Eusebius and Socrates collected; whereby it appeareth so clear, as nothing in the world more, that under them, and by their appointment, this order began, which maketh many Presbyters subject unto the regiment of some one Bishop. For as in Rome, while the civil ordering of the commonwealth was jointly and equally in the hands of two Consuls, historical records concerning them did evermore mention them both, and note which two, as colleagues, succeeded from time to time; so, there is no doubt but ecclesiastical antiquity had done the very like, had not one Pastor's place and calling been always so eminent above the rest in the name Church." "And shall we think that James was made Bishop of Jerusalem, Evodious Bishop of the Church of Antioch, the Angels in the Churches of Asia Bishops, that Bishops every where were appointed to take away factions, contentions and schisms, without some like divine instigation and direction of the Holy Ghost?" Ecclesiastical Polity, vol. iii. p. 134, 135.]

In the argument that though Episcopacy may be the original and Apostolic institution, it is not unalterably binding; there is a glaring fallacy. What is Episcopacy? It involves essentially the exclusive power of ordination in Bishops. If, then, Episcopacy be the original and Apostolic institution, Bishops received from the Apostles the power of ordination, of transmitting that external commission from the divine Head of the Church, without which there can be no ministry, and which can only be transmitted by a succession of persons. The fallacy then of the argument is, that by supposing Episcopacy is not unalterably binding, it supposes that some other order of men than those originally vested with it, may exercise that power of ordination, which can only be derived from Christ and his Apostles.

[15] The power of the ministry must proceed from Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. It can be derived from him only by an external commission. This commission can come only through that order of men originally vested with the power of conveying it; for no one can exercise, or can confer a power in the Church, which he has not received. If Episcopacy was the original constitution of the Church, Bishops are this order of men. The conclusion is that Episcopacy is unalterably binding, because it is the originally constituted mode of conveying that external commission, which is essential to the Christian ministry, and which must proceed from the Head of the Church, through that channel in which his Apostles, whom he authorized for the purpose, originally placed it.

In presenting to you this succinct view of the sentiments of our Church relative to the Christian ministry, and the evidence for them, I have had very principally the design to impress the caution, that we do not rank these opinions among the non-essentials of Christianity.

There is often an invidious distinction made between the doctrines and the institutions of the gospel. And yet they have both a divine origin, and they are inseparably connected as means to the same end--the salvation of man. Justification by a living faith in the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and through the sanctification of the Divine Spirit, is a fundamental doctrine of the gospel. It pervades all the articles, and animates [15/16] all the offices of our Church; and her ministers should make it the basis of all their instructions and preaching.

But it hath pleased God to constitute a visible Church, and to make its ministry and ordinances the means and pledges of this justification. "The Lord added unto the Church, we are told, the saved." [* Acts ii. 47.] Believers are always spoken of as members of Christ's mystical body; and it is the Church which Christ hath purchased with his blood, and which he sanctifies by his spirit.

But if you destroy the ministry, what becomes of the visible Church? If you render an external commission unnecessary, what becomes of the ministry? And if you change the mode originally constituted for conveying this commission from the divine Head of the Church, what assurance can we have that we enjoy it?

Our Church, on these subjects, speaks unequivocal language. She considers Bishops, Priests, and Deacons as existing from the Apostles' times, as constituted with their appropriate powers by God's Providence and by his Holy Spirit: and she declares that she admits no one as a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, who hath not had episcopal consecration or ordination. Let us not go beyond her language; but let us not refrain from avowing it; let us not diminish its force--Let us not do this (I will not suppose it possible) through that most undignified and unworthy motive, a wish to [16/17] obtain a transitory popularity with those who reject the claims of Episcopacy. What, on this subject, is the language of one who can never be suspected of carrying any truths to an extreme? "The ministering of the discipline (says the venerable Bishop of our Church in Pennsylvania,) requires of the Presbyter the sustaining of the Episcopal system in his ministrations. There have been some ministers of our communion, who, from affectation of liberality, have encouraged, under their superintendance, ministerial doings implying an entire disregard of Episcopal sanction. Even in regard to the professed charity of such a practice, it is in appearance only; because charity will always best be manifested, in forbearance to those who differ from us; and in thinking well of their motives and of their persons, as far as circumstances may warrant, rather than in sacrificing our principles to theirs." [* Bishop White's Commentary on the Questions in the Office for the Ordering of Priests.]

As evidence of the duty of every minister to inculcate the principles on which the discipline of our Church is founded, I may refer to his solemn promise at ordination, not only faithfully to minister discipline but to "teach the people to keep and observe the same." The candidate also declares his conviction, that he is "called according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Canons of the Church," to the office of the ministry; and "to justify the candidate, in making this declaration," [17/18] I use the language of the Bishop of our Church in Pennsylvania, "he should be convinced, after due inquiry, that the Church to which he looks for ordination is a true Apostolic Church, deriving its authority from that founded by the Apostles. For since they did confessedly found a communion, and since it did confessedly transmit its ministries, there seems no possible right to the name of a Christian Church, at present, but in succession from the originally established body." [* Bishop White's Commentary on the Questions in the Office for ordaining Deacons.]

But it is of the utmost importance that the duty of inculcating Episcopal principles, should be discharged with prudence. They should not be urged at improper seasons or places; nor decidedly and fully upon those whose prejudices or whose passions require that the truth should be gradually opened to them; nor should they ever be expressed in language harsh or violent, or admitting inferences not intended or not warranted. Let these principles be inculcated in the spirit of liberality; rendering respect to the motives, the talents, and the piety of those who reject them. Let them be inculcated with humility, carefully avoiding all appearance of arrogance; all ostentation of superiority; and, on all occasions, showing that we consider, in this favoured country, all denominations of Christians as equal in the eye of the law, and equally under its safeguard; and only claiming for ourselves the right, enjoyed by others, of [18/19] peaceably avowing and maintaining our peculiar principles. Let these principles be enforced in the spirit of fervent affection for the Redeemer's kingdom, of holy zeal for its advancement. In inculcating them we may, indeed, be animated by the firm persuasion, that if the blessed Head and Saviour of the Church were now to appear on earth, he would sanction, as his legitimate ministry, that which his Apostles constituted, and which they and succeeding martyrs to his name have surrounded by the rampart of their blood; that in this ministry is to be found the only band of union among Christians as a visible society, the true principle of the unity of the Church; and that this ministry, and this only, will serve at her altars, in that happy period, when, from those altars, shall ascend, with one heart, and with one mouth, the praises of the redeemed, to God their Saviour, and when the Zion of the Lord, at unity in herself, shall, indeed, become a fair place, and the joy of the whole earth.

Let us not only inculcate these principles, but let us cherish in our own minds a sense of their importance. Let us avoid, as far as possible, all situations which may require us either to estimate as non-essential these principles, or to appear inferior to others in Christian liberality; and which may place the benevolent and social feelings of our nature at variance with our fidelity to truths solemnly avowed by our Church, and considered by her essential to her polity; and which we are to guard as the rallying points which [19/20] will finally bring into one fold the dispersed and discordant Israel of God.

On this subject let me detain you while I illustrate the great importance of distinguishing between the ministry and the government of the Church, properly so called.

The ministry of the Church necessarily includes only the orders of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, with their subordinate and appropriate powers and these are of divine institution.

But the government of the Church, including these orders of the ministry, and thus far being of divine origin, extends to all those other offices which the Church may deem it expedient to organize; to the mode in which her ministers are elected and vested with jurisdiction; and to the particular organization by which her legislative, executive, and judiciary powers are exercised. Considered in reference to these latter objects, the government of the Church is of human origin.

It is expedient, then, that we speak of the divine institution of the Episcopal ministry, or of Episcopacy, and not of the divine institution of Episcopal government. In using the latter term as equivalent to the former, we are immediately met with the concessions of many of the most eminent defenders of our Church, who, using the term government in the ecclesiastical sense which I have stated, maintain, and maintain properly, that there is no form of Church government prescribed in God's word; and yet they strenuously contend for the divine prescription of Episcopacy, [20/21] of the orders of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, with their appropriate powers. Thus, to instance in the judicious Hooker. From the quotations which I have made from him, there can be no doubt of his maintaining that Episcopacy, the three orders of the ministry, with their appropriate powers, are ordained of God. Yet in opposition to the Puritans, who contended that nothing ought to be established in the Church which is not commanded by the word of God, and that the particular form of Church government was there established, Hooker maintains, "That although there be no necessity, the Holy Scriptures should of purpose prescribe any one particular from of Church government, yet touching the manner of governing in general, the precepts that Scripture setteth down are not few, and the examples many which it proposeth for all Church governors, even in particularities, to follow; yea, that those things, finally, which are of principal weight in the very particular form of Church polity (although not that form which they imagine, but that which we against them uphold) are in the selfsame Scriptures contained." [* Ecclesiastical Polity, Book iii. sect. 4.] The things which are of principal weight in Church policy, and which are prescribed in Scripture, are the three orders of the ministry, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, which Hooker says, had "their beginning from Christ and his blessed Apostles themselves." [* Ecclesiastical Polity, Book v. sect. 78.] His third [21/22] book is devoted to proving the right of the Church to make ordinances and laws not contrary to Scripture; and the duty of obedience to such ordinances and laws he asserts with great force and eloquence: "Laws human must be made according to the general laws of nature, and without contradiction unto any positive law in Scripture; otherwise they are ill made. Unto laws thus made and received by a whole Church, they which live within the bosom of that Church must not think it a matter indifferent either to yield or not to yield obedience. Is it a small offence to despise the Church of God? My son, keep thy father's commandment, saith Solomon, and forget not thy mother's instructions; bind them both always about thine heart. It doth not stand with the duty which we owe to our Heavenly Father, that to the ordinances of our mother, the Church, we should show ourselves disobedient. Let us not say we keep the commandments of the one, when we break the law of the other; for, unless we observe both, we obey neither. And what doth let, but that we may observe both, when they are not the one to the other in any sort repugnant? For of such laws only we speak, as, being made in form and manner already declared, can have in them no contradiction to the law of Almighty God." [* Ecclesiastical Polity, Book iii. sect. 9.]

But the evil of this synonymous use of terms goes farther. In avowing the divine institution of Episcopal government there is danger of being misunderstood, [22/23] and of being represented as maintaining the divine institution of that ecclesiastical establishment, in all its parts, which subsists in that country from which we are descended.

But the spiritual Church of England, if I may so speak, and the civil Church of England, are entirely distinct; and I cannot more safely or more perspicuously express this distinction, than in the language of one of the most eminent prelates who have adorned that Church. "To the Prince or to the Law, (says Bishop Horsley,) we are indebted for all our secular possessions; for the rank and dignity annexed to the superior order of the Clergy; for our secular authority; for the jurisdiction of our courts; and for every civil effect which follows the exercise of our spiritual authority. All these rights and honours with which the priesthood is adorned by the piety of the civil magistrate, are quite distinct from the spiritual commission which we bear, for the administration of Christ's kingdom. They have no necessary connexion with it; they stand merely on the ground of human law." [* Horsley's Charge to his Clergy when Bishop of St. David's]

The spiritual Church of England we are proud to resemble. Palsied be my heart and my tongue when the one ceases to beat with gratitude to her, and the other to speak her praises. The spiritual Church of England we resemble in all essential points of doctrine, discipline, and worship. But with the civil Church of England we totally differ; [23/24] and the difference consists in non-essential points of discipline.

Her spiritual Episcopacy and ministry; her orders of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, we possess; we are proud to possess them. These constitute our claim to the character of an Apostolic Church. But we differ from her in our clergy enjoying no temporal powers; in our Church being no farther related to the state, than as amenable to its laws, and protected by them; and in her being destitute of those inferior offices of Arch-Deacons, Deans, Prebends and others, which are only of human institution. I may securely, (says Hooker) therefore, conclude that there are, at this day, in the Church of England, no other than the same degrees of ecclesiastical orders, namely, Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons, which had their beginning from Christ and his blessed Apostles themselves. As for Deans, Prebendaries, Parsons, Vicars, Curates, Arch-Deacons, Chancellors, Officials, Commissaries, and such other like names, which being not found in Holy Scripture, we have been thereby, through some men's error, thought to allow of ecclesiastical degrees not known, nor ever heard of in the better ages of former times; all these are in truth but titles of office, whereunto partly ecclesiastical persons, and partly others, are in sundry forms and conditions admitted, as the state of the Church doth need, degrees of order still continuing the same they were from the first beginning.

[25] Again, we resemble the Church of England in that essential point of Episcopacy, that the ministerial power is derived from the divine Head of the Church by Episcopal consecration or ordination. In both Churches there can be no Bishop and no minister who is not episcopally consecrated or ordained. But we differ from the Church of England in the mode by which persons are appointed to these sacred offices. In England, Bishops are appointed by the King, and afterwards consecrated by Bishops; and persons are presented to livings by patrons, and then ordained. With us, Bishops are elected by the clergy and representatives of the laity, in convention; and ministers are chosen to parishes by the vestry or congregations.

Further--we resemble the Church of England in maintaining the authority of the Church to legislate in matters of faith, according to God's word, and not contrary to it in all other matters; and in requiring to the validity of any legislative act, the consent of all orders who are affected by it, of Bishops, Clergy, and Laity. But we differ in the mode by which this legislative power is exercised, and by which the consent of these orders is obtained. In England the Bishops and Clergy, in the two houses of convocation, and the Laity, in parliament, exercise the legislative power of the Church; and it would appear that many laws which respect her secular discipline and organization, receive the sanction of the parliament alone. But in our Church the Bishops and the representatives of the clergy and laity meet in [25/26] general convention, and exercise, in two houses concurrent powers: the consent of all being necessary to the validity of an ecclesiastical act.

We resemble, also, the Church of England in the essential principle on which the judiciary of the Church is constituted. In both Churches the Bishop of the Diocess is at the head of the Judiciary, and no public censure or condemnation can take place except in the due course of law. But in England, ecclesiastical courts are constituted and enforced by the laws of the land. The system of ecclesiastical jurisprudence is considerably complicated, and the sentences of the courts are enforced by civil pains and penalties. In our Church there are no civil pains or penalties for ecclesiastical offences; and, strictly speaking, there are no ecclesiastical courts. Presentments for offences are examined under the superintendence of the Bishop, by boards of the clergy, or by committees, and the judgment of the Bishop in the case is to be final. Hence, it must appear, that it would be absurd to apply to ecclesiastical proceedings in our Church, the precedents and practices of the ecclesiastical courts of Great-Britain, any further than as they involve some essential points of Episcopacy, or some principles of general law.

The points of resemblance and of difference between the two Churches, in other respects, might be pointed out. But the above is sufficient to illustrate the importance of distinguishing between the ministry and the government of the Church: between her essential spiritual power [26/27] and officers which are of divine authority, and those temporal honours and advantages, or ecclesiastical offices, which, in particular countries, may be annexed to her. Our Episcopacy is purely spiritual; and our Church, in reference to her powers, possesses only those which the Church enjoyed in the first ages of Christianity; while subject to the persecution of heathen emperors, she drank the cup of affliction, and before she was loaded with the riches of the kingdoms of the earth, and crowned with the insignia of temporal dominion. We resemble the primitive Church in our faith, in our ministry, and in our worship. Let it be our care to resemble her in sanctity of manners, in devotedness to our God and Saviour.

I have thus laid before you the general principles of our Church with respect to the Christian ministry, particularly as deduced from the offices of ordination. In these we observe another particular, the care with which our Church guards the entrance to the ministry. She declares, in the preface to these offices, that "none are to be admitted to the ministry except they be first called, tried, examined, and are known to have such qualities as are requisite for the same." In pursuance of this declaration, her canons demand that, in order to the admission of a person as a candidate for orders, the authorities of the Church are to be satisfied not only of his pious and moral character, but of his possessing such "qualifications as may render him apt and meet to exercise the ministry to the glory of God, and to the edifying [27/28] of his Church." Several examinations are prescribed on his literary and theological qualifications, previously to his admission to Deacons' orders. Another scrutiny then takes place relative to his pious and moral deportment, and to his fitness for the ministry; and a still further examination and scrutiny, at the time of his admission to Priests' orders. Added to all this, a solemn caution is given to the Priest who presents persons for Orders, that they be "apt and meet for their learning and godly conversation to exercise the ministry duly, to the honour of God, and the edifying of his Church." The congregation are called upon to testify if there be any impediment or crime that should exclude them. And the candidates, in the answers to the questions proposed to them, are required to give such solemn pledges as should make every individual shudder who cannot humbly trust that he can sincerely give them.

You perceive, however, from this statement, how much depends, in guarding the entrance to the ministry, upon those of the Clergy and Laity whose previous testimonies are required, as well as upon him by whose hands the ministerial commission is to be conferred. There is no trust, my Brethren, more important, or more responsible. The honour of God, and of his holy religion, the peace and prosperity of the Church, the salvation of the souls of men, depend upon our resolutely excluding from the ministry not only those who are destitute of piety, of talents, and of learning, but those who are deficient in the other qualifications [28/29] of humility, of modesty, of prudence, and of love for the ministry, not on account of any secular advantages which they may anticipate from it, but of its spiritual character and objects. If a Clergyman does not possess piety, humility, prudence, and devotion to the ministry, his talents and learning will render him more extensively mischievous in the Church of Christ. In excluding an unworthy person from the ministry, we also perform the greatest act of kindness to his soul; for he must declare his "trust that he is moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon him the office of the ministry"--moved by the Holy Ghost as the author of all those tempers and graces which fit him for this sacred work. What a tremendous declaration, when made by one who is destitute of these graces!

Let us stop him before he touches the first step of the altar, lest he pour forth on it unhallowed vows, and be smitten by the wrath of God. Let us arrest him at the threshold of the sanctuary, lest, in its sacred courts, he should be the scoff of the ungodly, and the grief of the pious. Let us arrest him before he enters the Christian fold, and sows dissention among the sheep of Christ, and dishonours the Holy Spouse, and rends the sacred body of the Redeemer. Difficult and painful may afterwards be the task of expelling him from the altar which he profanes, from the sanctuary which he disgraces, from the fold and body of Christ which he dishonours and rends. But let me seize this occasion of reminding you, that this exercise [29/30] of the discipline of the Church, also, is a sacred duty. He who addresses you, assures you, that he feels it to be a duty for which he must account to the great Head of the Church; and he makes this assurance, in order to remind his brethren of the Clergy and Laity, that, according to the canons of the Church, it rests with them to take the first measures to enable him effectually to discharge it.

Our Church having, in the preface to the offices of ordination, ranked Deacons among the orders of ministers, prescribes the form and manner of making them. In this form she recites the qualifications for the office of a Deacon in the first Epistle to Timothy, and a portion of the sixth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, as evidence of the Apostolic institution of this office. From this chapter it appears that Stephen, Philip, and others, were chosen into this office of Deacons, and solemnly set apart thereto by prayer, and by the laying on of the hands of the Apostles. The immediate occasion of their appointment was to relieve the Apostles from the charge of the poor, by superintending the distribution of the alms of the people. Even from the history of their appointment, however, we can scarcely suppose that this was their sole duty. It is not probable that they would have been set apart by prayer and by laying on of hands, solemnities signifying a spiritual designation, if their duty had related only to the temporalities of the Church, and if they had not received at least a portion of the power of [30/31] the ministry. We have unequivocal evidence that the Deacons received a portion of spiritual power in the case of Stephen, the Deacon, who preached; [* Acts vi. 9, 10.] and particularly of Philip, the Deacon, by whose preaching several of the Samaritans were converted, and by whom they were baptized. [* Acts viii.] That Deacons were originally set apart to spiritual functions, there is still further proof in the fact that from the earliest ages of the Church they have exercised these functions. And it is utterly unreasonable to suppose that in Apostolic and primitive times, they would have been permitted to usurp spiritual power.

Our Church, therefore, constituted on the Apostolic and primitive model, considers Deacons as one of the three orders of the ministry, which have been from the Apostles times. By the course of study which she prescribes them, she designs to fit them for the ministry. She sets them apart by prayer and by the laying on of hands. All the promises which she exacts from the Deacons, recognize their spiritual functions; and she particularly defines them to be--"to assist the Priest in divine service, and especially when he ministereth the Holy Communion, and to help him in the distribution thereof; and to read Holy Scriptures and homilies in the Church; and to instruct the youth in the catechism; in the absence of the Priest to baptise infants; to preach, if he be admitted thereto by the Bishop." The charge of [31/32] the poor, and the distribution of alms, are considered his duty, where provision is made for the purpose.

The Deacon is considered as an assistant to the Priest, who has the charge of a congregation; and he exercises his spiritual functions in particular subordination to the Bishop, and to the Priest under whom he is appointed to serve. In few parishes in this country is there provision made for the support of a Deacon, as an assistant to the Priest; and there being many more congregations than clergymen, Deacons are, necessarily, frequently placed, by the ecclesiastical authority under whose direction they are while they remain Deacons, in congregations where there is no Priest. As they do not possess, however, the full spiritual power of the priesthood, and, particularly, authority to administer the Holy Communion, they cannot be considered as having the complete charge of a congregation.

In reference to the subordinate grade which they hold in the orders of the ministry, is the language employed by the Church concerning them. She prays that they may be "modest, and humble, and constant in their ministrations," that they may "have a ready will to observe all spiritual discipline," and that they "may so well behave themselves in this inferior office, that they may be found worthy to be called unto the higher ministries of the Church." Is it possible that a Deacon can enter into the spirit of these solemn supplications, that he can cherish them as he ought [32/33] to do, constantly in his heart, and be self-sufficient and arrogant, when his years and his station require him to be modest and humble; that he can be positive, dogmatic and censorious, when he particularly is called to be distrustful, hesitating, and charitable; that he can be impetuous, and foremost in novel and untried paths, in which even his superiors, in age and in the ministry, should engage with diffidence and with caution. Happy am I in cherishing the confidence that this is a description which will not apply to the Deacons who, with so much credit to themselves, and usefulness to the Church, labour in this Diocess. On the contrary, let me be permitted to bear testimony, that in all my intercourse with them, prompted as I always am to forget that I sustain any other relations to them than those of their friend and brother, there is no official respect or deference, which does not seem, on their part, as much a dictate of inclination as of duty. But in respect to them, to myself, and to all my brethren in the ministry, there is a caution which can never be untimely or improperly urged--"Let him who thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."

The office of Priests consists in the ministry of the doctrine, the sacraments and the discipline of Christ, in subordination to the higher authorities of the Church. It is impossible to express their important and interesting character and duties in language more forcible and more affecting, and yet more simple, than that which our Church employs--"We exhort you," is her language, "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye have in remembrance into how high a dignity, and to how weighty an office and charge ye are called; that is to say, to be messengers, watchmen, and stewards of the Lord; to teach and premonish, to feed and provide, for the Lord's family, to seek for Christ's sheep that are dispersed abroad, and for his children who are in the midst of this naughty world, that they may be saved through Christ for ever."

The sheep of Christ, then, whom he bought with his death, and for whom he shed his blood, are the treasure committed to the charge of the Christian Priest. The salvation of the souls of men, is the object of his instructions, his labours, and his prayers.

Most solemn are the promises which the Church exacts, as to the manner in which the duties of his office are to be discharged. These promises respect his daily life; his family; his study; his parochial duties; the temple of his God; the Church of his Redeemer.

As to the life and character of the Christian Priest, the Church prays that he may be "adorned with innocency of life;" "that he may be clothed with righteousness;" and exhorting him to this effect, she also requires from him the promise, that "he will be diligent to frame and fashion himself, so as to be an wholesome example to the flock of Christ."

Holy should be the Christian Priest. He serves at the altar of that God who chargeth his angels [34/35] with folly. In prayer and intercession for the people, the Christian Priest goes up to the highest Heavens, even to the throne of the Holy One--Shall he go there with an heart unholy, with garments unclean? He takes into his hands, the body and blood of Christ, symbolically set forth in the bread and wine of the altar. My Brethren, shall these hands be polluted by sin? He whom his Divine Master hath set forth as a comfort and example to believers, shall he, by his unholy life, call forth their tears, and hurt and hinder their salvation? Ungodly minister of Jesus! I would say to thee in the language of the Church, when she was receiving thy vows--I can use none more impressive or awakening--"Great is thy fault, horrible the punishment that must ensue."

Holy, I repeat it, must be Christian Priests. Holy in their hearts; holy by the renewing power of the Holy Ghost, by the lively exercises of penitence and faith, by a practical knowledge and application to themselves of the plan of salvation. They must be able to realize the pains of a wounded conscience; for they are to sympathize with the spiritual mourner. They must feel the value of the pardoning love of the Redeemer; for with this love they are to cheer and comfort the spirit depressed by a sense of its sins, of its guilt, and of its unworthiness. And they must know, also, the terrors of the Lord; they must have a lively sense of his justice, his holiness, and his majesty, that they may arouse and persuade [35/36] the careless, the lukewarm, the profligate, and the unrenewed, to lay hold of eternal life.

His family, as well as his own life, the Christian Priest promises to be "diligent in framing and fashioning, so that they may be wholesome examples and patterns for the people to follow;"--patterns in the reverence, and the constancy of their attendance on the worship and ordinances of the sanctuary--patterns in the simplicity and sobriety of their manners and habits--patterns in every Christian grace, in every work of piety and benevolence.

The Christian Priest promises that he will be "diligent in prayers, and in reading the Holy Scriptures, and in such studies as help to the knowledge of the same, laying aside the study of the world and of the flesh." In the retirement of his study does he fulfil this part of his sacred obligations: there holding intercourse with Heaven, he draws down into his soul, its holy tempers and graces: there, by prayer and meditation, he daily seeks to subdue his infirmities, to quicken his graces, to become more weaned from the world, and more devoted to the service of his Master: there, before the throne of this gracious Master, he pours forth all his griefs, all his difficulties, and seeks and obtains direction and support. Christian Priests must be men of prayer; for they are to teach others to pray, and by prayer alone can they be fortified and divinely aided for their arduous duties--"Ye will continually pray, [36/37] (exhorts the Church, contemplating their weighty work) "to God the Father, by the mediation of our only Saviour Jesus Christ, for the heavenly assistance of the Holy Ghost." From the devout exercises of his holy retirement, the Christian Priest enters on the world, armed against temptation, resolute in his duty; zealous, ardent, and undaunted, but mild, humble, and prudent as that Divine Master with whom he has been holding converse.

But the study is also the scene of his diligent pursuit of knowledge--not the knowledge which subserves only the purposes of worldly aggrandizement and sensual gratification; this he has renounced--renounced at the altar of his God, when he promised to "lay aside the study of the world and of the flesh;" but that knowledge which helps to the understanding and enforcing of the truths of those sacred oracles, which, agreeably to his solemn engagement, he diligently "reads and weighs." And there is no knowledge which lays open the human mind; no knowledge which unfolds, in the history of man, his principles and character; no knowledge which, disclosing the secrets of nature, shows the agreement between the works and the word of God; no knowledge which, elevating the imagination, refining the taste, and quickening sensibility, gives to eloquence its power over the heart; there is no knowledge of this description which by the Christian minister may not be made "to help" to the successful discharge of his office, and which, [37/38] therefore, in reference to this supreme end, he may not pursue.

It is fervent piety, indeed, it is the unction of the Divine Spirit only, which can give efficacy to those literary and theological talents, which, without this unction, will be but as sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal. But the union of holiness and of talents constitutes the perfect minister. Human talents, and human learning, are now the means by which the Divine Spirit convinces gainsayers, converts the world, establishes the faithful. The weapons of human science have been employed to subvert the faith; from the same armory must the Christian minister defend it. The stores of erudition, the graces of style, the power of eloquence arm the champion of literary truth, and of the public weal, with irresistible strength. Why should they be neglected by the advocate of divine truth? Why should they be discarded from subjects whose sublimity and importance are worthy of their highest efforts?--God, judgment, eternity, Heaven, Hell--the Son of God made man, suffering, dying, rising from the grave, ascending to Heaven, sending forth his Spirit, ruling the world, coming to judge it, to award the eternal destinies of the human race; these are topics that should arouse all the powers of the human soul. The tongue of an angel could not do them justice.

There is only one limit to the ardent pursuit of general, as well as of theological knowledge--his attention to his parochial duties. It is part of the solemn exhortation of the Church to him, and [38/39] of his own promise, that he will never "cease his labour, his care, and diligence, until he hath done all that lieth in him, using both public and private monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole within his cure, to bring those committed to his charge unto that agreement in the faith and knowledge of God, and to that ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ, that there be no place left among them, either for error in religion or for viciousness in life." His congregation are his charge. "Feed my sheep," guide, reclaim, comfort, lead them to Heaven, was the commission of him from whom he received them. To the care of his flock then, every other care is made subservient. The lambs of his fold he diligently feeds with food convenient for them; the weak he encourages; the strong he confirms; the self-confident he cautions; the timid he animates; the desponding he enlivens; the mourning he comforts; the ungodly he prudently reproves; the scoffer he puts to silence. In the abodes of poverty and wretchedness, he is seen dispensing comfort. At the bed of the sick and the dying, he appears, sometimes, indeed, the messenger of wrath, but only that he may exercise, with more effect, the benign office of the angel of consolation.

In the services of the temple, the Christian Priest performs his highest functions, ministering the doctrine and the sacraments of Christ. And the rule of his duty, in this respect, is marked out in the promises of ordination--that he will [39/40] "teach nothing as necessary to eternal salvation, but that which he shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved by the Scripture;" rejecting the claims of tradition and of councils, as of equal authority with the word of God, but admitting the faith of the early ages, settled by universal testimony as of great weight in ascertaining and confirming the truths of the sacred oracles,--that he will give all diligence to "banish and drive away from the Church, all erroneous and strange doctrines, contrary to God's word"--and that he will "always so minister the doctrine and sacraments, and the discipline of Christ" not according to his own private opinions and wishes, or in accommodation to the systems and views of other denominations of Christians, but "as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Church hath received the same, according to the commandments of God teaching the people committed to his cure and charge, with all diligence to keep and observe the same."

In the temple, then, the Christian Priest leads the devotions of the people, and dispenses to them the sacraments and ordinances, in those prayers of the Liturgy, and in those offices of the Church, which seem to breathe more than human fervour. Here, while he proclaims that fundamental doctrine of free salvation, through the merits of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, he enforces, in its utmost strictness, that holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Here he is seen, holding forth Jesus Christ in all his gracious offices, [40/41] as Prophet, Priest, and King, demanding the submission, the trust, and the obedience of mankind. Here the Christian Priest displays the terrors of the Law, and the mercies of the Gospel. He brings the sinner to the foot of Sinai, that the fire, the blackness, the darkness, the tempest, the voice of an angry Sovereign may arouse him. And, more grateful office, the servant of Jesus leads, from dismaying Sinai to the cheering Hill of Zion, the soul laden with the burden of sin, that she may repose it at the foot of the cross.

Finally, in the Church of Christ, in every station which he occupies in it, in every circumstance in which he may be called to act in it, in all its concerns, the Christian Priest keeps in view his solemn obligations to preserve her purity, her unity, and her peace.

All these he preserves by faithfully ministering her doctrines, her sacraments, and her discipline. But especially does he preserve her unity, in the ministration of her discipline; "teaching the people" according to his promise, "to keep and observe the same;" and this requires, (I repeat the words of a venerable Bishop of our Church), "his sustaining of the Episcopal system in his ministrations."

With a view to the preservation of the unity and peace of the Church, another promise is solemnly made by the minister, both Priest and Deacon, that "he will reverently obey his Bishop and other chief ministers, who, according to the canons of the Church, may have the charge and [41/42] government over him; following with a glad mind and will, their godly admonitions, and submitting himself to their godly judgments." These admonitions and judgments may have respect to the moral as well as the official conduct of the minister, and, in general, to all ecclesiastical affairs. Where Scripture unequivocally speaks, where the voice of the Church interposes law, all orders of men in the Church owe obedience; and there can be no godly admonition or judgment contrary to these. But, to cases where Scripture or the laws of the Church are silent, or where their sense is a matter of doubt, and to cases of mere expediency, this promise of the ordination services doubtless applies.

Keeping in view the interesting character of the Church, as the Spouse and Body of the Redeemer, how imperious are the obligations of the Christian minister to preserve her purity, and her unity; and how impressive and affecting his promise to "maintain and set forwards, as much as lieth in him, quietness, peace, and love, among all Christian people, and especially among them that may be committed to his charge." In the promotion of these objects, what exertions, what sacrifices, are too great to be made? Ministers of Christ!--for that Church to which you have devoted yourselves, your Master paid the sacrifice of his blood. Look at your Master when on earth--he washed the feet of his disciples. Look at his most distinguished Apostle--he acknowledged himself, for Christ's sake, the servant of [42/43] those to whom he ministered--he endured for them hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, perils and death. What sacrifices can you be called to make for the unity, and peace of Christ's flocks that can be compared with these?

Brethren, in reference to our respective duties, as the ministers of Christ's Church, let us frequently peruse those offices, in which, commissioned to the ministry, we promised to fulfil its duties. Let us often read seriously and distinctly, the promises there contained. Let us apply them not to others, but each one to himself. Let us consider that we made these promises--let us consider that we voluntarily, and deliberately made them--let us reflect that we sealed them by the body and blood of the Redeemer--let us bear in mind that these our promises are recorded in Heaven; and at Heaven's tribunal will appear to our salvation, or our perdition!

Who is sufficient for all these things? There is a principle that will constitute our sufficiency--the divine principle of faith. This is the principle by which we exhort Christians to overcome. Let us show them that this is the principle by which we can become conquerors. Let us believe that we are commissioned by the Lord of all things. Let us believe, that in all our labours, duties, sacrifices, trials, we are co-workers with him in the exalted work of promoting God's glory, and the salvation of men; and are conformed to his example. Let us believe, that he is present with us, comforting, succouring us; leading us to [43/44] duty, to trial, to victory, to reward. Let us behold that reward--a crown of righteousness. By faith, let us look to our Master, let us look to Heaven--and what can we not do? Pray, Brethren, that this faith may be yours. Pray that it may be his who addresses you. Pray that you, and he, and you the beloved people to whom we minister, may finally be found worthy, by this faith, to be admitted, to the Church triumphant.



In a pamphlet, entitled "American Unitarianism," lately published at Boston, the use of the words "Receive the Holy Ghost, &c." is censured as absurd, and little short of blasphemy. [* Pages 14, 15.] Let us hear what a man, at least as wise, as learned, and as good, as the person who passes this censure, says concerning these words: "A thing much stumbled at in the manner of giving orders is our using those memorable words of our Lord and Saviour Christ, Receive the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost, they say, we cannot give, and therefore we foolishly bid men receive it. That the Holy Ghost may be used to signify not the person alone, but the gift of the Holy Ghost; and we know that spiritual gifts are not only abilities to do things miraculous, as to speak with tongues which were never taught us; to cure diseases without art, and such like; but also that the very authority and power which is given men in the Church to be ministers of holy things, this is contained within the number of those gifts whereof the Holy Ghost is author; and therefore he which giveth this power may say without absurdity or folly, Receive the Holy Ghost, such power as the Spirit of Christ hath endued his Church withal, such power as neither prince nor potentate, king nor Caesar on earth can give. So that if men alone had devised this form of speech, thereby to express the heavenly well-spring of that power which ecclesiastical ordinations do bestow, it is not so foolish but that wise men might bear with it." [* Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, book v. sect. 77.]

The gift of the Holy Ghost, in the office of ordination, is the gift of office; and the power of forgiving and retaining sins, is the power of exercising ecclesiastical discipline, which all religious societies exercise; and they all maintain, that the just exercise of ecclesiastical discipline, will be ratified by the divine Head of the Church.

The power of forgiving sins is exercised, not only in the administration of discipline, but in the sacraments, and the declarations of the Ministry. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are the means and pledges, to those who worthily receive them, of the forgiveness of sin; which blessing is also conveyed to all who repent and believe, when the [45/46] Priest pronounces the declaration of absolution. This is the view entertained of the nature of absolution by the Church of England, and by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and very essentially differs from the absolution practised by the Church of Rome.

The Church of Rome makes absolution part of her sacrament of penance, and essential to salvation; absolution is not so considered by the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church.

The Church of Rome exacts auricular confession; that is, the private confession of every wilful sin to a Priest, previously to absolution. No such confession is required by the Church of England, or the Protestant Episcopal Church. On the contrary, auricular confession is deemed by them unscriptural, and necessarily liable to abuses in the highest degree injurious and dangerous.

The Church of Rome maintains, that the guilt and punishment of wilful sins will not be remitted by God, without the private confession of these sins to a Priest, and the particular absolution of them; or, at least, without the desire of confession and absolution. On the contrary, the Protestant Episcopal Church, and the Church of England, while they admit, in the public service, a general confession and absolution, exact neither private confession nor absolution. The former Church, in the exhortation to the Communion, merely advises spiritual conference with a Minister, where this may be necessary to "the quieting of conscience, and the removing of all scruple and doubtfulness." The Church of England further authorizes, but does not require, absolution; particularly in the case of a sick person, who "humbly and heartily desires it;" and also exhorts to "a special confession of sins," if the sick person "feels his conscience troubled with any weighty matter." But the admission of confession and absolution, where they are desired, and may tend to the quieting of conscience, is very different from requiring them, as the Church of Rome does, in all cases, and from every Christian, under the penalty of eternal damnation.

The Church of Rome also teaches, that, after the guilt and eternal punishment of sins are remitted by absolution, there still remains a debt of temporal punishment due to God, which the penitent must discharge by penance here, or by suffering in the fires of purgatory hereafter. And from this debt of temporal punishment, and, of course, from the necessity of full and severe penance, and of undergoing the fires of purgatory, release may be obtained by indulgences granted by the Pope, or by others authorized by him. It is hardly necessary to say, that these appendages of the Papal doctrine of confession and absolution, are rejected by the Church of England, and by the Protestant Episcopal Church, as utterly unfounded in Scripture, and as an impious usurpation of the divine prerogative of remitting the punishment of sin, which has encouraged superstition, profligacy, and crimes.

[47] These remarks are rendered necessary by some recent attempts, in publications by Roman Catholics, to enforce their tenets of auricular confession and absolution, and to prove that these tenets are held or countenanced by the Church of England, and by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

The pamphlet entitled "American Unitarianism," having been referred to in the beginning of this note, the present seems a proper occasion for noticing some anecdotes there stated, which are injurious to the memory of a deceased Bishop of our Church.

It is asserted in that pamphlet, that the late Bishop Seabury, "after having been invested, or imagined himself invested, with certain extraordinary powers by the manual imposition of a few obscure and ignorant Priests in Scotland, when he had returned to Connecticut, wrote to Dr. Stiles, the president of the college, the learned friend and correspondent of Dr. Price, that it was his intention to be at the annual meeting of the institution, but that 'he hoped he should be received with proper distinction, and that his precedency would be allowed in the place allotted to him.' To which the learned president sent back a courteous answer: 'That they should be very glad to see Bishop Seabury, but that he could not promise him any such mark of distinction as he expected. One thing, however, he could engage for, and would assure him of, that he would meet with a hundred and ninety-one as good Bishops as himself." [* Page 15]

No person who knew Bishop Seabury and his high independence of character, will suppose that he was capable of making the request imputed to him in the above extract. The transaction there mistated, was, upon the best authority, as follows:

Bishop Seabury, and the Clergy of Connecticut, suspended their conventional business to attend a commencement of Yale College. On their entering and taking their seats; as accident directed, a gentleman who had a seat on the stage, went up to Dr. Stiles, the president, and proposed to invite Bishop Seabury to it. This the president thought proper to decline.

Among those who are styled in the above extract, "ignorant and obscure Priests of Scotland," is Bishop Skinner, who has written a learned and judicious reply to Dr. Campbell's Ecclesiastical Lectures. And with respect to their obscurity, it is sufficient to mention, that the cause of the Episcopal Church of Scotland was advocated by Bishop Horsely, in the British Parliament, and excited the particular interest of Bishop Horne, who "had such an opinion of this Church as to think, that if the great Apostle of the Gentiles were upon earth, and it were put to his choice with what denomination of Christians he [47/48] would communicate, the preference would probably be given to the Episcopal Church in Scotland, as most like to the people he had been used to." [* Life of Bishop Horne, vol. i. of his works p. 157.]

There is reason to believe that there is inaccuracy in other statements of that publication, relative to the conduct of some of the American Clergy. It can scarcely be possible, for instance, that Bishop Seabury should, in an ordination at Boston, have performed "the action of breathing" on the candidate. It is an action unknown in the offices of the Church which he must have used. I am informed, on the best authority, that he never employed this ceremony in his own diocess; and a Clergyman who was then a Presbyter of his Church, and with whom he was in habits of the most unreserved and confidential communication, assures me that he never heard him mention his preference of the action of breathing, to that of laying on of hands, universally employed in the Church.


In an address delivered before the American Antiquarian Society in King's Chapel, Boston, by Abiel Holmes, D. D. the following attempt is made to invalidate the testimony of ancient authors in favour of Episcopacy.

"The Origines Alexandrinae of Eutychius, in Arabic, preserved in the works of the learned Selden, show the principles and practice of one of the oldest Churches in Christendom, respecting the controverted question of the number of orders in the Church: a striking confirmation of which is furnished by the discoveries made among the Syrian Churches in India?

The testimony of Eutychius, to which Dr. Holmes refers in the above extract, is as follows: "The twelve Presbyters constituted by St. Mark, upon the vacancy of the See, did choose out of their number, one to be head over the rest, and the other eleven did lay their hands upon him, and blessed him, and made him Patriarch."

It appears very extraordinary that Dr. Holmes should have deemed an address to a society, the design of which is entirely literary, and which embraces respectable individuals of various religious denominations, a proper vehicle for observations on a point of theological controversy. This attack upon Episcopacy is made through a channel from which every consideration of delicacy and decorum should have excluded it.

It is equally extraordinary that a writer and divine of Dr. Holmes' reputation, should have condescended to take up an authority, the [48/49] utter weakness of which has been so repeatedly, and even so recently exposed. Is it possible that Dr. Holmes, a writer of more than ordinary research, has never met with the learned Bishop Pearson's Vindication of the Epistles of Ignatius, and that he has never examined the complete exposure in that work of the pretensions of Eutychius as an ecclesiastical historian? Is Dr. Holmes a master in the historical annals of his country, and has he never heard of the controversy between Dr. Stiles, the President of Yale College, and Dr. Bowden; and the more recent one between the latter gentleman, and the Rev. Dr. Miller? In both these controversies the testimony of Eutychius was discussed and proved to be entirely unworthy of credit. From Dr. Bowden's Letters to Dr. Miller, the following is extracted.

"1. Eutychius was Patriarch of Alexandria in the tenth century. I ask then, from whom did he derive his information? From any writers of the first five centuries? Not one of them says, that the Presbyters of Alexandria consecrated their Bishop. From the records of the church of Alexandria? Abulfarajus relates, that Amrus Ebnol, when he took that city, burnt all the books therein. What regard then is due to an author who quotes no authorities, and lived too late to know any thing of the origin of the church of Alexandria, but what is to be derived from the primitive writers?

"2. Eutychius appears to have been very little conversant with the church of Alexandria, in the early ages. In some well known particulars, he contradicts the best writers of antiquity. He says St. Mark came to Alexandria in the ninth year of Claudius, and suffered martyrdom in the first year of Nero; and that under the government of Nero, St. Peter dictated to St. Mark, in the city of Rome, the Gospel which goes under the name of the latter. This contradicts Eusebius, who says, that Mark died in the eighth year of Nero. Eutychius, in this particular, contradicts himself also; for he says, that St. Peter was put to death in the twenty-second year after our Lord's passion; that is, before the government of Nero. Nor do any of the ancients say, that St. Mark did not write his gospel, till his return from Alexandria to Rome, or that he ever did return. On the contrary, it appears from Eusebius, that he wrote his gospel before he went into Egypt.

"3. Eutychius' ignorance of the church of Alexandria in the primitive times, will appear from what he says concerning Origen, the most noted man of the age in which he lived. Eutychius says, 'in the time of the Emperor Justinian, there was one Origen, Bishop of the Mangabenses, who asserted the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, and denied the resurrection--that Justinian sent for Origen to Constantinople, and that Eutychius, the Bishop of that city, excommunicated him? Almost every syllable of this is false. Origen never was a Bishop, and he lived in the second and third centuries, but Justinian lived in the fifth and sixth. Eutychius also relates, that three Bishops were excommunicated [49/50] at the same time with Origen--Iba, Bishop of Roha-Thaddeus, Bishop of Massininsa, and Theodoret, Bishop of Ancyra; but these Bishops were dead before the time of Justinian.--Once more. Speaking of Demetrius, Bishop of Alexandria, (whose Presbyter Origen was, and who was the Bishop that excommunicated him) Eutychius says, Demetrius, the Alexandrian patriarch, wrote to Gabius, Bishop of Jerusalem, and Maximus, Patriarch of Antioch, concerning the reason of the Paschal feast. And he says, that Gabius was created Bishop of Jerusalem in the seventeenth year of the Emperor Aurelius, and sat only three years. This epistle, then, of which he speaks, must have been written either at the closing period of Aurelius's government, or at the beginning of the reign of Commodus. But at these periods, Demetrius was not Bishop of Alexandria, but Julian; nor Victor Bishop of Rome, but Eleutherus. Further--when epistles were sent by the eastern church to Victor, Bishop of Rome, concerning the Paschal feast, Narcissus, not Gaianus (whom Eutychius miscalls Gabius), was Bishop of Jerusalem; and between Gaianus and Narcissus there were nine Bishops. Neither is there any mention in all antiquity, of Demetrius having written to Victor, concerning the time of keeping Easter. The Bishops of Palestine, in their synodical epistle, only say, that the Alexandrians agree with them; but they make no mention of Demetrius." [* Dr. Bowden's Letters to Dr. Miller, page 24.]

The foregoing fully proves how little credit is to be attached to an historian on whom Dr. Holmes implicitly relies. In Dr. Miller's reply, he took no notice of the arguments against the credibility of Eutychius, thus impliedly relinquishing this testimony. Dr. Bowden, if he had deemed it necessary for his purpose, might have produced the following, in still further disparagement of the testimony of this Writer.

1. The title of Patriarch was not known until after the fourth century. [* In the common use of the word Patriarch, it does not occur until the Ephesian Council, 431. Cave's Ancient Church Government, p. 137.] Yet Eutychius asserts, that a Patriarch of the Church of Alexandria was chosen by the Presbyters, who, according to him, were constituted by St. Mark in the apostolic age. This is a mistake which casts great suspicion on his accuracy.

2. Eutychius states, that the Patriarch of Alexandria was not only elected out of the number of the twelve Presbyters, but by them. There is full evidence that the Bishop of Alexandria was chosen by the Church generally. Epiphanius, a writer of the fourth century, and others, are quoted to this purpose by Bishop Pearson. [* Bishop Pearson's Vindication of the Epistles of Ignatius, page 324 of the 2nd vol. of the Patres Apostolici, by Cotelerius.]

[51] 3. Eutychius asserts, that the consecration of the Patriarchs of Alexandria was begun by the Bishop Alexander; on the contrary, it appears, from the first of the Apostolic canons, that the consecration was begun long before his time. [* Bishop Pearson's Vindication of the Epistles of Ignatius, page 325.]

4. The tradition of the election and ordination of the Bishop by Presbyters, which Eutychius states, is contradicted by the Apostolical Constitutions, and by Severus, who wrote the lives of the Alexandrian Patriarchs. The Apostolical Constitutions assert, that St. Mark ordained Anianus, Bishop of Alexandria; and after him St. Luke ordained Abilius. And Severus states, that the successors of Abilius were ordained by Egyptian Bishops. [* Ibid. page 325.] The tradition of the Apostolical Constitutions, and of the historian Severus, is, at least, as worthy of credit as the tradition of Eutychius. Dr. Bowden observes, in his Letters to Dr. Miller, that "Bishop Pearson, in his Vindication of the Epistles of Ignatius, quotes several authors, who particularly mention, that the Bishop of Alexandria was always ordained, not by Presbyters, but by a Bishop. Simeon Metaphrastes says of St. Mark, that 'he ordained as his successor, Anianus, Bishop of Alexandria, and gave to other Churches, Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons.' Nicephorus Callistus says, (speaking of St. Mark), that 'he laboured in Cyrene and Pentapolis, and having founded Churches, he gave them Clergy and Bishops,' &c. The Arabian martyrology of the Melchites, says, 'he adorned the Churches of Christ, constituting for them Bishops and inferior Priests.' Severus, in his life of the Alexandrian Patriarchs, records, that 'St. Mark proceeded to Pentapolis, remaining there two years, preaching and ordaining Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons, in all its provinces.' Bishop Pearson also observes that Rhabanus Maurus, Alfrec, Archbishop of Canterbury, Notkerus, and Ordericus Vitalis give the same account that Simeon Metaphrastus does. If you should object to these authors, that they are too late to be absolutely depended upon, I answer, that some of them are not so late as Eutychius, upon whose testimony you seem to place great reliance." [* Dr. Bowden's Letters to Dr. Miller, page 23.]

5. Eutychius asserts, that, until the time of Demetrius, in 175, there was but one Bishop in Egypt. Bishop Pearson proves the contrary by various authorities. [* Ibid. page 327.]

6. What still further lessens the credit of Eutychius, is, that he was the Patriarch only of a party, the Melchites, and lived in great dissention with his people. [* Ibid. page 326.]

Dupin, the learned and candid ecclesiastical historian, speaking of [51/52] the work of Eutychius, which Dr. Holmes quotes as respectable and decisive authority, says, "it is full of fables and vulgar stories." [* Dupin's Ecclesiastical History, vol. viii. p. 4.]

Is it possible that Dr. Holmes, with his pretentions to antiquarian research, should adduce as testimony of the primitive orders of the Ministry, in "one of the oldest Churches in Christendom," an historian who wrote in the tenth century, and who is convicted, also, of the grossest mistakes, and proved to be utterly unworthy of credit?--Dr. Holmes does this, in a public address to an antiquarian society!

Dr. Holmes attempts to evade the decisive testimony in favour of Episcopacy afforded by the fact, that in India there are Christians who were never in communion with the Church of Rome, and who enjoy a primitive Episcopacy, derived from Antioch, "a place" (to use their own language) "where the followers of Christ were first called Christians." Dr. Buchanan, in his Christian Researches, states, that he found three orders in the Syrian Church of India, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. His positive testimony to these three distinct orders is not to be invalidated by a concession in a private letter to Dr. Holmes, from which he gives us only an extract, that there may be only a distinction of name, and not of order, between the Bishop and Priest. Conjecture can never be opposed to fact. Dr. Buchanan, in a conversation with the Syrian Bishop, speaks expressly of this Bishop possessing the power of ordination. In this conversation, as an argument for an union between the Syrian Churches and the English, Dr. Buchanan urges, "That ordination by the Syrian Bishop, might qualify for preaching in the English Churches in India." [* Dr. Buchanan's Christian Researches, page 167, Boston edition, 1811.] Here Dr. Buchanan puts ordination by the Syrian Bishop on the same footing with ordination by an English Bishop. Is it possible he would do this, and believe that the Syrian Bishop was only a Presbyter?

But, that the Bishop of the Syrian Christians in India is really and truly a Bishop, superior in power and in office to Presbyters, is further confirmed by the fact to which Dr. Buchanan refers: "In the acts of the Council of Nice it is recorded, that Johannes, Bishop of India, signed his name at that Council, in the year 325." [* Ibid. p. 168.] No person doubts, that, at this period, Bishops possessed distinct and superior powers to Presbyters. And it is utterly improbable that afterwards the Bishops of India should have sunk into the same grade with Presbyters.

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