The Work of Christ by his Ministry;
NATURE, CONDITIONS AND LIMITATIONS;
FOURTH CHARGE TO THE CLERGY
DIOCESE OF MARYLAND,
WILLIAM ROLLINSON WHITTINGHAM,
BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE.
Printed by Request of the Convention of the Diocese.
REVEREND AND DEAR BRETHREN:
SINCE I last addressed you in this way, I have, as you know, permitted twice the time designated in our Canons as a fit interval between Episcopal charges, to pass by. Ill health, unfitting me for the performance of more than the most indispensable functions of my office, and much of the time even for them also, has furnished the 'reasonable cause' mentioned in the Canon as a supposable occasion of intermission of the recommended duty.
Even now, I will not affect to conceal that I approach it with reluctance, as a task to which I feel myself utterly inadequate; and on all accounts should be glad to plead any available excuse, to be discharged from the serious responsibility of an attempt at the authoritative instruction and admonition of my brethren.
Nevertheless, obedience to law may, perhaps, be the most effectual way of teaching the very lesson, which, it seems to me, the needs of the Church most require her officers to inculcate, and, in their own persons, exemplify and put in force.
It is the object of our assemblage to take joint counsel for the more effectual prosecution of the work with which we are entrusted. Can we do so better, than by considering its nature and conditions, in reference to present hindrances and projects for their removal?
When the Evangelist records the commencement of the Christian ministry, he says [Mark, xvi. 20.] its first members "went forth, [3/4] the LORD working with them, and confirming the word with signs following;" the 'signs' being such as casting out devils in the name of CHRIST, and imparting healing to the sick by the laying on of hands.
Beneficence to body and soul was thus their work; and as in it 'the LORD wrought with them,' [Mark, xvi. 20.] it follows, that they were working, as in His Name, so with Him, a portion of His work. Even so, St. Paul claims for all Christian ministers equally with Apollos and himself, (and that more than once,) [1 Cor. iii. 9; 2 Cor. Vi. 1.] to be "fellow-workers with God; and says of the "great flock" [Ord. Presb. Pr. After Veni.] "gathered together by their labor and ministry," that it is "GOD'S workmanship." [Eph. ii. 10; 1 Cor. iii. 9.]
To "finish" that "work," and so to "do the will of Him that sent Him," our LORD declared to be His "meat." [John iv. 34.] "I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do;" [John, iv. 34.] was His own description of His earthly ministry, in its most solemn closing prayer.
Our work, then, is the work of GOD, for which the Father sent the Son. Through Him, He committed it to us. In receiving authority and charge to minister for CHRIST, we received of His work, even of that work which, in His own Person, He finished on earth. His portion of His personal discharge of it among men, He had completed before His passion. Unaltered, and unbroken in continuance, for another portion of it, it is extended on to us. Its nature in its continuation in the delegated ministry of men, is best studied in the history of the earthly ministry of the Master Himself, beginning at His proclamation as the chosen Messenger of His Father, by the voice from heaven [Matt. iii. 17; Mark, i. 11; Luke, iii. 27.] at the river Jordan, [4/5] and closing with the prayer of thanksgiving, in which He declares His transmission of it to others sent [John, xvii. 18, 11.] by Him into the world as His Father had sent Him. That ministry, from the Temptation to the close of the Last Supper, must be regarded as one continuous type of the ministry of His Church throughout all time; differing in circumstances and in means, but not in kind; exemplifying, in immediate and supernatural exertion, the same will and power which, by mediate and providential agencies, were after His ascension to carry on the self-same work for the self-same ends.
Personally to exemplify and carry out all the holy will of GOD, which is the sanctification [1 Thess. iv. 3.] of His children,—to do and to suffer, to worship and to serve, to glorify by exhibition of holiness in all its fruits,—was the substratum (so to speak) of that ministerial service of the Lord; the maintenance of an individual character and life from which all fruits of wisdom and love might fitly be developed, and out of which all agencies of good would naturally spring.
Of Him, it is impossible to conceive otherwise than as such in His human life: but by being such, He exemplified the personal conditions necessary for engagement in His work—the kind of man by whom alone the ministry could be successfully carried on.
Holy and undefiled, then, humble and self-denying, full of zeal and religious fervour, assiduous in public worship and in private prayer, strict in observance of all rule, and severe in inculcation as in practice of obedience to authority, meek and lowly in personal deportment, gentle in look and gracious in speech and gesture, He "went about," as described by the apostle, [Acts x. 38.] "doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil."
"He went about doing good," says the apostle. "He went about teaching in the synagogues and preaching the Gospel [5/6] of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people," says the Evangelist, repeatedly. [Matt. iv. 23. ix. 35.] 'Doing good' to body and soul—delivering from the oppression of the devil in all its forms—combination of all kinds of benefaction—and that, not waiting to be sought, but 'going about' to offer it: ("going round about the villages, teaching," says St Mark;" [vi. 6.] going through the cities and villages, teaching," says St. Luke: [xiii. 22.])—unceasing beneficence, expansive, discursive, aggressive; caring for all wants, temporal and spiritual; searching out all, and supplying for each its appropriate relief; was 'the work of GOD,' as the Beloved Son comprehended and discharged it,—the work for which He was sent, and for which He sends others in His Name.
Doubtless, above and before all, as that unto which He made all else subserve, He occupied Himself in the proclamation of "the Gospel [Matt. iv. 23. Mark i. 24.] of the Kingdom:"—not an abstract Gospel: not a theoretic Gospel: not a Gospel of bare doctrine, for the intellect, or mere feeling, for the heart: not a Gospel of subjective changes only, and isolated individual relations: but 'the Gospel of the Kingdom.' "I must preach the Kingdom of GOD," [Luke iv. 43.] said He "for therefore am I sent." "Let us go into the next towns," said He to His disciples," [Mark i. 38.] that I may preach there also; for therefore came I forth." But 'the Spirit of the LORD,' which had 'anointed [Luke iv. 18.] Him to preach the Gospel to the poor,' had 'sent Him to heal the broken-hearted' also; and when He declared the fulfilment [v. 21.] of the prophecy, which so spake of Him, in Himself, He instanced it in His works [v. 23.] of mercy, as well as exemplified it in His "gracious words." [v. 22.]
 It was on those works of power and love that He laid stress for the authentication of His message: "If I do not [John x. 37, 38.] the works of My Father, believe Me not: But if I do, though ye believe not Me, believe the works."
"Believe me for the very works' sake," [John xiv. 11.] He said to Philip; and then went on to add the promise which shows what it was in the works which He regarded as their chief excellence—not the power, but the spirit—not the miracle, but the pardoning love: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father." [John xiv. 12.] That promise, fulfilled while need was in the very letter, He has never ceased to exemplify effectually, in its higher and richer meaning, in and through the working of His Church and ministry. When direct exertion of power from heaven became no longer necessary for attestation to the new-born Gospel, then by more abundant measures of indirect fruits of grace in conversions, reformations, renewals of the inner man, transformation of the mind and temper and character and life of whole nations, and all manner of works of mercy, loving-kindness, charity and zeal for the temporal and eternal good of sinful and suffering humanity, the 'work of GOD' went on.
As in His own company of followers 'the bag' was 'borne' [John xii. 6.] to receive what 'should be given to the poor,' [John xii. 6. xiii. 29.] and the scanty store of food was ready for distribution to the hungering multitudes; and as in His own Person He fulfilled the prophecy [Matt. viii. 17.] that 'Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses,' by 'casting [v. 17.] out evil spirits and healing all that were sick;'—so, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, nurse the sick, relieve the destitute, house the homeless, comfort [7/8] the afflicted, administer consolation to the bereaved, show decent kindness to the dead, bring up the orphan, soothe and mitigate infirmities of mind and body in all their myriad forms,—has always been acknowledged by His Church as pre-eminently her Master's work, and therefore pre-eminently the duty of His ministers, together with the more directly spiritual employments of ministration in the Word and Sacraments, with the sinful to reclaim them, with the contrite to restore them, with the mourner to impart heavenly comfort, with the weak to encourage, with the wavering to confirm, with the faithful to build up and strengthen.
This statement of the nature of our work, thus ascertained, would probably not be called in question by any one member of the heterogeneous social compound in the midst of which our lot is cast; and all would be equally willing to acknowledge or affirm our obligation to its discharge. But the conditions under which it is to be performed, and the ground of obligation to the performance, will be very variously regarded, according to the varying point of view assumed by different parties.
Is the work of the Christian ministry voluntarily undertaken? as the philanthropist Howard, for example, undertook his self-imposed task of public labor for the benefit of his race?
Is it taken up as any calling by which, with mental or manual labor, the wants of society may be supplied and 'the market met?' as, for instance, the calling of the teacher, the lawyer or the physician?
Is it imposed by the choice and authority of our fellows, as elective public offices or trusts are conferred?
Or is it derived from a source different from that of all other human office and work? distinct in its origin as it confessedly is in a portion of its ends and means?
 It is obvious that the principles on which our work is to be performed must vary with the varying grounds assigned for its assumption, in answer to these questions.
If the work is voluntary, every man engaged in it is free to do it as he likes best—as much of it or as little—in what modes or measures he thinks fit or feels disposed.
If it is a calling growing out of social want—social want must be its measure; and while truth and principle may be the staple of its commerce (as, presumably, in the learned professions) the mode and proportion of supply may be adjusted to the kind and extent of the demand.
If it is an imposed office and trust discharged in behalf of others from whom it is derived, their will, declared in express regulations or stipulations, or their wants, gathered from study of their condition and its requirements, must be the rule and measure of performance.
But if it is derived from a source without and above, not only ourselves, but those concerned with us as the objects of our ministrations also, then the wills and preferences of all alike are out of consideration as measures of obligation, and even the needs to be supplied enter into question only in so far as their supply is committed to our faithfulness and discretion.
Now it is conceivable that the Gospel might have been committed to a ministry purely of this last class, bearing an unmistakeable and irrefutable commission, and furnished with explicit and minute instructions for its discharge in all contingencies.
But then it would have been unlike every other Divine provision for the supply and government of man. In all natural and providential relations much is left to moral responsibility in both memberships of the relation. It would have been an unaccountable anomaly, if in spiritual ministries another rule of procedure had been adopted.
 In fact, the very statement of the nature of the duties of the Gospel ministry shows that it is designed to be so far from an antithetical exhibition of a different principle of government, that on the other hand it absorbs the lower trusts, and is only distinguished from them in so far as it culminates above them. In relieving want and mitigating corporeal ills, its province is within the sphere of the natural government of GOD. In teaching, comforting and directing men for the common social good,—in providing and furnishing remedies for all kinds of social ill,—it is a distinguished branch of Providential rule; one, than which history knows no other having greater claims on its attention. But above and beyond these minor degrees of trust—transcending both, as underlying and inclosing them—the commission of the Word and Sacraments comes into view; bearing on man no longer only as an animal, or merely as a member of society in his present life, but as a probationer for eternity, the object of Divine wisdom and love in reference to another condition of existence.
There will be no question among those who admit the fact of such a trust, about its paramount importance. It must of necessity pervade the whole relation into which it enters; modify every procedure under it, whatever the original character or end; and absorb or destroy every other interest with which it comes in contact or collision.
The ascertainment, then, of such a commission becomes a prime object of reasonable solicitude. Does it exist? By what provisions? With what evidence? Under what limitations or directions? are questions of the deepest concernment, not only to those who profess to bear it, but to every human being who comes to the knowledge of its claims.
Nothing but experience of the wonderful indifference of the majority of mankind to the prospects of another life would suffice to explain the slight attention which most men give to [10/11] these inquiries concerning the Christian ministry. Ninety-nine in the hundred seem to take it for granted, that as there must be a ministry, the existence of any given form of it is enough to warrant the recognition; and that whether self-assumed, entered as a profession, accepted as an elective office, or received as a trust from GOD, matters nothing, so that it be discharged in the performance of the duties admitted by all to be its province.
Of course, the mode of transmission of the trust, if there be a distinct Divine commission, is still more remote from the common interest and consideration. It is a natural and easy consequence, that while some have talked about "apostleship" (which in reality means only being sent with power to send) as a thing of transient duration and temporary ends,
["Their main argument, that the apostles were not 'ordinary' but 'extraordinary' pastors, by special commission, and consequently could have no formal successors, is rank Popery, as you may see in Card. Bellarmine: De. Rom. Pont. Lib. iv. c. 24. 'Episcopi non succedunt proprie apostolis, quoniam apostoli non fuerunt ordinarii sed extraordinarii et quasi delegati pastores quibus non succeditur;' i. e. bishops are not properly the successors of the apostles, because the apostles were not ordinary but extraordinary pastors, such as could have no successors. And is not this the main support of the Presbyterian scheme? I am sure, here is no opposition, but a very great harmony. Popery and Presbytery are so far from being the 'greatest opposites,' that in this, like Herod and Pilate, they are friends in sinking the Episcopate." Invalidity of Dissenting Ministry. London,171 7. Prof. p. iv. v. Compare the exposure of Principal Campbell, and Mr. Anderson of Dumbarton, in Skinner's Primitive Truth and Order, p.. 152. ed. New York, 1808. On the other hand, that sound Protestant, Bishop Davenant, stoutly maintains: "Omnium fere Patrum constans doctrina est, episcopos apostolis successisse in gubernatione ecclesiae ordinaria. Omnes in hoc conveniunt, quod agnoscant episcopos apostolorum successores: non in illis extraordinariis privilegiis, quae ad fundandam ecclesiam erant necessaria; sed in illa ordinaria superioritate, quae ad perpetuam conservationem et propagationem ecclesiae fundatae requiritur." "Erant—quedam apostolorum privilegia quae eos ab ordinariis Presbyteris distinguebant, et ad ecclesiam propagandam erant plane necessaria. Hujusmodi sunt, ordinatio Presbyterorum, ne ministerium evangelicum prorsus pereat; et gubernatio Presbyterorum, ne per haereses, schismata, aut impuros mores, ecclesiam perdant. Haec et hujusmodi alia, sine quibus ecclesia constituta [11/12] nec bone consistere, nec rite gubernari potest, transmissa sunt ad episcopos, eosque constituunt caeteris Presbyteris gradu altiores, potestate majores." Determinationes Quaestionum quarundam Theologicarum. Quest. xlii. do diversitate graduum, &c.—p. 186 bis. 194.]
(as if the "mission" of the Son of Man had become effete and died away;) others may be found admitting without a scruple, the uneducated Mormon his "apostle" on the score of unabashed impudence, vulgar rant and promises of sensual indulgence; and the intelligent and learned Irvingite his, on the ground of moral adaptedness, religious fervency, bold assumption of authority, practical efficiency and a gorgeous ritual.
Such subjective grounds of recognition obviously make the ministry which they assume a human plaything instead of a Divine instrument. The Commission to act for GOD, with a trust from Him affecting man's eternal interests, must have objective reality, and be received and held in such a sort as to be susceptible of being traced up to indisputable Divine origination. ["All power of Church government is radically and fundamentally in CHRIST. Isa. 9. 6 Mat. 28. 18. John, 5. 22. And how shall any part of it be derived from CHRIST to man, but by some fit intervening medium or means betwixt CHRIST and man? And what medium or means of conveyance betwixt CHRIST and man can suffice, if it do not amount to an authentic grant or commission for such power? This is evidently CHRIST'S way, to derive power by authentic commission immediately, to His Church-officers, the Apostles and their successors to the world's end. Mat. 16. 18, 19. Mat. 18. 19, 20. John, 20. 21, 23. Mat. 28. 19, 20. 2. Cor. 10. 8. and 13. 10." Jus Divinum, &c. The Divine Right of Church Government, &c. By sundry Ministers of CHRIST within the City of London. 4to. London, 1647. Chap. x. p. 100.] The necessity of such authentication is not diminished by its combination with various ministries of lower grades of trust; however such ministries, engrossing the attention of the less considerate, may dispose them to rest satisfied with imperfect evidence of a Divine commission, or even with the mere pretension to a human ground of preference or selection. Men who regard the Church as a secondary police, or the Gospel as a Sunday philosophy, may reasonably be content with a ministry that is a mere profession or elective [12/13] office; little questioning how far admission to a profession, or election to an office, may qualify it authoritatively to propound a revealed truth or administer a sacrament.
Still, the observation about the mixed nature of the work of the Gospel ministry, bears upon the question of its transmission: as the nature of the trust is composite, so may be the mode of designation to it.
Its lower components may be assumed, or conveyed, by man, as an individual or member of society. In proportion as they are rested in, it is to be expected that the mode of designation shall correspond. A man may set forth to do good to his fellow-men for body, or soul, and do it, as he finds opportunity. Who shall say him nay? A man may be chosen to teach, premonish, comfort and exhort his fellows, and fulfil for them such functions in joint worship as they shall deem expedient and right to commit to him. Doubtless, among them he has all the authority which their collective constitution can convey; and his ministrations deserve, and so far as the coercive influence of the majority can extend, must obtain, entire acceptance on their part.
Now it is conceivable that a man having the will to do good, and for that purpose choosing it as his profession, and thereupon offering himself for election to that end by an organized association of his fellow-men, shall, over and above all this, have received authority from another and higher source, which gives an entirely distinct character and validity to all the official functions by which, in the exercise of his profession, he indulges his own free will.
In an established religion, even this additional grade of authority is still derivable from mere human relations; and the minister of a congregation may discharge his functions among the people who have chosen him, with a validity based neither on their choice, nor on his professional character, nor on his own devotion of himself thereto, but on his authorization [13/14] by the state. In this last case, too, insofar as "the powers that be are ordained of GOD," such authorization by civil government makes him really in a sense—low, indeed, but true—the minister of GOD, set for that very thing, to do good in his ministrations to his fellow-men.
But does he thereby become the minister of CHRIST?—one entitled to say with the Apostle Paul, "We [2 Cor. v. 20.] are ambassadors for CHRIST, as though GOD did beseech you by us: we pray you in CHRIST'S stead: as workers [vi. 1.] together with Him, we beseech you?"—one sanctioned by the momentous declaration, "He that heareth [Luke x. 16.] you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me?"
The answer must depend upon the degree of faith in our LORD Himself.
Those who see in Him only 'the Pattern Man,'—the culmination of the soul of manhood, the type and ideal of regenerated humanity,—can have no difficulty about recognizing a rightful claim to share His work in any man who can succeed in recommending himself to their judgment or predilections as "able" for the task. After eliminating from the Gospel everything which distinguishes it from a human philosophy, it is an easy step to dispense with any historical deduction of a commission to carry on its teachings and whatever of symbolic ritual may have been incorporated with them.
But the Catholic Faith declared in the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds throws a different light upon the question. What the Second Person of the Ever-Blessed Trinity did in His Human Nature, assumes a character which could in no conceivable way, belong to the doings of a mere human Saviour, or the myths concerning some great ideal. An awful reality invests His office and work, in all its bearings and relations. [14/15] If He claimed a "Mission," that claim can never have become obsolete or be set aside. If He professed to send others as He was sent, the profession can never be disregarded, as empty words.
["Apostolos omnes—Pastores totius Ecclesiae instituerat Christus, quando—dixit eis 'Sicut misit me Pater, ita et ego mitto vos,' et in signum potestatis illius tum omnibus datae, 'afflavit omnibus, et dixit, Accipite Spiritum Sanctum:' et qualis illa potestas esset, quidve per claves ante promissas, nunc datas praestarent, explicuit, dicens, 'Quorum remiseritis peccata, remittuntur eis, quorum retinueritis, retenta erunt.'—His ipsis verbis—Apostoli omnes Pastores ovium omnium, Rectores universae Ecclesiae, magistri et Doctores orbis terrarum constituti sunt.—Sic enim sonant Christi verba: Sicut Ego, Spiritu Sancto plenus, ut Doctor at Rector totius Ecclesiae, ut Pastor totius Gregis Domini a Patre missus sum; Ita et mitto vos, et Spiritu Sancto, id est, spirituali authoritate instruo, at cum eadem Ecciesiastica potestate mitto vos ut Doctores, Rectores, et Pastores Ecclesiae totius, et ovium omnium mearum.—Sicut Ego missus a Patre cum potestate et authoritate mittendi alios, et dandi illis Spiritum Sanctum, seu potestatem hanc meam spiritualem: Ita et Ego mitto vos, cum potestate mittendi alios, et dandi aliis Spiritum Sanctum, seu authoritatem hanc eandem spiritualem, sic ut illi quoque aliis eandem dent, usque ad consummationem soeculi. Clara haec at consona omnia." Crakanthorpii Defensio Ecclesiae Anglicanae. c. xxii. n. 10. p. 117, 118.]
If He made promises, [Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. John, xx. 21.] and gave commands, to a ministry for all ages and to every creature, [Mark, xvi. 15.] no lesser limits for the duration and extension of its commission can be admitted. As Man He bore and transmitted His commission; but as GOD He ordained it, and maintains it, Himself and it, alike, He has made a part of human history, and we trace back to His life on earth through one and the same only channel the knowledge of that life and the ministry of which it was the root. GOD made Himself a man, in CHRIST, that He might be believed on and received; and through men from that time forth He has been perpetuating the embassy which in His own Person He then began.
About the provisions for the perpetuation of the work of CHRIST in that great embassy, and the conditions of its discharge, varieties of opinion may have arisen without affecting the fundamental admission of the historical origin and deduction [15/16] of the commission itself. Whether reposed in the whole body of baptized believers, in a segregated ministry of one order, or in a line of superior ministers having rule over two inferior degrees, the existence and transmission of a divinely originated and authorized trust is the same. It is in the last degree illogical and disingenuous to stigmatize as arrogant assumption or unwarrantable exclusiveness the tenet that a Divine commission inheres in the episcopate, rather than that which attributes it to the presbytery, or that which finds it in the congregation. In either shape the assumption is equal, the exclusiveness differs only in degree of limit, not at all as to ground of warrant.
Nothing is gained, then, by conceding to a vulgar and groundless prejudice the waiver of a claim to 'apostolical succession.' So long as the LORD JESUS is acknowledged as "the Apostle of our profession" [Heb. iii. 1.] and the Founder of a Mission to bring men into union [John, xvii. 18-21.] with Himself, an apostolical succession, with all its exclusiveness and pretension, so bitterly denounced as absurdly mystical, is admitted; the question being historical, as to its form,—not doctrinal, as to its nature.]
Our convictions on this subject, my brethren, are declared with sufficient explicitness in the language of our prayers. ["The truest indication of the sense of a Church is to be taken from her language in her public offices: this is that which she speaks the most frequently and the most publicly; even the Articles of Doctrine are not so much read, and so often heard, as her Liturgies are." Said, with immediate reference to the Ordinal, by Bishop Burnet. Discourses of the Pastoral Care, Ch. VI. p. 129. ed. London, 1821.] In them we directly address to the SON of GOD the declaration, Thou "hast purchased [Inst. Office, Prayer ‘O Holy Jesus.’] to Thyself an universal Church and hast promised to be with the Ministers of apostolic succession to the end of the world." In them, we explicitly disguish "all Bishops" [Ordinal. Collect, Cons. Bp.] as "THE Pastors of the Church of [16/17] GOD." In them, we affirm to "Almighty GOD" that "by His Divine Providence," [Ordinal Coll. Ord. Dea.] and "by His Holy Spirit" [Coll. Ord. Priests.] He "has appointed divers Orders of Ministers in His Church." It is in entire consistency with such solemn professions directed to the GOD of truth Himself, that, when we were admitted to be the sworn depositaries ["In the ordaining of priests, the questions are put 'in the name of GOD and of His Church,' which makes the answers to them to be of the nature of vows and oaths: so that if men do make conscience of anything, and if it is possible to strike terror into them, the forms of our ordinations are the most effectually contrived for that end that could have been framed." Bp. Burnet. Pastoral Care, Oh. VI. p. 133.] and administrators of the formularies in which such language is employed, we attested GOD and man that we 'trusted we were moved by the HOLY GHOST to take upon us' [Ordinal. Ordering of Dea. Qu. 1.] the 'office and ministration of a Deacon,' ["If any says 'I trust so' that yet" thinks the office of a Deacon a mere matter of human regulation and expedience, so that the motion to 'take it upon him' cannot be truly ascribed to the HOLY GHOST, "he lies to the HOLY GHOST, and makes his first approach to the altar with a lie in his mouth, and that not to men, but to GOD." Burnet (accommodated) ubi supra. p. 134.] and that both to that, and afterward to the separate order of the Priesthood, we were 'truly called according to the will of our LORD JESUS CHRIST: [Ordinal. Ord. Dea. Qu. 2. Ord. Pr. Qu. 1.] while there is one among us, in whose ears are ever sounding the awful words once said over him; "Receive the HOLY GHOST [Ord. Cons. Bp. Laying on of Hands.] for the office and work of a Bishop in the Church of GOD now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands;—and remember that thou stir up the grace of GOD which is given thee by this Imposition of our hands."
My brethren! if the hands that were then laid on did not by that act convey the grace of GOD for a bishop's work [*"Libenter eo loco [sacramenti] habeo: illic enim ceremonia est, primum ex Scripturis sumpta, deinde quam non esse inanem nee supervacaneam, sed fidele [17/18] spiritualis gratiae symbolum, testatur Paulus. Quod autem tertium in numero non posui, eo factum est, quod non ordinarium nec commune est apud omnes fideles, sed ad certain functionem specialis ritus." Calvin. Institut. Lib. IV. c. xix. 28. p. 952, 953. ed. London, 1572. Bishop Bilson, adopting it, thus translates: "I willingly accept it (for a sacrament;) for first there is a ceremony (of imposing hands) taken out of the Scriptures; then Paul witnesseth the same not to be superfluous and empty, but a sure sign of spiritual grace. And that I put it not third in the number (of sacraments) it was because it is not ordinary nor common to all the faithful, but a special rite for a certain function." Perp. Government, &c. p. 160. In the Latin edition of his work the bishop afterward added to his quotation from Calvin: "Manuum impositionem, quod idem est cum ordinatione, sacramentum esse putat, et spiritualis gratiae non inane symbolum; et eo quidem nomine non magis laicorum manibus patere et exponi, quam cetera sacramenta."] and office the lips that spoke those words uttered blasphemy! Their high meaning nothing could justify but certain assurance of express Divine warrant—an assurance which if based upon anything else than sufficient explicit testimony would be mere fanaticism.
Upon such testimony it is formally based in the Preface to the Ordinal, by the declaration that the existence 'in CHRIST'S Church' 'from the apostles' time' of 'Bishops, Priests and Deacons' as distinct 'orders of ministers,' "is evident unto all men diligently reading Holy Scripture and ancient authors;" and that 'imposition of hands' 'by lawful authority,' has 'evermore' been held necessary for 'admission to' the ministry 'in any of' its orders before any 'man might presume to execute them.'
Such authoritative declarations of the mode in which "this Church" 'hath received' 'the Ministry of the Doctrine and Sacraments and Discipline of CHRIST,' pledge the honesty and intelligence of her members, and most of all, of us her ministers, to the unhesitating avowal of an apostolic succession in the order of bishops, for the "ordaining, [Ord. Cons. Bps. Qu. 7.] sending or laying hands upon others" for that order and for those of Priests and [18/19] Deacons, and of a gift of the grace of GOD by the imposition of hands for the communication of such succession. ["To create ministers by imposing hands, is to give them, not only power and leave to preach the word and dispense the sacraments, but also the grace of the Holy Ghost to make them able to execute both parts of their function. This can none give, but they that first received the same. They must have this power and grace themselves, that will bestow it on others.—(p. 160. top.) They can have no part of the apostolic commission, that have no show of apostolic succession. They must look, not only what they challenge, but also from whom they derive it; if from the apostles, then are they their successors; if from CHRIST, as colleagues joined with the apostles, we must find that consociation in the Gospel, before we clear them from intrusion. "No man (should) take this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God" (Heb. v. 4,) as the apostles were. If they be called by CHRIST, read their assignation from CHRIST; if they be not, surcease that presumption.—p. 162. Pastors, receiving by succession the power and charge both of the word and sacraments, from and in the first apostles and messengers of CHRIST, [are trusted with both.] "The pastors that are among you, I exhort," saith Peter, "as a co-elder (with you); feed ye the flock of GOD, committed to you." Pastors, then, which feed the flock, have coparcenary with the apostles; laymen have not; and consequently the power and right granted by CHRIST to His apostles and their successors, may not be challenged or communicated to them that have no fellowship with the apostolic function." p. 163. Bishop Bilson on the Perpetual Government of CHRIST'S Church, Ch. IX.]
We can hardly make it in language more precise and full than that of a Canon once, after long and grave discussion, unanimously passed and subscribed by both Houses of the Convocation of the Church of England; which, because it is not easily accessible to many of you, I shall take the liberty of quoting, though in a somewhat abridged form, yet still at considerable length.
It is the Sixth Canon in "The Convocation Book of MDCVI., concerning the Government of GOD'S Catholick Church.''
CANON VI. If any man shall affirm . . . . that CHRIST Himself did not, after a sort, approve of divers degrees of ministers, some to have pre-eminence over others, in that having chosen to Himself twelve apostles He did also elect seventy disciples, who were neither superior nor equal to the apostles, and were therefore their inferiors; [19/20] or, that He did not very expressly after His ascension appoint divers orders and degrees of ministers, who had power and pre-eminence one over another, Apostles over the Prophets and Evangelists, and the Evangelists over Pastors and Doctors; or, that the authority of preaching, of administration of the sacraments, and of ecclesiastical government given to the Apostles, was not to be communicated by the Apostles unto others as there should be good opportunity in that behalf; or, that because there were some personal prerogatives belonging to the Apostles which they could not communicate unto others, therefore they had not power to communicate to some ministers, as well their authority of government over other ministers, as their authority to preach and administer the sacraments; or, that in the authority of government so to be communicated unto others by the Apostles, there are not included certain degrees to be in the ministry, some to rule and some to be ruled; . . . . or, that the Apostles might not lawfully ordain a second order of ministers by imposition of their hands, to preach and administer the sacraments . . . . or that the Apostles did not make especial choice of men . . . . to execute those episcopal duties which did appertain to their callings; or, that when they had so designed and chosen them to be Bishops, they did not communicate unto them as well their apostolical authority of ordaining of ministers and power of the keys, as of preaching and administering the sacraments; . . . . HE DOTH GREATLY ERR.—Overall's Convocation Book, p. 142-4. ed. Oxf. (p. 174, 5, 7.)
The position of the Church which holds this view, is unmistakably well defined. Whatever variant or opposite views may prevail around her,—whatever inconsistencies of theory or practice may have sprung up within her,—she clearly regards the work of CHRIST as committed through His apostles to a segregated ministry of divers orders, specially invested with communicated power and authority for its discharge.
["All who give their unfeigned 'assent and consent to all and every thing contained and prescribed in and by the Church's Liturgy and Ordinal' must acknowledge that no man is to execute any ecclesiastical function, who hath not had [20/21] episcopal consecration or ordination. It being evidently the doctrine of the Church of England that 'from the Apostles' time' (which must be taken inclusively of the apostolical age, because by 'reading the Holy Scriptures' we do not find what was done after the Apostles' time, but in it; 'there have been these Orders of Ministers in CHRIST'S Church, Bishops, Priests and Deacons.' The uninterrupted succession of the first, and subordination of the latter, hath been constantly maintained by the whole body of the Church; our bishops and most eminent divines have most learnedly defended the Canonical Succession of the Ministry of the Church of England against all the attacks of the most learned Papists and Fanaticks. 'By the providential superintendence of the Holy Spirit of GOD there remains' (saith Bishop Bilson, cap. 13. de perpet. Gub. Eccl.) 'to this day, Registers preserved in the Church, like the roll in the ark, not maimed by length or vicissitudes of time, which contain a punctual enumeration of Bishops who from the Apostles down to the Nicene Council presided in the Churches of Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria and Rome.' Mr. Mason, Bishop Bramhall, the late learned Bishop Burnet and others, have demonstrated that all the essentials of ordination, and particularly a continued series and succession according to the practice of the Primitive Church are still retained in our Church."
"This has likewise been learnedly defended by Mr. Browne, in two Latin Sermons preached before the University of Cambridge, printed anno 1688; and before him by the learned Dr. Fuller, in his Canonica Successio Ministerii Ecclesiae Anglicanae Reformatae tam contra Pontificios quam Schismaticos vindicata. In fine, the Papists in King James the Second's reign were so sensible that if they could make a breach here, they would soon be masters of the whole strength of the Protestant cause, that they used all art, industry and learning to compass their design; but they soon perceived by the vigorous defence of our learned divines, that all their attacks were in vain. The uninterrupted succession of persons qualified and regularly ordained, was the firm basis upon which they stood their ground and defended themselves; and at last made their enemies fly before them."
"The late learned Bishop of Salisbury, Dr. Burnet, was so far from thinking 'an uninterrupted succession a matter impossible to be proved,' that with regard to the Episcopal form of government he hath this remarkable expression: 'I do verily believe' (this government) 'was begun by the Apostles and was continued down in an uninterrupted succession in all parts of the world to our day.' (Hist. of Rights of Princes in the disposing of Eccles. Benefices, Pref. p. 19.) Again, in his Exposition of Article XXV. (p. 284) he says: 'We affirm that CHRIST appointed a succession of Pastors in different ranks to be continued in His Church.'"
"The learned Dr. Scott in his excellent Treatise entitled The Christian Life, Part II. Vol. II. ch. vii. p. 406, says: 'The Christian Church in the ages next succeeding the Apostles asserts with one universal consent the universal derivation of a [21/22] superior order of Ecclesiastic Officers from the Apostles to preside over the Church.' Again: 'We have ample testimonies of the continued succession of this superior Order.' p. 421. 'If any credit may be given either to those writers that lived in the apostolic age, or those who immediately succeeded them, it is evident that the Episcopacy is nothing else but only the apostolical superiority derived from the hands of the Apostles in a continued succession from one generation to another."
"In a word THE GREAT BODY OF OUR CLERGY, who were eminent for learning,
HAVE CONSTANTLY MAINTAINED THE NECESSITY OF AN UNINTERRUPTED SUCCESSION." Invalidity, &c. Preface, page viii.—xii.]
Holding fast, as she does, to the Catholic Faith in our Blessed LORD'S Divinity, Atonement, Intercession, and Mediatorial Reign, she can admit no change in what she finds so established. The work of CHRIST in His human ministry, she knows not how to separate from that wrought out in His Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection and prevailing Intercession. Beholding One Divine Person as equally her Redeemer and the Originator of her ministry, she dares not discriminate between His provisions for the salvation of His own, or assume to lay hold of His great Gift of Eternal Life except as extended to her in the embassy and by the pledges and means of His own ordaining. ["Potestatem sacerdotum esse spiritualem patet—ab ipso fonte sacerdotalis potestatis, summo nostro Sacerdote Jesu Christo. Nam qualem Ipse in procuranda Ecclesiae salute exercere voluit, talem Apostolis ac Discipulis suis commisit, talemque illi ad successores suos, Episcopos ac Presbyteros transmiserunt.—Sacerdotum est, praedicando vocare homines ad Christum, vitamque spiritualem in Christo participandam: sacramenta dispensando, vocatos, ac vita spirituali donatos, confirmare et nutrire." Davenant, Determinationes Quaestionum quarundam Theologicarum. Quaest. XV. de Potestate Sacerdotum, p. 70, 71.]
It surely needs no argument to show that this position affects no claim or right, or privilege of others, holding different views. Whatever they think they have in the nature of the ministry of CHRIST, or in its commission, is left to them undisputed. If we are thankful to have retained the knowledge and enjoyment of a higher and fuller gift, and find satisfaction in the evidence we have of its possession, our riches tend not to their impoverishment. The clamor about 'unchurching' is simply absurd. The Church of GOD, as He only makes it, He only can unmake. If a human association [22/23] is a church, neither argument nor ridicule can make it otherwise; nor can it be less a church, because of any claims of a rival association to be more. If evidence of Holy Scripture and ancient authors shows that commission for the work of CHRIST has always been imparted in a certain way, those who find that evidence and proclaim it, make no change in the position of such as have it not. Would that position be improved, if by common consent the evidence were destroyed, the succession which it authenticates broken off, and all men laid under the necessity of being content with a ministry either voluntary or elective, as the case might be? If not—as surely it would not—then how can it be endamaged by our clinging to that which GOD in His good Providence has preserved to us, with thankful tenacity and solicitude for its continued preservation and extension?
Anxiety for the preservation and extension of a commission to the work of CHRIST in His ministry, must, of course, be graduated according to the views entertained both of the nature of the work and of the mode of commission to it. All that is merely human in the work, is in some measure, at least, independent of any transmitted authority. The body's wants might be supplied and relieved, the moral ailments of the soul receive their appropriate remedies, even though a Divine commission had existed and were lost; less fully and efficaciously, no doubt, but still in a degree commensurate with the zeal and ability of the human agent, and perhaps, even, not without special Divine Providential compensations to diminish the evil of the loss. Or, if the ministry were of human assumption or bestowal, the mode of the commission, of however uninterruptedly transmitted ancient origin, would be a matter of comparative indifference and real immateriality to the work. If that were voluntary or elective, it would still go on, though laying on of hands were stopped, or its historic descent from the apostles untraceable.
 But a church holding a gift of grace by the laying on of hands of successors of the apostles, must keep jealous watch over her deposit, in its use and communication.
[*"The apostles dyd walke abrod into diuerse partes of the worlde, and did studye to plant the gospel in many places. Wherefore wher they founde godly men, and mete to preache GOD'S worde, they layed their handes upon them, and gaue them the Holy Gost, as they themselues receaued of CHRIST the same Holy Gost, to execute this office. And they that were so ordeyned, were in dede, and also were called, the ministers of GOD as the apostles themselues were, as Paule sayeth vnto Tymothy. And so the ministration of GOD's worde (which our LORD JESUS CHRISTE Hymselfe did first institute) was deryued from the apostles vnto others after theim, by imposition of handes, and gyuynge the Holy Ghost, from the apostles tyme to our dayes. And this was the consecration, ordres and vnction of the apostles, wherby they, at the begynnynge, made byshopes and pryestes, and this shall continewe in the churche, euen to the worldes ende. And what soeuer rite or ceremonye, hath ben added more than this, commeth of mannes ordinaunce and policye, and is not commaunded by Goddes worde.
"Wherefore, good children, you shal gyue due reuerence and honour to the ministers of the churche, and shal not meanely or lyghtly esteme them in the execution of their office, but you shall take them for God's ministers, and the messengers of our Lorde Jesus Christe. For Christ himselfe saieth in the gospel. He that heareth you, heareth me. And he that dyspiseth you, dyspiseth me. (Luke x.) Wherefore good children, you shal stedfastly beleue al those thinges, which suche ministers shall speake vnto you, from the mouth, and by the commaundement of our Lorde Jesus Christ. And what soeuer they do to you, as when they baptyse you, when they gyue you absolution, and dystribute to you the bodye and bloude of our Lord Jesus Christe, these you shall so esteme, as yf Christe hymselfe in his awne person, dyd speake, and minister vnto you. For Christ hath commaunded his ministers to do this vnto you, and he hymselfe (althoughe you see him not with your bodily eyes,) is present with his ministers, and worketh by the Holy Ghost in thadministration of his sacramentes. And on the other syde, you shall take good hede, and beware of false and priuye preachers, which pryuely crepe into cities and preache in corners, hauyng none authoritie, nor being called to this office. For Christe is not present with such prechers, and therefore dothe not the Holy Gost worke by their preching, but their worde is without fruite or profyt, and they do great hurte in commen welthes. For such as be not called of God, they no doubte of it do erre, and sow abrode heresye and naughty doctrine." Catechism set forth by Abp. Cranmer in MDXLVIII. p. 196, 197. ed. Oxford, 1892.
This Catechism, prepared by Crammer himself (and therefore avowed by him as his own) from the Catechism of Nuremberg, (which was composed by Osiander while Cranmer was there, in 1533) is the best exponent of the Book of Common [24/25] Prayer, having been very carefully compiled (as a comparison of its text with the German and Latin originals—it is an adaptation of both Osiander's German and Jonas's Latin translation—fully proves) and published after the First Book of Homilies and before the Book of Common Prayer. By its fuller and clearer statements the language of both those formularies may, therefore, be interpreted and illustrated.]
Holding it of and under her Divine and ever present Head, for His work, divine, unchangeable, deriving from Him in its lowest and most common ministrations a character and efficacy quite peculiar, over and above all belonging to it as merely human,—her faith in Him binds her to inviolable observation of the conditions on which she has received it. If of human origin, human judgment might regulate the tenure, in its exercise, enlargement or restraint. If for human ends, human needs and human estimate of expediency or obligation would constitute the rule and measure of employment.
But of origin, not human, but Divine; with ends, not terminating in the good of the perishing body or of this transitory condition of mortal life, but in the glory of GOD in the eternal salvation of redeemed immortals; the work of CHRIST in His ministry can admit of neither limitation nor modification for its adaptation, on human principles, to lower ends. Its commission must be transmitted, as received, entire: not reduced or modified to accommodate it to a supposed demand for a portion of its grace, or a fancied willingness to receive it in a truncated condition. Its trust must be discharged without change or diminution: not giving up the faith for exclusive engagement in works of love; nor withholding the sacraments on account of devotion to the word; nor ministering to tables so as to forsake prayer; nor so striving to please the multitude as to do evil by deviating from the old paths trodden by apostles, prophets, martyrs and all saints, for modern devices, magnificent in promise, no doubt, but of [25/26] untried efficacy and inconsistent with compact well marshalled order in the array of the sacramental host of GOD.
To evangelize and bless the world is, undoubtedly, the work of CHRIST'S ministry in His Church:—that is, so to minister the temporal and spiritual wants of all mankind as to bring their hearts into subjugation to the SON of GOD by the effectual working of His Spirit through the appointed means.
The sense of responsibility for its share of that mighty task, has been for many years brought heavily home to the consciousness of our branch of the Church, as well as of our mother and sister Churches of Great Britain and its dependencies, by the unexampled and yearly accelerating increase and spread of population looking to us, or having the right to look to us, for the supply of religious charities and comforts and relief of spiritual wants.
'How shall we find bread for so many here in the wilderness?' is the question which our LORD is putting to us, in His Providence: and it shall be our wisdom if we bear in mind that it is put to us, as a like question was erst [John, vi. 5, 6.] to Philip, 'to prove' us.
To me, my brethren, the solution of that question is furnished by what our Blessed Master taught us on that occasion, by His method of procedure. He sent not His disciples to any neighbouring city to buy bread. He did not think fit to exert His own almighty power in the creation of new channels for the supply of nourishment. He bade His followers first to go forth and patiently reduce the famishing crowds to order; and when they had been made orderly to sit in ranks, expecting what further should be done for them, then and not before, He blessed the disciples' own scanty store of the food provided for their needs, and gave them to distribute, fearlessly imparting to all, to the utmost extent of their demands.
 Was there not enough, and to spare?
What made it so to be?
His blessing on obedience and orderly observance. In distribution the means of nourishment increased; but in distribution by those to whom the duty had been committed, and to those who for that purpose had been previously brought to well-ordered obedience. Surely it requires no extraordinary degree of spiritual insight to behold in the reiterated and minutely recorded circumstances of the repeated miraculous feedings of the multitudes, heavenly wisdom revealing its own principles and mode of action for our imitation in our humble participation of its work!
Multitudes surround us, in pressing need of the bread of life. Our stock is scanty; our number small. Shall we fling away broadcast the store we have, in hope that, if not every one, at least the nearest, or some here and there, may get a little? Or shall we churlishly refuse to diminish our scanty supply, because we are sure that there is not enough for all? Or because the multitudes are too great for us to hope to feed them all, shall we give away to others what we have, that they may go among them? Or shall we ourselves rush forth among the crowds, questioning the wisdom of such delay as the Master's behest to range them orderly in ranks would render necessary?
In the apostolic ministration in the wilderness, we can imagine, too, how much murmuring and suffering might be going on while the hungry multitudes were slowly getting into the prescribed array, in expectation of an inconceivable meal for thousands from a single loaf! What doubts might suggest themselves to the wavering mind of a disciple, as the scanty portion of a broken loaf was taken in hand to deliver forth to the formidable rows of famishing expectants! How hard the task, to go steadily on in the distribution, mindful [27/28] only of the command and the promise—not expressly made, but merely implied in the command itself!
I see no real difference, my brethren, in the trial of the obedience of faith which we are undergoing. Our possession of provisions for the maintenance of spiritual life and communication of Christian consolations, and our subjection to the command to go forth into the crowded world, bring the multitudes to order in CHRIST'S Name, and supply them from our stores, are with us undoubted truths. Have we the Word and Sacraments, and the commission to administer them, from CHRIST, or not? Is the order in which we have received them, His, or no? Do they come down to us, together with the lesser ministries clustered with them, under His injunction to 'disciple men, [Mat. xxviii. 20, 21.] baptizing them and teaching them to observe all things whatsoever He has commanded' us, or not? If these questions must have an affirmative answer (and who among us would refuse it?) our Divinely assigned and obligatory work is to 'minister [ord. Pr. Qu. 3.] the Doctrine and Sacraments, and the Discipline of CHRIST as the LORD hath commanded and as this Church hath received the same' undivided and undiminished; and to go forth to do it 'in the midst [Ord. Priest. Exh.] of this naughty world,' unabashed by the smallness of our numbers, unappalled at the scantiness of our supply of necessary furnishment, unforgetful of the need of bringing first to order in the ranks which our LORD hath enjoined us to form, those whose wants are pressing on our attention, because our gracious Master is meaning, through our ministration, to provide for them, in His own appointed way, at His own wisely chosen season.
If these are the conditions of our work, what hinders its successful prosecution?
My brethren, the most careful and long-continued reflections I have been able to bestow upon this subject, [28/29] have sufficed to discover only two real hindrances, both arising in ourselves, and products of unbelief; indolent remissness in setting about the work assigned us, or reluctance to undertake it; and a wayward inclination to disregard or be discontented with the prescription of a settled previous order for its prosecution.
It is very true that earnest men have complained of other things. "The divided and distracted state" of a religious abstraction called "Protestant Christianity:" "new and subtle forms of unbelief" and a "spirit of the age" to which they are "adapted:" "consolidated forces" and renewed efforts on the part of Romanism: and "utter ignorance of the Gospel in a large portion of the lower classes of our population" have been distinctly specified, from a quarter having strong claims upon attention, as reasons for considering our past "measures" and present "means and appliances" as insufficient to "meet the exigencies of the times" and "do the work of the LORD in this land and age."
With the deepest respect for the names by which this complaint is sanctioned, I find it difficult to persuade myself that sufficient consideration could have been given to such reasons before they were seriously alleged for immediate or prospective organic changes in the ministry, worship, canons, usages and administrations of the Church. Is any one of the alleged indications of the arrival of a period for such changes, a new thing in the history of the ministry of CHRIST? Is any one of them anything but the ephemeral form of principles of evil with which the Church has been contending from the beginning? That they are severally and collectively strong reasons for close examination into the mode and extent of our preparation for increased exertion, is undeniable: but how do they differ in kind from the elements of sin, unbelief and misery with which this branch of the Church has been, now for three generations, since her re-organization in adaptedness [29/30] to the institutions of the country, carrying on a steady contest increasingly successful? Surely a blessing has hitherto attended our feeble work! And that it has not been obtained in still larger measure, reasons enough are discoverable but too plainly in the languid inefficiency, irregularity, and indecision of counsels producing divided effort, manifested in the employment of the means and provisions we now possess, but so very partially and incompletely put in operation!
Unrest is the characteristic of our time. It pervades the whole race, and affects it in all relations. The immoveable East is shaken to its foundations. The mobile West is agitated like a sea of quicksilver. Society in all its forms, is feeling the influence of new elements which the Providence of GOD has reserved for discovery and use in the past and present generations. A redistribution of the race is taking place before our eyes. New empires are arising, and old alliances and constitutions undergoing dissolution, with a rapidity to which it is hard, even in our altered circumstances, to become accustomed. Our modern modes of travel seem to furnish the only adequate illustration of the civil and social condition of the day, in which the past is relinquished with a facility and disregard, and the future approached with a breathless and tearing haste, but too faithfully represented in the career of a railway train.
If I might strain the similitude so far, I would liken the Church to the engineer of that rushing train—placed in it, to move onward with it in a stationary relation to it, yet with continual changes of the circumstances of that relation, involving the direction and control of the movement by which all are carried on. It is impossible that the Church should not participate in the onward movement of society. Yet its very business is to direct and control that movement, and in order to that, it must be both unchanged itself, and [30/31] to a certain and very great extent unchanged in its relations to all around it.
Intrusted with a divine deposit [I Tim. vi. 20. 2 Tim. i. 14.] of "grace [John, i. 14, 17.] and truth"—neither 'grace' alone nor 'truth' alone, but both in a divinely ordained conjunction, inseparable because Divine—the task of the Church is, to profit by that deposit, and make it profitable to all the race, in such a way and with such appliances as shall meet the continually changing demands of society in its progress, without diminution or deterioration of her trust.
In the faithful and zealous performance of that task she meets her trial. It is no easy one. Strong temptation besets her on either hand: on the one—in 'holding fast [Rev. ii. 25. iii. 11.] that which she has, until the coming of her LORD,' to forget that it is to be put to use [Luke, xix. 13-24.] for His account, that when He cometh He may receive His own with increase:—on the other, in seeking to bestow [Matt. xxv. 14-27.] her talent, to be unmindful that it is not her own, but lent, and is to be risked in no such traffic with the money changers as would fritter it away, or hazard the substitution of a baser coin.
The records of the Church are full of evidence how sorely this difficulty has been felt by earnest servants of CHRIST in every age. A very large proportion of ecclesiastical legislation has grown out of the endeavors of generation after generation to provide against its dangers. Always falling back more or less, and too often by a sadly great shortcoming, from the full discharge of duty, the Church has always found it needful to enforce performance of her work on her sluggish children, and stimulate them to new exertions in forms of labor modified to suit the changing needs of successive ages. Yet in still greater degree it has been found necessary [31/32] to regulate and modify and circumscribe within set limits the exercise of ready activity and willing zeal: and that because, while the whole life of the Church insofar as it is true life, consists in love that must work out in zealous action, the individual temperament, the sectional tone, the national character must in all cases more or less commingle with the heavenly grace, and mar its operation or frustrate its efficiency unless kept in due control and check by the collective wisdom of the whole Body, acting under the directing Providence of GOD.
It has been an unavoidable result, that in every age some of the freest and most willing spirits have felt irksomely the restraints of law; and the wisdom of those whose station required them to counsel and rule has been severely taxed to subject zeal to due restriction without discouraging or lessening activity and efficiency. The internal struggle between forces jointly necessary to the due accomplishment of the common work, has never been more violent than when that work was actually in most vigorous prosecution; as if the mettle of a generous steed in full career were calling forth all the energies of the strong steady hand of an accomplished reinsman.
It affords no ground of dissatisfaction then, but the contrary, that in our day of general unrest and wonderfully accelerated social progress, there should be a pervading feeling and expression of uneasiness in the Church, tending more or less to change, and seeking innovation for the sake of accelerated growth. A different state of things would betoken insensibility to trust and responsibility. It would argue inobservance of surrounding changes and the resulting opportunities and duties. To a certain extent, we may rejoice in the restlessness which is a sign of life, and promises, if skilfully turned to account, to produce vigorous action, wholesome in effect, and abundant in good fruit.
 Nevertheless, it is neither good in itself, nor to be encouraged. The energy and zeal of which it is the indication, require to be kept in the bounds of prescribed order and employed in the prosecution of permitted work. Study the LORD'S doings in what portion of the history of His Church you will, and you shall find His teaching by the prophet to be always the rule by which lasting blessing is obtained: "In quietness [Isa. xxx. 15.] and confidence shall be your strength." In "quietness," not of apathetic indolence, but of the gentleness which bears the yoke and strains to it the willing neck, and toils cheerfully in the bidden path and turns aside to no ways of its own choosing. In "confidence" that He whom we serve needs not our inventions as substitutes for His provisions, or remedies for deficiencies in the mode in which from the beginning until now He has been carrying on His work. It is no new temptation that besets us, to think scorn of our own feebleness, and inquire after ways of forming coalitions with the multitudes of many names by whom we are surrounded, that so the LORD'S work may be advanced, and the numbers that bear His Name increased. It is as old as the times when Israel 'refused [Isa. viii. 6.] the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoiced in Rezin and Remaliah's son.' I draw no parallel between the objects of Israel's guilty choice, and the classes to whom we might be tempted to look for co-operation and agglomerative strengthening. It is the principle of action which is the same, however different the objects in reference to which it is brought out—dissatisfaction with quiet, unostentatious, measured and perhaps even slow, but steady, progress, the gliding along of gentle waters in a deep bed between high banks—and preference of garish show and strength, real enough, perhaps, but unchastised, uncurbed, uncognizant of wise restraint, discreet reticence or loving willingness [33/34] to sacrifice even success for the privilege of obeying the least intimation of the will of our Heavenly Master—the very guidance [Psalm xxxii. 8.] of the eye promised to the truly penitent and loving.
Under that guidance, my brethren of the clergy, I can see no right that we can have to hope to be, otherwhere than in the strict performance of our obligations assumed, when we were permitted to undertake a share of the work of CHRIST in accepting the commission to His ministry. That ministry we received in the Church for which we bear it. We trace our commission through no other channel. Folly or fanaticism may pretend to an unlimited right and obligation to preach the Gospel in their own sense, after modes of their own devising, for ends of their own adoption. We can do no such thing. Our commission was given us with limits—those of due obedience to established law. We received it for the maintenance of a fixed, unchangeable faith, a settled ministry, a discipline not invented for the nonce, but inherited from the wisdom of long by-gone ages, and proved by the holy lives, the godly examples, the triumphant deaths of thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand of CHRIST'S redeemed ones. May it remain unblemished in our keeping, be shown forth consistently in our lives and ministries, and when we shall have served GOD in our generation, be handed down to those who shall come after us perfect, entire, and, wanting nothing.
GOD grant it, for the sake of JESUS CHRIST our LORD!
CHURCH BOOKSELLER AND STATIONER,
125 BALTIMORE STREET,