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v. 17. “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee,” Titus i. 5. (Titus received whatever authority he had from Paul.) ' Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God : whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation ; Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever,” Heb. xiii. 7, 8. Thus it appears that, independent altogether of the power which the office-bearers of the Church possess as the rulers and guardians of a great spiritual society, established upon earth for the very highest of ends, they have also an authority which came originally from the Lord Jesus Christ, which they enter upon at the solemn moment of ordination, and the record of which is preserved in the imperishable pages of the divine Word.

But this authority, to which, in certain circumstances, even office-bearers themselves are subject, as well as people, and which, during so many ages of the Church's history, has been so much perverted and abused, is both peculiar in its nature and limited in its extent. It is not an authority, for example, over men's persons or properties, such as resides in the civil authorities of the land (even civil authority is sanctioned by the divine Word), but an authority over their consciences and hearts, and the other spiritual elements of their nature—those elements on which the truth of God operates; and even this power is limited by the right of private judgment and liberty of conscience on the one hand, and the beneficent spirit and precepts of Christianity on the other. In regard to doctrine, for instance, one great field in which this authority is exercised, it is not absolute or infallible, but subject to the opinion which each individual Christian may have as to the harmony of any particular dogma with the Word of God. Then again, in regard to discipline, it is an authority to be exercised, not in the spirit of anger, malice, or revenge, but with prudence and love ; not for men's destruction, but for their reformation and improvement, that their souls may be saved in the great day of the Lord. Whilst as regards WORSHIP—the ordinances and other rites and ceremonies of the Church-it is an authority of order, for the decency and propriety of the Christian service, and the regular and proper administration of all the means of grace.

Having made these preliminary remarks on authority in general, I purpose now to apply it to the CHURCH'S MEANS OF GRACE.

It is to be observed, first of all, that there is an important distinction among the ORDINANCES OF RELIGION as regards authority, which the officebearers of the Church ought at all times to bear in mind — and it is this, namely, that some are of higher authority, and consequently of greater importance, than others. Some are Scriptural ; others purely Ecclesiastical. Some, such as Prayer, Praise, the reading and preaching of the Word, and the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, derive their existence from the express letter and positive precepts of the divine Word; while others are called into existence by the sanctified wisdom and prudence of men-men who, however, occupy authoritative positions in the

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Church, and who act under the general rules which the Word of God lays down for the proper observance of the Christian service. And thus it is that the Church of Christ in all ages of its history has, as regards not merely the administration, but the very existence, of some of its forms of worship, been dependent entirely upon the judgment and good sense of its office-bearers. And this is necessarily so. Because, as there is no prescribed form of Church government laid down in the New Testament, and as Christ has given no special rules for the exercise of discipline neither has He revealed to His Church any distinct and complete ritual for that Church's constant and undeviating observance. Whilst the great truths of salvation, and unquestionable principles in morals, as well as certain essential ordinances of religion, are laid down with a distinctness which command the homage and obedience of all the Churches of Christendom, as well as the approval of the human conscience, yet the lesser and non-essential, but most important details are left entirely to the wisdom and prudence of the Church's recognised and duly appointed office-bearers. And hence it is, that in these matters the Church of Christ in its various denominations, from apostolic times downwards, has presented to the world—and to many even of her own members—a perplexing and misunderstood diversity in the services of the house of God. Not to speak of the various forms of buildings, external and internal, the different hours of worship, the different religious seasons, and the like, the clergy have their different dresses, the people their various postures and books of service, whilst in no two countries of the world is the order of service entirely

the same.

This want of uniformity in the Church catholic—a uniformity which is regarded of so much importance in particular Churches—is no doubt designed by Christ, the Church's great Head, who has withheld from it a complete and perfect ritual, for the purpose of allowing our holy Christianity to adapt itself to the habits and customs of the various communities to which it goes, and the various climates on the earth’s surface where it exists. Nor is this other important element perhaps awanting in such an arrangementnamely, that it calls into exercise a spirit of mutual forbearance on the part of Christians towards each other in these matters where forbearance ought to be shown, but where, alas ! as experience tells us, there is often the greatest intolerance.

And it shows us, moreover, the elastic and comprehensive character of our holy religion in thus not merely carrying over the wide earth truths that are adapted to every heart, but also, in its mode of ordinance and service, suiting itself to the varied forms of humanity with which it comes in contact.

The ordinances and rites of the Christian religion, therefore, may be said to be of two kinds-namely, those which have been fixed by the Word of God, and those which have been appointed or which are appointed by the constituted authorities of the Church. The one is an essential service of the house of God one of its vital organs-which cannot be set aside or altered in any way without violating the express command of God; the other is only accidental, and may be changed or even abrogated if necessary, by authority existing in the Church. The one derives its existence from that highest of all authorities, the Word of God, and is, moreover, supported and confirmed by apostolic practice, as well as by unchanging usage; the other springs from the Church's office-bearers, acting upon the authority adhering in their office, and guided by those general Scriptural laws which are laid down for their guidance,—“Let all things be done decently and in order,"1 Cor. xiv. 40; “Lay hands suddenly on no man,” 1 Tim. v. 22. Both classes of ordinances, therefore—the essential and accidental—may in a sense be said to be divine, inasmuch as both derive their existence, either directly or indirectly, from the divine Word. But while the essential ordinance is clearly marked out and expressed in the Word of God, and cannot be altered or interfered with in any way, the accidental or non-essential derives its divine element from (1) the Scriptural authority existing in the officebearer, and (2) the Scriptural law, which, however, ecclesiastical authority may rightly or wrongly interpret. Then again, the essential ordinances are binding upon all Christians throughout the world—and Christians, too, of every age. The accidental may vary with the circumstances in which Christians are placed, or the times in which they live, according as the Church to which they belong in its wisdom shall determine. Hence it has been found, with regard to the rites and ceremonies of the Church, that what is suitable in one age, country, or society, may not be suitable in another. What may seem becoming, edifying, and impressive in the minor arrangements of the Church in one community, may be thought unbecoming and frivolous in others. In hot climates, for instance, in former times, the Church may have thought it necessary to baptise by immersion, but in colder climates and large Christian

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