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carry those rules and orders into effect. Without such a provision for order and government, no society can subsist.
That such a power was left with the Church by its Divine Founder, is to be proved from the commission, by which the governors of it received authority to admit members into the Church, and to exclude them from it, according to the qualification or disqualification of the respective parties. And that this power comprehended under it every exertion of authority necessary to the regulation of the society committed to their management, we conclude (to avoid multiplying proof upon a subject that speaks for itself) from St. Paul's charge to his disciples, that they should obey them that had the rule over them, and submit themselves; from the consideration, that their spiritual governors watched for their souls.*
Moreover, as there are differences of adminis trations, and diversities of operations to be performed in the Church, there must be persons regularly appointed to the discharge of the several offices, necessary to the well-being of the society to which they belong. But a regular appointment of offices pre-supposes a power lodged some where, to determine upon the qualification of the undertaking parties; for if individuals are left to settle this matter for themselves, the society will not only be worse served for the time being, (the most self-sufficient men being, generally speaking, the least qualified to discharge the office they undertake) but what is a still
*Heb. xiii. 17.
further consideration, the disorder consequent upon an indiscriminate exercise of public functions, must ultimately terminate in the dissolution of that society where such confusion prevails.
But the Church being a society, of which Christ is the head, from whom alone all the benefits belonging to it are derived; the appointment of the governors, together with the rules and orders by which this society is to be managed and directed, must originate with, and receive its sanction from him. For man, merely as man, can claim no rule over his fellow-creatures. Government, therefore, whether in Church or state, must look to that supreme Disposer, from whom all power is derived; by whose authority alone, the validity of its exertions can be established. The reason of the thing, in this case, we shall find upon enquiry to be confirmed by the history of facts.
When our Saviour, after his resurrection, proceeded to the regular establishment of his Church upon earth, he appointed eleven principal disciples, or Apostles as they are called by way of distinction, to meet him in a mountain in Galilee, for the purpose of delivering his commission and directions to them on that subject. "Then the eleven disciples (we read) went away into Galilee, into a mountain, where Jesus had appointed them. And Jesus came, and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach (or make disciples in) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things
It is to be observed, that our Saviour's disciples at this time exceeded the number of five hundred. After his resurrection, St. Paul tells us, that "he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once."+ But our Saviour did not deliver the commission for administering the sacraments of his Church to his disciples at large, but only to his Apostles; and to them not by accident, but, it should seem, by express design in the first instance, at his last supper; and in the second, when, in consequence of a particular appointment to meet him in Galilee after his ascension, he delivered to them his final commission to baptize all nations.‡ Now the granting a commission manifestly implies, that none but those to whom it has been delivered, have authority to act in that business for which the commission has been granted. Were it otherwise, the commission would be an useless form. Christ, therefore, by making choice only of eleven out of the whole number of his disciples, intended, it is presumed, that the business which he authorized them to do, should not be performed by every one that might think proper to take upon him to execute it.§
* Matth. xxviii. 16, 18, et seq.
+ Cor. xv. 6.
Matth. xxviii. 19.
Should there remain a doubt on this head, the particular selection of the eleven Apostles from the other disciples, for
red by Christ to "Whosesoever s
It is to be remarked further, that the tenour The keys of the red from God; of the commission delivered to the Apostles, seems purposely calculated to provide against, and thereby over to remit to render unnecessary, all self-constituted autho-th the power w rity in the Church. “As my Father has sent me," said Christ," so send I you; "* &c. According to the common import of which words, as well as the received sense of them in the Catholic Church, our Saviour is to be understood as if he had said, "With the same power and authority that my Father sent me into the world, to constitute and govern my Church, I send you and your successors, for the further advancement of the same divine purpose; and lo! my spirit shall accompany the regular administration of the office to the end of the world. As, therefore, in consequence of the mission which I have received from my Father, I send you; so, by virtue of the mission received from me, you have authority to send others, for the purpose of carrying on and perpetuating the plan which I have set on foot in the world, by atles and Pr regular administration of the affairs of my kingdom chief corn to the end of time." The government committed he said, alth to the Apostles was, therefore, of the same naturepostles, sta with that of Christ; for thus he declares to them, and evide “I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hathe and auf
faren from G tele founda tedre Apost
of God, buil
the purpose of delivering to them their commission, is calculated to remove it. See Luke vi. 12, 13; Mark iii. 13, 14; Matt. x. 1; xxviii. 16, 19, 20; John xx. 21, 22. This important point the reader will find particularly made out, and insisted upon, in "Potter's Discourse of Church Government," chap. ii. p. 45, et seq. and chap. iii. p. 61, et seq.
John xx. 21.
Man shall si
de Apostles sh
twelve tribes of
postles are repre undation on wh The wall of th
dient light by tution of t
his im ut, and
pointed unto me.' The keys of the kingdom of beren, Christ received from God; by virtue of which grant, he had power to remit sins on earth. The same keys, with the power which belonged to them, were delivered by Christ to his Apostles in these words: "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained."+ "The Father committed all gment to his Son." And our Lord promised, that when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne his glory, the twelve Apostles shall sit on twelve brunes, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.§ Hence that the Apostles are represented as constiing part of the foundation on which the Christian Church was built. The wall of the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, the Spirit deribes as having twelve foundations, and in them names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb."|| And St. Paul told the Ephesians, that they were "the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone."** But it may be said, although this commission delivered to the Apostles, stamps a distinction upon their characters, and evidently invests them with a particular office and authority; yet it does not furnish sufficient light by which to determine the precise constitution of the Christian Church. It certainly does not; and were there no other light
* Luke xxii. 29.
John v. 22.
John xx. 23.
§ Matth. x. 28.
** Eph. ii. 19, 20.
Rev. xxi. 2, 14.