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sion which it might be expected would have been
The instructions which our Saviour might, and most probably did, give the Apostles on this subject, upon the delivery of their commission;*
* The Apostle to the Hebrews, speaking of the priests under the law, says, Heb. viii. 5, that they served " unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle; for see, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee the Mount." From whence it appears, that the plan for the service of the tabernacle was delivered by God to Moses in the Mount. We do not say, that the necessary inference from the above circumstance is, that our Saviour's conference with his Apostles in the Mount, when he delivered to them their commission, had a similar object in view with respect to the service of his Church; but we think that the analogy between the two cases does at least make such a conclusion highly probable; and ought, in our judgment, to more
the resemblance to be expected between the form
foot by those inspired persons, to whom the charge of the Church was first committed, is best caleulated to answer the end in view.
This is a fair
than balance against any supposed want of information on this subject in the Apostolic writings.
The authority of a Church establishment is founded," we are told, on its utility." The position, thus stated, appears capable of leading into erfor! The authority of the establishment of the Christian Church is founded upon the character of the party who established it; that party being Jesus Christ, through the ministry of his Apostles, its utility must, of course, be admitted. No supposed improvements, therefore, to be expected from human "deliberations concerning the form, propriety, of comparative "excellency of different establishments," can balance against the authority of those persons, who were favoured with that competent judgment upon this subject, which is now no longer possessed.
The Archdeacon's arguments upon this subject, if I understand them, may, when brought together, be thus stated: "A religious establishment is no part of Christianity. It cannot be proved, that ány form of Church government was ever laid down in the Christian Church. However this be, certain it is, no command was delivered by Christ on the subject. But admitting that the form of government by bishops and presbyters,' was established by the Apostles, it must be considered only as a form adapted to the circumstances of the Church at that time, but not with a view to its being a permanent establishment; because no precise constitution could be framed, which would suit the Church in its accommodation to the different arrangements of civil policy. The authority of
a Church establishment is founded in its utility."
But before this conclusion be admitted, we have a right to be satisfied with respect to the validity of the premises upon which it is builts, moinsq
In answer to the position, that it cannot be proved that any form of Church government was laid down in the Christian Church, with a view of fixing a constitution for succeeding ages," some › readers will say, that the contrary position has been abundantly proved. The authority of St. Ignatius and Clement, to pass over later writers, will,din the opinion of many, be deemed sufficient to balance against it. That ng maltzogLu The certainty with respect to our Saviour's having delivered no command on this subject does by no means appear: this certainty stands only on the ground of the Archdeacon's naked assertion; to establish which it must be proved, that every thing that passed between our Saviour and his Apostles, relative to his Church, has been recorded. This undoubtedly is not the case. The Apostle, for instance, directs his disciples "to obey them that had the rule over them, and to submit them~ (selves.”*, › The commission, then, which the Apos
*Heb. xiii. 17.
tles received, invested them with an authority, to which Christians were to be obedient. But there is no positive command of our Saviour's to be produced, upon which such authority is built. To guard, therefore, against the idea of the Apostles assuming to themselves an authority which their commission did not warrant, it must be supposed that the evangelical narrative does not contain all the particulars relative to this subject. Now we read of four Saviour's being seen alive of his Apostles during the space of forty days after his passion; and of his giving them commandments, "and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Is it not, then, most reasonable to conclude, that some of these commandments, and party of the instruction vouchsafed to the Apostles at this time, respected the settlement and government of the Christian Church? and that, although nothing decisive on this subject has been left upon record, the conduct of the Apostles in the discharge of their high commission, was in a great measure regulated by the directions which they had received?
But, upon the supposition that the Apostles, in their establishment of the Church, were governed by the considerations pointed out by the author there alluded to; before we place the authority of the governors of the Church at any subsequent period upon a level with that of the Apostles in a matter of this kind, it requires that we should be satisfied that the advantages possessed by them are equal with those heretofore possessed by the
*Acts i. 2, 3.