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rank from which Judas, by transgression, fell. (Acts, i. 20.)

Hence we are told, that the apostles went about, confirming the churches ; and St. Paul speaks of that which came upon

him daily, the care, or superintendance of all the churches. And how they discharged their episcopal duty, we may fully perceive, by that record which is termed their Acts, as well as by the pastoral epistles, which they addressed to the several local branches, or to the general body of the church; in which they inculcate the purity of the faith, maintain good order, and enforce discipline, with all the authority and dignity which pertain to the sacred office of a bishop. During the active period of their own ministry, then, it would have been an offence against the constituted laws of order, to appoint others to that charge, with which they themselves had been duly invested. It would have implied a dereliction of that trust, which the Lord himself had reposed in them. But when they had approached the end of their course—when they were about to be removed from their ministry, and to receive the fruit of their labours

we find that these faithful stewards of the mysteries of God proceeded to the appointment of bishops, as their authorised successors, in the government and superintendance of the church.

Of such appointment, two illustrious examples are found in the New Testament; namely, Timothy, bishop of the Ephesians, and Titus, bishop of the Cretians. Both these were not only appointed, but also stationed, in their respective districts, by St. Paul, who, in his epistles to these his beloved converts, declares the authority and explains the duties of the episcopal office, with solemnity and precision. Particularly, he marks, as the prerogative of that office, the power of ordaining a succession of lawful and duly qualified ministers, for the service of the church.

Thus Timothy is exhorted, to lay hands suddenly on no man, (1 Tim. v. 22.) The ordination of ministers was, then, his prerogative: otherwise, what could such a caution have availed, if men had the power of intruding into the ministry, without imposition of hands by their lawful bishop?

Again, this charge is given to the same



apostolical prelate--Thou, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace which is in Christ JesusAnd the things that thou hast heard of me, among many witnesses-the instructions delivered at the time of thy public ordination --- THE THIOU TO FAITHFUL MEN, who shall be able to teach others also. (2 Tim. ii. 2.)

Here we learn, that the ministers of the Christian church are to teach those things only which are committed to them; and that they are not to intrude into the sacred office, or to be acknowledged as public teachers, till they are publicly, and officially, intrusted with the work of the ministry.

The same apostle says to Titus--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. (Tit. i. 5.)

Why is this general comunission given to Titus, if the members of the church at large had authority to constitute a minis, terial order of their own;, or, if the elders of two or three local congregations, having received ordination themselves, had the


power of ordaining others? It was not so: for the things that were wanting, were to be set in order by the bishop ; and by him also the elders, IN EVERY CITY, were to be ordained : and this, by virtue of his, own apostolical appointment, as superintendant of the church of Crete.

Thus we find that, in the constitution of the church of Christ, every thing was conducted in that manner in which decency, and just subordination, required thật it should be conducted ; and that the three orders of the ministry were successively appointed, as they became necessary, for general edification and good government, When the church at Jerusalem became nu. merous, deacons were appointed to assist the apostles in the daily ministration. When converts were made, and churches formed, in other cities, then elders, or local pastors, were ordained in each of those cities, the apostles still retaining the general episcopacy, or superintendance, of all the churches. And finally, when the apostles themselves were about to resign their sacred charge, they ordained bishops, to whom they committed the government of the church, and, by a solemn deputation of the authority which Christ had put into their hands, invested them with power to constitute and appoint a due succession in the several branches of the ministry. But, in the apostolical church, no man could be received as a minister, unless his appointment were officially and visibly derived, in an uninterrupted course, from the fountain of all authority, even from God himself.

Hence, St. Paul, speaking of the priesthood, has declared-No man taketh this honour to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be a high priest, but He that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee; as he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec. (Heb. v. 4-6.)

Such is the scriptural account of the official and authoritative appointment of the stewards and ministers of the church of Christ. But as this appointment has been disregarded, by various descriptions of men who profess his holy religion, it may be proper, in this place, to consider some of those pretences upon which this constitution of the Gospel has been set aside.

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