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time to correet it, and conform to the institutions and requirements of the gospel.
From these circumstances, it will be understood, that these discourses were designed for the information of my people, in a.case, in which imperious duty would not permit me to remain silent. It will be admitted, it is presumed, by the candid public, that I was no longer at liberty to prefer an alternative. I was reduced to a necessity of discussing the subject, or of acknowledging implicitly the weakness of our
The latter it was impossible for me to do, without a desertion of my post. For it appeared to me a tacit abandonment of the institutions, ordained by the Supreme Head of the church.
The ensuing discourses are now published, in compliance with the wishes of a respectable number of the hearers. Whether they are calculated to do any good, must be left with an impartial public to decide,
As these discourses were particularly designed by the writer for the benefit of his own people, he has not been studious of originality. He has freely availed himself of the arguments or sentiments of others, when they appeared to be adapted to his purpose, Where he has had occasion to employ their language, it has been his intention to give the usual credit. But it has not been practicable to distinguish all the ideas derived from others, as it has been frequently necessary for the writer to abridge, or vary materially, the arguments and observations of the advocates for ministerial parity, to reduce them to a conformity to his own views and design. It has been his inten.
tion to present the claims and reasoning of Episcopalians, in their just light, as exhibited in their established formularies and most approved writers. How far he has succeeded, the public will judge.
It has been a practice among the advocates of prelacy to exclaim, that there is nothing new in the arguments of their opponents. This is doubtless very happily calculated to expose the poverty of invention and originality in their antagonists, and serves as a very decent apology for passing their arguments without examination or reply. But to a candid inquirer after truth, it is of no manner of consequence that an: argument be original and news. His business is to: determine, not whether the argument be original, but whether it be conclusive. Truth and sound reason lose nothing by their antiquity. They cannot become obsolete. This change of the question from the subject to the author, is merely to divert attention from the weight of the argument. So far is a: good argument from losing its force because it is old, it is, for that very reason, the more satisfactory. It has passed the ordeal; and if it has not been consum-. ed by the fire, it is shown to be composed of solid and indestructible materials..
But the advocate for prelacy advances, and assures : the public, that the arguments of his opponents have. all been repeatedly and satisfactorily answered. And the advocate for parity may advance, and give the game confident assurance, that the arguments in .favor of Episcopacy have been as often refuted. And what satisfaction will all this afford to a man of sense and reflection? One assertion is precisely as good an the other.
But what reason has the advocate for prelacy te complain, is, as he pretends, satisfactory answers to all that can be offered against his system, bave been already prepared to his hand? He ought surely to felicitate himself in the possession of a treasure, which may save him so much expense of labor and intellect. He may indeed eomplain that he is deprived of oppor: tunity to display his own original resources.
The writer rests the decision of the question solely upon the authority of the word of God. Of this an Episcopalian has no right to complain, unless he can show that this is an unsafe, or an insufficient rule. It is necessary that every christian should be able to decide for himself. But it would be manifestly impracticable for a plain illiterate christian to decide on the pretensions of any one to the ministerial character, by inquiries into the testimonies of the Fathers, and the history of a lineal succession of the ministry in the Church. None but literary men can be competent judges of such disquisitions. To the claims of Episcopalians, which rest solely upon these foun. dations, it is sufficient for this humble follower of JGsus to reply: “I am no antiquary, and may not have either the knowledge or the capacity necessary for tracing the faint outlines of ancient establishments, and forms of government, for entering into dark and critical questions about the import of names and titles, or for examining the authenticity of endless gen. ealogies; but I may have all the evidence that consciousness can give that I thankfully receive the testimony of CHRIST, whom I believe, and love, and
It is my settled résolution to walk in all
*Dr. Campbell's Lectures on Ecles. Hist. Lect. 4.
the statutes and ordinances of the LORD blameless. These I determine solely by the word of God. By this rule I ascertain the order of the church and of the ministry, to which I am under obligation to adhere. I have not sufficient learning to tell, whether this or. der has been preserved by regular succession through all the dark ages since the Christian æra. Nor does it appear to me material to determine this question, before I can enjoy a profitable participation in the or dinances and discipline of God's house.
I do not consider it my duty to receive any one as a teacher, who does not appear to come in the order prescribed in the gospel. But to determine whether it is my duty to receive or reject one, who has this apparent claim, I am, satisfied with the plain rule given by our Saviour: “ Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?»*
*Mat. vii, 15, 16.
MATT. xxviii. 18, 19, 20. “ And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, AIL power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing thein in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, cven unto the end of the world. Amen."
THIS is the original institution of the christian ministry.*
It deserves our most attentive and seri. ous consideration.
This is a provision of indispensable necessity. It is one of the most important means, appointed for the preservation of the Church, and the salvation of men, It is in a manner essential to the order, improvement, perpetuity, and extension of the Redeemer's kingdom. It is equally necessary to the conversion of sinners, and the edification of saints. The public
*It may be proper for the writer to explain the mcaning, in which this term is used in the ensuing discours. es. The ministry, in its more extensive signification, may comprehend all who perforin any service in the church. In this sense, Deacons are included in the ministry. But by common usage, the term is employed in a more restricted sense. Thus, the ministry, the christian ministry, or the gospel ministry, signify those, who adininister the word and sacraments. This is the meaning of the terms respectively, in the ensuing dis
In this sense, as we shall have occasion to show in the sequel, Deacons are not included in the min. istry.