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Luke x. 16. 1 Theft. iv. 8.
Ecclesiastical History is full of Instances of the
Q. What Titles of Honour and Respet are given
Å. The Dignity of their Office is amply displayed Cor. iv. in the Scriptures, when those that are invested with
thar Character are called the Ministers of Christ, X: 19. ch. Siewards of the Mysteries of God, to whom he hath
committed the Word of Reconciliation, the Glory of Rev.ch.ii. Chrift. Ambassadors for Christ in Christ's Stead,
Co-workers with him, Angels of the Churches. And
1 Tit. .
v. 2 Cor.
ch. ii. Lukex.16.
Q. What is implied in their being Ministers of Christ?
A. That they act by Commission from him, that they are his Officers and immediate Attendants, his Domestics, and in a peculiar Manner his Ser
That they are employed in his particular Business, impowered and authorized to negociate and transact for God, and that not only in some particular Things, but at large in all the outward Admiaistrations of the Covenant of Grace, or of Reconciliation between God and Man.
Q. What is implied in their being Stewards of the Mysteries of God?
A. That as a Steward is the highest domestic Officer, and Governor of the whole Family, who is to give them their Portion of Meat in due Season : so the Priests under the Gospel are instituted to dispense spiritual Food for the Nourishment of Chiftians, to feed them with God's holy Word, 1 Cor. ii. and Sacraments, to speak the hidden Wisdom which 7. God ordained before the World; which is committed to their Care to preserve entire from being maimed or perverted, as the Sacraments are to be rightly and duly administered.
Q. What is implied in their being public Agents and Ambassadors ?
A. That they are God's Vicerogents and visible Representatives here upon Earth; that they are delegated by him to solicit and maintain a good Correspondence between God and Man; that they are impowered to administer the Word of Recon ciliation, to sign and seal Covenants in his Name; upon
which Account their Persons are sacred, and all Contempt shewn to them is an Affront to their Master, whose Character they bear.
Q. What is implied in their being the Glory of Christ, and Co-workers with him?
A. That they are instrumental in advancing his Gospel, whereby Chriji's Name is glorified; that they manage and carry on that glorious Design for which he came into the World, and took upon him our Nature; that they are the Ministers of his spiritual Kingdom, to whose Diligence and Fidelity is committed its Preservation and Enlargement.
Q. Why are the Ministers of God called the Clergy?
A. Because those who have been peculiarly appropriated to the Service of God, and devoted to wait at the Altar, have always been esteemed
God's Lot and Inheritance, which the Word figniNum. viii. fies in the Greck. Thus God says, the Levite Jónn xvii. shall be mine ; and our Saviour calls his Apoftles ibe Gift bis Father gave him out of the World.
Now though the World at first comprehended the whole Body of the Jewish Nation, and may in the same Sense be attributed to the Community of Christians, whom God has purchased to himself as a peculiar People ; yet this Title was afterwards confined to narrower Bounds, and distinguished that Tribe u hich God made Choice of to stand before him in the Administration of holy Things; and, after the Expiration of that Economy, was accordingly used to denote the Ministry of the Gospel, and those that were invested with the Priesthood in thc Chriftian Church.
Q. How do ike Ministers of the Christian Church derive their Commiflion?
A. From our Saviour fcfus Christ, the great Heb. v. 5. Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls, who glorified not
bimself to be an Iligh-Prieft; but had his Commission from God the Father, and, after his Resurrection, inveiled his Apostles with the same Commission his Father had given him. As my Father bath
fent me, even fo fend I you ! And be breathed on them, John xx. and said unto them, receive ye ihe ibe Holy Ghuji, &c.
Which Commission evidently contains an Authority of ordaining others, and a Power of transferring that Commission upon others, and those upon others to the End of the World. And that this did not merely belong to the Persons of that Apoftles, appears from the Nature of that Promise made, to be with them always, even unto the End of the Mat. World: Which must include their Succeffor in the xxviii. 20. Execution of the fame Commiffion.
Q. Can the Supreme Civil Magistrate communicate ihese Spiritual Powers to Church Officers ?
A. The Nature of these Powers being purely spiritual, and having a Relation to the Souls of Men, can only be conveyed in that Way and Manner Christ has appointed; who delegated these Powers only to his Apostles and their Successors; and without his express Commission no Man ought to take upon himself, or communicate to others a Power to sign and feal Covenants in his Name. This Commission the Apostles and their Successors exercised in all Places, and even in Opposition to the Rulers that then were; so that the Church subfifted as a distinct Society from the State for above three hundred Years, when the civil Go. vernment was only concerned to suppress and destroy it. Indeed, when the Church received the Benefit of Incorporation and Protection from the State, she was content to suffer fome Limitation as to the Exercise of these Powers, and thought herself sufficiently recompensed by the Advantages that accrued to her by the Incorporation.
Q. Wherein then confifis the Supremacy of Sovereign Magiftrates ?
A. In ruling all Eliates and Degrees committed to Art. 37. ibeir Charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Temporal. In exercising their Civil Power in Ecclefiaftical Causes, as well as over Ecclefiaitical Persons, and in restraining with tbe civil Sword the
Nubborn and evil Doers. So that all Persons in their Dominions, Spiritual as well as Temporal, are subject to their Authority ; because when Men became
Ministers in the Church, they did not cease to be Rom. Subjects of the State. Every Soul mufi be subjeft
to the higher Powers, which includes an Apojile, an Evangelis, a Prophet, or whosoever else, as St. Chryfoftom observes upon the Place. But by Vir.
tue of this Supremacy, the ministring either of God's Art. 37. Word, or of the Sacraments, is not given to Princes,
because they are not invested with, nor have a sovereign Disposal of, the Power of Orders.
Q. What may we learn from the Dignity of the Priesthood?
A. That it is no Diminution to Greatness of Birth, or any personal Excellency, to be devoted to the Service of the Altar. That great Purity of Life is required of those that are invested with such an honourable Charakter, whereby they may in some Measure be qualified to administer in koly Things, and by their Example guide those they instruct by their Doctrine. That it is an Argument of a very prophane Temper, to contemn those that are owned of God as his Domestics and immediate Attendants; as his Agents and Ambassadors, because he that despiseth them despiseth Him that sent them; and the Affront put upon them will be interpreted as done to Him from whom they derive their Commission. That it is a Dictate of natural Reason to testify our Reverence to the Deity, and our Affection to Religion, by honouring those who are the chief Ministers of it. That it is the greatest Piece of Presumption imaginable, to pretend to sign and seal Covenants in God's Name, without receiving any Power, and Authority from him in order to that Purpose, That the Attendance at the Altar exempts no Man from the Cognizance of the Civil Powers, but that