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dence has not been adduced; and, hence, we have reason to conclude, that the title here claimed cannot be proved.
Another fact which has had some influence upon my mind as a Protestant, is, that this doctrine of personal succession constitutes a test of ministerial qualification, not anywhere to be found in the scriptures. Hence, it is of human, not of divine appointment; and would this corporation rest it upon this ground, and not claim
“ divine warrant,” we would not hold objections; but, they urge it as the great touch-stone of ministerial right. That there should be some test, all will admit; and as Jesus Christ established a ministry, it would be expected, that some test would be instituted, and if one can be found in the Book of Laws which He has left his Church, this most certainly, should have the preference to all others. To the law, then, and to the testimony, what saith the Scriptures ? “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.” Why? “Because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” .Try them how? "What is the critera which the Scriptures furnish—the test which they propose by which the claims of these teachers are to be adjudged? Is it by tracing their title through a long series of uninterrupted baptisms and ordinations, of a given description up to the Apostles ? Who would be sufficient for these things? Is this the scriptural test ? No. The test that God has instituted, like his works is simple, upon a level with the capacity of all, and can be applied in the absence of all proof from_lineal descent, or the moth eaten and interpolated records of the Romish Church. It is a test of character. This test was that by which Jesus Christ himself wished to be tried. "If I do not the works of my Father believe me not.” And so said the Apostles, “If I be not an Apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you; for the seal of my Apostleship, are ye, in the Lord.” • Approving ourselves as the ministers of God," " by pureness; by knowledge; by long suffering; by kindness; by the Holy Spirit ; by love unfeigned; by the word of truth; by the power of God; by the armour of righteousness, on the right hand and on the left." "Be thou an
" example of the believers in word; in conversation; in charity; in spirit; in faith; in purity. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptedness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you." "Ye shall know them," says Christ, “by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit
. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Here is the law-the test which the scrip tures have laid down in the case. A law of plain, common,
versal application. One suited to all ages and all climes; to all classes and conditions of life. One that the poor and ignorant can apply as skilfully as the most affluent and learned. Purity of life; soundness of doctrine, and a ministry blessed of God in the conversion and salvation of men. These are the scriptural critera—the visible test of a true ministry of Jesus Christ. High Churchmen may dispute about the sufficiency of this test and attempt a course of argument to disprove it, and, with the Rcmanist, deny the sufficiency of the scriptures, but as the late Bishop Emory said, "their controversy is with their Master, who expressly affirms, and establishes it, and whether we ought to believe him or them, the reader must judge.” Their reasoning here is a denial of one of the first principles of the Reformation, viz. that the scriptures are a sufficient rule both of faith and practice.
But what is the test which the advocates of a personal succession set up? What the criterion which they introduce, by which the right to minister in holy things is decided? So far from its being a test of character, by their faith, purity, or fruits, it is a test based upon a pedigree through a series of Prelatical Baptisms, confirmations and ordinations to the Apostles-a test which admits as true ministers, the “Sons of Belial”-the “Messen, gers of Satan," who have no inheritance in the kingdom of God —whom the Saviour called "false prophets"; those of whom John says, "receive them not," and Paul says, “Let them be accursa ed.” Nevertheless a Prelate of the succession by virtue of
“His Royal letters which as a thing of course,
And his end sure, without one glimpse of hope." By virtue of this royal patent, these descendants of the Apostles though their vices, "would exhaust the catalogue of human crimes,” have yet in their possession from St. Peter, “the keys of the kingdom of heaven”! A test, which setting aside the scriptural rule, receives the teacher of lies, the infidel, the drunkard, and even the murderer, as “ Apostolic Bishops,” merely because he has received ordination from a triple consecrated Prelate no better than himself, and rejects the faithful man, who meets the scriptural standard, as a “false prophet.” Are the scriptures sufficient to make us wise unto salvation? Was the,
Christian Religion designed for a universal religion? Are its immunities and blessings secured to the illiterate and poor? Is the way so plain that a way-faring man, though a fool shall not err therein? Then, this test is superfluous, unnecessary and şinful,
" Inventions added in a fatal hour,
Another feature in this doctrine of personal succession not calculated to inspire in my mind much deference, is, its strong savor of Rome. I will notice but one item; "the power of absolution,” now so openly advocated by these successionists. No feature in Popery was more odious to the Reformers than this; and none has been a greater scandal to the Christian religion. It is true, these gentlemen do not go the whole length of Rome, when “every crime was rated in the Church tax-book and vice became a marketable commodity to be sold to the highest bidder,” yet, I think any one, who examines with any degree of care their works, will see the more prominent essential features of the system portrayed. Take the following as examples. Bishop Hobart says, "where the Gospel is proclaimed, communion with the Church by participation of its ordinances, at the hands of a duly authorized priesthood, is the indispensable condition of salvation.” Dr. Ravenscroft says, "the Church, the ministry, and the sacraments, are as distinctly and truly appointments of God, for the salvation of sinners, as the faith of the Gospel, and that it is only, as these are united in the profession of religion, can the hope, thereby given to a man, be worthy of the name of assurance.
He considered "the grace and mercy of the Gospel as matters of strict covenant stipulation; as bound up with the authority to dispense them; as inseparable from that authority; and ONLY BY VIRTUE OF THAT AUTHORITY (with reverence be it spoken) pledging the glorious source of all mercy and grace to
his creatures." Bishop Meade, of Va., as quoted by Mr. Smith, believes, "that before Jesus Christ left the world He breathed His Holy Spirit into the Apostles, giving them the power of transmitting this precious gift, to others, by prayer, and the imposia tion of hands; that the Apostles did so transmit it to others, and they again to others; and that in this way, it has been preserved in the world to the present day. That the gift thus transmitted empowers its possessor, Ist, to admit into, and to exclude from, the mysterious communion, called, in scripture the Kingdom of heaven, any one whom they may judge deserving of it, and this, with the assurance, that all whom they admit or exclude on earth, and externally, are admitted or excluded in heaven, spiritually, in the sight of God and holy Angels; that it empowers men to bless, and to intercede for those who are within His Kingdom, in a sense, in which no other man can bless or intercede: 2d, to make the Eucharistic bread and wine the body and blood of Christ, in the sense in which our Lord made it so: 3d, to enable delegates to perform this great miracle, by ordaining them with imposition of hands." Hence, the Bishop deduces the following conclusion: “According to this view of the subject to dispense with Episcopal ordination is to be regarded, not as a breech of order merely, or a deviation from Apostolic precedent, but as a surrender of the Christian Priesthood, a rejection of all the powers, which Christ instituted Episcopacy to perpetuate; and the attempt to institute any other form for it, or to SEEK COMMUNION WITH Christ, through any non-Episcopal association, is to be regarded not as schism merely, but as an IMPOSSIBILITY.” The same doctrine is advanced by the Bishop of Michigan in quotations I have already made, in addition to which, I extract the following. Christian ministers “are especially to tell men, that it is only through this ministry, that pardon and acceptance with God, can be made known.” Their work is; "to pronounce and declare to his people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins.' To say nothing of the spirit of exclusiveness, such sentiments breathe-so much like Peter when he shrunk from all contact with what he called common or uncleanso much like Jewish bigotry--a spirit that would build a wall of partition between the Protestant È. Church, and all other Churches high as heaven--which says to all out of her communion, stand thou there, for I am holier than thou-a spirit that only excites our pity, as we believe there is neither Greek, nor Jew, circumcission nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all in all.” Without saying any thing of the consignment in these quotations to endless perdition all the members of other Churches, I simply refer to the doctrine of “absolution from sin" so clearly set forth. To what part of the scriptures shall we turn for proof that Jesus Christ has made his min
isters "his agents authorized to tell man that his sins are forgiven"? This is a doctrine that gives to man a power unknown to the scriptures. Instead of the minister's making this proclamation, the scriptures agree with Charles Wesley in saying,
"The spirit answers to the blood
And TELLS ME I am born of God.” Well did Dr. Rice, in reply to Bishop Ravenscroft, say, "it shall be for a lamentation that ministers of religion, in this enlighten. ed age, are running back into the darkness of the 12th century; and ihat any of our countrymen allow prejudices to sway their minds, that they admit the claims of men, who set up to be accredited agents of heaven and substitutes of Jesus Christ.” “We will not take the assertion of any Bishop or Priest, that they are the high dignitaries of Heaven, sent forth to negociate the sinner's pardon, or authoritatirely to declare the fact that he has been par. doned."
Since the Bishop puts the matter on this ground, we demand that HE shows us HIS POWER OF ATTORNEY, duly authenticated." I reject the doctrine of a personal succession, because, I conceive it contains the very essence of Popery, and that in more things than one.
I venerate it not because it is worthless. Says a learned Protestant divine, “the power of saving men's souls, depends not upon succession of persons, according to human institutions, but upon the Apostolic doctrine, accompanied by the divine spirit. If upon the exercise of their ministerial power, men are converted, and find comfort in their doctrine and sacraments, and at their end deliver their souls to God their Redeemer, and that with unspeakable joy; this is a divine confirmation of their ministry, and the same inore real and manifest than any personal succession.” What else is of value, compared with the salvation of the soul? I would introduce no invidious comparison, but the people can judge of the blessings of succession in making a pious and useful ministry; a holy and self-denying Church.
I respect it not, because, it rests upon assumption; not on proof. A proposition which, if true, would unchristianize one half of the professed disciples of Christ—that would condemn as the associates of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, thousands of the most learn. ed, pious, and successful ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ that have ever blessed the world. Surely of such a proposition we Inight expect the most ample proof, the most incontestible evi: dence, and we might look for its advocates to adduce this proof before they presumed to urge so arrogant and exclusive a claim. But proof here is the last thing thought of. When pressed for this the usual reply is, “as to the fact of the Apostolical succession, &c, this is too notorious to require proof. Every link of the chain is known froin St. Peter to our present Metropolitans."