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it is sufficient. He has his own interpretations for all its scriptural proofs, and so errs from want of docility and submission to the Divine teaching. Thus the Sadducees of old denied the future existence of the soul, on the ground that it had not been sufficiently declared in the law of Moses. Did our Redeemer excuse their want of faith from the imperfect nature of the scriptural proof of this important doctrine? His condemnation is explicit. “Ye do err, ye have wandered astray, not knowing the Scriptures.” (Matt. xxii. 29.) And in what manner had the Scriptures made known this truth of which they were ignorant ? By an inference, by a deduction not very plain in itself, of no weight whatever to a mind indisposed to the truth, but full of conviction to a teachable and willing disposition, by the fact of God's having named Himself as the God of the Patriarchs after their death, implying that as He was their God, they must be still existing. * God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.' The error of the Sadducees derived no excuse from the want of plainness in the Scripture declaration of the truth they denied, for their error proceeded from their corrupt disposition, adverse to the belief in a future life; and the sure proof of this is, that they erred not in ignorance, but in opposition to the faith and teaching of the Jewish Church, from which they dissented upon this doctrine. Here then we have a very impressive warning against the spirit of incredulity, the disposition to doubt and
deny, for want of more positive proof than it hath pleased God to afford us. 14.--SCRIPTURE TEACHING DESIGNED AS PROBATIONAL.
OUR SAVIOUR’s EXAMPLE, &c. It is to be inferred from the expressions of our Lord and his Apostles, that the reception of the doctrines of the Gospel depends upon the disposition of the hearers,—that their evidence is designed to admit of the exercise of faith and docility in those to whom they are presented. Our Saviour spake unto them “in parables as they were able to hear it." (Mark iv. 33.) “By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand, and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive; for this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed.” (Matt. xiii. 15.) “And this is condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John iii. 19.) "How can ye believe which receive honour of one another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only ?" (John v. 44.) “ But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost : in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Cor. iv. 3.) St. Paul tells the Corinthians that he spoke not unto them as spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ; and that he fed them with milk, and not with strong meat, for hitherto they were not able to bear it, neither then were they able. (1 Cor. iii. 2.) Thus also he ascribes opposition to the wholesome words he had taught to pride and want of docility, and a disputatious spirit. If
any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, such a man is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and perverse disputings.” (1 Tim. vi. 3.) The general invitation of the Gospel is to the submissive and the docile, to those whom a sense of the majesty of the Divine Being, and of the wants, the weakness, the sinfulness, and the dependence of man, renders penitent and obedient, desirous to “pick up even the crumbs which fall from the Lord's table.' The address of our Saviour is," he that hath ears to hear, let him hear.' These considerations should always be present in every inquiry into the truths of religion, and should beget humility and submissiveness, with an earnest desire to attain the mind of Christ, however obscurely it may seem to be revealed, and to be conformed to it, doing his will, and co-operating with the design of his teaching and institutions. *
* “Many examples will suggest themselves to the reader, showing that our Lord always taught so as to leave room for a trial of faith. and submissiveness in his hearers. It has been remarked that our Saviour scarcely once declared to enquirers that He was the Christ. He left them to gather the great truth for themselves, how they could, with whatever degree of certainty.. When St. Thomas doubted of His resurrection, far from justifying his demand for all infallible witness, He declared that He was but diminishing his blessedness by giving him a higher evidence of the miracle than he had already received. On one occasion, indeed, He did publicly declare Himself to be the Christ, but, as we shall find, it was not in love, but in wrath. It was in answer to the adjuration of the High Priest, whom He forthwith by implication consigned to the destiny of those miserable beings who should see Him whom they had pierced. Believe and tremble. And as His conduct during His ministry, such is the uniform doctrine of the whole of Scripture, summed up as it is in the expressive words of the Prophet, “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, who heareth the voice of His servant, who walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him hope
15. --- PRESUMPTION
DOCTRINE AGAINST NEGATIVE OBJECTIONS. There is another consideration highly necessary to be borne in mind, that where the Church proposes to us any positive doctrine with a body of Scripture proofs, there is always a very strong probability of its truth in the fact of its being supported by a number of scriptural declarations. The probability rests upon this ground, that although the opponents of the doctrine may be able to give a different interpretation to each of the passages adduced in its proof, yet if any one of these opposing interpretations should be fallacious, the doctrine itself would be proved true. Thus, for example, if twenty different declarations from Holy Scripture be produced in support of the doctrine of Apostolic succession of the Christian ministry, the opposers of this doctrine are called upon to show, by a different interpretation of each of these passages, that none of them are adequate to the proof of this doctrine ; and should they fail in any one instance, then is the doctrine true. In the same manner the Socinians are compelled to give the most plausible explanations they can invent of the many passages in Scripture declaring the divinity of our Lord : some of
may be just, several specious and plausible, and all possible; but if they err in any one of their interpretations, how great is their error ! If there be twenty passages adduced in proof of the divinity of Christ, or of Apostolic succession, the opposers of these great doctrines have to overcome a probability that they are true of twenty to one, even
in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.' (Isa. 1. 10.) This is only parallel to what we see in the course of nature; the proofs of the being of a God are not written on the sun and sky, nor the precepts of morality spoken from a Urim and Thummim.
To require such definite and clear notices of truth, is to hanker after the Jewish Law, a system of less mysterious information, as well as less generous faith.”— Newman on Romanism, &c., p. 108.
Another striking example of this truth is to be seen in St. Matt. xvi.'1-4. The Pharisees demanded a positive miraculous sign : our Lord refused them, saying, they should only have the sign of the Prophet Jonah's entombment in the whale's belly, and rising from it; a not very distinct type of his burial and resurrection. He reproves them for being able to discern the face of the sky, and not to distinguish the signs of the times, i. e. the times of the Messiah ; and he attributes their blindness to their sinful disposition, wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.”
granting that their interpretations of all the passages be as apparently just as that put upon them by the Church. In the same manner let every opposer of the doctrine of the Apostolic succession bear in mind during the following inquiry, that if he fail in answering any one of the positive arguments in proof of this doctrine, he is bound to receive it; and that even though his answers and interpretations should be as plausible as those of all the Churches by which it is held, that there is still a probability of his being in error as great as the number of Scripture proofs adduced in support of the doctrine is to one. That if he be mistaken in any one of his answers and explications, he is in error-error rendered grievous and dangerous by being an opposition to the teaching of the Church, and involving the highest practical consequences and interests. 16.-THE ONLY IDEA OF A DIVINE MINISTRY IS OF ONE TRANSMITTING ITS DIVINE AUTHORITY BY SUCCESSION.
At the institution of the law of Moses, precise directions were given by the Almighty for the establishment of a perpetual ministry in the family of Aaron. Moses was directed " to put upon Aaron the holy garments—to anoint him and to sanctify him, that he might minister unto God in the Priest's office.” (Exod. xl. 12.) The form of consecration with anointing and sacrifices are also prescribed, (Exod. xxix.) and directions given that the sons of Aaron should be consecrated in a similar manner to succeed him in the office of Priest, “ for their anointing should be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.” (Exod. xlv. 15.) The performance of the most sacred rites of the Mosaic religion was appropriated to the High Priest* : he alone entered
* “ But when Uzziah was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction ; for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord, to burn incense upon the altar of in
And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the Lord that were valiant men; and they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary, for thou hast trespassed, neither shall it be for
thine honour from the Lord God. Then Uzziah was wrath, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense; and while he was wrath with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord from beside the incense altar. And they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the Lord had smitten ňim; and Uzziah the king was a leper unto
the Holy of Holies, and offered the atonement for the sins of the whole nation, upon the great annual sacrifice. This sacred office was perpetuated to the time of our Lord, through a long succession of Priests. Although many who executed the office were men of the most sinful lives, and most irreligious manners and sentiments; still the succession flowed on in the divinely constituted channel, continuing the Priesthood as originally appointed, and transmitting the ministerial office without being annulled or weakened in its sanction, and obligation upon men, by the unworthiness of those who held it. In the long history of the succession of Priests, every instance of invasion of their office, or intrusion into their ministry, whether committed by persons appointed to inferior service in the Sanctuary, as Korah and his companions, or by the anointed kings of the nation, had been visited with awful judgments. The only conception, therefore, which the Apostles, or any other members of the Jewish Church, could have entertained was, of a Priesthood strictly confined to those who were divinely appointed to exercise it, to those who had received the office through a divinely prescribed succession of men, transmitting the authority of their original institution and commission. The first requisite to the authority of a Priesthood, is the certainty of its possessing the Divine sanction for its ministration: the office which the Priests exercise can have no sufficient authority from men. There must be a security for the Divine permission, and acceptance of their sacred ministrations, before they can hold out any well-founded inducements to the people to accept them as ministers of God, and to perform their part in the Divine worship,---before they can be free from apprehension that they are not blind guides, leading their followers into impiety and destruction. The Jewish Priesthood, the only ministration approved by God, had this security—it was divinely constituted, and continued, so that neither reason nor religion afford any ground for a self-con
the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off froin the house of the Lord." --2 Chron. xxvi. 16-21.
Although of the seed of David, and consecrated to sit upon his throne, the intrusion of Uzziah into the priest's office brought down upon him the Divine judgment. The act of assuming the sacred office without being consecrated, is punished with expulsion from the communion of the people of God. In intruding without authority into the sanctuary, he is visited with a plague of excommunication from the whole people. These things are examples for our instruction.