網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

searching as in seasons of general heresy or schism for the remnant of the Church who bow not the knee to the Baal of men's invention ; for the National Church, a pure branch of the Divine institution, proposes its guidance and graces openly and visibly—the Temple opens its gates to receive us at its altars, and to bring us into the presence of the Lord. Let us take heed, by the judgments upon the Jews, neither to corrupt the institutions of the Lord by human traditions, nor to slight them from pride of reason. There are a thousand paths to error, and but the one Catholic and Apostolic Church, whose ministers derive a LINEAL COMMISSION* from the Re

* Some persons, forgetful that they are exhibiting a desire to deprive the Church of its ministerial glory and privileges, object against the lineal succession of Bishops by Apostolic imposition of hands, that it has passed through a corrupt channel-been transmitted by persons unworthy of their office and ministry, and been interrupted and lost. In explanation of these objections it is to be observed, 1st. That the Jewish High Priest could alone enter the Holy of Holies—that he was the president of the Sanhedrim, and that the supreme administration of sacred things was confined to him-that he appeared before God in the sacred services, for sacrifices, for blessings, for intercession, and was a type of Christ-that the pontifical dignity was instituted for life, and was hereditary in the family of Aaron. Yet after the Captivity the succession went into a private Levitical family, and the election and right of succession were totally disregarded. The office was frequently sold to the highest bidder, and sometimes even was made annual. Several interruptions and variations took place in the succession, and many of the High Priests were guilty of the greatest crimes, even of poisoning, fratricide, idolatry, sacrilege, and impiety. Notwithstanding these violations of the priestly office, the Lord fulfilled His promise of the everlasting Priesthood, withdrew not His commission, or the sacred authority of the holy office, and continued the iniraculous grace or gift attached to it even while held by a Sadducee. (Acts v. 17.) « And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the High Priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself, BUT BEING High PRIEST THAT YEAR, HE PROPHESIED that Jesus should die for that nation.(John xi. 49.) Our Lord himself obeyed the High Priest, when adjured by him in the form of the law, and answered him, although till then he refused to reply and “held his peace.” Even after the Priests and people had crucified the Lord, St. Paul recognised the office of the High Priest (Acts xxii. 5), and excused himself for having reproached him with his unjust punishment," Revilest thou God's High Priest? I wist not, brethren, that he was the High Priest : for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.” (Acts xxiii. 5.). It therefore follows that the succession of the holy office is not destroyed by great irregularities in the succession, or by the impiety of many of those

deemer, and whose faith is the tradition of the Apostles. Where heresies and schisms abound, it becomes those who

through whom the Priesthood is transmitted ; and that the promises, authority, and privileges conferred upon it are not thereby forfeited. 2nd. If the contrary were the case, and the holy office were only valid in the ministration of devout persons, the course of Providence would be violated, and the exercise of faith destroyed by a succession of impeccable Priests. 3rd. Our Lord, by commanding His disciples to observe and do what those who sat in the seat, or held the office of those divinely commissioned, should teach them, but not to imitate their ungodly actions; and by sending Judas as an Apostle to preach His Gospel with miraculous power, fully instructs us not to expect perfection or piety in all His ministers, and to distinguish between their ministerial authority and commission and their conduct; reverencing and obeying the former, and condemning the latter when improper. 4th. If piety, or even sincerity, were requisite to the validity of sacred ministrations, there would be no security for the sacraments or any other religious offices; and people could have no confidence that they had been duly baptised, or had received the holy communion. The succession of the Christian priesthood has not experienced violations similar to those of the Jewish pontifical office, and can be traced back in the Apostolic Churches in a lineal succession to the Apostles. The canonical form of consecration by three Bishops, where the act of one is valid, is a strong security against interruption in the succession ; and the historical evidence of the succession is amply sufficient for a perfect conviction of the direct transmission of the Apostolic chain. Indeed the presumptive evidence for the Apostolic succession, which is afforded by the fact of the great importance which was attached to it in all ages of the Church, is satisfactory evidence of its truth to persons not desirous to disbelieve it. We see now that the succession is carefully continued as of sacred importance to the Church, -we know that it was always held to be of the most essential necessity; and we are therefore called upon to believe that it was always duly continued. It is a most irrational incredulity to call in question, and seek for objections against, the transmission of the Apostolic succession of the sacred office, by which its graces, privileges, and divine promises are imparted to us, as members of the same Church to which the Lord vouchsafed them. They were treasured as the sacred and unfailing gifts of the Lord to his Church by the primitive Christians; and to discredit or give them up is voluntarily and profanely to strip ourselves of our spiri. tual birthright. Still it cannot be denied that the Apostolic succession has been endangered at several periods, and subjected to irregularity. Persecution, and the violence of the temporal power, have sometimes disturbed the order, but never broken the chain, of the everlasting priesthood. It is objected to the Apostolical succession of the Anglican priesthood, that Archbishop Parker was not duly consecrated A.D. 1559. It was asserted bị some Jesuits, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, that the consecration took place at a tavern called the Nag's Head; a story incredible in itself, and which supposes that all concerned in the consecration must have been

z

are approved to manifest their faith by “ withdrawing from all who walk disorderly, and not after the traditions of the

devoid of all reason and decency, and careless to irreverence on a subject of the deepest importance to them. It is known that the Queen and the Bishops esteemed it a most sacred and essential ceremony, and which they knew, if performed uncanonically, would expose them and their religion to the Romanists from whom they were just delivered, and against whom they were labouring to protect the Anglican Church. There is therefore in the nature of the case the strongest reason to disbelieve the story. “Al the authority the Jesuits could produce for their Nag's Head consecration is ultimately resolved into the single testimony of Thomas Neale, chaplain to Bishop Bonner.” But the connexion of Neale with Bonner would in itself have rendered it impossible that he could have been admitted to the ceremony if performed in the private manner he stated. “In the year 1658, the Church of Rome repeated this story in a treatise of The nature of the Catholic Faith,' in which they endeavour to invalidate the English ordinations; and appealed for the truth of it to Dr. Moreton, the ancient Bishop of Durham, who they said affirmed it in Parliament. The Bishop, then in his ninety-fourth year, being advised of the calumny, sent for a public notary from London, and, in the presence of proper witnesses, made a solemn protestation of the falsehood of this story, and signed it July 17, 1658. Six Bishops, fourteen temporal Lords, and several clerks, subscribed their names, attesting that he had been unjustly aspersed.” (Neal, Hist. of Purit., v. ii. p. 695.) “Charles Howard, Earl of Nottingham, being still alive in the latter end of the reign of King James, and being called upon, gave an exact account of the consecration, of which he was an eye-witness, in Lambeth Chapel.” (Fuller, Hist. v. ii. p. 454.) The calumny arose from the custom of the newly ordained Bishops giving a grand dinner after their consecration: it was refuted by the Puritans themselves, and is treated as a calumny by Neal (Hist. of the Purit. vol. i. p. 99); and given up even by Lingard, the Romish historian, as unworthy of credit. The consecration of Archbishop Parker took place in Lambeth Chapel, by Barlow, Bishop of Bath and Wells; Scory, Bishop of Chichester; Miles Coverdale, Bishop of Exeter ; and Hodgkins, Suffragan of Bedford. These Bishops had been deprived in the reign of Queen Mary, either for being married, or preaching against the Romish errors, neither of which circumstances could deprive them of the Episcopal character. There is therefore no valid objection to the consecration of Archbishop Parker, who was ordained by imposition of hands of Bishops, whose own consecration was never called in question. It is a subject of thankfulness, when other nations were heedlessly stripping themselves of the Apostolic succession, and when the Church was so distracted, and violated by the temporal power, that the succession was continued by the preservation of the Bishops during the long persecution in the reign of Mary.

Fleury, in the thirty-second book of his Ecclesiastical History.s. 57, gives the following account of an instance of irregularity in the Episcopal succession of the see of Rome : "On the death of Pope Agapetus,

Apostles.' The prevalence of error renders truth the more valuable and difficult of attainment, and requires in those who seek it a deeper sense of its importance, to be recompensed by a fuller enjoyment of the advantages it imparts. Blessings and privileges undisputed, and generally received, are in danger of being undervalued; and he who has set his face towards the house of the Lord as a city set upon a

Theodatus, Gothic King of Italy, caused Silverius, Sub-Deacon, and son of Pope Hormisdas, to be elected in his place. The Empress Theodora sent for Vigilius, a Deacon of the Roinan Church, then at Constantinople, and made him promise her secretly that he would abolish the Council of Chalcedon, and write to the three leaders of the Eutychian heresy, approving their errors, on condition that she should give him seven hundred pounds of gold, and write to the Imperial general Belisarius, to order him to have Vigilius appointed Pope. Vigilius returned to Rome, where he found Silverius Pope: he then went to Belisarius at Ravenna, and gave him the letter of the Empress, and promised him two hundred pounds of gold if he would obey it, and have him ordained Pope in the place of Silverius. Belisarius took Rome A.D. 536, which surrendered to him principally by the persuasion of Pope Silverius. Nevertheless Silverius was accused of correspondence with the Goths, was entrapped by Belisarius, and sent into exile in Lycia. By the authority of Belisarius Vigilius was ordained Pope, A.D. 537, but refused to pay him the sum he had promised to him. The Emperor Justinian, having become acquainted with the deposition of Silverius, took measures for his restoration ; upon which Vigilius wrote to Belisarius, • Give me Silverius, otherwise I cannot pay you what you demand. Silverius was accordingly delivered to the servants of Vigilius, who took him to the Isle

of Palmaria, where they guarded him; and he there died of hunger, in July, 538. Vigilius then, to fulfil his promise to the Empress, sent letters to the three Eutychian Patriarchs, Theodosius of Alexandria, Anthemius, deposed Patriarch of Constantinople, and Severus of Antioch, in which he declares that he holds the same faith with them; but he prays them to keep his letter secret, and to pretend that he was suspected by them. With this letter he sent his confession of faith, in which he rejects the two natures of Jesus Christ and the letter of St. Leo, saying, “Anathema to those who do not confess only one person and one essence:' having thus written secretly to the heretics, he remained in possession of the Holy See.” The usurpation of Vigilius, his violent and simoniacal intrusion into the Roman See, during the lifetime of the lawful Pope, and bis confession of heresy and murder of his predecessor, almost equal the enormities practised by. some of the Jewish High Priests, and should teach Romanists modesty in accusing other Churches of having forfeited the Apostolic succession. It is to be remembered that this account is taken from a Romish writer of the highest credit. The futility of the Romish claim to infallibility and spiritual dominion is shown by such events, of which an immense collection is to be seen in the work of Dr. Barrow on the Supremacy of the Pope,

messen

hill,” and resolved to abide by it as the “ pillar and ground of truth,” will receive in security of faith, and guidance in devotion, a blessing increased by the instability of the human systems which surround it,"s carried about with

every

wind of doctrine.”

The Church has for eighteen centuries withstood the gates of hell in every form of heresy, and assault of persecution : the Saints have resisted both, and, by their teaching, their example, and their blood, have witnessed the truth delivered to them. There is scarcely a conceivable error or perversion of the doctrines of the Gospel which has not in turn been brought forward against it. Satan has sent his gers, false Apostles, as ministers of righteousness,” to preach their systems as “forms of godliness,” or as philosophical knowledge; and, for the sins of men, they have been delivered into his snares, until the Church itself, shaken to its foundation, has seemed about to fall. But the Divine promise has preserved it, and the Church, by the experience and condemnation of each additional heresy, arises by the trial of its faith, confirmed and approved in its character and office as the witness and guide of truth. It has been said that

The second Temple could not reach the first ;
And the late Reformation never durst
Compare with ancient times and purer years,

But, in the Church and us, deserveth tears." It should not, however, be forgotten that though the second temple wanted the visible emblematic glories of the first, “the glory of the latter house was greater than of the former,” (Hag. ii. 9)—that it had grown mature in the fulness of revealed wisdom in Divine knowledge and experience. “The vision and the prophecy were sealed up before the Most Holy was anointed,” (Dan. ix. 24); and the Church of Israel, though not in the actual possession of the miraculous gifts bestowed upon it in its earlier age, yet retained the Divine assurance and instruction of those gifts, and was enriched with the completed roll of prophetic Scripture, and with the history and experience of the Divine protection of the Temple and of the nation. So, though the Church may have lost the burning and shining lights which shed glory on her early age, and in some measure may have departed for a time from her godly discipline, still it is a subject of joy and hope that she is delivered from the fierce trials she was then exposed to,—that she retains the teaching and memory of her Saints and Martyrs,—that she has grown

« 上一頁繼續 »