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Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest."*
If the succession principle prevail—the preaching of the gospel must be restricted to the priesthood; but such a restriction would be utterly opposed to the very genius of christianity, and likewise to the example of those early times, when not only christian ministers in particular, but christian men in general, “ who were scattered abroad, went every where preaching the word.”+ Even Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, contended for the scriptural propriety of what is called lay-preaching; and the dictate of reason, or of mercy says that it should be so,—that all who understand christianity should teach it, and recommend it. Not that persons should assume the ministerial character, unsent or unsanctioned by the church to which they belong; or that they should in all cases be the judges of their own competency to preach the gospel; but after all it must be remembered that great piety, though unconnected with learning or eloquence, makes a great preacher :- that is, if greatness is to be measured not by the attainment of human approbation and worldly applause; but by the attainment of those moral reformations, for which the preaching of the gospel, or the teaching of sacred things was originally designed.
* Judges vii., - 13. + It is a striking fact carefully concealed by the Tractarians, that the Fathers approved of lay-preaching : Origen preached before his ordination. And Hilary, in his comment on Ephesians says, “it was granted to all at first, the laity as well as the clergy, both to preach the gospel, and to baptize.” Here it may be observed that testimony of the Fathers as to matters of fact, is of far more value than their expositions of divine truth.
It is often asked what would become of this country if the church of England was overthrown; but the more important question is, -- what would become of this country if methodism and dissent were overthrown: and what would have been the state of the colliers at Kingswood and other places, equally dark, and equally destitute at this day, but for the labours of men whom the successionists would fain have silenced, and whom they cordially despised. These men were assailed with brickbats, and oaths, and curses; but being truly pious men, oaths, and curses, and brick-bats could not discourage them, and could not deprive them of those splendid victories and moral triumphs--which mere official ministrations were never able to produce.
Pretended apostolic successors wish to reign alone-to confine religious worship within sacred cloisters and consecrated walls, and to silence all other preachers of the word.* Let
* What was the practice in the apostolic age ? you mey easily see in the acts of the apostles. “ Therefore they that were scattered abroad, went every where preaching the word.” (Acts viii., 4). Now were all these outwardly called to preach ? No man in his senses can
Here then is an undeniable proof what was the practice in the apostolic age. Here you see not one, but a multitude of laypreachers, men that were only sent of God. When I have reasonable
ever think so.
their wishes be realized, then the history of our own country, and the history of other countries and their own principles declare, that darkness would cover the earth, and gross darkness the people,—that the bible would become an obscure book,—that religion would only be exhibited in outside show, and that real charity and faith unfeigned would be persecuted and driven into the deserts and mountains, into the dens and caves of the earth.
Take another case as an example of the obstructive policy of the succession. Through what is called an adverse providence, a number of persons exhibiting a great variety of character, are cast upon some desolate island, * where all communication with the regular clergy, and with the usual means of grace, is necessarily cut off. One of them distinguished for morality and religion, and not unequal to the power of utterance and to the power of prayer, is solicited to preach or to speak to them in the name of the Lord. But with the example of Korah before him, and with the doctrine of the succession before him, and with the terrors of Puseyism before him, he proof that any man does cast out devils. whatever others do, I dare not forbid him; lest I be found even to fight against God. And whosoever thou art that fearest God, forbid him not. You are forbidding him all the time, you are speaking evil of him, or making no account of his labours. O forbid him not, nor forbid others to hear him--to hear that word which is able to save their souls.
Rev. John Wesley, on Mark 9. 38, 39. * See the most interesting case of John Adams, alias Alexander Smith, in Pitcairn's island.
must reply, “I would fain comply with your request, but alas! alas! I am not in orders ! and all preaching, or praying, or administration of the ordinances without them, must be unauthorized and profane. I know the truth, - I have felt the truth, and I trust I can explain the truth, but episcopal ordination—that blessed thing, that mysterious thing, that one thing needful of ministerial virtue, and of ministerial success, I have never received: and therefore my preaching would only aggravate the present distress, by adding to it the gloomy prospect of being delivered over to the uncovenanted mercies of God. I would try to save you from falling into the fire, or into the water without orders; but I cannot, I dare not try to save you from falling into hell without them! If we can neither leave this island, nor obtain aid from Canterbury or Rome, we must live and die without the public worship of God.”
Now if Puseyism were identical with christianity, it would be equal to an exigency of this kind, and to an exigency of every kind in which human beings could be found. In the absence of a regular minister-it would find a preacher in every truly pious man, and a field for his exertions in any desolate island, or in any destitute part of the world. But it is not identical with it, nor like it ;-but a stumbling
block in its glorious career: it seals the lips of good men, proscribes their ministrations, inflicts pains and penalties on those who hear them, and thus obstructs the progress of christianity in the world.
Where are the Puseyite Missionary Societies? No where. But surely if salvation and the ministry of apostolic successors are inseparably connected, they ought to go where winds can waft, and waters roll, that the heathen might be saved. Your way of making christians is simple and easy in the extreme.
While our present missionaries are sowing the incorruptible seed of the word, and are like the “husbandman who waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it until he receive the early and latter rain;" you want no incorruptible seed of the word to sow—and no patience to wait for the fruit of it; you can go in at once to possess the land, and "reap where you have not sown, and gather where you have not strawed;"* for what can you want with seed, or skill, or patience, or painstaking, in spiritual culture, when, by the mere administration of the ordinance of baptism, you can make the moral wilderness to be glad, and the desert to rejoice and blossom as the rose. ?
Why spend your time in the seclusion of academic shades, or why waste your energies
* i.e.---Scattered the seed.