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The assumption most certainly cannot reasonably be sustained. When we speak of Queen Victoria as the successor of King William, we mean that she succeeded to his throne, and that like him she has a right to exercise all the functions of royalty. Without this right she would be a usurper,and not a successor to the throne of this empire. Indeed we might as well speak of a king without a kingdom,--of a scholar without learning-of a christian without Christ, -as of an apostle without the signs of an apostle-without any of those wonderful attributes by which they were distinguished from all other ministers in the church, and all other men in the world.*
According to the Tractarian theology, our bishops “stand in the place of the apostles, as far as the office of ruling is concerned : and whatever we ought to do had we lived when the apostles were alive, the same ought we to do for the bishops.” This is Faith, to look at things not as seen; but as unseen, to be as sure that the bishop is Christ's appointed representative, as if we actually saw him work miracles as Peter did.” (Tract No. 10).*
This doctrine originated in priestcraft, is supported by silly sophisms and ridiculous legends, and has been in all ages one of the most prolific aids, and appliances to spiritual domination and despotism. In scripture it is unsupported, in logic it is an absurdity, and in history
D. Rhys Stephen, on the True Church. * I really think that the Oxford party might with more propriety be called the successors of the Pharisees, than the successors of the Apostles. Like the straitest, sect of the Jews, they boast of their descent-raise tradition to an equality with the commandments of God-make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter-love ostentation in religion, ceremonies, fastings, holy days, holy places, greetings in the market place, and to be called of men Rabbi, Rabbi compass sea and land to make proselytes hide the key of knowledge, and shut up the kingdom of heaven.
it is a lie.
How distressing is it to reflect on this language, and the multitudes who embrace it, who are ready to sell their birth-right for a mess of pottage—and to yield a blind and implicit obedience to pretended apostolic successors. How long ye simple ones will ye love simplicity? Is prelacy from heaven or of men ? Is it not true that men are raised to this dignity not on account of their high-toned piety and spirituality of mind, but on account of secular interest, political expediency, and sentiments or relationships which happen to coincide with those of the prime minister of the day.t
We make a confident appeal to the politicoecclesiastical history of this country for the correctness of this assertion, and we say it with sorrow, that high religious attainment is not the usual road to episcopal honours. The premiers may be a man of any religion, or of no religion at all; and he, by a dash of his pen may make a bishop of any particular friend or political ally, and convert the merest novice into a right reverend father in God !* who, in all cases, and under all circumstances, solemnly avows before God that he is moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon him the sacred office utterly uninfluenced by a desire after lucre or reward !+
* If bishops stand in the place of apostles, one would think their number onght to be restricted to twelve.
+ Why is this man made a bishop? he has been tutor in one family, or he is connected in blood with another, or he enjoys the patronage of some polluted female favorite of royalty, or he is the near relative of the minister ; or at the nod of the premier he has been a traitor to the church, in a matter affecting her existence.
Blackwood's Magazine 1830, organ of the church. Equally pungent and equally satisfactory answers are given in the same article to the questions, why is this man made a dean ?-and why is this stripling invested with an important digrity in the Church ?
# Let him be a Puseyite and then where would Protestantism be ? * No earthly authority can compel him to lay his hands upon what he may conceive an unworthy head.-- Tract No. 5. p. 12.
Now what is there in all this to render the new-made bishop a safe and infallible guide in matters of religion ? and to make us “as sure that the bishop is Christ's appointed representative, as if we actually saw him work miracles as Peter did.” Away with such a delusion, away with it! Oh, be assured that it is not communion with the first lord of the treasury, but communion with God,- it is not the mitre and the lawn sleeves, but the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit,-it is not the knowledge of classic lore; but the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and him crucified, -it is not the possession of worldly pomp and outward show; but it is the possesion of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost that can qualify a man to be a minister of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God.
+ It is true that the command of the Crown to the Dean and Chapter, assumes a
form. But the gé d'elire is a farce ; for they have no leave to choose. A minor canon is sometimes put in nomination with the Crown Candidate; but the latter is always elected, and always elected nemine contradicente. Thus the state govern the church, stamps it with its own likeness, and makes it subservient to its own political designs.
It is not denied that a bishop may be a good man, and a good minister of Jesus Christ: but it is denied-it is utterly denied that the preference of the minister of state to which he owes his elevation is any security for his being
may be immoral in his life-persecuting in his spirit-erroneous in his doctrine, and quite unworthy of religious esteem. Why then claim for bishops, or archbishops, or deans and chapters,* as such a dominion over your faith- and that scriptural homage which was due to the apostles of Jesus Christ. What is this but to mock God to abolish the distinction between right and wrong-to make an idol of a man, and to worship and to serve the creature more than the Creator, who is God over all, and blessed for ever.
* Rotten Boroughs of the Church,
APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION FICTITIOUS. *
Hypothesis of an unbroken chain—To be linked with it essential
to the Ministry-No salvation without it-Bold assertion of Tract No. 7- Antioch more distinguished than Rome-No commencement to this chain - Eusebius ~StillingfleetWhately-Schism of the Church of England-Roman Pontiffs—Rival Claims-Peter's chair deserted—Gregory XII, no Pope-Chichely no Bishop-Butler, Tillotson, Secker, and George III, no Christians--Appearance of evil at least in Tractarian assertions.
"Neither give heed to Fables nor endless Genealogies."- Paul.
THROUGH the successive ordinations of the last eighteen hundred years, our bishops claim a regular and uninterrupted descent from the apostle Peter. But really this notion is so puerile, and so destitute of any historic truth, , that it deserves to be thrown aside at once as one of those endless genealogies or old wives' fables which Timothy was admonished to avoid: yet it is insisted on by men of no ordinary intelligence, and insisted on in such a manner as though it were placed beyond all reasonable doubt, as though registers and documentary
* The uninterrupted succession I know to be a fable which no man ever did or could prove.- Rev. John Wesley.