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Two recent articles upon this subject in The Record contain some valuable remarks, which we proceed to extract.
“According to the Word of God, the apostolic succession chiefly to be looked for is, the succession of the true doctrine of the grace of God, revealed in infinite mercy for the salvation of mankind. Not the succession merely of certain fundamental doctrines, such as the triune existence of the one God; for that and many others did the Galatian teachers profess, who yet were pronounced by the apostle to be accursed, because they attempted to blend circumcision with faith in fixing the ground of justification before God: not a root of barren orthodoxy, while the branches of a fruitful profession are awanting, for our Lord proclaims He is about to reject such a Church with abhorrence : but the succession of a sound evangelical faith, proved to be genuine by the good fruits which it produces. Wherever these cease to cohere and flourish, proving and adorning one another. the individual, the congregation, the national Church, or the preternaturally swollen body, such as the Romish apostacy, is rejected, and nigh unto cursing, whose end, if God interpose not, is to be burned.
“ The great Head of the Church made a certain provision for the perpetuity of His trutli on the earth, by the institution of a body of men, distinct from other men, who should from age to age hold forth the Word of life for men's salvation. This is what Christ has done. But what He has not done, (though it is very generally assumed He has,) is to debar other men than those, when circumstances require it, from declaring the same Word of life.
The distinction is obvious and great; and may be illustrated, as scriptural truths are very frequently illustrated by our Lord and His apostles, by earthly things. For example : an intelligent sovereign, solicitous for the perpetuity and advance, of science in his kingdom, founds a particular society for its cultivation, the whole object of which shall be its advancement; and to which He grants rare and precious endowments for the prosecution of the important object he intrustš to its care. But in founding this institution he dreams not of preventing his subjects at large from prosecuting science also. Experience tells him, on the contrary, that after, all he has done, the object of his solicitude may be more advanced by those without, than those within, the enclosure he has formed and endowed.
“The object of the institution of the ministry, undeniably, was not restriction but extension—not to limit the promulgation of the truth, but to make more secure and ample provision for its propagation in all ages. Accordingly, we find in the apostolic age, that all who knew the truth declared it wherever they had
opportunity. The apostles were ordained. They were in their divinely appointed office as heads of the Church. During the first persecution, they remained steadfast at their post in Jerusalem. But the disciples were all scattered abroad through the regions of Judea and Samaria.' What, then, did the disciples so scattered do? It is recorded, they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the Word.'
“ In harmony with this representation are the other facts recorded in the New Testament. Apollos began his public labours, and that with vast effect, knowing only the baptism of Juhn, till Aquila and Priscilla met him, and expounded to him the way of God more perfectly. Paul, when certain men preached Christ of contention, supposing to add affliction to his bonds, even in these circumstances forbade them not, but burst into the exclamation, What then, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached, and therein I do rejoice; yea, and will rejoice!' The apostle John, when he needed, as well as Apollos and our new teachers, to be instructed in the way of God more perfectly, said, ' Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and we forbad him, because he followed not with us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not.' And, to pass over other illustrations and examples of the truth for which we contend, there are, among the last words of the last address of our Lord to His Church from heaven, the following, peculiarly affecting and satisfactory, as to the point at issue: And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come.' Well, here our Lord announces that the Spirit and the Church say, Come. What need, then, for more ? Nay, to meet, as it were, thisand all similar cases, he adds, • And let him that heareth say, Come. Whoever heareth the glad sound, let him proclaim it to others, till the earth be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea ; till that blessed time come, when they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Kuow the Lord: for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest.' (Heb. viii. 11),
" As little is said in the Word of God in relation to the institution of the Chris
tian ministry, and the outward form of the Christian Church, as is compatible with the fact that there was a Christian ministry appointed, and a Christian Church established. That God, during the Gospel ministry-eminently the ministry of The Spirit was not to exert His life-giving power in raising up and replenishing o:hers for the supply of the spiritual wants of His Church, should those appointed in the regular succession fail or be corrupted, is not only a gratuitous assumption, but a proposition limiting the prerogative, and shutting up the mercies of God; and the inagination, that there was only to be one outward form of the Christian Church and of Christian order and discipline, is equally a mere assumption of man, resting on no Scriptural support. And well it is so; otherwise two great divisions of the outward Church, those of the Greek and Roman communities, would not only have till now embraced the whole of Christianity in their benumbing and withering embrace, but, probably, had it not been for the electrifying influences of the operations of those raised up by God to revive the light of the Gospel glimmering in the sockets of those desecrated candlesticks, their prolonged state of corrupt and death-like existence would ere now have been wholly extinguished.
“ About the middle of last century, religion in both Reformed Churches, and more strikingly so in ours with the apostolic succession, than within the boundaries of the other without it--religion had sunk to a very low level indeed. The fall of both, we have no hesitation in saying, was lower than that of the Laodicean Church (and we venture to affirm every unprejudiced man will acknowledge the truth of the observation); and that were both not utterly repudiated by the Saviour, as was the case with the lukewarm Church we have named, was not from any righteousness of ours, but because it had pleased Him to make us His people, and that His mercies were exceedingly abundant to us :--for ever praised be His glorious name!
“ But He not only spared, but revived us, and both the Churches of the land nearly at the same time, and both in a very remarkable degree. But as our present object is confined to our own body, we shall for the present drop out of sight that truly apostolic Church, the Church of Scotland.
“How, then, did God accomplish the revival ?
“Unquestionably and undeniably by the preaching of the Gospel, by the exhibition of it according to the Evangelical model, in other words, the model of our Reformers ; the model left us by the apostles and by our Lord, even that model and that method which, though foolishness to man, is the power of God and the wisdom of God to his salvation.
“ To hold forth anew this lamp of light in the land, God raised up men both within and without the pale of the Establishment. There is a great disposition, even among good men in the Church, to close their eyes in the present day against the latter part of the truth which we have now annunciated. But it is THE TRUTH. No one, acquainted with the subject, can deny that it is THE TRUTH.
Evil, and not good, must ever ensue from denying or excluding Truth; and therefore we now advance it as a thing right to be done, and accordingly surely calculated (whatever we may suppose,) to lead us, through TRUTH, to safety and peace.
“ No doubt, the recent conduct of the Political Dissenters has been abominably bad: no doubt, the conduct of the orderly part of their body, in not publicly relieving themselves from the discredit falling hence on the whole, has been lamentably weak : no doubt, their conduct in many respects has thrown discredit on the very name of religion itself : and most likely God has accomplished, at least in this countrị, the greater part of the work of mercy, of which they were made the instruments for a time. Still the truth remains, that by many distinguished men among them, such as Whitfield and Wesley, Robert Hall and Carey and Fuller and Bogue, and by multitudes of their coadjutors not less holy and devoted, though less known,—that by these, we say, as well as by a noble army of vindicators of the truth within the bosom of our beloved Establishment, of the same principles and of the same spirit, both classes obviously raised up by the same Divine agent, and animated by the same Holy Spirit, for the accomplishment of the same holy work, -by this body, we say, it was, that light was anew enkindled in the bosom of the languishing Church ; ihat the dreadful destitution of the knowledge of the Gospel which subsisted began to be supplied; that 'the glad tidings of great joy which is to all people,' began again to resoumd in our towns and villages, in the establishment and out of it ; and a people were made willing in this day of God's power.
“ The extraordinary era called, if the Church were to be saved, for an extraordinary interposition of God. This He, in His great mercy, vouchsafed. He called these men by His Spirit to the work of the ministry; they were obviously ‘His workmanship;' and 'the seal of their office were their innumerable converts, who con, tinued to adorn the Gospel to their lives'end. (1 Cor. ix. 2.) In the spiritual destitution in which England then was, according to the testimony of Archbishop
Secker, Bishops Horsley and Horne and Porteus, and many others, we doubt not that a congregation of worshippers, quickened into spiritual life by the preaching of the Word, had scriptural power to call one of their number to be their minister (according to the letter and spirit of the Twenty-third Article), and, proceeding with as much Christian order as circumstances admitted to place him over them in the Lord. This, in fact, was done in innumerable instances, and God gave witness that He approved of the deed, by continuing the effusion of His Spirit on the teacher and the taught.
“These men were our brethren in Christ. They were living members of Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.' They were ingrafted in Christ, the true vine. And hence they bore the fruits of righteousuess in holy lives and peaceful deaths, and in a faithful declaration of the Gospel of peace to the conversion, the edification, and salvation of their hearers. In this light were they viewed' by Wilberforce, by Thornton, by Macaulay,—by Venn and Cecil and Newton and Scott and Simeon, and the whole of that class of men. They stood the test which our Lord himself delivered for the use of His Church to the end of time— By their fruits shall ye know them.' And the scriptural effect upon the mind on a view of such fruits is this, ' Who are we that we should resist God?"!!
2. THE PROGRESSIVE NATURE OF MAN, AS A RACE. In a preface to the recently completed Edition of Foxe's Acts and Monuments, Mr. Prebendary Townsend insists that“man, as a race, is perpetually improving, perpetually progressive;" nor does he confine this to man as an intellectual being, but applies it also to man as a moral agent, implying that mankind, as a race, are not only becoming more knowing, but better. Upon this, the same Journal from which we have already been quoting, The Record, remarks
“Where is this declared in the Word of God, and where are the land-marks set up, whereby we may compare? Where was the progress from Adam upright to Adam fallen? Death is the answer. Where, the progress from Adam to Noah ? Let the waters of the flood and the eight souls saved by water answer. Where was the progress from Noah to Babel, and from Babel tó Sodom aud Gomorrah! Let divided nations and the Dead Sea tell. Where was the progress till the day when the Lord destroyed Egypt for Israel's sake, and when their carcasses also fell in the wilderness ? Where was the progress from the day when Joshua led in the hosts of the Lord to the land which He had given them, till the day in which the land spued out Israel and Judah, as it spued out the nations which were before
(Lev. xviii. 28). Where was the progress under the rod of the Assyrian and under the yoke of Babylon? Where was the progress till the day in which they crucified the Lord of glory? And where is the progress in the seed of Abraham according to the flesh this day? So much for the Jew. Where was the progress of the Gentiles, when Isaiah said, Behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people;' and Paul said, ' professing themselves to be wise, they became fools ?'. Where was the progress amongst the nations whilst the Church militant here on earth was persecuted by the civil power during the first centuries after Christ? Where the progress when the same Church was persecuted by the ecclesiastical power under the Bishop of Rome in after ages? Search through Foxe for the answer, and attend to the faithful chronicles of that true and persevering friend of Christ's slaughtered flock. Where was it that in his progress man reached the dark ages?' Where is the progress in our own day? The Church militant has this answer, • We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.? (1 John v. 19.) 'The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.'- (Gen. viii. 21.)
Where will be the progress in man as a race, from the days wherein Satan is bound, to the days in which Satan, being loosed again, shall go out to deceive the nations ?'.(Rev. xx. 8.) There is a progress in the developinent of the purposes of God towards His elect. There is a progress in gathering that little flock out of that world' which lieth in wickedness. When the Lord pours forth His Spirit there is light and glory; when He hides His face there is darkness which may be felt. There is a time spoken of when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.' But that will not be the progress of man as a race, but it will be a period in the history of Christ's Church militant here on earth, which the dead state of man will not hasten, and which the rebellious state of man will not prevent. A day which may endure or which may pase away; and if any man desires to know, let him search the prophecies, instead of inventing vain and delusive theories. • Vain man would be wise, though he be born as the wild ass's colt.""
A Sermon, BY THE HON. AND REV. BAPTIST W. NOEL, M.A. Minister of St. John's Chapel, Bedford Row, and one of her Majesty's Chaplains in ordinary.
PREACHED ON SUNDAY MORNING, DECEMBER 19, 1841.
" Whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner.; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.'' —Matthew iii. 12.
The duties of men, as rational and ac- , welcome Truth, and resolved to act accordcountable creatures, may be comprised | ing to it. under three heads : to exercise suitable dispositions towards their Creator, to seek At present, the chaff and the wheat are their own moral perfection, and to do all intermingled; and believers and unbepossible good to their fellow-creatures. lievers, the godly and the ungodly, those Those who habitually fulfil these duties, whose characters are adorned with every fulfil the great ends, for which they were Christian virtue and those destitute of placed in the world; and those who neg- each, those who live to bless their fellowlect these duties, do not accomplish those creatures and those who live to serve ends. On which account, the one class themselves, are found in the same nation is compared in this passage of Scripture –in the same city—in the same congreto “ wheat,” and the second class to gation—and even in the same family. s chaff.” Further, as all those who ex- Probably this congregation—perhaps even ercise faith in Christ fulfil these ends, and some of the families composing it-are none others do so, therefore the wheat divided into these two classes. They are represents the real disciples of Christ, and often so closely associated, and may in the chaffrepresents His nominal disciples, some points so inuch resemble each other, with all the rest of mankind, who do not that numbers, who do not derive their fulfil the ends for which they exist. Bear- views from any exact examination of ing this in mind, let us now consider the Scripture, but from prevailing opinions or prospects before these two classes. from their own false reasonings, may
often And since some who hear the Word of mistake the one for the other; they may God, like the hard path on which the seed blame the character which God approves, can never penetrate, entirely reject it, and they may approve that which God and some are so choked with cares and condemns. Occasionally these opposite pleasures, that they, like seed among characters can be scarcely discerned even thorns, can yield no fruit,--and in some, by real Christians; for real Christians as in scorched and shallow soil on a may unhappily exhibit so many infirmirocky substratum, every promising dispo- ties, as to make their brethren doubtful sition soon fades and withers, -while those of their piety, and those who bave no true only, whose hearts are prepared by Divine religion may be so estimable for their grace, derive permanent advantage from virtues, and so attractive from their amithe Truth,-I entreat you to seek from ability, and so exact in the observance of God the grace to receive those truths, the forms of religion, that Christians may which we have now to consider, into be disposed to think them converted to “ honest and good hearts,” prepared to God.
Very opposite effects may follow to to dissipation, and more willing to die each of the two classes from this associa- than those whose lives are embittered by tion. By it the godly may be seduced irretrievable calamity. Compelled by into worldiiness, and flattered into in- what they witness to acknowledge that consistent compliances with habits con- true religion is the strongest and the lovetrary to the spirit of the Gospel; they liest of all things, they wish to be Chrismay be ashamed of Christ, and may dread tians; they read, they reflect, they pray ; to maintain obnoxious truths, or to insist they are converted by the grace of God, upon the paramount authority of the and they become the heirs of heaven. Bible ; and like Peter, they may be Others, on the contrary, shut their eyes to tempted to deny Christ, or like the young all the evidences for truth, misrepresentthe ruler, they may be unwilling to part with characters of Christians because they hate worldly goods or pleasures for His sake. their principles, cavil at the doctrines But on the other hand, those among which they cannot refute, and explain them, who “ watch and pray lest they away the precepts which they are resolved enter into temptation," and who live by not to observe; if they are too humane to faith, may be made by this association to persecute Christians, and too courteous feel their danger, to be more watchful to revile them, still they nourish in their and more dependent, to seek with more hearts secret bitterness against them, rehumility and earnestness the aids of the tain to the end a rooted alienation from Spirit of God, to use more diligently the the Gospel, blind their eyes to the light means of prevention; and hence,converting which they cannot extinguish, and reject each temptation into a source of improve the salvation, which it had been better ment, may be more resolute, wise and for them never to have known. exemplary, more holy and more devoted, But the omniscient Judge of quick and than if they had been living where all dead cannot permit this association to were like themselves.
last for ever. " His fan is in His hand, In a similar manner, the association of and He will throughly purge His floor.” the two classes may exercise very opposite As wheat is separated from chaff, our influences upon different persons, who Lord will ere long thoroughly separate are ungodly. Some, when they see reli- believers from unbelievers. Classes so gion, not described in books, which they different cannot always be treated alike. might fancy to be imaginative, but exem- Believers cannot for ever be exposed to plified in living characters, respecting the mischiefs of such association ; nor whom they can make no mistake, cannot can unbelievers for ever be blessed with resist its influence. - They are familiar its advantages. When the former are perhaps with a Christian, whom faith in made perfect in holiness and love, they Christ has made assiduous in duty and cannot again be subjected to mockery and calm in danger,—to his friends tender hatred on the one hand, nor be endanand faithful,-towards his enemies cou- gered by corrupt allurements on the other; rageous, candid and forgiving,-whom no and when the latter have passed their day bribe can seduce to swerve from his prin- of mercy, it is not to be supposed that ciples, and whom no calamity can in- they will still enjoy opportunities of reduce to repent of doing right; they pentance which they despised, retain see him as gentle as he is resolute, and mercies which they abused, or be offered as fearful of sin as he is fearless in obedi- a salvation which they persevered in ence to the will of God, with more enjoy. rejecting. ment of life than those who are devoted The wheat must, therefore, be separated