« PreviousContinue »
Learned and Good Men, and thereby have been induc'd to believe that fuch Ordinations are Good and Valid; and confequently, that there's no need for thofe Foreign Reformed to feek for Epifcopal Ordination; whereby too many of the Foreign Teachers themselves are, inftead of being cur'd of, confirm'd in their Errors, and (it may be) hinder'd from fo much as but Enquiring whether they are in the Right or no. With Submiffion to better Judgments, fuch large Conceffions of thofe wany Epifcopal Divines have been not only prejudicial and hurtful to the Reform'd Abroad, but even contrary to the Doctrine and avow'd Practice of the Church of England, which they were oblig'd in Confcience, by their Subfcription, to fupport and maintain. For, does The not teach in her 23d Article, That "I is not lawful therefore 'tis finful, and contrary to their Inftitution) for any Man to "take upon him the Office of Miniftring the Sa craments, before be be lawfully Call'd and Sent? And does the not confine this LAWFUL CALLING AND SENDING, to EPISCO PAL ORDINATION, in the Preface to her Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining, and Confecrating of Bishops, Priefts and Deat cons? Does he not call this EPISCOPAL ORDINATION CHRIST'S COMMISSI ON AND AUTHORITY; when in her 26th Article the teaches, That the Minifter, when he Adminifters the Sacraments, does it "in
"Chrift's Name, and by his Commission and Au"thority? Is he not fo exactly consistent to all this, that he will not admit any of these Foreign Teachers into the Number of her Priefts, no nor of her Deacons neither, without Epifcopal Ordination? Is not all this fo true, that none can deny it? And does the not thereby, as much as may be, prevent all fuch Conceffions, and reprove thofe who make them, contrary to her Doctrine and Practice? I think he does; and confequently, that her Articles, relating to this matter, are not of fo loose and variable a Contexture as fome (who ought to know better) have reprefented them to be, (like a Nose of Wax) that may be wrefted to ferve any Turn, and defend almost all Contradictious Doctrines and PraAtices whatfoever; without confidering that her Articles, Rubricks and Canons, &c. Concerning the Divine Right of Epifcopal Ordi nation, when duly compar'd with one another, do make the most perfect Harmony and Agreement; and have nothing in them, that is either contradictory or inconfiftent to themfelves, or difagreeable to the Holy Scriptures, and Practice of the Primitive Church.
IF in the Days of Jeroboam, the Son of Nebat, who made Ifrael to fin, a Priest of the Tribe of Aaron fhould have undertaken to defend the Validity of the Priesthood which Jeroboam had fet up; would he not have been justly cenfurable? Would he not have aed
contrary to the Principles of the True Church of the Jews at Jerufalem? Certainly he would; notwithstanding the vaftly Superior Numbers in the Ten Tribes who forfook the True Priefts, and the Smallness of the Numbers in the Two other Tribes, who would not follow that Multitude to do this Evil. And the Reafon why he would have been jufth blameable, is evident; Because Jeroboam made Priests of the Loweft of the People, which were not of the Sons of Levi, 1 Kings 12. 31. For that this (as well as their Idolatry) was his and the Ten Tribes Sin, is evident by Abijah's Speech to them, (2 Chron. 13. 9, 10.) Have ye not caft out the Priests of the Lord, the Sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you Priefts after the manner of the Nations of other Lands? &c. But as for us, (i. e. the Members of the True Church of God, the other Two Tribes of Ifrael) the Lord is our God, &c. And the Priest's which minifter unto the Lord, are the Sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their Bufinefs. Here you fee that Abijah triumphs and glories in the True Priesthood with them, becaufe twas that which God himself appointed; and he upbraids the Ten Tribes, for their having fet up other Priefts, without any Regard to the Divine Institution of the Priesthood. Their mighty Numbers, and the feeming Neceffity of their being forc'd thereto by the Secular Power, was no Argument for him to allow of their Priesthood. How much less ought
those Writers among us to have ftudied fo induftriously, as fome of them have done, to prove the Validity of their Ministry, who are not One Tenth of the Prefent Univerfal Church, and who differ from them and the whole Church throughout all Ages, in not Requiring their Minifters to be Vefted with the Divine Authority by Epifcopal Ordination.
I AM well aware of what is pleaded by thofe Epifcopal Divines; viz. That thofe Foreign Reform'd were under a Cafe of Neceffity, and fome of them fay, they are so still. But I am not yet fatisfied what they mean by this Cafe of Neceffity: The Church of EnLand, whereof thofe Epifcopal Divines are Members, has not declar'd it: The Scripture is wholly filent about it, and (on the contrary) has recorded the Dreadful Punishments inflicted upon fome, who (to all Appearance) had a great deal of Reafon to plead, that they were under great Circumftances of Neceffity, to affume to themselves thofe Offices, where in they miniftred contrary to the Divine Inftitutions: As in the Cafes of Saul, 1 Sam. 13from Ver. 8. to Ver. 14. and Uzzah, 2 Sam. 6. 6, 7. So that I am utterly at a Lofs to know. how those Writers could difcover any Cafe of Neceflity, that of itself was fufficient to au thorize Men to take upon them the Great Of fice of Mediating between God and Man. There is not one Inftance (that I know of) in all the Sacred Oracles, of any one's being in
ftated into fuch an Office, even in the greateft Cafes of Neceffity, without an explicit Revelation of God's Will, that the Man fhould act therein, when the ordinary appointed Means of giving him his Commiffion was wanting. And if the Excufers of thofe Foreign Ordinations can fhew me fuch an Inftance, I fhall be very much oblig'd to them if they will be pleas'd to do it.
NAY further; Suppofing that 'twere poffible to determine a Cafe of Neceffity, that might be fufficient to empower Men to adminifter Valid Sacraments, without Receiving a Commiffion for fo doing, by God's appointed Means of Epifcopal Ordination; yet I don't find, that any of the abovefaid Writers have prov'd by good Arguments, that the faid Fo reigners were ever under fuch a Cafe of Ne ceffity, much less that they are fo now: And till this is prov'd, I fee no Reafon to be at all con cluded by the Writings of even the beft of Men, when they make fuch Provifo's as God has not made, and who can give us no Proof of their being guided in their Dictates by the infallible Spirit of Truth, as the Bleffed Apoftles and Prophets were.
I KNOW that fome do beg the Questi on, by fuppofing, "What if the Epifcopal "Order were utterly Extinct, and no Bithops "could be found to confer Holy Orders "muft there be no Ministers therefore in the "Chriftian Church? And muft the Vinble "Church