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apply'd to us by the intermediate Office of Men! Men of like Infirmities and Pallions with Ourselves, who have this Treasure in Earthen Vessels, as St Paul speaks, that still the Excellency of the Power may be of God and not of Us!
Besides, as it was necessary in respect of the great Ends and Heavenly Purposes, that have been Mention'd, that this power should be Originally from God, so very fit and congruous also was it, that it should be mediately by Men, to the end that it might be Openly and Visibly conferr d. For no inward Call, cho'never so importunate, no Pretence to a Private Mission from the Spirit, no Measure of real Knowledge, or Wisdom, or Gifts, or Sanctity can excuse, much less authorize the assuming of this Character, without being legally call’d and outwardly sent from those, who have been in like manner Legally, and Openly, and Solemnly impowerd to Call and Send. For if this were allow'd, what a door would it open to all the Enthusiasm, and Folly, and Madness, and Blasphemy in the World! and what is more Horrible, all these would be Father'd upon the Holy Spirit by whoever was Wicked, or Impudent, or Distracted enough to give Out, . he was Sent by him. Therefore Christ himself took noton him the Office of a Preacher, till he was Outwardly commissionated to it.
We were told before by the Apostle, That he Glorify'd not himself to be a High Priest, but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, this Day have I begotten thee. This was in Heaven the Eternal Designation of him to the Priesthood in the secret Councel of God. But the Publick Commission, which he receiv'd in Time, was the Voice from Heaven, This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; and till publickly own'd by the Audible Voice of the Almighty Father, and the Vifible Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Son himself enter'd not upon his Ministerial Office, But from that Time Fesus began to Preach, Mat. 4. 17. And St Luke tells us he was then about Thirty Years of Age; and sure none can doubt of His being Qualify'd long before, both for Sanctity and Wisdom, who from his very Birth was the Holy Child Jefus, and at Twelve Years old disputed with the Doctors in the Temple, so that all that beard him were astonised at his Understanding and Answers, Luke 2.26. And as Christ did not take this honour to himself, till Outwardly calld, as was Aaron, so did he not leave it to the inward Call of any of his Disciples, to make themselves Apostles. But he first Openly call'd and chose by Name Twelve, whom he ordain'd to that high Office, and after chose Seventy others into an inferior Degree, their Commission to Preach and to
Baptize Baptize was the fame, which the Apostles themselves had. And 'tis notorious, that the Apostles after his Ascension, as the Encrease of the Church requir’d, chose others, and after Fafting, and Prayer, and folemn Imposition of hands, fent 'em forth to exercise the several Powers they had receiv'd; and by such an outward Ordination, Regularly and Lineally continu'd, has the same Commission, which they receiv'd from Christ, descended to Us, and our Lord's Promilé been exactly Verify'd, that he would be with them, which could no otherwise possibly be, but by their lawful Succeffors, to the end of the World. And if these things be so, Is it not a deplorable thing to conlider the Night Regard that is had among some to this Million, which both Scripture, Antiquity and Reason tell us is so necessary to the very being of a Church? Is it not a matter of just Indignation to find Men in defyance of this carnal Ordinance, as they call it, venting their own absurd Whimseys, and execrable Blasphemys, under the pretence of new Light and immediate Impulses of the Spirit? And is it not a matter of as juft Pity to see a poor Company of deluded, or rather bewitched, Wretches following eagerly and dancing after this false light, till they drop at last into the bottomless Pit! And among others, that pretend to be somewhat more in their Wits, we find that a good Affurance, a voluble Tongue, and especially an irreverent Contempt of the Only Power that Can Authorize to Teach, is enough to fet up a Teacher! That if a Man has but the knack of Haranguing the People plausibly, has an Edifying Powerful way with him, and a great itock of Gifts, he may, without the low formality of being Calld or Sent by any but himself, mount the Palpit, and Dispense; which is just as reasonable as it had been under the Law, when it was one part of the Ministerial Office to Kill, to Cut up, and Divide the Sacrifice, that any one that took himself for a more Dextrous Butcher, should immediately have set up for a Priest, and fell a trying his skill at the Altar! But if he had, if the Earth had not swallow'd him up, or Fire from Heaven consum'd him, he would have been fton'd to Death by the Congregation!
But leaving the wild Enthufiafts with our hearty Prayers, that God would send a better Mind and a right Underftanding among them, Let us see what the Sober, the Rational Socinian says to this matter; and if we look into the Racovian Catechifm, we may presently find both what they think, and how they argue. The Question there being put, whether They toho Teach in the Church have any need of being sent by Orbers?
The Catechumen positively and shortly an." swers, Non habent, and has these wise Reafons put in his Mouth for it: Because they Preach no New or Unheard of Do&trine, and because the Apostle, describing every thing that is Necessary to this Office, makes no mention of such a Mision. Where first we may take Notice, that the whole Business and Duty of a Minister of Christ (as was before hinted) is by them dwindled into Preaching, and then if he has no News to bring, he need have no new Commission to tell over an old Story! Is not this a Glorious Character both of a Minister, and of the Gospel itself?
But have They then, that bring a New and (Unheard of Doctrine, need of being Sent? Yes, This they allow, Nay, This, as in the Case of the Apostles, they tell us is necefsary. If so, if a New and Unheard of Doerine requires of Neceflity, that they that publish it should have a Mission, then of all that ever have Preach'd fince the begining of Christianity, the Socinians need One moft; But whence should they have it? from the Holy Spirit they cannot, for they deny any such Person. They must then be sent by some other Spirit, whom yet tho ' they Obey, they are as Loath to Own, as him they refift. But the Apostle, it seems, in describing every thing that is necessary to his Office makes no mention of such a Mision. That