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Matt. x. 1.

out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of On a prodisease.

ments that are adduced for the support of the Christian religion,
and those which are brought forward in defence of other systems,
consists in this. The Christian religion is founded upon the
evidence of actions, and undeniable facts, while every other
system depends upon theory alone. The speculations of the
philosophers of antiquity, the impositions of Mahomet, the re-
veries of the schoolmen, the inconsistencies of modern infide-
lity, the inventions and strange doctrines of various sects
among Christians, are all distinguishable from the fundamental
truths of Christianity. The conclusions of uninspired men, on
subjects of a religious nature, are generally founded upon ab-
stract reasoning; the truths of the Christian religion are so
identified with some well supported facts, that the belief of the
fact compels at the same time the reception of the doctrine.

The five principal doctrines which may be said to constitute
Christianity, and to comprise all its truths, and which are alike
uniformly supported by facts, as well as by abstract reasoning,
are, the doctrine of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atone-
ment, the Resurrection from the Dead, and the Establishment
of the Christian Church, as the means of perpetuating the
truth of these propositions to the world. The doctrine of the
Trinity is not only supported upon the general tenor of Scrip-
ture, as it may be collected from the fact that the inspired
writers assign the attributes of the Deity to the three persons
of the Godhead; but from the fact also that the voice came from
heaven, that the Holy Spirit, as a dove, hovered over the
Messiah, and that the Son of God was distinct from either of
those which bore witness to him. The Incarnation of Christ
was declared in prophecy, and was proved by the facts which
are recorded concerning his birth. The Atonement is proved
by the concurrence of all the types, and institutions of the
Jewish law, and the fact of Christ's death fufillling them all to
the uttermost. The Resurrection of the body was verified not
only by the fact of Christ's resurrection, but by the restoration
of the widow's son, and of Lazarus. The Establishment of a
Church in the world, was demonstrated by the fact of the pe-
culiar care with which our Lord collected disciples, selected a
certain number from among them-commissioned them to go
forth and preach-added others to their number with different
powers, and promised to be with them to the end, (not of the
age, as many translate the word) but to the end of the world.

The first establishment of the Christian Church is necessarily brought before us, then, by the subject of this section. The commission given to the twelve Apostles may be called the foundation of the Christian Church. The conduct of the Apostles in their ecclesiastical government, considered as a model, ought to be adopted by all Christians nations, who desire that Christianity should be preserved among themselves, or dispersed, and permanently continued, among others.

I have already attempted to prove that Jesus, the Messiah of the New Testament, was the incarnated Jehovah of the Old Testament. He was the Lord and Guide of the Patriarchal and Jewish Churches. He has uniformly been the religious legislator of mankind. He it was who walked with our first parents in the garden of Eden, and instituted sacrifice. When the world apostatized after the deluge, it was He who selected the family of Abraham. When the remembrance of their ancient

gress, probably in Galilee.

Matt. x. 2.

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The On a profirst, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his bro- gress, probably in ther; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Galilee.

religion began to be effaced from the minds of the Israelites,
it was the same Angel Jehovah, who guided them through the
Red Sea into the wilderness, and soon after promulgated the
law from Mount Sinai. It was He who ordained those minute
laws, those rigid observances, those ordinances respecting the
priesthood, and the whole framework of the ecclesiastical and
civil polity, which distinguished the Jews from all other na-
tions; and the very remnant of which, even to this day, unites
them in their long dispersion, and are the sacred pledges of
their eventual return. Can we, then, for a moment, suppose
that this same Almighty Being, this manifested God of mankind,
should not be equally attentive, and provide equally for a still
more glorious dispensation; of which the other was only a type
and shadow. We have every reason to expect, that in the
Christian dispensation some care would have been taken for the
continual remembrance of the great truths and observances
which the condition of man required.

The revealed religion of God was perpetuated under the
Patriarchal and Levitical dispensations by human means.
Though religion was of divine origin, mankind was appointed
the guardians of its purity. The means which God ordained
for the preservation of his religion in the Patriarchal dispensa-
tion, was the setting apart the first-born of every family to
minister in his service; and conferring on the heads of the
tribes the spirit of prophecy. Adam, Seth, Enoch, Methuse-
lah, and the other fathers of the Patriarchal Church were thus
gifted. Noah and Shem, after the deluge, obtained the same
pre-eminence. There was always a body of men set apart for
the service of God. To enter into the proofs on this part of the
subject, which might be variously collected from Scripture,
ancient history, tradition, and the customs among the early
Pagan nations, whose idolatry was but a perversion of primæval
truth, would take us far beyond the limits of a note.

The same means of perpetuating religion, which prevailed among the patriarchal families, was continued by the divine Legislator among the people of Israel, with this alteration only, that one whole tribe was set apart for the service of God, instead of the first-born of every family. The office remained the same; the first-born were redeemed, in remembrance of their original dedication to God, and it was solemnly enacted, that no stranger, not of the seed of Aaron, should offer incense in the public worship. Every individual, of every family, was required to present the sacrifice of praise and prayer to God, and to comply with all the institutions of the law; while it was left to one selected tribe to perform all the public functions required in the temple worship.

Thus did the divine Legislator first impart to fallen man a revelation, and appoint means for its preservation. The incarnated Jehovah has now granted to his creatures the most perfect form of that same religion which began at the fall in Paradise: and human means also, under the blessing of the same God, must preserve among mankind the consolations of his holy Gospel.

Four forms of Church government are, in this our age, prevalent among Christians. Episcopacy, Papacy, Presbyterianism, and Independency. From the time of the Apostles till the present day, Episcopacy has been the most general Church government: and till the fifteenth century its apostolic origin was


Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the On a propublican; James the son of Alpheus; and Lebbeus, whose gress, prosurname was Thaddeus;

never disputed. Till the beginning also of the seventh cen-
tury the supremacy of the Pope over all Christian Bishops
was quite unknown. Boniface III. received the first title
of Universal Bishop, from the Emperor Phocas, as a reward
for his subserviency and flattery to this basest of tyrants. With
the exception of the ambitious heretic, Aerius, who, as Bishop
Hall observes, was hooted not out of the Church only, but out
of the cities, towns, and villages, for the opinions he main-
tained; and, with the exception of a few dubious expressions
of Jerome, which are inconsistent with other parts of his works,
Episcopacy prevailed, with the usurpation of Papacy alone, with-
out the least opposition, in every Christian Church throughout
the world, till Presbyterianism began to shew itself, under the
protection of the Reformer Calvin. When the corruptions pro-
duced by the supremacy of the Church of Rome, indicated the
necessity of a change, or reformation in Church government,
the Catholic Bishop of Geneva, Peter Balma, refusing to comply
with some proposed alteration, was expelled with his clergy from
that town. After the expulsion of the bishop, the two popular
preachers, Farrel and Viret, who had greatly contributed to
this measure, assumed the ecclesiastical and civil power. In
this state of things, Calvin, in his way from France to Stras-
burg, stopped at Geneva, and remained there at the invitation
of Farrel. He then, with his two colleagues, proposed a new
form of discipline, which he had lately invented; but the
people being dissatisfied with the severity of his laws, expelled
him, with his principal associates, from their town. At the
expiration of three years he was recalled, and proposed, and
finally established a system of government, never before either
known or practised, which is now distinguished by the name of
Presbyterianism. When he first introduced this system, he ex-
pressed his highest veneration for reformed Episcopacy; and
defended his innovations upon the plea of necessity. Beza, and
his other followers, gradually discontinued that mode of argu-
ment, and have sometimes asserted, in not very courteous lan-
guage, that Presbyterianism is of divine right. It is now estab-
lished in Scotland, where it was introduced by John Knox and
his coadjutors, who were the friends of the Reformer of Geneva.
Many of the exiles, who had fled to the continent in the reign
of the persecuting Mary, adopted the same system, and en-
deavoured, on their return to England, to complete, as they
supposed, the reformation in their own country, by recom-
mending and enforcing the presbyterian discipline. The la-
bours of Cartwright and others, however, were rendered inef-
fectual, at least in England, by the exertions and vigilance of
Whitgift, then Archbishop of Canterbuy, aided by the firmness
of Elizabeth.

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This great Reformer, the talented heresiarch of Geneva, did not anticipate the possible evils of his deviation from the conclusions, to which his brother reformers in England had arrived. He erred only in proceeding to an opposite extreme from that of the Church of Rome. His error in doctrine proceeded from a systematizing spirit, attempting to comprehend those subjects which humble men will shrink from, till their faculties are enlarged by the knowledge of another state of being. His bitterness and intolerance were the vices of his age." In all other respects he was both a wise and a good man. In proposing his

bably in


Matt, x, 4.

Simon the Cannaanite; and Judas Iscariot, who also On a probetrayed him,

views to the world, he believed he was planting the tree of life.
He would have wept to have known that he had substituted the
upas of theological hatred, and controversy, and error, be-
neath whose poisonous influence so many fair Churches have
withered away. If he could have foreseen this result, he would
have united in the powerful sentiment of a father of the Church.
"Nothing so grieves the Spirit of God, as the cansing divisions
in his Church; not even the blood of martyrdom can atone for
this crime."

ουδὲν γὰρ ὅυτω παροξύνει τον Θεὸν, ὡς ἐκκλησίαν διαιρεθῆναι
ἐδὲ μαρτύριο αιμα ταύτην δύναται ἐξαλείφειν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν.
Chrys. Hom. XI. in Ephes. See the notes to Archbishop Law-
rence's Bampton Lectures, p. 340, 341, on the character of

After the original form of Church government had been thus boldly infringed upon, the minds of men became gradually reconciled to the innovation; and the gradation to the next difference became in comparison easy. The Presbyterian polity had taught the world, that the presbyters of the Church were all equal in authority; the next generation introduced another innovation, and discovered that if presbyters were equal, they were also independent of each other. Mr. Robert Brown, of Northampton, in the reign of Elizabeth, was the first who invented this system of Independency, which is totally without the remotest support from either Scripture or antiquity. The opinions of the Independents obtained great popularity in the subsequent reigns of James and Charles; and were espoused by many of the more energetic spirits of that turbulent period, till they gradually superseded the newly established Presbyte


From the reception which was given by the community to these innovations on the Christian Priesthood, the last stage of its degradation was easy and natural. The office of teacher, the administration of the sacraments, the interpretation of Scripture, were, and still are, assumed at pleasure, by men of all ages, ranks, characters, and classes, without adequate preparation, responsibility, obedience, or authority. The civil law affords equal protection to all; and the public repose of the community renders this necessary: but the privilege which is allowed by the civil power, is mistaken for the liberty of the Gospel of God. Mutual candour is granted to mutual error, while every term of obloquy and reproach, which the proverbial bitterness of theological hatred can suggest; is unsparingly poured forth to stigmatize the supposed bigotry and illiberality of those, who assert the ancient, uniform, universal belief of the primitive Church; that the Christian Priest is subordinate to a higher order, to which alone was committed the government of the Church, and the power of ordaining and appointing ministers. The question is not one of human polity. It rests with us to enquire whether the lawgiver of the Christian dispensation has, or has not, revealed to his creatures, a model of Church government, to which it is the duty of every Christian Society to conform.

Should such a government be laid down in Scripture, it becomes at once obligatory upon all Christians. Time cannot destroy it, fashion cannot change it, opinion cannot prevail against it, nor the apostacy of nations invalidate it. No spe

gress, pro bably in Galilee.

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culation can remove the foundation of its truth. It will be as
evidently discoverable as the Mosaic institutions. Its prin.
ciple will be as clear, its facts as evident, its origin as unde-
niable. If there is, or was such a government, its whole pro-
gress will be matter of record; every innovation, every cor-
ruption would be accurately registered, and so engrafted with
the history of Christianity, that they could not be put asunder.

The various forms of Church government which we have now
considered, may be distinctly traced to human invention. They
have originated in the circumstances of the times in which they
commenced. Episcopacy only is traced to the days of the
apostles, and their and our divine Master; and originated in
his instructions, and their practice. But, that we may arrive
at some certain conclusions on the subject of Church govern-
ment, it will be necessary to refer to Scripture, and enquire
into the facts which are there recorded. I shall here confine
myself to a review of the manner in which the Church was
established while our Lord was upon earth and defer to other
notes the consideration of the nature of that government, by
means of which the doctrines of the Gospel were perpetuated,
in the three periods, after the ascension; when the Church
consisted of Jewish converts only; when it was extended to the
proselytes of the Jewish religion; and when it embraced the
converts from idolatry, throughout the whole Gentile world,


The period from our Lord's birth to his baptism was marked by no recorded instances of divine power, or sovereignty; nor by the assumption of his ministerial dignity. His ministry began by a public and solemn inauguration into his high office. "The heavens were opened, and the Spirit of God, as a dove, descended and lighted upon him; and lo, a voice from heaven, this is my beloved Son: hear ye him." To fulfil every type, he was anointed, like the ancient Jewish kings, priests, and prophets, not with the material unction of oil, but with the Holy Ghost, and with power, Eph. iv. 7. Immediately after his inauguration, guided by the same Spirit, he overcame the great enemy of his spiritual kingdom. He then began the office to which he was anointed, by preaching the Gospel to the people of Galilee, in the synagogues, of his own city Nazareth, Luke iv. 14-18. His laws were delivered in his own name: "I say unto you." He enlarged and refined the law of Moses, and enforced his precepts with the promise of higher rewards, and the threatenings of severer punishments. He confirmed the truth of his assertions, and demonstrated the certainty of his Messiahship by stupendous wonders and miracles. By these means, and by his example, and his precepts, he collected multitudes of disciples, whom he baptized, not as John had done, in the name of another, but in his own name, John iii. 5. After a certain time had elapsed, he selected twelve from his followers, and imparted to them some of the same powers and privileges which himself had received from the Father. He gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure all manner of disease, Luke ix. 1. Mark vi. 7. Matt. x. 1–5.

Some time after the twelve Apostles had been thus chosen, our Lord appointed other seventy also. In some respects, their commission was the same as that of the twelve; in others there was a remarkable difference. The twelve return to our Lord, and continue with him to the end; the seventy return to give

On a progress, probably in Galilee.

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