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to be eaten by the priest only; if a deacon in like cases might do the office of a presbyter; if the baptism even of laymen, in cases of necessity, was allowed, from the third century to the Reformation, and so the exercise of that office regularly belonging to the clergy alone; why might not presbyters, under the like necessity, be allowed to exercise the office of a bishop? If, as St. Paul informs us, Timothy received spiritual gifts by the imposition of the hands of the presbytery, as well as by the imposition of his own hands; and if the rule in these cases of necessity was that, if any thing was wanting, God would sup. ply it; why may we not suppose that God would do so in the case to which we are reserring ? “ The grace of God," saith the Greek lie turgy, “ which perfects the feeble, and heals the weak, promotes this man to be a priest.” And what cause have we to imagine that in cases of necessity he will suspend his grace for want of a merely ritual observation.
Second. Hence also doth it follow that no ritual defect in the con. secration of a person to a sacred office, though it be of divine institu. tion, can render the performances of the officiator in these cases null and ineffectual. For though the high priest, after the captivity, neither was, nor could be, consecrated by the holy oil appointed for that purpose, neither was for a long time suffered to continue for term of life, as by God's institution he was to do, and as he did, in fact, till some time after the captivity, yet did not these two defects disable him from the performance of his duty in an acceptable manner. And though the priests after the captivity were not consecrated according to God's primitive institution, yet they performed the office of the priesthood acceptably, so that by their oblations of the sin offerings they made an atonement for the people's sins. And, which is more remarkable, though the remission of the sins of the whole Jewish nation depended on the sacrifice offered on the great day of expiation; and the pardon of particular offenders depended on the oblation of a sacrifice for sin; and the apostle saith expressly, “ And without shedding of blood is no remission;" yet doubtless those pious persons who died in the captivity, or while the temple lay in ashes, obtained for. giveness, without any sacrifice offered according to the prescript of the law of Moses.
Third. I infer that no form of external regimen is so essential to Christianity, but that the church may subsist without it. For, if the church of Judea could subsist without a high priest for four or seven years: if both high priests and priests might regularly succeed without due consecration according to the law of Moses, as must have been the case during the captivity, and when the temple, the only place where sacrifices could be offered, was destroyed, why may not the church of Christ subsist without the regimen of bishops? And if the high priest of the Jews could continue a legitimate high priest, though he neither had the holy oil poured upon his head, nor the breastplate in which the oracle was placed, which he was always to wear when he went into the holy place-why may not presbyters, in like cases of necessity, be validly ordained by the presbytery?
Fourth. Hence I conclude that a regular and uninterrupted suc. cession of bishops cannot be necessary to the being of a Christian church. For as the church of Judah continued during the captivity without high priest or priest that could officiate ; and after the captivity, without that oil with which both of them were to be consecrated; and those high priests were, after they came under the power of the Roman emperors, never continued for term of life as their original institution did require, but during pleasure, and so the office was gene. rally exercised by usurpers or intruders ; nor did Christ ever blame them upon this account, because the Jews were not accessory to this abuse and usurpation, nor was it in their power to help it: so was it in the Christian church; the regular succession of bishops being discontinued, (1.) By simoniacal ordinations, which by the rules of the church are mere nullities, and yet were commonly practiced and com. plained of for many ages. (2.) When the popes were for a long time apostatici, magis quam apostolići, apostates, rather than apostles; and such as, in the judgment of Baronius, no man could allow to be lawful priests. (3.) And when about forty years they had either two or three popes together, all exercising the office of ordaining bishops, Gregory XII., Benedict XIII., and John XXIII., two of which must be usurpers. All which are just exceptions and prejudices against the claim of a regular, uninterrupted succession; seeing that a nullity in him that ordains must make a nullity in them that are ordained, and so on successively. Yet since the clergy of the following ages were not accessory to these irregularities and usurpations, nor was it in their power to help them, they cannot hinder the validity of their ordi. nation according to the primitive institution, by prayer and imposition of hands. Were such succession owned to be necessary,
then uncer. tainty upon it would rob men of all spiritual comfort.
But our blessed Lord hath said, “ He that believeth in me shall never perish, but have everlasting life. He shall enter the kingdom of God who doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” St. Paul prays that grace may be with all them that love our Lord Jesus in sin. cerity, and promiseth glory, honor, and immortality to all them "who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for it.” He declares, that godliness hath promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to
And St. John pronounces them blessed that do the command. ments of God. Now, I inquire, Is the same external regimen of the church necessary to faith in Christ, to the doing of the will of God, to the keeping of his commandments, to patient continuance in well. doing, and to godliness? Will not faith, obedience, and godliness, be the same under one regimen as under another ;. and must they not therefore, by the mercy of God, entitle us to the same promised spiritual blessings? Cannot these things be performed as truly when a regular succession is interrupted (as it still may be by the wickedness of men) as when it is not so? Why, then, do men presume to make the salvation of Christians, uprightly endeavoring to perform their duty, to depend on any particular external regimen? Or what more absolute necessity is there for the continuance of a regular uninterrupted succession of bishops for the preservation of the Christian church than there was for the continuance of a regular uninterrupted succession of high priests for the preservation of the being of the Jewish church?
[To this sermon the learned author subjoined an “Appendix, proving that there can be no assurance of a regular uninterrupted succession,” &c.]
For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.
BY REV. D. SMITH, OF THE NEW-YORK CONFERENCE.
To present a brief notice of the claims and wants of the sabbathschool institution is the object of this article; and it may be proper to remark here that it is written with special reference to our own church.
I. The sabbath-school institution claims patronage and support as an efficient auxiliary in the cause of popular education.
One of the peculiar features of the present age is a vast and daily augmenting increase of popular power. Whether this is for good or for evil depends on the solution of another question-whether we are to have a corresponding increase of intelligence and virtue. Every enlightened patriot understands this, and knows to a certainty that a few ambitious demagogues need only a newspaper press and the ballot box to overturn any popular government where the people are left in ignorance and vice. It was on this principle that our sagacious forefatherz labored so untiringly to provide for popular education. leges, academies, and common schools entered largely into their calculations, and were subjects of their legislative deliberations and enactments. Foreseeing the increase of popular power, that profound statesman Lord Brougham has been for years endeavoring to prepare his countrymen for its exercise, by concerting and carrying out measures for the “ diffusion of useful knowledge.”
In the United States much has been done for the general diffusion of knowledge. But, after all our school funds, school agents, appropriations of land, and legislative enactments, statistics collected with care, and official reports, show that the cause of education is in any other than a flattering condition. In the state of Ohio, which is far before some of the other states, and may be taken as a sample of the average condition of the Union, there were in 1837 of suitable age to attend school nearly twenty-eight thousand more out of school than in. From this data we should be conducted to the astounding con. clusion, that not one half of the children in the United States regu. larly attend school at all, either public or private; a conclusion this not very flattering to our hopes as a free people.
With such facts before us, it is very obvious that whatever agency we can command for the diffusion of useful knowledge should be seized with avidity, and employed with energy. That sabbath schools, viewed simply as an auxiliary in this work, form a most important agency, there can be no doubt. Is it the business of education to awaken and invigorate the intellect, to exercise the memory and judg. ment, excite a relish for reading and improvement, and introduce the juvenile mind to an acquaintance with history, biography, and first principles? Where can you find any one instrumentality better adapted to such a work than sabbath schools ? Look at the num. ber of teachers employed, the amount of time improved, the school
rooms provided, and the number of books prepared. For the interest of the subjects, the adaptation of the style, the number and variety of the books, the world may be challenged to present an amount of juve. pile literature which shall vie with that prepared by the sabbathschool societies. We claim then for sabbath-school operations the countenance and patronage of every individual who pretends to feel the least interest in the general diffusion of knowledge among the
II. Sabbath schools claim patronage and support on account of the elevated position which they occupy in the cause of education.
While they accomplish much for the intellect, they rise higher in their aims, contemplating the child or youth as a being who stands in certain important relations to the moral Governor of the universe and to his fellow.beings. They occupy the high ground of moral in. struction ; their object being to cultivate and discipline the affections and motives, and to instill those principles, and form those habits, which, under the divine blessing, shall bring out a noble and useful character. Here they exert a corrective influence upon an error into which the cause of popular education has fallen. I refer to the fact, that the intellect has been the chief object of culture in our schools and seminaries of learning, while the moral powers have been greatly neglected, as though a youth needed little else than a knowledge of language and mathematics to form him for all the duties and relations of lite. In these institutions it has been quite too much forgotten that the moral powers possess tremendous energies; and when left to themselves, undisciplined and untamed, captivate the intellect and convert it into an instrument of the most mischievous character.
The whole course of sabbath-school instruction is in direct opposi. tion to this error. Its appeals are to the conscience. It draws its motives in favor of truth, justice, charity, and every moral principle, from the highest and weightiest sources—from immortality, God, and heaven. It essays to form a virtuous character in this world by mo. tives brought from one which is eternal.
Again : sabbath schools exert a corrective influence upon another error of the times; an error which grows out of a perversion of the principles of our free government. I allude to the sentiment so rife with many, that “right and wrong originate with us, the sovereign people; that we have a right to do as we please ; that there is no law above us :" or, in the current phraseology, “The will of the people is supreme law." Now the direct and constant tendency of sabbathschool instruction is to lead the mind to a higher source for the origin of right and wrong. Its whole course is based upon
government of God. The mind is taught to bring every action to his tribunal for adjudgment, and to weigh even motives in his balance. Here right and wrong appear in their own immutable character, subject to do fluctuations to suit the vagaries of popular fancy, or the caprices of degenerate times. Here are principles, and the only principles which can form a safe and desirable state of society. In accordance with these sentiments, the father of his country penned the following pas. sage, in his farewell address ; a passage worthy of being inscribed on the heart of every youth and every citizen of the United States :“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness—these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them. A volume could not trace all their con. nections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, WHERE IS THE SECURITY FOR PROPERTY, FOR REPUTATION, FOR LIFE, IF THE SENSE OF RELIGIOUS OBLIGATION DESERT THE OATHS WHICH ARE THE INSTRUMENTS OF INVESTIGATION IN COURTS OF JUSTICE ? AND LET US WITH CAUTION INDULGE THE SUPPOSITION, THAT MO. RALITY CAN BE MAINTAINED WITHOUT RELIGION ! Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail to the exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule extends indeed with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, then, that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric ?”
The foregoing observations commend themselves to the mere man of the world as well as to the Christian. But there are others, which, while they claim the approbation of every believer in Christianity, can be only fully appreciated by those who are Christians in the proper sense of that term. To such we make a more earnest appeal in behalf of these schools of Christian instruction these nurseries of piety.
Here we scarcely know where to begin. Shall we invite attention to the immense field which the God of providence is opening before the Christian church of this nation ? Look at the extent of our domain as it spreads out from Maine to Creorgia, and stretches across this whole continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Look at the tide of emigration as it rolls its gigantic waves westward along a frontier of thousands of miles in extent. Look at the myriads of children and youth who are at this moment calling for moral and religious training.
But consider another fact. The average increase of our population has heretofore been about thirty-four per cent. for every ten years. Allowing only thirty per cent, for each ten years of the coming century, we may look forward to the year 1940 as the period when our country shall number 321,000,000 of human beings. Yes; there are doubtless children now in our sabbath schools who may live to see the towns, cities, villages, and hamlets of this nation crowded with the immense population of THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-ONE MILLIONS! For the moral and religious training of these, with all the myriads who shall enter and pass off the stage between this time and that, the church now called to combine and arrange the moral ele. ments. Add to this, that our moral and religious influence is not to be confined within the limits of our own territory. Already our missionaries are carrying it into Asia, Africa, the isles of the sea, and the southern parts of this continent. Thousands of our sabbath-school books already go into the British provinces on the north, Texas and other parts on the south, and to Africa, and the isles. If we are to act a conspicuous part in the regeneration of the dark portions of the