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according to the apostolic record, is necessary and of perpetual obligation in the Church. 2. What is non-essential and discretionary; being allowable and under certain circumstances the best, but not necessary or at all times right or desirable. 3. What is excluded and expressly or virtually forbidden, as unsuitable to the Christian dispensation or inconsistent with its essential character and design. From the first and the last of these expressions of the apostolic judgment no Church ought ever to deviate. It is the duty and the wisdom of all Christian communities carefully to retain and to embody in their ecclesiastical regulations whatever the inspired teachers and rulers of the original Church regarded as essential; and with equal care to avoid in practice and to exclude from their ordinances and polity whatever is shown on the same authority to be alien to the gospel principles or plan. On the other hand all non-essential things which in the New Testament are not commanded or forbidden, or for which no obligatory form or mode has been prescribed, even where in some form or mode they must have a place, and must have had a place, in the practical life of every Church, all these are left to the discretion and judgment of each Christian community."
Parts of this last quotation deserve writing in letters of gold; as for instance, “I appeal, therefore, from the Nicene Fathers to the Apostles of Christ; from patristic literature to the New Testament; from ecclesiastical authorities and practices of post-apostolic centuries to the primitive Church of the apostolic age." Let believers, generally, respond to that appeal and we shall find the Church one, as in the days of the apostles, and the prayer answered
“Let names and sects and parties fall,
And Jesus Christ be all in all.” Let us note in the next place, some of the results at which Dr. Jacob arrives by his appeal to the apostles : beginning with ministry. He writes
“ Now leaving out of view the apostolic office, which stands alone and separate from every other, the Christian ministry appears in the New Testament in two distinct forms. One of these had, at any rate in some places, an earlier existence than the other, though both for awhile stood as it were side by side, and acted contemporaneously together until the former gradually disappeared, leaving the other still in force to become a permanent institution in the Church. These two forms of the Christian ministry may be called the ministry of gifts' and the ministry of orders.” The ministry of gifts comes first. It belonged to apostolic times alone, when præternatural or spiritual gifts (xaplouara), usually by imposition of the apostles' hands, were abundantly shed abroad in the church. In the earliest part of this period it was exercised the most extensively, and probably in some places exclusively, before the ministry of the other form was sufficiently matured. Some of the spiritual gifts then bestowed were specially adapted for congregational use and the edification of religious assemblies. The gift of a spirit and utterance of prayer, the gifts of the
word of wisdom and the word of knowledge,' the gift of prophecy, i.e., not of fore-telling future events but forth-telling solemn truths-explaining and enforcing with fervid words the lessons of Scripture and Christian doctrine practically applied—seem to have been bestowed for the express purpose of supplying what must have been a pressing want—sound instruction, impressive exhortation, and fervent but enlightened prayers—in the newly-gathered Christian congregation. It is evident from the circum- . stances mentioned by St. Paul, in connection with the church at Corinth,
Observer, Oct. 1, 971.
that the public worship there was not conducted by one or two ministers expressly chosen and appointed to the office; but anyone who possessed a spiritual gift available for general edification was permitted either to pray or prophecy; to address words of exhortation, instruction or encouragement; to lead the devotional singing with psalms or hymns of his own selection; to speak in a foreign language, if either he himself or someone else interpreted his words; and in short, to exercise his peculiar gifts with the full sanction of apostolic authority, and without any other restraint than a conformity to such wholesome general admonitions as · Let all things be done unto edifying,' "Let all things be done decently and in order. This ministry of gifts was, from its very nature, only for a time. It was liable to obvious abuses; and it did not contain the elements of order and sobriety in sufficient strength to make it suitable for a permanent institution. The gifts, moreover, not being conferred by any hands but those of apostles, the ministrations which depended on them must have gradually passed away. And long before they disappeared the other form of the Christian ministry was introduced and extended generally throughout the Church.”
Now in the foregoing we have a somewhat clear exhibit of ministry in the apostolic Church, not, however, perfectly comprehended. For instance, the Church of Christ never had (by the authority of the apostles) forms" of ministry. The “ministry of gifts” and the “ministry of orders are terms the Doctor has invented or adopted, for they never came from the apostles, to whom he appeals. He intimates that the one form of ministry overlapped and finally superseded the other. But such is not the case. What the New Testament shows is, not two forms of ministry, the one superseding the other, but two modes of qualifying for ministry, the one direct and supernatural, the other by the ordinary process of learning. The first came first because the ministry was needed before the men could be prepared by ordinary application and because the material for their instruction was not complete. Hence the gifts continued during the apostolic period. When they ceased to be exercised, because no longer communicated, there came in no new order of ministers, but, as before there had been elders, deacons, evangelists, teachers and exhorters, supernaturally qualified, so then there were precisely the same ministers, only qualified by education and experience gained by ordinary methods. The same qualifications (but otherwise obtained) were required, the same services were rendered, the same liberty to edify the church prevailed, both before and after the gifts had passed away. We may, then, accept the New Testament ministry as the model for our time in all save the methods of obtaining fitness to rule and edify the church. We note with pleasure that our author is perfectly clear as to deacons and elders, and that he knows of no other officers in the church. Of an episcopalian bishop he can find no trace in apostolic times. Concerning elders he says
"As men appointed by the apostles under divine direction, and holding a sacred office approved by the divine Head of the Church, they were charged to feed the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers.' Hence it was their duty to exercise a general superintendence in religious matters over the body of Christians amongst whom they ministered, and whom they were to tend after the similitude of a shepherd's care. In this their pastoral office, therefore, they had an authority given to them, not as lords or masters of their respective congregations, but as those who were to be their guides and leaders, their pattern and example; and who,
Observer, Oct. 1,7),
without, interfering with the Christian liberty of all church members, were by their position and influence to prevent that liberty from degenerating into disorder, and preserve, as much as possible, among the faithful, Godly unanimity in cred and life. They were, therefore, themselves to hold fast, and to admonish all others to hold fast, the divine truth of their religion ; to warn or rebuke the unruly; to support the weak; to bring back the wandering; to build up the faithful; und to animate and encourage all in godliness of living. During the time that the ministry of gifts continued in operation the presbyters did not necessarily take the lead in the public prayers and praises of Christian worshippers, or in the public instruction of the people by those expository addresses and practical exhortations which were comprised under the name of prophesying, and were the originals of our modern sermons.
These duties might be performed by those who, without ordination, had the gifts' which were suitable for such ministrations; though doubtless it was within the province of the presbyter to see to the orderly performance of the whole service, and to make regulations to this effect. Hence some presbyters might rule well,' though they did not ‘labour in the word and doctrine.'
Truly acceptable are the following anti-priestly statements, coming, as they do, from a priest in a most priest-ridden church :
"By the commencement of the third century, however, this apostolic simplicity had begun to be greatly marred by the assumption of a more ostentatious style of ministration, and a more imposing authority. The christian ministry was now changed into a Priesthood, after the model of the Levitical law. Bishops, presbyters, and deacons became high-priests, priests, and Levites, and were gradually more and more regarded as a mediating, sacrificing, and absolving order, standing between God and the general body of Christian men. Before this, the reproach cast by Pagans against the Christian church, that it had no temple, altar, priest, or sacrifice, had been its praise and glory; for its temple was the whole world, or wherever two or three were gathered together in the Saviour's, name ; its altar was the cross; its priest the Lord Jesus Christ, at once the Priest, and the all-sufficient sacrifice. And the only earthly priesthood was confined to no sacerdotal caste, or tribe or separated order; but was co-extensive with the whole commuity of the faithful, who in a figurative or spiritual meaning were kings and priests unto God in Christ. But now the leaven of Jewish and of Pagan influences, which from the first had been working insidiously in, the church, although the religious systems from which they sprang were formally renounced and resisted, began to make itself felt and seen ; and as the inner life of the church declined in spirituality, and lost its firm hold of apostolic truth, its oatward form and show became more prominent and presuming, and challenged more attention from the world.
« Tertullian is the first Christian author by whom the church ministry is directly asserted to be a priesthood. By Cyprian an undisguised sacerdotalism is maintained; and in the fourth century the sacerdotal system took deep root in the church, and grew and flourished, until it culminated at last in the over-bearing pretensions of the priesthood in the later church of Rome.
"In the temple as the priest consecrated according to a precise regulation, and sacerdotal succession laid down by God Himself, with the altar and its sacrifices at which he officiated, the incense which he burned, the holy places into which none might enter, but those to whom it was especially assigned."
"In the synagogue was the reader of the scriptures, the preacher or expounder of religious and moral truth; the leader of the common devotions of the people, inconsecrated by any special rites, and unrestricted by any rule of succession; with a reading-desk or pulpit at which he stood, but with no altar, sacrifices, or incense, and no part of the building more holy than the rest.
“And without attempting now to dwell upon all the remarkable contrasts thus displayed, it may suffice to say that the temple exhibited in a grand combination of typical places, persons, and actions, God dwelling with man, reconciling the world unto Himself in the person and work of Christ; and pardoning, justifying, and graciously receiving those who come to Him through the appointed Saviour: while the synagogue exhibited a congregation of men, already reconciled to God, assembled as devout worshippers for prayer and praise, for instruction in divine know. ledge, and edification in righteous living. And the two systems,—the one divine, the other human,--the one gorgeous and typical, the other simple and real,-in the one, God drawing near to man; in the other, man drawing near to God,- -never clashed or interfered with each other: were never intermingled or confounded together. In the temple there was no pulpit, in the synagogue there was no altar.'
"Now it was the temple system with its imposing aesthetic services, its associations of awe and mystery, and not the simple unexciting worship of the synagogue, that naturally appealed to the imagination and feelings of
And, accordingly, from the beginning of the third century portions of this system began, and continued increasingly, to be introduced into the church, and in particular the idea of the temple service was imported into the worship of Christian congregations; the Christian ministry, as already mentioned, was represented to be an hierarchy; the form and arrangements of the buildings for public devotions were assimilated as much as possible to those of the Hebrew sanctuary; and a system of sacerdotalism grew up, and became so inveterate in the church, that it still lingers and revives even amongst ourselves, purified indeed from its grosser superstitions, but not altogether removed by the happy influence of the Reformation.
“ Not so, however, was it in the apostles' days, or with any of their ordinances and institutions. They retained and adapted to Christian use some Jewish forms and regulations; but they were taken altogether, not from the temple, but from the synagogue. The offices which they appointed in the church, and the duties and authority which they attached to them, together with the regulations which they made for Christian worship, bore no resemblance in name or in nature to the services of the priesthood in the temple. The apostles had been divinely taught that those priests and services were typical forms and shadows, which were all centred and fulfilled, and done away in Christ: and to reinstate them in the Christian church would have been, in their judgment, to go back to the bondage of weak and beggarly elements' from the liberty, strength, and rich completeness of the gospel dispensation. They saw that as the ordinances of the temple represented the work of God, wrought out for man, not man's work for God; to continue them, after that work was finished in the life and death of Jesus, would be in effect so far to deny the efficacy of the Saviour's mission, and to thrust in the miserable performances of men to fill up an imagined imperfection in the Son of God.
"The apostles, therefore, took nothing from the temple system for the machinery of their church government ; but the offices which they
appointed, and the duties and authority which they attached to them, together with the regulations which they made for Christian worship, corresponded in a remarkable and unmistakeable manner with the whole system of the Jewish synagogue.
“The apostles, therefore, having adopted the official arrangements of the synagogue, and discarded those of the temple, in the institution of church offices, plainly showed by this circumstance that no priestly powers or duties were attached to their ministrations.
“Another argument which lands us in the same conclusion is deduced from the condition of the lay members of the church, as it appears in the New Testament, and the equality of privilege or standing-ground in Christ, which Christians of all orders or degrees possessed. The way of access to God being open to all without distinction through the priesthood of Christ, there was nothing for a priest to do—no sacerdotal work or office for him to undertake. But the substance of this argument being specially connected with the position of the Christian laity, will be more fully considered in the following lecture.
“A third distinct proof that the office-bearers in the church of the apostles were not and could not be priests, or perform any sacerdotal duties, is seen in a condensed form in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and is found at large in the whole of the Old and New Testaments, of which that Epistle, as far as its subject reaches, is so valuable an epitome. We there learn that from the very nature of the priestly office, it is necessary for those who hold it to be specially called and appointed by God, either personally by name, or according to a divinely instituted order of succession; and, that, since the patriarchal dispensation, only two orders of priesthood have ever had this necessary divine sanction granted to them. These two. orders are the order of Aaron and the order of Melchizedec, The priests of the former order belonged to the Jewish dispensation only, and have indisputably passed away. The only priest after the order of Melchizedec, ever mentioned in the Bible, is our Lord Jesus Christ,—the ‘Priest upon His throne,' without a successor, as He had none before Him, in the everlasting priesthood of His mediatorial reign. This argument appears to me to be conclusive. It appears to me that the Epistle to the Hebrews shuts out the possibility of their being any other priest in the Christian church besides Christ Himself. But this does not so appear to a large number of our clergy, Bishops, so far back as the third century, claimed to be successors, or vice-gerents of Christ on earth; and our presbyters now do not hesitate to declare that they are priests, after the order of Melchizedec. To my mind and feeling this is an impious claim; but countenanced as they are by numberless past and present examples, good men are not conscious of impiety in making it. But, then, it is necessary to ask these 'priests' for their credentials. Where is the record of their divine appointment to the sacerdotal office? In what part of the New Testament, and in what form of words, is the institution of such priests, and the manner of their succession to be found ? And to such inquiries no satisfactory answer has been or can be given.”
These highly acceptable statements may be followed by a brief passage upon liturgies
" It is not until the third century that any evidence, at all clear and conclusive, of the use of settled forms of prayer in Christian churches, is to be found in contemporary authorities. And even in that century, although the evidence is conclusive as far as it goes, it does not make it certain that other prayers, suggested by particular circumstances, were altogether excluded."