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And the Priesthood thus :
“ Receive the Holy Ghost, for the office and work of a Priest, “ in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the imposi“ tion of our hands. Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are for“ given ; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained. And “ be thou a faithful dispenser of the Word of God, and of His • Holy Sacraments : In the name," &c.
These, I say, were words spoken to us, and received by us, when we were brought nearer to God than at any other time of our lives. I know the grace of ordination is contained in the laying on of hands, not in any form of words ;-yet in our own case, (as has ever been usual in the Church,) words of blessing have accompanied the act. Thus we have confessed before God our belief, that through the Bishop who ordained us, we received the Holy Ghost, the power to bind and to loose, to administer the Sacraments, and to preach. Now how is he able to give these great gifts ? Whence is his right ? Are these words idle, (which would be taking God's name in vain,) or do they express merely a wish, (which surely is very far below their meaning,) or do they not rather indicate that the Speaker is conveying a gift? Surely they can mean nothing short of this. But whence, I ask, his right to do so ? Has he any right, except as having received the power from those who consecrated him to be a Bishop ? He could not give what he had never received. It is plain then that he but transmits; and that the Christian Ministry is a succession. And if we trace back the power of ordination from hand to hand, of course we shall come to the Apostles at last. We know we do, as a plain historical fact; and therefore all we, who have been ordained Clergy, in the very form of our ordination acknowledged the doctrine of the APOSTOLICAL SUCCESSION.
And for the same reason, we must necessarily consider none to be really ordained who have not thus been ordained. For if ordination is a divine ordinance, it must be necessary; and if it is not a divine ordinance, how dare we use it? Therefore all who use it, all of us, must consider it necessary. As well might we pretend the Sacraments are not necessary to Salvation, while we make use of the offices of the Liturgy; for when God appoints means of grace, they are the means.
I do not see how any one can escape from this plain view of the subject, except, (as I have already hinted,) by declaring, that the words do not mean all that they say. But only reflect what a most unseemly time for random words is that, in which Ministers are set apart for their office. Do we not adopt a Liturgy, in order to hinder inconsiderate idle language, and shall we, in the most sacred of all services, write down, subscribe, and use again and again forms of speech which have not been weighed, and cannot be taken strictly?
Therefore, my dear Brethren, act up to your professions. Let it not be said that you have neglected a gift; for if you have the Spirit of the Apostles on you, surely this is a great gift. “ Stir up the gift of God which is in you:” Make much of it. Show your value of it. Keep it before your minds as an honorable badge, far higher than that secular respectability, or cultivation, or polish, or learning, or rank, which gives you a hearing with the many. Tell them of your gift. The times will soon drive you to do this, if you mean to be still any thing, But wait not for the times. Do not be compelled, by the world's forsaking you, to recur as if unwillingly to the high source of your authority. Speak out now, before you are forced, both as glorying in your privilege, and to ensure your rightful honor from your people. A notion has gone abroad, that they can take away your power. They think they have given and can take it away. They think it lies in the Church property, and they know that they have politically the power to confiscate that property. They have been deluded into a notion that present palpable usefulness, produceable results, acceptableness to your flocks, that these and such like are the tests of your Divine commission. Enlighten them in this matter. Exalt our Holy Fathers the Bishops, as the Representatives of the Apostles, and the Angels of the Churches; and magnify your office, as being ordained by them to take part in their Ministry. .
But, if you will not adopt my view of the subject, which I offer to you, not doubtingly, yet (I hope) respectfully, at all events, CHOOSE YOUR SIDE. To remain neuter much longer will be itself to take a part. Choose your side ; since side you shortly must, with one or other party, even though you do nothing Fear to be of those, whose line is decided for them by chance circumstances, and who may perchance find themselves with the enemies of Christ, while they think but to remove themselves from worldly politics. Such abstinence is impossible in troublous times. HE THAT IS NOT WITH ME, IS AGAINST ME, AND HE THAT GATHERETH NOT WITH ME SCATTERETH ABROAD.
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KING, PRINTER, ST. CLEMENT'S, OXFORD.
Sept. 9, 1833.]
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THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every
tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment THOU SHALT CONDEMN.
It is sometimes said, that the Clergy should abstain from politics; and that, if a Minister of CHRIST is political, he is not a follower of Him who said, “ My kingdom is not of this world.” Now there is a sense in which this is true, but, as it is commonly taken, it is very false.
It is true that the mere affairs of this world should not engage a Clergyman; but it is absurd to say that the affairs of this world should not at all engage his attention. If so, this world is not a preparation for another. Are we to speak when individuals sin, and not when a nation, which is but a collection of individuals ? Must we speak to the poor, but not to the rich and powerful? In vain does St. James warn us against having the faith of our LORD JESUS CHRIST with respect of persons. In vain does the Prophet declare to us the Word of the Lord, that if the watchmen of Israel “ speak not to warn the wicked from his way,” “ his blood will be required at the watchman's hand.”
Complete our LORD's declaration concerning the nature of His kingdom, and you will see it is not at all inconsistent with the duty of our active and zealous interference in matters of this world. “ If My kingdom were of this world,” He says, “ then would My servants fight.”—Here He has vouchsafed so to explain Himself, that there is no room for misunderstanding His meaning. No one contends that His Ministers ought to use the weapons of a carnal warfare ;—but surely to protest, to warn, to threaten, to excommunicate, are not such weapons. Let us not be scared from a plain duty, by the mere force of a misapplied text. There is an unexceptionable sense in which a Clergyman may, nay must be political. And above all, when the Nation interferes with the rights and possessions of the Church, it can with even less grace complain of the Church interfering with the Nation.
With this introduction let me call your attention to what seems a most dangerous infringement on our rights, on the part of the State. The Legislature has lately taken upon itself to remodel the dioceses of Ireland; a proceeding which involves the appointment of certain Bishops over certain Clergy, and of certain Clergy under certain Bishops, without the Church being consulted in the matter. I do not say whether or not harm will follow from this particular act with reference to Ireland; but consider whether it be not in itself an interference with things spiritual.
Are we content to be accounted the mere creation of the State, as schoolmasters and teachers may be, or soldiers, or magistrates, or other public officers ? Did the State make us ? can it unmake us ? can it send out missionaries ? can it arrange dioceses ? Surely all these are spiritual functions; and Laymen may as well set about preaching, and consecrating the Bread and Wine, as assume these. I do not say the guilt is equal; but that, if the latter is guilt, the former is. Would St. Paul, with his good will, have suffered the Roman power to appoint Timothy, Bishop of Miletus, as well as Ephesus ? Would Timothy at such a bidding have undertaken the charge? Is not the notion of such an order, such an obedience, absurd ? Yet has it not been realized in what has lately happened ? For in what is the English State at present different from the Roman formerly? Neither can be accounted members of the Church of Christ. No one can say the British Legislature is in our communion, or that its members are necessarily even Christians. What pretence then has it for, not merely advising, but superseding the Ecclesiastical Power ?
Bear with me, while I express my fear that we do not, as much as we ought, consider the force of that article of our Belief, “ The One Catholic and Apostolic Church.” This is a tenet so important as to have been in the Creed from the beginning. It is mentioned there as a fact, and a fact to be believed, and therefore practical Now what do we conceive is meant by it? As people vaguely take it in the present day, it seems only an assertion that there is a number of sincere Christians scattered through the world. But is not this a truism ? who doubt it? who can deny that there are people in various places who are sincere believers ? what comes of this ? how is it important ? why should it be placed as an article of faith, after the belief in the Holy Ghost? Doubtless the only true and satisfactory meaning is that which our Divines have ever taken, that there is on earth an existing Society, Apostolic as founded by the Apostles, Catholic because it spreads its branches in every place; i.e. the Church Visible with its Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. And this surely is a most important doctrine ; for what can be better news to the bulk of mankind than to be told that CHRIST, when He ascended, did not leave us orphans, but appointed representatives of Himself to the end of time ?
“ The necessity of believing the Holy Catholic Church,” says Bishop Pearson, in his Exposition of the Creed, “ appeareth first “ in this, that Christ hath appointed it as the only way to eternal “ life .... Christ never appointed two ways to heaven, nor did “ He build a Church to save some, and make another institution for “ other men's salvation. There is none other name under heaven “ given among men whereby we must be saved, but the name of “ JESUS; and that name is no otherwise given under heaven than “ in the Church. This is the congregation of those persons here “ on earth which shall hereafter meet in heaven. .... There is a “ necessity of believing the Catholic Church, because except a man “ be of that, he can be of none. Whatsoever Church pretendeth to “ a new beginning, pretendeth at the same time to a new Church“ dom, and whatsoever is so new is none.” This indeed is the unanimous opinion of our Divines, that, as the Sacraments, so Communion with the Church, is “ generally necessary to salva“ tion," in the case of those who can obtain it.
If then we express our belief in the existence of One Church on earth from CHRIST'S coming to the end of all things, if there is a promise it shall continue, and if it is our duty to do our part in our generation towards its continuance, how can we with a safe conscience countenance the interference of the Nation in its concerns ? Does not such interference tend to destroy it? Would it not destroy it, if consistently followed up? Now, may we sit still and keep silence, when efforts are making to break up, or at least materially to weaken that Ecclesiastical Body which we know is intended 10 last while the world endures, and the safety of which is committed to our keeping in our day ? How shall we answer for it, if we transmit that Ordinance of God less entire than when it came to us?
Now what am I calling on you to do? You cannot help what has been done in Ireland ; but you may PROTEST against it. You may as a duty protest against it in public and private ; you may