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I. Epistle of Ignatius to the
IV. Epistle of Ignatius fe Poly-
Lyons and Vienne.
35. The People's Interest in their 44. Bishop Wilson's Meditations on
his Sacred Office. No. 2.-
Sept. I, 1833.] (ad Clerum.} (No. 1.-Price ld.
RESPECTFULLY ADDRESSED TO THE CLERGY.
I AM but one of yourselves,-a Presbyter; and therefore I conceal my name, lest I should take too much on myself by speaking in my own person. Yet speak I must; for the times are very evil, yet no one speaks against them.
Is not this so? Do not we “ look one upon another,” yet perform nothing? Do we not all confess the peril into which the Church is come, yet sit still each in his own retirement, as if mountains and seas cut off brother from brother ? Therefore suffer me, while I try to draw you forth from those pleasant retreats, which it has been our blessedness hithe to to enjoy, to contemplate the condition and prospects of our Holy Mother in a practical way ; so that one and all may unlearn that idle habit, which has grown upon us, of owning the state of things to be bad, yet doing nothing to remedy it.
Consider a moment. Is it fair, is it dutiful, to suffer our Bishops to stand the brunt of the battle without doing our part to support them ? Upon them comes “ the care of all the Churches.” This cannot be helped ; indeed it is their glory. Not one of us would wish in the least to deprive them of the duties, the toils, the responsibilities of their high office. And, black event as it would be for the country, yet, (as far as they are concerned,) we could not wish them a more blessed termination of their course, than the spoiling of their goods, and martyrdom.
To them then we willingly and affectionately relinquish their high privileges and honors; we encroach not upon the rights of the succESSORS OF THE APOSTLES; we touch not their sword and crosier. Yet surely we may be their shield-bearers in the battle without offence; and by our voice and deeds be to them what Luke and Timothy were to St. Paul.
Now then let me come at once to the subject which leads me to address you. Should the Government and Country so far forget their God as to cast off the Church, to deprive it of its temporal honors and substance, on what will you rest the claim of respect and attention which you make upon your flocks ? Hitherto you have been upheld by your birth, your education, your wealth, your connexions ; should these secular advantages cease, on what must Christ's Ministers depend? Is not this a serious practical question ? We know how miserable is the state of religious bodies not supported by the State. Look at the Dissenters on all sides of you, and you will see at once that their Ministers, depending simply upon the people, become the creatures of the people. Are you content that this should be your case ? Alas ! can a greater evil befal Christians, than for their teachers to be guided by them, instead of guiding? How can we “hold fast the form of sound words,” and “ keep that which is committed to our trust,” if our influence is to depend simply on our popularity? Is it not our very office to oppose the world, can we then allow ourselves to court it ? to preach smooth things and prophesy deceits ? to make the way of life easy to the rich and indolent, and to bribe the humbler classes by excitements and strong intoxicating doctrine ? Surely it must not be so;- and the question recurs, on what are we to rest our authority, when the State deserts us ?
Christ has not left His Church without claim of its own upon the attention of men. Surely not. Hard Master He cannot be, to bid us oppose the world, yet give us no credentials for so doing. There are some who rest their divine mission on their own unsupported assertion ; others, who rest it upon their popularity; others, on their success; and others, who rest it upon
their temporal distinctions. This last case has, perhaps, been ( too much our own ; I fear we have neglected the real ground on } which our authority is built,- OUR APOSTOLICAL DESCENT.
We have been born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. The Lord JESUS CHRIST gave His Spirit to His Apostles ; they in turn laid their hands on those who should succeed them; and these again on others; and so the sacred gift has been handed down to our present Bishops, who have appointed us as their assistants, and in some sense representatives.
Now every one of us believes this. I know that some will at first deny they do; still they do believe it. Only, it is not sufficiently, practically impressed on their minds. They do believe it; for it is the doctrine of the Ordination Service, which they have recognised as truth in the most solemn season of their lives. In order, then, not to prove, but to remind and impress, I entreat your attention to the words used when you were made Ministers of Christ's Church.
The office of Deacon was thus committed to you: “ Take thou authority to execute the office of a Deacon in the Church of God committed unto thee : In the name," &c.