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to believe the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, “ laying on of the hands" is one of “ the first principles of the oracles of God;” one of “the principles of the doctrine of Christ” (chap. 5, ver. 12; chap. 6, ver. 1, 2). Thus a representative rite of the Mosaic. dispensation was not only retained under the Christian dispensation, but enjoined by the Lord; "they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover” (Mark, chap. 16, ver. 18). And (notwithstanding its spiritual signification) it was literally observed by the apostles, as may be seen in their “ Acts.” Yet this would be considered as mere useless form and ceremony, by those who have an inrooted antipathy to the laws and rules of order. But such persons may as well imagine, that, when our Lord took the little children up in his arms, and “laying hands upon them, he blessed them;" and that when the apostles did the same, it was a continuation of the Levitical priesthood, and of the Mosaic economy. But, although the apostles, of themselves, could not confer any extraordinary gift which they did not possess before, yet there can be no doubt there were cases in which the Lord, at the time, operated upon the mind of the person so ordained; and who shall dare to prescribe limits to the divine influences now on such an occasion, any more than on any other religious observance? We have a case in point in reference to Timothy; for the elders who were ordained in the manner just noticed, laid their hands on others; and the apostle writes to Timothy thus, (1 Ep. chap. 4, ver. 14): “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." Yet doubtless Paul was the ordaining minister on the occasion; for in his 2nd Epistle to him he again reminds him of his ordination, thus; “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” Nevertheless, the power of communicating spiritual gifts, was not inherent in the apostles, although it is recorded that many on whom they had laid their hands, received the Holy Spirit. By the laying on of their hands at the ordination, the presbyters signified their approval and recommendation; and hence they are mentioned in connection with the apostles at an ordination that took place at Jerusalem; “ Them that were ordained of the apostles and elders (Ilpeo butepov) which were at Jerusalem” (Acts, chap. 16, ver. 4).
Enough has been said to shew, that ordination is not “ without any scripture authority,” but was an established rule of order in the Christian Church, which was not “lightly esteemed ;” and that the inauguration into the ministerial office, was by laying on of hands, prayer, &c. After the persons to be ordained were approved and
recommended by Christian believers :--a practice which has been continued to the present day, and is one of the forms of order so necessary to be preserved in a well regulated church. This the apostle has beautifully set forth in simile, in his 1st Ep. Cor. chap. 12, throughout.
In agreement with this order of the church, we find that, in the beginning of the third century, Cyprian was chosen by the inhabitants and members; and that when thus chosen by the people, they presented him to the neighbouring bishops (pastors of a flock or parish) for their approbation and consent; without which concurrent assent no minister or pastor could be legally constituted (Euseb. lib. 6, c. 11, p. 212; and Clem. Roman. Ep. 1, ad Corinth. p. 57). After this election by the people, the assent of the assembled ministers, who had judged of his abilities and qualifications, the ordination was performed by imposition of hands by the bishop (ETLOXOTOS) of that place, others often being present on the occasion. With regard to the office of prebsyters, these, as far as I can learn from ecclesiastical history, appear to be not persons having the “oversight" of one particular congregation, church, or parish, but assistants to pastors, different in degree, but equal in order, discharging the duties of the office only by consent or permission. For it should be remembered, that there was but one bishop (or ordained minister) in a church, and that he generally performed the whole service. And we are informed, that, without his leave, a presbyter could neither baptize nor administer the Lord's supper, much less those who were ordained. “The bishop hath a right to baptize, then, the presbyters and deacons (who also were ordained), but yet, for the honour of the church, not without the authority of the bishop” (Tertullian, De Baptism. p. 602). Ignatius, the disciple of the apostle John, who wrote in the first century, says, “ It is not lawful for any one to baptize except the bishop* permit him” (Ignatius, Ep. ad Smirn. p. 6). “The eucharist is only valid (administered in proper form and order) which is performed by the bishop, or by whom he shall appoint or permit (which was some ordained person); for it is not lawful for any to celebrate the eucharist without leave from his bishop" (Ibid.). Many quotations might be made from other sources, shewing that for the sake of peace, order, and unity, presbyters although ordained men, were not permitted to invade any part of the church without the consent of the resident minister of that place, whom they acknowledged as their superior in degree, since “they were the presented, instituted, and inducted ministers of their
* The word bishop to be understood as before explained, and so throughout this article.
respective parishes, and the presbyters their occasional assistants : yet they sat together with them in church assemblies, or conferences, and took an active part in its concerns.
In p. 292, our friend says, “ The Christian dispensation knows nothing of a priesthood ; and pretensions to such power or office, or the retention of the priestly cast, are spurious and foreign to its spiritual genius.” As it regards the New Church, this rodomontade is quite uncalled for, and perfectly harmless as the arrow that fell on Priam's shield : for, if the Levitical priesthood is here intended, certainly we need not be told that it is passed away. But in the indiscriminate use of that term, it is sometimes applied to ministers of the Gospel in the present day, although not recognized in the New Church in reference to its ministers. It nevertheless appears clear that Swedenborg does not apply this term (so startling and horrific to some) to priests of the Levitical order, where he says, “ Governors over those things amongst men which relate to heaven, or over ecclesiastical matters, are called priests, and their office is called the priesthood.” (Fly not, I beseech you, at the mere mention of the word, as if from a serpent, but mark what follows.) “ Priests who teach truths, and thereby lead to the good of life, and so to the Lord, are the good shepherds of the sheep.” “ Dignity and honour ought to be paid to priests on account of the sanctity of their office; but those who are wise give the honour to the Lord, from whom all sanctity is derived, and not to themselves. He who believes otherwise than the priest, and makes no disturbance, ought to be left in peace; but he who makes disturbance ought to be separated; for this also is agreeable to order, for the sake of which the priesthood is established.” (See chap. on Eccles. and Civil Govern., N. J. Doct; see also the Ordination Service of the N. Ch., where the same words occur.) “Ordination, therefore, is an act of solemn election, recognition, and dedication.” And “ as ministers of various societies take part in the service, it becomes a public avowal that each society is a branch of the general church of the Lord, and that each pastor is a recognized pastor in the church of Christ. The whole church thus becomes firmly cemented together by the bonds of unity and concord.”
(To be concluded in our next.)
THE DEAD LANGUAGES.
To the Editors of the Intellectual Repository. GENTLEMEN, It were, perhaps, no unprofitable exercise of the understanding, to reflect on the reasons, deep and mysterious no doubt, for which the wiser ancients held silence in such veneration, as, in time, degenerated into a blind idolatry. As, however, for the wise of any age, a hint on any subject is sufficient; so, upon this very particular, a bare suggestion may satisfy the intelligent reader; while, beyond this, the writer chooses for himself a most appropriate part; viz., that of being silent.
But, although protesting against the “constructiveness” of any reader, (if any) by whom the adage, or something like it,—“silence implies assent,"—is assumed as an orthodox “ canon of interpretation,” whereby to explain away a brother's delicacy or self-diffidence on the one hand, or, on the other, one's indolence or want of leisure; still, in the present instance, with your permission, I shall not avail me of the latitude of liberal and respectful construction, which, with every living member of a true Christian Church, such silence is entitled to bear.
And, although, consequently, I have felt, and do feel, my own freedom in common with others, to leave, or not, the “dead languages” to their destiny, or destinies; whether as victims of the oblivious silence, to which a respected correspondent of yours thought them due, in virtue of their death; or whether to shine with borrowed lustre,“ till the moon be no more ;" yet, thanks to the kind mediatorial office of a mutual brother, and would-be harmonist, I feel moved once more to forego the claims of silence, in favour of the higher claims which science,—even the undervalued knowledge of the said languages, possesses, (I do not, nor did I say, to the study of how few or how many, but) to the esteem and reverence of all, especially of all who call themselves New Churchmen.
However gratified, therefore, by the suffrage of W. M., in favour of most, if not all, that I did and do assert on the subject, yet, seeing truth has claims before which all personal considerations ought to give way, one may be excused the appearance of ingratitude in attacking that portion of his remarks, which, although, arising naturally from his subject, had no immediate reference to my statements; nor, so far as I am able to discover, to the sweeping condemnation to which the inadvertence of O. P. had consigned the dead languages. In the assertion of W. M., that “such knowledge,” (alluding to “the study of the classics,”—“ however useful as a mere mental exercise, contributive to mental vigour,) contributes nothing to the formation of the rational principle,” &c.; there seems to me to be a palpable obscurity. So far, however, as the terms admit of a positive and consistent meaning, the reader is led to believe that the study of languages affords no scope for the higher faculties of the mind, but merely an exercise for the memory!“ The rational principle,” (he adds,)“ is formed from the knowledges of things, and not from meré words." Either, however, there are no such things as “mere words,” or there are. In either case, W. M. is somewhere mistaken. For, E. S. expressly includes among the knowledges by which mankind may“ procure to themselves intelligence and wisdom," “ subjects of criticism, and languages.” (H. H. 353.)
Moreover, in describing certain characters, who, in the life of the body, studied only things of memory, but have not thereby cultivated their rational faculty; what less can be implied, than that they might, if they would, have rendered even “ such knowledge ” subservient to the great end of reformation and regeneration? (H. H. 466.) · The like ambiguity pervades W. M.'s concluding sentence (which see); for, either “ all the benefits of the Word as connected with salvation,” must include all the truths of the Word, or it is not true, that good and truth are, in their various kinds and degrees, correlatives. But, this being an axiom in the New Church theology, it follows, that W. M. ascribes more to the English Bible-reader, than finite man, under any circumstances, whether indvidually or collectively, will be able to “ realize,” even to eternity. Nor is it, therefore, in the power of any “professional linguists,” however “eminent,” to make or mar a language, or even to marry its idioms to those of a foreign tongue. Is it not, therefore, a more “rational" conclusion, respecting the sacred languages in which the Word was written to view them as part of the covering ” by which the glory” of the Word is more or less densely obscured from the eyes of mortals ?
But, if it be meant, that a knowledge of Greek and Hebrew are not necessary to salvation, who ever doubted the truism, even though the Latin, and every other language in the world were added ? Still, though it is true that all need not and cannot become critics and scholars, any more than it is needful or expedient that the body be “ all eye;" yet one may question the wisdom of relaxing the efforts of non-professional students, who wish to "give heed to the sure word of prophecy,” and are using the means most conducive to the