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went everywhere preaching," The learned Seldon is against such an interpretation; and we shall presently see that, for ages after this, the supposition would have been contrary to established practice.

Some further proofs of the same thing may be drawn from the antiquities of the Christian church, by the learned Joseph Bingham ; an author of whose general accuracy as to facts there is no doubt, though he is guilty of one remarkable error, that of regarding institutions, existing at any portion of the expanse of time spread over the first three or four centuries, as being equally of authority as those mentioned and sanctioned in the sacred records. This defect of the author, however, is, in the present instance, a still stronger proof of the accuracy of the principle we have laid down, relative to the existence of lay administrations in the church; for it is well known, that the onward flow of the current through the course of time, was to limit and subdue, not enlarge, lay-agency in ecclesiastical things. Its long continuance of which we shall presently gather proofs, shows the firm hold which the practice had taken in the public mind, and the difficulty with which it was overcome.

"The ancient historians, Socrates and Ruffin tell us, that Frumentius and (Edesius, two young men, who had no external call or commission to preach the Gospel, being carried captive into India, converted the nation, and settled several churches among them. And the same Socrates and Theodoret say, that the Iberians were first converted by a captive woman, who made the king and queen of the nation preachers of the Gospel to their people. The author of the comments upon St. Paul's epistles, under the name of St. Ambrose, seems to say, indeed, that at first, all Christ's disciples were clergy, and all had a general commission to preach the gospel and baptize." (Bingham, vol. i. p. 42.) Admissions quite sufficient to overturn his own reasoning, that it was otherwise afterwards; but corroborated by what is said elsewhere (p. 22) of the state of things in the beginning of the third century. The heathen in Minucius, Felix, calls Christians "Plautinians, Homines Plautinse Prosapise." Rigaltius takes it for a ridicule upon the poverty and simplicity of the Christians, whom the heathens commonly represented as a company of poor ignorant mechanics, bakers, tailors, and the like; men of the same quality with Plautus, who, as St. Jerome observes, was so poor, that in a time of famine he was forced to hire out himself to a baker to grind at his mill. Such sort of men, Caxilius says, the Christians were; and therefore he styles Octavius, in the Dialogue, Homo Plautina; Prosapije, et Pistorum praecipuas, a Plautinian, a chief man among the illiterate bakers, but no philosopher. The same reflection is often made by Celsus. You shall see, says he, weavers, tailors, fullers, and the most illiterate and rustic fellows, who dare not speak a word before wise men; when they can get a company of children and silly women together, set up to teach strange paradoxes amongst them."

The instance of Dorotheus, may also be here mentioned, though it is of the more doubtful kind. He lived about the termination of the third century, and is pronounced by Eusebius, to have expounded the Scriptures in the church "tolerably well." He is termed by Dr. A. Clarke (Succession of Sacred Literature, p. 219), Presbyter of Antioch. We can scarcely suppose that if he had been in orders, as we now understand that term, that he would have accepted the overseership of the purple dye-house at Tyre, to which he was promoted by the emperor. Bingham says, that a secular employment was inconsistent with the sacred character (p. 41), and that heretics alone (in the time of Tertullian, toward the end of the second century) allowed them to exist together. It is possible, indeed, that this portion of the heresy of these men consisted in a restoration of the old practice of the church; but if Bingham and the high-church principle be correct, Dorotheus was no more than a learned Lay-Preacher.

But if from some circumstances the case of Dorotheus be a matter of doubt, that of the emperor Constantino admits of none. "In the midst," says Gibbon {Decline Fall. ch. xxvii.), "of the incessant labours of his great office, this soldier employed, or affected to employ, the hours of the night in the diligent study of the Scriptures, and the composition of theological discourses; which he afterwards pronounced in the presence of a numerous and applauding audience." "He prayed with the faithful, disputed with the bishops, preached on the most sublime and intricate subjects of theology, celebrated with sacred rites the vigil of Easter, and publicly declared himself, not only a partaker, but in some measure, a priest and hierophant of the Christian mysteries." And yet at this time, so far from having received ecclesiastic orders, he had not even undergone the right of baptism: a circumstance to be explained by the strange doctrine which now prevailed, that this sacred ordinance being endowed with the most powerful effect of washing away sin, should be deferred to the end of life, that the soul might be ushered into eternity with the least possible chance of pollution. That the case of Constantine, in being admitted to religious privileges, involved no sacrifice of principle as then received in the church, to accommodate the rank or will of an emperor, appears from the case of Nectarius, who, when even elected archbishop of Constantinople, was obliged to delay his consecration until he should undergo the hitherto omitted rite of baptism. (Gibbon ch. xxvii.) A case in most respects similar occurred to Ambrose. The emperor Julian publicly read the scriptures in the church, without having been baptized, or being ordained to an office in it.*

The contrast between this state of things, when zeal for the salvation of souls led every member of the church to be a labourer in the word and doctrine; and that which in no very long time succeeded, when the privilege of preacbing was so highly regarded, as to be cautiously delegated by a bishop, even to a Presbyter (Gibbon, ch. xx. \ 6), is not a little instructive; and may be regarded as what we may reasonably look for, if a surrender should be made of the liberties, which, in this respect we now enjoy.

We now proceed to another part of our subject; and as we have already' shewn that in the first ages—both in the time of the apostles, when the practice of the church was directed by divinely inspired authority; and in those centuries, the customs of which it is the pride of the Tractarians to follow— the work of preaching the Gospel was familiarly exercised by laymen: so we shall endeavour to prove that the sacrament, or ordinance of baptism, was occasionally, if not ordinarily administered by the same class of persons. In St. John's account of the beginning of the ministry of our Lord, we are carefully informed (ch. iv. 2) that the actual ceremony was not performed by him, but by his disciples, who had not obtained any ecclesiastical rank: as is acknowledged even by the most strict of ecclesiastical commentators. St. Paul (1 Cor. i. 14—17) was specially sent "not to baptize," and St. Peter only commanded (Acts x. 48) the proselytes to be baptized. The inference would almost seem conclusive, that those claiming to be in an eminent degree successors of the apostles, are not called to administer the rites of baptism: and that in the primitive church its administration was often by the hands of those who were not of the clerical order. The conversions by Frumentius and CEdesius, and those by the king and queen of an Indian nation, already referred to, clearly imply baptism; for they are not said to have received this ministration by other hands; and when Tertullian informs us (Bingham,

* From the facts here adduced, and more that might he offered, it is clear that the Catechumens were not mere novices, or candidates for admission, like "members on trial" among Methodists, but that they formed the body of believers. Julian, when he became a heathen, was accused of apostacy, with more than ordinary of the odium theologicum, though according to the modern high churchism he had never been a Christian.

p. 42) that certain whom he denominates heretics, were watched over by laybishops; he expressly adds, that when any members of their community came over to the Catholic church, their former baptism was judged effectual, thereby rendering it unlawful to perform the ceremony anew. So that when this author says, that the right of baptizing belongs only to the bishop, and that presbyters and deacons should practise it only as ordered by him, it is clear he means this only as a regulation for internal government, which the church had a right to make; and not as an interpretation of its understanding of the divine will existing from the beginning.

We need not go at a great length into this subject, since even the church of Rome, exclusive as it is where ecclesiastical forms and authority are to be maintained, permits the same thing, at least, in cases of emergency; and the church of England (quoting only the authority of its own internal regulations, and not even the assumptions or precedents of the fathers) has been, though unwillingly, obliged to bow to the same decision. The guilt of assumption is indeed charged on those who practise it; but for this they are content, as regards their opponents, to refer themselves to the judgment of God; humbly believing that so far as a similar charge is urged against them for preaching the word, the divine decision, as warranted by Psalm 1. 16, will go far to confound their adversaries.

Of the Scriptural method of administering the Lord's supper little need be said. But of all the ordinances of Christianity, this seems to be the first that suffered a change from its first principles; and some of these changes were so remarkable and so opposed to the primitive customs, to which the claimants of succession affect to give such close attention, that it seems not a little remarkable in such men, to be loud in bringing the charge of violation against others. Reference is especially made to the time of the day in which the ordinance is, in Episcopal churches, to be celebrated. When the nature of the meal—a supper, was particularly pointed out at the period of its institution, the fact of taking it before dinner, and in the church of Rome before breakfast, should cause the successors of apostles to be somewhat reserved, in 'bringing the charge of a departure from ancient rule against others. Nor is this all that may be said in answer to such as insist on the propriety of bringing all things to conformity with the church of the first centuries. When we see them adopting the practice of kissing all the communicants, and the latter kissing each other;—washing their hands at the communion table; and deriving their chief, if not sole subsistence from the offerings of their flock then made; and not by constraint, but willingly ;" (1 Peter v. 2) then shall we admit that an approach has been made to the practice of a church they so highly affect to admire.

But it is clear that these ancient churches never claimed that which in modern times has been accorded to them. They believed that they had a right to appoint rites and ceremonies, but did not claim for them divine authority; and we have had sufficient experience to see, that the least departure from Scriptural authority is dangerous, it is the little auger, by which greater evils may be introduced. The practice of the mutual kiss might be tolerated so long as the customs of society rendered it decent and ordinary; and be abolished when it was no longer regarded merely as a friendly salutation; in the same manner as the love-feast, that followed immediately on the Lord's supper, was abolished by the Laodicean Synod (Cave's Religion of the ancient Christians); and those who contend for the administration of the ordinance of the Lord's supper, with the simplicity of its first institution, may at the least be suffered to escape without reproach. Jesus (Mark xiv. 22, &c.) gave the bread and wine to his disciples, to divide it among themselves (Luke xx. 17); neither the cup or bread returning to him until all had helped themselves; and no proof can be adduced, that in the earliest ages of the church, the presbyter or bishop had any thing more to do when the Lord's

supper was commemorated, than to act as a leader of the devotions, and president of the assembly.

In offering to the readers of the Wesleyan Methodist Association Magazine the preceding remarks, in defence of a practice observed by almost all the dissenting communities of Britain and America, it may be well to notice an enquiry which may possibly arise in the mind of the reader:—Wherein then does the nature of lay-preaching differ from that of the regular ministry: seeing that the former may justify on Scripture grounds, the exercise of the offices or duties which have been supposed the exclusive, and even only exclusive privileges of the latter. To be answered at length, the question will require a separate disquisition; but the great difference seems to be, that in the more regular ministry, the duty was to attend (as St. Paul expresses it in regard to the offices of the state, whom he also terms God's ministers, Romans xiii. 6) "on this very thing." They were exclusively devoted to a service, which others only exercised occasionally, or with which the latter joined their usual worldly occupations.

PoLPERKO.

THE ANNUAL ASSEMBLY.

The Seventh Annual Assembly of the Wesleyan Methodist Association held its sittings at Baillie-street Chapel, Rochdale. On Wednesday, the 27th of July, at nine o'clock, Mr. R. Eckett, the President of the previous year, took the chair, and opened the meeting by giving out a hymn, and calling upon two of the brethren to engage in prayer. The certificates of the representatives were then examined, according to rule; and the Assembly was called upon to elect its President and Secretary. Mr. Thomas Townend was elected President, and Mr. Matthew Johnson Secretary. A number of communications from the circuits were read. Enquiries were made concerning each of the Itinerant Preachers, as to their piety and general fidelity in the discharge of the duties of their office.

During the sittings of the Assembly, there was preaching in Bailliestreet Chapel on the week-day mornings at five o'clock, and preaching or other service on every evening. On Sunday the 7th of August, at six o'clock in the morning, Mr. D. Rowland of Liverpool preached on The Increase of Faith; in the forenoon, Mr. C. J. Kennedy of Paisley preached; the subject was, Christ the foundation of his Church; in the afternoon, Mr. J. Molineux of Liverpool addressed the Sunday school children, their parents and friends; in the evening, Mr. R. Eckett of London, preached; the sermon was, On the nature of Christian Union; and enforced the obligation devolving upon Christians to cultivate the spirit of union. On Monday evening nine brethren, who had satisfactorily passed their probation, and examination, were formally received into full connexion. Mr. Townend the President gave out a hymn, after the singing of which, Messrs. Eckett and Kennedy engaged in prayer. The brethren, who were to be received, then, at the request of the President, gave an account of their conversion to God, call to the ministry, and of their views of the doctrines received among us, and of our mode of church government and connexional regulations; after which, by the vote of the Assembly, they were acknowledged as received into full connexion. Messrs. Young and Rowland then engaged' in prayer, and this interesting service was concluded by the President. On the following evening, Mr. R. Eckett addressed the brethren who had been received into full connexion, faithfully exhorting them to be, Good Ministers of Jesus Christ. The Annnal Assembly requested, that Mr. Eckett's Address to the Preachers, and the Sermon preached by him on the Sunday evening, and also Mr. Kennedy's Sermon, may appear in this Magazine.

In consequence of the general depression of trade, particularly in the manufacturing districts, many of the members of our Society have been thrown out of employment, and a considerable number of them have, in consequence, been obliged to remove to places where we have no societies; and many have emigrated to foreign lands. We have, therefore, cause of much thankfulness, that under these circumstances we have not sustained a large decrease in the number of our members; the additions made to our societies during the past year have made good the losses sustained by deaths, emigrations, and other causes to within about two hundred of the number of the previous year. We indeed mourn that there has been any decrease; but when we consider the loss of members sustained in Great Britain by other sections of the Methodist family, and all the circumstances connected with the past year, we feel that, upon a review of the whole, we have cause to be encouraged and to be thankful.

As might have been expected, the income of the Connexion for the past year has fallen below the amount of the expenditure. It was thought to be improper to increase the debt of the Connexion; it was therefore determined to meet the claims made upon the Connexional funds, to such an extent as the amount raised during the year would extend; and that the respective circuits should be affectionately and earnestly requested to make special collections in the next month of October, to pay off the debts of the Connexion; and it is hoped, that our friends will cordially co-operate in this effort to remove our pecuniary difficulties.

For the purposes of extending our Connexion, and lessening the expenses connected with raising societies in new localities, the Annual Assembly has thought it to be expedient and important that suitable persons should be employed as Home Missionaries, under the direction of a committee, which shall have authority to direct their labours and discontinue their services whenever they are found to be unsuited for the work, or for any cause which the committee may deem sufficient. It is conceived, that there are many persons in our Connexion who are every way suitable for this work, whom it would be improper to take into the Itinerancy, and who may be so circumstanced as to be able and willing to engage therein at moderate salaries, to be agreed upon between them and the committee. Probably, also, some of those who offer themselves for the Itinerant work, and who may be recommended by their respective circuit quarterly meetings, may be willing to be thus employed, until their services are needed for the Itinerant work. The carrying of this measure into effect is referred to the Connexional Committee. It will of course take some time before it can be fully brought

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