Imágenes de páginas

contact and communion with him be fitted to fashion us anew after his resemblance. And being thus transformed into the Master's likeness, how certain to be blest in our labours, to be successful in our ministry! It is not mere orthodoxy then that will enable us to be successful. It is not the study of all truth, nor the preaching of it in all its fulness. This is well, but it is not all. Neither is it the study of ministerial character, even though it be apostolic and inspired. This is better still, as we have already remarked, but it is not all. It is living fellowship with a living Saviour, which, transforming us into his image, fits us for being able and successful ministers of the gospel. Without this nothing else will avail. Neither orthodoxy, nor learning, nor eloquence, nor power of argument, nor zeal, nor favour will accomplish aught without this. It is this that gives power to our words, and persuasiveness to our arguments, making them either as the balm of Gilead to the wounded spirit, or as "sharp arrows of the mighty" to the conscience of the stout-hearted rebel. From them that walk with Him in holy, happy intercourse, a virtue seems to go forth;-a blessed fragrance seems to compass them about whithersover they go. Nearness to him, intimacy with him, assimilation to his character,-these are the elements of a ministry of power. When we can tell our people, 'we beheld his glory, and therefore we speak of it; it is not from report we speak, but we have seen the King in his beauty,'-how lofty the position we occupy! And then beholding that glory, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord, and thereby are not only able to speak because we have seen, but we are made to reflect more of his image, and men cannot but take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus. Our power in drawing men to Christ, springs chiefly from the fulness of our own personal joy in him, and the nearness of our personal communion with him. The countenance that reflects most of Christ, and shines most with his love and grace, is most fitted to attract the gaze even of a careless, giddy world, and win their restless souls from the fascination of creature-love and creature-beauty. A ministry of power must be the fruit of a holy, peaceful, loving intimacy with the Lord.

In these troublous times, and with the prospect of confusion and harassment before us, it is hard to maintain this intercourse. Nay, it seems impossible. Time and solitude are awanting. Nevertheless it must be so. In the case of the apostles it was so in spite of all their endless tribulations and tossings. In the case of our own fathers it was so, in spite of all their multiplied labours and hardships. It must be so with us, and doubtless it will be so. The tumult of the storm without will make the solitude of the closet doubly welcome. Man's wrath and enmity will render doubly pre

cious the love and friendship of the Saviour. Then there shall be in Scotland a ministry of power, and times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.

ART. IV. On the Tracts for the Times. By the Rev. JAMES BUCHANAN, one of the Ministers of the High Church, Edinburgh. 12mo, pp. 112. Johnstone: Edinburgh, 1843.

This little work is characterized by the high scholarship and beautiful spirit of its distinguished author. The Tract writers cannot, in this instance at least, complain that "they have been condemned without being read;" for Mr Buchanan's little work is so full of extracts and references, that it would form an admirable index to those portions of the tracts of which it treats. It takes up in detail the following subjects. 1. The occasion and immediate object of the tracts. 2. The apostolic succession. 3. Sectarian exclusiveness. 4. The doctrines of the sacrament. 5. Popish tendencies. 6. The system in its practical application to individual souls. 7. The second reformation; and leaves nothing further to be desired by ordinary readers on these important points.

Without entering more minutely into the details of these letters, we give the following extract, both as a specimen of the work itself, and as a clear statement of the truth upon one of the most important points in the controversy.

"But although this argument is sufficient to vindicate the validity of ordination by pastors, in all the Reformed Churches where prelacy has been abolished, since, generally, the ministerial succession was not interrupted but continued in them all;-I would not be understood to attach so much weight to this considerationfas seems to be ascribed to it in the Oxford tracts, or to hold that a proof of such succession is essential to the validity of the Christian ministry. It might have happened that, in certain countries or districts, the whole body, both of bishops and presbyters, were incurably corrupt, and hostile to the progress of the Reformation, while the faithful among the people were convinced, by the light of God's word, that it was alike their duty and their interest to separate from the Romish Church, and to assemble together for mutual edification. In such a case, where two or three met together in the name of Jesus,' there was the essence of a church, such as existed in the primitive times, when Paul 'greeted the church which was in the house of Priscilla and Aquila,' and sent the salutations of that same domestic society to the flourishing church of Corinth. It is a grievous error to suppose that the church cannot subsist when her office-bearers become corrupt, or that the salvation of the people depends absolutely on the will and pleasure of any order of men. The actions of the ministry are necessary to the well-being of the Church,-they are not absolutely necessary to its being. Among all those who compose the body of the visible Church, it is certain that there are none, however dignified or however numerous, that are such essential parts, as without which the Church cannot subsist, while there are two or three reVOL. XVI. NO. I.


maining who may assembletogether in the name of Jesus Christ. It is not the Church THAT DEPENDS UPON THE MINISTRY, BUT IT IS THE MINISTRY, ON THE CONTRARY, THAT DEPENDS UPON THE CHURCH.' The Lord Jesus and his apostles first gathered in and founded a Church in the world, and thereafter made provision for the ministry of pastors, as one of her privileges,- When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men,'—'he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of THE SAINTS, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the BODY OF CHRIST.' This body of believers is the Church; its office-bearers are useful organs, but nothing more:-the Church is not a gift to the clergy, but the clergy are a gift to the Church,- unto this catholic visible Church Christ HATH GIVEN the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God,' so that the privileges of Christ's body are not left absolutely to depend on any order of men; and were all the bishops in England to become apostate, (which God forbid!) the Church of England would still exist, and have a right to the benefit of a faithful ministry, according to the Word of God.'

"If these views be correct, you will have no difficulty in disposing of the Oxford claim to an exclusive apostolical succession. That claim is put forth in the most arrogant and offensive terms. The Tractarians tell you, The apostles, indeed, are dead; yet in one sense they are still alive- I mean, they did not leave the world without appointing persons to take their place, and these persons represent them, and may be considered with reference to us as if they were the apostles. And in reply to the question, Who are at this time the successors and spiritual descendants of the apostles?' it is said, 'I shall surprise some people by the answer I shall give, though it is very clear, and there is no doubt about it-THE BISHOPS. They stand in the place of the apostles, as far as the office of ruling is concerned; and whatever we ought to do, had we lived when the apostles were alive, the same ought we to do for the bishops. This is FAITH-to look at things not as seen, but as unseen; -to be as sure that the bishop is Christ's appointed representative as if we actually saw him work miracles as St Peter did.' And so, accordingly, the laity of England are exhorted to address the Church in language fit only to be spoken of Christ himself:-'If tempted, as any of us may be, hastily and needlessly to forsake her hallowed pale, let us reply to the temptation by addressing her in words somewhat similar to those of Peter to his Divine Master-To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we believe and are sure that thou art the minister and representative of 'Christ, the Son of the living God.'"

[ocr errors]

"In answer to such a claim, it is not enough to dispute whether the ministerial succession runs in the line of prelates or of pastors;-it is imperatively necessary to reject the claim altogether. A succession there may be:-but such a succession as is here contended for, there is none. The apostles had successors in the ordinary office of preaching the Gospel, administering the sacraments, and exercising rule and discipline according to the word of God; but in whatever was peculiar to them, as inspired and infallible men, their office was not successive but permanent. The ministry of the apostles was singular-that is to say, exclusively their own; without succession, without communication, without propagation; but it ought not to be thought that it was also as transitory a ministry as that of other men, for it is perpetual in the Church. Death has not shut their mouths as it has the others: they speak, they instruct, they incessantly spread abroad the faith, piety, and holiness among the souls of Christians; and there is not another fountain from whence those virtues can descend, but from them. If any demand of us,-'What is this perpetual voice that we ascribe to them?' we answer, that it is the doctrine of the New Testament, where they have set down all the efficacy of their ministry, and the whole virtue of that word which gave a being to the

Church. There it is that their true chair and the apostolic see is there is the centre of the Christian unity-there it is that they incessantly call men, and join them into a society. Every other voice besides theirs is false and superstitious; it is from theirs alone that the Church proceeds. But as to the ordinary ministry of the pastors, we cannot say the same thing; it is not their voice, as it is distinct from that of the apostles, that begets the faith, that assembles Christians into a society, or that produces the Church.' They are no more than those external guides that God has established in the Church, to lead men to the Scripture, and even such guides as cannot hinder us from going thither of ourselves, if we will; and it is the Scripture, the voice of the apostles, or, to say better, the voice of Jesus Christ, which speaks by the apostles, that does all.''

"Is there, then, no apostolical succession at all? I answer-there is a succession, if by that you mean a transmission of what the apostles taught and instituted in the Christian Church. There is, in this sense, the succession of divine truth, transmitted from the apostles in the imperishable record of Scripture; there is the succession of divine ordinances, the preaching of the word, the administration of sacraments, and the exercise of discipline, which have their warrant in the word, and have been observed, with greater or less purity from the apostolic age till now; there is the succession of the CHURCH, the body of Christ, the society of the faithful, including all in every age and country who have been gathered into his field; and finally, there is a ministerial succession, or the stated ministry of the Church's office-bearers, which will continue till the end of the world.' They receive their message from the word, their commission from Christ-their inward call from the Spirit, their outward call from the Church, the congregation of the faithful. But what that ministerial succession is, and whether it may be perpetuated by bishops or presbyters, must be determined, like every other question bearing on the order and government of Christ's house, by an appeal to the written word.

[ocr errors]

"The Oxford writers seem to be aware of this when they say, Doubtless the more clear and simple principle for a churchman to hold, is that of ministerial succession, which is undeniable as a fact, while it is most reasonable as a doctrine, and sufficiently countenanced in Scripture for its practical reception. Of this, Episcopacy, i.e., superintendence, is but an accident; though, for the sake of conciseness, it is often spoken of by us as synonymous with it.' And yet on this accident they would suspend the being of a Church, and found a claim to be regarded as the sole representatives of the apostles, and of Christ himself!

[ocr errors]

"But even when we speak of a ministerial succession, we must carefully guard against a fallacy which may be said to pervade the reasonings of the Oxford writers on this subject, and which has been well exposed by the present Archbishop of Dublin. The fallacy consists in confounding together the unbroken apostolical succession of a Christian ministry generally, and the same succession in an unbroken line of this or that individual minister. The existence of such an order of men as Christian ministers continuously from the times of the apostles to this day, is perhaps as complete a moral certainty as any historical fact can be, because (independently of the various incidental notices by historians of such a class of persons) it is plain that if, at the present day, or a century ago, or ten centuries ago, a number of men had appeared in the world professing (as our clergy do now) to hold a recognised office in a Christian church, to which they had been regularly appointed by others, whose predecessors had, in like manner, held the same, and so on from the times of the apostles,-if, I say, such a pretence had been put forth by a set of men assuming an office which no one had ever heard of before, it is plain that they would at once have been refuted and exposed. And as this will apply

equally to each successive generation of Christian ministers, till we come up to the time when the institution was confessedly new, i. e., to the time when Christian ministers were appointed by the apostles, who professed themselves eye-witnesses of the resurrection, we have (as Leslie has remarked) a standing monument in the Christian ministry, of the fact of that event as having been proclaimed immediately after the time when it was said to have occurred.

"But if each man's Christian hope is made to rest on his receiving the Christian ordinances at the hands of a minister to whom the sacramental virtue that gives efficacy to those ordinances has been transmitted, in unbroken succession, from hand to hand, every thing must depend on that particular minister, and his claim is by no means established from our merely establishing the uninterrupted existence of such a class of men as Christian ministers." "The Church of England rests the claims of ministers, not on some supposed sacramental virtue transmitted from hand to hand in unbroken succession from the apostles, in a chain, of which if any one link be even doubtful, a distressing uncertainty is thrown on all Christian ordinances, sacraments, and church privileges for ever; but on the fact of those ministers being the regularly appointed officers of a regular Christian community.”


On one point, however, we differ from Mr Buchanan, and that very decidedly too. He says (prefatory note, p. iv.) that one object he had in view was to "show that the Church of England, as a body, is not chargeable with holding the doctrines of the Oxford School." And as his proof he says, They are not sanctioned by her Articles. They are opposed to the spirit of her reformers.

[ocr errors]

Now, Mr Buchanan knows as well as we do, that the ThirtyNine Articles are not the only, nor even the most authoritative formulary of the Church of England; that they are exclusively a clerical formulary, (unlike the Confession of Faith with us); that the people neither subscribe nor are required to profess any faith in them. The Prayer Book, with its fruitful germs of Romanistic thought and feeling, is also a formulary of the Church of England, and more authoritative far than the Articles. The Homilies also, with their strange mixture of Scriptural truth and patristic error, are a formulary of the Church of England: so is the Catechism with its Popish doctrines of the sacrament: so also are the canons of 1603, with their antisocial provisions, and antichristian spirit: so again, are the canons of the four first general councils, according to some, and of the first six, according to others; councils which were held, some of them at least, after antichrist appeared in the temple of God with his blasphemous assumptions: and so, finally, are pro tanto many other acts, as for example, 1 Eliz. c. i. sect. 36, by which it is forbidden to condemn any doctrine as heretical, but such as had been so determined by the ancient councils, (Gibson's Codex, p. 48); and the canons of 1571, by which ministers are inhibited to preach from the pulpit any exposition of Scripture which had not been taught by the Catholic Fathers and ancient bishops.' (Catholici patres et veteres episcopi. Bishop Sparrow's Collection,

« AnteriorContinuar »