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now were those of the most spiritual and heavenly strain; wbereof the Saint's Rest of Baxter was almost always found with the Bible upon the stand beside him. Of that work especially he would speak in strong terms of commendation, at the same time remarking, “there is no book to be compared with the Bible, and if I might prefer one part of that blessed book before others, I would say, I love the Psalms the best; I can always find in them something more expressive of my feelings than my own language.” At the last communion-service of the church within whose bounds he resided, which was but a little while before his death, he took part in the distribution of the sacred symbols, and in a manner which revealed his consciousness that he should never so officiate again, solemn from a sense of a near eternity and with a heart enlarged with the love of Christ and the hope of soon being with him-he addressed his fellow worshippers on the great things of their common faith, far beyond his strength. His soul henceforth spread her wings for the world of rest. He said to a friend, “I have a strange difficulty, and
you will perhaps think strangely of it, I am at loss what to pray for”—and added, in a most solemn tone and with his eyes lifted to heaven, “God knows I am willing that whatever he pleases shall be done." His triumph too over the fear of death was complete. “I have,” said he, “ been looking the case between God and myself, over and over and over again; and though I see enough to justify God in casting me off a thousand times and more, my conviction of my interest in Christ is so firm, that I cannot make myself afraid; the only thing I fear is, that I have not fears enough.”
He remarked on the last Sabbath evening of his life, “I am almost home, and I thank God that I am, I went astray from him, but in his rich mercy he brought me back. I am unworthy of the least of his mercies, and if I may lie down beside his footstool, or if he will even put me under it-I will take the very lowest place in heaven.” He needed some refreshment, and when the cup was handed to him, he took it and said, "O God bless this cup-I think I have a covenant right to it.” A few hours before he died, he asked a brother in the ministry to pray for him, and specified this petition, “Pray that God will do with me just as he pleases." Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace! We mourn for him, but not on his own behalf. Such a life, and such a death, to those who believe the Scriptures, are equivalent to an assurance from heaven, that he now shares the beatitude of that holy world. We sorrow that he has left us, but not as those who have no hope. 6. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you, by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them who are asleep: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the arch-angel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we be ever with the Lord.”
THE EARLIEST TESTIMONY OF FACTS ; IN THE ORIGIXAL
LISHED BY THE SACRED RECORDS.
The ordinances and officers of the Gospel neither conventional, nor subsequent
to inspiration.—Presbyter meant not different offices; but presbyter and bishop the same commission.--The fathers credible for facts, their opinions unimportant, their silence presumptive proof.-Barnabas and Hermas rejected. The testimony of Clement of Rome weighed.
Forms of civil government are conventional, except where the social compact has been excluded by the dictation of power, or perverted by the stratagems of fraud. But in the kingdom of Christ, laws, ordinances, and offices are all prescribed and adjusted with
precision; innovation is disobedience; an unauthorised office is insubordination and rebellion. The commission and duties of the gospel-herald are spread upon the same pages of that word which he is to preach; that he may know his own obligations, and the people, how he is to be regarded. Offices erected in the church, after the removal of inspired men, are unlawful, whether in ancient or modern times. If such
offices can be justified on the conjectural ground of convenience, so may ordinances, and we may “teach for doctrines the commandments of men.” Unity of design and operation, and especially the prevention of sinful competitions and disorder, justified presbyteries, in determining that one of their number should
preside in their sessions, and in public worship. But for the ordination of a presbyter, or the ordination of any as lay presbyters, without apostolical precept or example, neither right nor power existed; and every such unscriptural office was and is merely void.
That no such commission under that dispensation whereof Christ was a minister, belongs to gospel times, will be conceded by those for whom I write; and that the commissions of apostle and evangelist, given by him after his resurrection, for the planting of the churches, being obviously temporary, have expired, may be at present also assumed. Our purpose is to show from facts, what permanent offices at first existed in every regularly constituted church; that we may ascertain whether the term presbyter, Apeo3u7epos, was, among the first Christians, understood to designate two offices, a preaching and ruling elder, or one only,whether the epithet ruling, Apokolws, was so far from importing subordination, that it was adopted to signify a presiding authority, -and whether becoming permanent at the close of the second century, this office, founded on mere expediency, was more usually expressed by the word Erioxopos, bishop, common before that period to all elders. If these things shall be made clear, the assumption of the existence of two offices, couched under the same term, and constituted by ordination, but deemed to be distinct merely because presbyters exercised a diversity of duties in their episcopal character, will be evinced to be merely gratuitous and unsupported.
Although the opinions and practice of the fathers
a Phil. i, 1. Acts xx. 17–28. Heb. xiii. 17. 1 Pet. y. 1.