Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 1.djvu/31

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ADHERENCE TO THE APOSTOLICAL SUCCESSION THE SAFEST COURSE.




We who believe the Nicene Creed, must acknowledge it a high privilege, that we belong to the Apostolic Church. How is it that so many of us are, almost avowedly, so cold and indifferent in our thoughts of this privilege?

Is it because the very idea is in itself overstrained and fanciful, apt perhaps to lay strong hold on a few ardent minds, but little in accordance with the general feelings of mankind? Surely not. The notion of a propagated commission is as simple and intelligble in itself, as can well be; is acted on daily in civil matters, (the administration of trust property, for example,); and has found a most ready, sometimes an enthusiastic, acceptance, in those many nations of the world, which have submitted, and are submitting themselves to sacerdotal castes, elective or hereditary. "Priests self-elected, or appointed by the State," is rather the idea which startles ordinary thinkers; not "Priests commissioned, successively, from heaven."

Or is our languor rather to be accounted for by the want of express scriptural encouragement to the notion of a divine ministerial commission? Nay, Scripture, at first sight, is express; whether we take the analogy of the Old Testament, the words of our Lord, or the practice of His Apostles. The Primitive Christians read it accordingly; and cherished, with all affectionate reverence, the privilege which they thought they found there. Why are we so unlike them?

I fear it must be owned, that much of the evil is owing to the comparatively low ground, which we ourselves, the Ministers of God, have chosen to occupy in defence of our commission. For many years, we have been much in the habit of resting our claim on the general duties of submission to authority, of decency and order, of respecting precedents long established; instead of appealing to that warrant, which marks us, exclusively, for God's Ambassadors. We have spoken much in the same tone, as we