Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 1.djvu/35

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
5

who, besides Purity of Doctrine, are careful to maintain that Apostolical Succession, preserved to them hitherto by a gracious and special Providence? I should not much fear to risque the whole controversy on the answer which a simple unprejudiced mind would naturally make to these two questions.

Observe, too, how often those principles, which are usually called, in scorn, High-Churchmanship, drop as it were incidentally from the pens of the sacred writers, professedly employed on other subjects. "How shall they preach, except they be sent?"—"Let a man so account of us, as of the Ministers of Christ, and Stewards of the mysteries of God."—" No man taketh this honour to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." I do not think it possible for any one to read such places as these with a fair and clear mind, and not to perceive that it is better and more scriptural to have, than to want, Christ's special commission for conveying His Word to the people, and consecrating and distributing the pledges of His holy Sacrifice, if such commission be any how attainable;—better, and more scriptural, if we cannot remove all doubt, at least to prefer that communion which can make out the best probable title, provided always, that nothing heretical, or otherwise immoral, be inserted in the terms of communion.

Why then should any man here in Britain, fear or hesitate boldly to assert the authority of the Bishops and Pastors of the Church, on grounds strictly evangelical and spiritual: as bringing men nearest to Christ our Saviour, and conforming them most exactly to His mind, indicated both by His own conduct, and by the words of His Spirit in the Apostolic writings? Why should we talk so much of an establishment, and so little of an Apostolical Succession? Why should we not seriously endeavour to impress our people with this plain truth;—that by separating themselves from our communion, they separate themselves not only from a decent, orderly, useful society, but from the only Church in this realm which has a right to be quite sure that she has the Lord's Body to give to His People?

Nor need any man be perplexed by the question, sure to be presently and confidently asked, "Do you then unchurch all the Presbyterians, all Christians who have no Bishops? Are they to be shut out of the Covenant, for all the fruits of Christian Piety, which seem