Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 1.djvu/213

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Jan. 25, 1834.]
[No. 24.—Price 2d.



In referring to the Epistles of the New Testament for proof of the duty of submission to Spiritual Authority, we are sometimes met by the objection, that the case is very much altered since the days of the Apostles, and since the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit have been withdrawn from the Church. Now it will readily be admitted, on all hands, that the state of the Church is very greatly altered since these miraculous powers have ceased; but at the same time we must not allow a general principle of this sort to set aside the authority of Holy Scripture, as far as regards our own practice, until, by a diligent and careful study of the Apostles' writings, we have found that the principle does really apply to the case in question; as, for instance, that the Apostolic Authority is grounded in Scripture upon the possession of miraculous powers, and therefore necessarily ceased when those powers were withheld. Let us then examine this point more particularly.

Have we then considered, in reference to this matter, that the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit were not confined to the appointed teachers of the Church, but were shed abroad upon the congregation at large, upon the young and the old alike, upon the servants, and upon the hand-maidens? (Comp. Joel ii. 28, 29.) It was the promise of the Old Testament, that, under the dispensation of the New Covenant, God would write His Law in the hearts of His people, so that they should teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying; Know the Lord, "for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord." (Jer. xxxi. 33, 34.) This promise, we are told in the Epistle to the Hebrews, was fulfilled in the Gospel; and St. John, in his First General Epistle, expressly acknowledges: the accomplishment of the Prophet's words. He says to