Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 1.djvu/33

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own institution, or to mere voluntary ecclesiastical arrangement. Let two plans of Government, as far as we can see, be equally good and expedient in themselves, yet if there be but a fair probability of one rather than the other proceeding from our Blessed Lord Himself, those who love Him in sincerity will know at once which to prefer. They will not demand that every point be made out by inevitable demonstration, or promulgated in form, like a State decree. According to the beautiful expression of the Psalmist, they will consent to be "guided by" our Lord's "eye;"[1] the indications of His pleasure will be enough for them. They will state the matter thus to themselves: "Jesus Christ's own commission is the best external security I can have, that in receiving this bread and wine, I verily receive his Body and Blood. Either the Bishops have that commission, or there is no such thing in the world. For at least Bishops have it with as much evidence, as Presbyters without them. In proportion, then, to my Christian anxiety for keeping as near my Saviour as I can, I shall of course be very unwilling to separate myself from Episcopal communion. And in proportion to my charitable care for others, will be my industry to preserve and extend the like consolation and security to them."

Consider the analogy of an absent parent, or dear friend in another hemisphere. Would not such an one naturally reckon it one sign of sincere attachment, if, when he returned home, he found that in all family questions respect had been shewn especially to those in whom he was known to have had most confidence? Would he not be pleased, when it appeared that people had not been nice in enquiring what express words of command he had given, where they had good reason to think that such and such a course would be approved by him? If his children and dependants had searched diligently, where, and with whom, he had left commissions, and having fair cause to think they had found such, had scrupulously conformed themselves, as far as they could, to the proceedings of those so trusted by him; would he not think this a better sign, than if they had been dextrous in devising exceptions, in explaining away the words of trust, and limiting the prerogatives he had conferred?

Now certainly the Gospel has many indications, that our best Friend in His absence is likely to be well pleased with those who do

  1. Ps. xxxii. 9.