Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 1.djvu/34

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their best in sincerily to keep as near to His Apostles as they can. It is studiously recorded, for example, by the Evangelists, in the account of our Lord's two miraculous Feasts, that all passed through His Disciples' hands: (His twelve Disciples; as is in one instance plainly implied in the twelve baskets full of fragments.) I know that minute circumstances like this, in a Parable or symbolical act, must be reasoned on with great caution. Siill, when one considers that our Blessed Lord took occasion from this event to deliver more expressly than at any other time the doctrine of communion with Him, it seems no unnatural conjecture, that the details of the miracle were so ordered, as to throw light on that doctrine.

But, not to dwell on what many will question, (although on docile and affectionate minds I cannot but think it must have its weight,) what shall we say to the remarkable promise addressed to the Twelve at the Pascal Supper? "Ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptation: and I appoint unto you a Kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me; that ye may eat and drink at My table in My Kingdom, and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Thus much nobody will hesitate to allow, concerning this Apostolical Charter: that it bound all Christians whatever to be loyal and obedient to Christ's Apostles, at least as long as they were living. And do not the same words equally bind us, and all believers to the world's end, so far as the mind of the Apostles can yet be ascertained? Is not the spirit of the enactment such, as renders it incumbent on every one to prefer among claimants to Church authority those who can make out the best title to a warrant and commission from the Apostles?

I pass over those portions of the Gospel, which are oftenest quoted in this controversy; they will occur of themselves to all men; and it is the object of these lines rather to exemplify the occasional indications of our Lord's will, than to cite distinct and palpable enactments. On one place, however,—the passage in the Acts, which records, in honour of the first converts, that "they continued stedfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship,"—one question must be asked. Is it really credible, that the privilege so emphatically mentioned, of being in communion with the Apostles, ceased when the last Apostle died? If not, who among living Christians have so fair a chance of enjoying that privilege, as those,