Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 1.djvu/46

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now call Bishop) over the Church at Ephesus; and Titus over that of Crete: and the Holy Spirit, by dictating to the Apostle those directions to them for the discharge of the duties of these offices which form the Epistles bearing their names, gave the fullest and most solemn ratification, not only to their individual appointment, but also to the establishment in perpetuity of the episcopal order in the Church.

Though this event in the history of the Church has been narrated as occurring subsequently to the appointment of the lower classes of ecclesiastical ministers, it must not be supposed that it was an after thought, or that the Apostles were not from the first aware that their office was to be perpetuated by succession. Our Lord ended the sentence in which He endued them with power to baptize, with the promise of His assistance in the discharge of their functions through all time: "Go," said He, "baptize all nations: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world:" a phrase which, as addressed to mortal men, must clearly have been understood as a promise of continual assistance to them and to their successors. We find, accordingly, that so far were they from understanding this gracious promise as applying solely to the individuals to whom the words were spoken, that one of their very first joint acts, when deprived of the presence of their Lord, was to select a person to be associated with themselves in the apostolic office, that the number originally named to that office by our Saviour might be complete. They did not, it is true, ordain him, in the manner afterwards adopted, by the laying on of hands; they were not, indeed, themselves consecrated to the exercise of this power till the descent upon them of the Holy Ghost; but in the pouring out of the gifts of Pentecost upon the head of Matthias, as well as upon those of the eleven, the Spirit bore a testimony, which could hardly be misunderstood, to the will of the Almighty that the Apostles should from time to time, as it became necessary, nominate such associates in their general apostolic toils and powers as they might select; associates on whom, as they themselves were gradually withdrawn from the world, the whole government of the Church, and the whole care of providing for its further continuance, must ultimately devolve.

The miraculous gifts and graces, which God in the first instance showered upon His Church, answered their purpose in giving it its first footing in the world; and, when no longer necessary for that