Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 1.djvu/48

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

them in the discharge of their office, (ver. 19.) He was reminded by St. Paul to stir up the gift that was in him by the putting on of his hands, (2 Tim. i. 6,) and of the hands of the presbytery; (1 Tim. iv. 14;) to ordain no man suddenly, (1 Tim. v. 22,) or without due examination into his character, but to commit the doctrine which he had learnt of St. Paul to faithful men, who should be able to teach others also. (2 Tim. ii. 2.)

Titus was left in Crete that he might set in order the things that were wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as St. Paul had appointed him. (Tit. i. 5.) He was taught what sort of characters befitted those whom he should make Bishops—he was to exhort and rebuke with all authority, and let no man despise him. (ii. 15.) He was to be the general instructor of his flock, and to have the power of expelling thence obstinate heretics, (iii. 10.) But it is unsatisfactory to quote particular passages; the whole of these three epistles should be seriously studied by those who wish to form a good general idea of the powers with which the Apostles, or rather the Holy Ghost, by their means, invested those who were to bear rule in the Church in times when they themselves should have gone to their reward.

Those times came.—St. John, the last of the glorious company of the Apostles, entered into his rest, and the Church found itself committed, under Heaven, entirely to the charge of the three established orders of its ministers. To each of these a specific title was now ascribed, and applied with greater exactness than before. The title "Bishop," which had at first been used indifferently with "Elder," became the exclusive property of the highest class of functionaries, the colleagues of Timothy and Titus. The word "Elder" served to designate the second, and from its Greek equivalent, "Presbuteros," we have formed our English word "Priest," by which "Elder," is now, in common use, superseded. The third class preserved its original and appropriate name of "Deacons."

Such, then, was the constitution of which the Church, when first deprived of outward supernatural aid, found herself possessed; such the machinery at her disposal for the dispensation to mankind of those glorious gifts and privileges, which it was hers, and hers alone, to confer. As Priests or Deacons were required for the ministration of the Word and Sacraments to the diflferent portions of her flock, the Bishops, in exercise of the heavenly gift