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At this point, the attitude of the English church is singular. With one hand she holds the skirt of the Roman matron, and claims affinity to her, an affinity, however, which the jealous matron, too severely dignified, refuses to acknowledge:–with the other hand, she uncourteously repels those, who might otherwise presume to imagine that they bore some relation to her, and be disposed to cherish regard for her. The Roman-catholic priest may enter her communion, and engage in her ministrations, without confessing the inadequacy of the ordination which he had previously received, and seeking additional authority from her hand; the pastor, or presbyter, of any of the varied Protestant communions cannot be so received. He must disown, as unauthorized, every part of his previous ministerial work, and repudiate as unlawful every other religious communion; must be free from the suspicion of having recently desecrated himself by being present in a conventicle during the period of worship, before he can be even invested with her diacomal orders, or be allowed to perform the humblest clerical service which her ritual prescribes.
How far the general interests of the Protestant cause, or the particular interests of the episcopal church, are affected by this unhappy combination of questionable claims with uncharitable implications, it is not the province of the writer to decide. It is sufficient, that in the prosecution of his argument, as in fairness and duty he was bound to do, he has stated the fact. Until the particulars included in the claims are identified with apostolic practice, are substantiated in their transmission by explicit apostolic authority, or are accompanied. in their exercise with the miraculous works which formed the apostolic credentials; we must continue to consider the claims as anti-christian in their character, and the uncharitableness which is associated with their assumption, as injurious rather to those by whom it is manifested, than to those towards whom it is directed. —We must consider the authority conferred by the Redeemer when he breathed on his disciples, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” as strictly confined to the apostolic office –as untransmitted—as untransmissible by them to any other hands.
No PRIESTHOOD REFERRED TO IN THE SUPPLEMENTARY APPOINTMENT OF THE APOSTLE OF THE GENTILES.
We have had occasion repeatedly to refer to the Apostle Paul. He was not present when either of the commissions which we have been considering was given. He was then, either a stranger to Christianity, or opposed to it. He was, however, subsequently converted by a miraculous appearance of the Redeemer to him, qualified by direct revelation to enter on the apostolic office,—invested with its authority, placed on an equality in the powers which were peculiar to the office with the other Apostles, and he laboured in its discharge more abundantly than they all. If it were necessary to adduce his commission, or to refer more particularly to his writings, it would be seen, that they are as destitute of any allusion to the service of a priesthood, as discharged by men in the church on earth, as are those of the other Apostles. He gives, indeed, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, what is in itself conclusive against the pretensions of the priesthood; a specific detail of the provision, which Christ, on his ascension to Heaven, had made for the ministerial service of his church. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” In this detail, we look in vain for a priest, or for any service to be performed for the body of Christ which priestly rites can accomplish. Uniformity of ritual observances, in which alone the boasted unity of the Roman-catholic church consists, is an essentially different thing from unity of faith, and knowledge of the Son of God. It may, and does, cover under its ample shade every diversity of human opinion, every form of ignorance, folly, and superstition; every gradation of scepticism, hypocrisy, and infidelity itself. It is a uniformity of bodily exercises which profit nothing, substituted for the life and power of godliness, which only is profitable for all things, and has the promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to COme. A reference is however here more especially made to the Apostle Paul, for the purpose of introducing the subject of the keys. We nowhere read of the power of the keys being intrusted to any individual besides
Peter. Though the power of binding and loosing, as we have seen, was afterwards given to the other Apostles, yet it remains recorded of Peter only, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.” Yet, though the keys were intrusted to Peter alone, Paul tells the Corinthians, that he himself was not a “whit behind the very chiefest Apostles.”f How is this declaration to be reconciled with Peter's exclusive possession of the power of the keys? The explanation appears easy. Long before Paul wrote the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, if not, indeed, before he had entered on the discharge of his apostolic office, Peter had fully, and for ever, accomplished the purpose for which the keys were intrusted to him. He had opened the kingdom of heaven to the Jews on the Pentecostal morning, and afterwards to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius. He had opened the kingdom to bot; the divisions of the great family of man, and no powef of men or angels could close it again. He had ush locked, to both, the door of entrance to Christen privileges, and the keys could never be wanted agaall He had opened wide the door of entrance to ministroy labour among both; and he, and his brethren inable apostolic office, entered as fellow-workers, with ation authority, to prosecute their divine employ. Supibed acy, or infallibility in Peter, none of them ever thich