« AnteriorContinuar »
fice and interceding priest. The light of Judaism, increased to sevenfold brightness, spreads its radiance over the Christian church, and diffuses peace and joy, through believing, in the heart of every humble disciple of Christ: while the Jew, with nothing but the name, and the painful initiatory rite of his own religion, sits mourning in darkness and despondency, an exile from the land, and a rebellious wanderer, disowned by the God of his fathers. Bright and joyful for himself, and for the world, will be the day when he shall look, with a believing eye, on Him whom he has pierced; obtain peace with his offended God by the blood of the cross; be raised from his moral and political debasement; and be incorporated with the Christian fold in the aggregation of its numbers, the perfection of its light, the fulness of its privileges, and the entireness of its dependence on the great High Priest of our profession, the only mediator between God and man. The priests of the Roman-catholic church may preserve a dignified silence, when asked by an heretical inquirer to show the call of their order to be like that of Aaron; or, if they condescend to reply, may expatiate most profoundly and mysteriously on the power derived from Peter, the authority of the fathers, the traditions of the church; and endeavour to escape the point of the question, by surrounding themselves with a wilderness of words; but this will avail only with those whose minds are entirely surrendered to their
guidance, and who venture to think upon religious subjects only as they dictate. Every individual, in whose breast the spark of freedom is not extinguished, we would remind,-that Peter was no priest himself, and had no command, like Moses, to confer the order upon others;–that the fathers derived no priesthood from the Apostles, and cannot authorize its assumption by others or by themselves;–that tradition was the delusive cover of the enormous corruptions which the Redeemer, in his personal ministry, exposed, and the resource of the degenerate priests, who conspired with the elders to put him to death;-but that Aaron's call was written, as is that of Christ, explicitly, and fully, in the uncorrupted word, which liveth and abideth for ever. No priesthood can sustain its pretensions to an appointment from God, which cannot, like that of Aaron, show us its institution, its designation, its prescribed mode of perpetuation, its specific arrangements for the ritual of its services, on the same authoritative and imperishable pages. With whomsoever the Romish priesthood originated, there was no call from God. It was honour which men took upon themselves. Its titles and claims are founded in a series of usurpations, which, however excellent and even exemplary may be many of those who succeed to them, and had no share in the original encroachment, could be entailed with no better right than is found in the transmission of the self-assumed titles and ill-gotten booty of a lawless banditti. Long established possession may, indeed, give legal sanction to secular claims which originated in usurpation; but this cannot be the case with ecclesiastical and spiritual claims; because He ever lives whose prerogative has been invaded; and his laws and institutions remain imperative on the conscience, in their primitive and uncorrupted simplicity.” If the Roman-catholic priesthood cannot show a call to the office, like that which could have been presented by the descendants of Aaron, of course, any Prot
* Those who require any thing more than tradition to substantiate the authority of a priesthood, will consider the following paragraph of father Calmet's to be a concession of the whole question. It assumes, indeed, the appointment of “priests of the new law;” but admits, what destroys the assumption, that they have no call like that of Aaron.
“We have enlarged on the rights, prerogatives, functions, and revenues of the priests of the old law, under the foregoing article. We cannot do the same in respect to the priests of the new law, because neither Christ in the Gospels, nor his Apostles in any of their writings, have ordained the ceremonies to be used in the consecration of priests, or elders, in the administration of the sacraments, nor all the circumstances which may accompany those rites. The Apostles left some things to the wisdom and discretion of the church, though they taught them to the faithful of their own times viva voce.”—Calmet's Dictionary, Art. PRIEST.
estants who derive their title and orders through the channel of the older church, must be equally deficient in the means of substantiating their claim. Some of the wisest apologists of the English Episcopal church, indeed, relinquish the claim, and admit the title to be improper.” It is devoutly to be wished, that the title,
* “Although, in truth, the word presbyter doth seem more fit, and in propriety of speech more agreeable, than priest, with the drift of the whole gospel of Jesus Christ.” —HookER.
In the Book of Common Prayer, which was put forth by royal authority, for Scotland, when the effort was made to force episcopacy upon her, I believe the title priest was omitted, and presbyter substituted in its place. If the word priest is, as some tell us, a corruption of the word presbyter; why (unless the church has some unavoidable affinity with corruption) cannot the pure and primitive term be employed in the English service-book also ; instead of one, whose equivocal import misleads, not merely the people, but some of the first authorities among the clergy? How, on the hypothesis referred to, are we to construe the following passage : “Who are the best friends every minister hath in his parish? They who attend the prayers and sacraments with him ; who are edified by his priesthood as well as by his preaching.”—Jones' Essay on the Church.
In the following note from the pen of another approved writer, subsequently elevated to the bench, the American episcopalians, who it would appear have ventured to alter
with every remaining vestage of the claims which have been associated with it, were removed from every Protestant communion ; and that the whole were able, with unfettered hands, and undivided hearts, to assail this remaining citadel of anti-christian delusion, into which, with scarcely any molestation, it has retired. Were the weakness of its foundations honestly laid
the Liturgy which they received from the parent church, are gravely, and seriously blamed, for having relinquished that which involved the essence of the sacerdotal claim.
“It deserves to be noticed, that in the American liturgy this form" (the form of absolution) “is omitted in the service of the Visitation of the Sick, and no direction is given for particular confession or absolution. In the form for the Wisitation of Prisoners, is a direction to the minister to exhort the criminal to a particular confession for the sins for which he is condemned: after which, the minister is to declare to him the pardoning mercy of God, in the form which is in the Communion Service, which is the same as that in our Communion Service, and which is in supplicating form. Notwithstanding, therefore, the compilers of this liturgy profess that their church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England, in any essential point of discipline or worship; they seem to have designed to relinquish particular confession of sins, and the authoritative power of absolution in the priesthood—its essential and important claim, and without which the sacerdotal commission is destitute of sanctions.”—Sermons at the Bampton Lecture, by Dr. Gray.