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ESCOURSE II.

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It is to be remarked further, that the tenour of the commission delivered to the Apostles, seems purposely calculated to provide against, and thereby power to to render unnecessary, all self-constituted autho-th the p rity in the Church. "As my Father has sent me,” ered by said Christ," so send I "* &c. According Whoses to the common import of which words, as well as the received sense of them in the Catholic Church, our Saviour is to be understood as if he had said, "A "With the same power and authority that my · Sa of Man Father sent me into the world, to constitute and tedre Ap govern my Church, I send you and your successors, the dre for the further advancement of the same divinestles an purpose; and lo! my spirit shall accompany the regular administration of the office to the end of the world. As, therefore, in consequence of the mission which I have received from my Father, I send you; so, by virtue of the mission received from me, you have authority to send others, for the purpose of carrying on and perpetuating the plan which I have set on foot in the world, by a regular administration of the affairs of my kingdom to the end of time." The government committed to the Apostles was, therefore, of the same nature with that of Christ; for thus he declares to them:

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I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath

the purpose of delivering to them their commission, is calcu-
lated to remove it. See Luke vi. 12, 13; Mark iii. 13, 14;
Matt. x. 1; xxviii. 16, 19, 20; John xx. 21, 22. This im-
portant point the reader will find particularly made out, and
insisted upon, in "Potter's Discourse of Church Government,"
chap. ii. p. 45, et seq. and chap. iii. p. 61, et seq.

John xx. 21.

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DISCOURSE II.

inted unto me."* The keys of the kingdom of hen, Christ received from God; by virtue of ith grant, he had power to remit sins on earth. These same keys, with the power which belonged them, were delivered by Christ to his Apostles "Whosesoever sins ye remit, are remitted; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained."+ "The Father committed all gment to his Son." And our Lord promised, that when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne his glory, the twelve Apostles shall sit on twelve branes, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.§ Hence , that the Apostles are represented as constiding part of the foundation on which the Christian Church was built. The wall of the holy Jerusalem, ending out of heaven from God, the Spirit detibes as having twelve foundations, and in them "the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb."|| And St. Paul told the Ephesians, that they were "the household of God, built upon the foundahimself being the chief corner-stone." on of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ

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But it may be said, although this commission delivered to the Apostles, stamps a distinction upon their characters, and evidently invests them with a particular office and authority; yet it does not furnish sufficient light by which to determine the precise constitution of the Christian Church. It certainly does not; and were there no other light

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vouchsafed to us on this subject, we should not speak so decidedly upon it as we now feel ourselves authorised to do.

But, perhaps, more information may be expected in this case than the Bible was designed to furnish. Divine revelation, it is to be observed, was not meant to gratify the curiosity, but to furnish information sufficient to establish the faith, and govern the practice, of the Christian professor. It is not to be supposed, that in the short history given by the Apostles, one thousandth part of the doctrine or instruction delivered by our Saviour to his disciples, could be recorded. St. John makes use of a strong expression, where he says, that if all things which Jesus did should be written, every one, the world itself could not contain the books that should be written ;* thereby giving us to understand, that the histories written by the Apostles, furnish but a very short abstract of our Saviour's life and conversation, by no means sufficient to qualify the reader to form a minute and circumstantial judgment, with respect to any particular transaction recorded.

Upon the subject before us, for instance, we have no information but what is derived from the mere recital of the fact, that our Saviour did, after his resurrection, deliver a commission to his eleven disciples, relative to the government of his Church. The manner in which this commission was to be carried into effect, is to be ascertained by the subsequent practice of the Apostles; which doubtless conformed to the direction they had received from their Divine Master. For it is not to be supposed

* John xxi. 25.

that our Saviour would fail to accompany the deli-
very of so important a commission, with all the
information necessary for the parties entrusted
with it. Indeed it should seem, as if this were
one of the principal objects our Saviour had in
view, in remaining so long upon earth after his
resurrection; since we are expressly told, that he
employed that time in speaking of the things
"pertaining to the kingdom of God.”* If the
Apostles have not recorded the directions which
accompanied the delivery of their commission,
we are not from thence warranted to conclude
that no directions were given, but that they were
judged unnecessary to be particularized; for this
reason, it may be, because the government of the
Christian Church was to correspond with that of
the Jewish. For the Jewish and Christian Church
are to be considered, not so much different esta-
blishments, as two editions (if we may so say) of
the same Church of God; the former constituting,
as it were, the ground-plan upon which the latter
has been built.

Indeed, as the economy of man's salvation forms one complete whole, it is but to be expected, that there should be an uniformity in its several parts; although the modern Christian, by confining his attention to one particular part of the Divine dispensation, is thereby unqualified to trace the resemblance between them.

If God, then, thought proper Himself to regulate the service of the Jewish Church, by the express appointment of those who were to bear

* Acts i. 3.

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office in it, it is reasonable to suppose, that He would adopt a similar plan in the Christian Church. Nor is it to be imagined, that He who did all things with regularity and order; who in his own person paid a delicate regard to the ordinances of the old dispensation, which were to be done away; should leave the affairs of his new Church only, in an irregular and disorderly condition. ,,,,, The history of the Christian Church proves that He has not done so; it being taken for granted, that the practice of the Apostles, in the execution of their commission, will be admitted as autho rity sufficient to establish this fact. The Apostles, we are told, did not enter upon the discharge of their commission, till they had received the promise of the Father, in the gift of the Holy Ghost. They were commanded to tarry in Jerusalem till they were endued with power from on high.* Which power the Apostles actually received at the subsequent day of Pentecost; when, according to our Saviour's promise, the Holy Ghost visibly descended upon them, as their previous qualifica tion for the discharge of their high office. What form of government, therefore, the Apostles agreed to establish in the Church, if not expressly com municated to them by Christ in person, must be considered as established under the directions of the Holy Spirit.

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Thus, Apostolical practice, with respect to the government of the Church, well ascertained, must in this matter be equivalent to Apostolic precept with respect to the doctrine of it; because the

* Luke xxiv. 49.

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