THERE are many persons who have the happiness of being members of that pure and Apostolical branch of Christ’s holy Church, which, as it is established in this our country, we call ” the Church of England;” persons who attend with regularity and devotion to her services, and have participated in the benefits of her Sacraments; who may yet have no very clear idea either of the nature of that body which we call ” the Church” in general, or of the peculiar circumstances and events which have led to the present position and constitution of that portion of it to which we belong.
To such persons it may not be unacceptable if we present them in these pages with a short account of “the Church;” of that institution which, previous to His return to the regions of His heavenly glory, our Lord bequeathed to the world, to be cherished and enjoyed as a precious legacy, until His coming again; of that body which He framed for the reception of the first gifts of His Almighty Spirit, and for the transmission of those precious gifts from age to age, to the end of time. Such an account will naturally lead to a brief statement of the manner in which it has pleased Providence to bless us, in this our own island, with a branch of that holy institution; and thus to have established, and to continue among us, a body of men bearing a commission direct from Himself, to admit us into His fold by the waters of Baptism, and to nourish us in the same, not only with the pure word of His doctrine, but with the spiritual nourishment of His most blessed Body and Blood.
It would have been in vain that the two Sacraments had been instituted, had no persons, no set of men, been appointed to ad minister them. You cannot suppose that you or I, (for he who thus addresses you is a layman like yourselves, that is, has never received the ordination of a clergyman,) you cannot, I say, suppose that any one of us might, with no other authority than his own good pleasure, proceed to baptize, or to administer the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper. Such a proceeding would, it is evident, involve the highest degree of arrogance and impiety, and would be nothing short of a mockery of that great and awful Being, of whose gifts these sacred ordinances are alike the appointed means and pledges. Continue Reading