WHEN Churchmen in England maintain the Apostolical Commission of their Ministers, they are sometimes met with the objection, that they cannot prove it without tracing their orders back to the Church of Rome; a position, indeed, which in a certain sense is true. And hence it is argued, that they are reduced to the dilemma, either of acknowledging they had no right to separate from the Pope, or, on the other hand, of giving up the Ministerial Succession altogether, and resting the claims of their pastors on some other ground; in other words, that they are inconsistent in reprobating Popery, while they draw a line between their Ministers and those of Dissenting Communions.
It is intended in the pages that follow, to reply to this supposed difficulty; but first, a few words shall be said, by way of preface, on the doctrine itself, which we Churchmen advocate.
The Christian Church is a body consisting of Clergy and Laity; this is generally agreed upon, and may here be assumed. Now, what we say is, that these two classes are distinguished from each other, and united to each other, by the commandment of GOD Himself; that the Clergy have a commission from GOD ALMIGHTY through regular succession from the Apostles, to preach the gospel, administer the Sacraments, and guide the Church; and, again, that in consequence the people are bound to hear them with attention, receive the Sacraments from their hands, and pay them all dutiful obedience. I shall not prove this at length, for it has been done by others, and indeed the common sense and understanding of men, if left to themselves, would be quite sufficient in this case. I do but lay before the reader the following considerations. CONTINUE READING