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itself, which has divided the opinions of the wisest and best men, in different ages of the church. 1 But mark the cautious language of the article: * Those we ought to judge lawfully called and
sent, which be chosen and called to this work by . men who have public authority given unto them
in the congregation, to call and send ministers ‘into the Lord's vineyard.'-Let us next hear the fair and just interpretation of this by one of our bishops, of high authority on such subjects. “That ' which is simply necessary as a means to preserve
the order and union of the body of Christians, " and to maintain the reverence due to holy things, ‘is, that no man enter upon any part of the holy ministry, without he be chosen and called to it, by such as have an authority so to do, that, I say, is fixed by the article: but men are left more at 'their liberty, as to their thoughts concerning the subject of this lawful authority. That which we believe to be lawful authority, is that rule ' which the body of the pastors, or bishops and
clergy of a church shall settle; being met in a ' body under the due respect to the powers that • God shall set over them.'—' They who drew the
article had the state of the several churches be'fore their eyes, that had been differently re• formed.'? Much more occurs in explaining this, and applying it to the case of Christians, where there is no establishment, and under persecution. I am persuaded, that Bishop Burnet gives the meaning of those who drew the article correctly;
'See note in the author's Commentary on Acts viii. 4. · Burnet on the Articles.
and that, though episcopal themselves, they never meant to deny the validity of Lutheran, or even Presbyterian, ordination : and let it not be forgotten, that Independency, however modified, had not then appeared, in modern churches at least; yet with a little allowance on this ground, the article may take in all regularly ordained ministers, even among the Independents.
In respect to all objections against the use of a liturgy, however excellent it may be, I would just observe, that all the psalmody at the temple was by a preconceived form, as psalmody in general must be ; that a form of blessing was appointed, in which the priests were to bless the congregation of Israel ;' that our Lord taught his disciples a form, saying, “When ye pray, say, &c. :” and that the request of the disciples, that he would teach them to pray, “as John taught his dis
ciples,” implies that he had taught them some form.2 Our Lord also instituted a form for the administration of baptism. I am not disposed to urge the objections against extemporary prayer, which numbers do; not being much afraid lest a pious minister should present requests, to which I cannot say, Amen. But comprehension, as far as I have heard, is often wanting; many things that should be included, are wholly omitted, while others are enlarged on with needless repetition. Indeed many of those, who do not fail in this way, avoid it merely by adopting a method, in arranging the several parts of their prayers, supplications, and thanksgivings, in a manner which
· Num. vi. 22–27.
· Luke xi. 1-4.
assimilates it to a liturgy. Men of fervent piety and ability perform this often in a very edifying and affecting manner: but, considering all things, I must in present circumstances esteem our liturgy as, even in this view, a great advantage; while the cases above stated shew it not unlawful in itself.
I. In respect of establishments in themselves.
II. Some thoughts on the advantages arising from our establishment.
I. What I mean to add to that which I before wrote on establishments, will be comprised under one topic, namely, The state of things under the Old Testament; compared with some of the prophecies concerning the future glorious times of the church.
It seems conceded, even by those who consider establishments as necessarily secular and political, and inconsistent with Christianity, that the church of Israel was an establishment; and yet, in the modern sense of the word, it could scarcely be called so till the times of David and Solomon. The Lord however appointed the sacerdotal order, and the Levites as assistants : he allotted a certain portion, yea a large portion, of the produce of Canaan for their maintenance ; he connected the priesthood very closely with the political government, under Moses, Joshua, and the judges, till the days of Saul; and afterwards with that of the kings of David's race: and these priests were not only sacrificers, but the regular teachers of Israel. Now this was the Lord's own doing. The question then occurs, Was this establishment secular, po
litical, and inconsistent with spiritual religion, and with Israel being a true church: Did God himself appoint in religion those things which are in their own nature inconsistent with spiritual religion ? things wrong in themselves ? I plead not for the divine right of this or the other form of church government; or for this or the other establishment; or even for the necessity of an establishment: I only state that, whatever faults there
may be in any existing establishment, or in any that have existed, the thing cannot be evil
Otherwise God expressly appointed, and not only permitted, what was evil per se. Was spiritual religion under that dispensation, one thing, and under the Christian dispensation, another thing? Or was there no spiritual religion then? Was not the law itself spiritual ? and were not many Israelites eminently spiritually minded? If God be unchangeable, true religion, as to its essence, must be the same: and, beyond doubt, the rule of duty, and the way of acceptance and of sanctification, were the same in substance, though the external administration differed. I cannot indeed consider the argument against establishments per se, especially as expressed sometimes in most unqualified language, as any thing less than a censure of what God himself actually instituted. We prove that oaths are not in themselves unlawful, because expressly ap- . pointed by God; and by the same rule we may prove that establishments are not evil per se, because allowedly appointed by God.
Again, did not all the pious kings of Judah, without exception, take the lead in matters of re
ligion, even to the exhorting, commanding, directing, encouraging, nay, censuring of the priests and Levites ; the regular ministers of religion ? Did they not also enforce the laws for the payment of the tithes and other dues to the priests and Levites : Were, they not in those things accepted, and commended, and encouraged, by prophets, and by the inspired writers ; and this in proportion to their zeal, decision, and activity, as regulated according to the word of God? Were not those kings who neglected to do these things proportionably blamed, even when not directly idolatrous and wicked? Did not Ezra and Nehemiah, after the captivity, do the same? Did they not even consider heathen kings entitled to their gratitude, who countenanced and aided them; and exempted the ministers of religion from toll and impost?1 Now could that be "right, and
good, and truth,” in Hezekiah, or Josiah, or Nehemiah, which would be wrong, per se, in a Christian king? Circumstances may vary : but the thing could not be simply secular and political.-Two things are clear in this view of the Old Testament history: first, that an establishment may be founded and superintended by pious princes, without requiring any thing except what the word of God requires ; 3 and, secondly, that it may be thus acceptable to God, and peculiarly useful to mankind. I do not say that an establishment must be formed over the true Israel, because it was over the typical Israel: but are not nations, where
! Ezra vii. 13-28.
? 2 Chron. xxx. 20, 21.
32 Chron. xxx. 12. VOL. IX.