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tion of the ministry to the call of the church, attesting the qualifications of the candidate for the office, and, invoking the divine blessing, consecrates him to it.
This view of ordination is opposed by the theory of an historic succession in the ministry by successive regular ordinations from the apostles. According to this, a twofold grace is conferred in ordination: 1. The power of consecrating, offering, and ministering the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, and 2. The power of absolution, or the remission of sins. The authority to
. confer this virtue in ordination is vested in the bishops, by whom it was received from the apostles, and has been transmitted through successive ordinations to the present day. As the result, ordination not received in this regular succession is invalid; and where there is no valid ordination there is no true ministry, no effectual preaching, no sacrament, no church, and no salvation.
To this theory I propose the following objections: 1. The sacerdotal powers, here said to be transmitted through apostolic succession, were never conferred on the apostles, much less have they been transmitted through the ages from them to us. 2. The Scriptures are silent as to any such succession and the necessity of it to a valid ministry; but surely, if this necessity existed, so momentous a fact would not only be stated, but emphasized. 3. Ordination did in fact confer no gift or power, for “the seven
full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom” before their election, and were chosen on account of their fitness for the office. Barnabas and Saul were called of the Holy Ghost to the missionary work before their ordination, and that act only recognized this divine call, and dedicated them to their work. The ordination of Timothy was attended with exceptional circumstances; for, when he was ordained, a distinct prophetic utterance predicted his future
eminence in the ministry, and Paul, as an apostle, united with the presbytery in the laying on of hands, so that Timothy received the supernatural gift or charism of the Holy Ghost (1 Tim. iv. 14; 2 Tim. i. 6). But neither prophets nor apostles are now present at ordinations, and the special charisms of the Spirit have ceased in the church. 4. If this theory of apostolic succession be admitted, there is no evidence that a valid ministry now exists on earth; for an historic succession of ordinations from the Apostolic age cannot be proved in any individual case.
Even were such a succession promised, it would then be wholly uncertain in which of the several lines claiming it this succession has descended. Archbishop Whately justly said: “There is no Christian minister now existing that can trace up with complete certainty his own ordination, through perfectly regular steps, to the times of the apostles.” 5. Finally, it is incredible that God has made the salvation of souls dependent upon this mysterious invisible virtue in the ministry—a condition as to which there is scarcely one chance in a thousand that it is met in any minister in Christendom; and if met, the proof of it cannot be made out. Such a supposition is repulsive, not only to the whole tenor of Scripture, but also to our most fundamental conceptions of God.
THE CHURCH: ITS DISCIPLINE.
Discipline includes all those processes by which a church, as entrusted with the care of souls, educates its members for heaven ; such as their public and private instruction in the gospel, the maintenance of social meetings for their edification and comfort, and, in general, the cultivation of a spirit adapted to awaken and cherish the Christian life. In this lies the chief
power of a church. A pure and healthful tone of religious life in the body, an all-pervasive spirit of love and loyalty to Christ and the church, are the most effective means of securing a pure life in the individual members; for the church is then a spiritual magnet to draw and hold souls to Christ and to itself.
But discipline, in a narrower sense, denotes the action of the church, whether as individuals or as a body, in reference to offences committed against the laws of Christ, In this sense it includes:
I. THE MUTUAL WATCH-CARE OF THE MEMBERS BY EN: COURAGEMENT, COUNSEL, ADMONITION, AND REBUKE.
This is individual and private, and is a preventive of offences. Were this done, and done in the tender, loving, earnest spirit of religion, few instances of further discipline would be required. A true Christian watch-care, or mutual helpfulness in the members, is the highest development of church-life. David said: "Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my
head" (Ps. cxli. 5). And the gospel enjoins: "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such as are in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. vi. 1). "Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things, put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness" (Col. iii. 12-14). Wherever the church-life approximates to this grand ideal
the spiritual atmosphere is charged with such vitalizing forces that every soul within it is girt about with spiritual power, and is inspired to higher and holier living.
II. THE ADJUSTMENT OF PRIVATE PERSONAL GRIEVANCES. The following directions are here given by Christ: "If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between him and thee alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the
1 church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican” (Matt. xviii. 15–17). Here mark: 1. The aggrieved party, if the other does not, is to take the initiative in seeking an interview; the subject and the interview are to be strictly private; the object of it is, not altercation, but to gain an offending brother. 2. If this fails, and the offence is susceptible of proof, then one or two judicious fellow-members are to be chosen as witnesses and mediators, and the whole case is to be considered before them. 3. If this fails, the case, after due notification of the parties, is to be laid before the church, the proof adduced, and opportunity given for defence; and if the offence is proven, the offender is to be required to make reparation or be excluded.
Several further points are to be noted : 1. The aggrieved person has no discretion whether to take this course or bear the wrong. It is obligatory, and he becomes an offender if he fails to do so. For this law is imperative, and even the Mosaic law enjoined: “Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him” (Lev. xix. 17). 2. If in the private interview the offence is denied, and there are no witnesses of the offence, the
second step cannot be taken; for in that case the complaining party would become an offender, having published a charge which is without proof. In the absence of proof, he has no resource but in private admonition, and the patient committal of the matter to Providence. 3. If the one or two more" before whóm, in the second step, the case is laid regard the grievance as not real or as satisfactorily removed, the aggrieved party, though unsatisfied, cannot take the third step; for the offender has “heard them," and the accuser ought to be satisfied with the judgment of brethren selected by himself. 4. It is plain that if this great law of Christ were perfectly executed, there could be no personal feuds in the church; its simple provisions completely banish them, and wherever intestine strifes are found destroying the life of a church, they only attest the disastrous results of disregarding the words of the Head of the church. III. THE ADJUSTMENT OF DIFFERENCES AFFECTING WORLD
The Christian law, as given 1 Cor. vi. 1-11, enjoins that differences among members be not carried before worldly courts, but be referred to the judgment of judicious members of the church. It has been objected that this course was required in the midst of a heathen civilization, but cannot be regarded as obligatory in a Christian land, and under laws and courts formed by a Christian civilization. But the passage gives no intimation of the limitation of the rule to heathen countries; on the contrary, the reasons it assigns for the law are in their nature not transient and local, but permanent and universal. These are: 1. That Christians, who are ultimately to judge the world, and even angels, are better qualified to adjudicate these differences than worldly tribunals, and 2. That the appearance of members of the church as litigants before a worldly court is itself unseemly, and