« PreviousContinue »
A Diftination of Orders in tbe Church defended upon Principles
of Public Utility,
S. E R
PREACHED IN THE
CASTLE-CH A P E L, DUBLIN,
AT THE CONSECRATION OF
LORD BISHOP OF CLONFERT AND KILMACDUAGH,
SEPTEMBER 21, 1782.
By WILLIAM PALE Y, A. M.
ARCHDEACON OF CARLISLE.
SE RM O N, &c.
EPHESIANS, IV. 11, 12.
AND HE GAVE SOME, APOSTLES; AND SOME, PROPHETS;
AND SOME, EVANGELISTS; AND SOME, PASTORS AND
N our reasoning and discourses upon the rules and nature of the Christian dispensation, there is no diftinction which ought to be preserved with greater care, than that, which exists between the institution, as it addrėsses the conscience and regulates the duty of particular Christians, and as it regards the discipline and government of the Christian church. It was our Saviour's design and the first object of his ministry, to afford to a loft and ignorant world such discoveries of their Creator's will, of their own interest, and future destination, such assured principles of faith, and rules of practice; such new motives, terms, and means of obedience, as might enable all, and engage many, to enter upon a course of life, which by rendering the person who
pursued it acceptable to God, would conduct him to happiness, in another stage of his existence.
It was a second intention of the founder of Christianity, but subservient to the former, to associate those who consented to take upon them the profession of his faith and service, into a separate community, for the purpose of united worship and mutual edification, for the better transmission and manifestation of the faith that was delivered to them, but principally, to promote the exercise of that fraternal disposition which their new relation to each other, which the visible participation of the same name and hope and calling, was calculated to excite.
From a view of these distinct parts of the evangelic dispensation, we are led to place a real difference, between the religion of particular Christians, and the polity of Christ's church. The one is personal and individual—acknowledges no fubje&tion to human authority-is transacted in the heart is an account between God and our own consciences alone : the other, appertaining to society (like every thing which relates to the joint interest and requires the co-operation of many persons) is visible and external-prescribes rules of common order, for the observation of which, we are responsible not only to God, but to the society of which we are members, or 'what is the same thing, to those with whom the publie authority of the society is deposited,
But the difference which I am principally concerned to establifh consists in this, that whilft the precepts of Christian morality and the fundamental articles of its faith are, for
" As my
the most part, precise and absolute, are of perpetual, universal, and unalterable obligation ; the laws which respect the discipline, instruction, and government of the community, are delivered in terms so general and indefinite as to admit of an application adapted to the mutable condition and varying exigencies of the Christian church. Father hath sent me, so send I you.” “ Let every thing be done decently and in order.” Lay hands suddenly on
« Let him that ruleth do it with diligence.” “ The things which thou hast heard of me, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” " For this cause left I thee that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city.”
These are all general directions, supposing indeed the existence of a regular ministry in the church, but describing no specific order of pre-eminence or distribution of office and authority. If any other instances can be adduced more circumstantial than these, they will be found like the appointment of the seven deacons, the collections for the saints, the laying by in store upon the first day of the week, to be rules of the society rather than laws of the religion -recommendations and expedients fitted to the state of the feveral churches by those who then administered the affairs of them, rather than precepts delivered with a solemn design of fixing a constitution for succeeding ages. The just ends of religious as of civil union are eternally the same; but the means, by which these ends may be best promoted and secured, will vary with the vicissitudes of time and occasion, will differ according to the local circumstances, the peculiar