Page images

privileges can be our sufficient fence, what foundation can we lay sufficiently firm for our dependance, when the miracles, sermons, favours, and familiar converse of Christ Himself, could not secure one of His Apostles from so fatal an apostacy?

A vacancy being thus made in the college of Apostles, the first thing that they did after their return from mount Olivet, where our Lord took His leave of them, to St. John's house in mount Sion (where, if we may believe Nicephorus, the church met together) was to fill up their number. With a view thereto St. Peter 'acquainted them, that Judas, according to the prophetical prediction, being fallen from his ministry, it was necessary that another person should be chosen in his room; one that had been a constant companion and disciple of the holy Jesus, and who was consequently capable of bearing witness of His life, death, and resurrection. Two persons were propounded for a choice,--Joseph, called Barsabas and Justus (whom some consider to be the same with Joses, one of our Lord's brothers) and Matthias; both of whom were duly qualified for the place. The way of election adopted, was by lot, a mode frequently used both among the Jews and Gentiles for the determination of doubtful and difficult cases, and especially the choice of judges and magistrates." And this method the Apostles the rather took, because the Holy Ghost was not yet given, by. whose immediate dictates and inspiration they were afterwards chiefly guided. That the business might proceed with the greater regularity and success, they first solemnly addressed themselves to heaven, imploring that the Omniscient Being, who

[ocr errors]

governs the world, and perfectly understands the dispozitions and tempers of men, would immediately guide and direct the choice, and shew which of these two He would appoint to take, that part of the Apostolic charge from which Judas was so lately fallen. * The lots being cast into the urn, the name of Matthias was drawn out, and thereby the Apostolate devolved on him.

Not long after this, the promised powers of the Holy Ghost were conferred on the Apostles, to fit them for that great and difficult employment on which they were sent; and, among the rest, St. Matthias betook himself to his charge and province. The first period of his ministry he spent in Judea; and having reaped a considerable harvest there, he departed to other provinces. His chief residence appears to have been in Cappadocia, near the irruption of the river Apsarus, and the haven Hyssus, both places in Cappadocia. The people of this country were very barbarous, and our Apostle

* Mr. Nelson has well observed, that his solemn proceJure of the Apostles “ may serve as a direction to all those, that are candidates for holy orders, seriously to examine theinselves, whether they are moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon them that office and ministration; for though they may impose upon man, yet God seeth their hearts, and all those various motives by which they are influenced in so great a concern. This precedent” (our author 'adds) " is also serviceable to the governors of the church; who, after all their care to admit persons duly qualified, must beg God Almighty's guidance and direction, that they may wisely make choice of fit labourers to work in His vineyard.” He also exhorts “patrons of churches to use their best diligence in providing persons duly qualified for "the great trust they commit to them; and not to suffer any worldly consideration to bias them in a choice, of which they must one day give a strict account."

was accordingly treated with great inhumanity. For after various labours and sufferings, and a numerous collection of converts to Christianity, be at length obtained among them the crown of martyrdom, as some say A. D. LXI, or as others LXIV. There is no certainty respecting the manner of his death. An antient martyrology reports that he was seized by the Jews, and first stoned as a blasphemer, and then beheaded. But the Greek offices, and several antient Breviaries, tell us that he was crucified.

On the adoption of St. Matthias into the vacated place of the traitor Judas, as recorded in the introductory part of our collect, its petitionary part is founded. Therein we beseech God to “grant that His church, being always.

preserved from false Apostles, may be or“ dered and guided by faithful and true pastors,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This petition deprecates an evil to which the church is exposed, and implores a blessing which is essential to its prosperity.

The evil deprecated is the admission of "false

Apostles” to its government and guidance. And surely if, when our Lord Himself, by His personal presence, presided in His church, when the college of the Apostles consisted but of twelve persons, when no temporal emoluments were annexed to the ministerial office, but, on the contrary, shame and persecution were its constant attendants-if, under these circumstances, one of the twelve was a devil, influenced by the spirit of darkness and an imitator of his example, there must now be a very urgent necessity of praying, since the circumstances of the church are so greatly altered, for its preservation by its almighty King from false

Apostles. For the bodily presence of Christ is withdrawn; the number of officers in His church is increased with its wide extension in an incalculable degree; temporal emoluments and honours are annexed to the ministerial office; and the spirit of persecution which, directed more particularly against the leaders of the holy flock, tended in the early ages to preserve the fold from the intrusion of wolves in sheep's clothing, is now in many places almost extinct; or, at least, manifested not against the office, but only against fidelity in the execution of it. Under these circumstances how needful is the prayer that the church may be preserved from false Apostles!

But what persons may be considered as false Apostles in the church of God?* Surely all such persons as declare their “trust that they are in“ wardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon " them the sacred office and administration, to “serve God for the promoting of His glory and " the edifying His people,”+ when they are unconscious of any other motives than what are wholly of a secular nature—unless indeed they have, since their ordination, been awakened to a due sense of their past hypocrisy, and have re newed their vows to God and His church by selfdedication to the work of the ministry. All those are false Apostles, who having solemnly promised, “ the Lord being their helper, to be diligent in

prayers, and in reading of the Holy Scriptures,

* It is evident that our collect relates not to the outward call, but to inward qualification. For though, to constitute a true minister, the former must be legitimate as well as the latter, the want of the former can have no reference to Judas, who was called to the Apostolate by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

of Ordination of Deacons.

“ and in such studies as help to the knowledge of “ the same, laying aside the study of the world “ and the flesh;'* and yet are devoted in heart and life to the world and the flesh, seeking only the advantages of the former and the gratification of the latter. “False Apostles” are all those who, being unconverted, ignorant, and careless, have entered into holy orders with false professions on their lips, and with worldly motives in their hearts, and who are not influenced with fervent zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of their fellow-sinners, who spend their time and employ their talents in the pursuit of sublunary objects, regardless of their own solemn vows and the tremendous account which they must one day give. Our deprecation extends not only to those persons who are vicious and immoral, but also to all those who are not imitators of the spirit and conduct of the true Apostles of Jesus.

But why do we so earnestly deprecate the intrusion of false Apostles into the church of Christ? What injury can arise to the church from them? The greatest; for their propagation of erroneous doctrine and exhibition of a vicious practice tend directly to the depravation and ruin of the church, whose welfare is closely connected with the character and conduct of her clergy. For Godliness is not connatural to the human mind, so that without instruction, and notwithstanding the malign influence of contagious example in those to whom it is directed to look up, it will maintain its own ground; but it is a plant that requires the aid of all those advantages which God hath appointed in His church, in order that it may thrive and flourish.

Ordination of Priesto:

« PreviousContinue »