Billeder på siden

seventy Disciples appears to have been of a temporary nature, to prepare for their Lord's reception in “every city or place,” which he was to bless with his presence. After his resurrection from the dead, he enlarged the Commission given to his Apostles, extending the object of it to the conversion of “all nations,” making them his Disciples, and bringing thein under his tuition, and discipline, by baptizing them after the form, and order of his appointment. Hence it is evident, that as long as there are nations, or people upon earth, to be thus converted, disciplined, and baptized, so long must there be persons duly authorised for that purpose; and whose authority can flow down in no other channel than that which leads up to the only source from which it can be derived the command issued by Him, to whom all power was given, both in heaven, and on earth ; and who, after deciaring himself invested with this universal sovereignty, immediately added, as a consequence of it, this extensive Commission to his Apostles" Go ye therefore, make Disciples to me of all ” nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the “ Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and teaching them to observe all “ things whatsoever I have commanded you : and, lo! I am with you always”-in the act of handing down this commission-"even “ unto the end of the world.”

This is the fundamental charter, by which the Church of Christ holds its continuance in the world; and will do so as long as the world itself continues. The preservation of its spiritual powers in the way of Episcopal succession, has ever marked the "continuance” of Christians, after the example of the early converts, “ in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship;" and from the constant attention shewn to this ecclesiastical arrangement in the Apostolic age, we may justly infer, that it was then considered as one of those things, which our Lord's Apostles were commanded to teach the nations, to “ observe,” to watch over, and preserve in its pure and original


form. Such is the form, in which has been regularly handed down the ecclesiastical authority of the Episcopal Church in Scotland; a Church in itself completely constituted and organized, in respect of spiritual power, and sacred ministration, by its own Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. In this character, being in full communion with the United Church of England and Ireland, and adopting, as the standard of her faith, the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, as received in that Church, she humbly claims the authority which the ThirtyFourth of those Articles concedes to “every particular, or national “ Church, to ordain, change, or abolish ceremonies, or rites of the “ Church, ordained only by man's authority, so that all things be “ done to edifying.”

The Doctrine of the Church, as founded on the authority of Scripture, being fixt, and immutable, ought to be uniformly received, and adhered to, at all times, and in all places. The same is to be said of its Government, in all those essential parts of its constitution, which were prescribed by its adorable Head. But in the Discipline, which may be adopted for furthering the purposes of ecclesiastical Go. vernment, regulating the solemnities of public Worship, as to time, place, and form, and restraining and rectifying the evils occasioned by human depravity, this character of immutability is not to be looked for. The Discipline of the Church is to be determined by Christian wisdom, prudence, and charity; and when any particular Church has drawn up a body of Canons for its own use, regard has always been had to its peculiar situation at the time when its Discipline was thus regulated. In one country, a pure Apostolic Church is found to be legally established, amply endowed, and closely incorporated with the State ; while in another, forming a part of the same Empire, it is only tolerated by the State ; and as to all matters of spiritual concern, derives no support from the civil Government.


Such is precisely the difference of situation between the Established Church of England and Ireland, and the unestablished, the merely tolerated Episcopal Church in Scotland. In things of a pure, ecclesiastical nature, embracing the Doctrine, and Government of the Church, the Faith peculiar to Christianity, and the mode of transmitting an Apostolic Episcopacy–in these respects the reformed Episcopal Church is the same in every part of the British Empire. That system of religious faith, and ecclesiastical order, by which it is distinguished in every district of England and Ireland, is also its mark of distinction to the remotest corner of Scotland : and although, in this country, it is wholly unconnected with the State, in the exercise of its spiritual authority, yet does it still depend, under God, on the civil power for peace, and protection, in the enjoyment of all its rights and privileges, as a Society purely spiritual, and constituted for the purpose of affording means of grace and salvation to the members of Christ's mystical Body.

Viewing it in this light, the Clergy of the Episcopal Church in Scotland declare, in the most sincere, and unequivocal manner, that the ecclesiastical Commission handed down to them, bas no relation to such secular powers and privileges as are peculiar to a national Establishment, nor does it in the least interfere with the Rights of the Temporal State, or the jurisdiction of the Supreme Civil Magistrate. On the contrary, the Clergy of this Church, of every rank and order, feel no hesitation in asserting, and maintaining, that the King's Majesty, to whom they sincerely promise to bear true allegiance, is the only “ Supreme Governor within his “ Dominions, whose prerogative it is, to rule all Estates and Degrees committed to his charge by God; and to restrain, with the “ civil sword, the stubborn and evil Doers,” of every denomination, Clergymen as well as Laymen. They farther declare, that “ no " foreign Prince, Person, Prelate, State or Potentate, hath, or

“ ought

“ ought to have, any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm ; and they do, from their hearts, abhor, detest, and abjure, as impious, and " heretical, that damnable doctrine, and position, that Princes ex“ communicated, or deprived by the Pope, or any authority of the “ See of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or “ any other whatsoever."

Such are the solemn acknowledgements of the King's Sovereignty required from Candidates for Holy Orders in the United Church of England and Ireland. A similar obligation, as extended to all ecclesiastical persons, was enforced in a Code of Canons intended for the Established Church of Scotland in the reign of Charles the First. But the attempt to introduce a proper system of Discipline, conjoined to the uniform use of a Liturgy, was completely frustraíve by the events of that disastrous period; and the troublesome state of affairs in the two succeeding reigns, was equally unfavourable to the establishment of order, and unity in the Church. The Revolution in 1688, set aside the legally established Episcopacy of Scotland ; and for several years after the shock which our Church received by the termination of that national struggle, the Bishops had enough to do in keeping up a pure Episcopal succession, till it should be seen what, in the course of Providence, might be farther effected towards the preservation, though not of an established, yet of a purely primitive Episcopal Church, in this part of the kingdom. For this purpose, a few Canons were drawn up, and sanctioned by the Bishops in the year 1743, which, though very well calculated to answer the purposes intended by them, while the Church was under legal restraint, and threatened with persecution, have yet left room for considerable enlargement; and require to have embodied with them, or added to them, several Regulations suited to the now hap. pily tolerated, and protected state of the Episcopal Church in this country.


In accomplishing this good Work some aid might be expected from the Canons appointed for the Church of England in the year 1603, for the Church of Ireland in 1634, and for the Church of Scotland, as published in 1636. For the purpose of collecting from these, and other sources, a System of Ecclesiastical Discipline proper for the Church under their Episcopal charge, the Protestant Bishops in Scotland, having come to the resolution of holding a General Ecclesiastical Synod ; and being duly convocated by their PRIMUS, did accordingly meet at Aberdeen, on Wednesday the 19th day of June, in the year of our Lord 1811, together with the Deans of their several Districts, and another Representative of the Clergy from each District containing more than four Presbyters ; and did then and there, after solemn Prayer, form themselves into a Syned of the whole Church thus represented; and, after full deliberation, and discussion, ADOPT, and SANCTION the following Code of Canons, to be in future the stated Regulations for preserva ing Order and Discipline in the Episcopal Church in Scotland.


« ForrigeFortsæt »