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that Christian ministers were ordained by a certain form, and that Christians assembled in prayer; but while the precise process of laying on of hands is mentioned in the former institution, no account is given of the precise method of church service, or even of any regular forms of prayer, beyond the Lord's Prayer. Even the record of the Ordination Service itself admits of the same distinction. It is quite as certain that, in it, some prayer was used, as that some outward form accompanied the prayer; but the form is specified, the prayer left unrecorded.

"What now is the obvious interpretation of the holy Dispenser's meaning in this mode of record? Clearly, it is, that the Apostles regulated, under His guidance, the forms and practices of the church, so as was best calculated to convey grace to the church at that time. Nevertheless, part of its institutions were of a nature, which, although formal, would never require a change; and these therefore were left recorded in the Scriptures, to mark this distinction of character. The others were not, indeed, to be capriciously abandoned, nor except when there should be manifest cause for so doing; but, as such a case

was supposable, these were left to mingle with the uninspired precedents; the claims of which, as precedents, would be increased by this uncertain admixture, and the authority of the whole rendered so far binding, and so far subject to the discretion of the church. They might not be altered, unless sufficient grounds should appear; but the settling of this point was left to the discretion of the church."i

§ 7. The Apostles themselves, however, and their numerous fellow-labourers, would not, I think, have been, if left to themselves, so farsighted as to perceive (all, and each of them, without a single exception) the expediency of this procedure. Most likely, many of them, but according to all human probability, some of them, would have left us, as parts of Scripture, compositions such as I have been speaking of; and these, there can be no doubt, would have been scrupulously retained for ever. They would have left us Catechisms, which would have been like precise directions for the cultivation of some

i Hinds's History, vol. ii. p. 113–115.

plant, admirably adapted to a particular soil and climate, but inapplicable in those of a contrary description: their Symbols would have stood like ancient sea-walls, built to repel the encroachments of the waves, and still scrupulously kept in repair, when perhaps the sea had retired from them many miles, and was encroaching on some different part of the coast.

There are multitudes, even as it is, who do not, even now, perceive the expediency of the omission; there are not a few who even complain of it as a defect, or even make it a ground of objection. That in that day, the reasons for the procedure actually adopted, should have occurred, and occurred to all the first Christians, supposing them mere unassisted men, and men too brought up in Judaism, is utterly incredible.

But besides the reason I have now been speaking of, there is another, perhaps not less important, against the providing in Scripture of a regular systematic statement of Christian doctrines. Supposing such a summary of Gospeltruths had been drawn up, and could have been contrived with such exquisite skill as to be sufficient and well-adapted for all, of every age and country,

what would have been the probable result? It would have commanded the unhesitating assent of all Christians, who would, with deep veneration, have stored up the very words of it in their memory, without any need of laboriously searching the rest of the Scriptures, to ascertain its agreement with them; which is what we do (at least are evidently called on to do) with a human exposition of the faith; and the absence of this labour, together with the tranquil security as to the correctness of their belief which would have been thus generated, would have ended in a careless and contented apathy. There would have been no room for doubt,-no call for vigilant attention in the investigation of truth,-none of that effort of mind which is now requisite, in comparing one passage with another, and collecting instruction from the scattered, oblique, and incidental references to various doctrines in the existing Scriptures; and, in consequence, none of that excitement of the best feelings, and that improvement of the heart, which are the natural, and doubtless the designed result of an humble, diligent, and sincere study of the Chris tian Scriptures.

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In fact, all study, properly so called, of the rest of Scripture, all lively interest in its perusal,would have been nearly superseded by such an inspired compendium of doctrine; to which alone, as far the most convenient for that purpose, habitual reference would have been made in any questions that might arise. Both would have been regarded, indeed, as of divine authority; but the Compendium, as the fused and purified metal : the other, as the mine containing the crude ore. And the Compendium itself, being not, like the existing Scriptures, that from which the faith is to be learned, but the very thing to be learned, would have come to be regarded by most with an indolent, unthinking veneration, which would have exercised little or no influence on the character. Their orthodoxy would have been, as it were, petrified, like the bodies of those animals we read of incrusted in the ice of the polar regions; firm-fixed, indeed, and preserved unchangeable, but, cold, motionless, lifeless. It is only when our energies are roused, and our faculties exercised, and our attention kept awake, by an ardent pursuit of truth, and anxious watchfulness against error,-when, in short, we feel ourselves

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