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sources equally reliable, and do so collect them when we reason with unbelievers ; and 2. We do not, in this controversy, quote the Bible as an inspired volume, but simply as a historical document, and therefore not in that character in which the authority of the Church is necessary to authenticate it.
Nor, again, let it be said, that, since, in quoting the Bible to establish the point before us, we have only our private reason for interpreter, we are precluded by our own principles from quoting it at all ; for to be able from the Bible and private reason alone to deduce the faith which is the condition sine qua non of salvation is one thing ; to be able from the New Testament as a historical document to ascertain a simple matter of fact which it records is another and quite a different thing. Some things are clearly and expressly recorded in the Bible, and some are not. Those which are not clearly and expressly revealed are not to be infallibly ascertained without an infallible interpreter. But if we are to deduce our faith from the Bible alone, we must be able by private reason alone to ascertain these as well as the others ; for we are not to presume that Almighty God has revealed any thing superfluous, or not essential to the faith. That we can so ascertain all that is contained in the Bible we have denied, and still deny ; and so must every honest man who has ever seriously attempted the work of interpreting the Sacred Scriptures. But that there are some things in the Bible which may be infallibly ascertained, we have not denied, nor dreamed of denying. What is clearly and expressly taught in the Bible can be as easily and as infallibly ascertained as what is clearly and expressly taught in any other book; and if all in the book were clear and express, we should no more need any interpreter, but our own reason prudently exercised, than we should for a decree of a council or a brief of the Pope. It is the character of the book itself that renders the interpreter necessary; and the fact, that its character is such as demands an interpreter to make obvious its contents, is, to say the least, a strong presumption that Almighty God never intended it as the fountain from which we are to draw our faith by private reason alone. If he had so intended it, he would have made it so plain, so express, so definite, that no one, with ordinary prudence, could fail to catch its precise meaning. But admitting the obvious insufficiency of private reason to interpret the whole Bible, and deduce from it the faith we are required to have, we may still contend that by private reason alone we are able to determine even infallibly some of its contents. No objection can, then, be urged against our quoting it in the present controversy, especially since we shall quote only what is clear, distinct, and express, and what all must admit to be so.
In proof of our position, that Jesus Christ has appointed, commissioned, a body of teachers with authority to teach, we quote the well known passage in St. Matthew's Gospel, xxviii. 18, 19, 20, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, . . . . . teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days unto the consummation of the world ” ; also, St. Mark, xvi. 15, “Go ye into all the earth, and preach the Gospel unto every creature”; and, Eph. iv. 11, “And some indeed he gave to be apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and others pastors and teachers."
These are conclusive as to the fact that Jesus Christ did commission a body of teachers, or institute the Ecclesia docens. The commission is from one who had authority to give it, because from one unto whom was given all power in heaven and in earth ; it was a commission to teach, to teach all nations, to preach the Gospel to “every creature,” — equivalent, to say the least, to all nations and individuals, and to teach all things
whatsoever Jesus Christ himself commanded. The commission is obviously as full, as express, as unequivocal, as language can make it, and was given by our blessed Saviour after his resurrection, immediately before his ascension.
That this was not merely a commission to the Apostles personally is evident from the terms of the commission itself, and the promise with which it closes. It was the institution and commission of a body or corporation of teachers, which, beginning with the Apostles and continuing the identical body they were, must subsist unto the consummation of the world. For they who were commissioned were commanded to teach all nations and individuals, and in the order of succession as well as in the order of coexistence ; for such is the literal import of the terms. But this command the Apostles personally did not fulfil, for all nations and individuals, even using the term all to imply a moral and not a metaphysical universality, have not yet been taught ; they could not fulfil it, for during their personal lifetime all nations and individuals were not even in existence. Then one of three things ; - 1. The Apostles failed to fulfil the command of their Master ; 2. Our blessed Saviour gave an imprac
ticable command ; or, 3. The commission was not to the A postles in their personal character. We can say neither of the first two; therefore we must say the last.
But the commission was to the Apostles, and therefore the body of teachers must, in some way, be identical with them, as is evident from the command, “Go ye,” indisputably addressed to the Apostles themselves. But they can be identical with the Apostles in but two ways:- 1. Personally; 2. Corporately. They are not personally identical, for that would make them the Apostles themselves, as numerical individuals, which we have just seen they are not. Then they must be corporately identical. Then the commission was to a corporation of teachers. The commission gave ample authority to teach. Therefore Jesus Christ did commission a body of teachers with ample authority to teach, — and, since commissioned to teach all nations and individuals in the order of succession as well as of coexistence, a perpetual or always subsisting corporation. Thus the very letter of the commission sustains our position. The promise with which the commission closes does the
“ Behold I am with you all days unto the consummation of the world.” They to whom this promise was made, and with whom the Saviour was to be present, were identical with the Apostles, for he says to the Apostles, “I am with you. They were to be in time, that is, in this life ; for he says, I am with
you all days, - ndoas tas ñuégas, — which cannot apply to eternity, in which the divisions of time do not obtain. They were not the Apostles personally, because our blessed Saviour says again, “ I am with you all days unto the consummation of the world,” which is an event still in futuro, and the Apostles personally have long since ceased to exist as inhabitants of time. But they were identical with the Apostles, and, since not personally, they must be corporately identical. Therefore the promise was to be with the Apostles, as a body or corporation of teachers, all days even unto the consummation of the world. But Jesus Christ cannot be with a body that is not. Therefore the body must remain unto the consummation of the world. Therefore our blessed Saviour has instituted, appointed, commissioned, a body or corporation of teachers, identical with the Apostles, continuing their authority, and which must remain unto the consummation of the world.
The same is also established by the blessed Apostle Paul in the passage quoted from Ephesians, iv. 11, “ And he indeed gave some to be apostles, and some prophets, and some
evangelists, and others to be pastors and teachers,” taken in connexion with 1 Cor. xii. 28, “ And God indeed hath set some in the Church, first, apostles, secondly, prophets, thirdly, teachers; after that miracles, then the graces of healings, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches.” These texts, so far as we adduce them, clearly and distinctly assert that God has set in the Church, or congregation of believers, pastors and teachers as a perpetual ordinance. They prove more than this, for which at another time we may contend ; but they prove at least this, which is all we are contending for now. “God hath set,” “God gave to be.” These expressions prove the pastors and teachers to be of Divine appointment, and therefore that they are not created or-commissioned by the congregation itself. They are set in the Church, given to be, as a perpetual ordinance ; for the rule for understanding any passage of Scripture, sacred or profane, is to take it always in a universal sense, unless the assertion of the passage be necessarily restricted in its application by something in the nature of the subject, or in the context, some known fact, or some principle of reason or of faith. But obviously nothing of the kind can be adduced to restrict the sense of these passages either in regard to time or space. They are, therefore, to be taken in their plain, obvious, unlimited sense. Therefore the institution of pastors and teachers is not only Divine, but universal and perpetual in the Church.
We may obtain the same result from the end for which the pastors and teachers are appointed ; for the argumentum ad quem is not less conclusive than the argumentum a quo. If the end to be attained cannot be attained without assuming the authority and perpetuity of the body of pastors and teachers, we have a right to conclude to their authority and perpetuity; since they are appointed by God himself, who cannot fail to adapt bis means to his ends. For what end, then, has God instituted this body of pastors and teachers ? The Apostle answers, “For the perfection of the saints, for the work of the ministry, unto the edification of the body of Christ, till we all meet in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age
of the fulness of Christ ; that we may not now be children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, in. the wickedness of men, in craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive ; but, performing the truth in charity, we may in all things grow up in him who is the head, Christ.” Eph. iv. 12
This needs no comment. The end here proposed, for which the Christian ministry is instituted, is one which always and everywhere subsists, and must so long as the world remains. But this is an end which obviously cannot be secured but by an authoritative and perpetual body of teachers. Therefore the body of teachers is authoritative and perpetual. Therefore, God, or God in Jesus Christ, has appointed, commissioned, a body of teachers, the Ecclesia docens, as an authoritative and perpetual corporation, to subsist unto the consummation of the world.
We have now proved the first part of our proposition, namely, the fact of the institution and commission of the Ecclesia docens as an authoritative and perpetual corporation of teachers. Its authority is in the commission to teach ; its perpetuity, in the fact that it cannot discharge its commission without remaining to the consummation of the world, in the promise of Christ to be with it till then, which necessarily implies its existence unto the consummation of the world, and in the fact that the promise is to it as a corporation identical with the Apostles. The proof of this first part of our proposition necessarily proves the second, namely, the infallibility of the corporation. The Divine commission necessarily carries with it the infallibility of the commissioned to the full extent of the commission. It is on this fact that is grounded the evidence of miracles. Miracles do not prove the truth of the doctrine taught; they merely accredit the teacher, and this they do simply by proving that the teacher is Divinely commissioned. The fact to be established is the Divine commission. This once established, it makes no difference whether established immediately, by a miracle, or mediately, by the declaration of one already proved by miracles, as was our blessed Saviour, to speak by Divine authority. Jesus, it is conceded, spoke by Divine authority, even by those who, with the Examiner, deny his proper Divinity. Then a commission given by him was a Divine commission, and pledged Almighty God in like manner as if given by Almighty God himself directly. The teachers were, then, Divinely commissioned. Then in all matters covered by the commission they are infallible ; for God himself vouches for the truth of their testimony, and must take care that they testify the truth and nothing but the truth.
Moreover, the command to teach implies the obligation of obedience. The commission is a command to teach, and to teach all nations and individuals. Then all nations and indi