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THE CONGREGATIONAL MAGAZINE.

JANUARY, 1837.

ON

THE AUTHORITY OF MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL:

AS ESSAY, READ TO A FRIENDLY ASSOCIATION OF MINISTERS,

AND IXSERTED AT THEIR REQUEST.

As every office is appointed with a view to duties that are to be discharged, so it must be invested with authority adequate to the responsibility and obligations it imposes. In an office, therefore, such as the ministry of the gospel, which involves duties and responsibilities so awful, there must reside proportionate and sufficient authority; and it must be, equally to christian ministers and their people, a point of great interest and moment to ascertain the nature, extent, and legitimate exercise of that authority. For an enlightened and faithful minister can desire to know and sustain his authority only in order to his own fidelity, the honour of his Master, and the good of his charge; while a people duly impressed with a sense of the divine, supreme authority of the Great Master, will be desirous to honour every delegation of it, as expressed in his word, or confided to his ministers. And as it is certain no human society, whether organized for civil or sacred purposes, can prosper, in which the authority of the rulers and the privileges of the people are not mutually respected ; in the church of Christ it is of the highest moment that the ministers encroach not on the rights of the people, nor the people on the jurisdiction of the ministers.

The original source or fountain of the authority, be it what it may, with which christian ministers are invested, must be the will and appointment of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only sovereign head and Lord of the Church, which is his by a most divine and perfect right, as redeemed by his blood, and as given into his hand by his heavenly Father. He is sole, supreme, and absolute king in Zion. And it is a presumptuous and intolerable usurpation, when any human power dares to arrogate to itself, and to confer on others, of its own authority, any office, title, or authority in his church, not expressly appointed by him. And this sole and immediate derivation from Christ, of ministerial office and authority in the christian

Vol. I. N. S.-Vol. XX.

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