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• OPINIONS RESPECTING CHURCH GOVERNMENT, AND THE
ADMINISTRATION OF CEREMONIES. « THE extent of Christianity in the world, or all those several kingdoms and countries where the Christian religion is professed and embraced (says Mr. Martin in his Philological Library) are, taken together, called Christendom; and this consists of many (some more general, some more particular, &c.) different religious societies, which are called churches. A Christian church is a society or congregation of men and women, who are called out from the vicious world by the preaching of the gospel, and are regulated in all the parts of their ritual discipline and articles of faith by the plain rules and prescriptions of the New Testament, and whose lives are correspondent to their holy professions. The ministers of the Christian Church, in its primitive state, were extraordinary or ordinary. The Extraordinary were chiefly three: 1. Apostles, who were delegated by Christ with power and commission to preach the gospel, and work. miracles in confirmation thereof, among all nations. 2. Prophets, who were not such as simply foretold things, but those to whom God was pleased to reveal his mure secret counsels and designs, and who related and preached the same to men,
3. Evangelists, such as were assistants to the apostles in preaching the gospel, and were endued with many extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit, as of languages and interpretations, &c. But since the establishment of Christianity in the world, these extraordinary offices have ceased. The ordinary ministers of the Christian church are principally three : 1. A Bishop, who had the oversight of the flock or church of Christ; to him pertained the preaching of the word, and due regulation of the church in faith and manners. And this rule and precedence of the bishop is called Episcopacy. 2. Presbyters or Elders, or Priests; these were such as preached the word, and administered the sacraments, and perforined all the other sacred functions of the ministry, under the inspection of the bishop. But it is a controversy, whether the scripture doth not intend the same person or officer by the appellations Bishop and Presbyter. The power of the Presbyter is called Presbytery. 3. Deacons ; these were such as officiate in that part of the Christian ministry which related to the poor; and their business was to take the collections of money made in the church, and to distribute it to the necessities of the poor, and other sacred uses: and their office, properly speaking, is called the Ministry or Deaconship.. These offi eers are perpetual in the Christian church."-Af
ter this introductory explanation of the Christian church, I proceed to the Opinions respecting Church government and the administration of Cee. remonies.
PAPISTS. THE Papists are so denominated from their leading tenet--the infallibility and supremacy of the Pope (in the Latin, Papa, signifying father,) which they strenuously maintain. By the infallibility of the Pope, is understood, that the Pope cannot err in ecclesiastical matters; and by his supremacy is meant his authority over all the churches, and sometimes over all the princes of the earth. This enormous power has been for some time diminishing, and the Roman Catholics at present are divided on the subject. Some allow the Pope's infallibility and supremacy in their full extent; others acknowledge them in part; and a third wholly reject them. The late Father O'Leary's Tracts also may be consulted, who had a dispute on Popery with John Wesley. They also profess to believe, 1. In seven sacraments-baptism, confirmation, the eucharist, penance, extreme unction, or the anointing the sick in the prospect of death, orders, and matrimony. With respect to the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper, they hold the doctrine of transub
stantiation, or that the bread and wine are change ed into the body and blood of Christ; the paying divine worship to the host, or consecrated wafer, and the allowing communion only in one kind, viz. bread to the laity. 2. In works of supererogation, as that the good works of saints are meritorious enough to supply the deficiency of others. 3. In the celibacy, or single life of the clergy. 4. In the use of images and sacred relics. The charge of worshipping Images has been brought against them, and though it may prevail among the lower classes, yet the more intelligent disown every thing of the kind. And, 5. In the celebration of divine service in an unknown tongue. Many, however, of the adherents to Popery, in the present day, reject some of the above tenets : and more especially renouncing the supremacy of the Pope, distinguish themselves by the name of Catholics, and sometimes of Catholic Dissenters. The public cations of the late Dr. Geddes, on this subject, are worthy of attention. He was a liberal and learned priest among this class of the Roman Catholics, and was for several years engaged in a .. translation of the Bible under the patronage of Lord Petre. Among the Roman Catholics there are to be found several monastic orders, such as the Augustines, the Benedictines, the Carmelites, the Dominicans, the Franciscans, &c. and also a
variety of sects, such as the Jesuits, the Jansenits, thè Molinists, and others, some of whom were sects of celebrity. The ingenious Pascal, in his Provincial Letters, aimed an effective blow at the order of the Jesuits, and it was abolished in France in 1762,, on the supposition that they adopted practices inimical to the welfare of their country.
In the council of Trent, héld. 1549, the tenets of the Papists were reduced into one compact standard, and the summary of Popery, exbibited in Pope Pius's creed, contains the substance of the decrees and canons of this council. The creed is divided into tweniy-four articles. The first twelve are expressed in the words of the creed called the Nicene ; and the remaining twelve are new articles, truly Romish. See Burrough's View of Popery, taken from the Creed of Pope Pius VI. 1735. Father Paul, of Venice, has immortalized himself by a history of the eouncil of Trent; and, though himself a Papist, yet he has exposed with freedom the intrigues by. which this council was conducted. Bellarmine, an acute Jesuit, and Bossuet, the bishop of Meaux, are the two most celebrated defenders of Popery. They had also amongst them several eloquent preachers; and the sermons of Massilon, Bourdaloue, and Flechier, are esteemed models of pulpit eloquence. In this country