Imatges de pàgina


The late Mrs ELIZABETH WATSON, wife of Benjamin M. Watson, Esqr. was the eldest Daughter of the late Chief Justice Parsons.

The bodily indisposition and consequent sufferings, which this Lady for several years experienced, deprived many of her friends of the pleasure and advantage of her society. To the best natural powers of mind, she added the graces of moral and christian worth. Her patient spirit and fortitude, with her other exalted virtues, were called for, and rendered her in a great degree superior to corporeal suffering. No repining escaped her lips; no despondency or discontent was ever permitted to obscure the bright intelligence within. Disinterestedness, benevolence, and good will always lighted up her countenance, at the good report of others. Her whole de eanor accorded with good sense and good feelings. Her generousconcern for those in sickness and distress, bore testimony to an excellent Christian frame of mind. These qualities were happily overruled as means to assuage her own sufferings; while, at the same time, she confided in that kind Providence which balances all trials to our proportioned strength.' Such trust, accompanied with such firmness of mind, carried her triumphant on the journey of life to its end. No pains or distresses could subdue a firmness and faith, resulting from so well grounded principles. Much of this happy temperament sprang from the best early education and parental example; yet more than all depended on self-discipline. Her gentleness and charities were not confined to her own immediate connexions; for out of her liberal mind she had always something to spare for others. She was frank, communicative, discreet, and courteous; her whole life wore a mild and gentle aspect. She was distinguished for cheerfulness and serenity,—with few exceptions only, which generous grief occasioned by the loss of those more dear to her than life. Such trials of character and mind so blended, shed a lustre over the brightness of female excellence, and should not be permitted to pass us uuheeded. The influence of such principles and virtues, diffused over her whole character a charm, and enabled her to triumph in the hour of death, and to leave behind the most endearing memorial. One so justly honored and esteemed, could have no enmities to forget, no enemies to forgive. We have the fullest confidence that her abode is with the spirits of the just made perfect.

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Who are ministers in the Church of Christ? In order to determine this we must know what the term minister means. Every one is aware that it is derived from a word which in the original signifies servant. The first preachers of the gospel were denominated ministers, and then the word was understood in its literal sense that of servant. Now in many parts of Christendom the high rank and wealth of the ministers of the church lead the mind to associate any other idea with the name and office, rather than that of serving. But at first it was adopted as descriptive of a class of persons whose office consisted in literally serving, or ministering to the wants of the people. According,

therefore, to the New Testament, a minister is one who serves, not rules the people. He is one chosen by the people to do whatever offices of a religious nature they may wish to be performed for them.

The disciples of our Lord were the first ministers of the church. Because they were sent out to preach the gospel of the kingdom and heal diseases, they were also called apostles. But their true office was that of minister, or servant. Theirs was not a place of power or authority of any kind, save that which flowed from character, their power of working miracles, and their connexion with Jesus. Their duty was not ruling but serving, their place, one not of rest but of labor, not of ease or luxury, but of anxious unremitting toil and daily care of the churches.

Neither was there difference of rank or power among them, other than that unavoidable difference which talent will always create. There were no differences in the primitive church, corresponding to those which afterwards arose.

As the property of the early christians was for a period common, as there were poor persons of whom they took the charge, those were appointed whose duty it was to attend to these things, and they were termed deacons, or servants. To the care of particular churches, or collections of christians, the elder persons, or those most distinguished for their excellence and wisdom were appointed. These were called presbyters or elders, bishops or overseersthe words all being used in the New Testament to stand for the same office—the general one of minister or servant. I do not pretend in such narrow limits to go into the whole of the argument; but that the titles presbyter or elder, bishop or overseer, are the same, will sufficiently appear from the use of the term, in a few instances by the apostles. In Paul's Epistle to Titus we read, "for this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldst ordain presbyters in every city; for a bishop must be blameless. Here the latter word is used as precisely synonymous with the first. Paul called the presbyters of the church at Ephesus together, and charged them to take heed to the flocks over which the Holy Ghost had made them bishops. They were, therefore, bishops and presbyters both ; i. e., they were the same. So in Peter's first epistle, "The presbyters among you I exhort, who am also a presbyter ; feed the church of God among you, performing the office of bishops.' Nothing can be plainer than that these offices in the early church were the same; and though the point has been sharply contested for ages, still the more respectable portion of the advocates of Episcopacy confess, that distinction of orders in the church, is founded, not upon scripture, but simply upon expediency. A declaration of the duty of bishops, signed by thirteen of the English bishops, says, "The truth is, that in the New Testament there is no mention of any degree or distinctions of orders, but only of deacons or ministers, priests or bishops.' Another instrument entitled the institution of a Christian man,' subscribed by the English clergy in convocation, and confirmed by parliament, owns bishops and presbyters in the scriptures to be the same persons, and says, that the main ground of settling episcopal government in this realm was not any pretence of divine right, but the convenience of that

form of church government to the state and condition of the church at the time of the reformation. These are opinions which are honorable to those who uttered them, and are such as the plainness and force of the argument, for the identity of presbyter and bishop, should draw from all the advocates of episcopacy, which, in the judgment of any fair dispassionate mind, can never be allowed any other foundation than that of expediency and a human institution.

Such, then, were the ministers of the primitive church. In what way, we next inquire, were they constituted such?

They were first elected, then ordained. In the first chapter of Acts, we have the first example of filling an office in the christian church. It was the simple, natural way, when all held themselves as brethren, owning no master but Christ. They cast lots, or voted. “And they gave forth their lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered among the apostles.' And so afterwards when the seven deacons were appointed, the people chose them and brought them to the apostles, that they should pray over them, laying upon them their hands. These are remarkable cases to show what the practice of the church was at first, and what in all probability the inspired apostles designed it should be in after ages. If it would ever be right, that the power of one or of a few should be sufficient to appoint to the offices in the church, it surely would have been so in the case of the apostles, and they would not have hesitated to exercise the power. But so far from this, they had but an equal voice with the rest. In the election of the

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