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tles ;-and further, observe that the supply of ministers was so small, that a murmuring arose among the Grecians, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministrations; yet, notwithstanding the apparent exigency of the case, the faithful, among whom were many persons full of the Holy Ghost, did not venture to take upon themselves even the lowest office in the christian church without a lawful appointment and- ordination. And they acknowledged the twelve apostles as the only persons invested with authority to ordain, by virtue of the mission given to them by Christ. And if holy and inspired men did not venture to assume any office, without a lawful ordination by authorised persons, how great must be the presumption and sin of modern uninspired men, to thrust themselves into the ministry without a legitimate appointment!-and if any might have urged an inward call, it was they who were full of the Holy Ghost,
But the apostles not only possessed superiority in ordination, they also had it in jurisdiction. Our Lord said to them, “ As my Father sent me, eren so send I you.” This was not -said to the presbyters, for they had no commission at all given to them, but the first, to preach repentance, which was temporary, and expired before the crucifixion. It is evident, then, that there was no parity, no equality, between the
apostles and seventy disciples and deacons, but that the apostolic office was decidedly pre-eminent over the otbers. Nor was this pre-eminence confined to the divine appointed apostles, it extended to the chief priests of every apostolic church. The same had Timothy at Ephesus, and Titus at Crete, and so it is expressly affirmed by the Spirit to St. John in the book of Revelations, in the case of the seven angels of the seven Asiatic churches. These churches had flourished for many years, (for it was in the year 96 that the apostle had the vision,) and were composed of numerous members and congregations. The prophetic warnings were addressed to one individual called the angel of the church. " This mode of phraseology,” says the present bishop of Glasgow, the learned Dr. Russell, “is borrowed from the usages of the Jewish synagogue, where the person who presided in divine worship, usually called the ruler of the synagogue, was not unfrequently denominated the angel of the congregation. He had also under him two classes of ministers, corresponding to the priest and deacon of the christian assemblies.” “ The seven stars, says the spirit, are the angels of the churches ; and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest, are the seven churches. Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write these things, saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who
walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them that are evil, and thou has tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars, and hast borne, and had patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not faiuted; nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place except thou repent; but this thou hast, thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
He writeth not to the presbytery, but to one person who presided over and governed the church of Ephesus; and, moreover, he is called a star in Christ's right hand, but he could not be one of the twelve apostles, for St. John was the last survivor of them; he must therefore have been one who held an apostolic office, a bishop, as a successot of an apostle is now called, and his office was of divine institution. Then it is evident, that though the Epistles were intended for the edification and confirmation of the whole churches, or people of the diocese, with an "Hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches,” yet the personal direction was not to the whole church, for the church is called the candlestick, and the superscription of the epistle is not to the seven candlesticks, but to the seven stars which are the angels of the seven churches; namely, the lights shining in the candlesticks. By the angel, therefore, is not, cannot be meant the whole church, neither can it mean a body of inferior ministers, had this been intended, then the superscription would have been to the presbytery of the church of Ephesus. It is plain, then, that by the angel is meant the governor of the church, i. e. the messenger, the apostle, one who held supreme spiritual and ecclesiastical authority, one who tried them who said they were apostles and were not, and had found them liars.
Had parity existed
among the pastors of the church of Ephesus, then they, and not one man would have been the persons to try those false apostles. There is something so peculiarly striking in all that is related of the seven churches, and of the angels who presided over them, as to render them worthy of particular comment. The personal address “to the angel,” places it beyond a doubt that he was a "supreme spiritual ruler over all the congregations within the precincts of the city. This authority he could have received from no one but an apostle, because at that period when the revelation was made to St. John, A.D. 96, the emperor, civil magistrates, and majority of the inhabitants were heathens, and inimical to Christianity; and as they actually persecuted the believers of that religion, it would be absurd to imagine that the angel was installed by any civil magistrate into a spiritual jurisdiction commensurate with that which in temporal government appertained to the prefect of the city. But that the angel, whoever may have been the officer so designated, had in the city where he presided a high spiritual authority cannot be denied; an authority not only over the orthodox congregations, but also over all those who had departed from the faith and set up separate congregations. This is put beyond a doubt by the address to the angel of the church of Thyatira, " Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess to teach and to seduce my servants, to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” Rev. ii. 20.
This prophetess was certainly a teacher of heresy in the city of Thyatira. She was opposed to the angel. She was not, as people now speak, of the angel's flock. She had thrown off her allegiance and dissented from him, and was drawing away disciples after her. Yet God held her still subject to the angel, wherefore He accused the angel of suffering her to teach, and blamed him for his supineness. But how could the angel prevent her? Secular power he had none; the state had not established nor recog