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we render Taking the Oversight, signifies; from whence it is evident, that Elders and Presbyters had the character of -Bishops, from the work they were to perform.

Moreover, that venerable assembly, that met at Jerusalem, to discuss an important question brought before them by Paul and Barnabas, is said to consist of the Apostles and Elders, Acts xv. 6. Now, if Bishops had been, not only distinct from, but a superior order to that of Elders, they would have been here mentioned as such, and, doubtless, have met together with them; but it seems probable that they are included in the general character of Elders. Some think, that the same persons are called Bishops, because they had the oversight of their respective churches; and Elders, because they were qualified for this work, by that age and experience which they had, for the most part arrived to; as the word Elder signifies not only one that is invested in an office, but one who, by reason of his age, and that wisdom that often attends it, is fitted to discharge it, 1 Tim. v. 1.

We read nothing in scripture, of Diocesan churches, or Bishops over them, how much soever this was pleaded for in many following ages; and they, who maintain this argument, generally have recourse to the writings of the Fathers, and church-historians, which, were the proofs, taken from thence, more strong and conclusive than they are, would not be suffivient to support the divine right thereof. I shall not enlarge on this particular branch of the controversy, inasmuch as it has been handled with a great deal of learning and judgment, by many others, who refer to the writings of the Fathers of the three first centuries, to prove that churches were no larger in those times than one person could have the oversight of, and that these chose their own Bishops. Some think, indeed, that there is ground to conclude, from what we find in the writings of Ignatius, Tertullian, Cyprian, and other Fathers in these ages, that there was a superiority of Bishops to Presbyters, at least, in degree, though not in order; and that the Presbyter performed all the branches of that work, that properly belonged to Bishops, only with this difference, that it was done with their leave, or by their order, or in their absence; and there being several Elders in the same church, when a Bishop died, one of those were ready to succeed him in that office.

Some, indeed, speak of the church as Parochial, and contradistinguished from Diocesan; but, inasmuch as it does not appear, by their writings, that these Parochial churches had

• Legatus.

† See Calderwood Altar. Damsc. Jameson's fundamentals of the hierarchy exgmined; Forrester's hierarchical bishop's claim, &c. and Clarkson's no evidence fo diocesan churches; and his diocesan churches not yet discovered, &C

any other bond of union, but nearness of habitation, I cannot so readily conclude, that their church-state depended principally on this political circumstance; but rather that Christians thought it most convenient for such to enter into a church-relation, who, by reason of the nearness of their situation to each other, could better perform the duties that were incumbent on them, pursuant hereunto.

But, notwithstanding this, it appears from several things occasionally mentioned by the Fathers, that the church admitted none into its communion, but those whom they judged quali fied for it, and that not only by understanding the doctrines of Christianity, but by a conversation becoming their profession thereof; and it was a considerable time that they remained in a state of probation, being admitted to attend on the prayers and instructions of the church, but ordered to withdraw before the Lord's supper was administered; these are sometimes called Hearers by Cyprian; at other times, Candidates, but most commonly Catechumens. And there were persons appointed not only to instruct them but to examine what proficiency they made in religion, in order to their being received into the church. In this state of trial they continued generally two or three years; such care they took that persons might not deceive themselves, and the church, by joining in communion with it, without having those qualifications that are necessary thereunto. This is very different from parochial churches, as understood and defended by many in our day. Therefore when churches were called parishes, in the three first centuries, it was only a circumstantial description thereof.

In every one of these churches there was one who was call ed a bishop, or overseer, with a convenient number of elders or presbyters; and it is observed, by that learned writer but now referred to, that these churches, at first, were comparatively small, and not exceeding the limits of the city, or village, in which they were situate, each of which was under the care, or oversight, of its respective pastor, or bishop.

This was the state of the church, more especially, in the three first centuries: but, if we descend a little lower to the fourth century, we shall find that the government thereof was very much altered, when it arrived to a peaceable and flourishing state; then, indeed, the bishops had the oversight of of larger diocesses, than they had before, which proceeded from the aspiring temper of particular persons 1, who were

See Clarkson's primitive episcopacy, chap. 7, in which he observes, that it was decreed, by some councils, that they should continue in this state of probation, at least, two or three years; and that Augustin continued so long a Cutechumen, as appears from the account that Father gives of his age, when converted to Christianity, and afterwards received into the church by Ambrose.

† See Primitive Episcopacy, Page 189-197. VOL. II.

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not content till they had added some neighbouring parishes to their own, and so their churches became very large, till they extended themselves over whole provinces. But even this was complained of by some, as an abuse; which occasioned Chrysostom so frequently to insist on the inconvenience of bishops having churches too large for them to take the oversight of, and not so much regarding the qualifications as the number of those over whom they presided; and he signifies his earnest desire, that those under his care might rather excel in piety, than in number, as it would be an expedient for his better discharging the work committed to him *.

Thus concerning the character and distinction of the pastors of churches, together with the form of the church in the first ages of Christianity; and what is observed, by many, concerning the agreement and difference which there was between bishops and presbyters: but this has been so largely insisted on, by many who have written on both sides the question, and the controversy turning very much on critical remarks made on some occasional passages, taken out of the writings of the Fathers, without recourse to scripture; it is therefore less necessary, or agreeable to our present design, to enlarge on that head: however, we may observe, that some of those who have written in defence of Diocesan Episcopacy, have been forced to acknowledge, that Jerom, Augustin, Ambrose, Chrysostom, in the Fourth Century; and, in some following ages, Sedulius, Primatius, Theodoret, and Theophylact, have all held the identity of both name and order of bishops and presbyters in the primitive church t. Jerom, in particular, is more express on this subject than any of them, and proves it from some arguments taken from scripture, which speak of the distinction that there was between them, as being the result of those divisions, by which the peace and order of the church was broken, and that it was no other than an human constitution. (a) This opinion of Jerom is largely defended by a

* See Clarkson's Primitive Episcopacy, chap. 8. in which he refers to several places, in the writings of that excellent Father, to the same purpose.

See Stilling fleet Iren. Page 276.

(a) "More than fourteen hundred years ago the superiority of the Prelates to Presbyters was attacked, in the most direct and open manner, as having no authority from our Lord Jesus Christ. The banner of opposition was raised not by a mean and obscure declaimer; but by a most consummate Theologian. By one "who, in the judgment of Erasmus, was, without controversy by far the most "learned and most eloquent of all the Christians; and the prince of Christian "Divines."*-By the illustrious Jerome.t

•We quote the words of one who was assuredly no friend to our cause. vid. Cave, His, Litt. Script: Eccles. p. 171. Ed 1720. Fol.

+Prosper, who was nearly his cotemporary, calls him magister mundi : i, e. the teacher of the world. Ib.

fearned writer, who shews that it is agreeable to the sentiments of other Fathers, who lived before and after him. Thus * Vid. Blondel. Apol. pro Sent. Hieron.

Thus he lays down both doctrine and fuct relative to the government of the church, in his commentary on Titus i. 5.

That thou shouldest ordain Presbyters in every city, as I had appointed thee.*“What sort of Presbyters ought to be ordained he shows afterwards,—If any be "blameless, the husband of one wife, &c. and then adds, for a bishop must be blame"less as the steward of God, &c. A Presbyter, therefore, is the same as a Bishop: "and before there were, by the instigation of the devil, parties in religion; and it "was said among different people, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Ce"phas, the churches were governed by the joint counsel of the Presbyters. But "afterwards, when every one accounted those whom he baptized as belonging "to himself and not to Christ, it was decreed throughout the whole world, that one, "chosen from among the Presbyters, should be put over the rest, and that the "whole care of the church should be committed to him, and the seeds of schisms "taken away.

"Should any one think that this is my private opinion, and not the doctrine of "the scriptures, let him read the words of the apostles in his epistle to the Phi"lippians; Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints "in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons,' &c. Phi"lippi, is a single city of Macedonia; and certainly in one city there could not "be several bishops as they are now styled; but as they, at that time, called the "very same persons bishops whom they called Presbyters, the Apostle has spo"ken without distinction of bishops as Presbyters.

"Should this matter yet appear doubtful to any one, unless it be proved by an "additional testimony; it is written in the acts of the Apostles, that when Paul "had come to Miletum, he sent to Ephesus and called the Presbyters of that "church, and among other things said to them, take heed to yourselves and to "all the flock in which the Holy Spirit hath made you Bishops.' 'Take particu"lar notice, that calling the PRESBYTERS of the single city of Ephesus, he after"wards names the same persons BISHOPS." After further quotations from the epistle to the Hebrews, and from Peter, he proceeds: "Our intention in these "remarks is to show that, among the ancients, Presbyters and Bishops were THE "VERY SAME. But that BY LITTLE AND LITTLE, that the plants of dissensions "might be plucked up, the whole concern was devolved upon an individual. As "the Presbyters, therefore, KNow that they are subjected, BY THE CUSTOM OF THE CHURCH, to him who is set over them; so let the Bishops know, that they are greater than Presbyters MORE BY CUSTOM, than by ANY REAL APPOINTMENT of CHRIST."

"

"Qui qualis Presbyter debeat ordinari, in consequentibus disserens hoc ait: Si quis est sine crimine, unius uxoris vir," et cætera: postea intulit,“ Oportet. n. Episcopum sine crimine esse, tanquam Dei dispensatorem." Idem est ergo Presbyter, qui et Episcopus, et antequam diaboli instinctu, studia in religione fierent, et diceretur in populis: "Ego sum Pauli, ego Apollo, ego autem Cepha:" communi Presbyterorum consilio ecclesie gubernabantur. Postquam vero unusquisque eos, quos baptizaverat, suos putabat esse, non Christi: in toto orbe decretum est, ut unus de Presbyteris electus superponeretur cæteris, ad quem omnis ecclesiæ cura pertineret et schisma. tum semina tollerentur. Putet aliquis non scripturarum, sed nostram, esse sententiam Episcopum et Presbyterum unum esse; et aliud etatis, aliud esse nomen officii: relegat Apostoli ad Philip ponses verba dicentis: Paulus et Timotheus servi Jesu Christi, omnibus sanctis in Christo Jesu, qui sunt Philippis, cum Episcopis et Diaconis, gratia vobis et pax, et reliqua. Philippi una est urbs Macedoniæ, et certe in una civitate plures ut nuncupantur. Episcopi esse non poterant. Sed quia eosdem Episcopos illo tempore quos et Presbyteros appellabant, propterea indifferenter de Episcopis quasi de Presbyteris est locutus. Adhuc hoc alicui videatur ambiguum, nisi altero testimonio comprobetur. In Actibus Apostolorum scriptum est, quod cum venisset Apostolus Miletum, miserit Ephesum, et vocaverit Presbyteros eccslesiæ ejusdem, quibus postea inter cætera sit locutus: attendite vobis, et omni gregi in quo vos Spiritus sanctus posuit Episcopos, pascere ecclesiam Domini quam acquisivit per sanguinem suum, Et hoc diligentius observate, quo modo unius civitatis Ephesi Presbyteros vocans, postea eosdem Episcopos dixerit-Hæc propterea, ut ostenderemus apud veteres eosdem fuisse Presbyteros quos et Episcopos. Paulatim vero, ut dissensionum plantaria evellerentur, ad unum omnem solicitudinem esse delatam,--Sicut ergo Presbyteri sciunt se ex ecclesia consuetudine ei, qui sibi propositus fuerit, esse subjectos, ita Episcopi noverint se magis consuetudine quam dispositionis dominica veritate, Presbyteris esse majores. Hieronymi Com: in Til: I. 1. Opp. Tom. VI. p. 168, ed. Victorii, Paris, 1623. Fel:

concerning a pastor, as styled a bishop or presbyter; we shall now consider him as invested in his office, whereby he becomes related to a particular church of Christ. That no one is pas

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He pursues the same argument, with great point, in his famous Epistle to Evagrius, asserting and proving from the Scriptures, that in the beginning and during the Apostles' days, a Bishop and a Presbyter were the same thing. He then goes on: "As to the fact, that AFTERWARDS, one was ELECTED to preside "over the rest, this was done as a remedy against schism; lest every one draw"ing his proselytes to himself, should rend the church of Christ. For even at "Alexandria, from the Evangelist Mark to the Bishops Heraclas and Dionysius, "the Presbyters always chose one of their number, placed him in a superior sta ❝tion, and gave him the title of Bishop: in the same manner as if an army should MAKE an emperor; or the deacons should choose from among themselves, one "whom they knew to be particularly active, and should call him ARCH-DEACON. "For, excepting ordination, what is done by a Bishop, which may not be done by "a Presbyter? Nor is it to be supposed, that the church should be one thing at "Rome, and another in all the world besides. Both France and Britain, and Af"rica, and Persia, and the East, and India, and all the barbarous nations wor"ship one Christ, observe one rule of truth. If you demand authority, the globe " is greater than a city. Wherever a Bishop shall be found, whether at Roue, or "Eugubium, or Constantinople, or Rhegium, or Alexandria, or Tanis, he has "the same pretensions, the same priesthood."

Here is an account of the origin and progress of Episcopacy, by a Father whom the Episcopalians themselves admit to have been the most able and learned man of his age; and how contradictory it is to their own account, the reader will be at no loss to perceive, when he shall have followed us through an analysis of its several parts.

1. JEROME expressly denies the superiority of Bishops to Presbyters, by divine right. To prove his assertion on this head, he goes directly to the scriptures; and argues, as the advocates of parity do, from the interchangeable titles of Bishop and Presbyters; from the directions given to them without the least intimation of difference in their authority; and from the powers of Presbyters, undisputed in his day.

2. JEROME states it as an historical fact, that, in the original constitution of the church, before the devil had as much influence as he acquired afterwards, the churches were governed by the joint counsels of the Presbyters.

3. JEROME states it as an historical fact, that this government of the churches, by Presbyters alone, continued until, for the avoiding of scandalous quarrels and schisms, it was thought expedient to alter it. "Afterwards," says he, " when "every one accounted those whom he baptized as belonging to himself, and not "to Christ, it was decreed throughout the whole world, that one, chosen from among "the Presbyters, should be put over the rest, and that the whole care of the "church should be committed to him."

4. JEROME states it as an historical fact, that this change in the government of the church-this creation of a superior order of ministers, took place, not at once, but by degrees—“ Paulatim,” says he, " by little and little." The precise date on which this innovation upon primitive order commenced, he does not mention; but he says positively, that it did not take place till the factious spirit of the Corinthians had spread itself in different countries, to an alarming extent. “In populis,” is his expression. Assuredly, this was not the work of a day. It had not been ac • Quod autem postea unus electus est, qui cæteris præponeretur, in schismatis remedium factum est: ne unusquisque ad se trahens Christi Ecclesiam rumperet. Nam et Alexandriæ a Marco Evangelista usque ad Heraclam & Dionysium Episcopos, presbyteri semper unum ex se electum, in excelsiori gradu collocatum Episcopum nominabant: quo modosí exercitus imperatorem faciat; aut diaconi eligant de se, quem industrium noverint, & archidiaconum vocent. Quid enim facit. excepta ordinatione, Episcopus, quod presbyter non faciat? Nec altera Romanse urbis Ecclesia, altera totius orbis existimanda est Et Galliæ. & Brittaniæ, & Africa, & Persis, & Oriens, & India, & omnes Darbars nationes unum Christum adorant, unam observant regulam veritatis. Si auctoritas quæritur, orbis major est urbe. Ubicumque fuerit Episcopus, sive Romæ, sive Eugubil, sive Constantinopoli, sive Rhegii, sive Alexandriæ, sive Tanis; ejusdem meriti, ejusdem & sa cerdotii. Hieren. Opp. T. II. p. 624.

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