EXAMINATION OF THE PARTICULAR CLAIMS OF EPISCOPACY.
Sect. 1.— The Exclusive Claims of the "Bishop" to the Right of Ordination.
The claim in regard to the superiority of the "order of bishops" to that of presbyters or ciders, rests on two points:—one is, that the peculiarity of the apostolic office consisted in the right of ordination; and the other, that, supposing this were so, "there was continued, as had been begun in the apostles, an order of ministers superior to the elders." Tract, p. 16. If either of these points cannot be made out, the claim is invalid. For, if it were demonstrated that there was intrusted, to the apostles the right of ordination as the peculiarity of their office, it would by no means follow that that right was to be continued in the church, ft might be a temporary arrangement, a thing valuable in the organization of the church, but whoso necessity would expire when the church was fairly established. Even on the supposition, therefore, that the right had ever existed, it would be necessary to show from the New Testament—for no testimony of the Fathers will do here—that the Lord Jesus meant that suph a peculiarity of the apostolic office should be continued. But if it shall appear that the right of ordination never was a peculiarity of the apostolic office, but that the apostles were called for a specific purpose of a different kind—a purpose which ceased, of course, when they died—then it will follow that all the claims of "bishops" as their " successors/' are void. It is proposed, therefore, to examine the New Testament with particular reference to each of these inquiries:—first, whether the right of ordination is represented as the peculiarity of the apostolic office; and, secondly, whether there is any proof in the New Testament that it wan designed that they should have any "successors" in their office.
The question then is, Has a bishop the sole power of ordaining ? Is the right of setting apart to the office of preaching, and administering the sacraments, confined in the New Testament exclusively to this order of ministers ? The Episcopalian claims that it is. We deny it, and ask him for the explicit proof of a point so simple as this, and one which we have a right to expect he will make out, with very great clearness, from the sacred Scriptures.
The first proof of this point adduced *by Episcopalians is, that the apostles had the sole power of ordaining. This is a highly important point in the discussion, or, rather, the very hinge of the controversy. The argument as stated in the tract of Dr. Onderdonk, (pp. 14-16,) rests on the assumption that the apostles ordained. "That the apostles ordained, all agree." Now, if this means any thing to the purpose, it means that they ordained as apostles, or that they were set apart to the apostolic office for the purpose of ordaining. Having made this assumption, the writer adds, that a distinction is observed in the New Testament between f the apostles and elders," " the apostles and elders and brethren." He next attempts to show that this distinction was not made because they " were appointed by Christ personally;" nor because "they had seen our Lor.d after his resurrection;" nor " because of this power of working miracles;"— and then adds: " It follows, therefore, or will not at least be questioned, that the apostles were distinguished from the elders because they were superior to them in ministerial power and rights." This is the argument; aud this is the whole of it. On the making out of this point depends the stupendous fabric of Episcopacy. Here is the corneratone on which rests the claims of prelates; this the position on which the stupendous and mighty superstructure has been reared.
Now, the only way of ascertaining whether this claim be well-founded, is to appeal at once to the New Testament. The question, then, is, Whether the apostles were chosen for the distinctive and peculiar work of ordaining to sacred offices ? This the Episcopalian affirms. This we take the liberty of calling in question.
The evangelists have given three separate and full accounts of the appointment of the apostles. One is recorded by Matthew, ch. x.; another by Mark, ch. iii.; the« third by Luke, ch. vi. They wore selected from the other disciples, and set apart to their work with great solemnity. The act was performed in the presence of a great multitude, and after the Saviour had passed the night in prayer to God. Luke vi. 12. The directions given to them on the occasion occupy, in one part of the record, (Matt.) the entire chapter of forty-two verses. Those directions are given with very great particularity, embracing a great variety of topics, evidently intended to guide them in all their ministry, and to furnish them with ample instruction as to the nature of their office. They refer to times which would follow the death of the Lord Jesus, and were designed to embrace the whole period of their peculiar work.
Now, on the supposition of Episcopalians, that the peculiarity of their work was to ordain, or that "they were distinguished from the elders because they were superior to them in ministerial powers and rights," it cannot but be regarded as unaccountable that we find not one word of this here. There is not the slightest allusion to any such distinguishing " powers and rights." There is nothing which can be tortured into any such claim. This is the more remarkable, as, on another occasion, he sent forth seventy disciples at one time, (Luke x. 1-16,) usually regarded by Episcopalians as the foundation of the second order of their ministers; and there «is not the slightest intimation given that they were to be inferior to the apostles in the power of ordaining, or in superintending the churches. What explanation will the Episcopalian give of this remarkable omission in the instructions of the primitive "bishops?"
This omission is not the less remarkable in the instructions which the Lord Jesus gave to these same apostles after his resurrection from the dead. At that time we should assuredly have expected an intimation of the existence of some such peculiar power. But not the slightest hint occurs of any such exclusive authority and superintendence. Matthew, (xxviii. 18-20,) Mark, (xvi. 15-18,) and Luke, (xxiv. 47-49,) have each recorded these parting instructions. They tell us that he directed them to remain in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high, and then to go forth and preach the gospel to every creature; but not a solitary syllable occurs about any exclusive power of ordination; about their being a peculiar order of ministers; about their transmitting the peculiarity of the apostolic office to others. What is the explanation of this fact ? How is it to be accounted for, if the peculiarity of their office consisted in " superiority of ministerial powers and rights," that neither at their election and ordination, nor in the departing charge of the Saviour, nor in any intermediate time, do we ever hear of it —that even the advocates for the powers of the "bishop" never pretend to adduce a solitary expression that can be construed into a reference to any such distinction ?
I proceed now to observe that there is not anywhere else, in the New Testament, a statement that this was the peculiarity of the apostolic office. Of this any man may be satisfied who will examine the New Testament. Or he may find the proof in a less laborious way by simply looking at the fact that none of the advocates of Episcopacy pretend to adduce any such declaration. The apostles often speak of themselves; the historian of their doings (Luke*) often mentions them; but the place remains yet to be designated, after this, controversy has been carried on by keen-sighted disputants for several hundred years, which speaks of any such peculiarity of their office.
This point, then, I shall consider as settled, and shall feel at liberty to make all the use of it to which it can be fairly applied in the argument. I might here insist on the strong presumption thus furnished, that this settles the inquiry. We should be very apt to regard it as decisive in any other case. If two men go from a government to a foreign court, and one of them claims to be a plenipotentiary, and affirms that the other is a mere private secretary, or a consul, we expect that the claimant will sustain his pretensions by an appeal to his commission or instructions. If he maintains that this is the peculiarity of his office, we expect to find this clearly stated in the documents which he brings. If he is mentioned by no name that designates his office—as the Episcopalian admits the "bishop" is not; if his commission contains no such appointment; and if we should learn that specific instructions were given to him at his appointment, and again repeated in a solemn manner when he left his native shores,—we should look with strong suspicions on these remarkable claims. Would not any foreign court decide at once that such pretensions, under such circumstances, were utterly unfounded ?
* In the Acts of the Apostles.
Let us, then, proceed to inquire whether it is possible to ascertain the peculiarity of the apostolic office; for it must be conceded that there was something to distinguish the apostles from the other ministers of the New Testament. Here, happily, we arc not left in the dark. The sacred writers themselves have given an account which cannot be easily mistaken, and it is a matter of amazement that it ever has been mistaken. The first account which I adduce is from the lips of the Saviour himself. In those solemn moments when he was about to leave the world, when the work of atonement was finished, and when he gave the apostles their final commission, he indicated the nature of their labours and the peculiarity of their office in these words :—" And said unto 'them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead on the third day:—And ye are WITNesSES of these things." Luke xxiv. 46^8. The object of their peculiar appointment, which he here specifies, was, that they should be Witnesses to all nations. (Comp. Matt. xxviii. 18, 19.) The "things" of which they were to bear witness he mentions distinctly. They were his sufferings in accordance with the predictions of the. prophets: " thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer;" and his resurrection from the dead: "and to rise from the dead the third day." These were the points to bear "witness" to which they had been selected; and these were the points on which they, in fact, insisted in their ministry.
I would next remark that this is expressly declared to be the " peculiarity" of the apostolic office. It was done so at the election of an apostle to fill up the vacated place of Judas. Here, if the peculiar design had been to confer " superiority in ministerial rights and powers," we should expect to be favoured with some account of it. It was the very time when it was natural and proper to give a statement of the reason why they filled up the vacancy in the college of apostles, and when they actually did make such a statement. Their words are these:—"Wherefore, of those men which have companied with us, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day when he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a WITNESS WITH US of his resurrection." Acts i. 21, 22. This passage I consider to be absolutely decisive on the point before us. It shows, first, for what purpose they ordained the newly-elected apostle; and, second, that they were ordained for the same purpose. Why do we hear nothing on this occasion of their "superiority of ministerial rights and powers ?" Why nothing of their peculiar prerogative to ordain 1 Why nothing of their "general superintendence" of the church? Plainly because they had conceived of nothing of this kind as entering into their original commission and the peculiar design of their office. For this purpose of bearing testimony to the world of the resurrection of the Messiah, they had been originally selected. For this they had been prepared by a long and intimate acquaintance with the Saviour. They had seen him; had -been with him in various scenes fitted to instruct them more fully in his designs and character; had enjoyed an intimate personal friendship with him, (1 John i. 1,) and they were thus qualified to go forth as "witnesses" of what they had seen and heard; to confirm the great doctrine that the Messiah had come, had died, and had risen, according to the predictions of the prophets. —I add, here, that these truths were of sufficient importance to demand the appointment of twelve honest men to give them confirmation. There was consummate wisdom in the appointment of witnesses enough to satisfy any reasonable mind, and yet not so many as to give it the appearance of tumult or popular excitement. The truth of the whole scheme of Christianity rested on making out the fact that the Lord Jesus had risen from the dead, (comp. 1 Cor. xv.;) and the importance of that religion to the welfare of mankind demanded that this should be substantiated to the conviction of the world. Hence the anxiety of the eleven to complete the number of the original witnesses selected by the Saviour; and hence their care that the person chosen should have the same acquaintance with the facts which they had themselves.
It is worthy also of remark, that, in the account which the historian gives of their labours, this is the main idea which is presented. Acts ii. 32: "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are witnesses." V. 32: "And we are witnesses of these things." X. 39—42 : " And we are witnesses of all things which he did, both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they slew and hanged on a tree. Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly; not to all the people, hut unto WITNESSES chosen before of God, even unto us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to Testify—8ta;xapTupati#oi —that it is he which was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead." In this place, also, we meet with another explicit declaration that this was the object of their original appointment. They were " chosen" for this, and set apart in the holy presence of God to this work. Why do we not hear any thing of "their superiority in ministerial rights and powers?" Why no intimation of the power of " confirming," and of "general superintendence?" I repeat, that it is not possible to answer these questions except on the supposition that they did not regard any such powers as at all entering into the peculiarity of their commission.
Having disposed of all that is said in the New Testament of the original design of the appointment to the apostolic office, I proceed to another and somewhat independent source of evidence. The original number of the apostles was twelve. The design of their selection we have seen. For important purposes, however, it pleased God to add to their number one who had not been a personal attendant on the ministry of the Saviour, and who was called to the apostleship four years after his crucifixion and resurrection. Now, this is a case, evidently, which must throw very important light on our inquiries. It is independent of the others. As he was not a personal observer of the life and death of Jesus, as he was not an original " witness" in the case, we may expect in the record of his appointment a full account of his " superiority in ministerial rights and powers." If such superiority entered into the peculiarity of the apostolic office, this was the very case where we should expect to find it. His conversion was subsequent to the resurrection. He was to be employed extensively in founding and organizing churches. He was to have committed to his apostolic care almost the entire pagan world. (Comp. Rom. xi. 13; xv. 16; Gal. ii. 7.) His very business was one that seemed to call for some specific account of " superiority in ministerial rights," if any such rights were involved in the apostolic office. How natural to expect a statement of such rights, and of an account of the "general superintendence" intrusted to him as an apostle! Let us look, therefore, and see how the case stands. We have three distinct accounts of the appointment of the apostle Paul to the apostlcship, in each of which the design of his appointment is stated. In his discourse before the Jews, (Acts xxii. 14, 15,) he states the charge given to him by Ananias at Damascus : " The God of our fathers hath cnosen thee, that thou shouldst know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldist hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his Witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard." Again, in his speech before Agrippa, (Acts xxvi. 16,) Paul repeats the words addressed to him by the Lord Jesus in his original commission : "I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister—b-KTjpivqv—and a WitNess, both of those things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee." Again, in the account which is given of his past and future work, (Acts xxiii. 11,) it is said: " As thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome."
This is the account which is given of the call of Saul of Tarsus to the apostolic office. But where is there a single syllable of any "superiority in ministerial powers and rights," as constituting the peculiarity of his office ? We may respectfully ask all the advocates of Episcopacy to point to us a shadow of any such episcopal investment. We think their argument demands it. And if there it no such account, oither in the original choice of the twelve, or in the appointment of Matthias, or iu the selection of the " apostle to the Gentiles," it is right to insist with firmness on a satisfactory explanation of the causes which operated to produce the omission of the very gist of their office, according to Episcopacy. Some reasons should be suggested, prudential or otherwise, which made it proper to pass over the very vitality of the original commission.
But we have not done with the apostle Paul. He - is too important a " witness" for us, as well as for the purpose for which he was appointed, to be dismissed without further attention. It has been remarked already that he was not a personal follower of Jesus of Nazareth, and was not present at his death and ascension. It may be asked, then, how could he be a " witness" in the sense and for the purposes already described? Let us see how this was provided for. I transcribe the account from his own statement of the address made to him by Ananias. Acts xxii. 14: " The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldst know his will, and SEE that Just One, and shouldst hear the words of his mouth." That he had thus seen him, it is not necessary to prove. See 1 Cor. xv. 8; Acts ix. 5, 17. The inference which I here draw is, that he was permitted to see the Lord Jesus in an extraordinary manner, for the express purpose of qualifying him to be invested with the peculiarity of the apostleship. This inference, sufficiently clear from the very statement, I shall now proceed to put beyond the possibility of doubt.
Let us turn, then, to another account which Paul has given of his call to the apostleship, 1 Cor. ix. 1, 2 : "Am I not an apostle ? Am I not free ? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?" I adduce this passage as proof that to have seen Jesus Christ was considered as an indispensable qualification for the apostleship. So Paul regarded it in his own case. It is adduced also for another purpose, viz. to strengthen my main position, that the apostles were designated to their office specifically as witnesses to the character and resurrection of Christ. If this was not the design, why does Paul appeal to ' the fact that he had seen the Saviour, as proof that he was qualified to be an apostle ? And we may further ask, with emphasis, If the apostles, as Episcopalians pretend, did, in virtue of their office, possess "superiority in ministerial powers and rights," why did not Paul onee hint at the fact in this passage ? His express object was to vindicate his claim to the apostleship. In doing this he appeals to that which I am endeavouring to show constituted the peculiarity of the office—his being "witness" to the Saviour. In this instance we have a circumstance of which Paley would make much in an argument if it fell in with the design of the "Horae Paulinae." We claim the privilege of making as much of it upon the question whether the peculiarity of the apostolic office was " superiority of ministerial powers and rights."
I have now examined all the passages of Scripture which state the design of the apostleship. It has been shown, if I mistake not, that the ground of the distinction between the "apostles and elders," "the apostles and elders and brethren," was not that the former had superiority of " ministerial powers and rights." We might leave the argument here; for, if Episcopalians cannot make out this point to entire satisfaction, all that is said about successors in the apostolic office, and about perpetuating the apostleship, must be nugatory and vain. But there is an independent topic of remark here, and one which bears on the subject, therefore, with all the force of a cumulative argument. This is stated in the following words : that " there was continued, as had begun in the apostles, an order of ministers superior to the elders." Tract, p. 16. This the author of the tract representing the arguments of Episcopalians on the subject attempts to prove, on the ground that " there is no scriptural evidence that mere elders (presbyters) ordained," (pp. 16-23,) and that "the above distinction between elders and a grade superior to them in regard especially to the power of ordaining, was so persevered in as to indicate that it was a permanent arrangement, and not designed to be but temporary." Pp. 23, 24.
In the inquiry, then, whether this distinction was continued or persevered in, we might insist on what has been already shown as decisive. If the original distinction was what it has been shown to be, that the design of selecting and appointing the apostles to their office was that they might be " witnesses" of the life, the teachings, the death, the resurrection, and the ascension of the Saviour, then it could not be persevered in without (as in the case of Paul) a personal, direct manifestation of the ascended Saviour, to qualify every future incumbent in the apostleship. 1 Cor. ix. 1. No modem "bishop," it is presumed, will lay claim to this. The very supposition that .any such revelation was necessary would dethrone every prelate and prostrate every mitre in Christendom.
But we have, as before remarked, an independent train of arguments on this point. It is evident that the whole burden of proof here lies on the Episcopalian. He maintains that such an original distinction existed, and that it was perpetuated. Both these positions we deny. The first has been shown to be unfounded, and has thus virtually destroyed the other. Let us proceed, however, to the comparatively needless task of showing that the position, that there was an arrangement by which an order of men " superior to the elders" was continued in the church, is equally unfounded.
The argument in support of the position, that there was to be an order of men of substantially the same rank as the apostles, and superior to another grade of ministers in the church, can be made out only by substantiating one or both of the following positions: either (1) that it is expressly stated in the New Testament that the " order" was continued, or was to be continued; or (2)"by an induction of particulars, showing that though there was no formal statement on this point, yet that the order was, in fact, continued. Either of them, I admit, would settle the question in favour of Episcopacy; if both fail, then it is equally clear that the claim is unfounded. It is proposed to examine both these points by the New Testament.
First, then, there is no express statement in the New Testament that such a " superior order" of ministers was to be "continued" in the church, or that the apostles were to have "successors" in the peculiarity of their office. This point is so clear that even Episcopalians do not pretend to affirm it. There is nothing to which they refer as conveying this idea. Neither in the instructions of the Saviour himself when he called them to their office, nor in any declaration which fell from his lips during his ministry, nor in any thing that the apostles themselves said, either before or subsequent to the resurrection of the Saviour, is it declared that the peculiarity of the apostolic office was to be continued by a "succession" of men extending into future times. This assertion is made with entire confidence, and it is not and cannot be denied by the advocates of Episcopacy. The only declaration in the New Testament that has any resemblance to such a position, or that is ever even remotely referred to by Episcopalians on this point, is the promise of the Saviour in Matt. xxviii. 20 : " Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." But, assuredly, this passage will not demonstrate that the peculiarity of the apostolic office was to be perpetuated, or that the apostles were to have successors in their office, or that there was to be an order of men continued in the church superior in rank and power to a certain other order of men. It does not prove this for the following reasons: (1.) There is no declaration in this promise, express or implied, that the peculiarity of their office was to be continued. That, certainly, is not the point of the promise, whatever may be its real import. The point of the promise is, the presence of the Saviour to the end of time with those who were to go and preach the gospel. (2.) There is no allusion to any such fact as that they wore to be " superior" to another order of men, or that an order of men superior to others was to be continued in the church. No mention is made of any such "orders" of men; there is no intimation that there would be. (3.) The promise is one that is adapted to all authorized preachers of the gospel, whatever rank or order they may sustain. According to the Saviour's commission, the promise extends to all those who should be called by him and commissioned to go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Matt. xxviii. 19. It was to such persons (ver. 20) that the promise of his presence was made By the Saviour; and wherever any persons have evidence that they are authorized by .him to engage in that work, they have a right to apply this promise to themselves. But is this work to be confined to prelates, the pretended " successors" of the apostles ? Are no others authorized to go and disciple the nations; to baptize in the name of the Trinity, and to teach men to observe the commandments of God ? Assuredly, this will not be pretended, for no Episcopalian ever supposed that " bishops" only were authorized to become missionaries to the heathen.
But, if this text will not support the pretensions to a " succession" in the peculiarity of the apostolic office, which it neither expresses nor implies, then there is no express declaration in the New Testament that an order of men was to be " continued" in the ministry "superior" to another order. And if this be so, we have here one of the most remarkable facts that has ever occurred in the institution of any office whatever; a fact so remarkable as to render it incredible that it should ever have occurred. A brief glance at the circumstances of the case will illustrate this. They are these :
According to the belief of Episcopalians, this "order" of the ministry—to wit, that of ''bishops" as the successors of the apostles,—was to continue forever. It was intended by the Saviour that at ne time should the church be without an order of men who should be properly the " successors of the apostles."
According to their belief, that a'rrangement was to take place in all lands where the gospel was preached. No matter what might be the form of civil government there prevailing—whether a republic, a democracy, an aristocracy, or a monarchy— there was to be but one form in which the church was to be organized; and in every land there was to be an order in'the ministry who should be properly the " successors of the apostles."
According to their belief, the correct organization of the whole church was dependent on the observance of the distinction between this " superior grade" and an inferior grade in the ministry; and there could be, in fact, no properly organized church unless there was an order of men who should be properly " the successors of the apostles."
According to their belief, the validity of all ordinations everywhere depended on this, and no one could be authorized to preach the gospel unless there had been laid on him the hands of those who were properly the " successors of the apostles."
According to their belief, the validity of all sacraments depended on this, and no one could properly administer the rite of baptism or the Lord's supper unless he had derived his authority from those who were properly " the successors of the apostles."
According to their belief, the proper government of the church everywhere depended on this, and none would have a right to administer discipline except those who were properly the "successors of the apostles."
According to their belief, if these things arc not so, and if there is no such "succession" of men in the church, the churches are unauthorized assemblies, without a valid ministry; with no sacraments properly administered; with none empowered by the great Head of the church to proclaim salvation, to offer pardon, to minister consolation, or to bury the dead.
With these consequences full in view, we turn, then, to the original commission of these men whose "successors" were to be intrusted with so much power, and the continuation of whose office was to involve the destiny of countless millions of mankind. We go and listen to the Saviour when he called them on the banks of Gennesareth. We examine all the instructions that he gave them in three years of his most faithful ministry. We listen to his voice when he was about to ascend to heaven, and when he gave them his parting counsel and issued his great commission. Strange to tell, in all this, not one word do we hear of any such, tremendous results depending on the fact that there were to be those who should be " successors" in the peculiarities of their office, nor is there even a hint that they were to have any such successors.
We turn then to another fact—a fact which must have been before the eyes of the Redeemer. It is the arrangement made in regard to the priestly office in the Old Testament. There every thing was ordered in the most exact manner. There is no ambiguity. There is no reason for doubting that Moses intended that the ministry which he instituted should be arranged in three orders, or that it was designed that there should be a " successor" to the one of " superior order"—the high-priest. Every thing relating to that officer, and to the "succession," is specified with the utmost particularity, and the arrangement entered into the essential structure of the constitution of the Jewish commonwealth. Can any one believe that the Saviour intended that there should be similar distinctions in his church, essential to its very existence, and yet that there should not be a single word in regard to it in his own statements of the nature of the ministry? They may explain this who can; but if such results were to be dependent on the fact that an order of men was to be continued in the church, who should be the " successors" of the apostles in the peculiarity of their office, and yet not one word of this ever occurred in the account of its organization, then the church of the Lord Jesus is the most singularly organized body that ever pretended to have a constitution.
Leaving this matter to be explained by Episcopalians as it may be—a work which remains yet to be attempted—the fact is all that is of essential importance to us now. That fact is, that there is no intimation in the instructions or counsels of the Saviour that he ever designed that the peculiarity of the apostolic office should be transmitted to a body of men who should be their " successors."
The second point of the inquiry, then, is, Whether the recorded facts in the doings of the apostles themselves are such as to show that this was intended ? It is certainly undeniable that it miyht be so. Though there were not in the original commission of the apostles themselves, or in any declaration of the Saviour, an express statement that this order of men was to be continued in a regular " succession," yet it must be admitted that such might have been the organization of the church under them, and such their uniform practice, as to show that this regular succession was contemplated, and is still indispensable to the existence of the church. It is conceivable that in every case where a vacancy occurred in the apostolic college, they should forthwith ordain a "successor;" or that they should, in some sufficiently intelligible and formal way, appoint men over others, with the powers and functions of their own office; or that, having ordained certain men to the ministry, they should uniformly address them as apostles, and as invested with the functions of the apostolic office; or that, in every country where churches were organized in sufficient number, they should constitute some one with the right of confirmation, and with the general charge of governing the churches, and with instructions to transmit his peculiar authority to some " successor" of the same rank. In either of these cases it is admitted that there would be a sufficient indication that the church was to be constituted and governed in this manner—however we might explain the want of any such statement in the original commission. The defect in the original commission would be practically supplied, and the authority for the superior "apostolic" order in the church could not, with propriety, be called in question. The advocates for Episcopacy, conceding the want of the express statement in the original commission on this point, suppose that they find evidence of such an arrangement in the subsequent organization of the church; or such evidence that the apostles intended that their own "order" or rank in the ministry should be continued as to amount to a proof that this was the intention of the Saviour. That evidence is found, they think, not in any express declaration of the apostles themselves, but in such supposed acts as to show that there was the same authority transmitted which they had, as apostles, and that this was to be a permanent arrangement. The evidence consists in the alleged fact that certain individuals are mentioned with such appellations, and designated to perforin such offices, as to show that they belonged to an order of the clergy " superior" to the presbyters, and were in the same rank as the apostles. To examine this claim, therefore, is essential to a correct understanding of the subject, and this examination will settle the question. This must be done by an investigation of the cases of the particular individuals who are claimed to be the successors of the apostles. It is proposed to take up these cases in the order in which they are usually presented by Episcopalians, and to inquire, What is the evidence that they succeeded the apostles in the peculiarity of the apostolic office, so as to show that it was intended that this should be a permanent arrangement in the church?
The first -case is that of Matthias, Acts i. 15-26. The argument which is relied on in his case is, that one of the first acts of the apostles, after they received the apostolic office, was to "transfer the very same power which they had received from Christ;" (Bishop McCoskry;) and that Matthias was so seleeted, and such power conferred on him, as to prove that he was to be ranked among the apostles, and to indicate that this was to be a permanent arrangement. It is supposed to be the first step in the doings of the apostles, indicating that their order was to be continued in the churches, and that it was not to be allowed to become extinct by the death of those sustaining the office.
Now, in regard to the case of Matthias, the following remarks will show the bearing of this example on the argument: "
1. He was undoubtedly chosen to be an apostle in the proper sense of the word. This is implied in the whole transaction, and is, indeed, expressly aflirmed. Peter states, in his argument for going into the election, that one of their number had committed suicide, and that it was proper that his place should be supplied by an election. The propriety of this he argues by a quotation from Psalui lxix. 25 : " Let his habitation be desolate, and let no mand well therein; and his bishopric let another take;" that is, let his office, or charge—ixtrr/.n-ijv —be conferred on another. The word is applied to any oversight or care of a thing, and.in the New Testament refers to having the care or oversight of the church, without reference to any particular rank in doing it. See Acts xx. 28, and Phil. i. 1, where it is applied to presbyters. On the ground of this ancient prediction, Peter argued that it was necessary and proper to elect one with suitable qualifications to fill the office with which Judas had been invested, or to accomplish what he was chosen to accomplish as an apostle. That it was understood that he was to be an apostle, with the rank, title, and prerogatives of an apostle, is clear. He was to be in the office what Judas would have been, if he had not, by transgression, fallen. Accordingly, it is expressly stated that " he was numbered with the eleven apostles," (Acts i. 26,) and the apostles are twice referred to afterwards, in their collective capacity, in such a manner as to lead to the supposition that Matthias was with them. Thus it is said, (Acts ii. 14,) " But Peter standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice;" and in Acts vi. 2, " Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them," implying that at that time Matthias was recognised as one of the number of the apostles, or that the apostolic college was full.
2. I am willing to admit that all this was done, under the full influence of inspiration, and by the sanction of the Holy Spirit. It is true that the presence of the other ten apostles on the occasion is not mentioned; that the question was submitted, not particularly to them, but to the whole of the assembled church, (Acts i. 15;) that probably the whole church acted in the selection of the successor of Judas, and voted on the occasion, (see Acts i. 15,
comp. vs. 23, 26;) and that Peter seems to have been led to the conclusion that such an election was proper by a course of reasoning on the declaration in the lxixth Psalm; but I see no reason to doubt that he acted in accordance with the will of the Great Head of the church, and under the guidance of the Holy Ghost. This would seem to be fairly implied in the general promises which the Redeemer made to the apostles in regard to the organization of the church. _ John xiv. 26; Matt. xvi. 19; xviii. 18. Whatever inferences may follow from this fact, the fact itself should be cheerfully conceded.
But, if these points are conceded, the question then is, What is the exact bearing of this case on the question, whether it was intended that the arrangement should be " permanent" in the church, and that there should be a regular "succession" of men invested with the functions of those who sustained the apostolic office ? It is important, then, to look at this case just as it is presented in the New Testament; and the following facts, which no one will dispute, comprise all that is said in regard to it, and embrace all that can be construed into an argument in regard to the succession.
(1.) It was an election to a vacancy, not to a succession in the office. The reason which Peter, gives for the election at all is that it was proper because a vacancy had occurred by the death of Judas, not because it was necessary to keep up the "succession." One had been removed who had been chosen to fill a specific place and to accomplish a particular object, and it was important that his place should be filled. If it were possible to perpetuate the apostolic office in its peculiarity—as we have seen that rt is not—this reasoning of Peter would be forcible to demonstrate that the number twelve was to be continued, and that when a vacancy occurred, it was to be supplied by election; but it is of no force whatever to demonstrate that there must be a "succession" of an unlimited number, and that the office was to be transmitted by embracing hundreds or thousands in the "apostolic college" in every successive age. The argument of Peter is, that Judas was " numbered with them, and had obtained part in the same ministry" with them; that he had fallen from this office, and that it was predicted that another should take "his" place; and that, such being the case, it was proper to appoint another, having the proper qualifications, who might be, as Judas would have been had he lived, a " witness of the resurrection" of the Saviour. In all this there is not one word about a "succession;" not an intimation that it was to be a permanent arrangement; not a hint: that the original number was ever to be enlarged or to have any other qualifications than the original apostles had—the qualifications which made them competent to bear witness of the resurrection of the Saviour. There is all the difference imagina*ble between the power to fill a vacancy in an office, and a power to perpetuate an Order of men—and especially if that " order" is to be indefinitely enlarged.
(2.) It was an election by the church, and not particularly by the apostles. Indeed, it is only from the probability that the apostles would be present on such an. occasion that there is any reason to believe that they were there, for they are not mentioned. The address of Peter was made to the " disciples," who are said to have been "about a hundred and twenty," (Acts i. 15;) and it is manifest from the narrative that the votes in the case were given by them. No intimation is furnished that any others voted than those before whom the proposition of Peter was made; and it is morally certain that if the vote had been given only by the apostles, such a fact would have been stated. This account shows that the apostles did not mean of themselves to appoint successors; but, so far as it goes, it shows that the selection was made by the body of the communicants in the church. If they had been intrusted with a special commission to continue their " peculiar order," and to " transfer their authority," as a permanent arrangement, it is scarcely credible that the execution of this should have been left to the body of communicants. At all events, this has much more of a democratic aspect than is found now in Episcopacy. In the whole of the speech of Peter, he never breathes a note of either himself or his fellow-apostles conferring apostolic power on# Matthias, or on any one else. He submitted the nomination in the most anti-Episcopal manner to the whole of the disciples, and then referred the final decision to the Lord. "They appointed two, Joseph, called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias." The fair and obvious construction of this is, that it was done by the " hundred and twenty disciples" to whom Peter had submitted the proposition respecting the necessity of electing one to fill the vacancy.
(3.) The purpose for which Matthias was chosen is specifically mentioned. It was that he might he, in the proper sense of the word, as explained above, an apostle—a "witness" of the resurrection of the Saviour. " Wherefore, of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us—must one be ordained To BE A Witness with us of his resurrection," (ver. 21, 22.) Here the same object is referred to which is specified by the Saviour as implied in the nature of the apostolic office—to be his witnesses to the world. In order to divest this of all doubt as to what was intended in the case, Peter specifies all the qualifications which were necessary in the election. He who was to be chosen was to have just such qualifications as to fit him to be a competent "witness" of the resurrection of the Saviour. In order to that, it was indispensable that he should have been with him; that he should have been familiar with his person and his instructions, that he might thus be qualified to bear witness to his identity after his resurrection. Accordingly, Peter says that it was necessary that he should have been with them " all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among them, beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day when he was taken up from them," (ver. 21, 22;) thus embracing the entire period of his public ministry, his crucifixion, and the forty days in which he appeared to his disciples after his resurrection. It was to bear witness to* these things, as we have seen, that the apostles were originally chosen; and it was for this specific purpose that Matthias was selected in the room of one who would have been abundantly qualified for this had he lived. In all that Peter says on this subject, there is not an intimation of the necessity of.any other qualification than this; there is no hint that he ought to be endowed with uncommon talents, eloquence, or learning; there is no allusion to any power, control, or jurisdiction that he was to exercise over the churches; there is no suggestion that he was to perform the ceremony of " confirmation," or that he was to take the jurisdiction over'a particular district or "diocese;" nor is there any allusion to any such fact as that he was to transmit his power and authority to "successors." The purpose was specific; it was just that for which all the apostles had been called by the Saviour.
These are the simple facts in regard to the election of Matthias. It is to be remembered now that this is the only case of an election to the apostolic office recorded in the New Testament. The only other apostle, respecting whose authority and rank" there is no dispute, was Paul. He was called directly from heaven, without any arrangement, election, designation, or ordination by the other apostles ; and he was qualified for the peculiarity of the apostolic office by having been permitted, in a miraculous manner, to see the Saviour after his resurrection. "Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?" 1 Cor. ix. 1. When James, the brother of John, was put to death by Herod, (Acts xii. 1,) there was no election to supply his place, nor is there any mention that as the apostles died their places were supplied. The purpose of the original appointment of twelve—a competent number to establish the important truth of the resurrection of Jesus—had been accomplished when they died; and it was alike useless and impossible to continue the succession—useless because the twelve had testified to the world the fact of his resurrection in such a manner as to secure the permanent establishment of the Christian religion; and impossible because the original witnesses of the resurrection of the Redeemer died. How could an order of men be kept up in the world from age to age*, qualified to be "witnesses" of his resurrection ?—It is left, then, to the judgment of all to determine with what propriety the case of Matthias is referred to as an evidence that it was designed that there should be a permanent arrangement in the church to perpetuate the apostolic office, or to continue the appointment of an order of men of "superior qualifications and rank" in the ministry. If the very first link fails, all the others will be likely to fail also. ,
The next case on which reliance is placed by the advocates of Episcopacy is, that of Barnabas. The argument in support of his claims to the apostleship is based mainly on the fact that the name apostle is given to him. Acts xiv. 14: " Which when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of, they rent their clothes." See the tract " Episcopacy tested by Scripture," p. 18, and Bishop McCoskry's Sermon, p. 24. In connection with the fact that the name apostle is given to Barnabas, it is urged by the author of the tract that the transaction recorded in Acts xiii., by which Paul and Barnabas were designated to a particular work, and in the performance of which they are called "apostles," was not an "ordination" in the peculiar sense of the word, but a mere designation to a special missionary service; and that, as the term "apostle" belonged of right to Paul before this, so it is to be inferred that the same designation belonged to Barnabas, and to each of the others who were there named— "Simeon, and Niger, and Lucius, and Manaen." Tract, pp. 16, 17. The argument is, that if this were not an "ordination," the name "apostle" was not given to them in virtue of this transaction, but must have appertained to them before.
As this is a point of some importance, and as it is an argument much insisted on by Episcopalians, that because the name apostle is given to certain men in the New Testament, therefore they were of a grade superior in rank to other " clergy," and that the "order" was designed to be perpetuated, it is important first to examine the meaning of the word "apostle," and then to inquire in what sense it is applied to Barnabas. The word axooTolos— apostle, meaning one sent forth, a messenger—occurs in the New Testament eighty-one times. It is applied to the following persons:—(1.) To the Saviour himself, as sent from God—the Great Apostle to the world. Heb. iii. 1. Compare here the numerous places where the Saviour says he was "sent" from God into the world. (2.) To the original number whom the Saviour chose to be his apostles to the world. Matt. x. 2; Mark vi. 30; Luke vi. 13; ix. 10; xi. 49; xvii. 5; xxii. 1,4; xxiv. 10; Acts i. 2, 26; ii. 37, 42, 48;, iv. 33, 35-37; v. 2,
12, 18, 29, 34, 40; vi. 6; viii. 1, 14, 18; ix. 27; xi. 1; xiv. 4; xv. 2,4,0,22,23,33; xvi. 4; Roni. xvi. 7; 1 Cor. xii. 28, 29; xv. 7; Gal. i. 17, 19; Eph. ii. 20; iii. 5; iv. 11; 1 Thess. ii. 0, 11; 2 Pet. i. 1; ii. 1; iii. 2; Jude 17; Rev. xviii. 20; xxi. 14. (3.) To Paul, reckoned as an apostle, and especially endowed for this purpose by having had a miraculous view of the Saviour after his ascension. Acts xiv. 14; Rom. i. 1; xi. 13; 1 Cor. i. 1; ix. 1, 2; xv. 9; 2 Cor. i. 1; xii. 12; Gal. i. 1; Eph. i. 1; Col. i. 1; 1 Tim. i. 1; ii. 7; 2 Tim. i. 1,11; Titus i. 1. (4.) To Barnabas in one instance only: Acts xiv. 14. (5.) To certain "brethren" who accompanied Titus when he was sent by Paul to Corinth, and who are called " the messengers of the churches"—axoaToAot ixxkrjiriwv—the apostles of the churches. The number and names of these persons are unknown, but the only rank which they sustained was that of being sent from one church to another. 2 Cor. viii. 23. (6.) In a similar sense it is applied in Phil. ii. 25, to Epaphroditus, sent by the church at Philippi to Rome, to supply the wants of Paul when a prisoner there. (7.) It is applied to any one who is sent to perform any office whatever. "The servant is not greater than his Lord; neither is he that is sent (ouSe axoarohK;— neither the apostle) greater than he that sent him." John xiii. 16.
These passages show the sense in which the word is used in the New Testament, and the true force of any argument that may be derived from its use. It means properly one who is sent, and may be used with reference to one who is sent for any purpose, and may be applied, therefore, to any minister of religion, or to any one sent for a specific object, who is not even a minister of religion. The mere use of the word, therefore, proves nothing in respect to J;he matter under consideration. The argument relied on by the Episcopalian is, that the fact that the word is applied to an individual proves that he was an apostle in the strict and proper sense. But, in order to the validity of this argument, it is necessary to believe that the word is used in no other sense in the New Testament; and this would prove, not only that Barnabas was an apostle properly so called, but that Epaphroditus was, and that all the messengers whom Paul sent with Titus were; and that any one who was ever sent for any purpose was called an "apostle" in the strict and proper sense. If the Episcopalians, therefore, insist on it that the fact that the name "apostle" was given to Barnabas or Silas proves that they were apostles, and that the "order" was intended to be "continued," then we insist on it that the church at Philippi sent a prelatical bishop—Epaphroditus—to "minister to the wants of Paul," and that Paul sent a whole company of "apostles," or prelatical bishops, on a general exploring tour Jirough Greece, or more likely on a visit to a particular church there. 2 Cor. viii. 23. But, as this consequence will not be conceded by Episcopalians, it follows that the argument on which they rely, derived from the fact that the name "apostle" is given to Barnabas, is worthless. In fact, it is known to be worthless by Episcopalians themselves. Dr. Onderdonk himself practically concedes it in the following judicious observation, Tract, p. 13:—"A little reflection and practice will enable any of our readers to look in Scripture for the several sacred OFFICes, independently of the NAMes there or elsewhere given to them." The truth is, in regard to this word, and to all others, that the specific sense in which it is used is to be determined by the connection and the circumstances.
Let us, then, inquire in regard to the case of Barnabas, whether there is any thing in the connection and circumstances where the term is applied to him, which shows that he was an apostle in the strict and proper sense, or that it was intended that the " order" should be perpetuated through him.
The only instance in which the word apostle is applied to Barnabas, as has already been remarked, is in Acts xiv. 14:—f Which when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of, they rent their clothes." Now, to see the fair and proper meaning of the word, as here applied to Barnabas, we may advert to the following considerations :—(1.) There is no account that Barnabas was ever elected, ordained, or appointed, in any way, t» the apostolic office. There is a particular account of the election of Matthias, and of the manner in which Paul was selected and set apart to be an apostle; but there is no intimation that Barnabas was ever chosen in any manner for that office.- (2.) Barnabas is repeatedly mentioned in the New Testament, but in no other instance as an apostle. He first appears in Acts iv. 86, where it is said that he came with other converts having property and laid it at the apostles' feet. He is then mentioned (Acts xi. 22) as having been sent by the "church in Jerusalem" to Antioch, on occasion of a revival of religion there, and an account of his success as a preacher is there given. He is then referred to as having voluntarily gone to seek the apostle Paul at Tarsus, to induce him to come to Antioch. At this time, Paul and Barnabas laboured together a whole year at Antioch, but there is no intimation that he was ordained to the apostleship. Acts xi. 26. He is then mentioned as going up to Jerusalem with Paul in a time of famine to carry to afflicted Christians there the benefactions of the church at Antioch. Acts xi. 30. In Acts xii. 25, it is said that, having accomplished this, Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem to Antioch, taking with them John. Mark. Subsequently, Biirnabas and Paul are mentioned as travelling companions, and Barnabas is not adverted to except in connection with Paul. Acts xiii. 1, 2, 50; xiv. 12; xv. 2, 12, 37; 1 Cor. ix. 6; Gal. ii. 1, 9, 13; Col. iv. 10. In all this, however, there is no intimation that he was ever selected and ordained to the apostolic office. In the numerous instances in which he is mentioned, the name apostle is never given to him but once. (3.) The reason why the name was given to him on that occasion, it is not difficult to understand. It was not because he was in the proper sense of the term an "apostle," but in the same sense in which Epaphroditus was the "apostle" of the church at Philippi, (Phil. ii. 25,) and as the "brethren" sent with Titus were the " apostles" of the churches, (2 Cor. viii. 23;) that is, they were the messengers of the churches. We find the following account of an important transaction in relation to Barnabas before this name is given to him at all. In the church at Antioch there were " certain prophets and teachers, as Barnabas, and Simeon, and Lucius, and Manaen, and Saul." The rank which they together sustained was that of " prophets and teachers;" and the only title which appears to have been conferred on Barnabas was that of a "prophet and teacher." That also appertained to Paul, though from many other places we also know that before this he was entitled to the proper name of an apostle. As these "prophets and teachers" ministered to the Lord and fasted, "the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereto I have called thera. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia." Acts xiii. 1-5. Now, two things are manifest in this account. The first is, that this was not an ordination to the apostolic office. This is perfectly apparent from the face of the transaction, for (a) Paul was an apostle before; (i) the persons engaged in the ordination, if it were an ordination, were not themselves apostles ; (e) the purpose for which they were set apart is particularly specified, and that is a distinct design from the apostolic office. Indeed, so clear is this, that Dr. Onderdonk has admitted that this was not an ordination at all. Tract, pp. 16, 17': " If it was not an ordination," says he, " as it certainly was not, it was a mere setting apart of those two ^apostles (?) to a particular field of duty." "That this transaction at Antioch related only to a special missionary 'work,' will be found sufficiently clear by those who will trace the progress of Paul and Barnabas through that work from Acts xiii. 4, to xiv. 26, where its completion is recorded." "This call, therefore, this separation, this work, related only to a particular mission, and this laying on of hands was no ordination." The second thing apparent from this account is, that this setting apart to a particular work laid the foundation for the appropriate designation of Barnabas and Paul as "apostles," in the sense that they were the messengers of the churches. They were designated to a particular "missionary work." They were " sent forth" to accomplish this. They are designated as thus sent forth, or as apostles or messengers of the church, by the inspired historian, (comp. Phil. ii. 25; 2 Cor. viii. 23,) and all the circumstances of the case are met by this supposition. (4.) This view is confirmed by a fact which can be explained on no other supposition, that the name apostle is never given to Barnabas subsequent to his fulfilling this missionary appointment with the apostle Paul. He is repeatedly mentioned after this, but in no case as an apostle. No instance is referred to of his performing any other functions than those of a travelling companion of the apostle Paul as a preacher and a beloved brother; nor is there an intimation that he sustained any other "rank," or belonged to any other "order" than that which appertained to all who were preachers of the gospel. With what propriety, then, is ho pressed into the service of Episcopacy ? And what must be the real strength of that cause which is constrained to rely on such an instance to prove that there was such "an arrangement persevered in as to prove that the apostolic order was to be permanent" in the church to the end of the world ?
The next case relied on by Episcopalians is "James, the brother of'our Lord." Tract, p. 15. " James, the Lord's brother," is once mentioned as an apostle. Gal. i. 19. But it should be remembered that there were two of the name of James among the apostles, in the specific sense of the term, viz. James the brother of John and son of Zebedee, and James the son of Alpheus. Matt. x. 3; Luke vi. 15. Nor should it be forgotten that the word brother was used by the Hebrews to denote a relation more remote than that which is designated by the ordinary use of the word among us, and that Alpheus was probably a connection of the family of our Lord. What proof, then, is there that he was not referred to in the passage before, us ?
Silvanus and Timothy are the next mentioned. As their claim to be considered apostles rests on the same foundation, so far as the name is any evidence, these cases will be disposed of by considering that of Timothy at length in a subsequent part of the argument.
The other cases are those of Andronious and Junia. The foundation for their claim to be enrolled as apostles is the following mention of them by Paul, Rom. xvi. 7 :—" Salute Andronious and ' Junia* my kinsmen, who are of note among the apostles" otTivis elmv faiay/iot iv Toi<; axoardXtxc;. On this claim I remark : (1.) Admitting that they are here called apostles, the name, as has been proved, does not imply that they had any " superiority of ministerial rights and powers." They might have been distinguished as messengers, like Epaphroditus. (2.) It is clear that Paul did not mean to give them the name of apostles at all. If he had designed it, the phraseology would have been different. Compare Rom. i. 1;' 1 Cor. i. 1; 2 Cor. i. 1; Phil. i. 1. (3.) All that the expression fairly implies is, that they, having been early converte'd, (Rom. xvi. 7,) and being acquainted with the apostles at Jerusalem, were held in high esteem by them; that is, the apostles regarded them with confidence and affection.
The next point of proof, "that the distinction between elders and a grade superior to them, in regard especially to the power of ordaining, was so persevered in as to indicate that it was & permanent arrangement,"—and a point much insisted on by Episcopalians,—is drawn from the charge given by the apostle Paul to the elders of Ephesus. Acts xx. 28-35. The point of this evidence is this: Paul charges the elders at Ephesus to "take heed to themselves,"—" to take heed to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers— to feed the church of God—to watch against the grievous wolves that would assail the flock," etc' In all this, we are told, there is not a word respecting the power of ordaining, nor any thing which shows that they had the power of clerical discipline. " No power is intimated to depose from office one of their own number, or an unsound minister coming among them." They are to " tend" or " rule" the flock as shepherds; " for shepherds do not tend and rule shepherds."
This is affirmed to be the sole power of these elders. In connection with this, we are asked to read the epistles to Timothy—the power there given "personally to Timothy at Ephesxis," (Tract, p. 23,) or as it is elsewhere expressed, " Compare now with this sum total of power assigned to mere elders, or presbyters, that of Timothy at Ephesus, the very city and region in which those addressed by Paul in Acts xx. resided and ministered." P. 25. It is said by Episcopalians that in those epistles the " right of governing the clergy and ordaining, is ascribed to him personally;" and numerous undisputed passages are adduced by them to show that Timothy is addressed as having this power. 1 Tim. i. 18; iii. 14, 15; iv. 6; 1 Tim. i. 3; v. 19-21, etc. etc.
Now, this argument proceeds on the following assumptions, viz. 1. That Timothy was called an apostle, and was therefore invested with the same powers as the apostles, and was one of their successors in the office. 2. That he was, at the time when Paul gave his charge to the elders at Miletus, bishop of Ephesus. 3. That the "elders" summoned to Miletus were ministers of the gospel of the second order, or, as they are now usually termed, priests, in contradistinction from bishops and deacons. If these points are not made out from the New Testament, or if any one of them fails, this argument for Episcopacy will be of no value.
The first claim is, that Timothy is called an "apostle," and was, therefore, clothed with apostolic powers. The proof on which this claim is made to rest is contained in 1 Thess. i! 1, compared with 1 Thess. ii. 6. Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy are joined together in the commencement of the epistle, as writing it to the church at Thessalonica; and in ch. ii. 6, the following expression occurs: "Nor of man sought we glory—when we might have been burdensome as the apostles of Christ." This is the sole proof of the apostleship of Timothy, of which so much is made in the Episcopal controversy, and which is usually appealed to as of itself sufficient to settle the question.
Perhaps there is no point in this controversy asserted with more confidence, or more relied on by Episcopalians, than that Timothy was an "apostle," and was "bishop" or prelate of Ephesus. It is of importance, therefore, to show how this matter is in the New Testament; and having disposed of this case, the argument about the immediate "successors" of the apostles is at an end.
Now, without insisting on the point which has been made out, that the apostolic office was conferred not to impart "superiority of ministerial rights and powers," but to bear "witness" to the great events in the life and teachings of the Saviour, the claim will be disposed of by the following considerations :
1. The passage in 1 Thess. ii. 6 does not fairly imply that Timothy was even called an apostle. For it is admitted (Tract, p. 15) that "it is not unusual for St. Paul to use the plural number of himself only." It is argued, indeed, that the words "apostles," and "our own souls," (v. 8,) being inapplicable to the singular use of the plural number, the "three whose names are at the head of the epistle are here spoken of jointly." But if Paul used the plural number as applicable to himself, would it not be natural for him to continue its use, and to employ the adjectives connected with it in the same number? Besides, there is conclusive evidence that Paul did not intend to include the "three" named at the head of the epistle in this expression in ver. 6. For in the verses immediately preceding the following language occurs: " We had suffered before, and were shamefully treated, as ye know, at Philippi," etc. Now it is capable of demonstration that Timothy was not present at that time, and was not subjected to those sufferings at Philippi. Acts xvi. 12, 19; xviii. 1-4. It follows, therefore, that Paul did not intend here to imply that "the three named at the head of the epistle" were apostles, and that he intended to speak of himself alone in ver. 6. That this is so, is evident from chap. iii. In ver. 1 of that chapter Paul uses the plural term also: " When we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone." Comp. ver. 5. "For this cause, when / could no longer forbear, Jsent to know your faith." From this it is clear that Paul, when he uses the plural here, refers only to himself, and that Timothy and Silas are associated with him in chap. i. 1, not as having apostolic authority, but for the mere purpose of salutation or kind remembrance.
2. Our next proof that Timothy was not an apostle is, that he is expressly distinguished from Paul as an apostle; that is, in the same verse Paul is careful to speak of himself as an apostle, and of Timothy as not an apostle. Thus, 2 Cor. i. 1: " Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother." Again, Col. i. 1: "Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother." Now the argument.is this, that if Paul regarded Timothy as an apostle, it is remarkable that he should be so careful to make this distinction, when his own name is mentioned as an apostle. Why did he not also make the same honourable mention of Timothy? The distinction is the more remarkable from the next consideration to be adduced, which is, that Paul is so cautious on this point—so resolved not to call Timothy an apostle—that when their names are joined together, as in any sense claiming the same appellation, it is not as apostles, but as -servants. Phil. i. 1: "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ." See, also, 1 Thess. i. 1; 2Thess.i. 1. These considerations put it beyond debate that Timothy is not called an apostle in the New Testament.
The second claim for Timothy is, that he was bishop—that is, prelate—of Ephesus. This is commonly assumed by Episcopalians as an indisputable or conceded point. Indeed, so confident are they of this, that it is not deemed necessary by them to suggest any arguments in the case, but it is adverted to as if it were among undoubted historical facts. Thus, in one of the latest publications on Episcopacy, Dr. McCoskry says, "The apostle places him [Timothy] over the church at Ephesus, and gives him the power to ordain elders and deacons in the churches, as is evident from his instructions to him." Now this point should be made out, for it is not one of those which we are disposed by any means to concede. It is to be remembered, too, that it is a point which is to be made out from the New Testament, for our inquiry is, Whether Episcopacy can be defended "by Scripture." Let us see how this matter stands.
It may be proper here to remark, that the subscription at the close of the Second Epistle to Timothy* is admitted on all hands to be uninspired, and of no authority in the argument. Assuredly, Paul would not close a letter by seriously stating to Timothy that he wrote "a second epistle" to him, informing him that he was "ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians," and that it was " written from Kome when Paul was brought before Nero the second time." None of the subscriptions at the close of the epistles in the New Testament are of any authority whatever; several of them are undoubtedly false; and where they happen to be correct, the correctness is to be made out from other considerations than the fact that they are found there.
Now, how does the case stand in the New Testament with respect to Timothy? What testimony does it afford as to his being "bishop of Ephesus?" A few observations will show what is the real strength of the proof relied on by Episcopalians in the case:
1. It is admitted that he was not at Ephesus at the time when Paul made his address to the elders at Miletus. Acts xx. 17-35. Thus, Dr. Onderdonk (Tract, p. 25) says, "Ephesus was without a bishop when Paul addressed the elders, Timothy not having been placed over that church till some time afterward." Here, then, was one diocese, or one collection of churches, which is admitted to have been constituted without a prelate. The presumption is, that all others were organized in the same way.
* "The second epistle unto Timotheus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians, was written from Rome, when Paul was brought beforo Nero the second timo."
2. The charge which Paul gives to the elders proves that Timothy was not there; and proves further, that they, at that time, had no prelatical bishops, and that they previously had had none. They are charged to take heed to themselves and to all the flock; "to feed" or "to rule" the flock etc. But not one word is to be found of their having then any prelatical bishop; not one word of Timothy as their episcopal leader. Not an exhortation is given to be subject to any prelate; not an intimation that they would ever be called on to recognise any such officer. Not one word of lamentation or condolence is expressed, that they were not fully supplied with all proper episcopal authority. Now, all this is inexplicable on the supposition that they were then destitute, and that it was desirable that they should be supplied with an officer "superior in ministerial rights and powers." Nay, they are themselves expressly called bishops, without the slightest intimation that there were any higher or more honourable prelates than themselves. Acts xx. 28: "Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops"—iTziaxo-xous.
3. It is admitted by non-Episcopalians that Timothy subsequently was at Ephesus, and that he was left there for an important purpose by the apostle Paul. This was when he went to Macedonia, 1 Tim. i. 3: " As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies." This is the only intimation in the New Testament, that Timothy was ever at Ephesus at all, except in the incidental statement in Acts xix. 22, that he was one of those who had there, in connection with Erastus, " ministered" to Paul: " So he [Paul] sent into Macedonia two of theni that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus." It is absolutely certain from this that Timothy was not "bishop" of Ephesus at that time; and if the fact that he was at Ephesus would prove that he was, the statement would prove that Erastus was also. It is important, then, to ascertain whether, when he was left there by Paul on his going into Macedonia, he was left there as a.permanent bishop? Now, in settling this, I remark, it is nowhere intimated in the New Testament that he was such a bishop. The passage before us (1 Tim. i. 3) states, that when they were travelling together, Paul left him there, while he himself should go over into Macedonia. The object for which he left him is explicitly stated, and that object was not that he should be a permanent prelatical bishop. It is said to be—" to charge some that they teach no other doctrine, neither to give heed to fables and endless genealogies;" that is, manifestly, to perform a temporary office of regulating certain disorders in the church; of silencing certain false teachers of Jewish extraction; of producing, in one word, a harmonizing effect which the personal influence of the apostle himself might have produced, but for a sudden and unexpected call to Macedonia. Acts xx. 1. Hence, it is perfectly clear that the apostle designed this as a temporary appointment for a specific object, and thai object was not to be prelate of the church. Thus he says, 1 Tim. iv. 13, " Till I come, give attention to reading;" implying that his temporary office was then to cease. Thus, too, referring to the same purpose to return and join Timothy, he says, 1 Tim. iii. 14, 15: " These things I write unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly; but, if I tarry long, that thou mightest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God;" implying that these directions were particularly to serve him during his appointment to the specific business of regulating the disordered affairs caused by false teachers, and which might require the discipline of even some of the bishops and deacons of the church, ch. v. vi. These directions, involving general principles indeed, and of value to regulate his whole life, had, nevertheless, a manifest special reference to the cases which might occur there, in putting a period to the promulgation of erroneous doctrines by Jewish teachers.
4. The claim that Timothy was bishop of Ephesus is one that must be made out by Episcopalians from the New Testament. But this claim has not been made out, nor can it ever be. There is nowhere in the New Testament a declaration or an intimation that he was constituted bishop of Ephesus. No assertion, so far as the New Testament is concerned, could possibly be more gratuitous than that he was " bishop of Ephesus;" and the wonder is, that such an assertion was ever made as depending on the authority of the New Testament, or that it should continue to be persevered in. Probably, the real ground of confidence in those who continue to make this assertion is the subscription at the close of the Second Epistle to Timothy—a subscription whose age and author are unknown, and which is destitute of every shadow of authority.
5'. The Epistle to the Ephesians shows further, that at the time when that was written, there was no prelatical bishop at Ephesus. Though, in that epistle, the apostle gives the church various instructions about the relations which existed, there is not the slightest hint that Timothy was there; nor is there the least intimation tuat any such officer ever had been, or ever would be, set over them.
The evidence from this epistle deserves more notice than has been usually bestowed upon it, and, taking all the circumstances of the case into consideration, is decisive on the question whether the church there had an Episcopal bishop. The circumstances are these: (1.) If Timothy was there as a " bishop" when the epistle was written, it is remarkable that there is no allusion to him in the epistle. A total want of all mention of him would have been an act of discourtesy such as we should not expect from the apostle Paul. (2.) If he had been formerly there and was then absent, it is no less remarkable that no allusion is made to the absent " bishop" of the church. It is difficult to account for it that there is no kind reference to his labours and fidelity; no expression of a wish that the church might soon enjoy his labours again. (3.) If the church was deprived of its bishop, or had none, and this " grade of officers" was essential to the proper organization of the church, then it is equally remarkable that there is no allusion to this fact, and no exhortation to take the proper measures to complete their organization by securing the services of one of the " successors of the apostles." (4.) Very specific instructions are given in the epistle to a great variety of persons, but none in relation to the " bishop," or their duties to him. Thus, we have special exhortations addressed to the church, ch. iv.; to husbands and wives, ch. v. 2123; to children and fathers, ch. vi. 1-4; to servants, ch. vi. 5-8; to masters, ch. vi. 9; but not one word in regard to the prelate or their duty to him. If it be said here that the same thing is true in regard to all ministers, and that they are not alluded to, the answer is obvious. Paul had given them a solemn charge personally when at Miletus, (Acts xx. 17-35,) and it was not necessary to allude to the subject in the epistle. He had said to them all which it was desirable to say, and no reference, therefore, is made to the subject in the epistle.
Now, if it cannot be made out that Timothy was bishop of Ephesus, then, in reading Paul's charge to the elders at Miletus, we are to regard them as intrusted with the care of the church at Ephesus. It is not necessary to our argument at present to inquire whether they were mere ruling elders, or presbyters ordained to preach as well as to rule. All that is incumbent on us is, to show that the New Testament does not warrant the assumption that they were subject to a diocesan bishop. We affirm, therefore, simply, that Paul addressed them as intrusted with the spiritual instruction and government of the church at Ephesus, without any reference whatever to any person, either then or afterward placed over them, as superior in ministerial rights and powers. And this point is conclusively established by two additional considerations :—-first, that they themselves are expressly called bishops, ixtaxoizuus—a most remarkable appellation, if the apostle meant to have them understand that they were to be under the administration of another bishop of superior ministerial powers and rights; and, second, that they are expressly intrusted with the whole spiritual charge of the church: " Feed the church of God"—xoi/iaivecv rf/v IxxXrjalav x. r. L But every thing in this case is fully met by the supposition that they were invested with the simple power of ruling. No one can deny that the word here used in the instructions of Paul to the elders of Ephesus involves the idea of ruling or governing. It properly means to feed, pasture, guard, defend, tend, as applied to a flock, and refers to all the care which a shepherd would extend over his flock. This includes not merely the feeding, properly so called, but the attention implied in protecting them, guiding them, saving them from danger, from enemies, &c. This language, when transferred to the shepherd of souls, the minister of the church, means that he is to exercise a similar care over the flock intrusted to him, the church. The mere business of counsel and instruction, of preaching and exhortation, does not meet the full sense of the word, any more than the mere business of feeding a flock would embrace all that the word means when applied to a shepherd. See Passow Lex. The word is used in the New Testament in the following places, and translated in the following manner: In Matt. ii. 6, Rev. ii. 27, xii. 5, xix. 15, it is rendered rule; and in Luke xvii. 7, John xxi. 16, Acts xx. 28, 1 Cor. ix. 7, 1 Pet. v. 2, Jude 12, Rev. vii. 17, it is rendered feed. In two of these places (Luke xvii. 7, 1 Cor. ix. 7) it is applied to the literal care of a flock; and in the others, where it is applied to a people, it involves the idea of government or control over them. The idea which would have been conveyed to the elders of Ephesus by the language employed by Paul would be, that they were to exercise the same care over the church which a shepherd does over his flock, or which a governor does over his people, or which the commander of an army does over his army. Every thing involved in control, care, discipline, government, would be fairly and obviously conveyed by the use of the term. It is the same language which the Saviour used when he addressed Peter, one of the apostles, in regard to the rule which he was to exercise over the church, (John xxi. 16,) and which he afterward himself addressed to the "elders" of the church, ranking himself with them as an elder, (1 Peter v. 2,)—in both places rendered "feed;" and is language which would not suggest the idea that there was a superior "grade" of ministers over them, and which would not have been used if there had been such a grade. The difficulty implied in the use of this word here by Paul, as addressed to the elders at Ephesus, has been felt by all Episcopalians. Dr. Onderdonk (Tract, p. 24) asserts, in order to meet the difficulty, that the authority of the elders at Ephesus extended only to the " laity," or church members, while Timothy, their bishop, had authority over the clergy. But where is the proof of this ? No such intimation is found in the address of Paul. The authority given them was " to feed, rule, or govern the church," of which they were the " bishops"—ixtaxoiious.
Let us now state the results of our investigation, and dispose of the case of Timothy. It has been shown that he was not an apostle. It has been further shown that there is no evidence that he wag bishop of Ephesus. We have thus destroyed the claim of the permanency of the apostolic office, so far as Timothy is concerned. And we now insist that they who wish to defend Episcopacy by "Scripture" should read the two epistles to Timothy, without the vain and illusory supposition that he was bishop of Ephesus. With this matter clear before us, how stands the case in these two epistles ? I .answer, thus :—
(I.) Timothy was left at Ephesus for a special purpose—to allay contentions, and prevent the spreading of false doctrine. The object for which he was left there is so explicitly stated, that there need be no occasion for ambiguity or doubt: " I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge \oine that they teach no other doctrine, neither gave heed to fables and endless genealogies." 1 Tim. i. 3, 4. The object was not to perform the rite of confirmation, nor to take the general oversight of a diocese, nor to ordain ministers, nor to administer discipline. None of these things, which are now understood to be the proper functions of prelatical bishops, are alluded to or hinted at. It was to make use of his influence, under the authority of the apostle, to prevent the propagation of error, and to maintain the truth—a work which would fall in with the proper functions of any minister of the gospel. In this, assuredly, there was nothing that claimed peculiarly episcopal authority and rank, for it is not even now claimed as one of the peculiar rights of Episcopal bishops.
(2.) It is not intimated or implied that Timothy was ordained, constituted, or appointed there at all. The language is, " I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus when I'went into Macedonia." The fact in the case was, that Paul and Timothy had been labouring there conjointly. Neither of them was bishop of the place. Paul was himself called to go to Macedonia, but he felt that it was important for one of them to remain at Ephesus for a time, and he " besought" Timothy to do it. Had it not been for this request of Paul, Timothy would have gone with him as a matter of course; that is, if he was the " bishop" of Ephesus, he would have gone off with the apostle—would have left his diocese— would have travelled to another part of the world; and it was only by the earnest exhortation of the apostle Paul that this "prelate" was induced to remain and attend to the appropriate functions of his episcopate. If Timothy was such a "bishop" as this, he set a bad example to his " apostolical successors." There are very few Presbyterian pastors who would have needed the exhortation of an apostle to remain and attend to the proper duties of his own charge.
(3.) This arrangement, as appears from the epistles, and as proved above, was to be temporary. Thus, Paul says that he left him there, not to be a permanent bishop of the church, but " that he might charge some that they teach no other doctrine." So far as the terms of this commission go, as soon as he had in a proper way delivered this charge, and so settled matters that there would not be danger that the erroneous doctrine would be taught, he would . be at liberty to change the place of his labours. That this was designed to be a temporary arrangement, and not a permanent appointment to the office of a prelate, is further manifest from another statement in the epistle itself, (ch. iii. 14, 15:) " These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: but if I tarry long, that thou
mayest know how thou oughtest "to behave thyself in the house of God." Here it is evident that, whatever was the reason why.the apostle was separated from him on this occasion, he expected that the cause would soon cease, and that their united labours would soon be resumed as before. Timothy was young and inexperienced, and Paul gave him such directions as would aid him in the work which was fora time intrusted to him. But suppose that Timothy was the permanent bishop of Ephesus : how incongruous and improper would it have been for Paul to say that he had given him instructions that would be adapted to direct him during his own temporary absence, and that he hoped soon to return to him again.—The same thing is implied in ch. iv. 13, of this same epistle: " Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." Why is the phrase "till 1 come" inserted, if Timothy was the established prelatical bishop over Ephesus? How can it be explained, except on the supposition that Paul regarded their separation as temporary, and that he supposed they would again resume their joint labours as they had done before, without either of them having any especial jurisdiction over Ephesus or any other "diocese"?
(4.) Timothy, as .appears from the epistles, was intrusted with the right of ordination, and with the authority of government in the church, just as all ministers of the gospel are. He is charged, indeed, to " lay hands suddenly on no man," (1 Tim. v. 22;) to " commit the things which he had heard of Paul among many witnesses, to faithful men who should be able to teach others also," (2 Tim. ii. 2;) to "put the brethren in remembrance of these things," (1 Tim. iv. 6;) to " charge some that they taught no other doctrine," (1 Tim. i. 3;) not to " receive an accusation against an elder, but before two or three witnesses," (1 Tim. v. 19;) and not to "rebuke an elder, but to entreat him as a father." 1 Tim. v. 1. These are all the specifications to be found in the epistles to Timothy, showing that Timothy had the right of ordaining or of governing the church intrusted to him at all, and there is not a syllable in them that contains any thing peculiar to the supposed office of a prelatical bishop, or that implies that Timothy had any such office. They are just such directions as would be given to any minister of the gospel authorized to preach, to ordain, to administer the ordinances of the church and its discipline—just such as are, in fact, given now to men who hold to the doctrine of ministerial parity. The " charges" which are given to Presbyterian and Congregational ministers at their ordination are almost uniformly couched in the same language which is used by Paul in addressing Timothy; nor is there any thing in those epistles which may not be, and which is not in fact, often addressed to ministers on such occasions. With just as much propriety might some antiquary hereafter—some future advocate for Episcopacy—collect together the charges now given to ministers, and appeal to them as proof that the Presbyterian and Congregational churches in this country were Episcopal, as to appeal now to the epistles to Timothy to prove that he was a prelate.
5.) The work which Timothy was to perform, even in Ephesus, is accurately defined: " Watch thou in all things; endure afflictions; do the work of an evangelist; make full proof of thy ministry." Here Timothy is expressly addressed as an evangelist. This was his appropriate business; this, his office. There is no direction to exercise any of the peculiar functions of a prelatical bishop; there is that he should be faithful in performing the work of an evangelist. How remarkable, if he was a "successor" of the apostles in the peculiarity of their office, that the apostle should limit his instructions to his faithfully performing the comparatively humble duties of an evangelist!