THE CONSTITUTION OF THE CHURCH AS ESTABLISHED BY THE SAVIOUR AND THE APOSTLES.
Having thus examined all the scriptural arguments which are adduced by Episcopalians in favour of the peculiar organization of their church, the argument might be left here, for, if the positions which have been taken are correct, the principal object contemplated is accomplished. If there is no scriptural authority for prelacy; none for an apostolical succession; none for confirmation; none for the right which the "bishop" claims for administering discipline,—then it follows that there is nothing in the system which makes it binding on the churches of the lledeemer, and that the whole arrangement of the Episcopacy is one of human origin.
But it is often objected by Episcopalians, that all the efforts of those who doubt the claims of the "Episcopate" are employed to demolish that system without proposing any substitute in its place; and that, while so much zeal is evinced to prove that their claims are not founded on the authority of Scripture, nothing is done to show what teas the plan on which the church in the New Testament was organized. It is proposed, therefore, to collect and arrange the scattered notices on this point in the New Testament, and to inquire whether it was the design of the Saviour to proscribe any form of church government which should bo universally binding on his church. The first point will relate to the officers referred to in the New Testament; the second, to the actual organization and government of the churches.
SECT. 1.— The Officers of the Church.
The officers referred to in the New Testament, in the organization of the church, may be divided into two great classes. 1. Those which were intended to be temporary; and, 2. Those which are so mentioned as to show that they were designed to be permanent.
I. Those which were designed to be temporary.
Under this class are to be ranked,
(1.) The apostles, properly so called, who were appointed by the Saviour to be his companions, to be Witnesses of what he taught, and to be WitNesses of his resurrection. This has been demonstrated in ch. ii. This office, from its nature, was temporary, and was confined to those who had been with him during his public ministry, and whom he had specially called for this purpose, with Matthias, who was chosen to fill the vacated place of Judas, (Acts i.,) and Paul, who was called to the special work of the apostleship among the Gentiles, and permitted to see the Saviour in a miraculous manner after his ascension, in order that he might have the appropriate qualification of an apostle. 1 Cor. ix. This office was one in which, from the nature of the case, there could be no succession, unless the "succession" was kept up by a miraculous manifestation of the Saviour to each one in the "succession," as in the case of the apostle Paul, to qualify him to be a "witness" that the Redeemer was risen from the dead. In reference to this point, I may briefly sum up all that has been shown to be contained in the New Testament. The case stands thus: (a.) There is no command in the New Testament to the apostles to transmit to others the peculiarity of the apostolic office. If the peculiarity of the office was to be transmitted, it was required that such a command should be given. But it has not been pretended that any such command has been discovered. (b.) There is no affirmation that it would be thus transmitted. No one has been able to find an affirmative on that point. And we may ask here whether it is credible that the apostles were bishops of a superior order, and that it was designed that all the church should be subject to an order of men " superior in ministerial rank and power," deriving their authority from the apostles, and yet not the slightest command thus to transmit it, and not the slightest hint that it would be done ? (c) It was impossible that the peculiarity of the apostolic office should be transmitted. I have shown, not by assumptions, but by a large array of passages of Scripture, what that peculiarity was: to bear witness to the great events which went to prove that Jesus was the Messiah, and that he rose from the dead. The peculiarity of that office, as specified by Jesus Christ, by the chosen apostles, by Paul, and by the whole college, Could Not be transmitted; for no prelate is, or can be, a witness, in the sense and for the purpose for which they were originally designated, unless he can make the affirmation which Paul did in proof that he was an apostle : " Am I not an apostle ? Have Inot seen Jesus Christ our Lord? 1 Cor. ix. 1. (d) I have examined the case of Timothy, of Titus, of Barnabas, and of the " angels" of the churches—the slender basis on which, in the absence of direct command to continue the succession, and direct affirmation that it would be continued, the whole fabric of Episcopacy has been reared.
The conclusion to which we have come is, that, while this was a most important and wise arrangement in the organization of the church, there is not the slightest evidence that the Redeemer intended that it should be perpetual; that it is impossible to make out the fact of such a "succession;" and consequently that the whole claim that the "bishop" is the "successor" of the apostles is a usurpation of authority in the church. The organization of the Christian church is complete without any such "succession"—or such officers—as really as it is without the "order" of "deaconesses," and without the "order" of the "seventy disciples."
(2.) There were special ministers sent out for a temporary purpose by the Lord Jesus himself: " After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come." Luke x. 1. These persons were (a) evidently appointed for a different purpose from the apostles. The apostles, as has been shown, were to be with him, to hear his instructions, to be witnesses of his miracles, his sufferings, his death, and his resurrection, and then to go and proclaim those things to the world; and, having done this, the apostolic office was to cease. The object of the appointment of the " seventy" is expressed, and we have no right to go beyond that in interpreting their commission. They were to " go two and two into every city and place, whither he himself would come." This was the extent of their commission. It was to proclaim the coming of JesUs of Nazareth, and prepare the way for his personal preaching there, evidently by calling the minds of the people to his claims, to the remarkable character of his preaching, to his power in working miracles, and to the evidence that he was the Messiah. There is no commission to go out of Judea, as the Saviour evidently did not design himself to go out of Judea; and there is no commission to the appointment as a permanent office. (6) Thej' were appointed to a temporary office. This appears from the nature of the commission, and from the fact that there is no reference in the New Testament to any persons who claimed to be the " successors" of the " seventy." There is no record of their number having been filled up when one of them died, nor is there any intimation whatever of the permanency of their office. We never hear them alluded to as having a fixed office in the church; nor in the appointment of any class of ministers is there any intimation that they were to succeed the " seventy" disciples. In the accounts of the churches which were organized by the apostles there is no allusion to them, nor does it appear to have ever occurred that any reference was to be had to them in the organization of a church.
If this be so,—and that it is, no one acquainted with the New Testament will deny,—then the appointment of the "seventy disciples" should not be urged as an argument to prove that the ministry wap established in " three orders of bishops, priests, and deacons." Between the appointment of the seventy, as the record is made in Luke, and the office of a "priest" in the Episcopal Church, there is no resemblance whatever. There is no evidence, as has been remarked, that it was to be permanent; there is no intimation that they were to be subject to the "bishops"—the apostles; or that they might not ordain, or might not administer the rite of confirmation, or that they might not administer discipline, or that they might not take the oversight of a "diocese." All this is language unknown to the New Testament ; and the simple and obvious account of the appointment of the " seventy" is, that they were employed by the Saviour to prepare the way for his personal ministry in the places where he proposed to go. (3.) There were in the apostolic church, also, "prophets," who, unless they were classed under the denomination of " teachers," were designed only to be temporary in the duration of their office. Acts xiii. 1: " There were in the church at Antioch certain prophets and teachers;" xv. 32 : "And Judas and Silas being prophets also themselves." 1 Cor. xii. 28: " God hath set some in the church—secondarily—prophets." Ver. 29: " Are a,\\ prophets?" Eph. iv. 11: " And he gave some prophets." 1 Cor. xiv. 3 : " He that prophcsieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort." Ver. 5: " I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied ; for greater is he that prophesieih than he that speaketh with tongues." Ver. 22: " Tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe
but to them that believe not; but prophecy serveth. not for them that believe not, but for them that believe." Ver. 29: " Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the others judge." There is some evidence that the persons here referred to were under the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and that they were therefore appointed in an extraordinary manner in the circumstances in which the church was placed when newly founded, and when it needed special guidance and direction. There is no evidence whatever that the office of " prophet" was intended to be permanent.
(4.) Under this denomination of officers that were not designed to be permanent, may be ranked also the office of deaconess. Horn. xvi. 1: " I commend unto you Phebe, our sister, which is a servant— Sidxmuv—of the church which is at Cenchrea." Comp. 1 Tim. v. 3, 9-11; Titus ii. 3, 4. Deaconesses appear to have been commonly aged widows, sustaining a fair reputation, and qualified to guide and instruct those who "were young and inexperienced. The " apostolical constitutions" say : " Ordain a deaconess who is faithful and holy, for the ministries toward the women." Book iii. Pliny, in his celebrated letter to Trajan, says, when speaking of the efforts which he made to obtain information respecting the opinions and practices of Christians: " I deemed it necessary to put two maid-servants, who are called ministrse, [deaconesses,] to the torture, in order to ascertain what is truth." The reason for their appointment in the early churches of the Gentiles was probably the fact, that in the East, females are kept secluded from men, and are not permitted to mingle freely in society, as is the case in the Western nations. It became necessary, therefore, to appoint aged and experienced females to instruct the young of their sex, to visit the sick, and to distribute to them the alms of the church. From the nature of the case, however, the necessity of this office would not exist in those countries where these customs did not prevail; and there is no reason to suppose that it was designed to be permanent in the church.*
II. Permanent officers mentioned in the organization of the church in the New Testament. These officers are:
(1.) Those designated by various terms, denoting that they were set apart or appointed to preach the gospel, to impart instruction, and to take the oversight of the flock. This class of persons is mentioned under different appellations—as preachers, bishops, pastors, teachers, evangelists; but all of them in such a connection and form, that it is evident that the arrangement was intended to be permanent.
* It may be a question, however, whether it would not ho well to revive this order in the church. There is a large claps of females in most churches, especially in cities, who cannot, in any proper sense and to any suitable degree, be under the supervision of a pastor. They are those who have had little early training in religion, who are not connected with pious families, many of whom are employed as domestics, and who peculiarly need instruction in the doctrines and duties of religion. Sorno of them are too old to be in Sabbath-schools, and many of them could not be well collected in Bible classes; but they could with great propriety be placed under the care of more aged and experienced females in the church, whose special duty it should bo to visit them, to counsel them, to instruct them, and to aid them in the divine life.
(a) The office of preacher was designed to be permanent, for the Saviour gave direction to his apostles to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature," assuring them that he would be " with them alway, even unto the end of the world." Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. Comp. Rom. x. 14,15; 2 Tim. iv. 2. That the office was designed to be permanent, is made certain from the instruction which Paul gives to Timothy: " And the things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." 2 Tim. ii. 2.
(Z>) The office of bishop, or overseer of the flock, in the true scriptural sense—as a pastor of a particular church—was designed to be permanent also. " The name ' bishop,' which now designates the highest grade in the ministry," says Dr. Onderdonk, (Tract, p. 12,) " is not appropriated to that office in Scripture. That name is given to the middle office or presbyters; and ALL that we read in the New Testament concerning 'bishops' is to be regarded as appertaining to that middle grade. It was after the apostolic age that the name ' bishop' was taken from the second order and appropriated to the first." The »ffice of "bishop," as it was used in the "apostolic age,"—denoting an "overseer,"—is designed to be permanent in the church. This is evident from the fact that instructions were given which implied this: " If a man desireth the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop, then, must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine." 1 Tim. iii. 1-7; Titus i. 7-9; Acts xx. 28; Phil. i. 1. The appointment of bishops in the churches by the apostles, and the instructions to Timothy in regard to their qualifications, prove that it was understood that the arrangement was to be permanent. No such instructions are given in regard to the qualifications of " apostles," or of prelates, as the "successors of the apostles," or of those who were to succeed the " seventy disciples," or of those who were to succeed the "prophets." Those things were, therefore, of a temporary character; this was a fixed arrangement.
(c) The office of pastor—another name for the office of " bishop"—was designed to be permanent, for the same reason that instructions are given which imply this, and that the office is mentioned in such a connection as to show that this was designed : " And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangeliste; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man." Eph. iv. 11, 12. This passage proves that some, at least of these offices were to be permanent in the church. That it was designed that the pastoral office should be one of them, is apparent from the fact that the word is applied to the office in such a way as to show that it was a permanent arrangement. The word "pastor," indeed, in the sense in which it is used in Eph. iv. 11, does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament, nor have our translators rendered the same word pastor elsewhere. It occurs often in the sense of shepherd, and is uniformly elsewhere so rendered. Matt. ix. 36; xxv. 32; xxvi. 31; Mark vi. 34; xiv. 27; Luke ii. 8, 15, 18, 20; John x. 2, 11, 12, 14, 16; Heb. xiii. 20; 1 Pet. ii. 25. But the verb (-i/i/mivoi) is so used as to denote that the office was to be of a permanent character. John xxi. 16: "He saith to him, Feed—xol/xatve—my sheep." This was indeed addressed to Peter; but that he understood it as contemplating a permanent arrangement in the church, is apparent from his own instructions given to the elders of the church : " The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, feed— ,ninijAvare—the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof [exercising the office of a bishop—i-iGzaxiiui'Tes]—not by constraint, but willingly." 1 Pet. v. 1, 2. Comp. 1 Cor. ix. 7.
(d) The office of teacher was designed to be permanent. Eph. iv. 11: " He gave some teachers." "And God hath set some in the church—thirdly, teachers." 1 Cor. xii. 28; Gal. vi. 6: "Let him that is taught in the word communicate to him that teacheih in all good things." Rom. xii. 7 : "Or he that teacheth on teaching." Comp. Acts xiii. 1 ; ICor. xii. 29; 2 Pet. ii. 1.
(e) The office of an evangelist, or of a publisher of the gospel, was designed to be permanent in the church. Eph. iv. 11: "He gave some evangelists." 2 Tim. iv. 5: " But watch thou in all things, do the work of an evangelist." Comp. Acts xxi. 8.
All these offices relate to the preaching of the gospel, and to the proper care and oversight of the church, and might evidently be united in the same person. There is no incompatibility in the offices themselves which would prevent this, and there is every reason to suppose that they were thus united. Nay, there is positive evidence that in the case of Timothy and of some of the apostles they were thus united. They are not incompatible now; and there is the same evidence that they were intended to be permanent that there is that the church itself was designed to be permanent.
(2.) There were rulers, or ruling elders, in the church, who are so mentioned as to make it probable that it was designed that there should be in every church such officers to direct and govern its affairs. That the permanent officers already referred to were authorized to exercise government over the church, in addition to the duty of preaching, of pastoral supervision, and of teaching, is evident from many places in the New Testament, as well as by the names by which they are designated; but there is also evidence that there was, in some churches at least, a distinct class of men to whom the government of the church was especially confided. In cases where a church was established where there had been a synagogue, it seems most probable that the apostles would make use of the existing organization in its government, and engraft the Christian church on that religious community which they found already in existence. On this point, the following remarks of Archbishop Whately seem so well founded, that they must commend themselves to every one as founded in truth :—
"It appears highly probable—I might say morally certain—that wherever a Jewish synagogue existed that was brought—the whole or the chief part of it—to embrace the gospel, the apostles did not there so much form a Christian church (or congregation ; ecclesia) as make an existing congregation Christian; by introducing the Christian sacraments and worship, and establishing whatever regulations were requisite for the newly-adopted faith; leaving the machinery (if I may so speak) of government unchanged; the ' rulers of synagogues,' elders, and other officers (whether spiritual or ecclesiastical, or both) being already provided in the existing institutions. And it is likely that several of the earliest Christian churches did originate in this way; that is, that they were converted synagogues, which became Christian churches as soon as the members, or the main part of the members, acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah.
" The attempt to effect this conversion of a Jewish synagogue into a Christian church seems always to have been made, in the first instance, in every place where there was an opening for it. Even after the oall of the idolatrous Gentiles, it appears plainly to have been the practice of the apostles Paul and Barnabas, when they came to any city in which there was a synagogue, to go thither first and deliver their sacred message to the Jews and ' devout (or proselyte) Gentiles,' according to their own expression, (Acts xiii. 16,) to the ' men of Israel and those that feared God;' adding, that 'it was necessary that the word of God should first be preached to them.'
"And when they found a church in any of those cities in which (and such were, probably, a very largo majority) there was no Jewish synagogue that received the gospel, it is likely that they would still conform, in a great measure, to the same model."*
* Kingdom of Christ Delineated, Essay II. 9.
But there is also express mention in the New Testament of permanent officers appointed to rule the church, as distinct from the teachers and pastors. 1 Cor. xii. 28: "And God hath set some in the church, first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that, miracles;" that is, those who had the power of working miracles; " then gifts of healing," or those who had the power of healing the sick; " helps, governments, diversities of tongues." The idea here is, undoubtedly, that there were those who were appointed in the church to the business of ruling—as there were for prophesying, or for teaching, or for healing the sick. Whether it refers to a distinct class of men who were set apart to this work, and who were to be a permanent " order" in the church, cannot, from this passage, be determined with certainty, and is not now material. All that is necessary to be observed is, that there were those who were distinct from the "apostles," and the " prophets," and the " teachers," whose office it was to administer the government of the church. The same thing is apparent from 1 Tim. v. 17 : " Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." The plain meaning of this passage is, that while there were "elders" who laboured in "the word and doctrine," that is, in preaching, there were also those who did not labour in " word and doctrine," but who yet were appointed to " rule" in the church.
(3.) There were in the church, as it was organized by the apostles, those who administered the office of deacons; and this office is so mentioned as to make it evident that it was designed to be permanent. Acts vi. 1-6. The office, as there designated, was to take the charge of the poor, and to administer to them the alms of the church. This office is subsequently referred to in such a way as to show that it was not designed to be a temporary appointment. Thus, the church of Philippi was organized with such a class of officers, and that class remained at the time when the apostle addressed them from Eome : " Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to the saints in Christ Jesus, which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons." Phil. i. 1. So in 1 Tim. iii. 8-10, the qualifications of " deacons" are so mentioned as to show that this was to be a permanent office in the church : " Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre, holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also be first proved, then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless." " Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that use the office of a deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." Verses 12,13.
It is to be remembered that, in the epistles to Timothy and Titus, the apostle was addressing those who were ministers of the gospel, and who were especially and expressly intrusted with the organizingof churches, and the appointment of Officers over them, (1 Tim. i. 3, 4; Titus i. 5;) and it will contribute to illustrate what has been said about the permanent offices of the church, to remark that in these epistles there are no instructions given about appointing any to be the " successors of the apostles" or to the apostolic office; none in regard to the appointment of those who should succeed the "seventy disciples ;" none in reference to the institution of " prophets;" and none in reference to the appointment of "deaconesses;" unless 1 Tim. v. 3, 9-11, and Titus ii. 3, 4, should be regarded as such. This circumstance is an additional consideration to show that those were not designed to be permanent offices in the church, but that they were temporary in their nature. It is scarcely conceivable that in formal letters to two ministers of religion, occupied mainly with instructions respecting the officers and the government of the church, there should have been such an omission if those offices had been designed to be of a permanent character.
(4.) There is evidence in the New Testament that it was intended that there should be a pernianent relation between a minister of the gospel and a particular church; or that the pastoral relation should exist. The evidence of this is found in the following considerations:—
(a) The name pastor, already adverted to, which naturally implies the existence of the correlative pastoral charge—as the name "shepherd" naturally implies that there is a, flock.
(J) The duty enjoined on the churches to provide for the wants of the ministers of religion, also, naturally implies the existence of this relation. It could scarcely be inculcated as a duty to support the ministry in general, or those to whom they sustained no special relation; and the duty is, in fact, enjoined on them to support those who laboured especially for their benefit. Gal. vi. 6: " Let him that is taught in the word communicate [impart] unto him that teacheth in all good things." 1 Cor. ix. 7 : " Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges ? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock 1" Ver. 11: " If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things ?" Ver. 14: " Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."
(c) Such permanent officers or pastors were appointed in the church at Ephesus. In the discourse of the apostle Paul to the " elders" of the church there, when assembled at Miletus, he addresses them as appointed to watch and guard and govern the church, evidently with the understanding that they had been appointed to their office as a permanent relation between them and the church there. " Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock. over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departure shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock." Acts xx. 28, 29.
(i?) The church at Philippi was likewise organized with those who are addressed as sustaining a permanent relation to the church. "Paul and Tiniotheus—to the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the BISHOPS (abv i-taxdmns—comp. the account of the " elders" of Ephesus, Acts xx. 28, "over which the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops"—txiaxdxous,) and deacons." Phii. i. 1. The office of " bishop," or pastor, therefore, in the churches at Philippi and Ephesus, was a permanent office.
(c) The same thing evidently existed in the churches in Crete. Thus Paul says to Titus, " For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldst set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee." Tit. i. 5. This relation, therefore, was to be constituted in every city where there was a church, and as this instruction was given to one who was himself a minister of religion, and who was set apart for the purpose of aiding in the organization of Christian churches, it follows that this was designed to be a permanent relation.
It is clear, therefore, that it was contemplated that there should be permanent officers in the church, and it is not difficult to determine what they were;
nor to ascertain from the New Testament what officers were appointed only for a temporary purpose.
Sect. 2.— The actual organization and government of the church, as described in the Mew Testament.
If the above views are correct, then but one inquiry now remains. It is, in what way was the government and discipline of the church actually administered ? Who appointed and ordained to the office of the ministry? Who administered discipline? Was this done solely by the "prelate"? Was ordination performed by him alone ? Had he alone the right to admit members to the church, and to exclude them from it ?—The positions which have been already taken on this subject will be strengthened by a brief view of the actual statements in the New Testament. I observe, then,
1. That presbyters had the right of ordaining.
If this can be made out, then it will be an additional consideration to show that the main point claimed for the superiority of bishops is unfounded. I proceed now, therefore, to show that there is positive proof that presbyters did, ordain. I have shown, in the course of the argument, that they exercised the office of discipline—one of the things claimed peculiarly for bishops; and I now proceed to prove, that the office of ordaining was oue which was intrusted to them, and which they exercised. If this point is demonstrated, then it will follow still further, that the peculiarity of the office of the apostles was not that they ordained, and that the clergy of the New Testament are not divided into " three orders," but are equal in ministerial rank and power. The argument is indeed complete without this; for, unless Episcopalians can show, by positive proof, the claims of their prelates to the right of ordination and discipline, the parity of the clergy follows as a matter of course.
I am a Presbyterian. But my argument does not require that I should go largely into a defence of the form of church government which I regard as most in accordance with the principles of the New Testament. The leading object of this " Inquiry" is to disprove Episcopacy; and the conclusion which will be reached on this point is one in which all who are not Episcopalians will coincide. All Protestant denominations, with the single exception of the comparatively small sect of Episcopalians, are agreed in maintaining the doctrine of the parity of the clergy, and the maintenance of this is the essential feature in which they differ from the advocates of Prleacy. If the claims of Episcopacy in regard to the "three grades" are disproved, it follows that the clergy are on an equality. If it is shown that the doctrine of the New Testament is that presbyters are to ordain, it is a sufficient disposal of the " feeble claims of lay-ordination," and of all other claims. It will follow, that a valid ordination is that which is performed in accordance with the direction that presbyters should ordain. It will follow also, as has been remarked, that Episcopal ordination is valid, not because it is performed by a prelate, but because it is in fact a mere Presbyterian performance. See pp. 123-126.
In proof of the point now before us, therefore, I adduce 1 Tim. iv. 14: "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the jiresbylcry." This passage, which, to the common sense of mankind, affirms the very thing under discussion, it is evidently material for Episcopalians to dispose of, or their claim to exclusive rights and privileges are forever destroyed. I shall, therefore, examine the passage, and then notice the objections to its obvious and common-sense interpretation, alleged by Episcopalians.
I observe then, (1.) That the translation is fairly made. Much learned criticism has been exhausted, to very little purpose, by Episcopalians, to show that a difference exists between " with" (/-terd) in this place, and " by" (did) in 2 Tim. i. 6. It has been said, " that such a distinction may justly be regarded as intimating, that the virtue of the ordaining act flowed from Paul, while the presbytery, or the rest of that body, if he were included in it, expressed only consent." Tract, p. 22. But it has never been shown, nor can it be, that the preposition "with" does not fairly express the force of the original. The same observation may be applied to the word " presbytery," (jcpeaporipim.) It denotes properly an assembly or council of elders, or presbyters— Versammluwj od. Rath dcr Aelteren. Passow. In Luke xxii. 66, it is applied to the body of elders which composed the Sanhedrim, or Great Council of the Jews, and is translated " the elders of the people:" To izpeaftuTipwv Too kaoo. See also, Acts xxii. 5: "the estate of the elders." The word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in the passage under consideration. Dr. Onderdonk has endeavoured to show, that it means " the office to which Timothy was ordained, not the persons who ordained him ; so that the passage would read, 'with the laying on of hands to confer thepresbyterate,' or presbytership, or the clerical office;" and appeals to the authority of Grotius and Calvin, in the case. Tract, pp. 19, 20. In regard to this interpretation, I observe, (a) That if this be correct, then it follows, that Timothy was not an apostle, but an elder,—he was ordained to the office of the presbyterate, or the eldership. Timothy, then, is to be laid out of the college of apostles, and reduced to the humble office of a presbyter. When prelacy is to be established by showing that the office of apostles was transmitted, Timothy is an apostle; when it is necessary to make another use of this same man, it appears that he was ordained to the presbyterate, and he -becomes an humble presbyter,— a " nose of wax" of great convenience to the argument of Episcopacy. But, (b) If the word " presbytery" (,xpeafioTipiov) here means the presbyter ate, and not the persons, then it doubtless means the same in the two other places where it occurs. In Luke xxii. 66, then, we receive the information that "the presbyterate," "the presbytership," or "the clerical office" of the people, that is, the body by which the people conferred " the presbyterate," came together with the scribes. In Acts xxii. 5, we are informed, that the " presbyterate," or " the clerical office," would bear witness with the highpriest to the life of Paul. Such absurdities show the propriety of adhering, in interpretation, to the obvious and usual meaning of the words, (c) The word is fixed in its meaning, in the usage of the church. Suicer (Thesaurus) says, it denotes " an assembly, congregation, and college of presbyters in the Christian church." In all the instances which he quotes from Theodoret, (on 1 Tiin. iv. 14,) from Chrysostom, (Homil. xiii. on this epistle,) from Theophylact, (in loc.) and from Ignatius, (Epis. to Antioch, and to the Trallians,) there is not the slightest evidence that it is ever used to denote the office, instead of the persons, of the presbytery. ((I) As the opinion of Grotius is referred to by Dr. Onderdonk, I will quote here a passage from his commentary on this place. " The custom was, that the presbyters who were present placed their hands on the head of the candidate, at the same time with the presiding officer of their body," cum ccetus sui principe. " Where the apostles, or their assistants, were not present, ordination took place by the presiding officer (Praesidem) of their body, with the concurrence of the presbytery,"—consent ienlc prcsbytcrio. It is particularly surprising that the authority of Calvin should have been adduced as sanctioning that interpretation which refers the word presbytery to office, and not to persons. His words are, " They who interpret presbytery, here, as a collective noun, denoting the college of presbyters, are, in my judgment, right." Myfirst argument, then, is, that the word "presbytery," denoting the persons who composed the body, or college of elders, is the proper, obvious, and established sense of the passage. (2.) It is evident, from this passage, that whoever else might have been engaged in this transaction, a material part of it belonged to the presbytery or eldership concerned. " Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy; WITH THE LAYING ON OF THE HANDS OF THE PRESBYTERY." Hero
it is evident, that the presbytery bore a material part in the transaction. Paul says, that the gift which was in Timothy was given him by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. That is, that some prophecies relating to Timothy (comp. 1 Tim. i. 18, "according to the prophecies which went before in thee") had designated him as a proper person for the ministry, or that it had been predicted that he would be employed in the ministry; but the prophecy did not invest him with the office—did not confer the gift. That was done—that formal appointmcnt fulfilling the prophecy—by the imposition of the hands of the presbytery. It was necessary that that act of the presbytery should thus concur with the prophecy, or Timothy would have remained a layman. The presbyters laid their hands on him, and he thus received his office. As the prophecy made no part of his ordination, it follows that he was ordained by the presbytery.
(3.) The statement here is just such a -one as would be given now in a Presbyterian ordination; it is not one which would be made in an Episcopal ordination. A Presbyterian would choose these very words to give an account of an ordination in his church; an Episcopalian would not. The former speaks of ordination by a presbytery; the latter, of ordination by a bishop. The former can use the account of the apostle Paul, here, as applicable to ordination, without explanations, comments, new versions, or criticisms; the latter cannot. The passage speaks to the common understanding of men, in favour of Presbyterian ordination—of the action of a, presbytery in the case; it never speaks the language of Episcopacy, even after all the torture to which it may be subjected by Episcopal criticism. The passage is one, too, which is not like that which speaks of the "apostles and elders," "the apostles, and elders, and brethren," the only direct passage on which Episcopacy relies, and which has no perceptible connection with the case; but it is one which speaks on the very subject—which relates to the exact transaction, and which makes a positive affirmation of the very thing in debate.
(4.) The supposition that this was not a.presbytcrial transaction renders the passage unmeaning. Here was present a body of men called a presbytery. We ask Episcopalians, why they were there ? The answer which they give is, not for the purpose of ordination, but for "concurrence." Paul, the prelate, say they, is the sole ordainer. We see Timothy kneeling before the presbytery. We see them solemnly impose their hands on him. We ask, Why is this? "Not for the purpose of ordination," the Episcopalian replies, " but for concurrence. Paul is the ordainer." But we ask, further, Had they no share in the ordination ? "None at all." Had they no participation in conferring the gift designated by prophecy? "None at all." Why, then, are they present ? Why do they lay their hands on him ? For "concurrence"—for form, for nothing! It was empty pageantry, in which they were mistaken when supposing that their act had any thing to do in conferring the gift; for their presence really meant nothing, and the whole transaction could as well have been performed without as with them.
(5.) If this ordination was the joint act of the presbytery, we have here a complete Scriptural account of a Presbyterian ordination. It becomes then, a very material question, how Episcopalians dispose of this passage of Scripture. Their difficulties and embarrassments in relation to it will still further confirm the obvious interpretation which Presbyterians suggest and hold. These difficulties and embarrassments are thus exhibited by Dr. Onderdonk: He first doubts whether this transaction was an ordination. Tract, pp. 18, 19. To this I answer, (1.) That, if it were not, then there is no account that Timothy was ever ordained; (2.) That there is no specific work mentioned in the history of the apostles to which Timothy was designated, unless it was ordination; (3.) That it is the obvious and fair meaning of the passage; (4.) That, if this does not refer to ordination, it would be easy to apply the same denial to all the passages which speak of the " imposition of hands," and to show that there was no such thing as ordination to the ministry, in any case; (5.) That it accords with the common usage of the terms—" imposition of hands"—1-cOlats Twv yupibv—in the New Testament. The phrase occurs but four times:—Acts viii. 18; 1 Tim. iv. 14; 2 Tim. i. 6; Heb. vi. 2. In all these places, it evidently denotes conferring some gift, office, or favour, described by the act. In 2 Tim. i. 6, it denotes, by the acknowledgment of all Episcopalians, ordination to the ministry. Why should it not here? (6.) If, as Dr. Onderdonk supposes, it refers to " an inspired designation of one already in the ministry to a particular field of duty," (Tract, p. 19,) then, (a) I ask, why we have no other mention of this transaction ? (i) How is it to be accounted for, that Paul, while here evidently referring Timothy to the duties and responsibilities of the ministerial office in general, should not refer to his ordination, but to a designation to a particular field of labour? His argument to Timothy, on such a supposition, would be this: " Your office of a minister of the gospel is one that is exceedingly important. A bishop must be blameless, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, etc. (Chap, iii.) In order to impress this more deeply on you, I refer you—not to the solemnity of your ordination-vows—but, I solemnly remind you of an inspired separation of one already in the ministry to a particular field of duty." I need only observe here, that this is not a mode of argument which looks like Paul. But,
Secondly. Dr. Onderdonk supposes that this was not a Presbyterian ordination. Tract, pp. lfl21. His first supposition is, that the word " presbytery" does not mean the persons, but the office, p. 19. This has been already noticed. He next supposes (pp. 20, 21,) that if " the presbytery" here means not the office given to Timothy, but a body of elders, it cannot be shown " of whom this ordaining presbytery was composed," p. 21. And he then proceeds to state, that there are " seven modes" in which this " presbytery" might be composed. It might be made up of "ruling elders;" or, it might be composed of the "grade called presbyters;" or, as Peter and John called themselves "elders," might be made up of "apostles;" or, " there may have been ruling elders and presbyters; or, presbyters and one or more apostles; or, ruling elders and one or more of the apostles; or, ruling elders, and presbyters, and apostles," p. 21. Now, as Dr. Onderdonk has not informed us which of these modes he prefers, we are left merely to conjecture. We may remark on these suppositions, (1.) That they are mere suppositions. There is not the shadow of proof to support them. The word "presbytery"—xpeapuTiputv—does not appear to be such a difficult word of interpretation, as to make it necessary to envelop it in so much mist in order to understand it. The argument here is such as a man always employs when he is pressed by difficulties which he cannot meet, and when he throws himself into a labyrinth, in the hope, that amidst its numerous passages, he may escape detection, and evade pursuit. (2.) If this " body of elders" was made up of " ruling elders," or, " of the grade called presbyters," then the argument of Episcopacy is overthrown. Here is an instance, on cither supposition, of Presbyterian ordination, which is fatal to the claims that bishops only ordain. Or, if it be supposed that this was not an ordination, but " an inspired separation of one already in the ministry to a particular field of duty," it is an act equally fatal to the claim of prelates to the general " superintendence" of the church; since it is manifest that these " elders" took upon themselves the functions of thisoffice, and designated " the bishop of Ephesus" to his field of labour. Such a transaction would scarcely meet with Episcopal approbation in the nineteenth century.
But in regard to the other supposition, that a part or all the " presbytery" was composed of apostles, I remark, (1.) That it is a gratuitous supposition. There is not an instance in which the term " presbytery," or " body of elders," is applied in the New Testament to the collective body of the apostles. (2.) On the supposition that the "presbytery" was composed entirely of apostles, then how does it happen that, in 2 Tim. i. 6, Paul appropriates to himself a power which belonged to every one of them in as full right as to him ? How came they to surrender that power into the hands of an individual ? Was it the character of Paul thus to assume authority which did not belong to him ? We have seen, already, how, on the supposition of the Episcopalian, he superseded " Bishop" Timothy in the exercise of discipline, in Corinth, and in his own "diocese" at Ephesus; we have now an instance in which he claims all the virtue of the ordaining act where his fellow-apostles must have been equally concerned.
But if a, part only of this " presbytery" was composed of apostles, and the remainder presbyters either ruling elders, or " the second grade," I would make the following inquiries:—Was Timothy ordained as a prelate ? So the Episcopalians with one voice declare—prelate of Ephesus. Then it follows, that Timothy, a prelate, was set apart to his work by the imposition of the hands of elders. What was then his prelatical character ? Does the water in the cistern rise higher than the fountain ? If laymen were concerned, Timothy was a layman still; if presbyters, Timothy was a presbyter still. And thus all the power of prelates, from him of Home downward, has come through the hands of humble presbyters—just as all non-Episcopalians believe, and just as history affirms. Or was he ordained as a,presbyter? Then his Episcopal character, so far as it depends on his ordination, is swept away; and thus we have not a solitary instance of the consecration of a prelate in all the New Testament.
Which of these suppositions Episcopalians would be disposed to receive as the true one, is not known. All of them cannot be true; and whichever is preferred is equally fatal to the argument, and involves a refutation of the claims of prelacy.
The only other reply with which Episcopalians meet the argument for Presbyterian ordination from this passage, is the supposition that the virtue of the ordaining act was derived from the apostle Paul. The passage on which they rest the argument for this is 2 Tim i. 6, " That thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee, by the putting on of My hands." On this passage I observe, (1.) Paul does not deny that other hands were also imposed on Timothy, nor that his authority was derived also from others in conjunction with himself. (2.) That by the supposition of Episcopalians, as well as Presbyterians, other hands were, in fact, imposed on him. (3.) It was perfectly natural for Paul, in consequence of the relation which Timothy sustained to him as his adopted son, (1 Tim. i. 2;) as being selected by him for the ministry, (Acts xvi. 3;) and, as being his companion in his travels, to remind him, near the close of his own life, (2 Tim. iv. 6,) that he had been solemnly set apart to the work by himself—to bring his own agency into full view—in order to stimulate and encourage him. That Paul had a part in the act of the ordination is admitted; that others also had a part—the " presbytery"—has been proved. (4.) The expression which is here used is just such as the aged Presbyterian minister would now use, if directing a farewell letter to a son in the ministry. He would remind him, as Paul does in this epistle, (2 Tim. iv. 6,) that he was about to leave the ministry and the world; and if he wished to impress his mind in a peculiarly tender manner, he would remind him also, that he took part in his ordination; that under his own hands he had been designated to the work of the ministry; and he would endeavour to deepen his conviction of the importance and magnitude of the work, by the reflection that he had been solemnly set apart to it by a, father. Yet who would infer from this,- that the aged Presbyterian would wish to be regarded as a , prelate?
I have now considered all the objections that have been made to the obvious interpretation of this passage, and it may now be submitted to any candid mind as a full and unqualified statement of an instance of Presbyterian ordination. Whichever of the half-dozen suppositions—assuming a hue, chameleon-like, from the nature of the argument to be refuted—that Episcopalians are compelled to apply to the passage is adopted, we have seen that they involve them in all the difficulties of an unnatural interpretation, and conduct us, by a more circuitous route, only to the plfin and common-sense exposition of the passage, as decisive in favour of Presbyterian ordination.
It has thus been shown that there was one Presbyterian ordination, in the case of Timothy, and this should be allowed to settle the question. As there is no other undisputed case of ordination referred to in the New Testament, and as we may presume that on an occasion of the kind here referred to, every thing essential to a valid ordination would be observed, it demonstrates that presbyters had and have the right to ordain.
2. The churches were intrusted with the right of admin istering discipline.
It has been shown at length, in the examination of the claims of the " bishop" to administer discipline, and to exercise supervision, (ch. iii. § 3,) that this claim is not sustained by the authority- of the New Testament. In further confirmation of these S views, and to show the nature of the organization of the Christian church, I shall now show that the churches were intrusted with this right, and were required to exercise it themselves. In support of this, I adduce the following passages of Scripture:—
Acts xx. 17, 18, 28: " From Miletus Paul sent to Ephesus, and called for the Presbyters (too? izpeapuTlpuus) of the church; and when they were come to him, he said unto them, Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which .the Holy Ghost hath made you Bishops, (ixw/.6-ous,) to feed (xotfiaiveiv) the chuwh of God." It would be easy to show, that the word translated feed includes the whole duty which a shepherd exercises over his flock, including all that is needful in the supervision, government, and defence of those under his care. Proof of this may be found in the following passages of the New Testament, where the word occurs in the sense of ruling or governing, including, of course, the exercise of discipline; for how can there be government, unless there is authority for punishing offenders? Matt. ii. 6; John xxi. 16; 1 Pet. v. 2; Eev. ii. 27. ("And he shall rule them (xoiiuali a.uTi>l>s) with a rod of iron;" an expression which will be allowed to imply the exercise of discipline; Rev. xii. 5; xix. 15; comp. Ps. ii. 9; xxiii.l; xxvii. 12; xlvii. 13.) The Iliad of Homer may be consulted, passim, for this use of the word; see particularly I. 263; II. 85.
1 Pet. v. 2, 3 : " The Presbyters (xpeajluTipous) who are among you I exhort, who am also a PresByter. Feed (xot/idvaTe) the flock of God which is among you, taking the Oversight (itziaxo-kowtes, discharging the duty of Bishops) thereof, not by constraint, but willingly." Here the very work which is claimed for prelates is enjoined on presbyters, and the very name which Episcopal bishops assume is given to presbyters, and Peter ranks himself as on a level with them in the office of exercising discipline, or in the government of the church. It is perfectly obvious, that the presbyters at Ephesus, and the presbyters whom Peter addressed, were intrusted with the pastoral care to the fullest extent, for they were required to engage in all the work requisite in instructing, directing, and governing the flock. And it is as obvious that they were intrusted with a power and an authority in this business with which presbyters are not intrusted by the canons of the Episcopal Church. It is respectfully asked, whether the bishop of Pennsylvania or New Jersey would now take 1 Pet. v. 2, 3, for a text, and address the "priests," or "second order of clergy," in these words, without considerable qualification :— "The Presbyters who are among you I exhort, who am also a Presbyter. Feed (rcotiidvare) the flock of God, discharging the duty of Bishops over it, (teta-xo-oovTe?,) not by constraint, neither as being LORDS over God's heritage."
Heb. xiii. 7: " Remember them which have the rule over you: T&v ,^youy.ivtov iS/taiv, YOUR RULERS." Verse 17 : " Obey them that have the rule over you." Ih\0e<r0e r<u? rtfoufiivuL; bfiibv. That bishops are here referred to, no one will pretend. Yet the office of ruling certainly implies that kind of government which is concerned in the administration of discipline.
1 Thess. v. 12: " We beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord." xa\ xpo'iara/iivoos Uiiwm Iv xupiui. 1 Tim. v. 17 : " Let the Presbyters that rule well (jr/joeoTiurc?) be counted worthy of double honour." There can be no question that these passages are applied to presbyters. We come, then, to the conclusion, that the terms which properly denote government and discipline, and on which alone any claim for the exercise of authority can be founded—the terms expressive of governing, of feeding, of ruling, of taking the oversight—are all applied to presbyters; that the churches are required to submit to them in the exercise of that office; and that the very term denoting Episcopal jurisdiction is applied to them also. We ask for a solitary passage which directs apostles or prelates to administer discipline; and the case of discipline, therefore, may be left to the common sense of those who read the New Testament, and who believe that presbyters had any duties to perform.
But further : The churches were authorized to administer discipline in connection with the presiding officers; and such an account is given of this matter as to lead to the inevitable conclusion that the churches were always consulted, and that discipline
was never administered by an independent foreign minister, such as an Episcopal bishop is. The case of the church of Corinth, the one on which Episcopalians)most rely, has already been considered, and it has] been proved that even there the apostle Paul did not assume the authority of excluding a member without the concurrence and action of the church, (if a similar character is the following direction given to the church at Thessalonica: "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed." 2 Thess. iii. 14. In this case the church was directed to administer discipline itself, if there was a member in it who was disobedient to the inspired command of the apostle. The direction is not, to observe him, and to report him to the apostle or " bishop," but to proceed themselves to the act of discipline, and so to exclude him as to have no company with him. And of the same nature is the direction of the Saviour himself, in the solemn command which lays the foundation for the only authority for administering discipline at all in the churches : " Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." IVner you.' ^jjjj 15-17. In regard to this passage, it maye here |if|> served, (1.) That it is to be presumed that5ce of ^ viour designed to embody the principles of difiraentjie here so that they might be applied iu all ages^line. 0 world, and so that this, in all circumstances, ^\to mold be an adequate direction. There is not anywhere;- . jj the New Testament a more formal direction given V w the subject of discipline, and it can hardly be pr^_". sumed that, on such an occasion, the Saviour would have omitted what he designed should be an essential and a permanent principle. (2.) The apostles had been chosen and ordained before that direction was given, (Matt. x.,) and if he had designed that they alone should have the power of administering discipline, it is unaccountable that there is no intimation whatever that so important a function was conferred on them. The direction, " Tell it to the church," (etei rj ixxXijaia,) is not one which would be understood as referring to the apostles, as being, in fact, " the church." It is a direction which would naturally be understood as referring to the assembly of the faithful. (3.) Equally unaccountable is it that no reference is made to the "successors" of the apostles, as having the power to administer discipline, and that this should be left to be a standing subject of mistake in all ages of the world. Even now, to the apprehension of the great body of plain Christians, this direction cannot possibly be made to mean that when an offence is committed, the brother
who is injured must tell it to " the bishop" as the "successor of the apostles," and that if the offender will not hear him, he is to be regarded as a " heathen man and a publican." (4.) This direction of the Saviour is not complied with in Episcopal churches, nor under their arrangement is it possible that it should be. The "bishop," intrusted with the administration of discipline, is not "the church," nor does " the church" ever have an opportunity of deciding on the case as the Saviour contemplated. The whole authority to administer discipline is claimed by the "bishop" by divine right, as one of the prerogatives of his office; and "the church" isexcluded from all participation in saying, either collectively or by representatives, whether the offender shall or shall not be regarded "as a heathen man and a publican." The church has no option in the case. The authority thus claimed by the bishop is a part of a system of usurpations on the prerogatives conferred by the Saviour on others. We have seen that he has usurped the prerogative of being regarded as the peculiar "successor" of the apostles; that he has usurped the exclusive power of ordaining—thus depriving presbyters of a right conferred on them in the New Testament; that he has usurped the right of "confirmation"—if it should exist at all in the church—thus practically declaring that the pastor is disqualified from admitting his own members to the communion, and claiming that there is some heavenly
influence imparted through his hands which can be conferred by no other minister of religion ; and we now see that this system of usurpation is completed by depriving the church and the eldership wholly of the right of administering discipline over an offending member, thus claiming that the whole of this tremendous power should be lodged in his hands. The standing, the influence, the character of each one of the thousands of a " diocese" is thus lodged ultimately in the hands of one man—a man who is a stranger; who is bound to them by none of the tender ties of the pastoral relation; and who has the sole power to decide the case without appeal. Now, we may ask, where any thing like this is to be found in the New Testament? Did the Saviour contemplate that the voice of the church should never be heard in the discipline of its own members ? On what basis is it that this power is claimed, thus depriving the churches of rights and prerogatives indubitably conferred on them by their Great Head ? It is a part of a great system of usurpation which began when ambition began in the church; which has been fostered to give authority to the higher " orders" of the priesthood; and which finds its appropriate place only in the corruptions of the papacy.
Sect. 3.— The primitive churches were organized without aprelate, and without' 'three orders of clergy.''
In support of this, I shall adduce the case of one church at least that was not organized on the principles of Episcopalians, with three orders of clergy. I refer to the church at Philippi: "Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus, who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons,"—obv ixc<rxd-oc; xal dtaxovois. In regard to this church, I make the following observations :—(1.) It was organized by the apostle Paul himself, in connection with Silas, and was, therefore, on the " truly primitive and apostolic" plan. Acts xvi. (2.) It was in the centre of a large territory, the capital of Macedonia, and not likely to be placed in subjection to a diocesan of another region. (3.) It was surrounded by other churches; as we have express mention of the church at Thessalonica, and the preaching of the gospel at Berea. Acts xvii. (4.) There is mention made of but two orders of men. What the deacons were, we know from the appointment in Acts v. 1-6. They were designated, not to preach, but to take care of the poor members of the church, and to distribute the alms of the saints. As we have there, in the original appointment of the office, the express and extended mention of its functions, we are to infer that the design was the same at Philippi. The other class, therefore—the "bishops"—constitute the preaching order, or the clergy—those to whom were committed the preaching of the word, the administration of the sacraments, and the discipline of the church. Now, either these bishops were prelates, or they were the pastors, the presbyters of the church If Episco
palians choose to say, that they were prelates, then it follows, (a) that there was a plurality of such prelates in the same diocese, the same city, and the same church ; which is contrary to the fundamental idea of Episcopacy. It follows, also, (&) that there was entirely wanting, in this church, the "secondorder" of clergy; that an Episcopal church was organized, defective in one of the essential grades, with an appointment of a body of prelates without presbyters; that is, an order of " superior" men, designated to exercise jurisdiction over "priests" who had no existence. If it be said that the " presbyters," or " second order," might have been there though Paul did not expressly name them, then we are presented with the remarkable fact, that he specifies the deacons, an inferior order, and expresses to them his Christian salutations; that he salutes also the " saints"— or the private members of the church— and yet entirely disregards those who had the special pastoral charge of the church. Paul thus becomes a model of incivility. In the epistles to Timothy, he gives him directions about every thing else, but no counsel about his brother " prelates;" in the epistles to the churches, he salutes their prelates and their deacons, but becomes utterly regardless of the "second order of clergy," the immediate pastors of the churches.
But if our Episcopal brethren prefer to say that the "bishops" here mean not prelates, but presbyters, we, so far, shall agree with th'em ; and then it follows, (a) That here is an undeniable instance of a church, or rather of a group of churches, large enough to satisfy the reasonable desire of any diocesan bishop for extended jurisdiction, organized without prelate or bishop. None is mentioned; and there are but two orders of men, to whom the care of the "saints at Philippi" is intrusted. (J) If there was a prelate there, then we ask, why Paul did not refer to him with affectionate salutations ? Why does he refer to "the second and third orders of clergy," without the slightest reference to the man who was " superior to them in ministerial rank and power" ? Was Paul jealous of the prelate? Or have we here another iustancc of indecorum and incivility ? (t) If they had had a prelate, and the see was then vacant, why is there no reference to this fact? Why no condolence at their loss ? Why no prayer that God would send them a man to enter into the vacant diocese ? (</) Episcopalians have sometimes felt the pressure of these difficulties to be so great, that they have supposed the bishop was absent when this epistle was addressed to the church at Philippi, and that this was the reason why he was not remembered in the salutation. Of this solution, I observe only, that it is mere assumption. But, even granting this assumption, it is an inquiry of not very easy solution, why Paul did not make some reference to this fact, and ask their prayers for the absent prelate. One can scarcely help being forcibly reminded, by the ineffectual efforts of Episcopalians to find a prelate at Pliilippi, of a remarkable transaction mentioned in I Kings xviii. 27, 28: "Either he is talking; or he is pursuing; or Ac is in a journey ; or pcradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked." It is scarcely necessary to remark, that # if a single church is proved to have been organized without the " three orders of clergy," the parity of the ministry is made out by apostolic appointment, and the Episcopal argument is at an end.
I may add, that this view of the organization of the church in Philippi is confirmed by an examination of the organization of the church in its immediate neighbourhood, in Thessalonica. In the two epistles which Paul directed to that church, there is not the slightest reference to any prelatical bishop; there is no mention of "three orders of clergy;" there is no hint that the church was organized on that plan. But one order of ministers is mentioned, evidently as entitled to the same degree of respect, and as on an eutiro equality. They were clearly of the same rank, and engaged in discharging the functions of the same office. " And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love, for their work's sake." 1 Thess. v. 12, 13. Will the advocates of Episcopacy be kind enough to inform us why there is no mention of the prelate, whether present or absent ?
Wc are hero prepared to estimate the force of the undeniable fact, that there is no distinction of grade or rank in the names which are given to the ministers of the gospel in the New Testament. It is admitted by Episcopalians themselves, that the names bishop, presbyter, etc., in the Bible, do not denote those ranks of church-officers to which they are now applied, but are given indiscriminately to all. On this point, we have the authority of Dr. Onderdonk. " The name'bishop,'" says he, " which now designates the highest grade of the ministry, is not appropriated to this office in Scripture. That name is given to the middle order, or presbyters;
and ALL THAT WE READ IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Concerning 'bishops,' (including, of course, the words 'overseers' and 'oversight,' which have the same derivation,) is To Be Regarded As PertainIng To This Middle Grade." Tract, p. 12. " Another irregularity of the same kind occurs in regard to the word ' elder.' It is sometimes used for a minister, or clergyman of any grade, higher, middle, or lower; but it more strictly signifies a presbyter." Tract, p. 14.
In accordance with this fact, which is as remarkable as it is true, we have seen that Peter applies to himself the name presbyter, and put himself on a level with other presbyters. " The presbyters which are among you, I exhort," (not I command, or enjoin, as a prelate would do,) " who am also a presbyter." 1 Pet. v. 1. And in the very next verse he exhorts them (the elders, or presbyters) to " feed the flock of God, taking the oversight," (i-htxutzoovtes, exercising the office of bishop,) " not by constraint."
Now Jet these conceded facts be borne in mind. The term presbyter is applied by the apostle Peter to himself, and " all that we read of in the New Testament concerning ' bishops,' is applied to the middle grade." The apostles address each other, and their brethren, by no words or names that indicate superior rank, grade, or authority. This fact can be accounted for only on the supposition that they regarded themselves, as ministers, as on a level. If they meant to teach that one class was superior in rank and power to others, they would not have used terms always confounding such distinctions, and always proceeding on the supposition that they were on an equality. It will not be pretended that they could not employ terms which would have marked the various grades. For if the term " bishop" can now do it, it could have done it then; if the term presbyter can now be used to denote " the middle grade," it could then have been so used. It' is clear, also, that if such had been their intention, they would have thus employed those terms. That the sacred writers were capable of using language definitely, Episcopalians will not doubt. Why, then, if they were capable, did they choose not to do it ? Are prelates now ever as vague and indefinite in
their use of the terms " bishop" and " presbyters," as were the apostles?
It is remarkable, also, that the mode of using these terms in the New Testament is precisely in accordance with the usage in Presbyterian and Congregational churches. They speak indiscriminately of their ministers, just as the sacred writers did, as "bishops," as "pastors," as "presbyters" or "elders," as " teachers," as " evangelists." They regard their ministers as on an equality. Did not the sacred writers do the same ?
It is as remarkable, that the mode of using these terms in the Episcopal churches is Kot that which occurs in the Bible. And it is as certain, that, were they thus to use those terms, it would at once confound their orders and ranks, and reduce their ministers to equality. Do we ever see any approximation in their addresses, and in their canons, in this respect, to the language and style of the New Testament ? Do we ever hear those of the "second order" —or priests—mentioned as bishops ? Do we ever hear the term presbyter or elder applied to their bishops? Would it not confound all the arrangements in the Episcopal Church, if the terms were thus indiscriminately applied? And yet, it is to be presumed that the terms used in the New Testament to designate any office may be used still. It cannot be improper to call things by their true names, and to apply to all ranks and orders of men the terms which are applied to them by the Spirit of inspira
tion. And as the indiscriminate use of these terms is carefully avoided by the customs and canons of the Episcopal Church; as there seems to have been a presentiment in the formation of those canons that such indiscriminate use would reduce the fabric to simple "parity" of the clergy; and as these terms cannot be so used without reducing these "ranks and orders" to a scriptural equality, we come to the conclusion, that the apostles meant to teach that tho ministers of the New Testament are equal in ministerial rights and powers.
Sect. 4.— Conclusion.
I have now gone through this entire subject. I have examined, I trust, in a candid manner—I am sure with the kindest feelings toward my Episcopal brethren—every argument which they have to adduce from the Bible in favour of the claims of their bishops. Those arguments have been disposed of, step by step. These are All the arguments which Episcopacy has to urge from the Bible. There is nothing that remains. The subject is exhausted. Episcopacy rests here; and it is incumbent on Episcopacy to show, not to affirm, that our interpretation of those passages is not sustained by sound principles of exegesis.
The burden of proof still lies on them. They assumed it, and on them it rests. They affirm that enormous powers are lodged in the hands of the prelate—every thing pertaining to ordination, to confirmation, to discipline, to the superintendence of the Christian church. They claim powers for the " bishop" which would degrade every presbyter in the world; which would reduce him to the condition of a subordinate officer, and which would strip him of the right of transmitting his own office, and of administering discipline among his own flock. They arrogate powers which go to deprive all other presbyters, except Episcopal presbyters, of any right to officiate in the church of God; rendering their ordination invalid, their administrations void, and their exercise of the functions of their office a daring and impious invasion of the rights of the priesthood, and a violation of the law of Christ. The foundation for these sweeping, and certainly not very modest, claims, I have examined with all freedom. The argument for prelacy may be summed up in a word. It consists in the text—the solitary text—"the apostles and elders," "the apostles, and elders, and brethren," joined to a circuitous train of reasoning, remote from common apprehension, and too abstruse for the guidance of the mass of men. Step by step, I have followed the defenders of this system in their circuits; argument after argument I have endeavoured patiently to displace; and at the conclusion, I may ask any person of plain common sense to place his finger on that portion of the book of God which is favourable to prelacy.
This argument for the authority of prelates having been met and disproved, I have produced an instance of express Presbyterian ordination, in the case of Timothy. Two churches we have found which were organized without prelates. We are thus, by another train of argument, conducted to the same result—that prelates are unknown in the New Testament. And, to make the argument perfectly conclusive, it has been shown that the same titles are applied indiscriminately to all.
This argument may be summed up in still fewer words. The Episcopal claims are not made out; and, of course, the clergy of the New Testament are equal. The Episcopalian has failed to show that there were different grades; and it follows that there must be parity.
In conducting this argument, I have endeavoured to show that the claims of Episcopalians are unfounded, and at the same time that there were arrangements in regard to the constitution, government, and officers of the church, which were designed to be permanent. The general principles of church organization were laid down as binding. The details were not prescribed; they were left, like the subject of civil government, to be modified by circumstances from age to age. The gospel was to be preached in all lands and in all times; the church was to be located under different forms of civil government, and among people of different habits and customs; the organization of the Christian community was to be such as would be consistent and proper under a civil government of the monarchical, the aristocratic, or the republican form. Those regulations in detail which would be fitted to the customs of the Oriental world, might be little adapted to habits which might exist toward the setting sun; and rites, and customs, and modes of worship and of discipline which would have been appropriate to the times when the apostles lived, might be illadapted to some future age of the world. The same great principles of truth and worship might receive new influence and power under some modified form in a future age; and the external arrangements of the church might be left, as the subject of human government is, somewhat to the developments of time and experience. Truth is always the same. The doctrines of religion were not, indeed, susceptible of being modified—for truth is always the same. But the details of worship, and order, and discipline in the church did not require or admit of the same explicitness which were requisite in regard to the doctrines of the Trinity and the atonement.
The following remarks of Archbishop Whatcly on this subject seem to me to be so weighty and important, as to demand the profound attention of all who would understand the constitution of the Christian church:—
" Among the important facts which we can collect and fully ascertain from the sacred historians, scanty and irregular and imperfect as are their records of particulars, one of the most important is that very scantiness and incompleteness in the detail—that absence of any full and systematic description of the formation and regulation of Christian communities that has been just noticed. For we may plainly infer, from this very circumstance, the design of the Holy Spirit, that those details, concerning which no precise directions, accompanied with strict injunctions, are to be found in Scripture, were meant to be left to the regulation of each church, in each age and country. . On any point in which it was designed that all Christians should be, everywhere and at all times, bound as strictly as the Jews were to the Levitical law, we may fairly conclude they would have received directions no less precise, and descriptions no less minute, than had been afforded to the Jews.
" It has often occurred to my mind that the generality of even studious readers are apt, for want of sufficient reflection, to fail of drawing such important inferences as they often might, from the omissions occurring in any work they are perusing; from its not containing such and such things relative to the subject treated of. There are many cases in which the non-insertion of some particulars which, uuder other circumstances,, we might have calculated on meeting with in a certain book, will be hardly less instructive than the things we do meet with.
"And this is much more especially the case when we are studying works which we believe to have been composed under divine guidance. For, in the case of mere human compositions, one may conceive an author to have left out some important circumstances, either through error of judgment or inadvertency, or from having written merely for the use of a particular class of readers in his own time and country, without any thought of what might be necessary information for persons at a distance and in after-ages; but we cannot, of course, attribute to any such causes omissions in the inspired writers. On no supposition whatever can we account for the omission, by all of them, of many points which they do omit, and of their scanty and slight mention of others, except by considering them as withheld by the express design and will (whether communicated to each of them or not) of their heavenly Master, restraining them from committing to writing many things which naturally, some or other of them at least, would not have failed so to record. inents, or for conferring holy orders; nor do they even give any precise directions as to these and other ecclesiastical matters—any thing that at all corresponds to the rubric, or set of canons."*
" No such thing is to be found in our Scriptures as a catechism, or regular Elementary Introduction to the Christian religion; nor do they furnish us with any thing of the nature of a systematic creed, set of articles, Confession of Faith, or by whatever other name one may designate a regular, complete compendium of Christian dootrines; nor, again, do they supply us with a liturgy for ordinary public worship, or with forms for administering the sacra
I here close this inquiry into the organization and government of the apostolic church. As there is nothing in the Bible which Episcopacy can add, the whole subject here should be allowed to rest. The entire scriptural argument is exhausted ; and here the inquiry ends. In conclusion, I may remark, that I speak, I believe, the language of the great body of those who are not Episcopalians—and the language expresses the convictions of my intellect and the feelings of my heart—when I say, that we have no unkind emotions toward those who believe that Episcopacy is founded on the word of God, and is the form of church government best adapted to promote the cause of the Redeemer of the world. We do not forget the former services which the Episcopal church rendered to the cause of truth and of the world's redemption: We remember the bright and ever-living lights which her clergy and her illustrious laymen have in other times enkindled in the darkness of this world's history, and which continue to pour their pure and steady lustre on the literature, the laws, and the customs of Christian
* Kingdom of Christ Delineated, Essay II. g 8.
nations; and we trust the day will never come when the bosoms of Christians in any denomination will cease to beat with emotions of lofty thanksgiving to the God of grace that he raised up such gifted and holy men, to meet the corruptions of the papacy, and to breast the wickedness of the world.
We have no unkind emotions toward any branch of the true church of God. We strive to cherish feelings of affectionate regard for them all, and to render praise to the common Father of Christians, for any efforts which are made to advance the intelligence, the purity, and the salvation of mankind. In our views of the nature of mind and of freedom, we can have no uncharitable emotions toward any denomination of true Christians. " There are diversities of organizations, but the same Spirit." We have no expectation that all men, in this world, will think alike; and we regard it as a wise arrangement that the church of God is thus organized into different sections and departments, under the banner of the common Captain of their salvation. It promotes inquiry; it prevents complacency in mere forms and ceremonies; it produces healthy and vigorous emulation; it affords opportunities for all classes of men to arrange themselves according to their preferences and their habits of thought; and it is not unfavourable to that kindness of feeling which the Christian can cherish, and should cherish, when he utters in the sanctuary the article of his faith, " I believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints." The attachment of a soldier to a particular company or squadron need not diminish his respect for other divisions of the armies of his country, or extinguish his love for her liberty. His being joined to a company of infantry need not make him feel that cavalry is useless, or involve him in a controversy with the artillery.
We ask only that Episcopacy should not assume arrogant claims ; that she should, be willing to take her place among other denominations of Christians, entitled, like them, to all the tender and sympathetic affections of the Christian brotherhood, and willing that they should walk in the liberty wherewith Christ has made his people free. We ask, that while we cheerfully concede this, she also should concede to all those who "love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity," the right to be accredited as being true churches of the Lord Jesus, and as having a valid ministry and valid ordinances.* We shall have no contest with our Episcopal brethren for loving the church of their choice, and the church in which they seek to prepare themselves for heaven. We shall not utter the language of unkindness for their reverencing the ministerial office in which the spirits of Cranmer and Leighton were prepared for their eternal rest. Content that other denominations should enjoy like freedom, when they do not arrogate to themselves unholy claims, and attempt to " lord it over" other parts of " God's heritage," we shall pray for their success, as for that of all other Christians, and rejoice in their advancement. But the moment they cross this line—the moment they make any advances which resemble those of the papacy—the moment they set up the claim of being the only " primitive and apostolical church"— and the moment they speak of the " invalid ministry" and the " invalid ordinances" of other churches, and regard them as " left to the uncovenanted mercies of God"—that moment the language of argument and of Christian rebuke should be heard from every other denomination. There are minds which can investigate the Bible as well as the advocates for Episcopacy; there are pens which can compete' with any found in the Episcopal Church; and there are men who will not be slow to rebuke the first appearance of arrogance and of lordly assumption, and who will remind them that the time has gone by when an appeal to the infallible church will answer in this controversy. Arrogant assumptions do not suit the present state of intelligence in this land, or the genius of our institutions. While the Episcopal Church shall seek, by kind and gentle means, to widen its influence, like the flowing of a river, or like the dews of heaven, we shall hail its advances : when she departs from this course, and utters the language of authority and denunciation,—when she endeavours to prostrate other churches, as with the sweepings of the mountain torrent,—she will be reminded, by a voice uttered from all the institutions of these times, that Episcopacy has had its reign of authority in the dark ages and at the Vatican; and that the very genius of Protestantism is, that one church is not to utter the language of arrogance over another, and that not authority or denunciation, hut Scriptural Exposition, is to determine which is in accordance with the hook of God.
* This right is conceded tn form by the author of the " Tract" so often noticed in this argument—Dr. Onderdonk. "An apparently formidable, yet extraneous difficulty," says he, " often raised, is, that Episcopal claims unchurch all nonEpiscopal denominations. By the present writer this consequence is not allowed." P. 6. But is it ever conceded in any other way, or ever acted on ? Is there any recognition of the ministers of other denominations as having a right to preach tho gospel? Is there any introduction of them to the pulpits of Episcopal churches? Would such an introduction by any of the "inferior clergy" be tolerated or connived at by the diocesan bishop? To ask these questions is to answer them. But another question may be asked here : it is, How can many of the clergy of the Episcopal Church be satisfied with occupying such a position in regard to their ministerial brethren of other denominations, as to have the fair interpretation of their conduct to he that they regard them as wholly unauthorized to preach the gospel? Do they really holicvo this? If they do not, does not Christian candour, fairness, independence, and justice, require them in act and word to avow it?
We have no war to wage with Episcopacy. We know, we deeply feel, that much may be said in favour of it, apart from the claim which has been set up for its authority from the New Testament. Its past history, in some respects, makes us weep; in others, it is the source of sincere rejoicing and praise. We cannot forget, indeed, its assumptions of power, or hide from our eyes the days of the papacy, when it clothed in sackcloth the Christian world. We cannot forget the days in its history, when, even as a part of the Protestant religion, it brought ".a numb and chill stupidity of soul, an inactive blindness of mind, upon the people, by its leaden doctrine;" we cannot forget "the frozen captivity" of the church, " in the bondage of prelates;"* nor can we remove from our remembrance the sufferings of the Puritans, and the bloody scenes in Scotland. But we do not charge this on the Episcopacy of our times. We do not believe that it is essential to its existence. With more grateful feelings we recall other events of its history. We associate it with the brightest and happiest days of religion, and liberty, and literature, and law. We remember that it was under the Episcopacy that the church in England took its firm stand against the papacy; and that this was its form when Zion rose to light'and splendour from the dark night of ages. We remember the name of Cranmer—Cranmer, first, in many respects, among the reformers; that it was by his steady hand that, under God, the real church of the Saviour was conducted through the agitating and distressing times of Henry the Eighth. We remember that God gave this distinguished pre
late access to the heart of one of the most capricious, cruel, inexorable, blood-thirsty, and licentious monarchs that has disgraced the world; and that for the sake of Cranmer and his church, he conducted Henry as "by a hook in the nose," and made him faithful to the Archbishop of Canterbury when faithful to none else; so that, perhaps, the only redeeming trait in the character of Henry is his fidelity to this first British prelate under the reformation.* The world will not soon forget the names of Latimer and Ridley, and Rogers and Bradford; names associated in the feelings of Christians with the long list of ancient confessors " of whom the world was not worthy," and who did honour to their nature and to mankind by sealing their attachment to the Son of God in the flames. Nor can we forget that we owe to the Episcopal Church that which fills our mind with gratitude and praise, when we look for examples of consecrated talent, elegant literature, and humble piety. While men honour elevated Christian feeling—wKile they revere sound learning—while they render tribute to clear and profound reasoning—they will not forget the names of Barrow and Taylor, of Tillotson, Hooker, and Butler; and when they think of humble, pure, sweet, heavenly piety, their minds will recur instinctively to the name of Leigh ton. Such names do honour to the world. When we think of them, we have it not in our hearts to utter one word against a church which has thus done honour to our race and to our common Christianity.
* It may be proper here to remark, that Cranmer by no means entertained the modern views of the scriptural authority of bishops. He maintained "that the appointment to spiritual offices belongs indifferently to bishops, to princes, or to the people, according to the pressure of existing circumstances. He affirmed the original identity of bishops and presbyters ; and contended that nothing more than mere election or appointment is essential to the sacerdotal office, without consecration or auy other solemnity." Le Bas' Life of Cranmer, vol. i. p. 197.
Such we wish Episcopacy still to be. There are minds and hearts, we doubt not, which will find more edification in the forms of worship in that church than in any other. To all who hold essential truth, we bid God-speed; and for all such we lift our humble supplications to the God of all mercy, that he will make them the means of spreading the gospel around the globe. We have never doubted that many of the purest flames of devotion which rise from the earth ascend from the altars of the Episcopal Church, and that many of the purest spirits which the earth contains minister at those altars, or breathe forth their prayers and praises in language consecrated by the use of piety for centuries."
We have but one wish in regard to Episcopacy. We wish her not to assume arrogant claims. We wish her not to utter the language of denunciation. We wish her to fall in with the spirit of the age. Our desire is that she mav become throughout— what we would fain hope she is increasingly becoming—the warm, devoted friend of revivals and of missionary operations. She is consolidated; wellmarshalled; under an efficient system of laws; and pre-eminently fitted for powerful action in the field of Christian warfare. We desire to see her,—with her dense, solid organization; with her unity of movement; with her power of maintaining the position which she takes; and with her eminent ability to advance the cause of sacred learning and the love of order and of law,—accompanying other churches in the conquests of redemption in an alienated world; and whatever positions may be assigned to other denominations, we will cherish the hope that the Episcopal Church is destined yet to consecrate her wealth and power to the work of making a perpetual aggression on the territories of sin and of death.
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