Abbildungen der Seite

An unknown correspondent has communicated an anonymous pamphlet, that

has lately appeared in the State of Maryland. From its conciseness and clearness of argumentation we are induced to give it entire to our readers

Three Essays ; On the ConstitUTION OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH ; the Soc.

CESSion in the MINISTRY ; and SCHISM ; with Notes. “But (Jesus Christ) because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable Priesthood."

HEB. VII. 24. PREFACE. THE three following Essays were first published in the Eastern Star, during the controversy on the validity of the Methodist Episcopacy. It was thought, that while the attention of some was drawn to the subject of Church Policy, it might be useful to state, in a concise manner, the grounds of Episco: pacy. They are now republished, with a hope, that they will be both useful and satisfactory to those, who have neither time nor inclination to read much upon the subject. Many persons, who would not venture upon a volume, will read a small pamphlet.' And the author believes, that the great principles of Episcopacy are here stated, and the strongest proofs adduced. They may also encourage some to read those larger works upon the subject, in which the same principles are more fully proved and illustrated; and the objections ans, wered : such as, Slater's draught of the Primitive Church, Potter on Church Government, Skinner's Primitive Truth and Order vindicated; and Daubeny Guide to the Church. Nor is the author without some expectation, that, with a Divine Blessing, these little tracts may be happily instrumental in confirming many in the belief, that the Protestant Episcopal Church is a truly Apostolic Church.

They have been carefully perused; the objections to them have been seriously weighed ; some additions and alterations have been made ; and further proofs and explanations have been added by way of notes.

BY the attentive reader of the New-Testament, it will be readily perceived, that our Saviour intended to form his followers into a regular and well governed society. Indeed it is so consistent with mere common sense, that those who were to be drawn from the idolatries, the superstions and the crimes of a corrupted world, should be formed into a distinct community, and regularly governe ed, that even to suppose the contrary would imply a strong impu, tation of the wisdom of the divine head of the church. But in this, as well as in all other cases, it is completely in the power of the well informed christian to vindicate his divine master. Even bis time being pointed out in prophecy as a reign, implies that he was to be a king ; 'and when this title was conferred upon him, he admitted it to be correct in a spiritual sense. The advancement of his religion, and the management of his church, are often designated by the administration of the affairs of a kingdom. Besides when Christ called himself the vine, and his disciples the branches, (1) he surely meant that there was an intimate connexion between him and his church.-When he compared the community of christians to a sheep-fold, (2) this must imply that they were to have pastors.And when St. Paul declared the ministry to be the members of the body of Christ, (3) he surely meant, that there were to be various offices and various functions.

These particulars put together comprehend all the chief charac(1) John xv. 5. (2) John 8. 1–19. (3) Rom : xii. 1.

teristics of a true christian church namely : that it is a regular spiritual community that it derives all its efficacy from its connection with our Lord—and that it possesses a ministry of different orders and functions. These things being true, the reverse cannot - viz. that christians may live without any government that they may erect themselves into self-created societies or that they may all become ministers without distinction.

When I assert, that the constitution of the christian church is of divine origin, I do not mean, that it was completely organized by our Lord. The apostles, it seems, received many directions from him, that are not recorded.-After his resurrection he was seen of them forty days, during which time he spoke of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God," (4) Before his crucifixion he told them that his father would send the Holy Spirit the Comforter. (5.)— When he gave the apostles their commission, he breathed on them and said unto them, “ receive ye the Holy Ghost." (6) This constituted their complete ordination to the ministry of his gospel. And the subsequent powers conferred on the day of Pentecost; were only to enable them to carry their cominission fully into effect. (7)

The Apostles then must be admitted to have had divine power, and of consequence, whatever they did either in preaching the gospel or forming the church must be received as of divine authority.

Our Saviour thus far formed his spiritual community. He instituted the sacrament of Baptism, by which members should be admitted into this community. He appointed the Eucharist as a perpetual memorial of his atonement. He vested his apostles with authority to govern this community. And all this they faithfully carried into effect. They admitted no members without Baptism, they regularly administered the holy Eucharist, and they governed the church with strictness and uniformity.

Our Saviour appointed, first, the twelve apostles and then the seventy disciples. Thus was a ministry formed of three orders. Christ himself, the great high priest ; the apostles; and the disciples. During his life, he was the source of all authority ; and it was not till after his resurrection that he conferred power upon the apostles to govern his church or to ordain ministers. After his ascension, the apostles were the source of all authority in the visible church, and this authority they communicated to others as their divine master had communicated it to them. During the time of the apostles, elders or priests and deacons were the other orders of the ministry. But we find no instances of any ministers but those of the highest order, ever presuming to confer ordination. And by our Saviour's confining the right of ordination to the apostles, it is evident that that right was to be transmitted through their order.

It is true, it has been contended, that Timothy was ordained by (4) Acts (1.) 3. (5) Jobn xiv. 16. (6) Jolin xx. 22. (7) It is evident, that to bestow a commission, and to grant powers to carry this commission into effect, may in many cases be very different. A general may have a commission or orders to take a city, but without troops and im. plements of war he cannot accomplish it. The Apostles had a commission to propagate the gospel and to govern the church, but without extraordinary gifts they were inadequate to the task. The commission was granted by our Lord, the gifts were conferred by the Holy Ghost.

the presbytery ; and for proof of this, the following text has been quoted; « Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery." (8) But it also appears from another text that he was ordained by St. Paul : I put thee in remembrance, that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands." (9) Here it is to be remarked that the charisma, or gift is not said to have been conferred by the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery, in the first text : but in the second, it is ascribed to the laying on of the hands of the apostle. These texts then taken together prove, that Timothy was ordained by St. Paul, and that the Presbyters present, laid on their hands as a testimony of their approbation.

In some of the declarations of St. Paul, we have strong additional proof of the divine origin of the constitution of the christian church. “ God says he hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." (10) Here, although we have not a distinct enumeration of the offices and functions of the ministry, yet I think this text is a strong proof of its divine appointment. " He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors, and teuchers ; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry.(11) And when the apostles were combating that disposition to schism, which appeared even in their time, they always exhorted the people to look upon them as the ministers of Christ, and upon Christ as the original source of all authority.

The apostles, careful to preserve the Church of Christ, in the manner designed by their Lord, consecrated successors with the same power as themselves. Of these, among others, were Timothy and Titus. There can be no reasonable doubt, from the directions given them with regard to ordination and church government, that they were vested with authority equal to the apostles. (12) And although in deference to the apostles, the name was discontinued, yet the authority and functions were all the same. After their time bishops, priests and deacons, constituted the ministry of the church ; bishops always retaining and transferring the power of ordination.

That this form of church government was transmitted by the (8.) 1 Tim : iv. 14. (9.) 2 Tim : 1. 6.

(10.) 1 Cor : xii. 28. (11.) Eph: iv. 11. (12.) That both Timothy and Ti. tus were vested with the right of ordination appears from these texts. Lay hands suddenly on no man. 1 Tim : v. 22. For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee? T'itus 1. 5. It is also certain that they were vested with authority over the Presbytery. Let the elders or Presbyters that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they that labor in the word and doctrine.' Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 1 Timo : v. 17. 19. That Elder, or Presbyter and Bishop were names indiscriminately applied to the second order, at this time, I think certain from the 1st chap. of the Epistle of Titus, The qualifications there required, as also in the III. chap of the 1 Epistle to Timothy, are the qualifications of that order, that Timothy and Titus were to govern.

apostles to their successors, and continued by them, we have the uniform testimony of the primitive fathers. (13) St. Ignatius, who was consecrated bishop of Antioch by the apostles themselves, in his epistles to the Smyrneans, says, “ Avoid divisions as the origin of all evil; and all of you follow your Bishops, and the Presbyters, and reverence the Deacons. Let no man do any thing of what appertains to the church without the Bishop.” Many other quotations to the same effect might be adduced from this venerable ather. (14) St. Ireneus, who was Bishop of Lyons, in the second century, a disciple of Polycarp, who was the disciple of St. John, says, “We can reckon those bishops, who have been constituted by the apostles, and their succesors, all the way to our times." (15) And

(13.) From the 1 Epistle of Clemens Romanus to the Corinthians, which, in my opinion, is one of the best pieces that were written by the Apostolic Fathers, I might have drawn strong evidence, that the christian ministry was founded upon the plan of the Jewish, with three orders ; yet as I could only admit a few quotations, I wished them to be the least liable to miscon. struction,

(14.). The authenticity of the seven epistles of St. Ignatius is now so well ascertained, that I should imagine, it would cease to be called in question. I shall give the reader a concise view of the evidence of this authenticity, as it now stands. There are passages of them quoted by Irenæus and Origen. They are mentioned as genuine by Eusebius, and admitted by St. Jerome. Theodoret uses them as of established authority against the heretics of his day. These are all authors of the first character among the fathers. It is true, before the time of Abp: Usher, the epistles of this venerable father were greatly corrupted, and some spurious ones added. Usher found in England three manuscripts of these epistles, in which the passages quoted by the fathers were found, word for word. Of these he published an edition in 1644. Not long after this the learned Vossias found in the library of Flo. rence, a Greek manuscript of the same epistles, that perfectly agreed with the edition of Usher. Stronger evidence then, I am persuaded, cannot be found to establish the authenticity of any work of the fathers. Usher himself however, doubted the genuineness of the epistle to Polycarp, from a supposed difference in the manner and style. Of this epistle, I have made no use. But to question the authenticity of the epistles of St. Ignatius, with a view to remove one of the most clear and explicit assertors of episcopacy, in that age of the church, as it has been supposed some have done, will not avail. For while we have abundance of other testimony to the same effect, We cannot admit, that episcopacy must stand or fall with the epistles of St. Ignatius. Still it seems that an objection remains against these epistles, on account of the manner in which he speaks of the ministers of Christ. This objection must be considered as arising either from inattention or from a want of knowledge of the style of this venerable father. If instead of saying, ' reverence the Deacons as Jesus Christ," he had said, rcverence the deacons, as a certain order of the ministers of Jesus Christ, which was evidently his meaning, no objection could have been made to the mode of ex


(15.) It has been contended that Irenæus is contradictory in his account of the primitive church. A careful perusal of this Father will remove all such imputations from the mind of the fair and intelligent reader. It is said, that he maintains there was a succession of Presbyters from the Apostles. But what is to be inferred from this, when he declares that those Presbyters, with the succession of the episcopate, received the gift of truth according to the good pleasure of the Father.' Nor should I imagine, that much could be concluded against episcopacy, because among the names of the Presbyters of Rome, some are found, who were afterwards Bishops. That Irenæus was a Bishop, when he was sent on a message from Lyons to Rome, is entirely a mistake. He was then a Presbyter, and Pothinus was Bishop of Lyons.

Tertullian, in the third century, tells us, “ The high priest, who is the bishop, has the power of conferring baptism, and under him the Presbyters and Deacons, but not without the authority of the Bishop.”_From Origen, St. Cyprian, Optatus Milevitanus, St. Ambrose and St. Jerome (16) many passages might be brought to the same effect.

With regard to the fathers, I think it may be observed in general, that they afford no proof of any other form of church government existing in their time, but one embracing three orders in the ministry, Bishops, Priests and Deacons: and that ordmation in particu. clar, was never performed, but by the Bishops. I know of no passage in which it is either explicitly declared, or from which it may be fairly inferred, that ordination by a presbyter or any number of Presbyters was deemed correct. And so much has the subject becn canvassed, that had any inforination to this effect existed, it could Upon his return from Rome, after the death of Pothinus, he was made Bishop. For this we have the positive testimony of St. Jerome, with some others.

(16.) The opponents of episcopacy have often adduced St. Jerome's account of the church of Alexandria, as a proof of the existence of Presbyterian ordination, in the primitive church. He has also been quoted by Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury, in their notes on the Methodist doctrine and discipline, page 46, as declaring that in the church of Alexandria the college of Presbyters not only elected a Bishop, on the decease of the former, but consecrated birti by the imposition of their own hands solely, from the time of Mark their first Bishop, to the time of Dionysius, which was a space of about two hundred years.' Now, how it was possible to find any such doctrine in the passage alluded to, I shall leave the reader to judge, when I have transcribed from him the passage. 'Nam et Alexandriæ, Marco Evangilista usque ad Heraclam et Dionysium Episcopos, Presbyteri semper unum ex seelectum, excelsiore gradu collocatum, Episcopum nominabant, quomodo si exercitus imperatorem faciat aut diaconi eligant de se quem industrium noverint, et archidiaconum vocent. Quid enim facit, excepta ordinatione, Episcopus, quod Presbyter non faciat.' _I appeal to any scholar, for the correctness of the following transla. tion. For at Alexandria, from Mark the evangelist even to Heraclas and Dionysius the Bishops, the Presbyters always chose one of themselves, placed him in a higher station, and named him bishop, in the same manner that all army chooses an Emperor, or that deacons choose one of themselves, whom they know to be industrious, and call him Arch-deacon. For what does a Bishop, that a Presbyter cannot do, except ordination. A more explicit declaration, that Presbyters had not the power of ordaining, I think could hardly be found. And even if this last part of the passage had not existed, it could not be concluded from the former part, that the Presbyters undertook to ordain. For all that is said is, that they choose one of themselves, that they placed him in a higher station, and that they named him Bishop, Now I appeal to the candor of any man to say, whether any of these expressions were ever used to denote ordination. From the time of the Apos. tles to the present day, ordination was always performed in the church, by prayer and the imposition of brands, and I am sure that no such thing is im. plied in any of these expressions. And as to their calling him Bishop, what is to be drawn from that! The Protestent Episcopal Church in Maryland, in the absence of the Bishop or during a vacancy in the Episcopal office, choose a priest, place him in the chair, and call him President. Suppose they were to call him Bishop), what difference would that make? I should imagine no man would contend, that he of course would be vested with the powers of a Bishop. Besides lia! the Presbyters conferred orders, and had this been admitted by the Church, St. Jerome, who was himself only Presbyter, in his zeal to magnify the ofice of the Priest, woull not have omitted mentioning it in explicit terms. But who he ha exifted the Priest as much as possible, and brought instances, where he was called Bishop, truth obliged him to dleelare, that as to the root of ordination die Priest was inferior.

« ZurückWeiter »