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A SERIES OF LETTERS, Addressed to the Author of the “ MISCELLANIES," published in the
year 1805, in the Albany Centinel.
LETTER IV. YOUR two respectable opponents have brought forward ano. ther instance of episcopal government, too pointed and decisive to be affected by any cavils whatever-I mean the case of Timothy, the first bishop of Ephesus. It is impossible for any man to deny, with the slightest shadow of reason, that Timothy had the govern. ment of that church committed to him. In the apostle's charge to his own son in the faith, all the particulars, in which bishops have been considered as superior to presbyters, since the days of the apos. tles, are minutely delineated. Yet, strange as it is, our adversaries have a way of satisfying themselves. They tell us, that Timothy acted at Ephesus as an evangelist, which was an extraordinary office, and therefore, this case affords no precedent for episcopacy. But this assertion is directly contrary to matter of fact; for the ancients assure us, that Timothy had successors, and that implies, that the same office which he executed at Ephesus, was executed by them. Thus, the author of the martyrdom of Timothy in Photius' Bibliotheca, tells us*, “ the apostle Timothy,” (for so he is sometimes called) " was ordained and installed bishop of the metropolis of the Ephesians by the great St. Paul; and that he did first act as bishop of Ephe. sus." Eusebius says, “That Timothy is declared to be the first bishop of Ephesus.”+ In the apostolical constitutions, we are ex. pressly told, “ that he was ordained bishop by St. Paul;"I and the fathers of the council of Chalcedon, reckon twenty-seven bishops to their time. Chrysostom says, “It is manifest that Timothy was entrusted with a church, or rather with a whole nation.”|| Theodoret says the same thing, and many others might be added.
From all this it is indisputable, (if men will be guided by historic. al evidence) that Timothy was the chief governor, or bishop, of the church of Ephesus, had his successors, and that, consequently, he did not act as an extraordinary officer.
But it seems, the ancients knew nothing at all about the matter. The advocates for ministerial parity can teach them a better lesson ; for, say they, Timothy was an evangelist, and therefore was an extraordinary officer. This is wonderful reasoning! But let Doctor Campbell answer it. He asserts in his preliminary dissertations to the four Gospels, that “ The word euaggelizo relates to the first information that is given to a person or people ; that is, when the subject may properly be called news. Thus, in the acts, it is frequently used for expressing the first publication of the gospel in a city or village, or amongst a particular people.” Then according to the proper import of the original expression, Timothy could not have acted as an evangelist to the Ephesians, for St. Paul had previously * No. 254. +Euseb. lib. 3. c. 4. Const. lib. 7. c. 47. $ Con. Chalced. Acts 11.
Il Chrysost. Hom. 15 in Tim. 5. 19. 9 Theod. arg. in 1 Tim.
collected a numerous body of Christians, and had ordained a number of presbyters in that cüstrict, to whom, of course, the doctrine of a crucified Saviour was not news. Or, if we take the word in its less strict import, we shall find it used, sometimes, though not often, more indefinitely for teaching, or preaching, in general.” In this sense, indeed, Timothy was an evangelist to the Ephesians; but in this sense, any duly authorized minister, whether bishop, presbyter, or deacon, is an evangelist. Now surely, authority to preach, was not so extraordinary that it could not be conveyed to others. View then, this evasion, in any point of light you please; consider it on any ground which human invention can devise, and it will appear to be totally unworthy of men of sense and learning.
It is enough, Sir, to make one smile, to read the defence, which the assembly of Westminster divines make against the Independents and other fanatics, in the 17th century. The very same arguments which the former used against episcopalians, the fanatics used against the presbyterians. When that immense spawn," which sprang out of the bowels of presbytery, were labouring to destroy their parent, what said the above divines to them in their Jus divinum, &c.? Stung to the quick at the Independents' denying the perpetuity of the ministry by uninterrupted succession, they have recourse to the epistles to l'imothy and Titus; and very gravely tell the fanatics what the episcopalians had often told the presbyterians, " that all that is written in the epistles concerning the ordainers and the qualifications of the ordained, is directed to Timothy and Titus.”+ To prove the constant succession of the ministry, they argue like staunch churchmen. “ That Christ was sent, and had his commission from his Father. That Christ as he was sent of his Father, so he sent forth his apostles. That the apostles went about ordaining elders in every church, and that the apostle Paul ordained Timothy and Titus, (mark this) “That these ordained others, and that as Timothy was entrusted with the word of Christ, so he was commanded to commit the same trust to faithful men, that so there might be a succession of teachers." To all this, the fanatics answered the presbyterians, as the latter answered the episcopalians." That such ministers and such ordinations were extraordinary and temporary, for the first formation of the gospel, and that imposition of hands was used by the apostles only for the present occasion, and that it was used in a miraculous way, and therefore, as the miracle has ceased, so ought the ceremony. (This is admirable it was cutting to the bone.) In reply however to this, seemingly without wincing] the presbyterians urge, Matt. xxviü. 20,-“ I am always with you, even unto the end of the world." And i Tim. 6. 14." Keep this commandment un. til the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,”S and several other texts.
But what crowns this ridiculous battle bctween these lovers of frrimitive truth and order, is what follows :- When the assembly urge against the Independents the authority of the fathers, the prac
* After the abolition of episcopacy, in the 17th century, England exhibited a scene extremely humiliating to human nature. About sixty disforent sects sprang up. EDWARDS' GANGREXA. † P. 162
+ Jus, divin. p. 27 & 178. P. 196
tice of antiquity, and of all former ages, in behalf of a succession of ministers, the latter pay them in their own coin, telling them, that corruptions and antichristianism and tyranny, came very early into the Church; that the mystery and the ministry of the man of sin was working in the first centuries;* that in this apostacy" the church which had been a chaste virgin, became the mother of harlots and abominations Bethel turned into Bethaven, and the ministry whol. ly lost under Antichrist."-One would think that this would have stopped their mouths forever; but no such thing. That grave body of divines reply, “that the truths, ordinances, servants, and ministers of Christ, do not therefore cease to be of Christ, because some, either by mistake or by design, shall say, they are of Antichrist—that it is a great cheat put upon the saints of God in this nation, in scaring people from the doctrine of Christ, by persuading them to avoid Antichrist. And therefore, they earnestly entreat their respective congregations, not to be affrighted at the bug-bear words antichristian and popish.” They tell the fanatics, (what, it seems, an episcopal minister must not tell his own people in our day, without a hue and cry being raised against him,) “ that no true ministry, no true church,—that the Lord Jesus hath given the ministry to the church, to continue till all come to the unity of the faith, which will not be till the day of judgment;" and a great deal more to the same purpose. · I shall make but one more extract (and it is not the worst) from the same Jus divinum, and then take my leave of it. When the fanatits assert that the people have a right to ordain ministers, the as. sembly ask—"By what authority do you do these things, and who gave you this authority? Shew us your warrant out of the word. Why was Titus sent to appoint elders in every city? Might not the people say, what need Paul leave Titus to do that which we can do ourselves ? Add that which to us seems to be of weight, that all that is written in the epistles concerning the ordainers, and the qualifications of the ordained, is all written in the epistles to Timothy and Titus, who were church officers. In the other epistles which were written to the churches, there is no mention made of those things, which doth abundantly prove to us, that the work of ordination is a work belonging to ministers and not to the people. And they alone who have received this church power from the apostles, can transmit it to other ministers.”+ Now, let us change but one word, and put presbyter instead of people, and see how the reverend gentlemen plead the episcopal ciuse." By what authority do you presbyters do these things, and who gave you this authority? Why was Titus left in Crete, or Timothy in Ephesus to ordain elders ? Might not those elders say, what need Paul leave Timothy to do that which we can do ourselves? All that is written in the epistles concerning ordainers, is written in thc epistles to Timothy and Titus, who were the church officers for this purpose. In the other epistles there is no mention made of these things, which doth abundantly prove that
• This is one of our ingenious author's mottos; which, no doubt, he ins tended to apply, by a side stroke, to episcopacy.
† P. 185
the work of ordination is a work belonging to Timothy and Titus, and not to the presbyters—and they alone who have received, can transmit it. Thus, the presbyterian calls on the fanatic to shew his commission ; the episcopalian, with the very same reason, calls upon the presbyterian to show his._Out of thy own mouth, thou mistaken, inconsistent servant, will I condemn thee.
The next instance adduced by Cyprian and the Layman, is the of Titus, who was appointed the ecclesiastical ruler over the numcrous churches of Crete. In this case, as in the former, these able controvertists have left me little or nothing to say; and indeed, the instances of Timothy and Titus are so parallel, and so much grounded upon similar authorities, that what has been said concerning the former, may generally be applied to the latter. To the testimony from the epistle itself, may be added the concurrent testimony of the primitive writers, who assert, that Titus was the first bishop, or chief ruler of the church of Crete. But upon the presbyterian hypothesis, the ancient fathers have asserted a direct falshood. Councils and historians, and writers in almost every age, all declare that Titus was the chief over the presbyters of Crete.* St. Paul tells us plainly, that he sent him to Crete to govern that Church-to ordain presbyters, and to set in order all things that were wanting ; yet, this mass of evidence is pertinaciously resisted. St. Paul, and councils, and historians may say what they please; but with many it has no effect. Historical evidence, at this rate, is just what men please to make it, any thing or nothing. Read any thing to me but history, said lord Oxford to his son; history is nothing but a pack of lies. One would suppose, that the advocates for parity held this extravagant opinion; were it not that they will, on other occasions, quote history as freely as their episcopal neighbours.
Hitherto our two safe guides scripture and history, the testimony of the fathers, have not failed our cause, but have established episcopacy upon firm and impregnable ground. Not the least circumstance has yet appeared to darken the luminous face; nor would any appear in the whole of our progress, were it not that the indefinite use of certain appellatives, affords some small ground for disputation. Of this you have availed yourself, and by a singular (I really do not know what epithet to use) by a singular kind of management of two texts in the 1st and 2d epistle to Timothy ;-by your conjectures, and criticisms, and interpretations, you have raised such a mist around them, that it is next to impossible for the generality of readers to see their way. These texts, indeed, if you will not regard the ancients, nor the epistles themselves, which prove that Timothy was the governor, or bishop of the church of Ephesus,'will bare some obscurity, but with these guides, none of any consequence. Your management keeps out of sight these elucidating circumstances; and thus, by considering the texts in an abstract point of view by
There can be no doubt that there were presbyters at Crete. It certainly could amount to nothing but idle cayilling to deny it, because it is not men. tioned, when numbers of Christians were converted in every city of that pop. ulous island during St. Paul's long residence there, and when" (as Cyprian justly observes) it was the apostle's practice to ordain presbyters in every eity, in which he made couverts. But it is enough for us, that Ephesus settles the point.
attending merely to words, and not at all to facts, obscurity is the necessary consequence; for the words admit of different senses. You appear to me, Sir, to have adopted the principle of Le Clerc, a man of much distinction in literature, and a divine of your own Church. He seems to think, that the obscurities of an author ought to be rendered obscurely.” * Quàmvis Latina Lingua, perspicuitate multo magis quam Hebraica gaudeat, imo vero obscuritatem, quantum potest, vitare soleat. Ubi Hebraica obscura sunt, translationem nostram obscuriorem esse non diffitemur. Sed ut ea demum effigis laudatur, non quæ vultum formosum spectandum, sed qualis est reverâ, spectantium, oculis offert; sic translatio, ubi archetypus sermo clarus est, clara ; ubi obscurus, obscura esse debet.”+ He afterwards qualifies this judgment, but still the sentiment is not defensible. There is indeed this difference betwixt you and him ; his obscurity relates to translation-yours to interpretation; but the principle of preserving obscurity, when it can be removed, is the same in both.
To me, Sir, there appears no difficulty in determining the sense of these disputed texts. You have only to use the key, which the ingenious Layman furnishes. Build nothing upon ambiguous names, but upon the authorities exercised. This is a dictate of good sense, and an excellent canon of criticism. You will not-you cannot deny that Timothy was the governor of the Church of Ephesus, and that to him alone was committed the power of ordaining, censuring, &c. Then as those powers necessarily made him superior to the elders of that church, he must have been ordained by some Apostle, who had equal powers with himself; for if he was ordained by mere presbyters, (as you wish to have it) then he was ordained by his inferiors, which is a palpable absurdity; for in that case, they must have conveyed what they had not. Now, Sir, what Apostle do you think it was that ordained Timothy ? Read over again the following words, Wherefore I put thee in remembrance, that thou stir up the giji of God which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. St. Paul then was the ordainer. But you tell us, that if he even was at the ordination, and presided, he acted only as a presbyter. That assertion runs you into the absurdity above mentioned. It is in truth asserting, that St. Paul as a presbyter, and a number of presbyters with him, conveyed to Timothy powers, which, as presbyters, they themselves did not possess; for if they did possess them, then the presbyters of Ephesus likewise possessed them; which is directly contrary to St. Paul's injunctions in the epistles. There is but one way for you to get rid of this reasoning, (at least that I can see) and that is to prove from the epistles, (and if you please from antiquity also,) that Timothy was not sent to Ephesus to ordain, censure, &c.—was not sent
* Translation.-Although the Latin language is much more adapted to per. spicuity than the Hebrew, and is calculated to avoid every possible obscurity : Still, where the Hebrew is obscure, we shall not deny that our translation is rather obscure, yet so as to be a real likeness, not presenting a fair outside to be seen; but a true picture of the Original. And thus a translation ought to be clear where the original is clear, and obscure where the original is obscure.
EDIT. † Proleg. cap. 5. art. 3. Campbell's pri. dissert. p. 229 Quarto.