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had of acquainting themselves with the subject, to know better, have no excuse, and are much to be condemned. They are the men who “ cause division,” and are to be marked (Rom. xvi. 17). But by what does Mr. Vaughan know that the earliest ecclesiastical writers are to be searched in vain' for what he is contending against? Of course, by examining them. He will not, therefore, dispute the genuineness of such writings, since he appeals to them himself, Let us proceed, then, to open the “earliest ecclesiastical writers,” who shall decide the question.
He will, we suppose, admit that Ignatius, the contemporary of St. John, was an early ecclesiastical writer :" Ignatius, who only survived him four years, at which time he suffered martyrdom ; after having been forty years bishop of Antioch, presiding over many presbyters and deacons. We cannot, there fore, suppose him unacquainted either with the state of the church in the first age after the Apostles, or with the doctrines and practice of the Apostles themselves. In his Epistles, which were written a little before his martyrdom, there is scarcely any duty more plainly inculcated than that of submission to the officers of the church, superior and inferior, naming bishops, presbyters, and deacons. In the beginning of his Epistle to the Magnesians, he speaks of Damas, their bishop, of Bassus and Apollonius their presbyters, and of Sotion their deacon. The last of these he praises, because he was subject to the bishop and presbyters. In one of his Epistles (to the Trallians) he says, “ Let nothing by any means be done without the bishop, even as ye now practise. Subject yourselves to the presbyters; and let the deacons study to please all men, for they are not deacons of meats and drinks, but ministers of God's church.” Further on he says, “ He that does any thing without the bishop, the presbyters, and deacons, his conscience is defiled.” In his Epistle to the Ephesians, he speaks of “ bishops sealed to the end of the world;" and then he goes on to praise them, and particularly the presbyters, for their unanimous and ready compliance in all things with their bishop.
Irenæus, the disciple of Polycarp, and contemporary of Ignatius, was first a presbyter, and afterwards the bishop of Lyons. He gives the succession of bishops of Rome from Linus, who was ordained by the Apostles Peter and Paul, in the course of his defence of some truths of doctrine from the attack of some heretics. At the same time lived Hegesippus in a different part of the world, who travelled through a great part of the world on purpose to learn all he could of those who remembered the Apostles and had information to give, and he affirms that he had conversed with inany bishops, and received the same doctrine (concerning church government) from all. One of these, whom he mentions by name, was Primus, bishop of Corinth; another was Anicetus, whom he found bishop of Rome on his arrival there.
Contemporary with these was Clemens of Alexandria, in whose writings this passage occurs : “ There are other precepts without number, which concern men in particular capacities : some which relate to presbyters, others which belong to bishops, others respecting deacons, and others which concern widows,” &c. &c. Clemens was the most learned man of those times.
Clement of Rome, mentioned by the Apostles as having his name in the book of life, also testifies lo Episcopacy. Tertullian says, “ that no presbyter or deacon may even baptize against the bishop's consent.
“ If,” says Potter," we may judge of the rest" (alluding to the seven Asiatic churches) " by the church of Smyrna-and there is no reason why we should not, since the angel of this city is not described under a different character from the rest, we shall no longer doubt whether they were governed by bishops (as superior to presbyters) in the first age of Christianity ; it being certain that Polycarp, who is allowed by all to have conversed with the Apostles, was bishop of Smyrna. He is so called by Polycrates, in his epistle to Victor, who was thirty-eight years old when Polycarp suffered martyrdom, and therefore is a witness without exception : and the same title is given him by the church of Smyrna, in their epistle concerning his martyrdom, which is still extant. Ignatius, his contemporary, who wrote an Epistle to Polycarp, and another to the church of Smyrna, not only calls him bishop of Smyrna, but exhorts all the church of Smyrna, presbyters and deacons as well as laymen, to be obedient to him. Lastly, we are assured by Irenæus, who was Polycarp's disciple, that he was ordained bishop of Smyrna by the Apostles.”
Now if Mr. Vaughan had said that these early ecclesiastical writers were either false men themselves, or that falsifiers had interpolated their writings, though wrong, and easily proved so, he might, for all we could shew to the contrary, be still apparently honest ; but when Ignatius, and Polycarp, and Papias, and others whom we have not mentioned of the Apostles' times, and all the ecclesiastical writers that ever wrote from thence to Constantine (for Tertullian, though often quoted against himself and all the rest, is quite consistent in his testimony to episcopacy), bear ample witness to the episcopal government of the church, the man who can come forward, and in one sweeping sentence declare that we shall look in vain to the earliest ecclesiastical 'writers for any proofs of hierarchical power to be perpetuated ' in the church, while the proofs that do occur are of an oppo• site class,' can hardly substantiate his claim to literary honesty, at least in this respect. Can Mr. Vaughan find us a single man
in the first three centuries, or any but the heretic Ærius afterwards, till the time of the Reformation, who rejects episcopal government? That is the question. And that disappointed men in the fourth century, like Ærius (or other disappointed men in the nineteenth), should be found to oppose this and other truth, no wonder: the wonder is, that no one, during the first three hundred
years, should be found to raise his voice against what Mr. Vaughan calls a corruption.
But as our purpose is merely to give brief notes in reply to Mr. Vaughan, we must not go on quoting authors, nor attempt to argue out the question fully: we will therefore proceed to make the three following propositions.
1st. The Christian religion was commenced in an imparity or hierarchy of church governors. And if our Lord thought fit to found his church on an imparity at the beginning, what reason should we have that he did not intend so to perpetuate' it? That imparity consisted in, first, Himself; secondly, the twelve Apostles ; thirdly, the seventy. The twelve were certainly above the seventy, and the seventy were as certainly set apart from the rest of the disciples.
2dly. After our Lord had ascended, and when the twelve Apostles became the chief rulers of the church upon earth, they ordained presbyters, or regular ministers, under themselves, and deacons under them. No one can dispute this point. No one can deny that the Apostles exercised jurisdiction alike over presbyters and deacons. It is admitted by all the opponents of episcopacy and hierarchies; only they say, that it was temporary, existing only within the time, and ending at the death of the Apostles. But we have abundant evidence to the contrary; for,
3dly, The Apostles lived to see their episcopal successors planted in the several regions of the world. We say episcopal successors; for though their successors were not apostles, as we now limit the meaning of that word to the twelve, yet were they bishops, or overseers. The office of apostle consisted of two parts evidently: one peculiar to the twelve, as eye-witnesses and chosen originators and inspired writers (for the twelve are distinguished from the rest of the Apostles in 1 Cor. xv. 5,7; Rom. xvi. 7; 2 Cor. viii. 23; and St. Paul calls Epaphroditus an apostle); the other not peculiar, but comprehending all those functions of government which the church required, and requires now as much as in the apostolic times. Whatever rule and jurisdiction St. Paul and the rest exercised, which was called for by the ordinary need of the Christian church, and which is as necessary now as it was then, to such rule did the Apostles appoint successors to themselves. We have (thank God) the names of some of them in Scripture, who must at once be acknowledged as not having the peculiar office of the twelve, and as having a superiority to the regular ministers of the churches and their deacons. “ What reason can any man pretend,” says Bishop Hall, “ that this institution should be any other than Apostolical? Had it been otherwise, the Apostles lived to have countermanded it. St. Paul saw James at Jerusalem, because he was made bishop of the place by the Apostles-(we see in the Acts how James in consequence presided at those apostolical meetings which took place at Jerusalem). St. Jerome, the only writer who is wont with any colour to be alleged against the right of episcopacy (and he is only arguing against the Divine right), yet himself confesses that the bishops of Alexandria began from St. Mark the Evangelist, who died six years before St. Peter and St. Paul, thirty-five years before St. James the Apostle, and forty-five years before Simon Cleopas, who succeeded James in the government of Jerusalem. In the very times of the Apostles, Ignatius was bishop of Antioch, indeed of Syria ; Polycarp was ordained bishop of Smyrna by St. John; Timothy was bishop of Ephesus, and Titus of Crete; Papias, St. John's auditor, was soon after made bishop of Hierapolis ; Quadratus, a disciple of the Apostles', bishop of Athens, after Publius, who was martyred; Clement was made bishop of Rome by St. Peter. Can we therefore say that these men were made bishops without the knowledge and consent of the Apostles then living? Why, the first bishop of Jerusalem was an Apostle, and the first bishops of Smyrna, of Ephesus, of Crete, and of Rome, were appointed by the Apostles; and to two of them, Timothy and Titus, are two books of inspired writing from St. Paul extant in our Bibles. It cannot be said that these bishops were mere presbyters, or ministers over single congregations ; for in Ephesus, in St. Paul's time, there were many such (Acts xiii. 17—28); and the bishop over all these is addressed as their angel in the Revelation. In Crete there were one hundred cities, and in every city' Titus is directed to ordain elders.”
Mr. Vaughan may reply to these historical facts, that they chiefly stand upon the authority of mere church historians. True: but upon the authority of all the historians that ever wrote before the Reformation. If, while we are to credit Mr. Vaughan as the historian of the times of Wickliffe ; and Hume and Gibbon the infidels, as historians of England and Rome; if we take all our knowledge of Rome, and Greece, and the world, upon the credit of historians, is God's church alone to have no historians worthy of credit, some of whom gave up their lives for the testimony of Christ ? And Mr. V. must remember, that what we find in ancient church authors relative to Episcopacy was written when the authors had no opposite system to uphold, and no established system to attack, as in Mr. Vaughan's case. He may be as honest a man as Ignatius and Polycarp, who died for the truth ; but surely they were as honest as he. He has at least more temptations to pervert his judgment than they had ; and they were not, like him, committed to a party who are professedly opposed to episcopacy. Polycarp's, Ignatius's, Clement's, and Irenæus's allusions to church government, bishops, priests, and deacons, are chiefly accidental, occurring in the course of enforcing practical duties and doctrines of higher moment.
There is a popular objection to the three orders of bishop, priest, and deacon, taken by the Dissenters, from the circumstance of bishops and deacons being, in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians, mentioned without presbyters; from there being rules of ordination laid down for only those two orders; and also because some writers, as Clemens of Alexandria, sometimes, in the course of their works, allude to bishops and deacons as if they were the only two degrees of church officers. But it will be found, that the same authors who sometimes comprehend all the officers under those two, bishops and deacons, also in other places mention distinctly the three orders, as Clemens himself, in his Pedagogus, quoted just now. Hooker, Potter, and Bishop Hall, &c. have given solutions of this apparent difficulty, as necessarily arising out of the various conditions in which the church existed in that early time; one of those conditions being, that congregations were often so small in their commencement that there needed but a presbyter and one or two deacons to fulfil the ministry, and yet had such a prospect of increase, and the region about was so wide and populous, that that presbyter needed to be a bishop, in order that, as the church extended itself, he might have power to ordain others, which a presbyter could not do.
But, as the most evident solution, and the one least open to cavil, it appears to us, that while the title of bishop was, when the churches had increased to need it, at last restricted to our present idea of a bishop--namely, a ruler over elders - it was in the early ministrations and epistles of the Apostles used promiscu. ously with elders : for instance, Acts xx. 17, compared with xx. 28, where the word overseers is in the Greek bishops. That this should be the case is natural enough; for the substance of an office is always prior to its name : the name is always chosen in consequence of the substance having come into existence. But the question is, whether, during their life-time, the Apostles did not, upon the increase of the church, appoint, in each of the cities and regions where Christians abounded, one chief ruling elder, to whom was restricted, for distinction's sake, the name of episcopos, or bishop; and give to him the power of ordination, of laying on of hands, oversight over the elders and deacons, &c. This, as has been asserted, can be shewn, first, from the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles to Timothy and Titus; secondly, from