Page images
PDF
EPUB

whom we follow, placed it in the year 1540, and consequently in the reign of Henry VIII. As nearly as we can ascertain, Dr. Millar is mistaken in his date.

Bishop Burnet considers the deliberations and decisions of this com. pany of divines “ as great an evidence of the ripeness of their proceedings as can'be showed in any church or any age of it.” (Hist., vol. i, p. 373.) Indeed, their sentiments were formed at a time when they had just thrown off the principal dogmas of popery, and while they were calmly inquiring after truth, and before they were influenced by the peculiarities of a system. Nevertheless, some of the sentiments delivered are somewhat singular.

(4.) In King Edward's ordinal there is no acknowledged difference made between elders and bishops as distinct orders of clergy. In this the form for ordaining a bishop and priest is the same, there being no express mention in the words of ordination whether it be for the one or the other office. It is true, priests and bishops were distinguished in other parts of this official, though there was none in the words of consecration ; but the distinction in other parts of the ordinal was not such as to point out that both were of different orders, though it did of different functions. (See Burnet, vol. ii, p. 188. Neal, vol. i, p. 57.) This ordinal was made in 1549. Above a hundred years afterward, in the reign of Charles II., this service was revised and altered ; and the greater part of the alterations indicate an intention to make the whole speak a language more favorable to the divine right of prelacy. The alteration was made when a distinction between the two offices became current, so as to make them two distinct orders of clergy; but this was not the received doctrine of the English reformers. And even now, the ordinal service does not contain the doctrine of the divine right of episcopacy in the sense in which high churchmen use the term.

(5.) The early and first, and, indeed, the best doctrine of the Church of England was, as we have seen, that elders and bishops were not, according to Scripture, of two orders, but one; and that any difference made in their offices was not, by divine right, a separate jurisdiction arising from a superior order. Such was the constant opinion of the first reformers, Cranmer, Pilkington, Jewel, Grindal, Whitgift, &c.

2. The doctrine of the divine right of bishops, as a superior order to presbyters, as possessing supreme jurisdiction in ordination, government, and discipline, originated in the English Church subsequently to her organization.

Archbishop Whitgift was the first who defended the hierarchy from the practices of the third, fourth, and fifth centuries, when the Roman empire became Christian; but Dr. Bancroft, his chaplain, divided off the bishops from the body of presbyters, and advanced them into a superior order by divine right, with the sole power of ordination and the keys of discipline, so that, from this time, they began to reckon three orders in the English hierarchy, viz., bishops, priests, and dea.

Bancroft broached, in form, this doctrine in a sermon at St. Paul's Cross, Jan. 1, 1588; and maintained that the bishops of Eng. land were a distinct order from the priests, and had superiority over them, jure divino, and directly from God. He affirmed this to be of God's own appointment; if not by express Scripture terms, yet by plain Scriptural inference. This was new doctrine for that time. Those that preceded said that the superiority of bishops above presbyters had been a useful and wise appointment, for the more orderly government of the church, begun about the third or fourth century ; and, indeed, it was not till then there was any thing like the diocesan episcopacy that afterward prevailed. But Bancroft was one of the first who advanced it into a divine right. It was asserted by Dr. Heylin, in the beginning of the 17th century, (1638,) “ That the archbishop of Canterbury was lineally descended from St. Peter, in a most fair and constant tenor of succession.” And Dr. Pilkington advanced, “ That if he who now sits archbishop of Canterbury could not derive his succession from St. Austin, St. Austin from St. Gregory, and St. Gregory from St. Peter, we would be miserable.” (See Neal, vol. i, pp. 5, 10, 432.)

cons.

Nevertheless, Bancroft himself was far from being scrupulous on this subject, and as tenacious of popish forms as some of his successors ; for when Dr. Andrews, bishop of Ely, moved that the Scottish bishops elect should first be ordained presbyters, in the year 1610, Bancroft replied that it was unnecessary, since ordination by presbyters was valid; and the Scottish bishops were accordingly ordained. Bishop Moreton was of the opinion, that to ordain was the jus antiquum of presbyters. (Idem, vol. ii, p. 387.) But the Church of England advanced in her claims, and removed, by degrees, to a greater distance from the other European Protestant Churches.

3. In: the articles of the English Church the doctrine of succession, as held by high churchmen, is not found either in express words or by legitimate inference.

When the great reformers of the English Church, after preparing the way by proper deliberation, went to frame fundamental articles of religion, they carefully guarded against any exclusive claim on the subject in question. If they had believed that an order of bishops, superior to presbyters, was indispensably necessary to the regular organization of the church, the validity of Christian ordinances, and that presbyters in presbyterial churches must be reordained on coming over to their communion, they would certainly have embraced it in their article, in which they formally state their doctrine respecting the Christian ministry. This article, which is the twenty-third, is as follows :

" It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the sacraments in the congregation, before he be lawfully called and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the congregation, to call and send ministers into the Lord's vineyard.” The language of this article was studiously chosen, in order to embrace the other reformed churches whose ordination was presbyterial, and to recognize as valid their ministry and ordinances. Were the recent doctrine of exclusion the doctrine of the first English reformers, they would certainly have embraced it in the articles ; but they were of quite a different mind.

This succession by divine right of episcopacy, to the exclusion of presbyters, appears to us an innovation in the English Church; and we cannot consider it as a part of the scheme that Christ and his apostles have laid down in the New Testament. We must, on the

other hand, view it as accompanied and followed with many evils, either in comparison of a presbyterial government, or of an episcopacy under the control of, and derived from, the presbytery or body of elders. The following reasons appear to us to be subversive of the high pretensions of churchmen, in reference to the divine right of their bishops :

4. They attempt to derive this succession from the apostles, through the Church of Rome. That this is inconsistent, we prove by the following reasons :-1. The Church of Rome, in her ordinations, never endowed any man with episcopal authority with the intention of leav. ing their communion; and without the intention in the person officiat. ing, no ordination, according to them, could be valid. 2. The English reformers were all excommunicated by the pope, and, of course, their succession was cut off ; especially viewing succession to be uninterrupted, which is the general idea attached to it by its assertors.

5. In several instances this succession in the English Church was actually broken. The following are given as specimens :

The case of Archbishop Parker.-He was the first archbishop of Canterbury under Elizabeth, on her accession to the throne; all the bishops except one, to the number of fourteen, were deprived by her because they would not take the oath of supremacy, being all of them firm papists. Dr. Matthew Parker was consecrated archbishop of Canterbury, at Lambeth, by some of the bishops that had been deprived in the reign of Mary, for none of the present bishops would officiate. The persons concerned in the consecration were Barlow and Scory, bishops elect of Chichester and Hereford; Miles Coverdale, the deprived bishop of Exeter; and Hodkins, suffragan of Bedford. The archbishop was installed December 17th, 1559, soon after which he consecrated several of his brethren, whom the queen had appointed to vacant sees; as Grindal to the bishopric of London, Howe to Winchester, Pilkington to Durham, &c. The Roman Catholics urged the unlaw. fulness of the proceedings against the new bishops, who began to doubt the validity of their ordinations, or at least their legal title to the bishoprics. The affair was at length brought before parliament, and, to silence all future clamors, Parker's consecration and that of his brethren were confirmed by the two houses, about seven years after they had filled their respective sees, and had, during that time, ordained numbers of persons to deacons' and elders' orders.

To this ordination it may be objected, 1. The persons engaged in it had been legally, and, indeed, ecclesiastically deprived in the last reign, and were not yet restored; and Coverdale and Hodkins never exer. cised their episcopal functions afterward. 2. Because the consecra. tion ought, by law, to have been directed according to the statute of the 25th of Henry VIII., and not according to the

form of King Ed. ward's ordinal, which had been set aside in the late reign, and was not yet restored by parliament. 3. The parliament, by this act, assumed the right of validating an irregular or null appointment to the minis. try; and, although a civil body, they assumed the highest act of the ministerial or ecclesiastical functions. 4. How an act of parliament could have a retrospective view we cannot tell, so as to make valid the various ordinations irregularly performed during the space of several years previous. 5. What can we say to the unlawful ordinations that took place during these several years of officiating? These, surely,

must have corrupted the church, and made a breach on the regularity of succession. (See Neal, vol. i, p. 133.)

The case of Archbishop Juxon, in 1663 or 1660.--Immediately after the protectorate of Cromwell, the succession of the Anglican Church was in imminent danger. Many of the bishops at the protector's death were dead, and in a few years there would be none to consecrate; and thus the succession must be broken unless they could receive it anew from Rome, a thing not to be expected, or admit of ordination by presbyters. This induced some of the ancient bishops to petition the king to fill up the vacant sees with all possible expedition, in which they were supported by Sir Edward Hyde, chancellor of the exchequer, who prevailed on the king to nominate certain clergymen for these high preferments. It was necessary, however, to carry on this design with great secrecy, lest the governing powers would secure the bishops, and by that means put a stop to the entire proceedings. But the greatest difficulty was, to do it canonically, when there were no deans or chapters to elect, and, consequently, no persons to receive a congé d'elire, according to former custom. Several expedients were proposed for remedying this difficulty, the most prominent of which are the three following:

The first plan was that which was proposed by Chancellor Hyde, and was as follows:-" That the proceedings should be by a mandate from the king to any three or four bishops, by way of collation, upon a lapse, instead of the dean and chapter's election. But it was objected, that the supposal of a lapse would impair the king's prerogative more than the collation would advance it, because it would presuppose a power of election pleno jure, (of full right,) in the deans and chap. ters, which they have only de facultate regia, (from royal authority ;) nor could they petition for such a license, for most of the deans were dead, some chapters extinguished, and all of them so disturbed that they could not meet in the chapter-house, where such acts generally are to be performed.” Such was Chancellor Hyde's plan.

Dr. Barwick proposed, “ That his majesty should grant his commis. sion to the bishops of each province respectively, assembled in provincial council or otherwise, as should be most convenient, to elect and consecrate fit persons for the vacant sees, with such dispensative clauses as should be found necessary upon the emergency of the case, (his majesty signifying his pleasure concerning the persons and the sees ;) which commission may bear date before the action, and then afterward upon certificate, and petition to have his majesty's ratification and confirmation of the whole process, and the register to be drawn up accord. ingly by the chief actuary, who may make up his memorials hence, and make up the record there.” This was the second plan.

The third way was that proposed by Dr. Bramhall, bishop of Derry. It was the method used in Ireland, where the king has an absolute power of nomination, and, therefore, no way seemed to him so safe as consecrating the persons nominated to void sees in Ireland, and then transferring them to the vacant sees in England; which, he appre. hended, would clearly elude all those formalities which seemed to perplex the affair.

To terminate the difficulty, Dr. Wren, bishop of Ely, and Dr. Cossius, bishop of Petersborough, were in favor of the second plan, recom

[ocr errors]

mended it to the court, and which was accordingly adopted. (See Neal, Hist. Pur., vol. iv, c. iv, p. 228.) Such were their narrow views as to suppose the essence of Christianity, and the essence of all divine ordinances, depended on the transmission of ecclesiastical power in an unbroken chain from the apostles.

The case of the non-jurors.- In the reign of King William III., and in the year 1689, the divisions among the friends of prelacy ran high, and terminated in that famous schism in the English Church which has scarcely yet been entirely healed. Sancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, and eight other bishops, viz., Lloyd of Norwich, Turner of Ely, Kenn of Bath and Wells, Frampton of Gloucester, Thomas of Worces. ter, Lake of Chichester, Cartwright of Chester, and White of Peterborough, deemed it unlawful to take the oath of allegiance to the new king, because they considered James II., though banished from his dominions, their rightful sovereign. In consequence, because they would not acknowledge the title of the new king to the British crown, King William, as supreme head of the church, and as sovereign ecclesiastical judge, deprived them of their sees, and put others in their place. The new bishops were Tillotson, Moore, Patrick, Kidder, Fowler, Cumberland, &c. Several peers, and about four hundred of the parochial clergy, were among the non-jurors. The deposed bishops and clergy formed a new Episcopal church, entirely separated from the established church. They were called non-jurors because they refused to swear or take the oath of allegiance to William. They maintained that the church was not dependant on the jurisdiction of the king and parliament, but was subject to the authority of God alone, and empow. ered to govern itself by its own laws; and that, consequently, the sen. tence of deprivation pronounced against them by the great council of the nation was destitute of justice and validity ; and that it was only by the decree of an ecclesiastical council that a bishop could be de. prived. They also maintained that those who were put in their places were unjust possessors of other men's property, and were schismatics in the church; that all who held communion with them were charge. able with schism; and that this schism is a most heinous sin, and that grievous punishment must fall upon their opponents unless they would return to the bosom of the non-juring church, from which they had causelessly departed. (See Mosheim, cent. 17, sec. 11, Part ii, c. ii, No. xxvi. Also New York Churchman of March 25th, 1837, for an article from the British Critic on this subject.)

Sancroft, while the case was pending, in order to prevent the approaching schism, issued a commission, giving his authority for the consecration of bishops and pastors to the bishops of London, St. Asaphs, and others. It was under this commission that Burnet was consecrated bishop of Salisbury by Compton. Archbishop Sancroft, however, afterward recalled this, and consigned the same powers to Lloyd of Norwich, one of his deprived brethren. A schism was thus formed in the heart of the Anglican Church. There were two distinct communions: the one under the old metropolitan, Sancroft, and the other under the new one, Tillotson. The state of the matter is clearly this: that the non-jurors, according to the primitive church and Scripture, were the regular church. But then the Church of England does not derive her succession through bishops or the clergy, but through

« EelmineJätka »