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ended at the death of Christ, or was resolved into the common ministry, by the appointment of others; as there was no renewal of their authority, and they are not mentioned in the Acts or the epistles. They can never be considered as constituting an order, as is maintained by those who adduce them for this purpose. The seventy received not their mission from the apostles, as presbyters do from bishops, but immediately from Christ, as the apostles themselves. They were plainly sent on the same errand, and with the same power with the apostles.
In order to support the theory in question, there are two parallel passages of Scripture quoted. The first is, (1 Cor. xii,) " And God hath set some in the Church; first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that, miracles; then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." The other is as follows, (Eph. iv,) “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; 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." It is certainly out of place to quote these passages to establish three orders of ministers, composed of bishops, presbyters, and deacons; when there are five grades, distinctions, or orders mentioned, viz., apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, and pastors, to say nothing of miracles, gifts of healing, &c. But the real truth seems to be this, that there was one great work to be accomplished, the work of the ministry, and the design of it was to edify and perfect the saints. To accomplish this, various gifts were bestowed on ministers, so as to qualify them to teach and feed the Church of God. A subordination of some, and a precedency of others, to maintain good government, were equally necessary for the good of the Church. But the technical division of the three orders on the one hand, and of perfect equality of station on the other, have no real support from these passages. The truth seems to lie between both these extremes, and will be found in a far less artificial composition of the Gospel ministry than any of these favorite systems. If we consider the various grades or steps by which candidates proceed in arriving at the full exercise of the pastoral charge, according to the regulations of any well ordered Church-if we consider the various gifts possessed by different ministers-if we attend to the stations which eminent talents, piety, experience, and age, enable some to fill; and if we look at the need which some have of control, and others to be brought out to more extensive usefulness; perhaps we may find a better solution of these two passages of Scripture than the strong adherents to exact parity, or to the three distinct orders, will furnish us from their systems. The right solution of the passage seems to be the following: some of these distinctions, from their nature, must have ceased with the apostolic age; while others of them must be kept up as long as good ecclesiastical rule will be observed.
3. The deacons made mention of in the New Testament were not a distinct order of clergy; nor did they, as deacons, belong to the clergy at all.
That the deacons are not an order of clergy at all, is evident from the original institution of their office, as well as the Scripture statements of their qualifications. The account of their institution
is in the following words: "And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch, whom they set before the apostles and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them," (Acts vi, 1-6.) On this we may remark, 1. The manner in which they were appointed. They were chosen by a vote of the Church, and ordained by the imposition of the apostles' hands, and by prayer. 2. Their character as exhibited here and in 1 Tim. iii, they should be men of good report, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith; grave, sincere, temperate, &c. 3. The purpose for which the office was established, was to serve tables, so as to relieve the apostles from this work, and enable them to attend to the ministry of the word. There was diakovia трañεšwv, the deaconship, or ministry of tables, which the apostles formerly filled, in connection with the Siakovia hoyov, ministry, or deaconship, or service of the word. The ministry of tables had for its sphere the care of the poor and widows. The ministry of the word was preaching the Gospel. The apostles performed the duties of each. Both services became too onerous for them, and they could not leave the word, in order to serve tables, therefore the deacons were appointed, not to preach, but to take care of the poor, and attend to such business as was connected with the temporal concerns of the Church.
The deacons, by virtue of their office as deacons, were not author. ized to preach and baptize. It is true, we learn that Philip preached to the eunuch, and Stephen did the same to the Jews; but this does not prove that preaching was a part of their office as deacons, because, 1. Stephen and Philip may have preached like all other qualified persons in the primitive Church, such as those who were scattered abroad after the persecution, on the death of Stephen; Ananias, who instructed Paul, Priscilla and Aquila, who taught Apollos, or such as any well instructed Christian in our days, many of whom occasionally may deliver religious instructions to great advantage. 2. Stephen and Philip may have been authorized evangelists previous to their being appointed deacons, and there was no more inconsistency in their becoming deacons, than there was in the apostles' filling that office before the appointment of the deacons. 3. These two deacons may have been appointed to the office of evangelist after their induction into the office of deacon. Accordingly Philip is, at a subsequent period, called an evangelist. (Acts xxi, 8.)
There were, also, deaconesses in the primitive Church. the office of female deacons was of apostolic institution, though we are not informed of the occasion and manner of their appointment,
there is no reason to doubt, since mention is made of it in the New Testament. Phebe is denominated by Paul, (Rom. xvi, 1,) "a deaconess, soav diakovov, of the Church of Cenchrea." And the directions given in the fifth chapter of the First Epistle to Timothy have always been considered as regarding those women who were appointed to this office. Like that of deacons, it did not belong to the ministry of the word, but to that of tables. The duty of these females was to visit those of their own sex who were sick, in distress, or in prison; to instruct female catechumens, and assist at their baptism; and perform for females those offices which could not be done by men. They were mostly widows who had been mothers, usually of forty, fifty, or sixty years of age. They were ordained to their office by the imposition of the hands of the bishops; as the apostolic constitutions mention the ordination of deacons, and the form of prayer used on the occasion. (Lib. viii, c. 19, 20.) Pliny also, in his celebrated epistle to Trajan, (xcvii,) is thought to refer to them when speaking of two female Christians put to torture, quæ ministræ dicebantur," who were called deaconesses. In the tenth or eleventh century the order became extinct in the Latin Church; and in the Greek Church about the end of the twelfth century. The argument which we deduce from the order of deaconess is the following:-It certainly did not embrace a ministry of the word. This is allowed on almost all hands. We infer, therefore, from its identity with the order of deacons, that the latter was also confined to the service of tables, as well as that of dea
In the primitive Church, the deacons had the charge of the poor and the distribution of the alms of the Church. They also assisted in administering the eucharist, and performed the rite of baptism; but both by the authority of their bishops. (See authorities on the office of deacons in Miller, p. 55. Bangs on Episcopacy, p. 14.)
The office of deacon seems to form a novitiate or preparatory step toward the presbyterate or episcopate. This seems to be taught by St. Paul. "They that have exercised the office of a deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. iii, 13.) The good degree, kaλov Balμov, seems to refer to a higher grade of office, and of course that of the eldership. The great boldness, or Tohλnv Tаррηolav, great liberty of speech, seems to refer to the office of teaching the great doctrines of Christianity, and in expounding the Scriptures and preaching. It seems to have been a practice of the primitive Church to select the most grave and steady of the believers. to be employed as deacons; the most experienced and best qualified of the deacons, to the rank of elders; and the most able and pious of the elders, to the office of bishops. Besides, as all were to be proved in an inferior station before they were advanced to the superior; so the private members were eligible to the deaconship; and the deacons were permitted to exercise in some of the functions of the eldership preparatory to their occupying that office, in order to afford the Church some evidence of their qualifications for that office. Stewards and class leaders in the Methodist Episcopal Church, deacons in the Baptist, elders in the Presbyterian Church, and church wardens in the Protestant Episcopal Church, perform
substantially the duties, and occupy the station which deacons filled in the apostolical Church. The office of deacons in the Roman Catholic, the Church of England, and the Protestant Episcopal Churches, has very little in common with the college of deacons appointed by the apostles. The same, to some degree, may be said of the deacons in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Nevertheless, no special injury can arise merely from modern deacons being confined to the ministry of the word, when the ministry of tables is not neglected. When the original office is filled, though under another name, all is well enough. The only difficulty is, the claiming for modern deacons to be a distinct order of clergy, and by this means creating technical or artificial distinctions in the ministry, and thus forming a theory which, to say the least, contributes very little toward the promotion of true religion. In conclusion, we must subtract the office of deacon from the three orders of clergy, for which high churchmen so strenuously contend; and leave it conversant with its primitive duties in the service of tables, resigning the deaconship of the word to the clerical order, embracing in the latter, or connecting with it, those preparatory steps included in licensing, and the modern deaconship of preaching and baptizing.
Our next inquiry will be respecting elders and bishops, wherein we will examine whether they are two distinct orders of clergy, or one order comprising two distinct, yet connected offices.
The following view of the office of deacon is Wesley's note on the institution of this order, in Acts vi, 1-6. "In the first Church, the primary business of apostles, evangelists, and bishops, was to preach the word of God; the secondary, to take a kind of paternal care (the Church being then like a family) for the food, especially of the poor, the strangers, and the widows. Afterward, the deacons of both sexes were constituted for this latter business. And whatever time they had to spare from this, they employed in works of spiritual mercy. But their proper office was, to take care of the poor. And when some of them afterward preached the Gospel, they did this not by virtue of their deaconship, but of another commission, that of evangelists, which they probably received, not before, but after they were appointed deacons. And it is not unlikely that others were chosen deacons, or stewards, in their room, when any of these commenced evangelists."
4. According to the accounts given in the New Testament, bishops and elders are of one and the same order of clergy. Before we proceed to give the direct proofs of this, it will not be amiss to give the meaning of the words bishop and elder, according to their proper etymologies, and as they are applied to persons in other offices beside the Christian ministry.
The word εσколоs, episcopos, which we render bishop and overseer, indifferently, is derived from εñɩσкоnew, to inspect, observe, oversee, visit, superintend, to look diligently or take earnest heed; and this again is derived from επ, upon, or intensive, and σkenтоμaι, to see, behold. The word εлσкоTε is rendered in Hebrews, (xii, 15,) looking diligently; and in 1 Pet. v, 2, taking the oversight. The term ETισKоTη, inspection, oversight, superintendence, is used in the following places:" Because thou knewest not the time of thy εIGкOS,
visitation." Luke xix, 44. "They may glorify God, in the day επισκοπης of visitation.” 1 Pet. ii, 12. "And let another take his εпισкопην, bishopric." Acts i, 20. "If any man desire εnσколηy, the office of a bishop." 1 Tim. iii, 2. The Greek word εñσкоños signifies properly inspector, overseer, or superintendent; any one of which is more significant and expressive of the original one than the word bishop, the current one with us. The name was given by the Greeks to those who had the oversight of their games, and who presided at their courts of justice. It is said the name was first given to clerks of the market, who inspected what was bought and sold. In the Septuagint it denotes an overseer, or inspector, or superintendent. It is used to signify an overseer of the army; (Num. xxxi, 14.) of workmen; (2 Chron. xxxiv, 12,17.)-of the house of the Lord; (2 Kings xi, 18.)—as an overseer of the priests and Levites; (Neh. xi, 14, 22.) Joseph was an overseer of Potiphar's family; (Gen. xxxix, 14.) Eleazer, the son of Aaron, is called by this name, from overseeing the tabernacle and its furniture; (Num. iv, 16.)
In the New Testament, bishop or overseer is applied solely to spiritual rulers. The name imported what their business was,-to watch over, care for, and instruct the people. It is given by St. Paul to the elders at Ephesus, who had the oversight of Christ's flock; (Acts xx, 28.) It is applied to designate the same description of persons in other places; (Phil. i, 1; 1 Tim. iii, 1; 2 Titus, i, 7.)
The name elder means, literally, one advanced in age; the same as older, the comparative of old. Hence, also, aldermen, or eldermen, a grade of civic officers. The word elder is used to translate the Greek word реoßνтeроs, presbyter, which also signifies older, or more advanced in age than others; and is derived similarly to the English word, for it comes from прεσßуç old. Both presbyter and elder, therefore, signify primarily persons advanced in age, or older than most others; but as the elderly or more aged persons were more wise, prudent, grave, and so best qualified to teach and rule, the word was used to signify those who bare rule, or taught in Church or state. In Egypt the Hebrews had elders, whom they acknowledged as chief men who bare rule over them. Of this sort were the 70 or 72 men whom Moses associated with him in the government. Such also were those who held the first rank in the synagogues as presidents or rulers. Beside such, there were elders that ruled in every city; and who generally held their courts in the gates, or some other public place. (Ruth iv, 2; Ezra x, 14.)
The elders or presbyters in the Christian Church were governors or rulers, and were the same order with bishops, overseers, or superintendents. Such elders were united with the apostles in the council of Jerusalem. The Apostles Peter and John call themselves elders. (1 Pet. v, 1; 2 John 1; 3 John 1.) The elders or pres-* byters, then, embraced all that were in authority in the Christian Church, whether they were bishops, or overseers, or seniors, in knowledge and experience. For those who were eldest in years, or far advanced in knowledge and experience, would naturally be preferred to all others as proper persons to instruct and govern the Church. From these elders, in process of time, the episcopi, or bishops, seem to have been selected. The name presbyter is ex