« EelmineJätka »
government, and spoke of its benign effects in England, in pro. moting union, order, and harmony in the church of that kingdom. To all this, Bishop Hall says, the only answer made was by the President, Bogerman, who simply replied,“ Domine, nos non sumus adeo felices.” My Lord, we are not so happy.*
Now as Bishop Carleton, who made the speech, declares that no answer was given to it by any one ; as Heylin asserts that it was treated with neglect, is not with scorn ; and as Bishop Hall was not himself present, at this time, in the synod; the probability is, that he has given an erroneous statement. But supposing it to be perfectly correct, to what does it amount? It might have been intended as a delicate sarcasm on the bishop, for his unseasonable introduction of this controversy. It might have been uttered as a mere compliment to a stranger, who was a prelate, and with whom it was not desirable to have any dispute, when the object of the synod was so entirely different. It might have been meant only to convey the idea, that the church of Ilolland was not so happy as to be in that quiet, united, and orderly state, which had been represented as existing in the church of England. At any rate the answer is perfectly equivocal, and furnishes no warrant whatever for the construction of my opponents.
But these gentlemen lay no small stress on another circumstance. Bishop Carleton, in the same Protestation which was before quoted, informs us, that“ in his private discourse with some of the 6 most learned divines of the synod, he told them that the troubles 66 of Holland proceeded from their want of bishops ; and that the “ Churches of those provinces would never be quiet until they had “ bishops to govern the clergy.” To these remarks, he tells us, they answered, " that they highly esteemed the good order and “ discipline of the Church of England, and heartily wished the
same order was established in their country ; but that they could “ not hope for it in the present posture of affairs. They added, " that they hoped God would assist them by his grace, and that
they would contribute with all their might to the establishment of " that good order." "Such,” the bishop adds," was their answer
to me. This I think, justifies them sufficiently. It appears that
* Hall's Episcopacy by Divine Right, &c. Part. 1. $ 4.
« they do not love popular confusion, and a government desti“tute of all authority.” Mr. How must really be at a loss for testimony, when he can speak with so much exultation of this answer. It is nothing to the purpose. The bishop, according to his own account, had been declaiming on the advantages of Episcopal government, and on its influence as he supposed, in promoting the tranquillity, and happiness of the Church which he represented. To this, the Dutch divines, according to the same account, replied, that they had a very respectful opinion of the good order and discipline of the Church of England, and heartily wished that similar order and discipline were established in their own Church. But what did they mean by the “good order” and “discipline" of the Church of England ? Did they mean her prelacy? This is so far from being certain that it is not even probable. There is every reason to believe they only meant to say, that they highly esteemed the regular, settled, and orderly state which the English Church bad attained ; that they should be glad to see a similar regularity, and quietness established among themselves; but that amidst so much confusion, they could hardly expect so happy a result. The truth is, the peace of the Church of Holland was, at this time, much disturbed by the controversy with the Remonstrants, which deeply agitated both church and state. In these circumstances, nothing was more natural than that the members of the Synod should lament their divisions, and express a desire to establish among themselves the same quietness and peace which the Church of England enjoyed; and all this they might say without having the least wish or preference in favour of her prelacy.
This then is the state of the case. The Reformed Church of Holland was Presbyterian from the beginning. By a succession of national synods the doctrine of ministerial parity was asserted, published and maintained, in the most decisive manner, not merely as dictated by expediency, but also as founded in divine appointment. The Synod of Dort spoke the same language, and maintained the same doctrine. Nay, with a solemnity which had taken place at no preceding synod, the members of that assembly, under the obligation of an oath, declared, that they considered themselves as bound to conform to the apostolic model of church government, and that this model was Presbyterian. And to all this evidence, Mr. How has nothing to oppose, but a few equivocal words of
some individual members of the synod, which probably had no reference to prelacy at all. Who, now, let me ask, has proved himself most liable to the charges of “ extreme imprudence," and of having brought forward“ puerile” and “disingenuous” allegations ? Truly charges of this kind come with a very ill grace from Mr. Hovo.
But we have another method of ascertaining the real sentiments of some of those divines who composed the Synod of Dort, besides their public conduct in that body. I mean by examining their private writings, in which we may take for granted they expressed their genuine convictions. From such of those writings as I have been able to procure, a few short extracts will be presented, and will be found conclusive.
Gomarus, professor of divinity at Groningen, was one of the most eminent of the Dutch delegates to that famous synod. On the subject of Episcopacy, he expresses himself in the following strong and decisive language. “ The designation of bishop, as “introduced after the apostles' time, is unknown to the Scriptures, “ in which it signifies the same thing with the presbyter and pastor. 6 Where Paul recites the various kinds of Gospel ministers, as in “ Ephes. 4. 11, he acknowledges no such bishops distinct from 6 Presbyters, and superior to them. To which purpose Jerome's “ judgment is memorable, wbich is extant in his commentary on “the Epistle to Titus r. 1, where, comparing the 5th and 7th verses, “he infers that the bishop and presbyter are one and the same. “ Which point he doth, likewise, (in the same manner that we “ have done,) demonstrate from Philip. 1. 1. and Acts xx. 28, 29. " and other passages connected theretvith, concluding all with this “ weighty assertion, that with the ancients, bishops and presbyters
were one and the same ; until, by degrees, the care and inspec“tion were put upon one; and that the bishops were set over the “presbyters, rather by custom than by divine appointment. This “custom, continues Gomarus, did, at last, bring upon the Church, “the mischievous dominion of bishops, contrary to the apostle's 66 command."*
Again,“ There is no bishop to be found set over presbyters in any place of holy writ. The distinguishing of bishops from
Explicat. Epist. ad Galatas, Cap. 11. p. 487.
« presbyters, and setting them over presbyters, in an authoritative “prelacy, took its rise from no divine institution, but from human “ tradition, which had its foundation in pride."*
Polyander, Thysius, and Walæus Professors of divinity in the Universities of Leyden, Harderwick, and Midilelburg, were also conspicuous and active members of the synod of Dort. These learned divines were engaged in a joint work, under the title of Synopsis Theologice, which has been long highly esteemed in the church of Holland. Of that work, the following strong and decisive passages are a specimen.
“ The apostle calls the same persons presbyters and bishops “indifferently. Of this we have examples, in Acts 20, 28, where “ he exhorts the presbyters of the church of Ephesus to attend to 56 the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made them bishops ; “ _also in 1 Timothy 3, 2. where he describes a bishop from his " qualifications and duties, which same qualifications and duties, 6 the Apostle Peter ascribes to his fellow-presbyters ; so also in “his epistle to the Philippians 1. 1. by bishops he evidently
understands those who presided over the church of Philippi, “ in the administration of the word and discipline; and these 6 he distinguishes from deacons who were entrusted with the “ church's treasure, &c. &c.” After adducing several other instances of a similiar kind, it is added, “ The title of bishop “ in scripture does not denote the authority of one minister s over other ministers of Christ, or any kind of prerogative enjoyed " by one over others; but is merely used to designate that watch “ and care over the church which belongs to an individual."
Again, “ The practice, therefore, of investing one person from " among the presbyters with the authority of president, and giving “him, by way of eminence, the title of bishop, was not a divine, “ but a mere human appointment, and was brought in after the “apostles' time; as, after Jerome, many of the papists themselves “confess, particularly Lombard, Gratian, Cusan, and others."
Further, " The right of choosing pastors belongs to the church, “ and as well to the body of the people as to the elders; but the “right of ordination belongs to the presbytery alone. And accord
ingly, in ancient times, the election of pastors was made by the " suffrages of the whole body of the people belonging to a church;
* Explicat. in 1 Pet. 5. p. 704.
“ but the ordination was performed by one of the pastors, in the " name of the whole presbytery, and in the presence of the church, “ by the imposition of hands.”
In another place they declare, “ Although a few of the first pas“ tors of our churches were ordained by bishops, by far the greater
part have been more recently ordained by presbyters. The or“ dination of the latter is quite as valid as that of the former ; be“cause bishops and presbyters were formerly the same thing; and “ by divine right, the power of ordaining pastors equally belonged to both."
In the same work, these divines, in the most explicit manner, assert the apostolical institution of ruling elders and deacons ; the former to assist the pastor in the exercise of government and discipline in each church ; the latter to take care of the poor. And they expressly declare, that they consider the Church of Holland, in retaining these officers, as following the example of the apostolic church.t
You will pardon me, my brethren, for this long, and I fear, tedious induction of authorities and quotations. It never occurred to me, before I saw Mr. How's pamphlet, that it was possible for any well-informed man, who valued his reputation, to give such a statement as that gentleman has done of the sentiments of the principal divines of the reformed churches. We now see of what he is capable. The next step will probably be to assert, that the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, ever has been, and now is, decidedly prelatical both in its principles and practice. For, really, such an assertion would not be a whit more unfounded, nor fly more directly in the face of all authentic testimony,
than several which I have been called to refute in the foregoing pages. It is plain, however, that the more deeply and extensively we pursue our inquiries, the stronger and brighter appears the evidence in favour of the Presbyterian doctrine. It is more and more manifest, that, in pleading the cause of this doctrine, we are pleading the cause of every protestant church on earth, excepting that of England, and those who claim descent from her as their parent.
Synop. Pur. Thcologiæ. Disputat. xlii. $ 29, 30. 32, 33. 47. † Ibid. Disputat. xlii. 20. 59. 60, 65.