Page images
PDF
EPUB

necessary, that they are no true churches which receive not their " pontifical hierarchy. The third opinion is between both, that " although this distinction of bishops and priests, as it is now " received, cannot be proved out of scripture ; yet it is very neces“ şary, for the policy of the church, to avoid schisms, and to

preserve it in unity. Of this judgment, Bishop Jewel against Harding, showeth both Chrysostom, Ambrose, and Jerome, to " have been. Jerome thus writeth,' the apostle teaches evidently " that bishops and priests were the same; but that one was afterwards chosen to be set over the rest as a remedy against schism.' “ To this opinion of St. Jerome, subscribeth bishop Jewel, and ano<ther most reverend prelate of our church, Archbishop Whitgift." p. 273. Dr. Willet also expressly renounces the argument drawn by many Episcopalians from the Jewish priesthood. In answer to a celebrated popish writer, who had, with great confidence, adduced this argument, to support the authority of bishops, as an order superior to presbyters, he observes: First," the high priest “under the law was a figure of Christ, who is the high priest and “ chief Shepherd of the New Testament : and therefore this type, « being fulhilled in Christ, cannot properly be applied to the exter“ nal hierarchy of the church. Secondly, if every bishop be this “ high priest, then have you lost one of your best arguments for “ the Pope, whom you would have to be the high priest in the “church.”* This champion of the church of England further concedes : “ That it may be doubted whether Timothy were “So ordained by the apostle bishop of Ephesus, as a bishop " is now set over his diocese ; for then the apostle would never “have called him so often from his charge, sending him to “the Corinthians, to the Thessalonians, and to other churches “beside. It is most likely that Timothy had the place and calling " of an Evangelist.Again; “Seeing that Timothy was ordained “ by the authority of the eldership, how could he be a bishop strict“ ly and precisely taken, being ordained by presbyters 2” p. 273. Dr. Willet also formally gives up the claim that diocesan bishops

• It will be observed, that this zealous Episcopalian not only rejects the argument in favour of prelacy, drawn from the model of the Jewish Priesthood, but also declares it to be a popish argument, and of no value excepting on popish principles,

are peculiarly the successors of the apostles; explicitly conceding that all who preach the gospel, and administer sacraments, are equally entitled to this honour. And, to place his opinion beyond all doubt, he observes, “ Although it cannot be denied but that the “government of bishops is very profitable for the preserving of “unity ; yet we dare not condemn the churches of Geneva, Helvetia, Germany, Scotland, that have received another form " of ecclesiastical government; as the papists proudly affirm all 6 churches which have not such bishops as theirs are, to be no « true churches. But so do not our bishops and archbishops, “ which is a notable difference between the bishops of the popish “church, and of the reformed churches. Wherefore, as we con66 demn not those reformed churches which have retained another “ form of ecclesiastical government; so neither are they to censure “our church for holding still the ancient regimen of bishops, “purged from the ambitious and superstitious inventions of the “popish prelacy.” p. 276.

Bishop Bilson, in his work against Seminaries, lib. I. p. 318, delivers it as his opinion, and confirms it by quotations from Jerome, that “ the church was at first governed by the common council of “ presbyters ; that therefore bishops must understand that they are “greater than presbyters, rather by custom than the Lord's appointment; and that bishops came in after the Apostle's time."

Dr. Holland, the King's professor of divinity in the University of Oxford, at a public academical exercise, in the year 1608, in answer to a question formally and solemnly proposed — An episcopatus sit ordo distinctus a presbyteratu, eoque superior jure divino? i. e. Whether the office of bishop be different from that of presbyter, and superior to it, by divine right, declared that " to affirm « that there is such a difference and superiority, by divine right, 6 is most false, contrary to Scripture, to the fathers, to the doctrine 6 of the church of England, yea to the very schoolmen themselves.”

Bishop Morton, in his Catholic Apology, addressed to the papists, lib. I. tells them that the powers of order and jurisdiction, which “they ascribe to bishops, doth by divine right belong to all other " presbyters ; and that to ordain is their ancient right.” He further asserts, that Jerome does not represent the difference between bishop and presbyter as of divine institution. He assents to the opinion of Medina the Jesuit, and declares that there was no substantial

difference on the subject of episcopacy between Jerome and Aerius. He avers, further, that not only all the protestants, but also all the primitive doctors were of Jerome's mind. And, finally, he concludes, that according to the harmonious consent of all men in the apostolic age, there was no difference between bishop and presbyter; but that this difference was afterwards introduced for the removal of schism.

Bishop Jewel, one of the most illustrious advocates for diocesan episcopacy, in the Defence of his Apology for the Church of England against Harding, p. 248, has the following remarkable passage. “ But what meant M. Harding to come in here with the difference “ between priests and bishops ? Thinketh he that priests and 6 bishops hold only by tradition ? Or is it so horrible an heresy as " he maketh it, to say, that by the Scriptures of God, a bishop and

a priest are all one? Or knoweth he how far, and to whom he 66 reacheth the name of an heretic ? Verily Chrysostom saith, Inter episcopum, el presbyterum interest fere nihil. i.e. between

a bishop and a priest there is, in a manner, no difference.' St. Jerome saith, somewhat in rougher sort, Audio, quendam in tantam eripuisse vecordiam, ut diaconos presbyteris, id est, episcopis ante ferret : cum Apostolus perspicuè doceat, eosdem esse presbyteros quos episcopos. i. e. 'I hear say, there is one become 6 so peevish, that he setteth deacons before priests, that is to say, “ bishops ; whereas the Apostle plainly teacheth us, that priests “ and bishops be all one.' St. Augustine also saith, Quid est episcopus nisi primus presbyter, hoc est summus sacerdos ? i. e. ""What is a bishop, but the first priest, that is to say, the highest “ priest ?' So saith St. Ambrose, episcopi et presbyteri una ordinatio est ; uterque, enim, sacerdos est, sed episcopus primus est. “ i. e. There is but one consecration of priest and bishop; for both “ of them are priests, but the bishop is the first. All these, and “ other more holy fathers, together with St. Paul, the Apostle, " for thus saying, by M. Harding's advice, must be holden for “ heretics."*

• It ought to be kept in mind, that Bishop Jewel's Apology for the Church of England was laid before the public on the avowed principle, that it contained the doctrine of that church : and that the work from which the above quotation is made, was ordered to be suspended by a chain, in all the churches in the kingdom, and to be publicly read as a standard of theological instruction. Strype's Annals, II. 100.

Dr. Whitaker, a learned divine of the church of England, and professor of divinity in the University of Cambridge, in his treatise against Campion, the Jesuit, affirms, that bishop and presbyter are, by divine right, all one. And, in answer to Dury, a zealous hierarchist of Scotland, he tells him " that, whereas he asserts, with “ many words, that bishop and presbyter are divers, if he will « retain the character of a modest divine, he must not so confident6 ly affirm, that which all men see to be so evidently false. For “ what is so well known, says he, as this which you acknowledge 6 not ? Jerome plainly writeth that elders and bishops are the “ same, and confirmeth it by many places of Scripture.” The same celebrated Episcopalian, in writing against Bellarmine, says, “ From 2 Tim. i. 6, we understand that Timothy had hands laid “ on him by presbyters, who, at that time governed the church in common council ;" and then proceeds to speak severely of Bellarmine and the Romish church for confining the power of ordination to bishops exclusively of presbyters.

The authority of few men stands higher among the friends of prelacy, than that of Bishop Hall, who wrote, and otherwise exerted himself, in favour of the divine right of diocesan episcopacy, with as much zeal and ability as any man of his day. Yet this eminently learned and pious divine, acknowledged the reformed church of Holland, where there never have been any diocesan bishops, to be a true church of Christ ; accepted of a seat in the Synod of Dort, in which the articles of faith, and form of government of that church were settled ; recognised the deputies from all the reformed churches on the continent, none of whom had received episcopal ordination, as regular ministers of Christ ; and, when he took leave of the Synod, declared that there was no place upon “ earth so like Heaven as the Synod of Dort, and where he should “ be more willing to dwell.” Brandt's Hist. Sess. 62. The following extract of a sermon which he delivered in Latin before that venerable Synod, contains a direct and unequivocal acknowledgment of the church of Holland as a true church of Christ. It was delivered Nov. 29, 1618; and founded on Eccles. vii. 16. “ His serene majesty, our King James, in his excellent letter, 6 admonishes the States General, and in his instructions to us hath “expressly commanded us, to urge this with our whole might, to 6 inculcate this one thing, that you all continue to adhere to the

“ common faith, and the confession of your own and the other 66 churches : which if you do, o happy Holland ! 0 chaste

Spouse of Christ ! 0 prosperous Republic! this your afflicted ( Church tossed with the billows of differing opinions, will 6 yet reach the harbour, and safely smile at all the storms excited “ by her cruel adversaries. That this may at length be obtained, 6 let us seek for the things which make for peace. We are brethren ; let us also be Colleagues ! What have we to do with “ the infamous titles of party names ? We are Christians ; let us “ also be of the same mind. We are one body ; let us also be « unanimous. By the tremendous name of the omnipotent God; 66 by the pious and loving bosom of our common Mother; by your “own souls; by the holy bowels of Jesus Christ our Saviour, my “ brethren, seek peace; pursue peace.” See the whole in the “ Acta Synodi Nat. Dord. 38. But this excellent prelate went further. A little more than twenty years after his mission to Holland, and when he had been advanced to the bishoprick of Norwich, he published his Irenicum (or Peacemaker), in which we find the following passage, Sect. VI.“ Blessed be God, there is no “ difference, in any essential point, between the church of England, " and her sister reformed churches. We unite in every article of “ christian doctrine, without the least variation, as the full and 6 absolute agreement between their public confessions and ours 66 testifies.* The only difference between us consists in our mode 6 of constituting the external ministry; and even with respect to “ this point we are of one mind, because we all profess to believe o that it is not an essential of the church, (though in the opinion of “ many it is a matter of importance to her well being ;) and we all retain a respectful and friendly opinion of each other, not seeing

any reason why so small a disagreement should produce any " alienation of affection among us." And after proposing some common principles on which they might draw more closely together, he adds, “ But if a difference of opinion with regard to

It has long been maintained by well informed persons, that the fathers, or the most distinguished reformers of the church of England were doctrinal Calvinists ; and that the thirty-nine Articles of that church drawn up by them are Calvinistic. If there were any remaining doubt with respect to the accuracy of this representation, the opinion of Bishop Hall, here so strongly expressed, would be decisive in its support.

« EelmineJätka »