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“in the primitive Church;" he goes on to say, that the Christians in the line of the Apostles, established in the Church a form of government and discipline similar to what prevailed in the Jewish Synagogue. It was the duty, he says, of the rulers of the Synagogue to preserve discipline, superintend the external concerns of the respective societies over which they were places, and also to teach and explain the law. In the same manner it was the duty of ihe bishops or presbyters to superintend the government of the Church, and to teach the doctrines of the Christian religion. They were both governors and teachers. The rulers of the Synagogues were confined to particular societies, and so were the first bishops or presbyters. No one had any control, except in the single society over which he had been appointed.
Rosenmuller, a far famed critic and commentator, also of Germany, delivers, with great confidence, a similar opinion, with respect to the conformity of the order of the primitive church to the model of the Synagogue. And asserts, with equal confidence, that presbyters and bishops, in the time of the apostles, were the same; but that afterwards, bestowing the title of bishop upon one, by way of eminence, was brought in by the custom of the Church.*
Unless I deceive myself, I have now established the four positions which were stated at the beginning of this letter, viz. That the scriptures contain but one commission for the Gospel ministry, and that there is no evidence of the powers conveyed by this commission being afterwards divided hetween different orders of ministers :- That the words bishop and presbyter are uniformly used in the New Testament as conyertible titles for the same office: -ihat the saine character and powers are also, in the sacred writings, ascribed interchangeably to Bishops and presbyters, thus plainly establishing their identity of order as well as of name :And that the Christian Church was organized by the Apostles, after the model of the Jewish Synagogue, which was undeniably Presbyterian in its form.t
These positions, thus established, decide the controversy. Such
• D. J. G. Rosenmulleri. Scholia N. T. in Acta Apostol. vi. 3. xi. 30. xiii. 1. xx. 17. 28.-In Epist. 1 ad Tim. v. 17.
† See the subject of the Jewish Synagogue further treated in Letter III. of the second series, included in this volume.
a concurrence of language and of facts in support of the doctrine of ministerial parity, is at once remarkable and conclusive. I mean conclusive as to the simple fact, that this was the system adopted in the Apostle's days. With respect to the question, how far the apostolic model of Church order is unalterably binding in all ages, in all nations, and under all states of society, it is wholly a different inquiry. On this point men equally pious and learned have entertained different opinions. My own opinion on the subject has been expressed in a former letter. But I see not how any one can peruse the New Testament, with an impartial mind, without perceiving that the Presbyterian form of Church government is there distinctly pourtrayed. This is the struly primitive and apostolic form.” And the more closely we adhere to this form, the more we testify our respect for that system which was framed by inspired men, sanctioned by miraculous powers, and made pre-eminently instrumental, in the midst of a frowning and hostile world, in building up the Church in holiness, through faith, unto salvation.
THE ARGUMENTS DRAWN FROM SCRIPTURE IN FAVOUR OF DIOCESAN
EPISCOPACY, STATED AND EXAMINED.
You have seen what the Scriptures declare in support of our doctrine of the Christian Ministry. I might safely rest the cause on this testimony. But as it is my wish to do full justice to our opponents, and not to overlook or suppress a single plea urged by them, which has the most distant appearance of plausibility, I will now preceed, with all the candour I can exercise, to examine the principal arguments in favour of their system, which they suppose are to be found in the word of God.
In examining these arguments, I must again request you to keep steadily in view the doctrine for which our Episcopal brethren contend, and the nature of that proof which it is incunibent on them to adduce. They appeal to Scripture to prove that Bishops are an order of Clergy superior to Presbyters; that their superiority rests on the appointment of Christ; and that with this superior order alone, are deposited all the treasures of ministerial authority and succession. To support such a claim, we demand express warrant. We require those who make the appeal, to produce passages of Scripture which contain direct precept, plain undoubted example, or at least some established principle, from which their conclusion necessarily flows. On a subject so fundamental as they represent this to be, we cannot be contented with gratuitous assumptions, or ingenious analogies, which have nothing to support them but human authority. We must have a warrant, decided and clear; a warrant which would be indubitable and satisfactory, if all books, excepting the Bible, were banished from the Church. Let us see whether our claimaints are prepared with testimony of this kind.
The first argument urged by the friends of prelacy is, “ That, « as the mosaic economy was intended to prefigure the Gospel
“ dispensation, we may reasonably suppose the Christian ministry “ to be modelled after the Jewish Priesthood ; and that, as " there were, in the Temple service, an High Priest, Priests, and " Levites, so we may consider it as agreeable to the will of Christ, « that there should be the corresponding orders of Bishops, Priests, “ and Deacons, in the New Testament Church.”
After the ample proof adduced in the foregoing Letter, that the Christian Church was organized by the Apostles, not afier the model of the Temple, but of the Synagogue service, I might with propriety dismiss this argument, as sufficiently refuted by the establishment of that fact. But as much stress has been laid upon the argument in question, and as some cautious inquirers may wish to see it further discussed, let us proceed to a more particular examination of its merits.
You will observe the form of this argument. It may “ reasonably be supposed” that such a correspondence of orders should exist. But why “suppose" it? Does the Word of God, the great Charter of the Christian Church, say that this is the case ? Is there a single passage to be found in the sacred volume, which asserts, or gives the least hint, that such a likeness or analogy either does, or ought to exist ? I will venture to say, there is not. I have met, indeed, with much animated declamation in favour of this analogy, urging it as a “supposable” thing—as a “ reasonable " thing, &c. &c. but I have never yet heard of a single passage of scripture, which is even pretended to teach the doctrine in question. For the general position, that many of the Old Testament institutions had a reference to, and were intended to prefigure New Testament blessings, it will be instantly seen by every discerning reader, is nothing to the purpose.
But this is not all. There is not only nothing to be found in Scripture which bears the least appearance of support to this ar. gument; but there is much to be found which contradicts and destroys it. It is impossible to read the New Testament without perceiving, that the Jewish Priesthood was a typical and temporary institution, which had both its accomplishment and its termination in Christ. This is taught in passages too numerous to be quoted ; but, more particularly, at great length, and with irresistible force of argument, in the Epistle to the Hebrews,* in which the sacred
* See especially the vii. viii. ix. and x. chapters.
writer declares, that since Christ the substance is come, the types which prefigured him are done away; that the Levitical priesthood was chiefly employed in offering sacrifices, and attending on oi her ceremonial observances of the typical economy, for which there is no place since the great Sacrifice was offered up once for all; and that Christ Jesus himself is now the great High Priest of our profession. Is it not above measure wonderful, that any who have the Bible in their hands, and profess to make it the rule of their faith, should, in the face of language so explicit and decisive, represent any human officer in the Christian Church as standing in the place of the High Priest under the ceremonial dispensation ?
But it will be asked, Do we deny all connexion between the Old and the New Testament dispensations ? Do we deny that the types and ceremonies of the Mosaic economy, were a shadow of good things to come? By no means. We warmly contend for this connexion. We maintain, with no less zeal than our opponenis, that the whole system of typical and figurative observances enjoined upon the Jews, was full of important meaning, and had a pointed reference to Gospel blessings. We agree, also, that the Jewish Priesthood was typical ; but of what ? of a mere human Priesthood, to be established under the New Testament dispensation? So far from this, that the Apostle, in writing to the Hebrews, says directly the contrary. He tells us, that, as the sacrifices offered by the priests under the law, prefigured the death of Christ, and could not with propriety be continued aster that event had taken place ; so the Levitical Priesthood was a type of that divine High Priest, who once offered himself a sacrifice to satisfy offended justice, and entered, by his own blood, into the holiest of all, even into heaven. If any insist that, because the ministrations under the law were a shadow of heavenly things, we must have a priesthood under the Gospel of similar grades and organization; they are bound, on the same principle, to carry the purallel through, and to maintain the continuance of sacrifices, and of many other things connected with the priestly office; and I may venture to affirm, that they will find it quite as easy to make the scriptures speak in favour of the latter as of the former.
Accordingly the words Priest and Priesthood are never, in one instance, in the New Testament, applied to the ministers of the