« EelmineJätka »
them whoever else you displease. Grieve not the Holy Spirit. (Eph.
would. Be diligent in trading in the narrow sphere wberein God hath placed you, though it be but narrow. Be willing to begin low. Be faithful in a very little. (Luke xix. 17.) Do not despise the day of small things. (Zech. iv. 1o. Job viii. 7.)
(9.) Associate yourselves with those of your own trade, as tradesmen used to do. Many tradesmen have been ruined by keeping unsuitable company. Let your delight be in the saints. (Ps. xvi. 3.) Be companions for them. (Ps. cxix. 63.)
(10.) Be not frightened with little difficulties in your trade. Let not winds and clouds deter you from sowing and reaping, (Eccles. xi. 4.) Say, religion is my business, and I must not be frightened out of it.
(11.) Be after looking over your accounts; this tradesmen think themselves concerned to do. Conscience is the Christian tradesman's bookkeeper. Be often examining it. See how matters stand; whether they go forward or backward.
(12.) In all thy ways acknowledge God; this tradesmen must do -this the Christian must do. If your spiritual trade decay, go to God, bewail it. Confess your folly, beg reviving grace. If it thrive, be thankful; give God the glory. Soul prosperity is owing to God, (Ps. cxv. 1.) Thy pound hath gained ten pounds. (Luke xix. 16.)
LETTERS ON EPISCOPACY. No. I.
(FOR THE CHRISTIAN EXAMINER.) MY DEAR FRIEND, -Some time since you requested of me to furnish
you with a statement of what appears to me to be the most apostolic form of church government. At length I send an answer to your enquiries. The remarks which I am about to make, are deduced from the unbiassed perusal of the sacred history recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, and the directions which are given in the epistolary addresses. I am delighted that this subject, upon which we are willing to join issue, is not one of the essentials of salvation, upon which it would be dangerous to hold any erroneous sentiment, because whatever form of church government was established by the apostles, it was done for the purpose of perpetuating upon earth the essential truths of Christianity-of leading the members of the church into the knowledge of all things necessary to be known, till such time as they reach to the perfect stature of the fullness of grace; as, therefore, the various gradations of ministers in the church, were designed by its great Head, to be but the means for attaining a certain end, the instrument to accomplish a positive effect, it is evident, that if the end be obtained, the consideration of the means, and the instrument employed, is a question of minor importance. These matters we may reckon among the non-essentials of salvation. To use the language of
the judicious Hooker : "they rank among these things that are accessary hereunto, those things that so belong to the way of salvation, as to alter them, is no otherwise to change that way, than a path is changed by altering only the uppermost face thereof, which it be laid in the gravel, or set with grass, or paved with stones, remaineth still the same path.”* After adducing evidence to shew what the form of church government was, which the apostles had established, it will be no difficult matter to shew the danger of making an innovation in it.
Before I enter into the immediate proofs, it will be necessary to make an observation on the nature of the evidence I am about to adduce as collateral testimony-I mean the voice of antiquity, the evidence of witnesses, who were co-temporary with the apostles, or who lived in the ages immediately succeeding them. Do not be alarmed at this evidence, or disposed in the common cant of the present day, to set it down as of the same kind with that, by which the errors of popery are supported. I would be far from using this traditionary evidence in the same way, that the Romanist applies it. It is one of the principles of his church, that genuine tradition, whether written or oral is of equal importance with the sacred Word; and that every doctrine and every matter of discipline, must be received by us, whether it be founded on the canonical Scriptures, or on the language of the fathers. From this principle I revolt. I hold in the language of my church that, “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation, so that whatsoever is not read therein, or may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of faith, or to be thought necessary or requisite to salvation.”—(Article, vi.) Thus I refuse the evidence of any uninspired record to establish per se the belief of a doctrine necessary to salvation; but I admit its use in matters of discipline-yet I will not always receive it as conclusive, even in questions of minor importance, unless some portion of evidence can be deduced from the Scriptures in support of whatever question is in dispute. When we see any matter of discipline observed universally in the church, and when we are able to trace it to the very time of the apostles and fathers, when we can find some slight allusion made to the custom in the Scriptures-it would be sceptical not to admit, that it had the sanction of apostolic usage. I am confirmed in the validity of this principle, by observing the practice which obtains among every sect of Christians, though they profess to regard only what is written. In the system of ecclesiastical polity upon which we all agree-there are many things for which we have not the exact warrant of Scripture. I would ask, why do not the laity as well as the presbyters, bless the bread and wine for the commemoration of our Lord's death ? If the apostles then represented the whole church, the ministers and the laity—the command was given to the latter as well as the former; and if the apostles did not represent the whole church, why do all communicate ? In which of the four gospels is it said, that our Lord limited the first part of the sentence to the apostles, and extended the latter part to the laity
Again, I may
ask what * Eccles. Polity. Lib. iii. sect. 3.
authority is there for women partaking of the sacred elements ? These practices, with several others, I could enumerate, rest upon apostolical practice, and the practice of the church in all ages, which we may consider to be a valid interpretation of the sense in which our Lord's words are to be understood. Having made this observation upon what I call traditive evidence, I will lay before you the Scriptural authority, from which I infer that the apostles established three distinct orders of ecclesiastical functionaries, to which system of ecclesiastical polity, I think those churches more closely approximate than any other which retain that form of government which is termed episcopal, comprising bishops, priests, and deacons. It will be unnecessary to dwell on those ministerial offices which the apostle says (Eph. iv. 2.) Christ
gave to his church, because in fact, they were not distinct offices, that required distinct officers, for we read that the work of a prophet and an evangelist was sometimes performed by the apostles themselves, and sometimes by the deacons. Thus were particular denominations given on account of the miraculous gifts that were conferred, but which have ceased long since in the Church.
It will also be unnecessary to dwell on the distinct nature of the two last offices that I enumerated, as all churches I believe admit that they are necessary. The question I have to prove is this, Was there an order distinct from, and superior to the Presbyters, established by the apostles ? That there was such a class appears to me certain.
I will frankly admit that a distinction in names cannot be proved be. tween the Bishops and Presbyters, those who are sometimes called Επιστοποι Bishops, being at other times denominated Πρεσβυτεροι Presbyters, (Acts xiv. 28. Acts xx. 28.) The words were indiscriminately applied to the Presbyters during the life time of the apostles, and afterwards the term episcopus was limited in application to him who was superior to the Presbyters. Clemens Alexandrinus calls Clement of Rome the Bishop of Rome.* Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, is called by Chrysostomt Apostle and Bishop. It may be asserted that these words were used loosely by the Alexandrian Clement and St. Chrysostom ; but so far was that from being the case, that we have the authority of another Father, Theodoret, † who tells us “ that the same persons were anciently called Presbyters and Bishops promiscuously, whilst those who are now called Bishops were then denominated Apostles. But in process of time the name of Apostle was limited to such only as were more strictly Apostles, viz. the twelve, and then the name of Bishop was given to those who succeeded them."
I come now to those facts which are noticed in Scripture to prove my position. It appears from the ordination of l'imothy and Titus, and the various charges given them, that their ministerial functions were of a different kind from the Presbyters, that in fact they had a jurisdiction superior to them. This much I will endeavour to establish to your satisfaction.
* Strom, lib. 4,
+ Iq his Homily upon Iguatius, | Theodoret on I Tim. iii. 1,
That St. Paul placed Timothy as a Bishop at Ephesus, is evident from 1 Tim. i. 3. What the offices were which he had to discharge, we can collect from the several directions given him in both the Epistles, and that these duties directly imply an authority over the Presbyters, the second order of ecclesiastical officers for which I contend, is evident from the several duties he is directed to discharge.
1. He is invested with the power of ordaining, (2 Tim. ii. 2.) 2. He must prevent the preaching of false doctrine, (1 Tim. i. 3.) 3. He receives the judicial power of hearing complaints, (1 Tim. v. 19.) Consider these several offices in connection ; and do they not evidently imply a superiority over those officers who are called Presbyters?
It is evident that Presbyters could not ordain without a Bishop or Apostle, as he was then denominated. For if they could, why would St. Paul have placed Timothy at Ephesus for that special purpose ? That there were several Presbyters there at the ime St. Paul appointed him we know from the practice of St. Paul to ordain elders wherever he went, (Acts xiv. 23.) And from the length of time before he placed Timothy there, it is likely he did the
same at that great city. And we have direct evidence to prove this point in the 20th of the Acts. We read there of the Presbytery accompanying St. Paul on his journey.
Does not the judicial power with which he was invested, clearly imply a superiority of jurisdiction over the Presbytery? For who ever heard of one among a number of equals having the power of hearing complaints, and pronouncing judgment upon his brethren? I think it must be admitted, that the Apostles intended that a permanent office in the church should exist superior to that of the Presbytery. That such was the opinion of the early Christians expressly upon this very point, there is the most satisfactory evidence upon which we can rely. Eusebius says Timothy was the first Bishop St. Paul ordained of the province of Ephesus, lib. iii. c. 4. And St. Ambrose says, St. Paul having ordained him Bishop, writes his epistle to bim to instruct him in his office. And again, we have the most important evidence from the General Council of Chalcedon; it was stated there, “ from the time of St. Timothy until now, there have been twenty-seven Bishops ordained in Ephesus,” (Con. Chal. Act 2.) Your candid mind must, I am sure, admit these testimonies as good collateral evidence in support of the point I wish to prove.
In the same manner I could prove that Titus was Bishop of Crete, from language being addressed to him investing him with. authority to act in the same official way as that in which Timothy was commissioned by the Apostle. And further, he is entrusted with the management of matters, pertaining to which no directions were given by St. Paul to Timothy. He is desired to take
* Although these additional duties which are mentioned in the Epistle to Titus are not mentioned in either of the Epistles to Timothy, it was as incumbent on bim to perform them, as it wus on Titus, because the Epistles were circulated from one church to another, and wbatever was omitted in one was supplied in the other.
cognizance of heretical pravity, (Tit. iii. 10.;) and also to arrange matters of discipline which were not arranged by divine authority, (Titus i. 5.*). And there is also the voice of ecclesiastical antiquity to prove that he was the first Bishop of Crete, ordained by St. Paul. Connect now the various charges given to Timothy and Titus by the Apostle ; examine the several duties which they are directed to discharge ; examine the writers who allude to facts which were notorious in the time they lived,—if you have hitherto been incredulous, your scepticism must give way before such stubborn facts.
I could also prove, upon the same kind of evidence as that which assures us that such a person as Julius Cæsar existed, that Mark was Bishop of Alexandria, that Clement was Bishop of Rome, and that Polycarp was Bishop of Smyrna, all placed there by apostolic authority. But this was departing from the rule I laid down, that there must be some scriptural authority for whatever I adduce as precedents for the regulation of our ecclesiastical discipline.
There is more evidence to be adduced from Scripture in support of episcopal government. It is the recognition of it by the highest authority, even by our Lord Jesus Christ, the great founder of the church. This he has done in those awful charges he addresses to the seven angels of the Apocalyptic Churches. These ministers could not be ordinary Presbyters we know, because there was more than one at the time in Ephesus, St. Paul having some time before addressed the Presbytery there. The angel of the Church evidently refers to some individual pre-eminent above the others. If you read attentively the charges that are given to the governors of those churches, you will observe that in almost all of ihem there is something said which implies episcopal authority. For instance, the angel of the church at Thyatira is rebuked for permitting a false prophetess to seduce the people. This would not have been done, unless the angel had the power which we claim for our Bishops of excluding beretics from church communion. On the contrary, the angel of the Church at Ephesus is commended for trying those who called themselves apos. tles and were not so. This implies that they had been judicially convicted of being impostors. Thus, whether the language of censure or commendation be used, it is such as to confirm us in the belief that these angels of the churches had the authority of performing duties higher than those which the other presbyters had to discharge; and that for the omission of them they were responsible to their great Lord. The time at which our Lord addressed these seven churches and their governors, when mostly all those whom he had selected for the management of his church had been removed from this world, atfords us an additional argument that the episcopal order was to be the permanent form of Church government.
' Iva Tà delnovra ércoloposon," " that thou mightest set right the things yat are deficient."