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not a sufficient judge of their conduct; and that ‘it must be investigated by the people.?! Every church, indeed, exercised discipline over its own members ;' and managed its own internal affairs. 3 Sometimes, they elected one of their deacons as a messenger to some other church.' Public letters from one church to another were read before all the people; and were occasionally sent by them and their bishop to individuals.'
The very name 'pagans' 6 indicates the fact that heathenism lingered in country places, after Christianity had gained a solid footing in towns and cities. Yet it is by no means to be supposed that, in the primitive times, the Gospel was wholly confined to populous places. Clement of Rome says that the Apostles preached both in the country and in cities, and constituted bishops and deacons.'7 We learn that Paulus Samosatenus, mentioned above, had many flatterers among the bishops of the adjacent country places
· Hæc tractanda cum plebe universa. Cypr. Epist 28.
2 Cypr. Epist. 55. g. 16. Epist. 72. § 3. Epist. 52. $ 13. 3 In commune tractabimus. Cypr. Epist. vi. $ 5.
Ignat. Epist, ad Philad. See. p. 135, note.
Cypr. Epist. 55. & 21.-Clem. Rom. Epist. ad Cor. Cypr. Epist. 58. $ 2.
Country people. ? Clem. Rom. Epist. ad Cor.
and cities. Zoticus was bishop of the village of Comane;' and it is probable that many of the eighty-seven bishops assembled at Carthage, in the year 258, were pastors of obscure villagechurches; for the very names of the places are unknown to the geographers. In some instances, the congregation came partly from the neighbouring rural districts; and all who composed it, both of city and country, met together; and the bishop preached, and administered the eucharist.“
Now it cannot be doubted by any one who impartially examines these and other testimonies from the Fathers of the primitive church, that the Episcopacy which first prevailed, was congregational or parochial; and that whatever authority there
may be in early precedent, that authority is certainly not in favour of Diocesan Episcopacy. To make it essential, therefore, to the constitution of the church, is to introduce an innovation into the terms of unity, unknown to the first ages, and, to say the least, as indefensible, on the ground ofhistorical precedent, as it would be to contend for either Presbyterianism, or Independency, as indispensable to the unity of the body of Christ.
ALOKOTOUS twv duópwv dypwv Te KāL Tónew. Euseb. lib. vii. c. 30.
EXTRACTS FROM SEVERAL MODERN WRITERS ON THE
CONSTITUTION OF THE EARLY CHURCH.
The following quotations from modern writers on Ecclesiastical History, are introduced as further tending to moderate high-church claims, among all parties; and to lead us to place unity in something more spiritual than outward forms. The authors shall speak for themselves, without any comment being added, on the shades of opinion which they may exhibit. Sufficient coincidence of view, however, will be found among them, to justify the remark—that, since the primitive times, the unity of the church has mainly suffered from the introduction of human authority, where Christ alone ought to reign.
Lord Chancellor KING, in his celebrated work on the Primitive Church, amply illustrates the character and practices of the early Christian assemblies, especially from the time of Ignatius, in the second century. After stating that 'the Holy Scriptures, and Clemens Romanus, mention many Bishops in one church,' while ‘Ignatius, Tertullian, Cyprian,' and other Fathers "affirm that there
was, and ought to be but one, the author, speaking of the times of these latter writers, thus proceeds : ' I shall lay it down as sure, that there was but one Supreme Bishop in a Place, that was o 'Eriokotos, The Bishop, by way of Eminency and Propriety. . . That there was but one Church to a Bishop will appear from this single Consideration that the ancient Dioceses are never said to contain Churches in the plural, but only a Church, in the singular. So they say the Church of the Corinthians, the Church of Smyrna.'
As for the word Diocese,* by which the Bishop's Flock is now usually express'd, I do not remember that ever I found it used in this sense by any of the ancients. But there is another word still retained by us, by which they frequently denominated the Bishop's Cure, and that is Parish : So in the Synodical Epistle of Irenæus to Pope Victor, the Bishopricks of Asia are twice called Parishes. And in Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History, the word is so applied in several hundred places. It is usual to read there of the Bishops of the Parish of Alexandria, of Ephesus, of Corinth, of Athens, of Carthage ; by that term, denoting the very same that we now call a Parish, viz, a competent number of Christians dwelling near together, having one Bishop, Pastor, or Minister set over them, with whom they all met at one time to
* See also Campbell's Lectures, vol. i. p. 207.
worship and serve God. .
A Parish and a particular Church
are synonymous Terms. . . A single Congregation and a Parish were all one, of the same Bulk and Magnitude. . . In many places the Faithful might be so few, as that for twenty or thirty Miles round, they might associate together under one Bishop, and make up but one Church, and that a Small one too. But this I
that how large soever their Local Extent was, their Members made but one single Congregation... The very largest of the Bishopricks were no greater than our particular Congregations are.'
* Now the Four greatest Dioceses that in those Days were in the World, are Antioch, Rome, Carthage, and Alexandria ; the three former of which, during the whole three hundred years after Christ, never branched themselves into several particular Congregations, though the latter did. As for the Diocese of Alexandria, though the Numbers of the Christians therein were not so many, but that in the Middle of the Fourth Century, they could all, or at least most of them, meet together in one place, as I might evince from the writings of Athanasius (Apol. ad Constant.), were it not beyond my prescribed Time, yet in the Third Century they had divided themselves into several distinct and separate Congregations, which were all subjected to one Bishop, as is clearly enough asserted by Dionysius, Bishop of this Church ; (Advers. Germa