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tute the Church on hierarchical lines is tantamount to the proof that a hierarchical form is not essential to its well-being. They take it for granted that the form given the Church by the apostles is, so far as it goes, the best form for it to take ; and that it is meant to teach us how it should be conducted in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth, so that if extensions are to be inade they inay be most fitly made on the same lines and by the further application of the same principles. They observe that the Church of the first ages, in seeking due expression of her unity, songht it naturally through representative councils wherein the numerous pastors of the flocks met to consider their interests; while it was only under the pressure of Roman iinperialism and barbarian feudalism that it was forced into the unnatural prelatic molds of the later ages.* They believe that the principle of representative and collegiate government-of " diffused episcopacy,” if you choose the phrase t-is embodied in the prescribed polity of the local Church, and is the true scriptural principle for its general organization. And they believe this to be not only the scriptural form, but, as it has been excellently phrased, “the natural form, and therefore the natural law of the Church,”_"the mold and type into which it runs when all external pressure and all artificial influence are removed.” They believe it to be God's will that his Church should be so constituted; they believe that the Church is destined to be so constituted; they believe that her efficiency in the fulfillment of her high mission will be indefinitely increased when she is so constituted. And they therefore cannot accept the "historic episcopate” as either desirable or natural.
4. Nevertheless, Presbyterians are not inclined to erect their own conception of the divinely appointed constitution of the Church into the criterion of the true Church. It is their fundamental principle that where the saving truth of God is, there is the Church ; and they conceive themselves to be bound to maintain holy fellowship and communion, which communion, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, at every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” They cannot but deprecate, therefore, the apparent erection by their Episcopal brethren of a mere denominational * Compare Gore, op. cit., pp. 104, 106, 112.
Gore, op. cit., p. 334.
peculiarity into a condition of intercommunion.* As such, they cannot accept it. For theinselves, they ask nothing as a condition of intercommunion but faith in our cominon Lord. They seek first the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace; and are ready, not, indeed, to yield their witness to what they believe the truth of God in doctrine, practice, or government, but to subordinate all else to the presence of the Spirit himself. They have no faith in efforts to seek unity by organization or enforced unformity—they do not believe it can be attained by “ building a great house around a divided family.” In the words of a typical High Churchman, they believe that “the instrument of unity is the Spirit; the basis of unity is Christ the Mediator; the center of unity is in the heavens, where the Church's exalted Head lives in eternal inajesty-human yet glorified.” And they believe that the path to visible unity lies in the cordial recognition that all those—under whatever diversity of creed, worship, organization-are one body who cling by a living faith to the one Head.
If one Presbyterian may be permitted frankly to speak his mind, the present writer thinks that the first practical step toward realizing the grand dream of giving visible unity to the Protestant world must come through a federation, rather than an assimilation, of denominations. If all denominations that are willing to subscribe the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds together with the doctrinal basis of the Evangelical Allianceand this last he holds essential, since there are some of us who will not easily consent to yield what has been bought in the throes and blood of the Reformation-would appoint delegates according to some equitable basis mutually agreed upon,
who should constitute a court to which should be committed the care of all strictly interdenominational matters-visible unity would be accomplished and no denominational peculiarity would be interfered with. Is it not, after all, such a true nuity as this, rather than mere uniforinity, that we long for?
* Encyclical Letter of the last Lambeth Conference, p. 15.
Zeajamon 13. Wanfried
RELATIONS OF THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH TO THE
At first sight the relations of the Methodist Episcopal Church to the episcopal question seem to be questionable, incongruous, and anomalous. In theory we are presbyterian, but in practice episcopalian. We affirın that there are but two orders in the ministry; yet we “consecrate" our “bishops" and emphasize that occasion. We “exteinporize” most of our worship, yet we have a ritual; and at this hour we have Wesley's prayer-book, the directions for the use of which have never been formally repealed. We hold that our elders can ordain other scriptural elders and bishops, yet not one such elder was ordained on this continent until Wesley ordained and sent over Thomas Coke. Our bishops are only officers who preside in Annual Conferences, yet we know of no occasion where, in their absence from Conference, an ordination has proceeded.
As Methodists we hold that the early Church was formed on the model of the synagogne, and not of the one and only temple. In the latter every detail of worship was rigidly prescribed, and therein was the only divinely pre-appointed and historically identified “succession" of ininisters. Therein were high-priests, priests, and Levites—the type of the three orders claimed by modern High Churchmen. Therein the administration and movement was rather from heaven toward earth. On the other hand, the synagogue was every-where, and was officered qhite otherwise. After Christ had offered the one final and everlasting sacrifice, converted Jews retained many of their synagogne forms, and their worship expressed the glad, instinctive movement of earth toward heaven, and of soul toward God through Christ. There was no altar in the synagogue, nor high-priest nor priest nor Levite. The argument that the early Church was shaped on the model of the synagogue is conclusive. Vitringa's Synagogue and the Church (Bernard's translation, London, 1842) would seem to put this point beyond question, though additional testimony abounds. When the early churches were being organized each had its elders, and as the churches multiplied the latter were grouped under a presiding elder, or overseer, the inport of whose designation as “ bishop” stands for whole campaigns of controversy.
As Methodist Episcopalians we hold that “bishop” and “presbyter” are interchangeable terms, and that the first term relates to the governmental utility of the “office.” In other words, “bishop" expresses simply a function of the presbyterate in Churches that prefer and adopt that form of church government. We have the authority of men like Dean Stanley and Dr. Lightfoot--the bishop of Durham--and dozens and dozens of others, to assert that this interchangeability of the terms " bishop” and “presbyter” is an issue now settled by the best scholarship.
The Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest organized episcopal Church on this continent, and its history is closely associated with the episcopacy question in the Church of England. Had the latter Church accepted the fruits of Wesley's work and co-operated with him in England we would probably never have heard of our Church, there or in America, as a separate Church. When many thousands of Methodists had been converted and gathered into “classes” in America, who wished the benefit of the sacraments, Wesley fairly besieged and besought Lowtlı, Bishop of London, to ordain even one presbyter, so that some of the people might have the sacraments and the remainder have hope of Church privileges. Wesley was driven to look into his Bible and Church history for relief. Authori. ties like Dean Stanley and Dr. Lightfoot declare that no issnes are better settled than that “ bishop” and “presbyter" are interchangeable terms.
Canon Farrar has recently said: “Though episcopacy seems to me to have the divine sanction, I do not in any sense regard episcopacy as a thing of iminediate divine institution or universal obligation. . . . I hold that episcopacy is lawful; but I do not maintain for it any indefeasible prescription.
Wesley came to see clearly that there is no snch thing as a real apostolic succession, and that in extreme cases, under even existing English laws, he could ordain a presbyter and a scriptural bishop as duly as could the archbishop of Canterbury. To the very last he hesitated, but not because he doubted his scriptural right and authority to exercise his office as the head of the Wesleyan religious movement, and as a modern apostle after a second Pentecost. Wesley's ordinations were lawful, but he doubted that they were expedient, save as a last resort. Like
an obedient son in the gospel, he preferred to “hear the Church" so long as human elements in the administration of that Church did not interfere with his great work of saving and edifying souls.
Wesley knew that there is no divinely prescribed form of church government. At the same time he, like a wise man, saw that when a church constitution has been chosen, it is but loyal and best to adhere to that form until compelled to dissent and diverge. He knew that from Ignatius's time, when a bishop was only the first among his equals and served simply
“a center of unity,” to Cyprian, who regarded a bishop as the absolute vicegerent of Christ, there was but a short, swift, human step. Wesley loyally preferred to respect a church which even had no apostolic succession, and to obey the law of that Church lest it be discredited and displaced by a less desirable one.
He knew that regard for the work he planned argued the minimum of adverse criticism in very respect for the future of that work. Compelled to do something, after Bishop Lowth and others declared they would do nothing, Wesley ordained Coke, and in the document wherein he records his act and motive he expressly said :
For many years I have been importuned to exercise this right by ordaining part of our traveling preachers; but I have refused, not only for peace' sake, but because I was determined as little as possible to violate the established order of the national Church to which I belong.
The compelling exigency had now come. Wesley ordained Coke as a “superintendent,” and others as presbyters. Still later, when he saw that at the close of his life his followers at home would fall apart, he ordained Alexander Mather as a bishop for England. In both cases there was exigency, which sanctions the acts of those who are compelled to go outside of given forms and prescribed regulations. Emergency is superior to law even in religion and ecclesiasticism. There is a grave defect in the history of the ordination of the first archbishop of Canterbury under Elizabeth, and of the line of English bishops since that time. Little wonder, therefore, that wise advisers of the queen taught that mere episcopal appointment from the throne is sufficient, without consecration. There has been much controversy over this point, and we are per