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according to the rule of the gospel, and that you never at any time promote ANY ONE to HOLY ORDERS, &c.” (i. e. otherwise than is here directed.) “In witness whereof we have commanded these presents to be made and confirmed by our seal for Ecclesiastical causes. Given November 12th, 1539, and thirty-first year of our reign.” Now these Commissions profess to direct in matters“ besides and beyond what are known to belong to Bishops in the Scripture.” What are those matters ? The answer is plain as to the meaning of the Commission, for it mentions-The ordination of Ministers, Episcopal Visitation and Jurisdiction over Ministers and people in that Diocese. As Bishops, none of these things belong to them any more than to any other minister, except by human authority. I am aware Bishop Burnet and others complain of the hardship of these commissions, and say that they were laid aside afterwards. This does not in the least alter the question of law and authority. By 37th Henry VIII, cap. 17, it is enacted and declared, “That Archbishops, Bishops, &c. have no manner of jurisdiction Ecclesiastical, but by, under, and from, his Royal Majesty." These powers of the Sovereign were renewed again as law in Edward VI. and in Elizabeth's reign; and they continue to be the law of the land, as to the Church of England, to the present day.
The conclusion, then, as to the Church of England, is, that the DIVINE Right OF BISHOPS is no part of its constitution; but that Presbyters and Bishops are, by authority of the Scripture, one and the same office; that PRESBYTERS HAVE EQUAL DIVINE RIGHT TO ORDAIN; but that, as human arrangement, the Order of Bishops is lawful : and that the Book of Ordination has “all things necessary for that purpose; neither hath it any thing of itself superstitious or ungodly."*
* Dr. Holland, King's Professor of Divinity at Oxford, says, “That to affirm the office of Bishop to be different from that of Presbyter and superior to it, is most false; contrary to Scripture, to the Fathers, to the doctrines of the Church of England, yea to the very Schoolmen themselves." Dr. Dwight's Theology, Vol. V. p. 184, 8vo.
BISHOPS AND PRESBYTERS THE SAME ORDER, SHEWN BY THE TESTIMONY OF
ALL THE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES IN THE WORLD.
To hear some high churchmen talk on this subject, a person would be led to think, that surely all the Christian churches, ancient and modern, must have maintained that Bishops are, by DIVINE RIGHT a distinct Order, with powers and prerogatives of a very extraordinary and EXCLUSIVE character. How otherwise could it be, we should suppose, that men pretending to learning should dare to speak so pompously about them, and about the consequences of being blessed with such an order ? The only reasonable answer that can be given, is, that they do not understand the subject. It has already been shewn that the Fathers did not maintain such a doctrine ; no council ever maintained it; and we now proceed to shew that no Christian church ever maintained this doctrine.
The AFRICAN church never maintained it; as is clear by the case of the church of Alexandria, which was at one time one of the four or five great Patriarchates into which the churches in the whole world were divided. Gregory Nazianzen speaking in his oration upon Athanasius, about the importance of the See of Alexandria, says, it is “as though you should say that its Bishop is Bishop of the whole world.” Tertullian, one of the most illustrious African Fathers, teaches most expressly that Bishops had no superiority by divine right: Jerome's testimony is decisive, as he lived so near to Egypt, having spent a great part of his life in Palestine.
The GREEK church never maintained the order of Bishops by divine right, this is proved from the testimony of Firmilian, Bishop of Cæsarea ; by the council of Ancyra, in the 3rd century; and from the Epistle of the Council of Nice. Theodoret, also, a Greek Father in the 5th century, proves the same, as quoted in Section 3. And there is no sufficient evidence, I believe, that the Modern Greek Church has decided differently from the Ancient Greek Church.
Let us come to the WESTERN Church, as it is called, the Christian Church in Europe; and this as either included in the Latin Church, or, as having separated from that church.
The Church of Rome never maintained the order of Bishops by DIVINE RIGHT. We have seen the testimony of Jerome and Augustin, whose writings have had greater authority in that church than the writings of all the other Fathers besides. Jerome's opinion, nay
very words were put by Gratian into the Canon Law, the Ecclesiastical Law of that
Church : Canon, Olim, dist. 95, et Canon, Legimus, dist. 93. (0) And John Semeca, a Doctor of the Canon Law, in his Gloss or Comment on the law : «
They say indeed that in the FIRST Age of the Primitive church the names and offices of the Bishops and Presbyters were common ; but that in the second age of the Primitive church both the names and offices BEGAN to be distinguished.”
The seventh Chapter of the Council of Hispala in Spain, in the 7th century, is worth translating :-“It has been reported to us that Agapius, Bishop of Cordova, has frequently appointed Village Bishops (Chor-episcopi) or Presbyters (who by the Canons are both one) to consecrate altars and Churches without the presence of the Bishop. Which indeed is not to be wondered at, principally for this reason, that the Bishop is a man ignorant of Ecclesiastical discipline. Therefore it ought to be determined unanimously, that no such license should be used amongst us, knowing that the appointment and consecration of an altar is not allowed either to a Presbyter, or to a Village Bishop. For in the Sacred Scriptures, the Lord commanded that Moses alone should erect the Altar in the Tabernacle, that he alone should anoint it, because he was the High Priest, as it is written concerning him, 'Moses and Aaron among his Priests. Therefore that which the head Priests alone might do, of whom Moses and Aaron were types, the Presbyters, who resemble Aaron's sons, ought not to presume to seize. For though in the dispensation of the sacred mysteries most things are common to Presbyters and Bishops, yet some by the authority of the Old Testament, and some by the authority of the Emperors laws, and by Ecclesiastical rules, the Presbyters know to be forbidden to them, as the consecration of Presbyters, Deacons, and Virgins, the erection of an altar, the Benediction, and the Unction; seeing it is not permitted to them to give the Benediction to the Church, nor to consecrate altars, nor to lay on hands in Baptism, nor to give the Holy Ghost to such as are converted from heresy, nor to make the Unction or holy ointment, nor to sign the forehead of the Baptized with the holy ointment, nor even to reconcile a penitent publicly in the time of Mass, nor to give recommendatory letters. For all these things are disallowed to Presbyters BECAUSE they are not in the highest part of the Priesthood, which by the COMMAND of the CANONS belongs only to Bishops.” Here are distinctions enough, with a witness, between Bishops and Presbyters. And here is a true history of them :An argument from a type or figure in the Old Testament; Ecclesiastical Rules; and the Emperor's laws. But do these make the distinction to be of Divine Right? The Council expressly declares the very reverse, and that it is “ by the command of the Canons.” Besides Presbyters and Chorepiscopi, Village Bishops, are treated as the same : one law is applied to both. Now all great successionists grant that Village Bishops had the power
(0) Catalogus Testium Veritatis, vol. 2, pp. 511-513 ed. 1597.
to ordain, &c., and that such regulations only limit its exercise; the same is true as to Presbyters.
Mr. Johnson, the translator of the Canons of the Greek and Latin Churches, a strong succession advocate, and a man of great learning, says, “ That opinion, that the order of Priests and Bishops was the SAME, prevailed in the CHURCH OF ROME for FOUR or FIVE AGES (CENTURIES) BEFORE the Reformation.” (p) Thus then we have the history of the matter in this church up to the Reformation. Jerome determines the point in his day, A.D. 400. The Canon Law does the same, An. Dom. 1200. The learned Mr. Johnson, an unexceptionable witness with high churchmen, settles the point for 500 years before the Reformation. Bishop Burnet, too, we have seen, says, that at the Reformation, it was “ the COMMON STYLE of that age to reckon Bishops and Priests the same office.
Finally, the Council of Trent positively refused to acknowledge the doctrine of the order of Bishops by DIVINE RIGHT. They decreed that the hierarchy was of divine right, and that Bishops were in fact above Presbyters, but most strenuously opposed the doctrine of DIVINE RIGHT of Bishops. In these matters we only speak to facts, and the facts are as above stated, as any may see by consulting the acts of the Council.
It perhaps may surprise some that we so decidedly charge the succession scheme as semipopery, when, in the doctrine of the divine right of Bishops, an essential part of the scheme of our high Church Divines, the church of Rome differs from them. The reader has only to consider that the same end may be aimed at by different means.
This is the case here. We said, in the commencement of this Essay, that these high Church Divines “Come forward to effect that in the Protestant church, which Popery endeavours to effect as to the church universal.” Their Machinery is different. The Popery of Rome created a one-headed Pope; our high church Divines try to create a many-headed Pope. The Popery of both has one mind, bigoted, exclusive, intolerant, and persecuting. All the jurisdiction of Popery centres in the Pope. He imparts of HIS FULNESS to the Bishops ; they SWEAR FIDELITY to the POPE. They support the Pope, and the Pope supports them; and altogether they unite to bind the church in fetters of iron. Our succession men place all authority, by divine right, in the Bishops. The Bishops, according to this scheme, are to reward them, by giving them the exclusive right to minister the ordinances of Christ.
They are to support each other, in order to form a chain to bind, in Popish bondage, the Protestant church, or else to excommunicate from the pale of Christianity such as bend not to their authority. Prevention is better than cure, and it is hoped that this humble effort, under God's blessing, may do something to expose the Popery lying at the root of the scheme it opposes. The authors of the Oxford Tracts for the Times are
(p) Clergyman's Vade Mecum, vol. 2, pref. 54.
English Jesuits; and aim to accomplish for Anglican Popery, what the Romish Jesuits do for Romish Popery. There is a conspiracy; it is disguised Popery! May heaven scatter their counsel ! and cause the gospel to run and be glorified !
We have shewn that the original Reformed CHURCH OF ENGLAND gives no sanction to this semipopish scheme: see section 7.
The LUTHERAN church never maintained the divine right of Bishops. The Archbishop of Cologn joined them, but they never used his episcopal powers to give an order of jure divino Bishops to their church. They retain the name, in some places, but they have no jure divino Episcopal ordinations. About 1528, says Haynes in his translation of Melchior Adam's Life of Luther, “by the advice of Luther, and by the command of John the Elector, was ordained a Visitation of the churches in Saxony.” In 1528 Luther put
“ Institution of Visitors.” Haynes quotes Luther, saying, “We are Visitors, that is Bishops, and we find poverty and scarcity every where. The Lord send forth workmen into his harvest. Amen." And in another place to Spalatinus, “Our visitation goeth on, of what miseries are we eye witnesses ? and how often doe we remember you,
when we find the like or greater miseries in that harsh natured people of Voytland. Let us beseech God to be present with us, and that he would promote the work of his poore Bishops, who is our best and most faithful Bishop against all the Arts and forces of Satan. Amen,” And again, “In our visitation in the territories of Wittenberg, we find as yet all Pastors agreeing with their people, but the people not so forward for the Word and Sacraments.” (q) Again, “ Luther wrote thus to Melancthon. Concerning obedience to be performed to the Bishops, as in jurisdiction and the common ceremonies, I pray you have a care, look to yourself, and give no more then you have, lest ye should be compelled again to a sharper and more dangerous warre for the defence of the gospel. I know that you always except the Gospel in those Articles: but I fear lest afterward they should accuse us of breach of our covenant, and inconstancy, if we observe not what they please. For they will take our graunts in the large, larger, largest sense, and hold their own strictly, and as strictly as they can. In briefe, I wholly dislike this agitation for concord in doctrine, as being a thing utterly impossible, unlesse the Pope will abolish his Popedom.'” (r) Luther was no more than a PRESBYTER, but HE ORDAINED THEIR FIRST BISHOP. “ About this time the Bishoprick of Neoburg, by Sala, was voyd; There Nicolas Amsdorf, a Divine born of a noble Family, was * enstalled by LUTHER, at the command of the Elector
(9) Page 71, 4to, London 1641.
(r) Pages 83,-84. * Melchior Adam, in the Life of Amsdorf, mentions this matter as follows: “On the 20th day of January, 1542, the Elector Frederic, and J. Ernestus, the brother Dukes of Saxony, being present, in the City of Neoburg by Sala, this noble and unmarried person (Amsdorf) was ordained Bishop by Luther : Nicolas Medler, the Pastor of Neoburg, George Spalatinus, the Pastor of Aldenburg, and Wolfgang Steinius, another Pastor, joining with Luther in the Imposition of Hands”