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rist three times in each week. Now the man who performed every Baptism in the church under his care, and who administered the Lord's Supper three times every week to all the members of his church, could only have been the Pastor of one congregation. To suppose that any minister, however great his activity and zeal, could statedly perform this service for more than a single church, involves a manifest impossibility. Nor is this all : absurdity is added to impossibility, by supposing, as Episcopalians must, that the Bishop did all this when he had many Presbyters under him, who were all invested by the very nature of their office, with the power of administering both sacraments as well as himself.
But it will be asked why then is the Bishop called by Tertullian the highest Priest ? Does not this expression indicate that there was one Priest in a church, at that time, who had some kind of stie periority over the other Priests of the same church? I answer, this expression implies no superiority of order. The highest priest might have been the standing Moderator of the Presbytery; nor is there any thing in the title inconsistent with this supposition. To draw a conclusion either in favor of diocesan Episcopacy, or against it, from language so entirely ambiguous in its import, is surely more calculated to expose the weakness than to exhibit the strength of the cause in which it is adduced. Besides ; Tertullian informs us that this Bishop, or highest Priest, was alone invested with the right of
baptizing and administering the Lord's Supper; that the Bishop might, when he thought proper, empower Elders and Deacons to baptize; and that even private Christians, who bore no office in the church, might also baptize in cases of necessity. But still he declares that administering baptism was appointed office of the Bishop,” and that they received the Lord's Supper from no other hands than his. Either, then, Tertullian writes in a very confused and contradictory manner, or else both the Bishop and Elders mentioned by him are officers of a very different character from those who are distinguished by the same titles. in modern Episcopal churches. His highest Priest was evidently no other than the Pastor of a single congregation; the President of the assembly, and of the Presbytery or Eldership, which belonged, like himself, to a particular church.
With respect to the passage quoted above, in which this Father speaks of “the roll of Bishops,' and of the line of Bishops running down in a continual succession, it is nothing to the purpose of those who adduce it to support diocesan Episcopacy. What kind of Bishops were those of whom Ter. tullian here speaks ? If we consider them, as other passages in his writings compel us to consider them, as the Pastors of single congregations, then the obvious construction of the passage is perfectly agreeable to Presbyterian principles. But, what establishes this construction is, that Irenæus, who
was nearly contemporary with Tertullian, in a passage quoted in a preceding page, in a similar appeal to the heretics, speaks of the list or roll of Presbyters, and represents the apostolical succession as flowing through the line of Presbyters ; an incontestible proof that the words Bishop and Presbyter were used by both these Fathers, as convertible titles for the same office.
Cyprian, the venerable Bishop of Carthage, who flourished and wrote about the year 250, is often quoted by Episcopal writers as a strong witness in their favor. The following quotations will show in what light his testimony ought to be viewed.
Epist. 73. “ Whence we understand, that it is e lawful for none but the Presidents of the church to “baptize and grant remission of sins.” And again, Epist. 67. “ The people should not flatter them“ selves that they are free from fault, when they “ communicate with a sinful priest, and give their “ consent to the presidency of a wicked Bishop.
Wherefore a flock that is obedient to God's com
mands, and fears him, ought to separate from a “ wicked Bishop, and not to join in the sacrifices “ of a sacrilegious priest ; since the flock or people • has the chief power of choosing worthy priests " and refusing unworthy ones, which we see comes “ down to us from divine authority, that the priest " should be chosen in the presence of the flock, and " in the sight of all, that he may be approved as
worthy and fit, by the judgment and testimony of
" all. This is observed, according to divine au
thority, in the Acts of the Apostles, when Peter, “ speaking to the people concerning the ordination “ of a Bishop in the place of Judas ; it is said Pee “ ter rose up in the midst of the disciples, the “ whole multitude being met together. And we
may take notice that the Apostles observed this " not only in the ordination of Bishops and Priests, “ but also of Deacons, concerning whom it is writ
ten in the Acts, that the Twelve gathered together “ the whole multitude of the disciples, and said unto " them, &c. which was, therefore, so diligently and
carefully transacted before all the people, lest any “ unworthy person should, by secret arts, creep in“ to the ministry of the altar, or the sacerdotal “ station. This, therefore, is to be observed and “ held as founded on divine tradition and apostolic
practice ; which is also kept up with us, and al“ most in all the provinces, that in order to the “ right performance of ordination, the neighboring “ Bishops of the same province meet with that flock “ to which the Bishop is ordained, and that the Bish
op be chosen in presence of the people, who “ know every one's life, and are acquainted with " their whole conversation.
Which we see was “ done by you in the ordination of Sabinus, our col
league, that the Episcopacy was conferred on him “ by the suffrage of the whole brotherhood, and of " the Bishops who were met there, and wrote to
you concerning him.”
Epist. 32. “ Through all the vicissitudes of time, “ the ordination of Bishops, and the constitution of “ the church, are so handed down, that the church " is built on the Bishops, and every act of the church " is ordered and managed by them. Seeing, there
fore, this is founded on the law of God, I won. “ der that some should be so rash and insolent as
to write to me in the name of the church, seeing " a church consists of a Bishop, clergy, and all « that stand faithful.”
Tract. De Unitat. Eccles. “Our Lord speaks to
Peter, I say unto thee, thou art Peter, and upon “ this rock I will build my church, &c. Upon one “ he builds his church; and though he gave an “ equal power to all his Apostles, yet that he might “ manifest unity, he ordered the beginning of that “unity to proceed from one person. The rest of “ the Apostles were the same that Peter was, being “ endued with the same fellowship both of honor “and power. But the beginning proceeds from
unity, that the church may be shown to be one."
Epist. 3. “ The Deacons ought to remember, " that the Lord hath chosen Apostles, that is Bish
ops and Presidents; but the Apostles constituted “ Deacons, as the ministers of their Episcopacy 66 and of the church.”
These extracts are remarkable. Though they are precisely those which Episcopalians generally adduce from Cyprian in support of their cause; yet the discerning reader will perceive that all their