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their venerable Reformers uniformly acknowledged the other Protestant churches formed on the Presbyterian plan, to be sound members of the universal Church, and maintained a constant and affectionate intercourse with them as such. This is 50 evident from their writings and their conduct, and has been so fully conceded by the ablest and most impartial judges among Episcopalians themselves, that it would be a waste of time fur ther to pursue the proof.
From the English Reformers let us pass on to those distinguished worthies who were made the instruments of Reformation on the Continent of Europe. Luther began this glorious work in Ger. many, in the year 1517. About the same time the standard of truth was raised by Zuingle, in Switzerland; and soon afterwards these great men were joined by Carlostadt, Melancthon, Oecolampadius, Galvin, Beza, and others. The pious exertions of these witnesses for the truth were as emi. nently blessed as they were active and unwearied. Princes, and a multitude of less celebrated divines, came to their help. Insomuch that before the close of that century, numerous and flourishing Protestant churches were planted throughout Germany, France, Switzerland, the Low-Countries, Sweden, Denmark, and various other parts of Exrope, from the Mediterranean to the confines of Russia.
Now it is well known that all these Protestants on the continent of Europe, when they threw off
the fetters of Papal authority, and were left free to follow the word of God, without any exception, recognized the doctrine of ministerial parity, and embraced it not only in theory, but also in practice. They established all their churches on the basis of that principle ; and to the present hour bear testimony in its favor. This may be abundantly proved, by recurring to their original confessions of faith ; to their best writers; and to their uni. form proceedings.
When the churches began to assume a systematic and organized form, they were all arranged by ecclesiastical writers under two grand divisions--the Reformed and the Lutheran. The Reformed churches, which were established in France, Holland, Switzerland, Geneva, and in some parts of Germany, from the beginning, as is universally known, laid aside diocesan Bishops; and have never, at any period, had an Episcopal government, either in name or in fact. That these churches might have had Episcopal ordination, and the whole system of Prelacy, continued among them, if they had chosen to retain them, no one can doubt who is acquainted with their history. But they early embraced the doctrine of ministerial parity, which had been so generally adopted by preceding witnesses for the truth ; and erected an ecclesiastical organization in conformity with this doctrine. Accordingly the venerable founders of those churches, having been themselves ordained Presbyters by Romish Bishops; believing that the dif
ference between these two classes of ministers was not appointed by Jesus Christ or his apostles, but invented by the church ; and persuaded that, according to the practice of the primitive church, Presbyters were fully invested with the ordaining power, they proceeded to ordain others, and thus transmitted the ministerial succession to those who came after them.
But it is said, that, although the Reformers of France, Holland, Geneva, Scotland, &c. thought proper to organize their churches on the Presbyterian principle of parity; yet that Calvin, Beza, and other eminent divines of great authority in those churches, frequently expressed sentiments very favorable to diocesan Episcopacy, and spoke with great respect of the English hierarchy. It is not denied that those illustrious Reformers, on a variety of occasions, expressed themselves in very respectful terms of the church of England, as it stood in their day. But whether we consider the sentiments which they expressed, or the circumstances under which they delivered them, no use can be made of this fact favorable to the cause of our opponents. The truth is, the English Reformers, prevented, on the one hand, by the Crown and the Papists, from carrying the Reformation so far as they wished ; and on the other, urged by the Puritans, to remove at once, all abuses out of the church, wrote to the Reformers at Geneva, whom they knew to have much influence in England, soliciting their aid, in quieting the minds of the Pus
ritans, and in persuading them to remain in the bosom of the church, in the hope of a more complete reformation afterwards. Is it wonderful, that, at a crisis of this kind, Calvin and Beza, considering the church of England as struggling with difficulties ; viewing Cranmer and his associates as eminently pious men, who were doing the best they could in existing circumstances ; hoping for more favorable times ; and not regarding the form of church government as an essential, should write to the English Reformers in a manner calculated to quiet the minds of the Puritans, and induce them to remain in connexion with the national church? This they did. But in all their communications, they never went further than to say, that they considered the hierarchy of England as a judicious and respectable human institution, and that they could, without any violation of the dictates of conscience, remain in communion with such a church. And what is the inference from this ? Could not thousands of the firmest Presbyterians on earth, under similar circumstances, say the same? But did Calvin or Beza ever say, even in their most unguarded moments, that they considered Prelacy as an institution of Christ, or his Apostles ? Did they ever express a preference of this form of government to the Presbyterian form? Did they, in short, ever do more than acknowledge that Episcopacy might, in some cases, be useful and lawful? But, on the other hand, how much these same Reformers have said against Prelacy, and in favour of ministerial parity;
how strongly they have asserted, and how clearly they have proved, the former to be a human invention, and the latter to have the sanction of apostolic example ; and how decidedly they speak in favour of Presbyterian principles, even in some of their most complaisant letters to the English Reformers; our opponents take care not to state*. Their caution is politic. For no human ingenuity will ever be able to refute the reasonings which those excellent men have left on record against the Episcopal causef.
With respect to the Lutheran churches, it is known to all well informed persons, that they alSo, from the beginning rejected diocesan Episcopacy, considered as an institution of Christ, and
* It is almost incredible how far the declarations of Calvin on this subject, have been misunderstood and misrepresented. Who would imagine, when that venerable Reformer, in his Institutes, represents the Scriptures as affording a warrant for three classes of church officers, viz. Teaching-Elders, RulingElders, and Deacons, that any could interpret the passage as favoring the doctrine of three orders of clergy?
† Beza, in his celebrated work De Triplici Episcopatu, de. clares that there are three kinds of Episcopacy: The first, instituted by Christ, in which all Pastors are equally Bishops. This he calls Divine Episcopacy. The second, instituted by man,
in which certain aged and venerable Presbyters are Presidents or Moderators for life, without any new ordination : this he calls huinan Episcopacy. The third, in which prelates are regarded as a superiour order, he styles Satanical Episcopacy. This statement is introduced merely to show with how little propriety Beza can be quoted as a friend to prelacy.