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this, the chief value of their concessions consists in being made by decided friends of Episcopacy. Neither will you understand me to assert, that none of these writers say any thing, in other parts of their works, inconsistent with these concessions. Few men who write and publish much, are at all times so guarded as never to be inconsistent with them. selves. It is enough for me to know what language they employed, when they undertook professedly to state their opinions on the subject before us, and when they were called upon by every motive to write with caution and precision. You will likewise find most of these writers differing among themselves ; some taking higher ground, and others lower. For this you are
doubtless prepared, after being informed that there are three classes of Episcopalians, as stated in my first letter.
Some of the concessions which might with propriety be here introduced, have been already exhibited in various parts of the foregoing letters. You have been told that Mr. Dodwell frankly acknowledges that Bishops, as an order superior to Pres. byters, are not to be found in the New Testament; that such an order had no existence till the begin. ning of the second century; that Presbyters were the highest ecclesiastical officers left in commission by the Apostles; and of course, that the first dio. cesan Bishops were ordained by Presbyters. On the other hand, Dr. Hammond, perhaps the ablest advocate of Prelacy that ever lived, warmly contends, that in the days of the Apostles there were
none but Bishops; the second grade of ministers, now styled Presbyters, not having been appointed till after the close of the canon of Scripture. Now, if neither of these great men could find both Bishops and Presbyters, as different orders, in the New Testament; however ingeniously they endeavor to extricate themselves from the difficulty, it will amount, in the opinion of all the impartial, to a fundamental concession. In like manner you have seen, that the arguments drawn from the Episcopal character of Timothy and Titus, from the model of the fewish Priesthood, and from the Angels of the Asiatic churches, have been formally abandoned, and pronounced to be of no value, by some of the ablest champions of Episcopacy. The same might be proyed with respect to all the arguments which are derived from Scripture in support of the Episcopal
But let us pass on to some more general concessions.
The Papists, before as well as since the Reformation, have been the warmest advocates for Prelacy, that the church ever knew. Yet it would be easy to show, by a series of quotations, that many of the most learned men of that denomination, of different periods and nations, have held, and explicitly taught, that Bishops and Presbyters were the same in the primitive church; and that the differ. ence between them, though deemed both useful and necessary, is only a human institution. But instead of a long list of authorities to establish this point, I shall content myself with producing four, the first
two from Great Britain, and the others from the Continent of Europe.
The judgment of the church of England on this subject, in the times of Popery, we have in the canons of Elfrick, in the year 990, to Bishop Wolfin, in which Bishops and Presbyters are declared to be of the same order. To the same amount is the judgment of Anselme, , Archbishop of Canterbury, who died about the year 1109, and who was perhaps the most learned man of the age in which he lived. He explicitly tells us, that, “ by the Apostolic insti“tution, all Presbyters are Bishops.”_See his Commentary on Titus and Philip.
In the Canon Law we find the following decisive declaration. “ Bishop and Presbyter were the same s in the primitive church; Presbyter being the name “ of the person's age, and Bishop of his office. But “there being many of these in every church, they “ determined among themselves, for the preventing “ of schism, that one should be elected by them $6 selves to be set over the rest; and the person * elected was called Bishop, for distinction sake. " The rest were called Presbyters; and in process 56 of time, their reverence for these titular Bishops " so increased, that they began to obey them as “ children do a father.” Just. Leg. Can. I. 21.
Cassander, a learned catholic divine, who flou. rished in the 16th century, in his Book of Consultations, Art. 14. has the following passage:“ Wheth“ er Episcopacy is to be accounted an ecclesiastical
“ order, distinct from Presbytery, is a question much “ debated between theologues and canonists. But “ in this one particular, all parties agree, That in “ the Apostles' days there was no difference between “ a Bishop and a Presbyter ; but afterwards, for the “ avoiding of schism, the Bishop was placed before “the Presbyter, to whom the power of ordination “ was granted, that so peace might be continued in " the church.”
It has been observed, that all the first Reformers of the church of England, freely acknowledged Bishops and Presbyters to have been the same in the Apostolic age ; and only defended diocesan Epis. copacy as a wise human appointment. It was asserted, on high Episcopal authority, in the preceding letter, that Dr. Bancroft, then chaplain to Archbishop. Whitgift, was the first Protestant divine in England, who attempted to place Episcopacy on the foundation of divine right. In 1588, in a sermon delivered on a public occasion, he undertook to maintain," that the Bishops of England were a dis6 tinct order from Priests, and had superiority over " them by divine right, and directly from God; and “ that the denial of it was heresy.” This sermon gave great offence to many of the clergy and laity. Among others, Sir Francis Knollys, much dissatisfied with the doctrine which it contained, wrote to Dr. Raignolds, Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford, for his opinion on the subject. That learned Professor, who is said to have been the
“ Oracle of the University in his day*,” returned an answer, which, among other things, contains the following passages.
" Of the two opinions which your honor men« tions in the sermon of Dr. Bancroft, the first is " that which asserts the superiority which the Pre"lates among us have over the clergy, to be a di. 6. vine institution. He does not, indeed, assert " this in express terms, but he does it by necessary
consequence, in which he affirms the opinion of " those that oppose that superiority to be an here
in which, in my judgment, he has commit• ted an oversight; and I believe he himself will “ acknowledge it, if duly admonished concerning
All that have laboured in reforming the “ church, for 500 years past, have taught that all “ Pastors, be they entitled Bishops or Priests, have
equal authority and power by God's Word; as e first the Waldenses, next Marsilius Petavinus, then
Wickliffe and his disciples ; afterwards Huss and " the Hussites; and last of all Luther, Calvin, “ Brentius, Bullinger, and Musculus. Among our“ selves we have Bishops, the Queen's Professors “ of Divinity in our universities; and other learned
* Professor Raignolds was acknowledged by all his contemporaries to be a prodigy of learning. Bishop Hall used to say, that his memory and reading were near a miracle. He was particularly conversant with the Fathers and early historians ; was a critic in the languages ; was celebrated for his wit ; and so eminent for piety and sanctity of life, that Crakenthorp said of him, that “ to name Raignolds was to commend virtue itself.”