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Scripture which contain direct precept, plain undoubted example, or at least some established principle, from which their conclusion necessarily flows. On a subject so fundamental as they represent this to be, we cannot be contented with gratuitous assumptions, or ingenious analogies, which have nothing to support them but human authority. We must have a warrant, decided and clear ; a warrant which would be indubitable and satisfactory, if all books, excepting the Bible, were banished from the Church. Let us see whether our claimants are prepared with testimony of this kind.
I. The first argument urged by the friends of prelacy is, “ That, as the Mosaic economy was “ intended to prefigure the Gospel dispensation,
we may reasonably suppose the Christian minis
try to be modelled after the Jewish Priesthood ; “ and that, as there were, in the Temple service, “ an High Priest, Priests, and Levites, so we may “ consider it as agreeable to the will of Christ, 6 that there should be the corresponding orders of
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, in the New Testament Church."
After the ample proof adduced in the foregoing Letter, that the Christian Church was organized by the Apostles, not after the model of the Temple, but of the Synagogue service, I might with propriety dismiss this argument, as sufficiently refuted by the establishment of that fact. But as much stress has been laid upon the argument in
question, and as some cautious inquirers may wish to see it further discussed, let us proceed to a more particular examination of its merits.
You will observe the form of this argument. It may “reasonably be supposed” that such a correspondence of orders should exist. But why
suppose” it? Does the Word of God, the great Charter of the Christian Church, say that this is the case? Is there a single passage to be found in the sacred volume, which asserts, or gives the least hint, that such a likeness or analogy either does, or cught to exist ? I will venture to say, there
I have met, indeed, with much animated declamation in favor of this analogy, urging it as a“ supposeable” thing--as a “ reasonable" thing, &c. &c. but I have never yet heard of a single passage of scripture, which is even pretended to teach the doctrine in question. For the general position, that many of the Old Testament institutions had a reference to, and were intended to prefigure New Testament blessings, it will be instantly seen by every discerning reader is nothing to the purpose.
But this is not all. There is not only nothing to be found in Scripture which bears the least appearance of support to this argument; but there is much to be found which contradicts and destroys it. It is impossible to read the New Testament without perceiving, that the Jewish Priesthood was a typical and temporary institution, which had both its accomplishment and its termination in
Christ. This is taught in passages too numerous to be quoted; but, more particularly, at great length, and with irresistible force of argument, in the Epistle to the Hebrews*, in which the sacred writer declares, that since Christ the substance is come, the types which prefigured him are done away; that the Levitical priesthood was chiefly employed in offering sacrifices, and attending on ether ceremonial observances of the typical economy, for which there is no place since the great Sacrifice was offered up once for all; and that Christ Jesus himself is now the great High Priest of our profession. Is it not above measure wonderful, that any who have the Bible in their hands, and profess to make it the rule of their faith, should, in the face of language so explicit and decisive, represent any human officer in the Christian Church as standing in the place of the High Priest under the ceremonial dispensation ?
But it will be asked, Do we deny all connexion between the Old and the New Testament dispen. sations? Do we deny that the types and ceremo. nies of the Mosaic economy, were a shadow of good things to come ? By no means. We warmly contend for this connexion. We maintain, with no less zeal than our opponents, that the whole system of typical and figurative observances enjoined upon the Jews, was full of important meaning, and had a pointed reference to Gospel blessings. We agree, also, that the Jewish Priesthood was typical; but
* See especially the vii. viii. ix. and x. chapters..
of what ?-of a mere human Priesthood, to be established under the New Testament dispensation ? So far from this, that the Apostle in writing to the Hebrews, says directly the contrary. He tells us, that, as the sacrifices offered by the priests ander the law, prefigured the death of Christ, and could not with propriety be continued after that event had taken place; so the Levitical Priesthood was a type of that divine High Priest, who once offered himself a sacrifice to satisfy offended justice, and entered, by his owr blood, into the holiest of all, even into heaven. If any insist that, because the ministrations under the law were a shadow of heavenly things, we must have a priesthood under the Gospel of similar grades and organization; they are bound, on the same principle, to carry the parallel through, and to maintain the continuance of sacrifices, and of many other things connected with the priestly office ; and I may venture to affirm, that they will find it quite as easy to make the scriptures speak in favor of the latter as of the former.
Accordingly the words Priest and Priesthood are never, in one instance, in the New Testament, applied to the ministers of the Christian Church, as such*. Episcopalians appear to be particularly
* I am not ignorant that some advocates for this language have contended, that as the word Priest is evidently a corrupa tion of the word Presbyter ; and as the latter is certainly applied to New Testament ministers, the former may be considered as having a kind of scriptural warrant. But this conclusion is founded on a quibble. In the original Hebrew of the
" It is a
fond of this language. It is frequently introduced into their public forms, and no less frequently used by their standard writers. But they employ it without the smallest countenance from scripture. This is the decided opinion of eminent Episcopal divines.
common mistake,” says Dr. (afterwards Bishop) Stillingfleet, “ to think that " the ministers of the Gospel succeed by way of “correspondence and analogy to the priests under s the law; which mistake hath been the foundation " and original of many errors.
For when, in the primitive Church, the name of Priests came to “ be attributed to Gospel ministers, from a fair “ compliance only, (as was then thought of the “ Christians, to the name used both among Jews < and Gentiles; in process of time corruptions in"creasing in the Church, those names that were - used by Christians, by way of analogy and accom
modation, brought in the things themselves prins cipally intended by those names. So by the metaphorical names of Priests and Altars, at last
Old Testament scriptures, the sacred office of one who ministered in the Temple service, is expressed by a word which, in the Septuagint, is always rendered ‘Iepeus. This was the Old Testament word for a Levitical Priest. Now this word is never once used in the New Testament to designate a minister of the Christian Church. And accordingly, the translators of our English Bible, faithful to the distinction which they observed to be uniformly kept up in the sacred language, between the ministers of the Temple and those of the Church, uniformly call the former Priests, and their office the priesthood ; while they as uniformly avoid applying these names to the latter, but call them, Ellers, Bishops, Pastors, &c.