Page images

were big enough to work, went whistling away to their employers. All felt that the day had commenced well, and all looked forward to its termination in peace and comfort.

Benson himself had never had the advantage of learning to read; but his children had been taught, not only to read the Scriptures, but to learn and understand their catechism, which is indeed itself an exposition of some of the most important truths of Scripture. And these advantages very much made up to their parents for their own deficiencies. Joseph was remarking one evening to his wife, after returning from church, “that it was a pity they only heard the chapters read on Sundays, for there was always something either comforting or instructing in them.” The eldest boy, who was now in the habit of reading the family prayer, said, “that when there was time, why should not he and his brothers and sisters read a chapter before prayers.” Joseph was greatly pleased at this proposal, and from that day, unless prevented by positive necessity, the lessons for the day, or at least the second lesson from the New Testament, were read in the family. Young Joseph has a Bible of his own, and several of the children had Testaments which had been given as rewards at the Sunday School, and by looking over each other, all the children who could read were able to take their turn in reading

This kept up the attention of the whole ; and thus all had the satisfaction of proving useful to their parents, and help them to feed on the Bread of Life.

Little children do not always reflect as they ought to do, on the great happiness they enjoy in being able to read the scriptures. The young Bensons are not solitary instances of young persons being made the instruments of great good to their parents by such advantages; and even in the instance of family prayer, one of the most delightful of social religious exercises, however well disposed the elder Benson might have been to discharge his duty in this particular, he must have been content to rest in the will and wish only, had not his children been so well taught by their appointed minister at the village Sunday School.

& verse.



PRIMITIVE CHURCH. Having already shewn the distinction always preserved in the early Church between the Clergy and the Laity, we come now to examine by what names and offices the Clergy were distinguished from one another. And here the most ancient distinction that occurs is that of the superior Clergy into three distinct orders of Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons. We shall prove hereafter that there were no other orders than these at the beginning, and also that Deacons were always a sacred and standing order. Here then our only remaining question is, as to the distinctior between Bishops and Presbyters. That there existed a broad and defined difference is clear, from these three considerations. 1. That the ancient writers of the Church always speak of them as distinct orders. 2. That they derive the original of Bishops from divine authority, and Apostolical constitution. 3. That they give us particular accounts and catalogues of such Bishops as were first settled and consecrated in the new-founded Churches, by the hands of the Apostles.

There has been much dispute at different times respecting the difference between the order and jurisdiction of Bishops; but St. Jerome has made it very clear, that it is all one whether we say the order, the degree, the office, the power, or the jurisdiction of a Bishop, for all these intend to express the same thing, viz: the authority of Bishops over their Presbyters, and the whole Church.

II. The subordination of Priests and Deacons to Bishops is proved from the most ancient writers. Of these, St. Ignatius is the most copious. Not long after Ignatius lived Pius, Bishop of Rome, who in an epistle to Justus of Vienna, gives him the title of Bishop, and speaks of Presbyters and Deacons under him. In the ages immediately succeeding we have the testimonies of Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, and Tertullian, all agreeing in the same thing, that there was then in their own times an order of Chief Priests or Bishops, superior to Presbyters, settled and allowed in the Christian Church.

III. By the same authority we prove that the order of Bishops was of Apostolical constitution.

“ The order of Bishops” says Tertullian, “when it is traced up to the original, will be found to have St. John for one of its authors."* This agrees exactly with the testimony borne by Clemens Alexandrinus, Tertullian, Jerome, Origen, and Irenæus, the latter of whom speaks of the Bishops and Presbyters of Ephesus, and derives the su on of Bishops from the Apostles. In another place he gives an exact catalogue of the twelve Bishops of Rome, that governed

*“ Ordo Episcoporum ad originem recensus, in Joannem stabit auctorem" Tertul, adv. Marcion, lib. 4, c. 5.

successively in that see to his own time, and says of Linus, who was the first of them, that he was ordained Bishop immediately by the Apostles, upon the first foundation of the Church ; and of Eleutherius, who was the last of them, that he was the twelfth Bishop from the Apostles.

IV. Among the scattered remains and fragments of the ancient writers, there is abundant proof that wherever the Apostles planted & Church there they appointed a Bishop also, without which the organization of the Church was not considered complete. The following is a list of the earliest sees, with the names of their Bishops, and by whom consecrated.


Consecrated by ST. PETER.

JAMES, surnamed Justus.
SIMEon, Son of Cleopas.

Consecrated by the Apostles.

EvoDIUS,-Consecrated by the Apostles.
IGNATIUS,—Consecrated by St. PETER.

POLYCARP,-Consecrated by St. John.

PAPIs,–Consecrated by St. John.

TIMOTHY,-Consecrated by St. Paul.

CRETE. Titus,-Consecrated by St. Paul. V. For further confirmation of what is here asserted, we subjoin a short account of the several titles of honour given to the Bishops in the primitive Church. The most ancient of these is the title of Apostles. Theodore says expressly, that the same persons were anciently called promiscuonsly Bishops and Presbyters, whilst those now called Bishops were called Apostles. But shortly after the name of Apostle was appropriated to such only as were Apostles indeed, and then the name of Bishop was given to those who before were Apostles.

Afterwards Bishops thought it honourable enough to be styled the “ Apostles' successors;" as Cyprian and Farmelian, and the Bishops in the Council of Carthage call themselves and others. And hence it was that anciently every Bishop's see was dignified

with the title, “ Sedes Apostolica," "an Apostolical see,” which in those days was no peculiar title of the Bishop of Rome, but was given to all Bishops alike, as deriving their original, and counting their succession, from the Apostles. By Paulinus, Bishops are called Princes of the People. In the Greek writers, they are called likewise Archontes Ecclesion, governors and princes, as frequently in Eusebius, Origen, Chrysostom, and many others. In the same sense Cyprian and Tertullian call them Presidents; they were also called Chief Priests or Princes of the Clergy. Another name was that of Papa, which though since claimed as the sole privilege and title of the Bishop of Rome, was originally applied to all Bishops without distinction. A higher name than any yet mentioned was that of Patres Patrum, and Episcopi Episcoporum; Father of Fathers, and Bishop of Bishops. The first that had this title was James, Bishop of Jerusalem. Some take this for the peculiar title of the Bishop of Rome, but there is nothing pertaining to this title which did not belong to many other Bishops as well as him. Gregory Nazianzen calls them Patriarchs; Cyprian, St. Basil, and St. Ambrose, state that they were always called Vicars of Christ. We have the authority of Holy Scripture itself to shew that they were called Angels. Enough has however been said to prove most conclusively, that from the very beginning of the Church of Christ, the Bishops or Chief Pastors were held in the highest estimation for their work's sake, and no title of dignity or reverence was considered too exalted to be applied to them.

VI. The distinction between Bishops and Presbyters was threefold. l. With reference to offices which both discharged, as in preaching, baptizing, etc., the Bishop acted upon an absolute and independent power; the Presbyter in dependence upon and in subordination to his Bishop, so that though there was no difference in the thing done, yet there was an essential difference in the power of doing them. 2. Some offices, such as ordination, etc., were never entrusted to Presbyters, nor allowed if performed by them. 3. Bishops always retained the power of calling their Presbyters to account, and of censuring them.

VII. That nothing could be done without the consent of the Bishop, and that the Presbyters received their commission from him, and acted under his authority, is shewn in many passages in St. Ignatius, St. Cyprian, and the Canons of the ancient Church. This is clear in the office of Baptism. “It is not lawful” says Ignatius, “either to baptize or celebrate the Eucharist without the Bishop, but that which he allows is well-pleasing

to God." He does not say that none but a Bishop may baptize, but that none were to do it without his allowance and approbation.

VIII. The Bishops of the primitive Church considered it so much their privilege to preach, that till the time of St. Austin, (or Augustine,) no Presbyter was allowed to preach in their presence. That Presbyters derived their authority for preaching from the Bishops, is evident from this, that the Bishops could prevent their preaching, and actually did so in many cases, as at Alexandria, where the Presbyters were forbidden to preach during the prevalence of the Arian heresy. The Bishops never imparted their power of ordination to Presbyters. Some episcopal offices, such as the reconciling of penitents, the consecration of Churches, and some others of a like nature were sometimes delegated to the priesthood, but the power of ordination never.

Ordinations by Presbyters were annulled by the Church, as in the known case of Ischyras, who was deposed by the Synod of Jerusalem, because Collutuus, who ordained him, was no than a Presbyter, though he pretended to be a Bishop.

IX. The third difference was, that Presbyters were accountable to their Bishops, although Bishops were not so to the Presbyters. But Bishops were not arbitrary, they seldom did anything without the advice and consent of their Presbyters, who formed as it were the Ecclesiastical Senate, of which we shall speak more hereafter. They had likewise the power of Appeal against the judgment of the Bishop, eitber to the metropolitan or a provincial Synod, which the Nicene Council* and some others appointed to be holden once or twice a year for that very purpose.






Our Father, Merciful and gracious, Thou gavest us being, raising us from nothing, to be an excellent creation, forming us after Thy own Image, tenderly feeding us, and conducting and strengthening us all our days. Thou art our Father by a more excellent mercy, adopting us in a new birth to become partakers of the inheritance of Jesus. Thou hast given us the portion and the food of sons :

* Con. Nic: Can. v.

« PreviousContinue »