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Episcopal ordination in Scripture. the rest. But if there were no distinct order of bishops superior to that of presbyters, all the latter were angels, and had equal power to reform abuses and confirm piety. The church collectively, as including all the different societies in a city, is called a candlestick, to which one star is attached. To me, this intimates, at least, diocesan Episcopacy, and seems in perfect agreement with the instances to which I have before alluded.
“Now, what is there to counteract all this scripture evidence and to establish congregational independence or parity? It is said that the words bishop and presbyter are indiscriminately applied to the same persons, and that Timothy was ordained with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. But what does all this prove? In regard to the first, it is not the name but the thing for which the church contends. The word bishop, I am told, literally signifies an overseer, and may as well be applied to a presbyter as a bishop. The present bishop of New York is the overseer of his diocese as extending through the state, and the Rector of St. Stephen's or Christ's Church, is the overseer of his particular flock. But because one term is applied to both, does it therefore follow that they are equal in office? The presbyters of Ephesus were all bishops or overseers of single societies, but had they, therefore, the same power with Timothy, who had the oversight of them all? It is from the duties attached to the office, and not from the name, that we are to argue the superiority, and of those I think there are sufficient scriptural examples to set aside the doctrine of ministerial parity.
“ In regard to Timothy's being ordained with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, it is undoubtedly true. But St. Paul tells him he was also ordained by the laying on of his hands. And so every presbyter in the Episcopal church is ordained by the bishop with the assistance of his presbyters. This is, therefore, a circumstance in favor of Episcopacy rather than against it. St. Paul himself, as bishop, ordained Timothy, but there were elders or presbyters present, assisting him in the work, and these, for aught we know, might have been bishops or apostles.
“From the testimony of scripture, which is to me as clear as the light of day, I proceeded to the history of the church, and here I discovered such confirmation, as I
Testimony of early ecclesiastical writers. should hardly think scepticism itself would deny. All the ancient writers speak of Episcopacy as the universal government of the church, and but one solitary instance of dissent is mentioned previous to the fourth century. Particular persons are also styled bishops, not of single societies, but of cities comprehending many churches, and thus forming dioceses, as the bishop of Jerusalem, of Antioch, of Alexandria, &c. An author, who wrote in the beginning of the fourth century, gives a history of the church down to his own times, and names all the bishops, in succession, of four principal cities. And it is an indisputable fact, which even the greatest opponents of Episcopacy admit, that in two hundred and fifty years from the time of Christ the whole christian world was Episcopal, and so continued until the sixteenth century. And did Christ and his apostles establish Congregationalism or Presbyterianism which was so inefficient that no vestige of it was to be discovered after the short space of two hundred and fifty years? If this were the case, it is wonderful, it is miraculous that a universal change should have been so soon effected, and this too without opposition or notice. I find in ecclesiastical history an account of all the sects and heresies from Cerinthus down to Calvin, but I see no relation of a change from the original government of the church to Episcopacy. And yet in the beginning of the third century it was Episcopal in every country and in every society, throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. Can it therefore be, that any revolution actually took place? Is it possible that a few ambitious men should rise up against the great body of presbyters and take from them their rights, without meeting with resistance, their power of ordaining and governing the church? and not only this but assert, also, that they had always had this supremacy in one order from the foundation of the system? And who were these assuming men who aspired to the office of bishop, contrary to the word of God, and institution of Christ and his apostles? Their names are not given us, northe time when they lived, nor the manner in which they accomplished their end. It is said that the change was gradual. But when did it begin and where was its progress? It aimed at the subjection of all the presbyters and deacons in the world, and it effected it too in the short course of two hnndred and fifty years. This could not be by very slow degrees.-And in regard to
The hypothesis of a change in the constitution of the ministry absurd. ordaining, it was an assumption of power which must have taken place at once, and this could not have been done without opposition, and if opposition had been made we should now be able to find some record of it in history. It is indeed incredi. ble. Such as the church was at the commencement of the third century, in regard to the nature of its government it was in the beginning, or Congregationalism was changed into Episcopacy by as great a miracle as that which was manisest on the day of Pentecost. But the burden of proof lies with the Congregationalists; and if they cannot shew that they had any existence in the church until 1600 years after its establishment, they must be content with the name of innovaters. And if they had, let them point out the time when and the place where. It was not in Jerusalem, for there James was the first bishop; it was not in Antioch, for from thence Episco. pacy was transplanted to the East Indies, and has been continued in the Syrian Church discovered by Dr. Buchanan ever since.--It was not in Rome nor in Greece, in Spain nor the islands of the sea. Is it not passing strange, that we can point out the rise and progress of all other sects and denomi. nations, while in regard to Episcopacy the farther we go back, the more extensive we find it, until at last it pervades the whole church, and we hear and read of nothing else from the establishment of christianity? Taking all these circumstances together, the propriety of the Episcopal government, its agreeableness to the will of God, its support in the apostolic age, and its universality for sixteen hundred years after, can you wonder at my having renounced the system in which I was blindly educated, and attached myself to that which is so ancient, so pure and so divine ?"
In confirmation of the above views, I will here introduce an extract from a discourse of Bishop Griswold, recently published, entitled “The Apostolic Office :"
“It is often affirmed,” says he, “but has never been proved, that the ministers of Christ were, at first, all of one grade and that the Bishops usurped the authority, which, it is acknowl. edged, they, in the early ages, possessed. But this is absurd, and altogether incredible. It is absurd to suppose that those, now called Bishops, made such a change. Because, if the government of the church was left by the Apostles in the
Bishop Griswold's Argument. hands of presbyters, they, the presbyters, must have made the change.
“On this supposition, there were no bishops to abuse pow. er; the presbyters usurped authority, and made the change. If a thing so strange and so wicked was done at all, it was done by Presbyterians or Congregationalists. Those who advance this position virtually say, that within one or two centuries at most, after the government was put into their hands, they all in every country agreed in changing it to what Christ never intended. They certainly do very little honor to that mode of church government, by supposing it so defective and inefficient as to be so soon relinquished.
• It must, too, be difficult for us to believe, that, in the first three centuries, men should have been ambitious of the Episcopate, when its worldly advantages were so small, and its sacrifices and perils so great. Martyrdom in those ages might almost be considered as annexed to a bishopric. The general practice of the persecutor was to smite the shepherd, that the sheep might be scattered: the bishop was usually the first led to tortures and to death. How can we, in reason, believe that under such circumstances, so great a change should be made in the government of the church? that the holy martyrs of that time, which truly tried men's souls,' should either attempt, or desire to alter the institutions of Christ? And had such a change by some churches been attempted, it seems morally impossible that it should have become general.—And yet we are sure, from all ancient history, that Epi. copacy was general from a very early period down to the Reformation. During the first fifteen centuries, it is not easy to name any one part of Christianity, in which all Christians were more generally united than in what we now call Episcopacy. Were we to admit that so great and material a change was made in our religion, without being recorded in history, we might well fear that other great changes were also made : that even the scriptures were altered. If all the churches would agree, in corrupting one part, why not in corrupting another part? In any part of the first three centuries, it would have been as difficult to produce such a change, as it would be in our day. And to me, certainly, such a change, so silent, so peaceable, and so general, without opposition, or any historical record, is a moral impossi
Dr. Buchanan: The Syrian Church. bility. Should there be any here who think differently on this point, they will not, I trust, regret having heard what we think on a subject which so much concerns us all. Nothing will tend more to unite christians in love, than candidly hear. ing from each other the hope that is in them. And, indeed, if differing denominations of christians are ever brought to strive together for the faith of the Gospel, it will be by their first uniting in the government, (whatever they may decide it to be,) which God has set in the church.”
To return to the letter interrupted by this extract—The writer goes on to remark:
“ Among the collateral evidences which have confirmed me in the belief of the apostolic origin of Episcopacy, there is nothing which has had more weight upon my mind than the history of the Syrian church to which I have before alluded. This little society was discovered some years ago by Dr. Buchanan, the celebrated missionary, in Asia, and traced its records back to the time of its establishment by one of the Apostles. For more than thirteen hundred years it had held no communication with any foreign church, and yet was found under a regular Episcopal government. Now, whence did it derive this if not from the original source ?—It could not have been from the Greek or the Romish church, for it had never been connected with either until after its dis. covery by the Portuguese ; nor did it receive the Episcopacy from England, a country of which it was altogether ignorant until Dr. Buchanan came amongst them. This church has since been visited by the American missionaries whose accounts do not materially differ from those of Dr. Buchanan.
“ A similar argument may be produced from the history of the Greek and Romish churches, which, though in many essential points opposed to each other, have nevertheless always maintained Episcopacy. That the incumbrances of pope
and patriarch should have grown out of it, furnishes no greater objection to it, than may be urged against Congregationalism from the circumstance that, according to the assertion of its adyocates, this gave rise to an unscriptural prelacy.
“There is, also, a further consideration, which I must acknowledge has had some influence upon my mind. And this is derived from the fact, that men of the greatest eminence in talents and piety, have lived and died in the com.