Sayfadaki görseller
PDF
ePub

almost every other sect and denomination of professing Christians; and however mighty they may be in the Scriptures, or eloquent in their own de. fence, yet do they doubtless stand in need of an Aquila and Priscilla, to expound unto them the way of God, and the faith of the Gospel “ more perfectly.

[ocr errors]

tell us,

Nor is it sufficient for Dr. Crisp's biographer to

" that his life was so innocent and free from all evil, so zealous and fervent in all good, that it seemed to be designed as a practical confutation of the slander of those who would insinuate that his doctrine tended to licentiousness;" for, granting all this to be true, yet it is possible for one's disposition, and the circumstances in which he is placed, to counteract the ill tendency of his principles. Spinoza, the noted Atheist, is said to have been of an obliging disposition, and very regular in his morals and conduct; and the same may be said of Lord Herbert, Mr. Hume, and others, who, notwithstanding their principles were highly exceptionable, exhibited in their general conduct the most regular and inoffensive examples.

From comparing the avowed principles of these men with their practice, charity would lead us to conclude, that they estimated the influence of their tenets upon the conduct of others, according to the effect that they produced upon their own. But calm reflection must convince us, that this standard is false and delusive; and that from the inefficacy of certain principles to corrupt some minds, we can

[blocks in formation]

not pronounce concerning their general tendency and effects, without violating every principle of reason and philosophy.

There was a time when faith and a good life were synonimous terms, or when no one was accounted a believer who was not a practical christian; and though the opinions of men may change, and heresies be found to “make their periodical revolutions in the Church,” like comets in the heavens, “nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure;": --with the faith of the Gospel, as with the Father of lights, there is “no variable. ness, neither shadow of turning," and that only is true and saving faith, " which makes us to love God—to do his will to suffer his impositions to trust his promises

to see through a cloud-to evercome the world to resist the devil

to stand in the day of trial, and to be comforted in all our

"*

sorrows.

* Bishop Taylor's Sermon, entitled, Fides Formata, in his Sermons, fol. p. 43,

+

EPISCOPACY,

AND

EPISCOPALIANS.

Names.-The terms Episcopacy and Episcopalians are derived from the Greek word Επισκοπος,

, which signifies a Bishop. Episcopalians, in the strict sense of the word, are those who maintain, that Episcopacy is of Apostolical institution, or that the Church of Christ has ever been governed by three distinct orders, Bishops, Presbyters or Priests, and Deacons ;-that no one has a right to execute the ministerial office, without having previously received a divine commission;-and, that the exclusive right of granting this commission is vested in the Bishops, as successors of the Apostles.

[ocr errors]

Rise, Progress, &c.— The Presbyterians contend, that the primitive Church acknowledged only two orders, and therefore maintain the identity of Bishops and Presbyters. On the other hand, the Episcopalians insist, that it is very clear from

ecclesiastical antiquity, that the hierarchy of the ancient Church consisted of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, and consequently that Bishops are to be distinguished from Presbyters.

In evidence of this, they produce the testimonies of many of the Fathers, as Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, &c.

St. Jerom, who will be allowed to speak the sense of the ancients, calls Presbyters Priests of the inferior degree, and Deacons the third degree; and the testimony of St. Ignatius in particular is full and evident.--In his Epistle to the Magnesians, he exhorts them “to do all things in unity, under the Bishop, presiding in the place of God, the Presbyters in the place of the Apostolical Senate, and the Deacons, to whom is committed the ministry and service of Jesus Christ.”—In his Epistle to the Smyrneans, he calls upon them all “to obey their Bishop, even as Christ obeys the Father; to venerate the Presbyters as the Apostles; and the Deacons as the commandments of God:" -and his repeated exhortations in all his Epistles sufficiently prove, that in his days, that is to say, during the life of the Apostle St. John, there were three distinct orders in the Church.

He constantly and accurately distinguishes these orders from each other; and he uses such language respecting Episcopal authority, as it is highly improbable that he, or any rational being, would have adopted, had it not been well known, and universally acknowledged, that the order of Bishops was of Apostolical institution.*

[ocr errors]

That this order, in the sense contended for by Episcopalians, was actually existing, and generally established, as early as the year 160. P. C. is a fact which was never denied by any candid adversary of primitive Episcopacy; not even by Blondel, Molinæus, nor Beza. See in the 3d chap. of Sage's Principles of the Cyprianic Age, &c. a large collection of the most celebrated Presbyterian writers acknowledging that Episcopacy prevailed in the Church in St. Cyprian's time. And what account can be given of this fact, but continuance, and not usurpation? How can it be accounted for, but by supposing that it had existed from the beginning ? The mere continuance of an old establishment may easily fail of being directly noticed in the records of the times; but the commencement of a new one could not be overlooked.

* That these Epistles are genuine has been fully proved by Isaac Vossius, (a Presbyterian,) Archbishop Usher, Bishop Pearson, Du Pin, &c. See Bishop Pearson's Vindicie Ignatianæ, and Bishop Horsley's Tracts, p. 120.

Even Mosheim, who was no great friend to Episcopacy, says of these Epistles, “Nulla forte lis plerisque Ignatianarum Epistolarum mota fuisset, nisi qui pro divino origine et antiquitate gubernationis Episcopalis pugnant, causam suam ex his fulcire potuissent."-De Rebus Christian. ante Constant. p. 160.

So meanly did Le Clerk think of De la Roque's answer to Bishop Pearson's Vindication of St. Ignatius's Epistles, that he would not reprint it along with the works of some eminent moderns, relating to the subject of the Apostolical Fathers, subjoined to his edition of those fathers.

1

« ÖncekiDevam »