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cants. Yet let them not be pussed up: but let them yield more perfect service to the glory of God, that they may obtain frorn him a better freedom. Let them not seek to acquire their freedom at the public expense, lest they should be found to be slaves of lust."* Here Bishop Polycarp is directed to attend, in person, to the church's widows—to meet with his people frequently—to inquire after them all by name; even down to the very slaves—to see that this notice from their Bishop be not abused by them, so as to grow unruly, and to express impatience under their condition, and an improper expectation of being ransomed and set at liberty by the church's charity.
These were then the functions of a Bishop, IGNATIUS being judge. What must have been the size of Polycarp's diocese to admit of his performing them? How could they be performed in the fourth century by a Bishop of Hippo through a diocese forty miles long in a populous country ? Or by a Bishop of Rome towards a
* Αί χαραι μη αμελειθωσαν. μετα τον κυριον συ αυτων φροντιστης εσο. μηδεν ανευ της γνωμης σου γίνεσθω-πυκνοτερον συναγωγαιγινεσθωσαν. εξ ΟΝΟΜΑΤΟΣ ΠΑΝΤΑΣ ζητει. δουλους και δουλας μη υπερηφανει» αλλα μηδε αυτοι φυσιουσθωσαν, αλλ' εις δοξαν Θεου πλειον δουλευετωσαν, iva
κρείττονος ελευθεριας τυχωσιν απο Θεου. μη αιρετωσαν απο του κοινου ελευθερουσθαι, ένα μη δουλοι ευρεθωσιν επιθυμίας. IGNAT, Ep. ad POLYCARP. apud PP. App. Tom. II.p. 91,
92 ed. CLERICI. Fol. 1724
cure of more than a million of souls in the city alone P* One would think that the episcopal powers and occupations of AUGUSTINE or LibeRius could hardly have been quite the same with those of POLYCARP.
It appears then, that the form of church government gradually altered, so as to become, in process of time, very different from the apostolic establishment: and even if this be denied, it is beyond all doubt that different opinions prevailed in the primitive church concerning her original order. For, not to mention that JEROME could hardly be alone in his views; could hardly have appealed to the knowledge which the Presbyters of his day had of their own rights, though nearly dormant-the very same sentiments were maintained with great acceptance among good people, by Aerius, a monk and Presbyter of Armenia, in the fourth century ; and produced uneasiness throughout the extensive districts of Armenia, Pontus, and Cappadocia.
Yet all this variety of opinion and practice in the matter of church-order, did not produce, and therefore was not thought sufficient to warrant, separate communions. For neither did Jerome, Aerius, and their adherents, who openly attacked the episcopacy of their day as destitute of scriptural or apostolic sanction, withdraw, on that account, from the fellowship of the Catholic church, and set up, like the Novatians and Donatists, a church of their own; nor was there, so far as I have been able to ascertain, any such measure taken, nor any rent among Christians occasioned, in virtue of disagreements under that head. However animated their discussions, and strong the conflict of their feelings, neither did the opposers of the then existing order break off communion with its advocates; nor its advocates, who were the practical majority, expel their opposers. In different places they maintained their different order, and in the same place their different sentiments, without bursting the bands of their common union. On the contrary, it is worthy of special remark, that Jerome himself, who, of all others, most boldly bearded his cotemporary prelates, and proved their official superiority to be against the word of God, yet shuddered at the thought of separation, and condemned separatists in terms of unqualified reprobation. On Prov. vi. 16–19. especially on those words, He that soweth discord among brethren, he thus comments: The wise man,“ enumerates six capital crimes; which, however, in comparison with the sower of dis
* GIBBON's Decl. and Fall. Vol. V. p. 289. 8vo. 1811.
† MOSHEIM, Vol. I. p. 376. MORARI, Grand Dictionnaire Historique, art. AERIUS, T. I. p. 168. Aerius has been charged with the Arian heresy. A charge which seems to be at least doubtful. But whether ill or well founded, it can have no influence upon the case before us.
cord,' he puts by as of minor importance: because the rupture of that unity and brotherhood which the grace of the Holy Ghost hath formed, is the most atrocious deed of the whole. For a man may
his in pride ; may be guilty of lying; may be polluted with murder; may plot mischief against his neighbour; may employ his members in other enormities-a profligate man, I say, may bring these mischiefs upon himself or others, and yet the
of the church be preserved. But Donatus, and Arius, and their followers, have done what is worse ; for they have cut asunder the harmony of brotherly union by sowing discord."*
The result is, that different views and practices in the article of her government, were not deemed by the primitive church to be inconsistent with her unity--with her one communion; nor a justifiable cause of interrupting it.
4th. The same thing is to be said of differences in subordinate points of doctrine.
* Enumerat sex capitalia crimina, quæ tamen, comparatione discordiam seminantis, quasi minora deponit : quia nimirum majus est facinus illud quo unilas et fraternitas que per Spiritus Sancti gratiam est connexa, dissipatur. Potest enim quilibet oculos jactanter extollere ; lingua mentiri; homicidio pollui; mala proximo machinari ; aliis sceleribus membra subdere--Potest, inquam, perditus quisque hujusmodi mala vel sibimetipsi vel aliisinferre, pace servata Ecclesiæ. At Donatus et Arius, et eorum sequaces, gravius est quod fecere: qui concordiam fraternæ unitotis, discordias seminando, sciderunt.
HIERON, opp.T. VIJI. p. 81. Fol. Paris, 1623.
By subordinate doctrines” are meant all those which may be either believed or doubted, without sacrificing any vital principle of the Christian Religion.
To draw the line of distinction between the essentials and non-essentials of our most Holy Faith, is at all times a delicate and difficult task. To draw it with perfect accuracy is what no prudent man will attempt. But that the distinction exists, that it cannot be abolished, and that it is attended with important consequences, no man of sober sense will deny. All the members of the human body belong to its perfection, and have their peculiar uses. Yet a finger or a toe does not hold the same place in the system with an arm or a leg; nor an arm or leg the same place with the head or the heart. The amputation of a finger may occasion death : the amputation of a larger member often does it. At the same time this operation does not necessarily involve the death of the patient; and when limited to the extremities, frequently subjects him to inconveniences comparatively small. No one thinks of disputing his humanity on account of such a privation. He may lose a limb, and yet be active, useful, honoured, happy ; much more so than many who escape his misfortune : because he may have more life in his remaining